Monday, 5 December 2016

An Icy Stare

The rivers are running clear again and back at normal level with flow slackening.

The Stillwater would be too still and watery to cope with the cold snap this past week.
The canals had been frozen just a couple of days prior.

So what to do?
A heated aquarium, perhaps.


I hatched a plan via some dubious logic to go to an area where bites would always be minimal thus it would seem no different.

The conjoined Oxford & GUC it was then. Opposite brambles overhanging a naturalised bank.

Bread in front, chopped worm to the right.

Neither area produce so much as a pinhead bubble of action with water temperature just 2.7degC until against all odds the zed float started to trot gently off to the left and I connected with a sedate individual of a couple of pounds that simply couldn’t be bothered to fight

Cut and run to our field on the River Leam. Very clear with the bottom in view where under two feet deep. 
A very tempting swim had formed after the recent high water so confident soared for a perch or two.  

Now you'd guarantee it, would you not?


Where might the canal not be frozen?

Chilly scene
Iced canals fish much better and more consistently than open sections in extreme conditions but the days of heaving interchangeable steel weights and chains on ropes to create that perfectly formed match fishing peg are long gone, even though results would be less buoyant. Besides, playing bigger fish through a hole in the ice is not the wisest of recipes for success.

Protected areas in less exposed landscapes. Close to settlements. Perhaps near boats or where a ripple might form.

It took six bridge visits to find a reasonable option and sadly. It was the same location as yesterday!

A different peg, and more sheltered admittedly, but a worse conclusion. Not a tap.

Deadbait float to left. Worm float to right.
To quit and admit defeat or concoct more hair-brained options?
The latter.

I found myself between a bridge and a lock on the GUC proper. A much better option, albeit the roads were somewhat dodgy in getting there.
A boat had just been through and broken a channel through the ice although where I sat clearly had a crust earlier in the day. It started to recede and as I set-up the floes became less and less daunting.

The cross section of the cut was tapering from shallows across into deeper water nearside of middle extending right into the near bank. Boats would moor here for the lock so it made sense.

With melting ice the subsurface temperature had dropped to 2.5degC but, as is the way of things, confidence was not yet dented, merely pressured.

Again two rods. One with a lob chopped in half and hooked in two sections, flavour oozing. On the other, a roach tail cut from a frozen sample.

The second boat was operated quite efficiently by three girls apart from a little lurch when the controller went back into gear having coasted past me this causing a swirling murklet of canal water to surge right over the square metre my floats occupied. Who'da thunk it?!

No sooner had they gone than students started arriving at the lock cottage for a birthday party (no, I wasn't eavesdropping, they were quite happy to yell the information to each other).

The deadbait float indicated the tiniest of possibilities. Just lowering almost imperceptibly and occasionally moving an inch or two one way or another but, with the canal water still rocking back and forth after the lock activity, I thought little of it and it settled to nought.

A few minutes later I decided to recast as the whole weekend had been littered with leaf issues and the baits could have been concealed.

Something told me to ease into the rig rather than just lift and as I did I sensed a tightening and then some solid though far from urgent digs. This rig was alive.

As I continued to engage with the quarry I was alert to the possibility that any slack could be disastrous and pressure was continually applied. I saw a zander shape under the surface as it kited around and then burst through the surface, it's gills flaring up at me like a can-can dancers skirt. It thrashed itself straight into the net as it peaked too surly and immediately upon lifting clear proceeded to display its chunky self as a new p.b.

67ozs less the net. 3.6.11 and an icy stare
Not exceptional by others' standards but good enough, especially on a day when anything occurring at all was distinctly unlikely.

Roll-on yet more difficult times? No! Milder air is on the way and a breeze to come with it




  1. Don't get yourself hooked on them like I have George. The close season cannot come soon enough for me these days. Nice P.B. btw.

    1. Well it's become a nice winter accompaniment to tough bread fishing Mick so I'll likely be doing both.