From the water’s edge

January 2015 - Cold comfort

It’s the darkest hour. It’s not exactly night but still we can’t see the ice, although we feel sure it will be there. We’ve chosen this place for its leaky locks just in case. No snow, no frost, it should be clear but just in case. We set off for the next set down the hill, a fair walk and as we arrive, the light is pouring over the side of the bowl, spreading across the landscape, teasing us that we can see when we can’t really. We are certain that this spot below the gates is clear because an evil, chill wind ruffles the surface. More importantly our small baits land with a plop and the line pulls tight as they sink.

It is so so cold it gets through the chinks in my gear, round my neck across the backs of my hands. Small and slow may be sensible and indeed obvious, but frankly, even after just five minutes I don’t feel that it is going to work. If that is the case, better hunker down, try to keep warm. Pull the woolly hat down over my ears, hood up to keep out the wind, gloves on, sleeves taped tight over them to leave no chinks for that bastard chill to bite through. Off with the grub, on with a 2” cray, shrink back inside the shell of my winter clobber and focus introvertedly on that barely visible sag in the line. It won’t work though it’s all just too cold and miserable.

The first cast has landed just shy of the far bank, luck not judgement, its still too dark for judgement, but it is just light enough to see the line flicker. 1-13. Not huge but a big fish on a morning like this and very unexpected and after another hour, obviously very lucky.

We plugged away at all those clear spots that our intuition had found us around the locks, for the rest of the canal was sheet ice. Once I would have said that we would have no right to catch fish in conditions like this and today I could remember why I felt that way. I did eventually get another flicker on the crayfish but missed. Pete was using smaller baits and failing so I thought I’d try an idea that I had been pondering for a while. Before setting out, I had mounted a couple of Dichoso Umiushi worms on fine wire, un-weighted worm hooks. The plan was to fish these a slowly as possible across the bottom, with lots of long pauses.

I cast out and left it there while I had a chat with Pete. On picking the lure up off the bottom, I found a perch already on. Something of a success that then. Two casts later, again while it was stationary, the line flicked and wandered off. Perch number three. Convinced I had the answer, I fixed Pete up with a similar rig and for the next hour we achieved absolutely nothing. Not a flicker.

It was the story of the day, get a take, followed by an hour’s utterly uneventful tedium. At the bottom lock, a perch shot out and snapped at my crayfish as I lifted it out. A quick change back to the worm and two more were on the bank, but that was it for that swim.

We headed back up the hill. Pete tricked his first out on a static 1” shad but before we knew it and with half an hour ‘til opening time we were back at the car. One more lock then further up the hill. Another on the cray and Pete had his second on a 4” shad dragged through the mud.

So some questions to puzzle over there then. Why, oh why is that when you are really struggling to a take of any sort do those that succumb gulp it down, no problem? What’s up with the rest of them? Why when next to nothing is feeding does a 4oz perch wolf down a 4” lure. Is that weedless worm any better than any other small bait rig.

It certainly was weedless, I caught no rubbish despite dragging it at snail’s pace across the bottom and I do like the extra fall you get with weightless lures . Sadly, despite coaxing four of my six fish from a recalcitrant, freezing cold canal today, I have a feeling that this method is going to be just another change bait/method when we are clearing up the stragglers from a swim in more conducive conditions. That is to  say that when everything else is working, so will this. And by the way Wadey, (whose idea I have stolen here) this has to be the most boring, uninspiring, tedious, mind-numbing methods I have ever tried. Of course a few more bites will change my mind in an instant as it always does.

I hope that you find my journal interesting and entertaining. If, having read this, you think that I am talking rubbish then at least you have stopped and thought about it long enough to come to that conclusion which is something of a result in my book. If you would like to comment on this article or anything else relating to my website, please feel free to contact me using the adjacent form. Feedback is always greatly appreciated and very helpful when it comes to improving both my site and my angling. Thank you for looking. If this form will not work for you, please e-mail me at

artificial lite



journal 2015.


journal 2015.