January 2nd, 2010.
The first outing of the year, actually decade! The overnight temperature was -4% and the Warwickshire Avon had an extra 18 inches of water running in it which was melted snow. Conditions that are not ideal but a sunny morning meant a pair of optimistic anglers(Welsh Simon was with me) made their way to the Marlcliff section of the river. The banks were still frozen which is preferable on this section as the steep pegs can be dangerous when they are muddy and slippy. A body-warming 25 min walk and we reached the pegs we fancied. They were free as expected, there was only one other angler on the whole stretch, a piker fishing the swim in the car park.
Cold, coloured water meant the only fish likely to feed was Chub and a smelly bait was required to tempt him from his sanctuary under the far willows, Cheese paste. The rig was a simple, running leger with a two foot hooklength, 8lb line and a size 8 Owner paste hook. The point of the hook left exposed or the paste would bounce out of the Chub's cavernous mouth.
The rigs were cast out and the 20z leads finally settled in the strong flow. The steep bank of my swim meant there was no place for a chair so I sat on the bank. The ground was still frozen and gradually I could feel my arse going numb so put my unhooking mat down instead and that felt much warmer.
An hour later and not much had occured. I had checked the baits several times. Cheese paste is an "is it on still?" kind of bait. The Chub love it though so if there is no action within 20 minutes of casting I will recast. More often than not there is no bait left on but that is due to it pulling off when you reel in.
Another cast and a little tap tap on the tip, strike, fish on! But as soon as I feel it the hook pulls. 'Didn't feel big' I tell myself. Over and over, until I actually believe it too. Numbs the hurt of a lost fish.
Two hours later and finally another bite, a big pull followed by the tip bouncing violently back, all of which I am not ready for and miss completely. Five minutes later the tip does it again and this time I am ready for it and it's fish on. Everything goes to plan and a big pair of lips slides over the landing net. 4lb 6oz of pristine Chub and the day is complete. Simon comes down to assist the weigh in and photos. A lack of action means he has already packed up and so I follow suit.
The Piker in the car park has blanked. Maybe he should have walked a bit or maybe that would have made no difference, he'll never know.