It must be Winter!
Wow, it’s been a tough December... recent events sapping my motivation means going through the motions regarding my fishing. Its times like these I appreciate the true value of the love and warmth family and friends has on my well being.
Fishing is a pretty insular pursuit and forms an important part of my make up... I actually crave periods of quiet contemplation and the isolation offered by being in natural places. Perhaps this is why I derive so much pleasure from fishing after dark. Our visual references to the world diminish and a more primeval inner consciousness takes over. But, when it ain’t happening... it ain’t happening.
On a bright note, my son is National GKR Karate champion in his belt/age category, a real highlight gaining a Silver Medal in Kata and Gold... Yes GOLD... for Kumate. It was held in Sheffield and was a highlight that good buddy Lee Swords came down with a few words of encouragement... ‘Ryan, a head butt.... it’s devastating.....’...... Love it!!!
A few thoughts on Winter Chubbing.
For me, perfect winter conditions coincide when the river runs with that beautiful green tinge with a bit of a push from recent rainfall. Stubbornly, the river is still running very low and clear and there has been little stability in conditions. Swim selection is still limited as the river bed is paved with weed and detritus in places. When it’s like this, it can be a bit like banging your head against a brick wall... Its time like these I know I should be putting some time in on the beach in search of some Winter Cod! But, I do love Chub and ‘you have to be in it, to win it’ as they say!
I know what we really need is consistency! It’s never too cold for Chub... but in colder weather they do take time to acclimatise to sub zero conditions... A warm spell followed by a quick cold snap really seems to knock them off their... um... fins.
Even better, an influx of warm rain after ‘said’ cold snap... fining down after floods.... snow Chub... it’s still all to come! See? How’s that for positivity!!!!!
Hot to trot.
With little chance of fish coming out in daylight, a purchase of maggots seemed a sensible option... It’s a brilliant method and on its day is a killer... I sprayed and prayed, pouching maggots towards a bush just above a dense snag that holds good numbers of Chub for around 25 minutes.... sent my Drennan Puddle chucker loaded wagler... Nothing! The Chub failed to ‘switch on’ and I did not get so much as a dither of a bite...
A few similar attempts at fish holding spots were met with strong oppositional defiance!
It is a method I admire and the artisans who perform their magic on rivers like the Stour are nothing short of remarkable. For whatever reason, I find it a very hit and miss Winter method on Suffolk rivers. It’s probably a number of factors; we do not get the same density of fish to really get them going, we don’t get sufficient flow to carry the maggots when conditions are clear, or I’m crap at trotting.... take your pick! When we do get the right flow and colour, trotted bread is devastating (and much, much cheaper)..... and for me? Summer is the time for maggots.... I like to see what the rascals are getting up to.
Reliably, a switch of tactics to ledgered Cheese paste had a modest sized chub of 3lb11oz grace the net (I do hate blanking) just on darkness.
The magic hour.
It is never more so important to hack it out till the golden hour of last light in Winter. As temperatures plummet and line begins to weld to icy rod rings, this is typically the very moment you are likely to get bites.
Fishing effectively involves being comfortable in yourself and your equipment functioning correctly. I take a rather old fashioned approach to staying warm. I love my Barbour Jackets; I always feel at home in the countryside wearing them. They do require frequent attention to keep them operating effectively and warm... they are not. I rely on a system of layers to ensure warmth even in the very coldest of conditions. Two hats worn one on top of the other reduces heat loss and my Mum has knitted me a 10ft scarf!!!!!
A warm neck and head really do make a difference. I find if I can keep my core body temperature high, my fingers do not suffer too badly so fingerless mitts are perfectly adequate. My favourite jacket is over 10 years old and wears patches and repairs like long service medals – there are not many modern fabrics which can boast such histories.
Feet? I splashed out for some thermal boots. They really do make life far more comfortable.
|Well you wonder what they were for!|
Here’s a little trick, I have always used a small twiglet or bit of dead grass to coat and soak rod rings in glycerine. It works pretty well, but when I went into our bathroom cabinet discovered my Son’s interdental brushes for cleaning his brace sometime last year. These are absolutely perfect for applying glycerine into those fine quiver tip eyelets..... The last thing you want is line freezing to rod rings!
Glycerine’s ability to resist freezing is legendary and forms the basis of the Laguna range of SAC juices. Its addition into the cheese paste was in part due to the effects of its ‘anti freeze’ properties as much as its high nutritional make up... The blue cheese SAC juice has more than adequately justified its addition milk protein based cheese paste mixes over the traditional egg binder.
Glycerine is actually quite a complex chemical compound. It’s used as a preservative; an intense sweetener; is added prevents solids from setting too hard; can resist freezing to -46 degrees; acts as a solvent and emulsifier allowing solubility of fats in water and as well as other compounds..... For me, any one or number of those reasons justifies its inclusion in my cheese pastes.
|George Michael... always had 'Chub' on the brain....|
Flavouring cheese paste has been an effective edge that has certainly helped me to plunder the modest Chub populations round these parts far more effectively had I used the same old, same old... time and time again. With that in mind... and bananas on the brain, Darren and the team from Hook Bait Company have put a new trial flavour together creatively called ‘Chub Tropicana’ for now! Blended with the Big Cheese bollie base mix cheese paste, results in November were very encouraging... catching on its first trial trip with chub of 2lb11oz, 3lb11oz and 3lb4oz. Later Chub followed including Chub of 4lb3oz and 4lb4oz bring the total to 77 over four pound this year.
The winter is young and the best is yet to come... There is so much to look forward to.
I know it won’t be long before the bigger Girls come out to play.. Till then.. Tight lines!
A few highlights from November
|November 3rd HBC/SAC Cheese paste|
|November 7th 4lb5oz HBC/SAC Banana Cheese paste|
|November 15th 4lb HBC/SAC Cheese paste|
|November 17th 4lb3oz HBC Chub Tropicana|
|November 20th 4lb4oz HBC Chub tropicana|