Last week I was catching loads of fish, the recent icy blast has really 'chilled' the fishing.
On Wednesday, I fished the mid week open at Gold Valley, the weather was warm enough for January but the weather forecast was for strong winds with even stronger 'gusts'. Despite the forecast I was really looking forward to this match, Gold has been kind to me lately and I have really been enjoying the fishing. I drew peg 19 on the canal bank, an area that has been good for bream in the past.
I started my match by feeding my pole line with fishmeal and joker, just as I have been doing on my recent visits, and then started on the tip in the hope of an early carp. My normal approach for the first hour is to cast a piece of meat to the rope and then hope that I get a few pulls and then take it from there as to what was being caught around me.
I never had a bite for the first hour and my end of the canal bank not many carp were showing, it was too early to have a look on the pole line so I continued on the straight lead. The next hour was very uneventful, still no bites and I couldn't wait to pick the pole up, since the start of the match the wind was getting stronger and stronger and severe gusts were going to make the pole fishing very uncomfortable.
With half the match gone, and not a fish in the net, I just had to try the pole, it didn't take to realise that any chance of presenting a bait was virtually impossible in the wind, the annoying thing was I had the odd indication on the float which told me fish were on the bait, so it wasn't long before I was back on the lead.
With an hour and a half to go, the wind did ease up and I picked up the pole asap, and straight away I started to catch bream on bunches of bloodworm, in the next half an hour I caught 7 bream, this is the sort of fishing that makes Gold so good and I was just starting to think that I might win something when the wind got up again and I couldn't present the bait again, it was very frustrating. I spent the rest of the match on the lead, hoping the wind would drop again, but it never did and I never had another bite.
My seven bream weighed 20lb, a very good half an hours fishing, but I won anything, I packed up feeling very frustrated with the weather and on the drive home I reflected on the recent matches I've fished at Gold and this is the first bad day I've had in about 10 trips.
Saturday and Sunday it was off to the Stainforth and Keadby canal at Thorne for the weekend, with a 3 to 4 hour drive each way, it is too far to travel up and back in the same day, so I travel on the Saturday and have a practice somewhere, stop over and fish the match on the Sunday. Last winter I did this for about 7 or 8 weekends, the fishing on the Stainy at this time of the year is excellent and I caught double figures of roach on bloodworm and joker, every match.
The number of local venues where i can fish bloodworm and joker is very limited, the attraction of the stainy for me is two fold, first the quality of the fishing is excellent, most matches you are looking for 200-250 roach for low doubles, the second attraction is the standard of the angler you are fishing against, it is probably the highest standard of bloodworm and joker fishing in the country, every weekend you see international anglers competing against each other, for anyone with aspirations of fishing for their country, they can learn a lot fishing these matches.
On the Saturday the weather was horrendous, 40mph north westerlies made the chance of fishing properly, extremely difficult, it took all my enthusiasm to get the tackle out of the van and drag it along the towpath to catch some fish. I put my tackle down on peg 161 and eventually I set up the minimum about of gear and prepared my bait and ground bait and 'balled in'. Normally when you practice on this venue as soon as you start fishing it is a roach a chuck, but today it was one of those days you question your 'sanity', freezing cold strong wind made sensible fishing impossible and after a couple of hours of 'trying' to fish and catching very little, I decided to call it a day and try to warm up and look forward to the match tomorrow, even though the weather forecast was supposed to be even worst.
Saturday night I stopped at Matt Godfreys house, Matt is a great mate of mine, and we went out for a drink and a meal in Sheffield, an evening out with Matt is always 'eventful'.
Sunday saw no let up in the weather, I drew peg 195, a long walk along the muddy towpath, after experiencing the wind yesterday, I didn't want to make the mistake of fishing too far out, I settled on fishing 11 meters, normally I would feed some bait at 14.5 or 16m, but this was impossible today. Most people start their match on this canal by fishing for perch by the side of their keep net, with the wind today it made good sense and I was going to make sure I caught every perch possible before trying to catch some roach on the longer line.
When the match started, I caught some small perch by my keep net, but the wind was one of the coldest I've ever experienced, for a 'southern softy', and I thought I was going to have to stop fishing and get some warmth back into my hands, but I battled on. When the perch line dried up it was out on the long line, when I go out on the long pole line for the first time, I always get a feeling of excitement, if the float starts going under straight away you know you are in for a good day, if it doesn't you know its going to be tough and your chances of winning something are not in your favour.
Luckily for me I started to catch small roach, but not very quickly, but I could always 'make' a bite and I finished the match with 5lb 12oz of roach and perch, for a section win. Alan Scothorne won the match with 15lb of mostly skimmers, mine was probably the lowest section winning weight, yet despite the horrendous weather it was a very satisfying day.