In real life (as opposed to my angling world, although some would question which is which at times) I am the director of a charity that works predominantly in the continent of Africa. I don’t actually take a salary from the organisation, hence that, plus the flexibility (I work mostly from home) of arranging my own schedule means that I do get to fish more than the average angler does. And of course having a wife who is totally supportive of my hobby is no small part of the equation either.
So if ever you have wondered how I manage to get out so much, now you know why. But this week was a struggle to find some time. We currently have a young lady from Hampshire who is preparing to go to Tanzania on a four-month placement to work with children. As part of her training she was with us for a three-day crash course. This meant that, with my other work load as well, I didn’t stop until 2.30 am, 1,30 am and 1,00 am on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
But the incentive for that was that I could get a couple of short fishing sessions in on the local canal. By short I mean a couple of hours and then I had to get back to work. I felt like the proverbial schoolboy nipping round the bike sheds for a quick cigarette in between lessons. Not that I have ever smoked, either as a child or an adult, but it just seemed like a good parallel. And not that angling is a forbidden pastime either.
The first session saw the sun out, although that was quite deceptive. There was a definite chill in the air as I walked from the car to the canal towpath with spinning rod in hand. But at least this method does give you a reasonable degree of protection against the cold due to the constant movement of both legs and arms. I did encounter one static angler, sitting on his box motionless. Yes, I think spinning is a good option at this time of the year.
As expected, due to the weather, the fishing was slow. But after the first week of January, when I caught just one fish in four sessions, the two small perch I did catch heralded quite an upturn in fortunes. Nothing big enough for an angler plus fish photo, an outstretched palm sufficed. Nevertheless it was nice just to get something. But the next trip, rather than a continuation, was business as usual, with another blank recorded. I did see one perch follow the spinner to the edge and I had one definite thud as I retrieved, but that was as far as it got.
It was bitterly cold though. But as we know, you never catch anything sitting at home by the warm fire, although sometimes it does seem like an attractive alternative. I’ve lost count of the number of times that people have made comments such as ‘You must be mad’. And who knows, maybe they could be right. But I am happy in my madness and so I suppose that’s all that counts really at the end of the day. There are far worse things that I could be doing with myself. Like sitting at home by a warm fire for example…
With a well-deserved day off on Friday, although I continued to spin for perch, a change of venue was on the cards. I headed for the small pool complex that I fished on the first session of 2006. On that occasion it was covered in ice, and although it was another very cold day, it wasn’t that severe so as to freeze the surface of the water. However, the finger test (simple but a good indicator) showed that the pool was still pretty cold. Still, the way my angling is going so far this year it can only get better, I told myself, so nothing to lose.
Well, it will have to wait another week before I report an improvement, as yet another blank was recorded. I did a full four hours, which meant that I had literally hundreds of casts! Yet not even one connected with a fish. You’d think I’d get at least one wouldn’t you! Some of the swims looked really ‘perchy’ – lots of tree roots, overhanging branches, reed beds and so on. But if the fish were about, then they definitely weren’t coming out to play.
However, it was Friday the thirteenth, so maybe that can be my excuse for blanking. Not that I am superstitious at all, but you do have to look for a scapegoat in spells like this, and there’s only so many times that you can keep blaming the weather. I was actually hoping for a turn of fortune, and with a Friday evening game at Molineux I was looking forward to a great start to the weekend. Still, that worked out OK with a 2-1 win over Luton, particularly as the winner came right at the end. And mixing my two passions together I think I am the angling equivalent of Accrington Stanley at the moment!
(Originally published January 2005)