Now that’s what you call cold (perch article and video, entry 287)

Now that’s what you call cold

There’s cold and there’s cold. And during the last week we have experienced some of the worst weather in recent years in terms of rock bottom temperatures. But one thing is for sure – no matter how adverse the conditions, I’ll still be out and about fishing somewhere, even if I have to break the ice to do so. And that’s exactly what I had to do on the first of this week’s sessions, which were all spent targeting perch. Not that I caught any but with Siberian weather fronts descending on the whole country, in all honesty it was always going to be a struggle and anything tempted would be a bonus.

Breaking the ice

Arriving at the canal, the first thing I noticed was that it was covered with a layer of ice. I decided to walk some distance before conceding that it was going to be an uphill struggle. But even then, although the going may be tough, if you persist you can still make advances. Using my landing net pole I broke the ice to open up an area to cast into. My plan was to catch gudgeon and then fish with the livebait rod, although being realistic I knew that catching a fish of any description in the first place was always going to be a challenge.

And so it proved, although the two sucked maggots that I had from roach were quite an achievement considering the conditions. Very few people went past as I fished, just a few hardy dog walkers and joggers, but I’m sure they must have thought I was mad. But I did provide some excitement for a couple of keen photographers. Obviously an angler on the towpath provides the opportunity for some great shots. And I have no objection to being photographed either. But it was amusing how they crouched and angled their cameras and snapped away as I sat their shivering. Not that I minded, I thought it was quite funny really. And I’m sure some good images were produced as well. So if you see an award winning photograph of an angler fishing in Arctic-like conditions – it’s me!


No perch but the grayling fed well


The conditions deteriorate

If the conditions on the canal weren’t bad enough, everything went massively downhill from there. The sheet of ice developed into a layer thick enough for people to walk on. I know when I’m beaten and so session two saw me driving northbound to the River Dove. Watching the weather forecast on TV the evening before I gave up as they moved through the night and mentioned minus 10 and minus 11. Not that I gave up on the thought of going fishing, just what I was hearing from the box in the corner of the room.

Arriving at the river at first light it wasn’t the air temperature which I was interested in but the water. After all I can cope and that’s my problem, but what really counts is what’s going on beneath the surface not above it. The digital reading showed 2.5C, which was slightly up from the 2C I had been up against on the canal earlier in the week. I know that fishing new swims is not the ideal thing in adverse conditions, but as I don’t have any perch hotspots anyway yet on the stretch in question, it wasn’t such a bad decision as it appears at first. I fished an open stretch casting to a small overhanging clump of willow trees.

Grayling to the rescue






Tip of the week

A thermometer is a very useful item to carry, particularly in the winter.

Don’t take chances guessing the water temperature.

We need to know exactly what we are up against so that we can fish and feed accordingly.

I set up a small cage feeder loaded with brown crumb and dead maggots, with a single red maggot on a size 18 Drennan Super Specialist hook. With no rainfall for ages, the river was low and clear and the grayling that I caught during the day looked great as they flashed in the water putting in maximum resistance on their way to the net. I would like to say that I saw the dark black stripes of a perch, but alas that wasn’t to be. Although I am always optimistic (I wouldn’t have been fishing in the first place if I wasn’t), I am also realistic and knew that grayling provided the best chance of getting amongst the fish. But I was still determined to focus on perch which is why I didn’t call it a grayling session.

The fish came regular throughout the day with a number topping the 1lb mark. I have now had quite a few grayling in that bracket from the stretch in question, but have yet to top the 2lb figure. This is why, when we talk about specimen fish, we have to take into account the venue rather than just the weight alone. For example, a 20lb carp from some venues may be considered an average fish, yet on other waters a double is a real achievement.



Another grayling from the River Dove

Light at the end of the tunnel

I was back on the Dove for the third and final session of the week. Although on the same stretch as before, I settled into yet another swim. With reeds and grasses, albeit dead ones, densely packed along the water’s edge, it looked promising for perch. Well it would have done if the conditions were better, but once more I had to settle for the lady of the stream to provide the action. Not that I’m complaining though, far from it. Although I like to focus on a particular species, if anything else comes along I’m certainly not disappointed. And with the Arctic conditions set to recede over the next week, it looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel as well. So I’m certainly going to be after perch next week, that’s for sure.



Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

I am going to continue to fish for perch over the next seven days, particularly as the conditions are set to improve. With the local canal network due to come out of hibernation I’m going to spend a few mornings on there, livebaiting for perch.

(Originally published January 2009)

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