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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


18/10/2016 - Don't Be Put Off Fishing in Cold Weather - Martin James

Good chub on crust water temps of 34 degrees F

We are now coming to that time of the year when conditions change quite dramatically as the water and sir temperatures drops often below zero. I’m often get asked, is it worth fishing in cold weather conditions? The answer is certainly yes, you can still catch even in subzero temperatures, in those conditions chub and graying would be my first choice species, I’ve caught good chub and grayling and on some occasions dace with water temperatures as low as 30 degrees with snow covered ice stretching two and three feet out from the bank. Two anglers encouraged me take the water temperature and note the effects on my angling especially during the autumn and winter, LA Parker author This Fishing or angling arts and artifices who was one time Mine Host at the Bull Inn at Downton, the other was the late Richard Walker author of several book, one in particular is Dick Walkers Angling

When the water temperature reaches 39.5 degrees F the viscosity of the water changes. It’s like the oil in your car, on a cold day it’s thicker than on a warm day. The fish become sluggish in their movements; their digestive rate slows down, one reason why we shouldn't dump free offerings into our chosen swim when we arrive at the water’s edge. If the cold snap has just started then the fish will be harder to catch, After a few days of low water temperatures you will find chub, roach, dace and even barbel will pick up a bait, you can often have a good catch of chub. Cold frosty nights with clear skies usually coincide with a high pressure zone over the country, then I don’t fish long sessions, if it’s a bright and sunny, it’s usually a waste of time until the angle of the sun has dropped below ten degree. I usually fish late afternoon and into the darkness for a couple of hours. When the water temperature has been below 40 degrees F for several days’ fish will certainly feed for longer periods often during the middle ours of the day. Even barbel and bream will feed. I and many other anglers have had some great catches when the water temperature has been very low for a few days.

Recently Martin Salisbury of Leyland and I were taking part in filming project on the River Kennet. I was asked to catch a fish; the water temperature was 43 degrees F ideal conditions. Within thirty seconds of dropping a bit of crust into a likely looking spot I had a barbel, in the next swim I had a chub, during the session I caught barbel to 9-14-0 and chub to just over 4lbs. Next day it was a different story, we fished the River Loddon, where the water temperature had dropped overnight to 39-40 degrees F, the wind was blowing from the north east, and we didn't have a bite. The following day after a night when the thermometer had plunged to minus 8 F we again fished the River Kennet. The water temperature was down to 36 degrees F. Within an hour I had a good chub on legered crust, moving to a weir pool on a carrier stream I had a perch of two and a half pounds on lobworm, then another good chub on crust. I called Martin and suggested he come and fish the weir pool. I vacated my swim and left it to Martin. Half an hour later he had a personal best bream of 5-4-0. These fish were caught on a day when we really did think we might struggle for a single bite.

When chub fishing I would advise you fish every likely looking spot, five or ten minutes in each swim. My baits could be lobs, sausage sizzle, cheese paste or bread flake or crust fished on a leger rig using the lightest weight possible. An Avon action rod, centre pin or fixed spool reel and 6lb line hook sizes 4’s and 6’s. Keep it simple. Don’t worry about fancy rigs, pinch one, two or more LG shot lightly on the line. With crust it’s often just two inches from the hook, The distance between weight and hook will depend on the bait. Bread flake, lobs or paste it’s usually twelve inches, sometimes though six inches. In cold water fish don’t often chase a bait they want it on the bottom under their nose.

Remember how ever tough the conditions are, you can't catch if you’re sitting at home, and I well remember some years ago fishing the River Ribble upstream of Mitton Bridge the river had some five or six feet of ice down the margins. The water temperature had been 34 degrees F for ten days; the thick ice had a covering of snow. I fished legered crust catching 26 chub averaging some three pounds. On another occasion back in the 1960's I fished the River Thames near Goring catching some super roach, including three two pound plus fish best at 2-6-0 all on legered lobworms. Again there was thick ice down the margins, a water temperature of 34 degrees F.

There is plenty of documented evidence of big fish and big catches being taken when the water temperature is below 40 degrees F. Dave Pickering of Blackburn chub fishing on the River Ribble caught a double figure barbel. One cold winters day I had a good catch of chub including three five’s 5-2-0 5-7-0 5-8-0 fishing double lobworm as bait. I could see by the firm stomach that all my fish had been feeding.

In cold water conditions, Many writers suggest using small baits, they write about little taps on the rod tip. My bites are usually a whack round of the rod tip. Sometimes the tip will pull round slowly; all I have to do then is tighten into another fish. I certainly don't use small baits, its chunks of crust, or flake the size of a fifty pence piece. Cheese, sausage or luncheon meat paste the size of a bantam's egg, on size 2 or 4 hooks. I reckon you have a far better chance of catching fish on big baits, than small baits. Remember small baits, equal small hooks, which equal fine lines. Not the best of tackle when hunting big fish.











Brace of chub from low gin clear river with water temp of 36 degrees

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