Once again the weather had done its best to hamper many a fishing trip this month but looking at my records I still managed to get out thirteen times split between personal sessions (6), guiding (6) and features (1). Fortunately I made the most of a couple of breaks in the weather and quite a few perch guiding sessions were able to be done, all of which saw good perch landed. When the rivers were flowing high and coloured and the lakes frozen I stayed in the office which has allowed me to get ahead of myself once again and allowed the start of the New Year to be used to good advantage, well that’s if this weather settles down. A trip to Frensham proved that the rudd can still be caught in the depth of winter, but more importantly I’m still up to the job. As much as I love Frensham I have to be very disciplined as perch are this winters target and I don’t want to get side tracked and once again cover old ground. A trip to Testwood Pools was once again hugely enjoyable but the weather did its best to blow us off the venue. I even agreed to guide my good friend Lou for pike which was rewarding with him catching a few jacks before landing one of 15lb 2oz.
Christmas has now past and the New Year is fast approaching. I was hoping to get out for one last trip before 2018 arrives but with my phone is showing rain and high winds from 4pm today right through to the morning of the 31st so it looks like I’m going to have to bang in plenty of sessions during the first week of the year. I purposely kept the first week of the year free as most anglers will be back to normal, the banks will be much quieter and knowing the rivers are high at the moment, if they settle down a few fish will grace my net.
Happy New Year to you all and ‘be lucky’ in 2018.
I still have a few signed copies of my book ‘Evolution of an Angler’ available at the stupid price of £10.99 plus P&P. If you fancy a good read whilst this weather does its best to hamper our fishing then just email me for further details. Guiding vouchers were also popular as Christmas presents with quite a few anglers finding one in there sack. These also make great birthday presents, so if you’re stuck for ideas then this maybe a solution. Again email me for more details – firstname.lastname@example.org
Day to Day events.
04/12/17 – On the river come first light and with the weather perfect, really expected a bite straight away in a really good looking swim on a new stretch but an hour later I was still biteless. Next two swims, nothing yet the forth produced two, 3lb 1oz and 2lb 12oz. Happy days. Next swim nothing but then in a swim that didn’t look very perch but for some reason my sixth sense said cast a line I received three bites, two were landed weighing 2lb 6oz and 2lb 10oz and another fish that I suspect was a chub did me in a snag. With loads more river to explore I’m looking forward to the rest of the month but not before taking my dad later in the week as Id love him to bag a big perch.
05/12/17 – In the office all day writing an AM article.
06/12/17 – As the perch seem to be so easy to catch and with the weather dry, overcast and mild at 12 degrees decided to get my father, who is 86 out for a few hours in the hope of a fish or two. We never arrived to the river till 8.30am, walked a couple of miles, only fished two swims and come 11am were on our way home happy with four which included two 2lbers, the best 2lb 13oz along with a couple of good ones lost.
08/12/17 – Feeling a bit under the weather, think I might be going down with something and really should have stayed at home but after waiting in all day for a delivery I decided I had to head to Frensham to see if the rudd were feeding. It was a bit of a shot in the dark but with the weather forecasted to become really cold knew that this maybe my only chance for a few days. Nobody else around so dropped into a swim that produced last year, went through the procedure of spodding some bait out at distance before dropping a couple of helicopter rigs over the top. As darkness fell so did the temperature and I started to question my sanity but around ninety minutes later it happened, both rods away almost together and two cracking rudd to show for my efforts. Come 9.30pm and with no further action and feeling the cold decided I had achieved what I had come for and headed home.
09 & 10/12/17 – In the office proof reading and compiling a Top Tips article for Anglers Mail along with my weekly ‘Where to Fish’ column.
11/12/17 – Having been around people with colds for the last couple of weeks I was really hoping that I would somehow stay clear of it but unfortunately not as the last few days I’ve had a bad head cold. I suppose that if I was going to get it then best have it this week whilst the weather is at its worst and I can stay in the warm and get any pending articles sorted nice and early.
12/12/17 – The coldest night of the winter and the lakes have frozen and we have it good down here as Wales and the Midlands are colder than Moscow! I really wanted to get out as I love chub fishing with bread when it’s this cold but still feeling a bit under the weather and with the roads really bad went back to bed after dropping the lady at work at 6am. Feeling better for it and spent the day doing fishy related things such as getting articles to Anglers Mail and sorting the tackle out for the odd short session tomorrow and the next few days after this.
13/12/17 – Unfortunately I had to reschedule my guided day’s perch fishing with Matt for a few reasons. First I’ve had a stinking cold which I didn’t want to pass on. Secondly I was guessing that the river wasn’t going to be in top form and I was right as although feeling shit, sometimes a couple of hours in the fresh air does you good, yet arriving at the river Wey at first light for a spot of chub fishing instantly made me heading elsewhere as it was a horrid brown colour, just like the puddles on the side of the road. Waggoners Wells was my plan-b and a short three hour session fishing punch saw around 8lb of prime roach to around a pound taken. A quick visit to Apollo Angling at Marsh Farm for a few items for my treat to Testwood Pools on Friday before heading home and sorting the tackle out for a perch fishing trip to the river with pal Chris and brother Kevin, yet it’s going to be a bit hit ‘n’ miss if the rivers going to be right?
14/12/17 – Met my mate on the river at first light but we both knew it was a bit of a risk and one look at the river and we both knew catching was going to be impossible so we ended up having a gudgeon match on a local lake. Chris fished a float that resembled a light house (I reckon it was so big it became a self-hooking rig) and a size 16 hook whilst I scaled right down to a size 20 hook under a delicate pole float. Guess who won? Chris taking 11 to my dismal 3 but I did catch lots of roach to around 12oz so on weight he was the loser!
15/12/17 – The day that I look forward too each year but unfortunately our day book comes when the weather is as bad as it can be. Hoping the river would have a green tinge to it we really knew it was going to have a shit brown tinge to it and this was the case. The upper river was up a few feet and within this was going to be oil and salt from the roads laid down a few days before to combat the coldest night of the year. Joy. This wasn’t the only problem as we arrived in drizzle, temperatures just hovering above freezing, an ever increasing N/W (downstream) wind and a tide that was a few feet below high and dropping. Without boring you with too many details, the clouds soon dispersed leaving us to try and trot into the sun whilst doing our best to control a float in a howling downstream wind, turbulent water and whilst having numb fingers. Come midday I had put a dozen fish in the net split evenly between grayling to a pound and sea trout to maybe 6lb. Alan had a similar return. After a brew and lunch in the hut we headed back, yet it was even harder. I think Alan had two trout whist sitting it out on the feeder for a big roach whist I added a further seven fish to my tally which at least included a coarse fish, a 6oz dace. I fished until I couldn’t see the float no more and we both agreed that there was no reason to add to our pain of fishing one of the finest and diverse fisheries in the country anymore in what can only be described as the worst conditions of all. It’s these days that make us better anglers and although it was painful at times and sad that we couldn’t make the most of our time there, we both truly enjoyed it and look forward to revenge next year. Thanks Alan.
17/12/17 – We were hoping for some good perch fishing today but still the river isn’t looking good, slightly pushing and carrying colour but its fishable. Arrived at 8am, two anglers already on the beat and with a hard ground frost things still aren’t going our way. First swim fished saw both Chris and I have bites but Chris missed his chance and I lost mine after a few seconds. Two hours later and further swims quickly covered and with the rain now falling we dropped into one last swim for a few minutes and Chris managed a pike of around 6lb. I was hoping for no more rain but come 4pm it’s still falling which isn’t going to make the next week very easy. Lakes and canal are frozen but should defrost this evening and with mild weather forecasted even if the rivers are out then I will be able to cast a line in a lake.
18/12/17 – It was good to catch up with my mate Tom who I hadn’t seen for a few months. After picking him up in Alton at 8am we headed to free stretch of the river Wey in the hope of a big chub yet although the river looked good it was tough going as all I had to show for my efforts was one modest chub after a good five hours roving around with bread flake. Tom fared better with one of 3lb 14oz along with a surprise common of 9lb 14oz. We then headed to a free stretch of the river Blackwater. Tom had chub on his mind and managed a couple with me sink and drawing a dead roach through a couple of pools in the hope of a pike. This session was for an AM feature to be published early in the New Year.
19/12/17 – On the road early and giving myself plenty of time to get to the Lower Itchen Fishery to meet one of my regular customers Neal Webb. First in the fishery we smashed our way through the frozen puddles to the top of the fishery in the hope that other anglers would see our cars and give us some space. Wrong as three anglers decided to fish the swims directly downstream giving us no room to move. After fishing two swims and catching quite a few trout before Neal was rewarded with his first ever grayling we headed downstream and then realised why we had others so close, the river was rammed. Luckily Neal was wanting not only to catch his first ever grayling, which he had already achieved, but more importantly to learn the art of using a pin and trotting a chalk stream so he was more than happy dropping in around people and catching the odd trout. Luckily the anglers at the top of the fishery had also headed downstream so when we headed back were able to fish a few more swims and although the fishing wasn’t easy, it wasn’t impossible and come the end of the day Neal had taken numerous fish including grayling to around 1lb 6oz, trout to 3lb and a bonus chub at the end of the day.
A few words from Neal –
Thank you for another extremely enjoyable and educational guiding trip yesterday.
Several dozen fish on a fishery that, as you said seemed well above its angler capacity is a commendable days guiding.
I caught my first grayling and many more rod bending fish on a hard day. You have a knack of producing results whilst those around are scratching their heads. Once again you pulled the rabbit out of the hat!
I always think I learn so much more on these difficult days Duncan.
Have a great Christmas,
20/12/17 –Having had to cancel a few guiding days it’s good that the weather is better and allowing me to bang in a few of the cancelled guiding days for perch. On the river just before 8am to meet Matt, a customer that I hadn’t seen for a couple of years when we last headed to Old Bury Hill to fish for zander. Very much an experienced lure angler, Matt wanted to see just how I go about targeting river perch and soon after dropping in our first swim was looking at the first perch of the day which weighed 1lb 14oz. Next swim he was rewarded with one of 2lb 1oz before returning to our initial swim to net one of 2lb 6oz. It could have been so much better but the loss of a big perch will probably give him a few sleepless nights but that’s fishing, we all lose a few. Roving around more action came and I lost count of how many fish Matt landed and lost but it was certainly an action packed session.
21/12/17 – A day in the office catching up on fishy related items as well as getting things ready for another guiding day tomorrow.
22/12/17 – My customer arrived at my house at 7.30am and we headed to the river once more with perch on our minds. Things looked good as the first swim produced a couple of fish, the best a 1lb 15oz perch. Next swim produced another good fish; however the next three went without reward, strange as all produced bites earlier in the week. The last swim however didn’t disappoint as cast after cast was rewarded with fish after fish, happy days and on very satisfied customer.
23/12/17 – On the river come 7.30am and all looked good in the first swim when a perch weighing around 1lb 12oz was netted after a few minutes. An hour later and with no further action we moved to my second banker, nothing and then to a pool where three spots were tried and again no action. Next swim produced two bites, one fish and then after a couple more fishless swims we dropped into a pool for a period of frantic action. Soon the action stopped so we headed to anew stretch which saw one bite coming from three swims yet disaster happened as the hook pulled on what was definitely a big fish. Barrie then decided to sit it out in the pool that gave lots of action; however come 6pm he was still waiting. A strange day with plenty of bites and a few fish but no monsters apart from two he lost. That’s fishing.
27/12/17 – Out on the bank once again, this time with Lou who wanted to try and catch a decent pike. Fortunately I keep a couple of areas where I know pike are very much to myself so when someone request such a day I can usually put a few jacks and the outside of a decent pike in my customers net. Fortunately the fishing gods were looking down on us as Lou managed to take one weighing 15lb 2oz.
28/12/17 and 29/12/17 – In the office writing up a couple of Anglers Mail Where To Fish articles as well as a WTF Opener for them, sending images taken in 2017 to the relevant fishing clubs along with loads of other things.
30/12/17 – I was hoping to have an on-the-bank meeting with Alan Blair yet the weather conditions have once again hampered plans so it’s been postponed to the New Year.