Winter anglers can study hard – or show they’re hardy

Brian Hooper caught this barbel in the River Rother
Brian Hooper caught this barbel in the River Rother
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We armchair anglers are in our element at this time of the year, writes Roger Poole, chairman of Petworth and Bognor Angling Club.

Winter is upon us, fishing books on how the experts do it lay open and the mind dwells on perfect days when the fish were biting, the sun was shining and all was well.

Don’t be shy or worried about failure – by competing you learn so much about fishing and the opportunity to win a trophy.

Roger Poole

I am grateful to improve my skills from what I learn from those blessed with the ability to land specimen fish. I’m a sucker to think I can replicate their skills but from the comfort of a fireside chair I’m lapping up the tips.

Hardier anglers have been venturing out these past few weeks, among them Petworth and Bognor Angling Club member Brian Hooper, who landed a 15lb 14oz barbel from our stretch of the Rother at Coultershaw – then a few days later caught another large specimen from Fittleworth. Both were caught as the sun went down.

I take my hat off to barbel anglers – they have patience similar to that of carp anglers, for whom proper baiting and preparation is usually followed by hours of sitting and waiting – but the results can be very rewarding.

Rewards were handed out by way of trophies when my club’s match anglers shared out their spoils. This happy band of anglers are out there in all weathers trying to land the most fish within a given time.

It’s nice to win but the fun and banter they have is just as important – it would be nice if we could encourage more youngsters to try their hand at match fishing and show these regulars a thing or two.

Don’t be shy or worried about failure – by competing you learn so much about fishing and the opportunity to win a trophy. We have 25 trophies shared among 13 anglers so the opportunities are out there. Details are available atwww.sussexangling.co.uk

It’s possible to buy a half-year membership that takes you to the end of the coarse-fishing season that closes on March 14, with the new season commencing on June 16. Membership of a fishing club really is good value for money.

Looking back over the past eight months of the coarse fishing season, overall it’s been a good one. Despite water levels remaining fairly low and below average through the summer, most of my club’s waters have provided good catches for most varieties of fish.

It’s good to see roach and perch back in larger numbers in the Rother and chub continue to give good sport.

The Arun always has large numbers of small roach but rarely do we seem to have roach over the 2lb mark. Where are they?

If you prefer still waters, there’s always something to suit anglers be it carp, bream, roach or perhaps a bronze-coloured tench, my favourite autumn fish.

Winter fishing often provides great catches, providing you keep an eye on the temperature. A north or east wind is never good. Be patient and when the wind and rain comes from the south or mainly the south-west, the fish start feeding.

If you fancy pike fishing, head for the rivers and take the right tackle – it’s no good relying on light line, you need good breaking strain including wire traces. And never fish with live bait, which in our waters is banned.

Dead sea fish from your local tackle shop is all you need as bait. Alternatively try spinning especially with a large silver spoon.

Chub are also a good winter fish. They favour meat and worms, as do perch, but unless you like catching them beware of the eels who also fancy the same baits.

Take care when fishing during winter – tell someone where you intend to go, take your mobile and plenty of hot drinks, wrap up warm and don’t leave in the dark especially if close to the riverbank. A head torch is really useful.

Happy New Year and tight lines!