December’s On This Day feature went down pretty well so it’s now up to me to maintain the high standard I’ve set. January is traditionally a tough month. The days are short, often bitterly cold and bites can be pretty scarce. Despite this my delving through the archives reveals plenty of catch pictures and rewarding experiences. Somehow January doesnt seem too bad after all.
On This Day – 1st January
Happy New year folks. Hope it didn’t begin with a hangover. I’m looking back to #OTD 2013. A new year dawned, chilly but with bright sunshine at Anglers Paradise. With a ‘woolly’ head I chose the first peg I came to on Easy Access lake. Catching a near-fully scaled mirror like this was definitely a bonus and a fantastic way to start any New Year. I can think of no better way to blow away the cobwebs, either.
And here’s a bonus New Year’s Day image. #OTD2015 The River Irfon at Builth Wells in the grounds of the Caer Beris Manor hotel. I’m netting a fish for my good friend Keith Elliott on a day where we shared one rod between four of us. John Hunter was the third angler with Peter Smith doing the honours on camera. It was a delightful, if bonkers way to open our accounts for another year.
I love my roach, I love my centrepins. It seems like only yestrday but this image was taken #OTD 2009. The weather was cold, the fishing trickier than this bag of fish suggests and I was in heaven. Happy days!
#OTD 2010. Anothrr Anglers Paradise memory. Fully recovered from the new year party a short session on the specci tench and orfe was calling and this beauty obliged on simple wag and mag tactics. Have to say, big orfe are one of the most impressive fish to catch and best of all, you can catch them throughout the winter.
For today’s #OTD feature I’m heading back to 2013. The harshest of frosts and high pressure filled the Trent valley with freezing fog. The A1 a nightmare to negotiate as speeding motorists literally risked everything to save a few minutes. Something I can never get my head around.
You can park behind the swim I had in mind but not today. The moment I turned off the hard-core track onto a gentle downhill slope I knew it was a mistake as the Mondeo tyres slithered this way and that. It took me 40 minutes and a lot of steam to reverse the 20 yards of foolishness, collecting twigs and flood debris to jam undrr the tyres for traction.
Once parked on hard ground I carried my kit the last few hundred yards – which is what I should have done in the first place! My efforts were rewarded first cast with this immaculate zander.
Gradually the sun burned away the fog and I basked in perfect isolation progressively stripping away thermal laters to stay cool. It’s far too easy to stay home in winter when there are glorious memories to be made. Don’t you agree?
#OTD 2017. Chub will feature in my memories as this is my favourite time of year to target them. Here are a couple of classic examples caught on bread, roving from swim to swim, a cast here, a cast there, cautious feeding, rotating the hot spots.
Grinding out barbel is okay. I do get it. Wendy bells and Wendy huts are fine if that’s your thing, but I never feel more alive than when a quiver tip jags to announce Mr Chub is inspecting my offerings. Whether you will actually set the hook or not is down to your experience and somewhat in the lap of the Gods. Some days you cannot go wrong, others will have you tearing your hair out. And that’s what makes January chubbing special.
#OTD 2007 – my how the years are flying by. Trying to target perch on featureless venues is inevitably a bit hit and miss so I came up with an idea to create my own features. Bunches of twigs anchored down with a rock, submerged out of view gave me several perfect ambush locations that no-one else knew about.
Has that got you thinking?
#OTD 2015. As mentioned, I love my hit and run winter chubbing. This fish was taken during a very short session lasting less than an hour, dropping off at a small river on my way to the ‘proper’ venue. Twice a year, perhaps, I’ll spend no more than an hour here. It’s an out of the way spot, tricky to get to, probably never fished and I invariably catch a fish or two to order, on bread flake. It’s my little secret spot and I’ll never hammer it.
The fish itself is interesting. Those black spots are caused by a parasite. You often see them on roach, but rarely chub.
#OTD 2009. Sticking this up early today as I’m on my way to catch a chub or two on one of my favourite methods, liquidised bread and flake. Coincidentally today’s throwback was caught on very similar, but scaled down tactics. Small river, not so small roach.
I was playing around with a camcorder in those days. Should have kept it up. My gosh it was cold that day.
#OTD 2011. This picture brings back memories. Dawn was just breaking as I tramped across frosty fields to the River Swale in North Yorkshire. Puddles left by retreating floods had created sheets of suspended patterned ice that crunched underfoot.
But look closer and you’ll see I’ve somehow managed to lose the tip out of my quiver tip rod! There’s nothing quite so frustrating as rising before dawn, driving 60 miles, tramping half a mile to the river and then discovering it was all in vain! I’m sure you have similar frustrating tales to tell…
#OT2017. Only going back a couple of seasons for today’s memory. Just goes to show the benefits of stopping on for an hour after dark.
Go back 30 years or so and a chub like this would have been deemed a specimen from the Trent. Today most wouldn’t even bother to weigh them, accepting it as just another a run-of-the-mill fish. My, how this river has changed. But can it last?
#OTD2017. Archie Braddock suggested I had a go on a stretch of river he’d been targeting with some success, catching some huge barbel and massive chub. ‘You’ll struggle to catch a chub but when you get one they are monsters. Give it a go.’ So I did. I didn’t expect to catch, especially in broad daylight but I tried. Like many big fish stretches it was deserted. I walked the stretch and found numerous really ‘chubby-looking’ swims. Spoiled for choice I dropped in the nearest one to where I’d parked the car and within ten minutes my tip wrapped round. I struck into fresh air. Not uncommon when fishing bread but frustrating to think that bite could easily have been from a ‘Len’ (sev-ern!). With one bite every three sessions being the norm here I cussed a bit. And a bit more. My chance was gone. But no, swim number two threw up this lanky creature.
That’s the trouble with winter chub, in settled conditions they’re as fat as butter but prolonged cold and high water often sees them out of sorts. I should have gone back for another go. Or has my opportunity been and gone, wasted?
#OTD2011. Another chub picture but that’s to be expected as I love winter chubbing. The venue was CEMEX’s stretch at Carlton, now Ashfield controlled, not exactly a prolific chub water but home to a few decent fish. The river had been bank high for a while but now dropping nicely. Always a good time for getting a few bites because the fish will be hungry, the downside is they tend to be a bit flabby from not feeding. The Tidal’s banks can be tricky at the best of times, but extremely slippery and greasy following a flood. You end up plastered in mud, but who cares?
Before the flood, or perhaps a few weeks later, this fish would have been quite a lump. But I’m not complaining. Is size everything? Not in my book. Setting yourself a target of catching and then succeeding is good enough to keep me smiling in winter.
#OTD2015. Here you go, a bonus post. This came up on my Facebook timeline as a memory so it would be rude not to share it. A short session made shorter because I left my coat at home (again!). What a plonker! Still this perfectly conditioned beauty warmed me up for a while. I’m sure there were more to be caught but simply not worth catching pneumonia for! Do you share my annoying habit of leaving stuff at home?
Sticking with the ‘unlucky thirteenth, I’m harking back 6 years to #OTD2012 for this picture. A very frosty morning on a popular Yorkshire River. Of course, there was no one else around. Fish can always be caught if you select your target species and venues carefully. Makes you wonder why the majority are simply fair weather anglers. I struggle just as often in summer when levels are low and the temperature soars.
Do you think these absentees are missing out on some of the best fishing? I do.
#OTD2012. Good thermal clothing is a match for all weathers and I’ll take a high pressure frosty session over a wet and windy one any day. This was from a Yorkshire spate river on a day when a wicked haw frost never left the ground. The air temperature hovered around zero. Iced-over puddles left by the receding water crunched loudly underfoot but it didn’t bother the fish. They still fed.
What’s the worst weather you have fished in?
I suggested on my Facebook timeline that today had been a bit hectic. Id been up at the hospital for a morning check-up (strong and stable, as they say, so good news there), tax matters to sort out, newspaper column deadline, meeting with a friend, bought a camera body, lens and accessories, baby granddaughter staying over for the first time, you name it, all a bit mad, but I still found time to dig out this relic from #OTD2002.
The picture illustrates just how the size of chub is rising. 16 years ago this fish (6lb 1oz), plus a 3lb 3oz perch, both caught on float tactics from the same swim, was enough to secure a coveted Drennan Cup Weekly Award. the pic is a self-take using the first digital camera I ever owned, a tiny Canon Sureshot. Blimey, hasn’t photography come on in leaps and bounds since then?
Today’s image is fairly recent, just two years ago #OTD2017. By way of a change from the usual catch picture, how about this atmospheric early morning shot?
Sums up winter chubbing perfectly for me. The loner. Man versus the elements. At one with nature. Part of the landscape.
#OnThisDay 2014. I heard whispers that a local pond was producing a few decent perch so decided to investigate. Surely this was a wind-up? Somehow it didn’t look right. Too small. The colour of the water suggested it was stuffed with small carp, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. float fished prawns produced a few quality roach and the occasional rogue carp, and then, in the space of an hour or so, these two beauties graced my landing net.
Job done, I never went back. No point. I was certain these two had to be the biggest perch in there.
Kind of kicking myself now. Have you ever stumbled across an exceptional water like this one?
Today’s #OTD offering is quite recent, 2016. The new vertical carping boys (sorry, I mean barbel anglers!) do love to have a good moan about bream setting off their ‘traps’. In a world where we have racism, sexism, fatism and every other ‘-ism’ and ‘-ist’ you care to think of, BREAMISM is not something I subscribe to. I love catching bream, especially in winter on light tackle. Harder to track down on rivers like the Trent but they do brighten up a winter’s day when they come along.
Am I alone in my passion for a good old ‘slab’ or three? You might think so.
Had a nightmare trying to get my slide scanner working yesterday. It was completely incompatible with Windows 10 and it took me the best part of a full day to fix the problem. Meanwhile, computer number two crashed and died. Still, I can now include a few much older images in my #OTD series and boy, are there some crackers. Here’s a taster: Not sure of the exact date except it was most probably a February catch, the year 1997. yep, 21 years ago.
Who isn’t impressed by a big roach? Hard to believe this was a short evening session after work. I’ll probably never be able to do that again, will I? We assumed it would always be like this. So, if you are currently filling your boots with big perch and barbel, don’t take it for granted. Make the most of it as these shining times have a nasty habit of ending with a sudden crash.
At least I can be certain when this next fish was caught. It was #OTD2016.
The number of genuine chub anglers fishing the Trent are relatively few in number. Yes, plenty of folk are foul-hooking chub in the gob using scaffolding, lightning conductors, 15lb line, bolt rigs and bite alarms, mainly whilst tucked up inside a bivvy, but very few are fishing in a more traditional, delicate style, travelling light, roving between swims, looking for fish. Each to their own, of course, but there’s precious little useful information available as a result. Fishing to clear and obvious features is the normal way to go, creases, overhanging trees and so on, but that set me to thinking. Fish these and you will pretty much catch the same fish as everyone else, so I started looking for different swims, the ones most folk ignore, the steadier glides for instance. And guess what? I started catching fish like this beauty
Do you always follow the crowd? Changing how you think might pay dividends.
By way of a slight change, two images today. The first is #OTD2016.
Trudging across fields through the harshest of frosts knowing that I’ll have zero competition for swims. I’ll not even see another angler today, which is just how I like it.
The second image was shot (I think) in 1998, long before the big perch boom began. Trouble with 35mm transparencies (I have many hundreds of them) is you can never be certain of the exact date the shot was taken. But anyway, I was in the company of a great friend, Archie Braddock, on a stretch of the Derbyshire Derwent he’d been targeting somewhere near Derby.
I haven’t a clue exactly where it was but can you believe this was yet another water I never went back to again? The thing is, I’ve fished many times in many places on the Derwent, but when a friend offers you a chance to fish one of his favourite swims you don’t abuse that privilege, do you? All were caught on float fished worms.
Heading back to 2016 for today’s #OTD image. Bream tend to be very localised in winter shoaling up tight and rarely moving much more than 50 yards up or downstream. You have to be on them to catch. There’s a swim I drop into occasionally, bit of a walk, just off a bend, lovely crease and throws up chub, too. But over the past 3 years the trees are starting to encroach. What used to be an overhead cast is now a sideways lob. The bush to the left is spreading, too, so I’m guessing that without major intervention (which will give the game away) this swim will be lost within two more seasons.
It’s the price we are paying for the drop off in the numbers of ‘proper’ river anglers. Is nature reclaiming your local river?
Heading back 6 years to #OTD2013. One of my favourite winter images bringing back wonderful memories and a clear reminder of how mild this current winter has been.
Not the biggest chub I caught on this trip by a long chalk but an absolute minter! It was the first of maybe half a dozen, can’t remember exactly how many but I did have a couple of lumps later on. It would have been so easy to have stayed home rather than brave the snow but it’s fair to say I enjoyed the session so much I never even felt the cold. Do you ever fish in the snow?
#OTD2015. It had been desperately cold for a week so I stayed local and tried my luck on the Don at Conisborough. Despite the promise of some hazy sunshine, it was pretty grim with my line freezing in the rod rings and bites at a premium. But was it so bad?
My diary entry in 1986 told a much worse story. Officially the worst winter since 1947 by all accounts. The highest temperature recorded through the last two weeks of January and the whole of February was just 3 degrees Centigrade. What’s the coldest weather you have fished in?
I’m heading all the way back to 2005 for today’s #OTD offering. It reminds me that I don’t do enough pike fishing. There’s something primeval about a pike. A contemptuous ‘don’t mess with me’ glare in the eye. Sleek and powerful. And in reality they are not too difficult to catch. This, like many of my pike, was caught on the sleeper rod whilst fishing for roach.
Whenever you catch 10lbs of roach there’s a fair chance there was a decent pike in your swim at some point. How many of us make that little extra effort and set up a sleeper predator rod? Five minutes of effort is all that’s required for the chance of a huge adrenaline rush. There’s nothing quite like the moment when your line pings out of the drop-off clip, is there? Especially when, whatever has taken your bait, is a complete bonus – over and above the day’s real business.
There’s something about chub on small rivers that sets the pulse racing. On this day four years ago I was on the Upper Witham, traveling light.
All the gear I needed was in the carryall, a couple of pints of maggots in my bait apron pouch and a small stick float was just the job for searching out these wild fish.
#OTD in 2015. With maggots left over from the previous day’s session I chose to stay local and use them up rather than waste them. The recovery of the river Don is nothing short of a modern day miracle. Not long ago it was an open sewer. Today it offers fantastic trout and grayling sport from well above Sheffield and all the way down to Rotherham.
Best of all it’s mostly free fishing, mostly shallow and streamy water with a hard bottom, so I’ll don my hybrid waders and stand thigh deep in the water trotting a stick or small waggler straight off the rod end. Have you seen an improvement in the rivers where you live?
If only we had access to time travel. I’d definitely go back to this day on a North Lincolnshire drain (#OTD2007). The place was a lot less pressured in those days and I can’t help wondering how successful I might have been using the Prorex Live Trout Swimbaits or the Hybrid Swimbaits.
Drains can prove a tough nut to crack, until you locate the fish. You’ll cover lots of featureless water, one swim looking much like the next until eventually you strike gold. It’s important to stay mobile and remain optimistic. A case of never giving up because the next swim ahead might just be the one that answers those prayers.
My wife and I were visiting friends in Wales (#OTD2016). Knowing there was a grayling river barely 100 yards from the house it seemed rude not to pack a rod. What I hadn’t bargained for was heavy rain on the hills turning the river into a swirling brown torrent. Even so, I was able to find the odd fishable swim, but like an idiot I left my tub of worms at home by mistake. A costly error.
Is there anything worse than tackling up only to realise you’ve left the one bait guaranteed to produce a bite at home?
It’s the surprises that put a smile on our faces. #OTD2012, I was enjoying the most remarkable day’s fishing for chub on the River lea in Hertfordshire, catching chub to well over 6lbs on very simple wag and mag tactics when my gentle sweeping strike bent into what initially felt like an immovable object, a snag perhaps?
Then suddenly it bolted away downstream. For ten minutes I played this fish without ever feeling I was in control or getting a glimpse of it. At first I thought it might be a barbel, or perhaps a rogue carp but when it surfaced I got the shock of my life.
it was a pristine brown trout. Had I lost it I would never have guessed. Have you ever lost something that left you wondering, what the hell was that?
Here’s a proper bonus picture. It was shared on my timeline by Zenia Gregorek, apparently taken at Anglers Paradise on her 21st birthday so it would be rude of me to reveal when as a lady’s age should always remain a private matter(!).
Winter is my favourite time to target commercial fisheries, ideally when it is too cold for the carp to feed. It allows the angler to scale down to lighter lines and elastics, something like a pink Hydro for quality roach or blue for roach and perch with a bigger hook and bait.
This picture was shot Brian Skoyles at Westerley Lakes, near York. What a fabulous catch of quality perch and roach.
Nippy out this morning, wasn’t it? How fitting then, that on what appears to be ‘Take A Picture Of Your Dashboard Temperature Display’ day my planned ‘On This Day’ image is of a seriously dedicated angler. We all like to think we’re hardcore at heart but sometimes you have to take your hat off to that guy who goes way over and above the normal.
This is one of my favourite all-time winter fishing pictures. It was shot it on the River Dearne #OTD2006.
Seriously, do you know anyone who’s even remotely as keen as this guy, who rocked up on a mobility scooter in the snow?
And that’s it. A full house of January pictures covering every day of the month and surely proving the old adage correct that you’ll catch nowt sat at home by the fireside. Winter fishing is not for everyone but it is far from impossible. Big fish still have to eat, even in the coldest weather. Maybe you should give it a go.
I’ll wrap this month up with a bonus video clip. Think Peter Sellars and the lift scene brought up to date by the extremely multi-talented Douggy Pledger, son of angling artist Maurice. Look him up if you get a chance and say goodbye to a couple of hours.