Fishless four weeks of February
13:29 17 February 2012
Some anglers may refer to February as - four weeks, freezing and fishless. Others as fireside fishing with a good angling book! However, unless both lakes and rivers are completely frozen over, there are always fish to be caught, writes Mike Winter.
There has been a population explosion of carp anglers, more than any other type of angler. Most will probably be sat twiddling their thumbs, or inventing new deadly baits or infallible rigs until the warmer weather arrives.
But carp can be caught during the winter as Gerry Savage, Jim Gibbinson and I proved back in the late 1950s and early 60s. In fact, I recently wrote an article for Tim Paisley in an autumn edition of Carpworld magazine about the early days of winter carp fishing.
Keep a close eye on your local waters. If you see any signs of carp moving, they will be using energy which can only be replaced by feeding. Try a big bunch of good quality red maggots for bait.
Pike are the only other big fish into double figures feeding throughout the winter. Try a wobbled sprat as I described in a previous column in the Herald.
The Tiverton, and in particular the Exeter, Canal hold big pike, but location is the problem. The Exeter Club stretches of the delightful R Culm were a wonderful pike fishery where they grew up to 20lbs. But I fear Otter predation has ruined that.
Chub are a fish that grow to good sizes and feed throughout the winter. The little R. Isle below Ilminster holds three to four+ pounders. But if you want five to six +pounders it is necessary to travel to the Bristol Avon, Hampshire Avon or Dorset Stour. A small cube of fresh bread crust fished on a sliding shot link leger is a good way to catch them in winter. I have also had the occasional 2lb + roach using this method.
Dace are a river fish I seldom seek, but they do feed during the winter. My one and only best catch of big dace came by pure chance. I had worked my way along the stretch of the R Exe, dropping float fished bread flake into all my favourite roach swims but without a bite.
Eventually, I came to a place where a fast- flowing shallow side stream entered the river and its bottom shelved away into deep water. As I sat down and poured a welcome cup of hot coffee from my flask, I thought I saw a dull silver flash in the deep water at the mouth of the side stream. I put on my polaroids which gave me a much better view of a large shoal of big dace.
To finish this article properly I will run way past my words limit, so I fear you will have to wait until next month to discover what happened with the dace and with some big perch – another fish that can be caught during the winter.
So remember, there are plenty of big fish to be caught during the winter, and no bad fishing weather – just bad clothing!