I cast my mind back to the early days of summer and the surprise 6lb+ chub I'd caught from a small local river.
A quiet spot on this river is a two mile walk from my home, but walking was the best option today. It's not known to have a large population of chub, indeed mine is the only sizeable one I've heard of, so rarely is it fished.
A lay-in is usually the order of the day on a winter fishing trip, this was followed by a hearty breakfast, I grabbed the gear, then off I went.
How different the water meadow looked from the spring time yellows and greens. Only dog walkers and the odd snow-day child, no cattle now.
Onwards, past the sleeping holiday narrowboats, lined up for the winter, cold and redundant.
Enduring the wise cracks of the boat owners along the towpath. 'Hope you've remembered your auger' 'Keen or bloody mad?' ...I strolled onwards over the church land where the gypsies winter their horses.
The church bell tolled eleven as I reached the first swim. My aim was to set up base here for a while, then have a roam around in the afternoon.
The snow was deep here but having thrown in a couple of small balls of mashed bread, I dug-in and had a cuppa before setting up, I then went upstream and baited another three spots for later. I had been lightly baiting all four spots daily for the last week.
Back at base I made my first cast and sat back.
I was soon greeted by that most intelligent and bold of birds the robin. They always seem to find an angler and know that there's a chance of food. I did bring maggots which was not only lucky for Mr. Robin but also for me as I'd foolishly forgotten a couple of slices of bread for hookbaits even though I remembered the mash.
I was happy to share some grubs with the little fellow. Lady Sarah has a saying, "Sharing is caring" and she loves robins.
They never look like they're starving though, do they.
I'd been sitting for about an hour and was pondering a move when another angler appeared, this hadn't happened here before. I knew him from the shop and a local syndicate. He explained that he'd been given the day off of work and wasn't going to waste an angling opportunity. I said we could be 'bloody mad' together. On hearing that I'd forgotten my bread he was more than happy to share his few slices of white with me. I returned the favour by sharing a few maggots. The chap's plan was to walk up the beat and fish his way back down. I had a choice to make. I could tell him that I'd baited some swims and I know he would've left them. I chose the other option, I knew that he didn't normally fish for chub so I told him where I'd baited and told him he was welcome to have a dabble in them. I enthused about an eddy upstream and he said he'd have a go.
Within a quarter of an hour he was back at my swim and, out of breathe, he said he had the biggest chub he'd ever seen in the net and did I have some scales and a camera, he'd caught it, as so often is the case, with his first cast . I said I'd follow him back to his swim.
As he lifted the fish in the net I said, "That's over five mate". He was shaking with the buzz of a pb fish. He'd only caught chublets previously.
My trusty old Salters gave 5lb 14oz and I was genuinely happy for him.
Having broken his net with the fish he came back downstream to be close to me. As we were now sharing a net I was unable to go wandering. I didn't care, we had a chat, shared my tea and were treated to the sight of a pair of foxes as they hunted in the nearby wood.
Neither of us had a take for the rest of the day, but it was nice to be out in the snow.
Two things worth a mention which made my day so much more comfortable are the Zippo handwarmers I bought this week....
...and my Stanley flask, really up to the job and worth the money. Kept us in hot tea throughout the day even though it sat in the snow for most of the time.
I left for home well before dark, the lure of a forgotten Ginger cake finally getting the better of me.
I did have a little thought that the chub was familiar though. Yes, unbelievably, on checking my photos he turns out to be the very fish I caught in summer at 6lb 2oz.
I have to be honest, it disappointed me a bit as I now suspect he could be the only sizeable chub in the entire stretch, whereas if it was a different fish it opens up a whole stack of potential.
It's nice to see he's still about though and even though the raging torrents of the past weeks have meant he's lost a few ounces, he's still a fine looking fellow.