Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Beating the Winter blues....

Beating the winter blues requires a positive mindset. The shortening of days and tempestuous weather we have of late has been enough to blow the stuffing out of the sturdiest of winter anglers. There were fish to be caught; having said that, December is not my favourite part of the winter season and having to find the motivation is part of the battle. Fortunately this rarely matters as rivers have yet to fall fully into a steady state of winter slumber.

Its times like these I like to look through records and catch data and remind myself that the best is yet to come! I simply love winter Chubbing... but the seasons seem to ever wrestle with universal forces and shifting climatic systems beyond our simple comprehension.  It seems rare to experience those conditions traditionally associated with a winter Chub season proper until well into January!

Jack Daniels induced stupor... dreaming of Chub!
But it is Christmas and it is the time for family! On that note, my Mum and Dad... Missing me... decide it would be nice to drop by and visit me fishing as they are ‘just passing’... Phone rings.... ‘where are you?’..etc.. tell them my precise location... Phone goes a second time ‘where, can’t see you...’ Rod tip folds over, which I respond with a fumbly cock arsed strike – felt the fish solidly on and drop the phone... followed promptly by the fish dropping off... I get a third and final phone call where they decide their foot ware is not really up to the job and they will leave it this time!!! That was my only bite of the day!!!! And I was seeing them all over Christmas!!! AAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! I HATE MOBILE PHONES!

On reflection, it has not been a bad start to the winter campaign... December highlights included a hat trick of fours and a later 5lb9oz Chub on banana cheese paste from a rapidly rising river... and what could possibly have been the last Chub of 2013 at 4lb2oz which came out to Cheese paste.

Last roll of the dice.

There is always a sense of urgency towards the end of year.. A few scraps of cheese paste lay festering in the fridge from the day before, not to mention festering on my brain. It was on that thought I felt compelled to prise myself away from the warmth and comfort having practically got set in for the evening... It was a complete spur of the moment thing... an agitation brought about by possibly ideal conditions and the thought of a few fish coming out.

Actually, thinking about it... I think I can be a little more precise about my motivation. I simply adore fishing after dark. If its solitude and internal reflection you seek, night time on the river bank is where you’re going to find it! Senses starved of the blinding stimulus of light are heightened; a cacophony of sounds floods the senses with a blinding crescendo. Small voles come thundering through the undergrowth; unknown giants stalk through undergrowth, branches crackling under foot; a foxes screech scratches through the air. I suddenly feel alive and tuned into a new dimension hidden from those that walk by day.

It was a beautiful star lit evening; a mild breeze fought off any risk of ground frost and despite the occasional bluster it felt quite mild. Early indications were sketchy... I would ask questions of various swims certain to hold Chub – but lacked any feedback or reply as my quiver tip swayed in the occasional gust. In circumstances such as these I like to cover as many swims as possible and rarely stay in one place for more than 20 minutes.

Finally at around 10:15pm... A sharp jab on the tip (does your heart still ‘jolt’ on that first tap?); followed by a steady pull and a feeling of satisfying resistance on the strike. Having cast to the far bank, I was surprised that the Chub had made it so suddenly to the near bank mash of broken reeds taking line off a firmly set clutch. Keeping pressure and winding as I battled towards the spritely fellow, I fought to keep in contact walking downstream to gain purchase. Fortunately the rod signalled a connection with an opponent still determined to Part Company. Finally spent, I scooped my prize. At only 3lb9oz, this tenacious little chub put up a fight putting many larger to shame.

I always plan to leave the evening with a favourite swim. Preferring to not use a bank stick for fear of disturbing any nearby fish, I cast to the far bank and settled in. It’s a good reliable swim; one which owes more in depth than feature as to why it holds a better than average stamp of fish. Despite the fact I would have happily waited it out... a slow pull indicated the presence of a chub within minutes of casting out... striking firmly...the hook came back clean.

The hook was re baited by touch and the paste shaped to ensure a clear hook point. A cast tight to the far bank was judged and ‘feathered’ down. After allowing the bait to settle, I like to draw the bait back a few inches to confirm its sitting on clean river bed. In circumstances where a steady bite has been missed, it really does help to be able to give any following bites more time to develop. I don’t know why, but hitting bites early doesn’t seem to be the answer in these circumstances. Fortunately, after what seemed like an eternity, a second chance! Holding a bow of line in the free hand, line was fed out whilst the rod tip was moved to follow the taking fish. Feeling for the final decisive tug of resistance, a strike was met with a lively chub that was keen to weave around mid river. To be fair, it felt a fraction of its predecessor and quickly began to tire. It was welcomed into the net under a blaze of light from a dulled head lamp bulb. At 5lb6oz, it certainly made a great way to finish the year! A few self take shots and it was lovingly returned... I love seeing them swim away under torch light! It certainly seemed to make a highlight to what has been a terrific year and just goes to show what can come from acting upon these sudden urges! The only trouble is getting to sleep after all that excitement.....
I think I can give it a break now till next year!!! Tight lines for 2014.

December highlights.

4lb9oz HBC 'Big Cheese'/Blue Cheese SAC cheese paste
4lb7oz HBC 'Big Cheese'/Blue cheese SAC cheese paste
4lb5oz HBC 'Big Cheese'/Blue cheese SAC cheese paste
5lb9oz Laguna Banana SAC/HBC Cheese paste
4lb2oz HBC 'Club Tropicana' Cheese paste
5lb6oz Laguna Banana SAC/HBC Cheese paste

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