The run up to Christmas is normally a pretty steady, transitional period weather wise with the really harsh conditions usually reserved until after the festive season. But as I write this entry in late November, the country has been in the grip of a big freeze for over a week and the cold spell is expected to last for at least another fortnight. I’m sure the fish will acclimatise and the fishing will pick up at some stage, but at the moment the few hardy souls daring to venture out are no doubt finding things very hard.
Back when the leaves were starting to take on their spectacular autumnal hues, the rivers and lakes of the UK appeared to quite suddenly come alive. There were some great catches recorded in the weekly angling press as species like perch, carp, chub and barbel fed in earnest in preparation for the lean months ahead.
My local river Lea was generally low and clear through the autumn and the fish, when they came, generally arrived after spells of prolonged rain or at dusk.
At the end of September I cycled to a narrow, upper stretch of the river for a couple of hours fishing. Using a short wand style rod and simply free-lining meat I had five or six chublets and a small, fin-perfect barbel in an area that is wonderfully overgrown and wild. Very different to most of the lower reaches!
I had a great day in October on a stretch a bit further down the Lea. Fishing worms the afternoon after a spell of heavy morning rain, I managed a nice brace of chub, loads of small perch and my final bite of the day saw a gentle pull on the quiver-tip followed by a strange, spirited fight with something that didn’t tear around like the chub I’d hooked earlier. As I drew the fish towards the net I could see it was a roach, a big roach! It weighed 2lbs exactly, but, as you can see from the second photo there’s definitely more than a hint of bream in there. Still, a cracking fish.
A couple of visits to the same section in lower, clear conditions were much harder going. A single chub on each trip; both at dusk, both on little pieces of spam on scaled down tackle and both from the same tricky-to-access, near-bank chub hole. In a way, finally tempting a bite on a difficult day is as rewarding as the more action packed sessions. Netting a big brassy chub at the very end of an otherwise fishless and frustrating day feels like just reward for your efforts.