Monday, 21 December 2009

The Swan's Neck at Stratford

Sunday 20th December, 10:45 - 12:30. Stratford Town waters with Jeff Hatt. -1c in my garage!

The world froze over at the weekend and so when this trip was in the planning stage the previous morning, running water was the only option. It was so cold: -3 on the dial first thing. I half expected to arrive at Stratford and find something akin to a Thames Frost Fair in full swing.

Before I describe the conditions which did greet us at Stratford I must make mention of the calamitous start to the day. Jeff had kindly arranged to be dropped at ASDA near me at 09:00 to save on my tyre wear. I pulled into ASDA car park at 08:59. I have a seriously bad dose of anal punctuality. At ten past nine I texted Jeff saying I was waiting. At twenty five past I texted him again saying I would give him until half past. A 09:29 I took a call from an unrecognised number, it was Jeff. He had borrowed some bloke's phone and explained to me he was at 'the other' ASDA. Through some catastrophic hiccup in communication and phone credit sales we had managed to be sitting in different supermarket car parks for the last half an hour. I made my way to 'the other' ASDA. Theatrically raised voices came out of smiling mouths but no one was to blame. Neither of us came out of it well.

At Stratford the car park had a layer of half inch thick ice on it. As I emptied buckets of pound coins into the parking machine my size tens slid all over the place.

We both donned layers and suits astronauts would be proud of.

Fishing opposite the theatre I lobbed a cage feeder stuffed with the usual breadcrumb, seeds, maggots and micro pellets into the centre of the river. My groundbait was more bread crumb than food items though as I guessed the fish would be slow after the big freeze.

I had one pluck and a tremble on the tip for my efforts.

The puddles you can see along the bank in this photo were solid ice throughout.

The Swans were a bit of a pain and Jeff had a couple of minor run-ins with them. Usually when someone on the far bank started emptying a carrier bag of bread into the water which attracted all birds for about half a mile swimming at breakneck speed to dine. What with them and the rowers there were some low level irritations.

Things escalated when some Doris started emptying her bag of bread about five metres upstream of where I was fishing. Not only did we get the flotilla bum-rush but the aftermath of interspecies squabbling and riotous behaviour that accompanies a bird feed frenzy. There were hundreds of birds all over the place.

We just couldn't fish and avoid the buggers and so called premature time on the double blank.

Despite the irritations it was good to be out in the daylight and in good company. I don't think it was a case of the fish not being there. I think it was a case of waiting for them to feed. This might eventually only have been a short burst for an hour or so in the afternoon but I didn't have all day at hand.

We did hear of some small Roach and Chub being caught above the weirs and in hindsight the walk down there would have rid us of the crowds and birds and we might have caught. But hey, we didn't have the hindsight when we arrived.

Happy Christmas.

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