Roach, water rail, snipe and goldeneye
The British are notorious for talking about the weather, and in fairness to us, it changes so much it’s hardly surprising that it becomes the regular topic of conversation. But while for most people, the weather may be nothing more than a discussion starter, for us as anglers it’s far more important than that. Being switched on to the conditions around us means that we can make the most of the situation, and in the case of the winter we can increase our chances of putting fish on the bank by targeting the right species. And so to end the year, in the final article I go for roach and not crucian carp or rudd!
In the first session I headed for the pool where last time out I had a great bag of roach, with eleven fish over the 1lb mark. I had arranged to meet with Stu Maddocks, and indicative of the type of anglers we are, we ended up fishing on different banks. Not that we had fallen out or anything, but we both had different game plans as to where we wanted to fish and so we went our separate ways, linked together by mobile phone. I appreciate it when you can meet with someone and then go to a different spot. Not that you do that automatically but if you have different ideas then the flexibility to go your own way is important.
Sunrise over the pool
The temptation for me was to fish in the same peg as last time, but on the condition that the spot was free, I had already determined to drop into one of the corner swims. With an overhanging bush to the left, assuming the depth was good, then that was where I was going to spend the day. Finding that I had ten feet of water one rod length out, that continued to gradually deepen down to fourteen feet, I very happily set up camp for the hours ahead. I was there at first light and got a good dawn shot, as well as a video clip of numerous gulls in lazy flight over a distant pool. During the day I logged large numbers of black headed gulls, with several lesser black-backed gulls and great black-backed gulls in the area. The other birds of note were c.50 lapwings and a flock of c.30 goldfinches.
Fishing single maggot on a short four inch hook length, the day was quite slow, but I did manage three roach into the 1lb bracket. I didn’t get one that topped the magical 2lb mark, but as I said at the start of the video, whatever sort of day I had, I would enjoy myself. And so did Stu, as he had a few smaller fish and one real biggie that made his day.With the conditions hitting free fall, by the time I was able to get out again after roach, with the still waters frozen solid, it was to the rivers that I looked for some sport, and in particular the Severn. And so, with the temperature still being well into minus, I loaded the car and set off for the middle reaches of Sabrina.
One of the decent roach I caught
The four below zero I encountered was almost warm compared to the minus 12 and minus 16 that some areas of the country had suffered overnight. The stretch I headed for is one that I have been on before, but only for barbel. But like many anglers, I often look at individual swims through the potential that they may offer for other species at a future date. And one particular peg had me making a mental note of targeting roach come winter. However, for a first trip I could have done with a higher water reading than the 1.7C my digital thermometer showed. Not that there is any personal benefit, but I’m sure even some anglers don’t realise that it’s warmer in the water than on the bank!
It goes without saying that I had the river to myself! Apart from a couple of dog walkers, who looked like they didn’t want to be there, I never saw another human in the hours I sat at the water’s edge. However, a couple of robins were in the area and one of them (after chasing the other away) was very friendly. In fact I had to be careful that I didn’t tread on it, as it was constantly busy picking up maggots from around me, and often helped itself from the tub direct. Not that I was bothered, the opposite actually as I am always more than happy to intervene in the lives of our feathered friends in a positive way whenever possible.
My friend on the Severn
Although I didn’t catch anything (hardly surprising really, it was grayling weather if anything) I had three very memorable encounters with birds (other than the robin of course). First up a water rail passed in front of me, moving from one clump of vegetation to another. Keen birders spend many an hour in front of reed beds waiting for this very elusive bird to put in an appearance, and I had one cross my path. Then to top that, a snipe flew up-river and amazingly landed eight feet away from where I sat.
For a few seconds we stared at each other, and with me reaching for my camera I was hoping our eye contact would continue long enough for me to get what would have been a fantastic photograph. But sadly it wasn’t to be and the snipe was off. And to complete the bird sightings, a male goldeneye drifted downstream before taking off when it saw me. Usually found on the likes of gravel pits, reservoirs and large lakes, the nation’s frozen stillwaters had sent it to pasture’s new in search of food.
This was to be my last session before Christmas, as my December 24 trip to the Severn was cancelled due to the snowfall we had the night before. It was a shame because it was to be a visit to the place where I got engaged to Debby! We’ve been married for 23 years this coming May and it was on Christmas Eve when I drove her to one of my favourite spots alongside the River Severn. Sitting there thinking ‘I love you so much’ I then turned to Debby and thought ‘You’re not too bad either’. It was then I slipped the engagement ring on her finger and sealed the commitment we had already made to one another. Anyway, I’m easily pleased and as long as she lets me go fishing, that’s good enough for me! See you next year!
(click icon above for this week’s video)
(Originally published December 2009)