March; well, normally we there would be a hint of spring in the air, yet the month has just continued in the same atrocious conditions as February and, by the looks of it, it's going to continue into April.
Looking at my daily records, I managed to get out on thirteen occasions, which totalled 78 hours. So my session duration is up on last month, even if my sessions fell slightly short. On average, each session has lasted approximately six hours, an increase on last month due to my first overnight session of the year. Ten of my visits to the bank were sessions for myself, with guiding days taking up the other three, which is down on what I would like, but who really wants to be going out in such terrible conditions? Not many anglers!
My final session of the month, which was also my first overnight session, was the highlight during March. Yet before mentioning this, let’s look at a few other sessions and things learnt along the way.
The first noticeable factor that I learnt was that zander hate high pressure. If the barometer reads anything higher than 1010mb, then I will be targeting something else. If this high pressure coincides with a full moon, then its even worse. They just don’t like it.
Just before the end of the river season, we did get a couple of very mild days when the temperature rose to an incredible 14 degrees. I just had to get up the river and try for a last-fling massive barbel. However, I didn’t want to be rubbing shoulders with other anglers, so had a very early night and set the alarm for 1am. Getting up at this time isn’t easy, but my worst fear was approaching; roving the river in darkness as, a few years ago, I fell in and struggled to get out...and this was in July during daylight hours!
Anyway, I managed to face my fears and arrived at the river at 2.30am only to find three bivies in the big fish swims. Heading upstream, I fished for five hours, but no big barbel had my name on it and I headed home on a blank, happy that I had overcome an angling obstacle, but disappointed at not catching.
Chub, predictable as ever
In the past, I have normally spent most of the colder month’s chub fishing, yet this winter has been different with pike taking up a lot of my time. One session on the Loddon, piking, did produce a good fish for my friend Chris, which came from a known hotspot that used to produce a few twenties, albeit around fifteen years ago. I also had to see if the chub fishing was still as predictable as in previous years, and it was. A very early five-hour session, again on the Loddon and well before other anglers had arrived, produced six modest chub to the standard bread flake tactics, the best 5lb 2oz.
With the rivers closing, it was back to the lakes and another day spent targeting big roach ended in success, yet failure. It was a very raw day and I fished hard on both the float and the feeder to record roach of 1lb 8oz, 1lb 9oz and eventually 2lb 6oz. Success was short lived, though, as I found my camera battery dead and I was too far from home to get a replacement.
A bream session on a local club lake delivered nine modest bream, which proved that spring is on its way, but it did take me two hours of continuously casting with a maggot sandwich to get a response.
So, all in all, the month wasn’t a complete washout, or should that be freeze out. However, the last session of the month was just incredible. Teaming up again with my friend Chris, we headed for a large southern stillwater with big bream on our minds. Our tickets were about to expire at the end of the month and we had planned the trip well in advance, really to say farewell, as the new syndicate price was just too expensive to continue. If we had another month on the ticket, we would have rescheduled, as the weather was almost unbearable. The easterly wind was howling across the fifty or more acres, dropping the temperature to what had to be well below freezing, yet it was dry and we knew that if we could find sheltered swims accessing the centre of the lake, then the cold could be tolerated.
Depositing fifty balls of groundbait via slingshot at a range of around seventy-five yards in both swims, we simply clipped up and dropped our baited rigs on top. Hitting the sleeping bags just into darkness, we had both agreed that a liner would be classified as a result, but at around 8pm one of my rods sprung into life and a bream was hooked. Whilst playing this fish, the other rod started to bleep and I thought that the fish had gone over this, yet with the fish in the net and the alarm still bleeping, I knew it was from another! The brace weighed in at 10lb and 10lb 8oz, a result if ever there was and, after recasting the rods, I settled back for a good night's sleep.
At 10pm, 1.45am, 2am and 4.15am, I found myself playing further bream, which weighed 10lb 9oz, 11lb, 11lb 8oz and 12lb 8oz - a red-letter day if ever there was one. The successful bait was two 10mm Nash Monster Squid boilies, fished over a bed of Fish Frenzy Halibut Method Mix laced with broken and whole boilies, 6mm pellets and plenty of Tutti In-Juicer.
Unfortunately, Chris failed to get on the score sheet and we both agreed that I had just been fortunate in my swim selection and dropped on a resident shoal. This session also goes to show just how close an angler can be from success or failure and that if the fish can be located, whatever the weather conditions, they can be caught!
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The best of six doubles, 12lb 8oz
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