Most anglers head to a commercial fishery when looking for big winter weights but it was the turn of the nation’s rivers to deliver as they hit their best form of 2015.
A sequence of freezing cold nights left lakes frozen solid and out of sorts, but anglers refused to be beaten by the conditions, turning their attentions to venues such as Derbyshire’s River Derwent, the River Wye in Herefordshire and the prolific River Swale in Yorkshire to land huge nets of chub, perch and roach.
Just some of those taking advantage of first class sport were pleasure anglers Ross Winfield and John Harper, who found the Derbyshire Derwent in perfect condition, sharing almost 100lb of float-caught chub between them in just three hours sport.
Using the waggler and maggots, the duo kept bites coming throughout the day and Ross told Angling Times: “John had never even laid eyes on the stretch we visited but before I’d even got set up he’d put his first chub in the net.”
“By the end of the day we’d shared just shy of 30 fish for almost 100lb. John mentioned he hadn’t witnessed chub fishing like it since the 1980s and it just goes to show that you don’t need to rely on ‘commercials ’to land big catches when the going gets tough,” he added.
Over on the underrated River Waveney in Norfolk Christian Barker was left gobsmacked when he legered cheesepaste to catch 13 chub fish to a best of 4lb 9oz.
The venue regular changed swims on a regular basis to keep the tip going round. He said: “The sport was frantic and I was even getting bites in spots that previously had no form. It’s the perfect time to take a break from stillwaters and give your local river a go.”
Match anglers also cashed in on the chub sport, with Mark Atkinson tasting success on North Yorkshire’s River Swale with 83lb 12oz on stickfloat and maggot.
It was a similar story on the River Wye in Hereford as Matt Derry chalked up 65lb 2oz in the final round of the popular winter league.
But they weren’t the only species that anglers went in search of with big perch the dominant species as Barnsley Black star Tony Peel recorded a resounding victory on the tricky Hunter’s Lodge stretch of the Yorkshire Ouse with a 34lb 7oz net that included fish to over 1lb 8oz caught on worms.
Last but not least, the tiny River Isle in Somerset was in red hot roach form and Baz Morgan included specimens to over 1lb 8oz in his winning 29lb 6oz haul. Pole and maggot worked from his swim below the village of Hambridge.