Month: <span>December 2021</span>

Those of you who read my blog regularly may have noticed that I have not been catching much recently. Yes, I know that it is winter and fishing slows down but I am getting a bit dispirited. I had a look back at my diary to see what I was catching this time last year and saw that I was going to the river quite often and managing to catch roach, dace, perch and chub. This year all I seem to manage is minnows!

Anyway, I had a couple of sessions this week. Firstly I went to one of the club lakes which usually fishes well and where I have caught before. I decided to leave my carp rods at home and take the float rod and feeder rod. It was later than I wanted by the time that I got to the water as just as I was leaving home the missus decided that she wanted the Christmas tree and decorations out of the attic. In the spirit of marital harmony I decided that I had better go up there and find them, at least it would give her something to do while I was gone! I arrived to find several cars in the car park and another angler just arriving. We had a chat and like me, he was after silvers, we walked around the lake together and chose swims near to each other facing the wind. It was the second of two milder days so we were both hopeful that the fish would be feeding. 

I keep my tackle box in the top of my rucksack and undid it to take out something and didn’t fasten it up properly or zip the top up again. Next I lifted the top compartment up to get to stuff underneath and my tackle box deposited its contents on the floor, I have to admit that there were a few choice words said as I scrabbled around in the mud picking up floats, weights, feeders etc. I was particularly annoyed with myself as this is the second time I have done that recently, who says that we live and learn?

I fed the swim lightly with some groundbait and a sprinkling of maggots, I got the feeder rod in next to some reeds and the float rod in the middle of the swim and waited. When I brought the feeder rod in to refill it, it had caught on something but this time I was lucky and it came free. The hook had opened a bit but a quick pinch with the pliers got it back into shape. I cast out to a different place! Although it was a milder day it was still a bit dull and wintery and I kept myself busy by changing the depth of the float and refilling the feeder trying to find the fish.

Time passed, I hadn’t had a bite, not a twitch, nothing. Soon it was time for elevenses and I got my flask out and a packet of crisps. Sods Law says that a cup of tea in one hand and an open packet of crisps in the other is the time I will get a bite but it didn’t happen. Soon it was lunchtime and I had been here several hours without a sign of a fish. I was just pondering what to do, whether to do what I had done in previous sessions and to move somewhere else when the angler that I had chatted to before came over for a chat. He hadn’t caught anything either but was optimistic that the fish would start biting later in the day. On the strength of that I decided to stay and persevere. This turned out not to be a good idea as despite trying everything I didn’t get a bite all day! It was about three o’ clock when my eyes were beginning to close that I decided to pack up and go home. On the way back to the car I passed my fellow angler who hadn’t caught anything either. When I got home I found that I hadn’t got all the decorations out of the attic so when I had unloaded the car I had to go back up in the attic again!

So, another blank. Funnily enough I didn’t feel too bad about it, perhaps I am getting used to it! It was a quiet day though, no ducks visited me neither did a robin and I didn’t see many birds at all. There were very few sounds, a bit of traffic in the lane and the faint sound of children out to play in the nearby primary school but overall not much to see or hear. No wonder I was beginning to fall asleep, perhaps I should treat myself to a reclining chair for Christmas so that I can catch up on my sleep while I am not catching fish!

This was as exciting as it got on my river session!

My next session was a couple of days after and I went back to the river. It had rained a bit and the water level had risen but was beginning to go down again so I thought that now was the time to go. I took my usual set up of float and feeder rod and the river was indeed higher and had a bit of colour but was not flowing as quickly as I expected. To cut a long story short I caught some minnows and a small silver fish and after a couple of hours I went home for lunch. There was a bit more non-fishing interest as there is a footpath nearby and walkers regularly pass by. This morning I think it was the W.I. as there was a large group of women chatting amongst themselves. A pair of swans came down the river and there was a terrific splash from under the bridge, the sort of sound a jumping carp makes and I could see the ripples but not what caused them. In the distance there was the sound of barking dogs which must be coming from a kennels although they do sound more like a load of foxhounds on the chase rather than a bunch of pets. I have to say that I am a bit disappointed by this swim where I was catching some nice fish last winter, perhaps it was just beginner’s luck!

Not quite sure what it is, a dace perhaps, but better than nothing!


This is the story of a club water that holds fond memories for some members but which had fallen into neglect in recent years. It probably started life as a gravel pit many years ago and you had to walk across fields to get there. Modern development has caught up with it and it is now next to a main road and a housing estate and is smaller than it was. Luckily for me I live on the estate nearby and can walk there in three minutes! I have driven by many, many times and would always take a quick glance to see if I could see the heron and sometimes a lone angler. When I started fishing again I found that the water belonged to the club that I had joined so thought that I would give it a try. First I went on a reconnaissance, getting to the water was not easy, brambles had grown across the path, trees and bushes had grown wild and ivy covered everything. Eventually I found my way to the bank and the one and only accessible swim and looked into the water, it was full of weed and absolutely unfishable.

How it was!

Time passed and I fished elsewhere, on the club’s Facebook page they were talking about improving the water but although there were plans nothing much was happening. I took the occasional walk over to the water through the winter keeping my eye on the weed and saw that it died down as the weather got colder so come December I thought that I would give it a go. The session proved disappointing, the feeder rod was no good as the feeder just sank into the weed which was still on the bottom and I caught nothing on the float rod. I kept an eye on the lake and decided to give it another go in the Spring. At the end of April the weather was warming up and the weed didn’t look like it had grown much so I decided that it was time. Before fishing I decided to give it a rake and as I didn’t have a proper swim rake I took the garden rake with a bit of rope tied to it. This worked well enough and loads of weed came out and I had soon cleared a space to fish.

This time I was more successful, fishing the float rod and light tackle I caught fourteen fish, tench, carp and rudd, all small but great fun and I had proved that there were fish in there! A few days later I went again in the evening only to find that the swim was occupied! The club’s Facebook page discussions had clearly created some interest but after chatting to the angler for a while he invited me to share the swim with him and we both proceeded to catch a variety of fish, nothing very big though. It was nice to have a fishing companion and we had a very pleasant evening chatting and catching.

A Brown Goldfish
A nice little tench
A Pretty Little Mirror

I went a couple of time more before the weed grew too bad and then moved on to other venues. I caught some pretty fish but nothing of any size, they all seemed quite stunted and I could see the attraction of the water to the heron! Then, a few weeks ago there was discussion on Facebook, the club was having working parties to clear the banks and put in a path so I went over on a couple of afternoons and spent my time pulling away branches which the guy with the chainsaw was cutting. When we had cleared the undergrowth a bit they brought in a machine to create a proper path, which although it is muddy at the moment will be covered with bark or gravel to give it a proper surface. The digger cleared the banks and the weed from close in and the whole place looked much better. It was amazing the difference that a few guys with the right equipment could make in such a short time and I couldn’t wait to fish it again! I did wait a few days though as I ordered a proper swim rake and had to wait for it to be delivered.

Come the day when I had a couple of hours I set off full of excitement, I raked the swim although there was not as much weed as before, set up the float rod to a shallow depth and put a single red maggot on the hook. The float was gliding along the surface with the wind so I gradually increased the depth until the hook caught on the weed then lessened the depth until I was fishing just above the weed. I fished for an hour and a half without so much as a twitch on the float and then packed up and went home for lunch. I was disappointed but not unhappy, after all it is December and looking back at my records I blanked the last time I went in December only to catch in the spring so I will have to be patient. The club has plans to clear the weed and manage the fishery in the future so we are only at the start of a new era with that water and I am looking forward to spending many happy hours there in the future.

How it is now


Looking at the forecast I decided to have a session on the first milder day. It hadn’t been frosty overnight and there was a bit of a breeze so it was a better day to go fishing. I decided to return to my spot on the river where I usually catch something and sorted out my gear so that I wouldn’t need the barrow and could carry what I needed. When I got to the car park there was someone there and I found him looking at the river. After a chat he made his way downstream while I settled down in my usual place. I threw in a bit of ground bait and a few maggots then put the feeder rod out near the bank where I have hooked a couple of perch before and then tried trotting with the float rod. Bait was red and white maggots which had lasted from my last session, it is surprising how long they can survive in my shed when it is cold.

The river was flowing slower than I have seen it before and although there was a bit of colour it was not very deep. I soon got into the swing of gently casting out and allowing the float to drift and refilling the feeder every few minutes. I tried a bit nearer the bank and the float bobbed and I was into a fish, yes, you might have guessed it, a minnow! This spot is renowned for them except when they are not there! Time passed without much action, I caught a couple more minnows but not a bite on the quiver tip. I always have this thing after a couple of hours without catching, should I be patient and persevere or move on and try and find fish elsewhere? On this occasion I decided to move and soon had everything packed away. I wanted to see if I could fit my 10ft rods in the car without breaking them down and was delighted to find that if I rested them on the dashboard they would just fit.

You have to understand how big my hands are to realise how big this minnow was!

So, where to go now? I could walk the river and try there or go to one of the still waters. I didn’t feel that energetic so decided to go back to what used to be my “go to” lake where I could park near a swim and soon be fishing again. When I arrived there was no-one else there and I had a quick walk round to find a good swim. The wind was blowing across the lake towards me and kicking up a bit of a chop which would make float fishing tricky so I walked round a little way and found a quieter swim which also had the advantage of being a bit more sheltered from the wind for me too! It was still on the windward side of the lake so I figured that I was doing things right. I tossed a bit of groundbait in and a few maggots and got both rods out then settled down to eat my lunch. It was quite pleasant where I was and I was enjoying being on the bank, all I needed was a fish. Alas, it was not to be! I spent the afternoon looking at an unmoving float and quiver tip. I tried different depths on the float and put the feeder in different places looking for the fish but they were not at home. 

I had a few visits from the swans, which had come back for the winter and had a go at pecking my float, and a flock of blue tits landed in the bush next to me. A cormorant flew over several times but that was about it, no robins to keep me busy feeding them and the ducks kept away as well. As it was getting dark I packed up and went home, disappointed that I hadn’t caught more than minnows but nevertheless having enjoyed the day. I decided that not fishing my “go to” lake recently had been a good call and I won’t be back for a while!

Post Script

That evening I was looking at the club’s Facebook page and noticed the result of a match on the river nearby. Thirteen anglers fished for a total of fifteen ounces! Yes, that is not a typo, fifteen ounces. Most of them blanked and the winning weight was five ounces. I would have placed with my three minnows! Then there was a comment that three of the club waters had not produced today, to which I added a fourth. So, it is not just me then, that’s a bit of a relief as I was beginning to doubt myself! I don’t know whether it is the cold, the time of year or whether the cormorant has eaten all the fish but it seems like catching is really hard in our neck of the woods at the moment. Still, that means that it can only get better!

Although it was milder it was still a bit bleak!