Big Fish Column: Best is yet to come
The Christmas break is always a popular time for anglers to get out and about and enjoy some fishing and this year was no exception.
The only difference is that the 2015/16 holiday season this year delivered conditions more appropriate to October than late December.
I can recall few Christmas holiday sessions when it was possible to bag up on carp all day long in nothing more than a pair of jeans and a lightweight fleece but with daytime temperatures pushing 16 degrees Centigrade at times that it exactly what some anglers did!
Climate change, El Niño, Gulf Stream, Jet Stream…whatever the root cause of the record December temperatures the net result was a very interesting mixed bag of catches.
At this time of year I usually start the catch reports with the river results for the simple reason than in the depths of winter with variable, often cold, conditions it is on the rivers where you can usually count on a few fish being caught.
There were, of course, fish caught on the rivers but the stillwaters were turning up fish too, with carp getting their heads down on most of the local commercial pools.
Coldwater carping can be tough going and, apart from the diehard big carp anglers and matchmen, most anglers tend to target alternate species, or indeed venues, with a more reliable track record for producing in the big chill.
Plenty of carp
This year, however, there were plenty of carp to be caught with a variety of methods scoring, not just the usual light line and small bait tactics.
One of the best results came from the Island Lake at Woolwich Green where Tim Ross legered pop-up mini boilies in conjunction with PVA bags of coarse groundbait, corn and chopped boilies to net six carp from 11lb to 15lb 8oz.
Taplow-based Tim fished a dawn to evening session and presented his baits on a size 10 hook to 10lb line and reported that the two other anglers on the lake at the same time as him were also catching, one of them having netted a mirror just shy of 20lb the previous evening.
There was lots of rod-bending action at Royal Berkshire too where carp to 14lb and a ghost carp of 8lb 12oz were the highlight of a day session fished by Graham Lloyd. Graham used a small method feeder with an 8mm pellet on a size 10 barbless hook to 8lb line and cast to the island on Lake One.
Perch were also showing at Royal Berkshire with the best fish reported a specimen of 2lb 8oz to Windsor angler Roger Poole who presented a worm underneath a 4BB waggler in the margins of Lake Three.
Roger also netted a couple of smaller specimens around the pound mark with a feed of chopped worms and maggots pulling the fish in.
The stillwater sport wasn’t consistent over the break, winter fishing never is – even in good conditions, but most of the smaller stillwaters reported anglers returning home with wet nets.
On the rivers
On the rivers the Thames, as predicted, continued to maintain its form over the Christmas period and produced some good angling with bream, chub and perch to the fore on most local beats where the levels and pace remained reasonable.
Bream to 6lb provided festive cheer for many anglers with the mostly overcast days and long nights switching the fish on early and keeping them feeding.
The groundbait feeder with pellets was the top tactic and was employed by Bray’s Spencer Smith to take five fish during an evening session.
Perch were showing in many areas too with light lures proving particularly effective, although hungry and very active small pike proved troublesome to a number of anglers, including Thames regular Derek Hall who had six takes from ‘jacks’ before he finally hit into a good perch of 2lb 4oz.
Derek fished from his boat in and around Boulter’s and Maidenhead Bridge with small shads his choice of lure.
On the smaller rivers barbel anglers were out in force in what were mostly good conditions for the species and although sport was patchy there were some good fish caught, with the Loddon once again having the edge over the Kennet.
The best specimen reported tipped the scales at 10lb 14oz and was netted, along with a fish of 6lb 10oz, by Twyford angler Bob Edwards who legered a pellet on a size 8 hook to 12lb braid and 12lb main line.
Also getting amongst the Loddon barbel was Dean Roberts who netted a specimen of 8lb 12oz on a meat bait fished on a size 6 hook to 10lb line.
Chub were plentiful on all local rivers with a good number of fish topping 5lb although, perhaps surprisingly given the time of year and numbers of anglers fishing, there were no reports of fish topping 6lb.
That said the best of the chub fishing is probably yet to come!
Any anglers wishing to report catches may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org