Hi everyone,

Seeing as I haven't updated my blog for a while I thought I would update you on some of my recent pleasure sessions at Woodside.

The weather this month has affected pretty much every fishery across the country I think it's fair to say. We have recorded temperatures as low as -20 degrees C in Cleobury with the ice on parts of the pool being in excess of 8 inches thick With no let up being reported any time soon, I though sod it (!) and went fishing three weekends on the trot just to see what I could winkle out.

Session 1 - Island Pool, Sat 4th Dec
When I arrived at the fishery I could not get my breath as to just how frozen the pools were. I was expecting maybe a couple of areas that had been left free by the wind or at least some areas where the ice wasn't as thick, but the pool was frozen...SOLID.

I decided to fish the Island pool as there is more water for the fish to go down deep into. I fished peg #10, which is just off the dam wall on the road-side bank. It took me 35-40 minutes to break a hole through the ice. I actually managed to break the ice breaker! Approx. 10ft out was all I could manage so that would have to do! I was convinced that with all the banging going on, my chances of catching had reduced from slim to non-existent.

I thought it best to go after the resident Roach. The Island pool has a really good head of them averaging between 4-8oz, with bigger fish approaching the 2lb mark. With the cold snap, the resident carp and F1s were not active at all so this was the perfect opportunity to fish light specifically for roach with having to worry about carp crashing the party. There's always the chance of a greedy chub gate crashing though so I couldn't afford to go really light!

The rig I used was made up of a very forgiving no. 6 Maver pure latex elastic with a 2lb 12oz Preston Reflo Power mainline. For the hooklength, I used 1lb 10oz Drennen Superteam to a size 18 hook. The float of choice was a very slim Drennan Roach in 4x14. I chose a slightly heavier float than most people might guess because I was fishing in approx. 8ft of water and I wanted to get the bait down quickly to where I thought the fish would be, ie, close to the bottom. Therefore, the main bulk shot of my rig was set approx. 18inches from the hook with three no. 10 and two no. 12 dropper shot below that. The last no. 12 shot was positioned about six inches from the hook. I would be fishing just the one line all day, fishing exact depth, at about 4-6 metres.

Bait for the session was 1 pint of red maggots and chopped worm & caster.

First put in on single caster produced a small Roach weighing about 3-4oz - perfect start! I couldn't believe that I was into fish straight away! I thought I would have to build the swim steadily throughout the course of the day, but I dropped straight onto them

I carried on catching steadily all day alternating between single and double caster alongside small sections of Dendrobena. The bites were not coming one-a-chuck, but were frequent enough to keep me warm! I found that after a few fish I would need to top the swim up again with just a few casters, every so often also chucking in a very small amount of chopped worm when the swim went completely quiet. Fish were still coming, even right at the end of the day, but conditions were becoming unbearable! The water was re-freezing all around me and I had ice forming inside my pole joints. My landing net had frozen solid and the light was fading fast. In the end I finished with Roach upto 8oz and small Perch for a total weight of around 4-5lb. Not bad considering I probably could've parked my car in the next peg along!

Session 2 - Island Pool, Sat 11th Dec
Well, what can I say? Conditions were even worse this time around with a good dollop of snow on the ground as well as even thicker ice! I had hoped to fish peg #10 again given the fact I had broken through the ice the weekend before, but it had frozen over again so hard my dad and I couldn't break it! We were using a 25kg weight we use for fishing off the boat, but it still wasn't enough to break through the ice! This was going to be a tough one! Eventually, we managed to break a small hole in the ice on peg #14, but we could only manage about 4ft out! The water was gin clear and really, really cold. In fact, I was fishing so close in, I ended up using my top kit like a whip. I didn't have high hopes for the session at all - especially given the fact I could see the end of my 3m keepnet!

My rig was exactly the same as above, the only difference being I opted for a smaller float (still a Drennan Roach, but in 4x10) and a size 20 hook instead of an 18. I decided to stick to feeding just caster all day, but occasionally opted for a section of dendrobena on the hook.

Again, to my amazement, I was into small roach and perch straight away - even with all the banging! I also managed to winkle out a nice bonus brace of Chub, which really gave me the run around on the no. 6 elastic . The first weighed 2lb and the second 3lb 8oz, which really helped my overall weight! In the end, I had Roach to 1lb, lots of small perch, a single roach/bream hybrid and the two chub for 12-14lb. A cracking weight on a really bitterly cold day even if I do say so myself

Session 3 - Woodside Pool, Tues 28th Dec.
By now, the ice and snow had started to melt. In fact, pretty much most of the snow had gone, but the pools remained frozen. There were two massive holes in the ice as a result of my dad needing to release some of the gas that had built up beneath the ice and having had pumps running for four days straight, I could now comfortably fish at 9 metres in peg #2.

I thought that with the sudden rise in temperature I would see if the resident carp were back on the feed. My set up comprised of a fairly soft no. 8 Maver pure latex elastic with Preston Reflo Power mainline in 3lb 6oz with a 2lb 12oz hooklegnth. I was using a size 18 Kamasan B911 wide gape hook for use with small cubes of meat, a bunch of maggots or half a dendrobena, depending on what the fish reacted to best. The float I used was a Preston Carp 2 in 4 x 14 with my x5 no. 8 bulk being set about 12 inches from the hook with two small no. 10 droppers below.

To cut a long story short I really struggled! I couldn't get a bite on meat, so I switched to maggot just to see what was in the swim, but to my amazement, nothing wanted the maggot either. I tried caster, bread punch and worm, but nothing could even produce the merest of indications! Eventually I managed to get a bite on a single maggot on a size 20 hook with a 1lb 10oz bottom, but I missed it After that I had one more indication that resulted in nothing more than a bust maggot. I couldn't believe it. I've never blanked at Woodside before, but today I had - in style! One bite all day!!!

Still, I guess you can't always catch - especially when the weather has been so extreme. I put it down to the water still being freezing cold and gin clear. I also found outafter watching a weather report the next day that over the last few days we had been experiencing high air pressure, which all fisherman know is not ideal. Whatever the reasons, the fish just didn't want to play ball! I suppose I should've guessed as much. I had a shed load of new tackle for Christmas and today was the first time I had used it! Again, as all fisherman know, new tackle is jinxed

Needless to say, I won't be leaving it like this. I plan to squeeze in another session before I'm back at work next Tuesday. Watch this space!