Monday, 9 January 2017

A Climate of Uncertainty

The local climate in the period since Christmas has been so changeable as to make it almost impossible at times to select a suitable location for a few fish. Not so much gradual global warming as continuing local chaos.
The Avon & Leam; Grand Union & Oxford canals and various stillwaters could all have all been on the agenda but for a variety of reasons there have been times when none of these were likely to work-out favourably.
Ice, rain, wind direction, clear water, fluctuating temperatures, etc., detrimentally influenced each in different ways.
Under such circumstances one tends to seek comfort in what one knows best. Usually canals, in these instants.
Anyone who follows these ramblings will realise that in the world of F, F & F eliciting a bite against the odds is of considerably greater value than a guarantee of, for instance, a net full of tame carp from a sold(not to say souled)-out mud puddle.
In stillwater terms it has become increasingly difficult to find naturalised ponds, lakes and reservoirs. Largely a result of the glint of gold that continues to sparkle in eye of certain water owners as lead by CRT.
A couple of birding trips resulted in a very active long-tailed duck and a couple of pairs of red-crested pochard of note. Which, on the one hand, brightened the intermittent angling consternation but, far more importantly, made for a very enjoyable change while The Dog descended this year with his First Lady for a few very happy days indeed
In the immediate aftermath of the festivities, mild, calm conditions prevailed and fish were relatively easy to fool, albeit at their own somewhat steady speed, and to find roach freely topping at dawn at my current reservoir-side haunt put them under potential threat. Catches of between 3 and 8 pounds-odd of fish that peaked at one pound four ounces with a smattering of perch eased the depressingly unbearable burden of being off work for a few days quite nicely.

Roach to 1.4.2
 The GUC managed to cough-up a nice zander of over 3.5lbs, with proportionately the biggest tail you ever did see, when partly frozen. This was highly likely another p.b. (had the scales not been in the garage!) but that will never be confirmed. Following this the combined GUC & Oxford canals produced a 2lb bream and a roach immediately after thawing on a particularly hard birthday session.
The birds have been affected too and as this is being written, long-tailed and blue tits, goldcrest and blackbird devour fat balls, winter flies and fallen apples out of the window, beyond the bridge. Grey squirrel chase and tumble through ivy and hazel while a robin serenades longingly, yet with a hint of resignation, into the still moist air. All dreaming of the hectic spring to come one might surmise.
Today though, the onset of mild weather again lead us back to the canal feeder lake that had offered-forth festive gifts of 5 tench to 5.9, 20-odd roach to 1lb+ and smaller perch two weeks ago.
It was a risk.
It would have been frozen yesterday morning but the likelihood of increased temperatures, cloud & fog meant low light levels and consequently roach in the sought-after bracket of 1lb+ would be possible...if they fed.
The method settled-on over those previous sessions is to fish two rods, one at 25-45m and the other at 60m and while the furthest of those has resulted in the most bites and fish all of the pound plus roach have fallen at around 25 to 30m.
The second roach today was 1.1.14 and an hour or so later a slightly larger version at 1.4.2. A total catch of 8lbs 5ozs comprising 13 fish including 3 perch for good measure was the bag and the confirmation that the bigger roach were closer-in helped in taking-up HonGenSec's idea to fish the float into dark. In fact, had it not been foggy that would have been the method of choice this very day.
The two biggest roach on top
Tomorrow it is then!
Arriving at 2.45 to set-up and get some bait trickling into ten feet of slightly tinged water before dark, the atmosphere had that feel of impending rain about it as the clouds dragged their heels over the broad tree-scattered landscape to the south-west.
The water was calm without a ripple to spoil it other than the tufted duck. A group of six that motored inwards with unstinting confidence at each blast of maggots, and out again once realising that the bait had gone by the time they would have arrived.
HonGenSec had started when we arrived, as is the norm, but pursued a similar method.
The Boy Wonder was to stick with the tried and trusted at 30m.
There is little to add other than despite this list from TBW's necessaries being at home - rods, landing net handle, head-torch - he stole my spare rod and took a 2lb tench (his first) from water just over 4degC while HGS and I blanked with aplomb.
 Kids! (Again)
A barn owl shrieked early evening and remained unseen but it's certainly back to Plan A next time.
Tomorrow it wasn't. However, if you don't ask the question...
The roach in the venue seem very likely go bigger than 1.4. Bigger fish top occasionally, although it is possible they are hybrids as two have been taken 1.8 in this brief period since mid-December but there are another couple of areas to try, as well as The Stillwater to revisit when conditions seem right.
Hope, motivated by good advice and that essential slice of luck, does not shirk from springing eternal and there is plenty of the winter to go at yet
 I would very much like to mark the sad passing of Tony Miles with just a few words.
I did not know Tony well though I had met and exchanged emails with him a number of times in the past two or three years but he was clearly a very open, amiable man with a huge wealth of angling knowledge that he was keen to commit to print in books, blogs and various publications in order to help others.
It is always an immeasurably great loss when such giants of any sport take their knowledge with them and, while he could never convey all of the nuances of his chosen path to his contemporaries and effectual descendants in angling, we can all be thankful that much of his knowledge is not lost through his so eloquently articulated writings.
Certain angling names trip off the tongue in a hallowed cluster:
Richard Walker, Ivan Marks, Chris Yates, and Co. Tony Miles unquestionably falls in that same echelon. Humble yet ground-breaking anglers all. 


  1. Wow, now that's a paddle. Wouldn't mind catching that when it's filled out a bit.

  2. Yes, worthy of Sir Steve Redgrave that one Mick!

  3. Well done to H on his first tench and glad to hear the festive break was a good one. Enjoyable post as always; looking forward to seeing how it further unfolds.

    Shame about Tony Miles. His book "Big Fish Angling" was my absolute favourite read growing up. Seemed a very genuine and modest man.

    1. If you ever read World Class Match Fishing by Kevin Ashurst, admittedly ghosted, you got the impression he wasn't conceited about his angling, he just KNEW.
      Tony Miles came across the same.