I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but one promise I have made to myself for 2008 is to go fishing more. In order to see that pledge fulfilled I will be fitting in several short local trips in addition to my main session. At the moment, as I am focused on perch, the nearby canal is the perfect place to head for. With my spinning rod already set up, I can drive from home and be fishing within a quarter of an hour. With times like that involved it’s cost effective to fish for just an hour or so. The greater the distance that is travelled, the longer you have to stay to make the journey worthwhile.
And for those of us who have been driving before the litre was introduced, petrol is now £5 per gallon; and that in itself is a major factor in my own angling planning. Gone are the days when I would do three or more evenings in a week on the lower Severn after barbel. I still travel to the river, but am more likely to do an overnighter or two, thus making the miles clocked up far less than if individual trips were made. A visit to the lower Severn will cost over £10 in fuel alone; not that I’m a penny pincher but four sessions a week over a month works out at £160.
So the local canal it was that featured in my plans this week. It was very hard going, which was in no small way due to the weather. It has been quite cold and that hasn’t helped the fishing. It has also been very unsettled weather; in the last seven days we have had snow, sleet, fog, rain and sunshine. It has been an uphill struggle, but one thing I am is persistent. Call it stubbornness but once I set my mind to something, I push on. And so if I have a slot when I am going to go fishing, I will go regardless of the weather. The only way you will catch fish is if your bait is in the water, and that won’t happen if a bit of adverse weather frightens you off.
My doggedness paid off as I caught my first perch of the year. Hardly likely to get me on the front page of the national angling weeklies, but welcome all the same, particularly in the conditions. One thing I can rely on is that the canal will always throw up a fish or two. And when the rivers are playing hard to get it certainly provides a quality back-up. The particular stretch I am fishing at the moment holds a small head of reasonable fish, which suits me down to the ground. I don’t mind lots of blanks as long as there is always the chance of a good fish.
That’s the great thing about angling – it can be to you what you want it to be. If you only want to venture out when the sun is shining, you can. If you want to fish right through the winter, then go ahead. An hour after work, no problem; set up camp for a week then do it. Fish with a mate, that’s fine; or go it alone if you choose. Publicise your catches to the whole world or keep them from even your nearest and dearest, it’s up to you. Pursue perch, battle with barbel or concentrate on carp – it’s totally up to you. In a world where people love to tell others what they should (or shouldn’t) be doing angling offers the sort of freedom that is not often found elsewhere.
And on that note, my main session of the week wasn’t decided until the night before. Monitoring the river levels, temperature forecast and weather predictions, indecisiveness took over. One minute I was going on the Dove, the next to a gravel pit, then back to the canal. I ended up on the Trent! January is not really the time to try out new venues, especially when you aren’t exactly on a rich vein of form. But I decided to fish a new stretch all the same. It was a little further downstream from my previous session on the river, so filled me with more confidence.
Unfortunately the conditions weren’t ideal, but the few pegs I did fish were quite good as the protruding willows offered shelter from the main flow of the river, which was rising. As with my last visit to the Trent I encountered roach, and again I caught a couple of rare bullheads. I must confess that I had no idea of what the British record is for the species, although I knew it would be very small. An Internet search revealed that the Environment Agency have it listed as one ounce. So maybe I have found my calling in life, and perhaps I should start the Bullhead Specimen Anglers Group. Or maybe not!
But whatever else I caught on the Trent, perch were not included. I still feel the venue is worth another visit though, particularly when the conditions are more conducive towards perch fishing. If you look at the accompanying video clip you will see what I mean – lots of overhanging trees, surely there must be a quality perch or two lurking there. Anyway, after last week’s comment about the snail and the ark, I am happy to report that the aforementioned creature is now on its way!
Check out this week’s video clip by clicking here.
(Originally published January 2008)