Strong winds were forecast for the last week of the river season, which ends on 14-Mar. Not ideal for either fishing effectively or staying comfortable, but with time running out there was no option but to give it a go.
The first session started unconvincingly when I tried to fish amongst reeds which were thrashing in the wind and constantly catching the line and hook. In my next spot I was very exposed and starting to feel cold despite having layered up. A missed bite told me fish were there but I didn’t want to freeze solid trying to catch them.
Then I had a brain wave: the nearby weir pool island would offer shelter and an easy cast into the pool tail. Ten minutes later I was settled in there, totally protected from the gale blasting through the tree tops, warming up nicely in the sun and getting into a much more positive frame of mind.
A gentle lob put my swimfeeder on the edge of the current, with a small worm on the hook. For an hour nothing happened, then the quivertip twitched before pulling forward. Tightening up put me in contact with a heavy weight that at first refused to budge. After boring about on the bottom and then waving its tail at the surface, a good bream of 6lb 10oz eventually came in:
That was it for the day (apart from two missed bites) but it felt like a minor triumph given the shaky start. As I packed up, heavy rain started falling, quickly turning into sleet as the wind picked up a notch.
Three days later I had another go. It was still very windy so it was back to the weir pool. While I was tackling up an EA employee came along saying fishing was not allowed there. Rather annoying, but anyway I went off to try somewhere else.
In my new swim the quivertip was jumping around too much in the howling wind so I decided to hold the rod and feel the line for bites. This had the added advantage that I could sit more comfortably, sideways on to the breeze.
The sound of the wind and the constant ruffling of the water meant I could hardly hear myself think, but there was no mistaking the first bite. A series of plucks on the line was a clear signal cutting through the noise. Just a small chub of about a pound, but very welcome. Shortly after I felt a decisive pull and on lifting the rod found myself playing another similar sized fish:
The wind chill was getting to me, so again I had to walk away from biting fish. I didn’t mind too much, as I knew another more sheltered spot that should be worth a go – the junction of the main river with a lock cut.
Casting into the middle is usually productive here, but after an hour I was still biteless. It occurred to me that with the river running fast after the recent rain, it might be better fishing a bit closer to the slack water of the cut. This quickly brought a 6oz roach on worm. On the next cast something more substantial took hold. Another good bream, 7lb 4oz this time:
Minutes later a sharp jab on the quivertip signalled that another fish had located the worm on the riverbed. It was putting up a rather bream-like nodding resistance, so I was surprised to see the bold stripes of a large perch looming up out of the murk. That went 2lb 10oz:
Walking back in the dusk along the deserted river bank, I reflected on a rewarding couple of days.