I received a text from Martyn Reyatt on Saturday asking if I was interested in a sweep on the River at the Crane the following day. I thought about it for all of 1 second and replied "Are you having a laugh!". He wasn't and it seemed five hardy souls were going to turn up. I had gone for a walk along the river on Saturday from the Marina to Bitton Brook. I didn't see any fish top or caught, but I did see lots of ducks and geese which had obviously been forced onto the river from frozen lakes, there were wigeon, goosander, coot and about 50 Canada geese.
I spent a few hours in the Queens Head on Saturday night and Martyn said they were going to start fishing at 11am and would peg from the cattle grid to the Boys Hole. This was an area where skimmers had been showing since mid December, and it would be interesting to see if they would feed in such bad conditions. I decided I would go and watch them fishing for a bit.
I arrived at the river about 20 mins after the match had started. Martyn Reyatt was on the end peg on the cattle grid and had one 12oz chub, next peg was Richard Lacey who was blanking, next was Jerry Pocock who had taken a 4 1/2lb bream 2nd cast, next Dave Tippett who was blanking, and last of all was Shaun Townsend who had one 2lb bream on his second cast. Everyone was chucking out a groundbait feeder 2/3 to 3/4 the way across the river. In the main I could see a dark groundbait was being used, which made perfect sense in the clear conditions, along with chopped worm and caster. Rich Lacey had no worms as he had found his frozen, most of the others had bought a pack in the morning as they knew their worms were dead.
Things were very quiet whilst I was there (maybe it was my fault walking around with a bright red skiing jacket on!)but then just past midday Shaun had a skimmer. His first fish had come to red maggot and pinkie, the second one to double red maggot. Then at 12:20 Martyn had a good bite on double dendra and landed a near 3lb bream. At this point I went home to the warm and a nice cooked dinner, and I had to scoot off pretty quickly as I had hit a few of the guys with snowballs!
The final result was :-
Shaun 14lb (4 skimmers and 1 bream)
Martyn 7lb (2 bream and 2 small chub) He also missed a bite and got snapped up!
Jerry 4 1/2lb (the one bream!)
No small fished showed at all, and it seems to me that the roach and dace are in a state of torpor, but once the water warms up they will wake up and go on the feed. Personally I think when the thaw comes and after the snow and salt has run through the river and if conditions are fair we could see some end of season bagging.
The Commercial House for this weekend on the canal has been cancelled, but I really feel the need to get out and fish this weekend. I'm not sure what the conditions are going to be yet, but it will be tough whatever, have to see if any matches are being run anywhere sensible.