A scattering of the white stuff greeted my glance out of the window. A few inches deep in places. The air temperature previously had been seriously cold, although I was sure with the falling of the snow, this would have risen somewhat. Still, it was the temperature and trend of the water that counted most. I had two options. Head to the river with a trotting rod and fish a few swims or head to a canal and find an area free from ice and stick it out. The river is where I really wanted to make my way to but looking at the river levels, and drawing from previous experience, I begrudgingly left it well alone for another week. Canal time it was then.
I made for the sanctuary of a canal section with moored boats, obstructions, snags and a little more depth than the the canal has elsewhere. It was to be a day of setting my stall out, baiting and waiting, hoping that at some point a fish or two would find my feed area and, well, feed. The obvious place to fish would be the boat channel but cold water sinks and I expected this area to be the most unpleasant for fish. Instead, I fished ‘up the self’, the nearside shelf in fact, deeper than the far side shelf and comfortably wedged between four moored narrowboats. I made this my swim.
The canal was pretty much free from ice, just the occasional raft came drifting by, carried by a moderate and cold wind. I fed the swim with a generous amount of chopped worm along with a few maggots. A cup of tea was then poured and the swim was allowed to settle. A brilliant dash of blue interrupted my day dream. A kingfisher streaked past, a tiny fish trapped in his beak. I hoped I could follow his lead. At least in catching a fish. Certainly not in flying or developing a beak. The first half an hour dragged by, not so much as a touch, then from nowhere the float darted under. A tiny perch but a fish none the less.
After several of these little perch came an even more tentative bite. One I eventually missed. I wondered what on earth it was. The next cast the same thing happened. Tentative bite that was easily missed. I changed to a smaller hook and a smaller piece of worm. I had a hunch that this might be a better stamp of fish. There was something quite large about these tiny bites. On the first put in after scaling down the float once more stuttered into life but this time with more positivity. I struck and managed to hook the fish. An icy cold redfin. A beautiful visitor on such a bitterly cold day.
The next hour saw another five of these roach landed. All falling to a small worm section. A pinch of maggots fed after each fish seemed to keep them interested. That is, until, a procession of narrowboats passed through and really stirred things up. The fish dispersed and I had no further bites. There was one person who was catching with regularly though. The kingfisher flew past for the eighth as I started to pack up, this time two fish in tow, a much better angler than I will ever be. I really enjoyed a few quick hours on the cut. Even in difficult conditions there is always a few fish to be caught.
Until next time,