This time last year I was still fishing in a T-shirt and can vividly remember bemoaning the fact that there was no sign of a ‘proper’ winter; in fact I seem to remember writing in mid-December that we had yet to see a frost!

What a difference a year makes…


So many words have been written about the weather this year that I am hesitant to add to them but I have to say that it is most reassuring to note that it does look as if winter will actually bite this year – as indeed it should. Where I am in Hampshire my weather station hasn’t actually recorded a sub-zero temperature yet but it has got close and there have certainly been a couple of ground frosts, further into the country there have been a few mornings where the fields have been white and the mists rising from the river – lovely!

As I write we are just into the second week of November and it is looking very good indeed for the winter on the rivers; not only have we started to see a few appropriate temperatures but the rivers are looking in great shape in terms of water too. For the past couple of seasons the level of so many of the flowing venues has been pitifully low and I recall some of the keepers on the chalkstreams I usually fish at this time of year scratching their heads and noting the lowest water levels in living memory.

As I said, what a difference a year makes! My usual venue at this time of year, despite being free-draining chalk, is full of water and pushing through at a terrific pace. I’ve not got out to fish it yet – it only opened up to fishing on 01 November – but I’m looking forward to it having given it a miss all of last winter simply because the conditions then were so poor.

The one problem so much water creates is that of making float control particularly difficult and, not having fished a float for a considerable length of time now, I am going to be very rusty indeed…
The ‘purists’ who tend to migrate towards the chalkstreams for the grayling, roach and dace during the winter months are, generally, very fixed in their ways with centrepins and floats de rigueur but, whilst trotting is brilliant fun, it is not always the most effective way to fish the chalkstreams and these days I always have a feeder rod with me as well as my float kit.

A feeder rod???

Yes, a feeder rod…

The purists do tend to frown at me and I do get the odd dirty look but targeting a grayling glide with a heavy maggot feeder but ensuring your free offerings are trickling through the same run each and every time with your hookbait perfectly presented amongst them is something it is difficult to match with a float. The bolt effect of the feeder, which usually results in a perfectly hooked fish every time, is all but impossible to achieve when trotting too.
It’s not all about maggots either, although they do tend to produce the most bites when fishing the chalkstreams they do not necessarily produce the biggest fish and a change to a grain of corn on the hook will often result in nailing a much better fish – frequently the biggest in the pod – and a grain of Enterprise artificial corn makes it easier still; and brings even more frowns from the purists – but boy it works!

Of course fishing is all about having fun rather than just going out and catching fish by using the most effective method (or at least it should be…) and trotting is great fun so I will always have my float rod to hand but every once in a while this winter I shall be happy to give my trotting arm a rest, sit back with a cuppa and let a huge grayling hook itself on a piece of plastic corn and sod the purists!