The "best laid plans of mice and men" however, as the weather over the New Year period got very cold and the lakes all froze solid, thus scuppering any ideas I had. However I still wanted to get out so… Under the same ticket that the lake fell under there was a stretch of the Sussex Ouse that I knew held some good chub so I hastily blew the dust off my quiver tip rod and small river reel and got everything ready for a trip or two.

The first session started badly, it took an hour to defrost the car, when I first saw it, despite the sun it resembled an igloo. The thermometer in the garden read minus 9 degrees. I was soon on my way though and within half-hour I was on the white banks of the river in the middle of nowhere. The water level was at a low winter level and there was not much colour. There were some nice bankside features though so I was hopeful. I baited three areas with mashed bread and a few bits of meat and a few cut up worms before walking the half mile stretch looking for inspiration. None came my way though so I settled in to the first swim I had baited. I set up with a small, three swan shot link with 4lb line straight through and a size ten hook baited with a fat lobworm. I flicked it to the edge of the overhanging branches of a bush and let it settle under the branches themselves, the tip in a nice curve.

Nothing happened for an hour and I was considering moving to the next swim when the tip nudged slightly before moments later the tip went right round. I struck and connected with a jagged fight before a nice perch rolled on the surface and I netted a fish of around 1lb. This excitement was short lived though as no further action came along in the next hour so I moved on.

It was lunchtime now and the sun was providing a tiny bit of warmth, though the snow that had fallen a few days before was still thick on the ground and the heavy frost was still covering everything out of the direct sunlight. The next swim was similar to the first but a piece of meat produced a bite straight away and this time I connected with a better fish. It shot across river and fought hard in the slow flow. I felt this was going to be a chub and, sure enough. a few minutes later I was weighing one just two ounces short of 4lb. A smaller one followed half hour later before the swim went dead again.

Already the sun was setting and out across the fields and big yellowy moon was rising; the temperature was already well below freezing. As I sat out in the last swim hoping for a last gasp chub, a good fish rolled mid-river. No ordinary fish though, this was a carp and a big one at that. I was taken a back. I had not considered bringing carp gear although I knew there were large carp in the river, as well as large pike. I sat there hoping the carp would find my meat but it was not to be.

As I walked back to the car my mind wandered back to a regular trip I used to make with a few friends every on New Years Eve to the Fens after pike. It was always freezing cold with a big full moon, the only fish I remember anyone ever catching was a 14lb pike. I think it was an excuse for some beers really. So on this News Years Eve in freezing weather again, after defrosting the car, I set off to the pub and New Year celebrations.

Two days later it was even colder, in fact the night before was minus eleven. I thought about the carp I had seen and decided to take one rod set up for carp using two bits of meat hair-rigged. In this way I would still catch a chub if a good one was around. Another rod I set up after pike with a smelt dead bait. I set up in the same area the carp had showed and once again set back in the lovely surroundings, getting some warmth from the minimal sun. The day though was quiet. No fish rolled and the dead bait float did not twitch, the carp rod stayed still and as the sun once more began to sink and the air got colder and colder I gave it up as a bad idea.

Back at the car I loaded the gear and got in to start it up before scraping the ice off. The car though did not want to start at all. Half hour later I was on the mobile trying to describe where I was in the middle of nowhere to the breakdown people. Amazingly half hour later a truck arrived and the chap got it going using a bit of trickery, diesels and cold weather and all that!

So that was Christmas and the New Year. I hope warmer weather comes soon and I can get back to proper carp fishing, in the meantime keep warm!

Have fun!