For nearly two weeks I’ve been scraping the windscreen every day. At first this was OK because I couldn’t go fishing anyway but as time ticked on it became apparent that it wasn’t going to get any better before the weekend. I’d arranged a day out with Rich and we were both fairly confident that due to its nature, our venue of choice would be fishable, even though our local stillwaters were frozen. Early Saturday morning I was pleasantly surprised to find a frost free screen but as the day progressed it just got colder. Still we were ready to give it a go the next day but decided against getting up silly early. The following day would be good and I went to bed looking forward it.
Loading the car just before seven it did feel bloody cold! I’m not sure how accurate the car thermometer is but it read -6, surely not? I was in no hurry on the road that’s for sure; Rich and I agreed we wouldn’t be expecting any early action anyway. We turned left and the track ran alongside the stretch, it was frozen… It could well be clear further down? It wasn’t. After poking around for half an hour or so we found some water the Swans had kept clear. When they started to bugger off the clearance grew a bit more. We had a starting point and a chance to get a rod in but we’d need to clear some ice first and it would mean bank fishing. Could we be arsed? With the sun rising above the mist, revealing a beautiful white winter landscape it was a lovely place to be, we’d done the hard part by getting out of our warm beds and we were here so why not? A plan was hatched but it hinged on the old weed rake I’d seen laying around, was it still there? Yes it was.
So we set to work, taking it in turns with the rake we started to smash ice and clear water. After a while we got into a rhythm; Rich was hurling the rake and I, with the waterproof gloves, would haul it back in. Thrashing the rope around was also smashing the smaller chunks of ice even further. None of this was the slightest bit subtle! We’d definitely be able to wet a line but the rake was landing short of the water cleared by the swans. If we could just break through that we’d have a lot more space. Rich set up a rod and clipped on a big lead, with this he was able to crack the ice and drag chunks of it back towards the bank where I could easily smash it up with the rake. By 0930 we were ready to fish and the exercise had warmed us up nicely.
We had room for a couple of rods apiece but decided to settle for just one each. We were under no illusions, a Pike showing up was unlikely but we talked it up. We had time on our side and maybe the disturbance and the stir up might actually make a fish want to investigate? The best spot we were able to reach was to the right and I offered this to Rich, he said no we’ll flip a coin for it. Without any change between us we had to settle for a gripper lead, we agreed one side was shinier than the other and I opted to call “shine”. Rich flipped the lead into the air and it landed and stuck in the frosty grass on its edge! When we’d stopped laughing the second time the lead landed shiny side up so I flicked a smelt out to the right and Rich put a Herring out to the left. We then sat back with a well-earned breakfast washed down with a cup of tea, we were fishing and we were happy. After about half an hour Rich looked at his watch and with a grin said “Nothing’s happening mate, fancy a move?”
We had decided to fish for as long as we were enjoying it, a couple of hours at least, with great company and flowing conversation the time just drifted by. A Buzzard soared overhead, a Kingfisher zipped by looking for a place to feed, somewhere a Bittern boomed. As always our thoughts turned to the ‘special place’ our favourite water. We remembered the good days, chuckled about the bad and made grand plans for the future. Whatever state the system is in, for us there’s nothing else like it in fishing. Time passed, we stuck to our single rods but moved them around and switched baits, trying to make it happen. Then in the early afternoon Richard’s rod tip thumped and his flat jerked. Something had definitely happened there but Rich wound down to nothing and there were no obvious marks on the bait.
With that came renewed confidence but this proved false hope. There was no point in staying into darkness so we tidied everything up but were still reluctant to wind our rods in. “Fifteen more minutes?” I asked; “Yeah what the hell” came the reply and even then we could have stayed longer. We did the sensible thing and finally packed up before dark and before things started to freeze. It was good to get into a warm car and I turned the stereo up on the drive home. Some might see a fishless day like this as a waste of time and effort but in all honestly today was enjoyable as any time I’ve spent fishing this season.
I often moan and one of my favourite subjects is the general crappiness of good fishing magazines, even Carpology, formerly one of the best seems to have got more commercial and less believable. The one notable exception is “Pikelines” which since Stephen Harper became editor has become a work of art, full of great articles. Recently Phil Wakeford’s “Iconic” series has been very good and Chris Betts has done a brilliant job with his “Back to basics” articles. This type of writing is usually a bore to someone who has been around the Piking block a few times but Chris has made it interesting. Mr Harper even printed some of my guff. To make things even more impressive “Pikelines” is a club magazine produced by volunteers. The magazine is worth the membership alone, without all the other benefits of PAC membership which you can find out about by clicking the link on the left of the page. Actually I’ll make it even easier for you;
Before I got side-tracked I was moaning about magazines… Well hopefully I won’t be moaning for much longer as a new magazine will soon appear and this one will be a little bit different. “Catch Cult” is being produced by experienced and successful anglers Rob Shallcroft and Martin Mumby. It will feature proper writing from proper anglers and even me. The magazine will cover all species, even Carp and a bit of sea fishing too. It’s produced by anglers, for anglers. Just like the magazines used to be. More details to come.