The weather had been ice cold all week and most waters were frozen over. I had a feeling my winter carp fishing wasn’t going to happen this week so I sat down in front of the PC on Friday evening and made my backup plan.
I always have a backup plan when the weather is icy. If my carp lake happens to be frozen over there are always other species of fish to target in other waters. Rivers don’t freeze so species such as chub, grayling, perch and pike are all viable options even in the coldest of conditions. Even the canal can be free of ice when my chosen winter carp lake is frozen over so there is always plenty of choice no matter how cold it gets.
My usual 'alternative' target is winter pike and in years gone by I’d visit either the river severn or the river dee if I couldn’t get my rods out for winter carp. I know a few stretches on both rivers that respond very well to wobbled deadbaits, even in the very coldest of conditions. However, you can’t keep fishing the same places all the time. Sure, you put yourself in with a great chance of catching if you fish known holding areas you’ve caught well from in the past but if you stick to the same venues and swims year in year out I think you stagnate as an angler and I prefer to keep moving, trying new venues and finding new productive areas. With new venues in mind, I sat at the PC on Friday evening with google earth open on the computer and my sat nav positioned next to the monitor. I was looking at the Shropshire union canal in particular and I used google earth to locate as many access points to the canal as possible, once I found a road that either crossed the canal or passed close by, I used the ‘navigate to point on map’ function on my sat nav to store it for future reference. The plan was to head down to the lake and break up as much ice as I possibly could in order to give the wind a chance at clearing the lake. I was doing this because I was due on again on Christmas eve and if I couldn’t fish on Saturday due to the ice I definitely wanted my lines in the water on Monday!.
Once I’d done as much as I could at the lake I was going to drop into daves of middlewich then visit the canal to see if I could find any pike or perch with a small plug or spinner. This year I was dropping my favoured method of wobbling a dead smelt, it had been a particularly productive method for catching pike in the past but at the cost of smelling everything out. My clothes, the car, my fishing gear, everything stinks of dead fish after a days pike fishing so this year I’d invested in a wychwood rover lure bag into which I’d placed a few of my favourite lures. If the lake wasn’t fishable I could wander up and down the canal searching any potential holding areas with my small selection of lures.
With my plans for the Shropshire union canal in place I was going to be fishing no matter what happened, on Saturday morning I packed my carp gear as usual only this time I packed my lure bag as well. The journey to the lake was uneventful, there didn’t appear to be much frost around and I got quite a surprise when I made my way down the track to the lake. It was flat calm and at first I assumed it was frozen. Out of the corner of my eye I clocked a duck paddling its way across the lake. That didn’t look right?. I looked again and sure enough the water was ice free. I parked the car and went for a closer look, I couldn’t even find any sign of cat ice in the margins, the lake was completely ice free.
Straight away I forgot about the pike, the lure fishing could stay as a backup plan until next time it’s icy. I unloaded my gear from the car and made my way to my usual swim. I left the gear and went for a walk round to see if I could spot any carp, nothing showed so I headed back to my swim and picked up where I left off in winter carp diary pt4. I’d scraped a double to save a blank last week and I decided to start in the same place. The fish had been stacked up in an out of bounds area last time so I opted for one rod as far towards this area as I could and the other rod I placed ‘on the bait’ at a range of about 40 yards (area a if you look at my previous entries), both rods were baited with pellet and fished with a pva mesh bag of the same.
Once the rods were out and the rest of my gear was neatly arranged I settled down to watch the water, if anything showed I wanted to get a bait on it straight away. The day passed by without anything happening. The cold weather had obviously had an effect on the carp, I can’t ever remember a whole day passing without seeing a carp on this particular water, in the past I’ve even watched the fish rolling in a small hole in the ice out in the middle of the lake but today they were well and truly hidden away. I did move the rods around late afternoon in order to try different spots that had been productive in the past but I run out of both luck and time and the shortest day of the year became my first blank of the winter.
Usually, I don’t cut back on the bait I put in at the end of each session but as I was going to be back at the lake within 48hrs, I opted to put in just a quarter of the bait I’d usually use. A quarter of the bait took a quarter of the time and I finished my spodding quickly and packed up.