Winter is almost upon us and with it, the likelihood of a cold snap.
If you like nothing better than bright, crisp mornings or chilly moonlit nights on the riverbank or beach, it’s important to make sure you’re adequately prepared for whatever the weather may throw at you. Here’s our guide to keeping warm so you can keep your line wet this winter.
Stay warm by staying cool
As every arctic explorer knows, the best way to stay warm is never to get hot. On cold days, sweat won’t evaporate. Instead, it’ll make your base layer damp. As soon as you stop moving around so much, that cold wet layer will chill you to the bone.
Wear a thermal material next to your skin, preferably one that wicks water away from your body. And rather than thick, bulky clothes, wear thin layers of fishing clothing you can take off if you get too warm. Fleeces come in a wide variety of thicknesses, making them the ideal layering garment.
Keep your head covered
While it’s not actually true that we lose more heat from our head than any other part of the body, it is true that we will if it’s the only part of us that’s not covered! The simple message is - don’t forget to take your hat. Bobble hat, beanie, thinsulate hat – whatever your choice, make sure it’s on your head.
Even the Romans wore socks – with a separate big toe so their sandals wouldn’t fall off. Luckily you’ll be wearing boots, but you still need to make sure your socks are up to the job. Wool rich socks, thermal socks, fleece welly liners – all will do their bit to keep your toes warm. Waterproof breathable fishing boots with a decent grip are a must for wet or icy winter conditions – and if you’re choice is wellies, go for the neoprene or fleece lined variety.
Half gloves, or fingerless gloves will keep your hands warm while allowing you to work with your fingers. For cold wet conditions, it’s always best to go for a design that combines a warm neoprene or velvet lining with a windproof outer. That way if your gloves get wet, your hands will stay warm.
It goes without saying that you’ll need a waterproof shell for winter fishing excursions. Go for the best breathable fishing waterproofs you can afford. A decent coat with lined pockets and a decent storm hood, matched with over trousers or bibs will offer great protection from inclement weather.
One of the best ways to keep warm is to keep your internal boiler stoked. Hot soup, tea and coffee served from a good quality stainless steel or unbreakable thermos can be a lifesaver on cold wet days. Those who prefer to travel light or who anticipate being away for more than one day might consider a field kettle cook set. Originally designed in the early 20th century and used extensively by kiwi soldiers in world war two, this superb bit of field kit enables you to heat water and cook using small quantities of twigs as fuel.
Hardened winter carpers will know the value of a decent bivvy. A tough, lightweight shelter is essential kit for when the weather turns nasty. Not only does a bivvy offer somewhere to sit while you wait for the fish to bite, it offers vital and potentially life saving protection from the elements.
A freakishly looking fish which is said to live over 900 meters below the oceans surface has been snagged by the Nunavut fishing boat is only the second of it’s kind ever recorded near the Hudson Strait, Canada.
This extremely rare and weird looking fish caused some confusion when it was actually caught but researches have identified it as a super rare long-nosed Chimaera. With so little research undertaken on this species of the Chimaera not a lot is known about their feeding habits or living quarters. It’s assumed these fish live well out of range of human contact in depths between 900 and 2000 meters. The Chimarea is not something you’re likely to hook with your sea fishing tackle!
Nigel Hussey from the University of Windsor, identified the fish as indeed the Chimaera. It was first thought that it was a Goblin shark, a fish which is equally as odd and also as rare. The Chimaera is one of the world’s oldest species of fish which goes by various names including ‘ratfish, rabbitfish, and the coincidental – ghost shark’. But they aren’t sharks. The group branched off from sharks, its closest relative, around 400 million years ago and have remained a distinct, and distinctly odd, lineage ever since and have been basically unchanged since they shared the Earth with dinosaurs.
Like sharks and rays, Chimaeras have a skeleton made of cartilage.
With a long nose, menacing mouth, a venomous spine and a gelatinous grey body the fish is one only to be talked of in spooky sea tails along side those of the giant squid, but maybe not so scary. The Chimaera is largely restricted to deep ocean waters, putting it out of reach of most fishermen and scientists. For these reasons the creature is poorly studied and understood.
Fishing is a hungry business, so what better way to keep yourself topped up than by cooking and eating your catch as it comes in?
Here we’ve come up some fish dishes you can prepare and cook in your bivvy on the river bank or at the beach – from hook to plate in under 20 minutes – delicious fish freshly caught and cooked. What could be better?
Oily fish is best eaten fresh, and what fresher way to enjoy a mackerel than served up raw?
You’ll need: a sharp knife and a clean chopping board.
To get the best from your fish, bonk it on the head, then bleed it by slicing its gills. Next take off the fillets and slice into finger wide strips. You can serve these immediately, sashimi style, with soy sauce and wasabi to taste.
For a little more finesse, come prepared with some sushi rice cooked at home. Push the rice into an ice cube mould and bring it with you in a cool box or bag. When you’re ready to eat, simply squeeze out neat blocks of rice and drape a piece of mackerel over each. Simple, neat and classy food.
Hot Smoked trout
Fresh trout tastes fantastic smoked. While we’re pushing the 20 minute envelope here, we’re sure you’ll appreciate one of the greatest taste sensations ever to grace a bivvy on the riverbank.
You’ll need: salt, clean water, a kitchen towel, your smoker and some oak chips.
First gut, and clean your fish. Rinse it in clean water, then butterfly it. Add two tablespoons salt to two cups of water. Put your fish in the water to soak for 20 minutes while you get back to your fishing.
Now, light your smoker, and deploy your oak chips in line with manufacturer’s recommendations. Retrieve your fish from the brine and pat dry with the paper towel. Smoke your fish for 20 mins, or until cooked. Serve with freshly buttered brown bread, salt and pepper.
For a great taste of the sea cooked right there on the shore, you can’t beat a nice barbequed sea bream.
You’ll need: a lemon, pepper, salt, olive oil, a newspaper, string.
First, gut, clean and scale your fish. Open out your newspaper to the centre fold. Sprinkle with pepper and salt. Scatter a few slices of lemon. Pepper and salt the fish and put it on the paper. Add more slices of lemon. Drizzle with olive oil.
Fold your newspaper so the fish is at the centre of the parcel. Secure with string. Soak briefly in a bucket of sea water. Put the parcel on the barbeque. Cook for about ten minutes a side depending on the size of the fish and the ferocity of the flames.
Foil cooked chilli bass
For something a little more sophisticated, you can’t beat a nice freshly caught bass, cooked in the fire and eaten snug and warm in the bivvy.
You need: sticks, matches, tin foil, a sea bass, spring onion, a fresh chilli (fireyness to suit your taste), ginger, lemon, pepper and salt, olive oil.
First light your fire down wind of your fishing spot and bivvy. Gut, clean and scale your fish. Rip off a length of foil suitable for making a roomy parcel for the fish. Slice lemon, chop onions, ginger and chilli and put them in the cavity and round about. Apply pepper and salt, drizzle with oil. Fold the foil around the fish. Put it in the embers of the fire. Leave for about eight minutes a side.
Herrings in rolled oats
The old ways are the best – herrings rolled in Scotch oats.
You need: herrings, seasoned porridge oats, butter, a frying pan, whisky.
Kill, gut, clean, scale your herring. Light a fire or ignite your camp stove. Cut off a knob of butter, add to the frying pan and set to the heat. Open out your herring and press it into a tub of pre-seasoned oats until both sides are well coated. Fry until cooked.
Repair to your bivvy. Serve with a wee dram.
The Super-Dri Lake Pro has been designed for the serious lake angler, utilising Airflo’s standard DELTA taper, the line casts effortlessly, turns over extremely well and shoots to the distance will little effort. The most serious casters will benefit immensely for the taper design of this line, a medium to long front taper lets for great stability through the cast, keeping your line speed high with extremely tight loops. The Super-dri Lake pro also lends itself to the lesser casts, giving the novice angler a great, easy casting line, a great addition to our fly fishing tackle.
Complete with Airflo’s patented ridge design and legendary PU coatings, you can expect these Airflo Super-Dri range to last longer than any other line you have and to perform as well as any fly line you will cast.
What are the key benefits of Super-Dri?
- High riding – Superb float-ability.v
- Zone Technology – Low compression hauling zone
- Ultra supple coating for improved handling
- Micro loops both ends
Learn more about the Super-dri Lake Pro fly line here
I’ve been using the Thermo-Tex Gilet for around 7 months now. It’s remarkably lightweight when you take into account its tremendous thermal abilities. It’s extremely comfortable to wear too and allows plenty of freedom of movement, which to me is a real plus point. There is nothing worse than feeling like you’ve got a straight jacket on, even if you do need one!
On several evenings when I’ve been wearing this gilet from fishtec, I haven’t felt the need to pile on the usual extra layers of clothing. The gilet is superbly warm, which for some reason surprised me. I guess mainly because it feels so lightweight but that definitely belies its impressive thermal abilities. Certainly an item im glad to have in my coarse fishing gear right now.
It’s well made and I like the fleece hand warmer pockets, they keep your hands much warmer when that cold winds blowing. They also allow room for those odd bits and pieces anglers like to tuck away into every nook and cranny. There is also a side pocket next to the zip which is very useful for a mobile phone.
Overall I’m very impressed with this fishing jacket and to coin a phrase, feel that it does exactly what it says on the tin. It will be coming with me on all of my summer and winter sessions in future. It’s ideal on those summer evenings and mornings when you just need something a little extra over a shirt and in the winter it makes an excellent and very important under layer for when it gets really cold.
The TF Gear Thermo-Tex Gilet is available for just £29.99.
A really busy month for sea anglers with lots of whiting from most beaches, especially after dark and they produce some hectic match fishing. The cod are noticeable by their absence on my Kent beaches, although the mild weather may be the reason for that and anyway the bass are hanging around. In the club evening events up to 60 whiting are required to make the frame and its frightening the club match anglers away in droves. Many, including, myself at times just cannot, or don’t want, to compete in the numbers game – It’s not enjoyable fishing, its hard work. Freelance wise it’s almost boring catching three whiting a chuck and as fast as you can recast. I fished Dungeness this week and the whiting just would not switch off, only the occasional dogfish, dab or rockling broke the monotony of the whiting. Even so I have never seen Dungeness so crowded on a weekday with anglers packed in like sardines between the RNLI and the Power Station. Undoubtedly a lot to do with the popularity of Dungeness, as well as the Dungeness Angling Association and their founder, Phil Tapp who sadly died recently. Phil put Dungy on the map when he negotiated the key for the gate to the concrete road allows angler car access. Phil will be sadly missed, but the Association survives with many good men to take Phil’s place, one of the best things that ever happened to Dungy!
I have just got my hands on a couple of prototype sea fishing rods that are due out in New Year and spring. I designed a slim line match rod that became popular in the past and longed for the chance to tweak the design. Now the TF Gear model is about to be released in the Delta range. Called the Slik Tip it’s a three piece multiplier or fixed spool match rod. Great on bite indication its sits still in the rod rest even in a gale and it’s ideal for club anglers, surf bass angler etc. Also new is the Continental and this is again a 15 footer, but designed along Continental lines, ultra light and slim its aimed at summer fishing with light line and tackle, the ladies might find it just what they want. One thing in line with most of the gear I have produced with TF Gear it’s going to be far cheaper than some of the overpriced “designer” rods available. I cant wait to get it in the surf for bass.
With the leaves leaving the trees at a rate this week it reminds us of the winter to come. Those chill winds make beach fishing tough going from December onwards. It’s noticeable that the T Shirt brigade leaves us in a few weeks and the beaches become roomier because of it. My favourite time of year, not because the drips freeze on the end of your nose, but because the crowds have gone. It’s also great to find the beaches litter comparatively free as well and I am sorry if this upsets some, but I have been appalled lately at the amount of litter left by so called sea anglers and it’s not all Octobers great unwashed or the foreign anglers either, I have watched some regulars leave litter and they don’t like being told to pick it up! All you need is a plastic bag in your kit to pack the rubbish into to take away, so simple.
Back to the weather and that extra fleece will be required soon, I am a great believer in comfort when I am fishing it keeps you fresh and alert and you are more likely to catch if you can concentrate on the rod tip rather than worry about cold toes!
Congratulations to Wales and England for their performance in the CIPS World Shore Championships in Spain. Spain took the gold medal and their performance included the top four individuals. Wales took silver ahead of England’s Bronze – Having been there I know how good a medal, any colour is in the Mediterranean.
Coming up (January 23rdth to 25th) is the Irish Winter Beach Festival which I fish annually. It’s fished from the Wicklow region beaches in Southern Ireland with the base for the event at Sean Ogs Hotel, Kilmuckridge. It’s a great event for the Craic –1st Prize is €500 and there are events for Teams of 2 & 4 over 3 days. Entry fee: €150 inclusive of Presentation Dinner. Accommodation at Seàn Òg’s may be reserved through Warren Doyle, 98, Seacrest, Bray, Co. Wicklow. +353 (0)1 2828769. Mob. +353(0)86 8069961. email@example.com
Last year the event was won by my mate Chris Clark of Lymington, although I have to remind him regularly that on day two he killed all his maddies and it was only the generosity of others that got him over the line!
I am all booked up for a weeklong trip to Norway at the end of February with my son Richard and a few mates. We are going to fish a week long big fish competition organised by Ian Peacock and Din Tur. It may well be my only chance of a big cod this winter because the Kent season does look dismal. It’s such a long time since I landed a double figure cod from the shore (I am really looking forward the Norway)
After some tough fishing at the Big Lake in Bedford over the last couple of weeks, Dave Lane makes the decision to move to Monks Pit in search of some of the larger carp he currently hadn’t caught.
Dave describes where the fish are likely to be, how to approach a carp water and what carp fishing tackle will help tempt specimen fish!
Fishing tackle Dave uses in this video:
DL Nantec Carp Rods
Dave Lane Hardcore Bivvy
September saw me heading to Slovakia for the European Championships with team England who were sponsored a pair of superb COSTA polarised glasses each.
It was 5 river venues with wild Grayling and wild Brown and Rainbow Trout. Some beats on two of the venues had stocked browns introduced due to lower numbers of wild fish. The 3 venues were the River Poprad, River Vah and River Bella. We fished in the beautiful surroundings of the Liptovsky region where wild bears roam!! One section of the Bella had bear alerts so we had to be cautious!
I have fished in the World and European teams now for 15 years and have to say that this region of Slovakia has the most prolific fishing I have ever come across. The River Vah in practice would produce anything from 20 – 50 fish in a 3hr practice session in the right conditions. The Poprad would produce 60-80 grayling an hour at least!! On the first day of practice we fished the Poprad, a small river only approx 10 yards wide at best. We fished for 3.5 hrs and had over 900 fish to the hand for the squad of 7! I fished single dry fly, changing every 10 fish and took 40 in under an hour. I watched as the others caught half as much again if not double on nymphs. I switched to nymphs and the catch rate soared astronomically. Small nymphs on a 16 – 18 and 2.5mm beads seemed best in the small often skinny river. A hint of colour, orange, red or pink certainly helped the catch rates.
The Vah is more of the typical river. Fast runs, deep holes, slow glides and long slow pools. We spent many days on this river in practice as 3 of the 5 sessions were on this river. Upper, Middle and Lower Vah sections.
7 days back to back fishing took it’s toll and the team had earned a much needed rest. team Jacuzzi’s and Saunas and killer pool sessions on the table offered the perfect tonic of rest and play. Not too much rest I hasten to say as the manager had us all tying flies for almost 14hrs that day, not that the team needed prompting. I roomed with Andrew Scott who was tying flies at 0530 every morning without fail! Good job I get up early for London every morning and am used to it!
The competition was upon us and the team were confident. A day of heavy rain and snow in the mountains before the competition days put some depth to the river and the dreaded colour. Despite this, we were ready!
As with all pegged events you have good and bad beats.This was one for me to forget! I drew 5 of the lowest scoring pegs in the competition with the best position being an 8th by the overall winners, a Chech republic angler. He had 22 from my beat on the lower Vah and I followed with 16 despite their techniques I call ‘hoovering the beat!’. I caught just 4 in the main flow of the river where he had obviously fished. On returning a fish to the controller I stumbled across a 2 foot or so deeper channel in some very shallow fast water. I managed to get 12 fish from this small bit of water that had obviously been missed as the 12 fish came in about 15 minutes.
I had a fast rip of water on the Bella and managed 13 with fellow angers around me fairing with 7-11. The top end beats all produced 30-40+ fish!
Day 1 saw England lying 6th well within striking distance. Andrew Scott got off to a flyer with a 1st and 2nd in his first two sessions netting 89 fish in the process!
Day 2 saw me get the one I had been waiting for, the Poprad. I avoided the lower beats again which had taken 50-70 fish in the first two sessions and drew the last peg on the stretch. It looked good but had only produced 8,3 and 11 fish so far. I took 11 matching the best to date.
It only went down hill as more poor beats followed and it didn’t fair too great for fellow team members. Andrew Scott drew another good beat and got a superb 2nd position but his luck run out with two average pegs which knocked him off a certain individual medal. He finished a very respectable individual 12th position. The team slipped to 11th.
The Czechs came out team winners with Spain taking the top individual. The Czechs fished small nymphs, often within a few feet of the margins to take the gold.
The rivers are starting to cool now and the grayling shoal so now is the time to contemplate some river fishing. It may be cooler but always carry some dries with you as even in the coldest of days fish will rise to any hatch that occurs during the warmest part of the day.
See Iain Barr fly sets available from Fishtec
Male midshipman fish have been keeping scores of families awake in Southampton with their loud mating calls.
The loud droning from their swim bladder, which is used to attract females, can go on for hours and increases in volume when competing males join in.
After a bit of fishing about, we’ve discovered that there are actually some really loud sea creatures out. Some are able to generate noise in excess of 200 decibels. When you consider the average human conversation is around 60-70 decibels and a jet engine produces 140 decibels, you’ll agree 200+ decibels is loud. Fear not though, as most of the noisy stuff is too big (or small) for one of your fishing rods.
Water boatman — 105 decibels
This one isn’t the loudest, but at just 2mm long, the Micronecta Scholtzi still manages to produce around 105 decibels with its mating song, which means that it is the loudest animal on this planet in relation to its body size. Even though 99% of the sound is lost when transferring to water to air, it is still loud enough to be heard from the riverbank when the creature is at the bottom of the river.
Perhaps even more impressive is that the boatman creates his songs by rubbing his penis against his abdomen in a process called stridulation. Don’t try this at home.
Northern elephant seal – 125 decibels
Found in the cold aquatic environments of the north, the large proboscis of the adult males resembles an elephant trunk hence the name. A complex breathing apparatus consisting of multiple chambers for storing oxygen, and it’s also what the seal uses to blow its own trumpet (metaphorically of course).
During mating season the seals make very loud roaring noises with this wannabe trunk to woo females, and can peak at around 125 decibels. That’s loud when you consider how many trumpets will be blowing at the same time. Good job they prefer the Polar Regions.
Blue whale – 188 decibels
It may be the biggest mammal in the world, but this graceful 200-tonne beauty with a tongue as heavy as an elephant, isn’t quite the loudest. It’s not far off though, as the blue whale’s siren call can reach levels of around 188 decibels, which is still much louder than a jet engine or even a rock concert.
The blue whale also emits a low frequency series of pulses, groans and moans, which can travel great distances under the water. Scientists believe that other blue whales travelling at distances of up to 1000 miles can pick up these noises.
Pistol shrimp — 218 decibels
Despite being only 2 cm long the aptly named pistol (or snapping) shrimp is able to generate a split-second sound, which at 218 decibels is louder than a gunshot. Recognized by owning one humungous, oversized claw, which resembles a boxing glove, the pistol shrimp uses this deadly weapon to stun its prey.
The claw snaps shut with enough force to fire a jet of water at up to 62 mph. This generates a low pressure cavitation bubble that bursts with a loud snap and stuns unsuspecting prey. Death by deafness — ouch.
Sperm whale — 230 decibels
So if you like to play Top Trumps, you’d want the sperm whale card to win the noisiest sea creature category. The sperm whales head has a structure called monkey lips, which it uses to blow air through and also produce loud, booming clicks.
These clicks or codas, which are unique to each whale, are used like sonar to find food and also to communicate with other sperm whales. It is estimated by biologist and whale researcher, Magnus Wahlberg of Aarhus University in Denmark, that these clicks can reach levels of 230 decibels underwater. Meaning the sperm whale is the loudest sea creature we could find with the net.