Chris Shute – Feb ’22

Chris Shute – February

There was no blog from me in January due to it being, well, nothing short of dire really. I celebrated a milestone birthday, managing a mid-double mirror two days prior and a few others scattered through the month. All in all, there were three or four Carp and a couple of Bream to show for very minimal rod time throughout the month. However, I did keep the bait trickling in and made the effort to ensure the area remained active as best I could in some dismal conditions. I did have an eagerly anticipated birthday weekend trip planned to a special little Cotswold pit, but unfortunately this seemed to be timed awfully with probably the coldest spell we’ve experienced so far this winter!

Everything was written for an epic weekend of angling for some special gems. I changed my day off from earlier in the week (probably the first birthday I’ve ever worked in forty years) to the Friday, meaning I would be able to get to the lake earlier than planned and prep a few areas ready for the following couple of days. Having dropped some rods into Tom at Cotswold Rods for a bit of TLC and following a brief chat, I was soon heading to the lake full of beans. What I wasn’t expecting to be greeted with was a 95% frozen lake! Ouch, that hurt! Long story short, we gave it a bash on the Saturday, fished a few hours on the Sunday after it had fully defrosted, but the damage had been done unfortunately on the shallow pit. Not all was lost though, I had a banging steak meal cooked for me on the Friday with a few bottles of red and a decent curry on the Saturday. All in all a bloody good weekend spent in great company of a good friend who I hadn’t seen for well over a year!

February has started off a little bit of déjà vu with how the year ended, being back in a routine of feeding and fishing with the action starting to pick up and coming thick and fast with some much milder and settled weather. Being out on the bank on a regular basis through the winter it has been noted fish are willing to feed in the cold conditions if the weather remains consistent for a period; a good three or four days seems to be optimum. There has been the odd occasion where we’ve experienced some hard frosts followed by a day where the temp has hit a barmy nine degrees, I venture out in full confidence only to either nab one or suffer a rare blank. Yet the cycles of more consistent weather where temps may only reach five degrees at best, with biting winds, the fish have seemed more willing to feed. Unfortunately, although my sessions are super short, I still have my evenings where I’m able to get out so make most of the time available. Even though there have been evenings where I’m free to fish but know my time is best spent elsewhere, so might only venture over to trickle in some bait.

Due to the slightly increase in temperatures I’ve now started to incorporate the CR2 back into my approach, mixing it up with the CR1, Nu-Trine and Strawberry Ice. During the little lull that January brought, it gave me a period to have a play around with making some homemade hookbaits. Now I’m by no means a bait guru and I can’t compete with the exquisite baits John and Arron have crafted, but by incorporating the Pure range into the actual rolling process I’ve had some pretty impressive results so far.

Another point worth noting is the extended period of daylight and how this has now seemingly pushed bite time out by an hour on this day only venue, being able to set the watch to 18:20 for a rod to signal a take. It’s well known that day only waters seemingly come into their own at last knockings, with the fish appearing to feed more freely knowing that majority of the anglers have gone. Holding out for that extra hour could make the difference between catching or going home with a cold blank. A session at the start of the month was a prime example of this, dropping in behind an angler that had been on the lake all day for only a Bream and Tench to show for his efforts, I went on to land four Carp in two hours of fishing. Ok, they were off the area I’ve now been baiting for some three or four months so they’re more than accustomed to finding that much needed winter fuel in this area; but he wasn’t a million miles away and just goes to show how reading the water, staying on that little bit extra, putting in the graft and presenting something they want to eat might result in a good day’s fishing.

Looking back on my notes for the month, there have been twenty-six Carp and a few Bream in thirteen short sessions, with a number of double takes coming in mad feeding spells. Some of these have been caught in hideous conditions, with sleet, snow, hail, rain and bitterly cold winds. One of the notes reflecting “Big angry clouds coming in, freezing wind and sleet coming down…might make a run for it”, certainly not for the faint hearted all for a few hours to ‘scratch that itch’.

Now as you all know February saw some massive storms over a period of a week to hit the UK, with Eunice bringing one of the worst to hit in decades. With them there was some massive destruction caused, and you were certainly braver than I am these days if you were sat out in the teeth of it chasing dreams.  However, there were some unbelievable fishing opportunities and they really seemed to stir the fish into a feeding frenzy.

Two days before storm Dudley, 14th Feb, I managed to get permission from the wife to head out and was rewarded with a gorgeous Valentines scattered linear to show for my efforts. The day between Dudley and Eunice, 17th Feb, things were still very blustery but had calmed down considerably and they just went crazy with two fish in the net at the same time, rods going in quick succession and ending the session on five fish to just shy of 20lb. This session would see me hit and surpass a milestone of fifty Carp since the winter campaign started early November, some unbelievable action and cracking fish caught along the way.

Storm Franklin hit a few days later, 20th Feb, but for some reason and to my surprise, the session a few days after was very quiet with only one fish to show for my efforts. Temps then seemed to dip for the worst, with the van now showing temps of around 3C and an abundance of cold water entering the lake. There were a couple of fish thrown in from here till the end of the month, but the weather has been inconsistent and with it the fishing also.

As we head into March, there have been some massive signs that Spring is in the air and hopefully one or two of the better fish will decided to come out of their winter hiding and reward me for my efforts. I have a couple of trips planned to the newly acquired Carp Society’s Ashmead early March, which is always a highlight of the year, one being with John himself and looking forward to sharing it with him and all the lads on each trip.

Till next month

Chris