On the Bank
At last, after what seems like an eternity with the lakes frozen solid and snow on the ground, we finally have a thaw.
Most of the lakes have returned to their liquid state over the past few days and once again little green houses are springing up all over the banks.
Personally I still have a couple of days left to wait before I can get out there but I have plenty of writing to do and a bit of tackle maintenance to keep me busy until then.
Just before the freeze up I was starting to get into the swing of things over at Monks pit. I had the twenty seven pound mirror that I wrote about, in the huge gale force winds and, the very next week, I managed to sneak out two more fish to add to the tally.
Having found an area where I could get a bite I had returned to the same swim and clipped the fishing rods up using the same bank-side markers as the previous week.
Luckily though, the weather was slightly more agreeable this time, although still extremely windy there had been a slight change in direction and it was predominately blowing over my shoulder, making the spodding of maggots and casting of PVA bags considerably easier.
With the rigs in position I settled in for the night as all the bites seem to be during the hours of darkness in the winter on Monks. All the bites on the bottom anyway as, once the zigs start to kick into gear, the daytimes become a lot more productive.
The first bite came at half past one, which is actually quite early and left me very hopeful for another one before dawn but it wasn’t to be because the next thing I knew was staring out at the sunrise.
At twenty six pounds I was well happy with my result but another fish would really have been the icing on the cake. I stuck the kettle on for the first brew of the day but, before it had got to the boil, one of the remaining rods was away, a daytime bite at last!
Although this fish was a bit smaller at just over twenty one pounds it gave me no end of grief, tangling in one of the other lines and, eventually, forcing me to go out in the boat to land it but at least I had a daylight photograph at the end of it, well worth a bit of mucking about on the water and getting cold and wet.
My next trip unfortunately coincided with the start of a vicious cold snap and, as I packed up after a blank two nights, I could see big sheets of ice forming out in the middle of the lake which is not a good sign at all. I’d spent the entire time fishing headfirst into a biting Easterly wind with night time temperatures well below zero, I was certainly glad of my Thermotex jacket that session I can tell you, I practically live in the thing at the moment as it’s the warmest piece of fishing clothing I’ve ever owned.
Once the wind died off though, it was odds on that the lake would freeze and the very next day I received a phone call to say the entire lake had iced over.
Now, three weeks later, I am checking lines, tying new rigs and getting ready for a new assault and I can’t wait!
With the winter looking like it might well be coming to an end all eyes are on the future. Thoughts of spring, albeit a bit premature, are in everybody’s minds and plans are being made for the season ahead.
At this time of year I like to have a good old clean out of my tackle bags and check that everything is in tip top condition for the year ahead, after all, once the fishing really does get underway I am too busy to be bothered with routine maintenance and all I can think about is my next fish.
Lines are one of the most important things and we rely on them totally but, all too often, we don’t give them the attention they deserve. I have been guilty of it so many times in the past and I can still remember years ago, on Wraysbury, losing the fish of a lifetime one spring session because I hadn’t bothered to check the line that had sat on my spool all winter. It doesn’t take long to strip off three spools of line and re-load them with brand new monofilament or braid. I do mine in the garden using a bucket of water to place the new spool in and a soft glove to hold tension on the line, preventing finger burns from the friction and helping to keep the correct tension on the new line. I simply set up the rod and wind it straight out of the bucket onto the spool.
A spool of the new ‘Nan-Tech’ line costs under a tenner for a bulk spool that will easily load three reels which, I think, is a very small price to pay for total peace of mind.
I had a hand in the development of this line, recommending a supplier and line type that I had previously used and then improving the finished product by increasing the suppleness and abrasion resistance of the line so I can honestly recommend this as the best monofilament I’ve ever used, if it wasn’t then I would still be trying to develop one that was!