Snow way will it stop me fishing (roach article, entry 388)

One moment I’m perch fishing in mild autumnal weather and the next the heavens open, not to deposit rain, but tons and tons of the dreaded white stuff. Not appreciated by many adults of course, but loved by children. And quite liked by my Bedlington Terrier Twinkle and Paris the ferret too. That’s them on the left in the backyard. My dog has seen snow before but as Paris was only born this spring, it was his first experience of it. He loved it and just got on with things, playing as normal. And that sums up my approach to fishing: whatever the natural world may throw at us in terms of weather conditions, just carry on and enjoy. Of course we need to think through our plans and ‘cut our cloth’ accordingly. But the bottom line, as the title of this article declares, is that it will take more than snow to stop me fishing. In fact the only time it will intervene is when I can’t drive to the venue, as opposed to keeping me in because it’s cold or whatever.

 

Taking into account the need to keep local, I turned my attention to running water roach fishing. In many ways my choice was made for me. Every stillwater and canal was frozen and the grayling venues a little further afield were really hit hard by the snowfalls. So local roach it was, with my choice of venue being the River Stour. This is the one that flows through the Black Country and then on to join the Severn at Stourport, where the town gets its name. It is a good winter river and with roach present, albeit not always easy to locate the bigger ones, it does provide sport when other places are a waste of time.

I only had a few hours in the afternoon but I knew exactly where I was heading to. Overhanging trees on a particular section provide a holding spot for winter roach and I’ve done well there before. However when I got there I found that since my last visit everything had been removed. It was now nothing more than a bare canalised stretch of water. Still, I was there anyway and made the most of another obstacle, along with the major challenge presented by the weather.

 

And the conditions were tough, as you can see from the photograph on the right I could barely make out my quiver tip. Fishing a 20g cage feeder I filled it with some new SBS groundbait I fished with for the first time and live white maggots. With the nature of the river bed and the cold weather, there was no need to fish dead maggots, the live ones were barely moving. And that’s how my rod remained until the last hour or so before dark. Watching the tip with total concentration I noticed a few really tiny plucks and I knew that roach had come on the feed. There was only one really good bite though and as I struck it felt like a decent Stour roach, with a specimen for the river being anything over 1lb. However, the single white maggot on a 20 hook pulled as I was bringing it to the net. I should have used an 18 I told myself. It doesn’t matter how many years we’ve been fishing we still live and learn eh!
 

By now I was really confident of getting a snow shot of a good roach. That was until I heard a ‘plop’ downstream. I immediately knew what it was and when I saw the trail of bubbles moving upriver my suspicions were confirmed as an otter popped out of the river directly in front of me and sat on the bank eating a small roach. The way my umbrella was positioned, plus it was covered in snow, meant I was perfectly camouflaged. I observed the mammal for some time before it continued its way round the bend and on to pastures new. It killed the swim but I was prepared to put up with that. I am fully aware of the feelings many anglers have towards otters and also appreciate how they feel. Time doesn’t permit me to share my views in full but suffice it to say that I can see both sides of the argument.

 

 

If anything, the weather conditions intensified over the remainder of the week. Although the snow itself wasn’t as bad (as you can see from the photograph on the left it was bearable) the ice and cold weather became the major problems. With a couple of late afternoon sessions into dark, I recorded a blank on one and a few small roach (pictured left) on the other. On the night I caught the roach the air temperature plunged to minus 11. Now that’s cold!

With the temperature being such an issue, short sessions were the order of the day. And that’s why I maximised my chances of roach by fishing late afternoon and into dark.

 

On the nature front, as well as the otter I encountered small groups of teal on the river. More often found on stillwaters, the fact that they were frozen solid had forced them to seek out pastures new. The photograph below is of some of the birds. Having just a basic camera, plus the fact that teal aren’t like mallards who are well used to human company, meant I was only able to get a distance shot. But you can just about make them out so I have included the shot in the article as it provides variety. I also saw a male goosander in flight as it made its way along the course of the river, no doubt dropping down to feed in a quieter spot. Even if it was just one mad angler occupying the bank, these birds are very wary of human presence.

 

The final bird that gets a mention is the commonest of all. The robin should be nicknamed ‘the angler’s friend’, but as a keen naturalist let me tell you that it’s all ‘cupboard love’. It’s not so much that the robin likes us, but rather the food that we provide for it. But the personal motive of the bird doesn’t bother me in the slightest and I’m more than happy to let it have its fill of food from my bait tub every time I encounter one. And with conditions being the way they have been recently, not only are we giving it an easy meal but we are actually contributing in no small way to its very survival. Harsh winters have a devastating effect upon our resident birds as they struggle to simply exist. Many of them sadly don’t.
 
 

By the time the fourth and final session of the week rolled round it was even colder, and my main problem as with the rest of the week, was coping with iced rod rings. I headed for a new peg, in fact the four visits had seen me tackle the river from three different swims. Just because we have Siberian weather it doesn’t mean to say that I am not searching out the bigger fish. And while I didn’t connect with any monsters at all, I did have my best bag of fish numbers-wise, some lof them pictured below. It just shows, we will never catch sitting at home by a warm fire eh!

 

My goal this week, apart from making it to the river which was an achievement in itself, was simply to catch fish. Anything more than that was a bonus. Therefore fish like the one on the right that I could hold in the palm of my hand were more than welcomed. I’ve just measured my hand from base of my wrist to tip of my middle finger and it’s eight inches, so taking into account the conditions and the venue, I was happy with fish like that.

Roach are great and they will feed right through the harshest of conditions. So when you look at it like that we have no excuses do we? Not that I need them!

 

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