Even the tackle shop owners think I’m mad
Left to right: 10 ounce dace, brace of roach, roach, roach
It says something when even people that own tackle shops think you are crazy for going fishing. But that’s exactly what happened this week – and not just once either but twice. But if there is one thing that I am noted for, it’s dedication. And so it takes more than arctic conditions to keep me away from the water’s edge. Therefore with snow falling all around, I made my way to the local River Stour to fish for roach, where in spite of the awful weather, the water temperature was up to 3.8C as I arrived. Hitting 4.1C by the time I packed away it was no surprise that I caught myself a few nice roach.
The highlight of the session though wasn’t the fish, but a muntjac that I spotted in the far bank copse bounding along as darkness drew in. The muntjac is becoming very widespread, and if it isn’t already, it will soon be our commonest deer. However, most people aren’t aware that they have them on their doorstep. The reason being that not only are they our smallest deer, they are very secretive and don’t go around in herds as other species do.
And even their distinctive bark is probably put down to a dog or a fox by the majority of people when they hear it – that is if they even register the sound in the first place. But as a very keen naturalist, as well as focusing on my angling, I’m also switched on to the wider natural world around me. So the moment I noticed movement beyond the river I was tuned in. I actually got a good view of the creature and later on heard it – or maybe two – barking.
So I had a great session all round, in spite of the awful weather. What a difference a day makes though, as twenty-four hours later I was back on the Stour. Although the air temperature was still low and a cold night was in store, the water was up to an incredible 4.8C when I arrived, reaching 5.1C by the time I departed. Unfortunately for me as a specimen angler, the increase also saw a rise in small fish activity, so I had lots of lightning taps on the rod resulting in sucked maggots. But I did get into some very good fish as you can see from the photographs above and on the accompanying video.
Apart from the roach I caught a big dace. It was the first time my scales have been brought out this year and even though the fish was spawned out (dace spawn very early although I was surprised at this fish due to the recent bitter weather) and very hollow, it still took the digital readout to 10oz. A great fish! On the nature front this session I saw a female teal on the river. The frozen stillwaters are bringing a lot more birds to the rivers at this time. I looked in vain for the more brightly coloured male, but the bird was alone. And although I didn’t capture the muntjac on film I did manage to get the duck, complete with green speculum showing well against a drab dusk background.
Video number 3 on list
(Originally published January 2010)