When the going gets tough, the tough go fishing
Left to right: Stour meandering through snow covered meadow, view from above, opening roach, overgrown swim
If you’re reading this from the UK then you don’t need me to tell you what an horrendous time we have had weather-wise for the best part of a month now. When it started to snow a week before Christmas, along with many others, I thought it was nice. But as conditions have seriously deteriorated, any initial novelty has long since worn off. But whilst many fishermen have put their angling on hold, it’s been business as usual for me. Well almost, because without doubt the conditions have affected where I have been and what I’ve been fishing for.
With the water temperatures continuing to plummet, I was going to target grayling this week, but whilst the rivers are in decent nick, the roads aren’t. And so with journeys that would have taken me along non-gritted side roads and lanes, I decided to visit the local River Stour where at least I could park my car and get back home again afterwards. But with grayling being absent from the Severn tributary, it was to roach that I looked to provide some arctic action. With air temperatures in the minus, it was certainly a cold day as I made my way along the river bank.
But as I so often stress, it’s the water reading that is really important; and at 1.6C I knew it was going to be a hard session – yet at the same time I felt very confident. Although positivity in itself won’t put fish on the bank, a defeatist attitude before you even start isn’t going to help either. My tackle and tactics were identical to last week’s, with the details in the video and article, so I won’t repeat the information. The one difference this time round was that I was fishing with dead maggot on the hook as I had left the pint in the car overnight and they had frozen to death. I said it was cold!
My session was only for a few hours in the afternoon but as the air temperature plummeted, the water, as expected, rose by 0.3C to 1.9C as darkness drew in. And it was in that dusk window that I had the only bite of the session resulting in the fish that you can see at the top of the page. And finally to round off session one, Martin from Wollaston will be surprised to get a mention! The only other angler on the bank, he gave me his half pint of maggots as he left, and it was on one of those that I caught the fish. Nice one Martin!
For my second and final session of the article, I was totally alone on the stretch that I fished. The weather had taken a downwards turn (hence the title of the piece) yet the water temperature was seriously up. In just a day it reached a high of 3.0C – that is a big increase percentage wise.
However, even though the fish switched on an hour from dark, I only managed a small roach. Yet it meant that in four roach sessions so far this year I have yet to blank, albeit just one fish per trip. To have a 100% hit rate in this arctic spell is something I’m more than happy with. And to round the article off with a bird report, I saw a woodcock in late dusk flight. I had a great view of it as it came from beyond the river in flight and passed within metres of where I was fishing. It takes me to 38 species for the year – mostly seen while fishing.
(Originally published January 2010)