9am on the first Saturday in December finds me and the kids walking through the Christmas crowds in the town centre. The market is busier than normal; “Justa pand yer strawbreeeees…” (why are market traders always cockneys and where on earth did the strawberries come from?). Everywhere I look there is tinsel and glitter, hideous Christmas music piped through every shop and the crowds! They get worse by the second, every one gets in my way, everyone wants to be in my space. Can’t stand it anymore! Get me out of here!!
Twenty four hours later and I’m anchored up in the basin with four deadbaits spread around the boat. Mine is the only boat in sight, the only sound is the usual squawk of wildfowl and the occasional strange grunting sound. I’m not sure if this was made by a bird, animal or machine but it beat the hell out of ‘Jingle bells’. The day was cold, clear, sunny and bright with a breeze from the west. I had to break a thin layer of ice getting out of the boatyard. (I think I should probably be a lot more careful than I am in these circumstances?) In short, the conditions were piss poor for fishing the system as I knew they would be but what the hell? I fish the system when I can, if I always waited for perfect conditions, I’d always be waiting.
After an hour or so a thought struck me, why not fish another part of the system where I’d caught before in similar conditions? Here the water is clear and weedy, instead of the normal murkiness we are used to. The decision was instant, I tidied up lifted the mud weights and headed south. Forty five minutes later I was sitting comfortably fishing one of my favourite spots in the world. I love it here, its wild, beautiful and occasionally even produces a Pike…..but not today. After ninety minutes or so I lifted the weights again, intending to move just a little way but had the urge to search. I ended up fishing an area I’d never fished before that looked good, clear with attractive reed beds and a side drain entering. An hour later I moved again, further down to another spot that was new to me, opposite a big willow. Three swims, no fish so at 1400 I lifted the weights again and headed back. A pair of Cranes flapped awkwardly through the sky to my left, keeping me company.
Back on more familiar territory and fishing the southern part of the basin, an area that has produced a few takes late in the day before. Once again I spread the baits around the boat and settled back, watching another spectacular sunset and reflecting on fishing the challenging system. The fish my friends and I have been catching so far this season have come from two distinct areas; and one of which has produced 80% of these. Possibly the smart thing to do would be to totally concentrate on these areas, moving within the areas but instead we’ve spent a lot of time, like today, searching far and wide, trying to learn a little bit more. The sun set on another blank day and I felt tired and a little defeated but already looking forward to my next visit.