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From the water’s edge

December 2014 - Coping with the stiff stuff.

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.

Well we knew it would be. A series of very heavy frosts over the last few nights combined with intervening days that never saw zero degrees exceeded on the thermometer could only mean hard water.

Dawn broke with an orange glow skidding across the ice, crunchy grass underfoot and water that looked more like a puzzle that had just been tipped out of the box for the first time.

We’ve seen all this before and we knew that there would be chances to catch fish today. We would certainly be wetting a line and we would certainly need gloves but while ice may be water, water is not ice. Fish can live and feed in water. Ice makes a good protective shield above them and while they may be reluctant to feed and not desperately in need of food, they can still be tempted.

First we needed some wet water and so we chose a lock. Not just any lock, to be on the safe side we headed for a couple that needed repairing. Knackered locks leak. Leaks mean moving water and that means it’s not ice. Bridges are good too. They put an insulating lid over the water that often keeps a patch free for exploration, especially if they don’t catch cooling winds.

We had just the place lined up and while expecting it to be hard, we would have been surprised if we hadn’t caught something. On the day we were right in every respect, there was some clear water and it was hard, but we did catch something.

With both air and water being so cold, it didn’t take a genius to realise that they would not be tearing about up in the water slashing at everything that went past. If only. We went straight to the bottom fishing small, slow and carefully across the mud. Working around the stones and through the rotting leaves expecting all the fish to be virtually comatose.

Pete was in straight away. Ten minutes in, he had the first on a small 1” veal’s  shad dibbled in the edge. Maybe we would get quite a lot of fish after all. It didn’t turn out that way, we did get more, six more between us. Mostly dibbling but I did coax a small Z into hitting a crayfish.

Gone are the days when we could only catch when everything was right. Having the confidence to succeed and then doing so when everything is against us is, I think, a very real, very tangible and very satisfying accomplishment.

Small as that return was today, it caps a season in which I have had just two blanks in 50 outings. One on Grafham and one on the canal. That is a previously undreamt of success in my book and suggests that we now have the methods and knowledge at our disposal to do even better next year.

Pete and I shall be out there again (God willing), week in and week out right through the coming year, filling journal pages with drivel and hopefully many more, even bigger and more beautiful perch and zander.

Above all else, we would like to wish you all a happy new year and some more great fishing.

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