Day 1. River Frome. Target: Grayling. Temperature -5°C. It's cold out there but plans were in place, bait bought and hotels booked!
A 4am start and on the river by sunrise. The water was dirty, it was going to be tricky, perhaps one or two would slip up. And I fished a centerpin - wet hands touching the metal reel wasn’t a good idea!
It didn’t really work, just one small grayling but a few OOS brown trout warmed me up, James had the camera ready when I caught this one so we grabbed a quick snap - check out the kype on this male.
Day 2. Avon Royality. Target: Pike/Chub. Temperature -3°C. You’d have to be mad to keep going - yeah, sounds about right!
Fishing a slack, only one run on my deadbait all day. Great fight before a low-double was ready for the net, and just as I dared to believe I might bag my first Royal double the hook pinged out!
I also fished a maggot feeder in the crease for chub at the same time, after a couple of hours a rogue bream (hybrid?) took the bait, not the target but better than what was looking like a blank.
Day 3. River Stour. Target: Chub. Temperature -1°C. Warmer? Nope, with the icy wind it was even colder than the last two days!
Perhaps today could save the trip, water height and colour looked good, but we soon conceded we had to fish out of the wind. Only three decent wraps on the meat all day - and I missed them all!
I had a few deadbaits left, ropy looking but I gave up on the chub and wobbled them - thankfully a couple of jacks wanted to play. Time for some spring weather... But it’s snowing as I write this...
The big chill is on it’s way - but a relatively mild day so I thought I’d make the most of it. Four barbel going 5lb, 7lb 2oz, 5lb and 4lb - a splendid afternoon! Right, time to dig out the thermals again...
An afternoon in the boat on the Tidal Thames, the water was dirty and raging through - it was going to be tricky! I popped my livebait over the edge while me and James sorted the gear out, seconds later I looked back and the float was gone!
An instant jack, this was going to be good... Next action was over 4 hours later, James lost a jack before boating the 9lb 1oz pike above. Not quite the hectic action we’d hoped for - but I love floating about in the boat, even in those conditions.
Earlier in the day I did land my first Thames barbel while fishing for dace livebait on some shallow gravels, about 10oz. Followed by one getting on for a pound on the next cast - think I might need to target his grandmother next season - I’d love a big Thames barbel...
I needed to get over Thursday’s pike blank - time to catch a fish. With only the morning available barbel were the closest option - but it’s too cold for barbel and I haven’t had a barbel blank this season.
I decided a blank on the river, even in the cold, was better than staying in watching TV so I grabbed the gear and headed out. Time to gamble with my clean sheet - it has to come to an end sometime!
I made my way down the river searching the bottom with polaroids. I could see almost all of the riverbed but couldn’t spot a fish - they’re so adapted to their environment they really know how to hide.
Eventually I had a very gentle bite and a strike met with a fish, cracking fight including briefly getting snagged. But a beautiful 8lb 0oz barbel on a frosty morning - much better than watching telly!
A frost last night, a mildish day, a job postponed until tomorrow - only one thing for it - I ventured back to Penton Hook for the first time in three years. When I saw the water my heart sank; it was clear but really racing through - this was going to be tricky.
I started by trying to fish the fast water where I know the pike like to hang out, but despite a 4oz lead and rod set like I was beach fishing I couldn't hold bottom. I then decided to do a couple of circuits of the island fishing the slacks with a float fished deadbait and lures.
When that failed to find interest I set up shop in a deep slack and fished a ledgered sprat and a float fished dead roach for the rest of the afternoon, and hoped a pike would come and find me. But not a touch - fortunately I had a good book!
Despite the lack of fish it was great to be back on the island, just need some better conditions. Time between leaving my front door and first cast: 2 hours. Distance walked today: 12.4 miles. Penton Hook: Back on the radar, especially for the coming summer!