Anyway, not that long ago many up-country lakes were frozen over, not so, however, with many Cornish and Devonian venues, which is fantastic if you like braving the elements. However, this brings its own set of problems in so much that the rivers could be in full spate, and - if you're an otter and very hungry, it's easy to find a well stocked Cornish or Devon fishery to feast and hunt in 'til your heart's content...
With this in mind, my son and I planned long day's fishing on a venue in Devon with the quarry being some lovely scaled carp which are not angled heavily for. We knew there was an outside chance of a low twenty pounder or two, something that would warm the cockles of any winter carp angler.
I shan`t bore 'one and all' with the journey details but - after a nice steady drive along the lanes - we eventually arrived at the venue; now what's a little different about this place is that it is literally on the side of a hill with far reaching views of Dartmoor. It's also my friend John's favourite venue so we've not mentioned where it is in respect of John`s generosity.
Mike and I fished near to each other just using two rods each; one thing we didn`t do was to plonk ourselves in the comfiest swim so - before settling down - we had a good mooch around trying to get some sort of feel of the lake... And so Mike decided to fish off of the point of two islands, I never neglect any sort of marginal close in feature and I, too, had a bait off of one the islands opposite.
Baiting tactics were very simple; my son using his favourite multi rigs and I a very simple knotless knot bottom bait rig; we both, however, were using the Liquid Robin Red to dunk our hook baits in and the small mesh PVA bags with Haith's pellets in. I guess the mesh bags were no bigger than a man's thumb in diameter.
We`d settled down by now, and both had our mini Trangia`s on the go, Mike cooking up his favourite egg butties and me with a coffee to go! Of course, our conversation was angling orientated, and I marvelled quietly at how much my son has grown as a young man and angler; I could well remember him aged five or six learning to cast out, even at that young age he was a natural angler and country lad for sure.
Suddenly, Mike leapt up making a beeline for his rods, startling me in the process. I looked around the brolly to see his rod hooped over with an angry carp on the end, a visual that I'd increasingly been accustomed to as he's aged.
A short tussle 'tween young man and fish and I was beckoned over to bring the camera, which I duly obliged with... We shook hands and there was a nice smile of satisfaction on Mike's face.
Mike re-baited with his mesh and pellets tactics and a few freebie boilies scattered around... He`d just sat down and the rod was off again with a nice healthy bend in the carbon blank. Now, this particular carp gave the youngster a proper battle. At this point, his other rod roared off, 'Double hook up!' he shouted. So I steered the other fish 'til Mike sorted the first run/rod out. So, two more nice fish to photograph...and I`d better not omit that I had not even had a bleep!
After these two fantastic winter carp had been carefully photographed and returned, there was a lull in the proceedings and then as if by some miracle I was finally in! And much like my son's fish, this one gave me a proper battle. As I tussled a cool winter breeze blew into our faces and made the fight tougher. When I did finally land it, I was glad to get under the brolly to warm up so I could pass the DSLR to my son to do the honours... Photos were done. Re-bait with a small pellet mesh bag dunked with Liquid Robin Red and I was soon enjoying a well-earned coffee, when.... "Wheeeeeep!" and I was off again! This time the island margin rod was away; this fish also gave great sport on my proper through action carp rods, it was soon landed, and returned... To be honest, I didn't want to photo this one; not because of any reason other than my hands were no longer attached to my arms with the cold!
Dark clouds were seen gathering over Dartmoor and it was agreed to make a move back over the border to Kernow once more...
So, to recap: Mike finished with five lovely doubles and ol' muggins here had two! Seems like I'd taught my son too well! Anyway does it get any better than that? Not for me. Like I`ve been saying for years, get with a good bait company like Haith's, which will instil confidence and trust, and you'll see (no matter what time of year you angle) that they can still be caught. Minimalise the amount of totally unnecessary gadgets and gizmos that are not needed, travel organised (and light) and get out there for your winter fix.
Now, basking in the glow of the above session, I needed to reacquaint myself with my other angling passion which is close range perching - traditional style. So, I arranged to fish the lake in my friend's back garden - now when I say 'back garden' that`s exactly how it is; the general coarse pool is virtually next to his home.
Using two rods - one on float fished worm and maggot, I fished close in near some wooden staging and the other using an 11ft Avon 1.5tc.....and utilising a very very simple running 1/4 ounce lead, a bobbin for indication and a Lidl prawn in brine dunked in the Liquid Robin Red Chilli version which comes highly recommended. The Avon rod was placed right next to an upright outflow pipe, I just had that feeling a big old' stripey might be there...oh, and I'll mention this was a Mitchell session as I was using my 300 and 3.0.0. version reels, trad style...I just love this way of fishing!
I`m making it sound easy but it was not straight forward as I could not buy a bite on the float rod until I cadged some red maggots off of my good friend, Green Giant who was unexpectedly home again after foreign adventures. Giant was doing what he does best, catching very big roach on the pole. So, I thought I better pull my finger out! Although I caught well, all my fish were small perch and to be honest not what I was after, I wanted mum or Dad stripey....!!
The day was rapidly coming to a close and the sky was getting ominously dark and still no decent perch but I kept the faith - I decided to introduce a large amount of Haith's hemp, groats and a small amount of corn added to this a small amount of Chilli Liquid Robin Red right next to the brown outflow pipe, and of course the aforementioned Lidl prawn in brine (also languishing in chilli Liquid robin Red). The plan was to bring the small fish in around dusk, and thus a big stripey with it...
Giant had ambled up for a chat, complete with a coffee in his hand, we were discussing when to pack down when it happened.....!!!! Whacko! The nano bobbin thwacked into the rod blank and I found myself playing what turned out to be a rather angry and fed up perch who was until a few minutes ago feasting on small fry around the outflow pipe! Now he was resting in my landing net about to be photographed. Green Giant duly obliged with the camera work and gave me a knowing smile and handshake as he knew I`d kept the faith, and not given up on my perch quest that day.
Winter seems an age long but, to me, it`s my favourite time of the year; fewer anglers around the - pick of the best venues - and freedom to utilise the many excellent products from the Haith's stable, and - above all else - to have a good time with great friends, my son and not forgetting mother nature.
Enjoy your fishing and the countryside.