From the water’s edge

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January 2010 - Enjoying the winter slog

There always comes a time during the course of the winter when we just seem to be going through the motions. The weather gets harder and colder while the fish get fewer and smaller. Was it ever thus?

This continuing cold spell has been responsible for a catalogue of missed opportunities as the canals we had planned to target during the extended lock closures have been buried by up to 3” of ice. Down below, the fish are there and the water is cleaner than ever but we are locked out by the weather and have to look elsewhere for our sport.

Today we visited the Warwickshire Avon hoping for a few pike and maybe a zander or two. While we managed to avoid the zander, three small pike came to the net and made up for the numb fingers and toes at least.

One of them appeared in a bad way with a serious and livid tumour on its nose and we wondered both at what had caused it (the hole in the top of it suggested a stabbing wound so it may have been a heron), and at wild creatures’ ability to survive and feed despite injuries and illnesses that would have a human being off work for an age. The difference I guess is that life and death are all there is for them.

With the weather closing in and more snow on the way, we packed at around lunchtime. We had caught some fish and spent some time enjoying the under-stated beauty of the riverside in the depths of an English winter. It is a dead mind that cannot see or admire the subtle colours and details of scenery like this.

Even so it is nice to get home and enjoy them again through the photographs, with a glass of something to warm the inner man close at hand. It is a relief to know that once the door is shut behind you, the freezing conditions are left outside and food and warmth are waiting for you. Being a human being rather than a fish or a bird is not so bad is it?

All our takes came to 3” shads retrieved very slowly across the bottom, a hazardous approach in a river as snaggy as this. All the same, it was worth a few lures to see these beautiful fish on the bank. In stark contrast to the drab greys and browns of the riverbank, they were all vibrant with rich yellows and greens enhanced by the cold temperatures. They reminded me of those hardy swimmers that brave the broken ice of the serpentine and come dripping from the water flushed in rich shades of pink.

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