It’s fair to say that my winter fishing never really had chance to kick off until after Christmas, following a series of domestic disasters that stopped me getting out. Finally, in late December, with the new van fitted out, the garage roof repair organised, and my daughter’s back operation behind us, I was able to go fishing with a clear head. With only a few weeks left to fish, my original winter plans were shelved in favour of pursuing just two targets, a chub to beat my current best of 7lb 5ozs and my best pike for twenty years, which would require a fish of 25lbs plus.
My very first day of winter chubbing was destined to provide me with the first target. There is one stretch I fish which is a blank waiting to happen, by which I mean that bites are always very scarce. The plus, though, is that the fish when they come along are usually exceptional. The conditions when I arrived were far from ideal, with the water as low and clear as in summer. Because of that, I chose the deepest swim on the fishery, where a midriver right hand bend forms a classic crease. I’ve had good fish from there in floods but never fished it under such low winter conditions. I made my first cast at around midday, and was still biteless as the light started to fade. Then, out of the blue, the tip of my fishing rod shot round and I found myself in contact with a strong fish which I first thought must be a barbel. I soon realised, however, that the culprit was an extra big chub, but I hadn’t realised just how big until I saw it slide over the rim of my TFG landing net. Here was one truly massive chub; I had a possible 8lb in mind. I wasn’t too far out. After carefully twice zeroing the scales, I confirmed a new best of 7lb 13ozs; what a fantastic fish.
After that leviathan on my first serious chubbing trip of the winter, I made another three two-day trips to the stretch, fishing past midnight on each day, but that seven pounder remained the only bite I had. That was to change on the last day of the river season, when I fished from midday until the official season close at midnight. I managed two solid bites in the evening, landing good fish of 5lb 14ozs and 6lb 9ozs. So, I’d landed just three chub from the stretch since December, but what a great average size.
In between the slow chubbing sessions, I enjoyed some much more active deadbaiting at local waters in the search for that elusive 25lb plus pike. In total contrast to the river experiences, I never had a single blank. In all, I landed 16 pike under 10lbs, plus another 18 fish in double figures. Seven of those fish were over 17lbs, the exact weights being 17lb 10ozs (2), 17lb 12ozs, 18lb 6ozs, 19lb 4ozs, 19lb 6ozs and 19lb 8ozs. You can see from those statistics that not only did I fail to get anywhere near 25lb but I didn’t even beat 20lbs. On my very last piking trip I thought I’d done it at last when I had a fantastic scrap after hooking something heavy on a whole mackerel. Bizarrely, it turned out to be a mid double mirror carp fairly hooked on the bottom treble. The fishing was tremendous nevertheless and I felt in with a real chance of an exceptional fish at all times; one of the waters had produced a 33lb fish.
At the time of writing, I’m just off for a week’s holiday with the wife and then I’m beginning a spring tench campaign. I’ll let you know how it goes.