Colin Mitchell discusses combating the elements whilst fishing in his popular Angler's Mail blog. Click the social media icons to share with your fishing mates online.

 

AS the wind howled around the house and shook the trees in the nearby wood over the past ten days or so my mind cast back to some horrendous but satisfying days on the bank.

Wind, rain, floods, ice – over the years I have fished in all sorts of conditions with varying results. But one thing stands out – they have all been memorable trips.

Just like the one many decades ago on the Yorkshire Derwent, my first-ever visit to the venue I was on a coach trip which arrived to find the river bank high, chocolate and totally uninviting.

But being young and mad I went off in search of a small slack between two bushes – my favourite type of swim those days! I found one, lay on a bunch of maggots, had one nice roach and a gudgeon and was top junior on the trip and beat most of the seniors fishing too!

 

Water freezing in the margins

Another river, the Tees when it was still tidal, was the setting for what I can recall as my first outing in really cold conditions. Despite moving, the water was freezing over in the margins as the tide ran out and the white frost never went away all day. The usually soft mud banks were like rocks.

It may even have been the first time I scaled down to a 12oz line and a size 22 hook. Ice froze the line into the rod rings which you had to keep dipping in the water to make them free running – and even that didn’t work every time. Nailing the float fished bait on the bottom by float fishing well over depth we caught some lovely dace but no roach.

 

Tucked away in those slacks

The roach did come on a more recent trip to the flooded Thames on the final day of the season a couple of years ago.

This was the Thames at Chertsey during record floods in January 2014. I didn't fish it then, but during another flood a slack near here rewarded me!

This was the Thames at Chertsey during record floods in January 2014. I didn’t fish it then, but during another flood a slack near here rewarded me!

I just had a feeling that the extra water would have created a few small slacks near Chertsey and yomped over the soggy fields to find my thoughts proved right.

I knew they were very shallow – in fact you can see the bottom there under normal conditions – but just had one of those angler instinct feelings.

A small straight leger rig was flicked in with maggots followed by loose feed by hand. A tap-tap on the rod tip signaled a decent roach pretty quickly.

After a few more nice roach and then a 4lb bream, that must almost have had to swim on its side in the shallow swim, the rod ripped round. I thought it might be a barbel but a 6lb pike had taken the double reds and was fair and square hooked in the scissors.

I didn’t see another angler all day yet ended the campaign on a high.

 

Defying the howling winds

There were plenty of anglers about for an adventure that has to do down as top of the list when it comes to windy conditions. It was the final day of a three-day festival on Inniscarra Reservoir near Cork. It had been so windy that there were trees across the road as we made our way to the draw and the heavy rain had left streams running everywhere.

One section of anglers never went to their pegs as the still strong wind was sending waves crashing onto the bank. I was on the exposed St. John’s section where I saw boxes and holdalls blown around the bank as if they were paper litter!

My keepnet was held in the water by two big rocks carefully placed in the bottom and I had to hold my quivertip rod on the rest with two hands!

Blog MitchBites…well I reckon I got plenty of them but didn’t see most of them. The tip looked like it was auditioning for a place in Riverdance but every now and then it did something a bit different, like a step out of place. That’s when I struck and hooked a skimmer. In fact I got 60lb of them for a section win and a frame place in the festival.

It really was a crazy day – when we got to the ferry it was rocking even at its mooring and was banned by harbour officials from sailing!

Oh and if you are wondering how I have got on over the past week and a bit in the horrendous weather we have just ‘enjoyed’… older, wiser and suffering from a heavy flu I haven’t been out. Yet…