January Struggles

The fishing has been a bit tough this month. The weather hasn’t helped because it’s been all over the place. Heavy rain, freezing temperatures, strong winds and finally a mild spell meant the fish won’t have known whether they were coming or going.

Because of this, it was hard to pick a species to fish for on my days off work so I stuck to local venues. Unfortunately when we had the short mild spell I was busy! Typical, but I did catch a few fish, just no real specimens.

I started off trying to catch big roach on my local river. It was running quite high and with good colour. The ‘going’ area was a bit slow of late so I tried a different stretch that produced some good fish for me when the river was the same state last year. When the river had been clear a month earlier there was nothing in the swim, so I was only going to give it 30 minutes. Bait would be my usual winter fare of mashed bread and flake on the hook.

I was down to the last 5 of those 30 when I missed a good bite. The next cast I was ready though and I struck into a good fish. Sadly, the hook pulled after a few seconds without me seeing the fish. I gave the swim a bit longer, feeding a bit more mashed bread. Just as I was thinking of moving I had another bite and made contact again. This time everything held, and I was soon slipping a good roach into the net. It was in lovely condition, silver and red, with the lovely blue hue shot through it’s upper flanks. It was a fish I’d not seen before and it weighed in at 1lb 13oz, with a length of almost 13.5 inches.

It was only when I saw the photos later on that I realised it had a slight two tone colour on both sides. I’ve never seen this on a roach before.

I carried on, buoyed by my success and landed a smaller sample of probably just over a pound, plus another roach that I could swing in. I was hoping for more but that was it. No more bites or fish. At least 2018 had got off to a decent start.

The weather then turned really cold so I had a day after pike, and blanked. No bites no nothing!

I then had a go for some chub. Not for big fish, but just on some local rivers where I might get a bite or two. With the temperature around freezing plus a biting wind thrown in, any action would be a bonus. I had a few nice fish that almost warmed me up!

The best fish were touching 4lbs and in lovely condition. 

Martin and I were soon back after the big roach, but things were very slow. One day I kept seeing the slightest knock on my float as my bread trundled through the swim. I was convinced fish were there but not feeding. I wondered if it was bread they were wary of. I’d seen big roach in the clear water in summer go crazy for baits such as casters, hemp and bread. After you’d caught a few from the shoal, they’d suddenly become very wary of the bait you were using. A switch to one of the other baits would soon see them feeding again. Because of this I started feeding some white maggots into the swim while I changed my size 12 hook for a tiny size 20. The first run down the swim saw the float bury and I was into a roach. It wasn’t big at 6oz but at least I’d caught a roach!

I kept feeding and working the swim, putting a tidy bag of fish together. Roach between 4 and 10oz were the mainstays, with the odd chublet. Something I never seem to catch on bread. As the light faded and the bait kept going in, I eventually started to connect with some of the larger redfins. A number of fish over a pound, topped by a cracker of 1.11 turned the day on its head. It was pretty hairy playing them on such light gear in the strong current. What was interesting was that Martin only caught one roach of around a pound on bread. He fished well, but I think I’m right in thinking that they’re spooking away from bread. It’s understandable I suppose, as Martin and I have landed a lot of good fish from this certain area, all on bread, nothing else. I hope they switch back onto it though because it’s a lot easier, and better for the heart,  playing a big roach on a size 12 hook than a 20!

Here’s part of my catch

The weather then made the river unfishable again. Cold chocolate brown water and a raging flow are not to the liking of any species. When it did fine down I returned to trot my maggots again. Big roach eluded me, though the maggots threw up some nice surprises that I rarely catch, such as this roach bream hybrid

I also landed a perch with the most vivid colours

I was still getting good ‘bags’ of fish on the maggots, but the best roach were not making one and a half pounds, which were common sizes a month or so ago. Maybe catching the smaller fish first unsettles the larger fish, or perhaps the big girls have moved elsewhere. Maybe the predators are causing havoc. Mink and gooseanders frequent the area, plus a few roach I’ve caught have been through the wars a bit.

Maybe all these negative thoughts will vanish the next time I’m trotting and then strike into the proverbial ‘brick wall’ followed by that ‘thump thump’ pulsating through the rod. Time will only tell!