So many times on Forums i see the comments "Was going to go today but being so cold i thought i was wasting my time" This comment time and time again baffles me. This time of year is by far the best time of year for fishing and it is certainly easier than in Summer. How can it be easier than summer some would think? Well look at it this way and i use a canal for my example. In summer you walk the canal and it is alive whith fish along its full length, fish of all species and sizes are spread far and wide along its full length. Come winter and doing your homework you find that the fish are all packed into one area and the colder it gets the tighter they shoal in these areas.
The huge bonus here is that once you find the winter grounds, unless you get a huge change in temperature, then these fish will be here all winter. The fish tightly shoaled and hungry due to the cold you can really bag up and when you take this idea and add it to a river scenario where the fish are even more on the feed as they are constantly swimming against the flow you will be amazed how ferocious these fish can come onto the feed.
Winter fishing is not for everyone and on the cold days i can understand how some just dont think about going fishing when they look out the window at a howling gale or a hard frost on the ground but if you are the type who thinks i dont want to go because i wont catch then just go out and try it. You do need to do your homework to be on the fish but in most cases a walk on first light will give them away as the will always top as dawn breaks. Winter really is the time of plenty for anglers and some amazing days fishing can be had for the price of a few pints of maggot and hemp seed.
On to one such session:
A Dream Winter Session For Roach.....
Waking up to the sound of rain tapping like an annoying alarm call on the window i knew we where in for a wet day on the bank. A look at all the river levels and they looked to be OK but we both knew the rise was coming and would probably see the River rise during our session, not always a bad thing though as the fish can really come on the feed if they sense a rise coming.
The rain and the cloud cover that brought it had done little to increase the air temperature and it was a harsh cold that nipped at my nose as i loaded my fishing tackle into the car. For the session i loaded my 13ft Korum Float Rod and my MAP125 Pole as i did not know what to expect when i arrived on the bank and if it was to be a session fishing a slack on a flooding river then the pole might come into play. Walking the banks before the session the ground was saturated and slippy and the river up and slightly coloured, i was glad of my thermal boots for sure!
A good walk of the banks revealed two likely looking swims we had fished before, one with a slack on the far side and the other with a nearside slack, although at this point the main flow of the river was not too bad. Plumbing up i found the bottom to be of an even depth but it was a deeper depression in the river bed i was trying to locate and eventually my float that was lying at dead depth sunk away revealing the line i wanted to fish. Depth plummets are the most important piece of kit you can own for sure.
I started to run through the swim a few times before i committed to putting any bait in, looking for that snag free line, a clear trot found i began drip feeding 5-6 maggots every trot through and a few grains of hemp seed to coincide where i though my maggots where hitting the deck. This way you feel your way into the swim, gaining an idea of how many fish are in the area. you can then judge your feed based on what you catch and how fast.
Trickling maggots down the line and a few changes made to depth it was a good 45 minutes before my first bite and it was the tinniest of dips on the float but still a start and where there is one there is more.
I love river fishing for the mere fact you always feel like you can make something happen. 10 men round a lake and ones bagging how do you get the fish away or into your area but on a river you can slowly draw fish from no where up the river. Like a light switch going on the fish arrived and it was a bite a chuck with a bite coming every cast, only small at first but it was bites.
Not long after the bites coming on the rain arrived and it came on really heavy to the point the brolly went up. The fishing went through the roof as the level began to go back up again. The small fish at first although still showing where being mixed in with so solid size roach that had taken up residence right on my hemp.
It really was a bite a chuck fishing right through the session with small roach mixed in with the odd better one. The key to bites was to hold back right on the hemp and as soon as the float righted itself again it would sail under. Set in a rhythm of cast in, feed, hold back and then strike i almost was not even watching the float so loaded with fish was the swim.
Then came a run of bites i will never forget as a proper shoal of fish moved into the swim. A hold back on the hemp and striking into something that felt a good stamp bigger. Jagging from side to side in the current i knew it was a roach but i was not expecting it to be so big. A huge slab of silver in my palm i quickly jumped of my seat box and raced to my uncles peg "jesus azz look at this!!" i shouted, it was easily a new pb roach for me. What i did not expect was a few more to be down there and in the rest of the session i had 4 more special roach show.
The ones in the pic below went 1lb10z, 1lb8oz, 1lb,8oz and 1lb 4oz. Ant the mad thing was the fact that come the end these roach where the four biggest over a pound there was at least two more in that bracket.
As the session drew to an end i knew i had a decent net of fish. I had been catching steady all session and some of the fish had been of a good size so i thought i had a few pound in the net. My estimate was around the 12-15lb mark but when i come to pull my net in and lifting it i could feel the strain on my arms and net i knew i thought a little different. On the scales the net went 21lb 11oz""
A 21lb 11oz mainly roach net i was over the moon.
My uncle had also had a fantastic day on the float with a net of 10lb of pristine roach and nice chub
All in all a session to remember and as a stick float man it does not really get much better than this!!
A 17lb pike and a 20lb plus roach net from a river.....A truly dream weeks fishing