Ade Kiddell- February 2019 Update

I usually start my blog with a weather status update; this one is no different - its only the weather that is different! Two weeks ago we had snow and overnight lows of minus eight. As I sit and write this it's 21 celsius outside, the daffodils are in flower, and it looks like spring has arrived, Not sure how long for with the ten day forecast showing possible snow showers next week, but I plan to make the most of this mild spell while it's here.

After a couple of weeks of cold, frosty and snowy conditions we had a little let up in temperature and some heavy overnight rain from the warmer south westerly direction; that often has the effect of warming up the river enough to trigger the fish into feeding. So with snow still laying around but confident of at least a chub, I set out for an afternoon's fishing. With the river running reasonably clear, I planned to fish with my favourite winter method, feeding mashed bread and using punched bread on the hook.

I decided to use a small feeder and fish the crease where the main flow meets the slower water, only about 5 metres into the river, but casting downstream a few metres to avoid spooking any fish immediately in front of me. In the feeder was bread which had been soaked into a mash and then pushed through a maggot riddle to remove any large lumps, a little dry breadcrumb added to make it dry enough to hold in the feeder. For the hook I used sliced bread flattened with a rolling pin, I have a selection of punches of various sizes from 6 to 20 mm;mostly I use the 8 and 10 mm.

Second cast and a tentative bite resulted in a hooked fish and a nice chub of over 2lb and job done. It's surprising how even a bite will raise confidence, so a hooked fish is a real boost. I am a firm believer that confidence is more important than any bait or tackle you can buy. I must have a word with Angling Direct and see if they can get some confidence in stock! Next cast another bite and another hooked fish, this time a bit of a different fight, a much more determined scrap and once the fish surfaced I could see why, a decent Sneep of over 3lb, the sneep as I have described in the past is a common nase, not a fish we have in the UK but which are found all over Europe, essentially an algae eater but often caught on bread, corn or maggot. A 3lb sneep is a specimen and I had one laying in the folds of the net.

Little did I know how the rest of that session would go. I ended up with five sneep over the magic 3lb mark and two chub over 4lb so a fantastic session on a few slices of bread. but that's only half the story. I had missed loads of bites; sneep are shy fish and easily spooked and well known as tentative feeders, what made it worse thou I had also pulled the hook out of another six or so decent fish. I tried all sorts of things to sort it, bigger bait, smaller bait, bigger hook, smaller hook, you get the picture but nothing seemed to make the difference. I actually think the fact sneep have a boney cartilage upper lip, which is very tough meant the hook was just not penetrating properly, hence the missed bites and lost fish. Well chuffed though with the fish I did land given the conditions.

I picked a few mates' brains that night regarding the missed bites and lost fish but no real conclusions were drawn. I did however think hair rigging might be worth a try, hair rigged bread is often used on commercials and works well, so with nothing to lose I was back out the next afternoon.

I decided to fish two rods, the first with the bread straight on the hook, the second with the bread on a hair rig held on by a quick-stop. A quick bite missed on the hair rig rod but a fish hooked and a good one second cast, only this wasn't the targeted sneep but a winter barbel and a good one. I had to go carefully as I hadn't expected barbel so had scaled down to a 6lb bottom, but the through action rod and some patience playing the fish, I slipped the net under a very special fish. The fish itself went over 8lb but was very significant in two ways, firstly it was the first I had ever caught on bread in over 30 years of fishing for them, secondly it was the barbel that meant I had caught a barbel for 25 consecutive months. I am pretty sure there are very few anglers who have ever achieved that milestone, it's almost impossible in the UK because of the close season; very few European anglers bother with barbel and they are also much harder to catch in the winter, I stand to be corrected though.

The session continued with lots of missed bites on the hair rigged bait, small plucks, large pulls, all missed, two more barbel fell to the hair rigged bait just to prove the milestone fish wasn't a fluke. The hooked bread rod produced a couple of chub and one decent sneep, no lost fish but lots of missed bites, part of that was not concentrating fully as I was using two rods.

It was a few days before I could get out again, the river had dropped and cleared out by then, the town centre looked spot on. I love fishing town centres in winter, they always seem to hold a few fish. I decided to try the pole, fishing at 10 metres, a number 8 elastic through 2 sections hopefully to tame anything I hooked. To feed the mashed bread accurately I used a pole pot to regularly top up the swim. From the second run through I was into fish, firstly some small chub and a couple of smaller sneep, some decent roach and then some better sneep and chub even a few skimmers. I finished with 8 good sneep and 6 decent chub and with the other fish in total well over 40lb.

Itching to get back to the river but an enforced trip home to England stopped that and with the weather approaching 20C I am sure the fish would be waiting for my return. Every time back in Norwich after visiting family, its' a visit to Angling Direct that’s next on the agenda. It's always good to catch up with the lads. I needed a bit of a tackle stock up along with half a gallon of best maggots all packed in ice ready for the trip home.

Once back in France the few days away and the river had changed from a winter river carrying water and colour into almost summer conditions, unbelievable in just a few days. My thoughts turned to carp, the water had warmed up considerably and history tells me the carp show up on my spots as soon as the days start to lengthen and the water warms up. From this point on I will feed spots a few times a week and keep an eye out for feeding fish and fish showing over the feed.

The rods were out as soon as possible, a couple optimistically over the carp spots and one after a barbel in the main flow. The barbel rod kept me busy with a couple of decent barbel as well as few bites and a decent bream, the fresh maggots from Angling Direct making the difference. When one of the carp rods burst into life and then slowly pulled off I didn't know what to expect, I was well chuffed when a hard scrapping little common came to the net, not huge but the first carp of the year, the first of many I hope.

The last few weeks have be exceptional, some milestones passed, several great bags of fish taken on a variety of methods, I only suffered one blank in the entire month and that was trying to catch a barbel in the snow, so was never going to be easy. As the daylight hours increase the fish will be triggered into feeding harder before spawning so hopefully the next few weeks will continue to be productive. However it's still very early in the year and with the possibility of snow in the next couple of weeks I might be getting the bread out again.

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