Saturday 2 December 2023

The River Leam - Matches and Mathematicasters

Being well below freezing wouldn't deter George Burton and I from fishing the mornings roving match on the River Leam, you see we are both not fair weather fisherman because let me tell you, there is nothing better than being beside a river at this time of the year when there is a hard frost. 

Proper brass monkey weather, now apparently the expression: "It is cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey" comes from the practice of putting iron cannon balls on a dimpled brass plate on the deck of a war-ship. When very cold the brass contracted sufficiently to cause the iron balls to fall out.

Now I remember a session down at another WBAS River Leam water where we arrived bankside and it was -6,🥶 however we both caught that day albeit not the intended target, and we both went home happy. There were another four mad men up for this challenge thankfully where we'd all to try and winkle out a fish from these chilly waters.

Now George constructed this map to show the zones we'd be fishing after the 7.15am draw where we'd each have a section to rove to winkle out a fish or two. Roving is most welcome especially in these conditions because despite being dressed up for the occasion if you're just sitting there cold can set in quicker than you could say frostbite 100 times !!.

For me there was only one target and that was the chub. You see I could have scaled down with ones set-up for the smaller species such as roach and dace but you'd need to catch quite a few of them to one Leam chub, and sods law knowing me I'd lose a chub if I hooked one on lighter tackle. There was only a prize for first and second place too because there was only 6 anglers, so for me that dictated what I was going to fish for. 

So the plan was to link ledger cheesepaste where I'd prime some likely looking chub swims on my section with bread, and then fish them in rotation. If the cheespaste wasn't doing the business I'd swap to bread occasionally to see if that would make the difference. The chub are not huge in this stretch a 4'lber a proper lump so I rigged up my TFG River and Stream Rod and would fish a 1 ounce quiver tip. 

Now talking of cold the vagaries of the British climate are responsible for the queues of goose-pimpled anglers in doctors waiting rooms every Monday morning. Any sport which keeps its participants out of the whole of an English summer's day, with its mixture of hail, rain, sleet, snow, fog, frost, khamseen, mistral, haboob and Scotch mist, is bound to have its martyrs.

But chilling is avoidable if the necessary precautions are taken. First, check your clothing. Never cast a clout. Or anything else. More than one seasoned angler has gone to the great peg draw in the sky because he left off one of his vests.

Secondly, look after the inner man. Have a good breakfast before you leave home. It need be nothing elaborate: eggs, bacon, sausages, fried bread, tomatoes, toasted cheese, potato cakes, liver, onions, beans, cabbage and ribs, fish fingers, black pudding, faggots and bubble and squeak should see you through until you can open your sandwiches.

Do not neglect to have a couple of good mugs of tea, liberally laced with rum or whisky. Better still, a couple of mugs of rum or whisky liberally laced with tea.

At the water's edge, set out your tackle so that everything can be reached without your having to move from the spot. Put up the windbreak, lash the umbrella to the top of it, lay down the groundsheet, set up your stool, put your feet in the foot muff, cover your knees with a travelling rug, put up the hood of your anorak and make sure your nose cosy fits snugly. Every half hour, or as often as is deemed necessary, take a tot of something to keep up the inner glow.

At opening time, when the fish will have stopped biting, move into the nearest pub and stay close to the fire. When the fish come on again, which is generally about half an hour after closing time, go back to the water and fish until the evening opening hour. This time, because of failing light, pack up your tackle and take it with you.

When you leave the pub at the end of the evening, keep in mind the importance of a good warm bed. Get into it as soon as you can. Do not bore your beloved with tales of the day's fishing; restore your circulation with some horizontal jogging, then wrap up well for the journey home. 

Anyway enough of that, Jacub drew the 1st section, Eric the 2nd, me the 3rd, Dave the 4th, Andy the 5th and last but not least George the 6th section. The fishing was from 8.30 till 12.30 where those next to each other would weigh in each others catch. 

My area had a nice pool which I was hoping was a little deeper where some chub may well be laying up. A quick check of the pool it was around 5ft deep so certainly a feature where the other swims on my section were mainly shallow. 4 or so apart from this were fishable though so when the match got started I put some bread mash in the swims to prime them. 

Dave didn't get off to a good start because he somehow had either lost his landing net on route or left it in the car. Colin was keeping check of the Whatsapp chat though and he came down with his landing net and gave the scores on the door after the first hour having spoken to all the anglers when he got to the river. 

I got off to a cracking start because with 5 minutes I had my first chub in the net after it picked up the cheesepaste in the middle of the river and pulled the tip round confidently. I sure didn't expect that !! The fish felt like a block of ice but good to get a quick bite.

Another fish came along not long after so I had two in the net when Colin popped by. Jacub was on two chub as well and George on one chub, the rest was biteless. I really wanted another chub and when I missed a bite after it all went quiet and the other swims didn't produce even a bite, it was back to the pool peg for the last couple of hours. 

It was certainly cold just sat there in the mud but I kept at it feeding some balls of bread after every ten minutes or so. I'm sure there was some other chub milling around there had to. This deeper swim I'm sure would have helped in the cold conditions.

It all went dead though however with half an hour to go I decided to cast over to the far side where I had saw some signs of fish and within 10 minutes a couple of tentative pulls which developed in to a proper bite, the 1oz quiver amplifying the bite from a relatively cautious fish.

The smallest of the three this one but a most welcome addition to the keepnet. No more bites sadly but I was happy with that. Dave came to witness the weigh in having sadly blanked and I managed 6lbs and 8 ounces. When heading back to the car Andy and George appeared where it turns out Andy has blanked too and George had one fish a 2lb on the nose.

We headed to the starting meeting point where Eric hadn't a bite even when switching to maggot and Jacub was still on just the two fish where they weighed 4lb and 2 ounces. So I won somehow !! Fair play for the other anglers for braving the conditions as it was baltic out there I must admit. The winnings enough to pay for my next curry, happy days !!!!


  1. Replies
    1. lol, don;t think he has anything to worry about !!

  2. Nice post and pics, Mick. It should be pointed out that those of us who fished the stretch before didn’t rate zone 3 much at all, and yet Mick managed three chub from it!

    1. Cheers Jacub, I'm sure it was the deeper water in the pool that helped which was probably a tad warmer I'd imagine, some nice slack water too. Was one fish between us, I'm surprised I had a third fish to be honest as a good couple of hours without a bite !!

  3. I'd forgotten we had the little match last week, Mick. The cold must've numbed the grey matter.
    Particularly liked the breakfast bit! 😊
    Nice one.

    1. I'm looking forward to the next one George !! I really enjoyed it despite the cold


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