Freezing cold but still catching (perch article and video, entry 286)

Freezing cold but still catching

I enjoyed my perch fishing so much last week that I decided to continue where I left off. After all, angling should first and foremost be about enjoyment, and if we aren’t getting pleasure from our fishing then we seriously need to step back and re-evaluate where we are. In a work situation we all have to do things that we don’t like from time to time, no matter how much we enjoy our job. But angling shouldn’t be about that. We fish because we want to, not because we have to. And particularly if you are a specimen angler (as I am) it’s an important principle to remind ourselves of from time to time. It can be easy to get slowly but surely lured into a world where catch-at-all-costs rules the roost.

Surprisingly, no frost

With the country being plunged into a severe spell of cold weather, the forecast was not good. In fact the whole of the area where I live in particular was covered in an icy blue as I watched the weatherman tell us all to wrap up warm and not go out unless it was necessary, due to the sharp drop in temperatures. But you have to be in it to win it and my only concern was that the canal might be frozen over, making fishing impossible.

I packed my gear anyway and several times I got up in the night to look through the bedroom window. And each time I was encouraged to see that no frost had taken root. My wife thinks I’m mad. Most people get up in the night because they think they hear a noise downstairs, yet I’m up and down like a jack-in-the-box because I want to check on whether the canal will be frozen or not.

Up for the final time while it was still dark I had one more peep through the curtains and was greatly encouraged to find that the windshield on the car was still ice free. It was very cold though, only cloud cover had kept Jack Frost at bay. In fact if I say cold, that is painting the wrong picture. Freezing is the correct word.


A small pike from the canal


Three runs, one pike

I parked the car and began the journey to the peg that I had chosen to fish. Like most anglers I determine beforehand which swim(s) I intend to occupy. It’s all part of the preparation and planning process and the more groundwork we do beforehand, the more we increase our chances of catching. I started off by casting out my float rod with maggot as bait. Within twenty minutes I had a small gudgeon, which meant that the livebait rod was also out.

An hour later after numerous gudgeon and small roach on the float, I had my first action on the bob. I will share more about my rig in the next canal perch article, but the single hook didn’t take hold. It may have been a perch or a small pike, I couldn’t say, but fifteen minutes later I did catch a pike, which is the first photograph in this article. There must have been a feeding spell going on as I lost a further fish at the net a short time later. A couple of boats then sent the swim into quiet mode for a while before I once more was striking into a fish that had taken the gudgeon.

Losing a big perch at the edge






Tip of the week

If you have a negative view of pike, think again.

Check out the Pike Angler’s Club of Great Britain (the link can be found on my home page) where you will find some excellent stuff on the species.

This time the hook held and I found myself playing what was either a small pike or a very good perch. As I had already been amongst the pike I never really thought much about it. Until I saw the fish that is. It came into the upper layers of the canal about a rod length out and I found myself looking down at a big perch. It had already been on for some time and so the option of a hook pull wasn’t on my mind either. But then suddenly, and without any warning whatsoever, the tackle shot from the water and the fish was gone.

Funnily enough though I wasn’t gutted or devastated. I think disappointed is how I felt as far as negative emotions were concerned. But the overriding thought I had was that I will be back and I will catch this fish. I laughed to myself as I pictured the people in the film Jaws who are on an obsessive mission to catch the shark. The difference is though that I’m not obsessed (well not yet anyway) and we are talking about a canal not the ocean. I knew that the prospect of catching the fish had gone for that day though, but even before I packed away I was planning to return the next morning – weather permitting of course.



A much better fish on session two

Back again and a nice pike this time round

Well, the weather did hold out and it even felt marginally improved as I set up. But that was very deceptive and soon the cold really kicked in. In fact I caught one small roach early on and that was that. And literally the moment the bait hit the water on the predator set-up I had a take. And what a fish it was, certainly for the canal in question. I struggled to fit it into my landing net. The only downside though was that just as I caught the fish someone came past (an angler) who made the comment along the lines of ‘No wonder the gudgeon have all disappeared, the pike have eaten them all’. And not perhaps having the same views as I do regarding discretion of where fish are caught, I imagined the swim being broadcast to all and sundry. Pike thrive on neglect and if my worst fears are confirmed, this one won’t get much peace.

Now I know that sounds selfish but just the way the angler spoke in the brief conversation that we had told me that fish welfare wasn’t high on the agenda. I’ve seen too many pike thrown into bushes and left to die to have faith that just because someone is a fisherman they care about fish. Pike are the most misunderstood of all coarse species and as a result they are also the most abused. The idea that some anglers have is that pike are killing machines that go round all day long eating everything they can get their teeth into, including swimming dogs and paddling children. But rather than upset the balance of the water, pike maintain it. They eat diseased, dying, weak and dead fish and as result the venue stays healthy. Start to interfere and you will have a jack explosion. But then again it’s easy to blame a bad day on ‘there must be a pike in the swim.’ It sounds better than ‘I’m not actually as good an angler as I like to tell everyone that I am.’



Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

The freezing weather is predicted not only to persist but to intensify. If that proves to be true I will attempt to continue after perch but switch to the river and in particular the Dove. With arctic temperatures forecast it’s going to be hard, but you never catch anything sitting at home.

(Originally published January 2009)

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