I paid my first visit of the New Year to the Lyttleton stretch at Stourport for the Marks Tackle midweeker and had a really interesting, hard winters match at peg 58. I switched between a twelve number four lignum stick set just overdepth in twelve feet of water and a straight lead to record a victory with 11.10.0 of roach. My best fish went 1.8.0, on the lead, but most fish were in the four to six ounce bracket and came to double maggot on the stick. This was a match when steady feeding was the order of the day and it took a long time and a lot of patience to get the fish going.

Down the years I've fished lots of matches like this during the winter months. Quite often, when the water temperature is low, most of the fish are taken in the second half of the match. Thatís how this match went for me and by the end I'd only used about a pint of bronze maggots in total so it was a real cheap days fishing too!

Next port of call was peg 20 at Shrewsbury and I had mixed feelings when I drew this one, as it hasn't produced at all since the floods receded. Normally at this time of year there are a lot of dace in this area but for some strange reason they have been conspicuous by their absence recently. This match turned out the same with no dace showing at all. After an hour I decided the dace approach I'd started on was not going to work for me so I changed things around and fished down the middle of the river with a 6AAA Speci Waggler with five number sixes down the line. Chub were now my target species and I knew I needed a little luck if I was to win anything. I got that bit of luck in the form of a 3.12.0 chub with twenty minutes remaining! Before that I'd taken seven smaller chub and a few small dace and my total catch went 11.13.0 which was enough for second place on the day.

My team mate Darren Cox ran out winner with an excellent 15.13.0 from peg 56 and good backing weights followed. We've not got too long left now before the river season ends and as I write this it's pouring down with rain. The river yesterday was looking quite good but I've just looked out of the window and it's come up a couple of feet since last night and it's a horrible chocolate colour again. If this rain doesn't stop soon the end of the season looks like being a washout.

Roll on the summer!