Winter came with a vengeance!
As anglers we have had it easy so far this year since February. Yes, there will always be those who moan about the weather but the truth is we’ve had an easy ride. Until now that is, and as this week’s article declares – winter came with a vengeance. And if I could use one example to highlight exactly what I am talking about, on the last day of November I saw a butterfly flitting along as if it were the height of summer. I tried to identify it though it eluded me, but I think it was a small tortoiseshell. However, it all changed in a matter of hours. The prevailing SW winds turned and instead of wind blowing in from the warmer areas of the planet, we started to experience bitterly cold NE winds.
Therefore it came as no surprise when I put my digital thermometer in the canal on session one that the reading came back as 6.3C which was a sharp drop from last time out. But even then I knew that there was more of a fall to come and so I was keen to get some action before the frosts started to manifest. In fact that night the first one was due to hit the area, and as the air temperature was down to 2.3C and falling rapidly as I packed away, I knew that this time the forecasters had it spot on. But more crucially from an angling point of view, the water had dropped too. And ultimately it isn’t about what’s going on this side, it’s about what’s happening beneath the surface that really matters.
The perch is a beautiful fish!
Therefore it comes as no surprise to find out that I blanked on session one. I did have interest shown though later on in the day, and I recorded in my diary that I may see a late feeding spell. Unfortunately though it was nothing more than a nibble. A definite nibble, but not a full blown take. But as I say on the video – you have to be in it to win it. And I’m always in it! I have talked with a couple of anglers recently who have told me that they are finished now till next spring. All I can think is, wow, that’s 40 perch sessions I’d miss! It goes without saying that I have really been into my perch fishing this year, and intend to continue with that over the winter. But with a few other species thrown in as well for good measure. Oh I wish we could have 10 day weeks consisting of 36 hours in a day. In practical terms, more time to do what I want to do!
The second session was even colder, as the thermometer fluctuated between 5.2C and 5.3C when I arrived. My pattern will now change in the sense that rather than early morning starts I will be doing afternoons up to dark. Now that we are in winter proper, that will be the warmer time of the day, and to emphasise that, by the time I left, the water was up to 5.5C. My tactics were still the same as session one, fishing legered worm over dead maggots and brown crumb. I fished off bank sticks with a Fox Micron M alarm and a Nash Featherlite hanger. I removed all the weights off the hanger, fishing just the plastic attachment as it clips on the line. Even then I watch the rod tips rather than rely on the bite alarm so that I am switched on to what’s happening beneath the water’s surface.
A lovely perch poses for the camera
In spite of the conditions I did quite well, landing a number of perch including one big fish. When I use the word ‘big’ that is always relative to the water. As I so often write, we shouldn’t get into the trap of thinking anything less than a 4lb perch isn’t worth catching or only a double-figure barbel will do. There are also lots of fish photographs published that are obviously nowhere near the declared weight. This is sometimes due to a deliberate attempt to deceive, but mostly I believe it’s naivety on the part of the angler. Combine the ‘…and the net weighs about a pound’ approach with a dodgy pair of cheap scales and it’s easy to see why some fishermen catch 6lb chub every cast! I tend not to state the weights of my fish, in fact many times (as this week) I didn’t even get the scales out. I appreciate them and that’s what counts.
I was certainly happy to catch the fish that I did and they rounded off a good week for me. Although I am 47 years old I am still playing football and my team won a cup competition on one of the evenings. I’m not what you call a fitness freak; I don’t go to the gym or jog. But I do watch what I eat, keep a check on my weight and get lots of exercise. And I don’t smoke or drink either. Combine all those things and it means that I am still turning out every week in the number 5 shirt playing football with lads who are young enough to be my sons. I laugh when I hear professional footballers complaining that they play too many games. I’m pushing 50 and already this season I’ve played over 20 matches, and still going strong!
Twinkle the tomboy!
On the second session this week I took Twinkle my Bedlington Terrier with me. As you will see on the accompanying video, she enjoyed herself digging a hole. She ended up very dirty though and the first thing that my wife did when she got back home was to put her in her little bath and restore her to her original condition. She’s a lovely little girl (the dog that is!) but she definitely has tomboy tendencies. I like dogs but I love Bedlington Terriers. They aren’t common at all, in fact you don’t see many of them around. They’re not the sort of dogs you see advertised in the local paper; you have to make contacts before you can get hold of a puppy. But they are brilliant, perfect for a family and in our case, to become a family member. I know she’s only a dog but Twinkle’s like my third daughter!
And finally, this week I have added to the internet bases that I have by starting a facebook page for ‘Stewart Bloor’s Angling Journal’. This complements the twitter and YouTube sites that I currently possess, and although I have a personal facebook page already, this one is specifically devoted to angling. It replaces the old guestbook that I had on the website and will be the main contact point for me and my fans. Yes, fans! I did smile to myself when I saw that unlike my standard facebook site that gives me friends, this one elevates me to the point where I get fans! Added to the ‘followers’ that twitter has made me, I may well be more popular than some people on the X Factor! Anyway, joking (or otherwise!) aside, you can access the facebook site via the website home page. At the moment I’ve got ten fans, although one of them is me!
(click icon above for this week’s video)
(Originally posted December 2009)