Day became a real test of endurance

I took last week off. I needed to after the previous Sunday’s annual Trabucco Halifax Christmas match debacle.

It’s a long time since I have felt so cold and despondent.

The Aire and Calder Navigation at Altofts will look better in springtime. I certainly will not be going anywhere near it again until then.

It rained, snowed, hailed and howled. In the end it became a test of endurance. Fifteen anglers against the elements.

Stu Campbell and John Meredith did the business at the end of the length nearest Altofts lock, tying with just short of three pounds apiece. Seven others managed to catch and then there was me with one solitary perch, the first fish to be caught and for an hour the only one.

In the pub afterwards Stu lost a flick of the coin to get first choice of the prizes.

A week later he was the bridesmaid again this time on the more familiar Calder and Hebble canal at Sowerby Bridge.

Richard Jackson led an impressive 30-strong field in the Ryburn Halifax Christmas match taking small roach and a bonus perch for 1lbs 14oz. Stu managed to pip Pete Dwyer at the post by just half an ounce as both weighed marginally over a pound.

In the Hebden Bridge festive match Daz Kershaw stole the plaudits with a winning 1lbs 13oz from the Dead Arm of the Calder and Hebble with Eric Green second (1lbs 3oz) and Keith Richmond third with 13oz.

This Sunday sees the hardy (or foolhardly perhaps) Slaithwaite anglers attempting to run a meaningful match on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. Anyone who fancies chancing their arm should contact Neil Burrows.

I can only imagine it will be a gripper, but then I could be proved wrong.

The older I get the more I think I am becoming a fairweather angler.

I was reminiscing with an old fishing pal the other day about crazy winter days breaking ice that was inches thick on canals from Lancashire to Nottingham.

Or balancing precariously over a raging river in the hope of getting just a single bite.

I remember once taking half an hour to get a Ford Transit through two gate posts at the entrance to Topcliffe on the Swale which was thick in black ice. Eventually it took 10 of the lads to push it through.

Now I can’t wait to call it a draw when the bad weather arrives.

And I’m sure after a summer of being tricked into taking baits the fish are glad of a rest too.

The Maver North West boys saw the door to the Wigan Winter League title shut in their faces on the final match on the Leeds and Liverpool canal. They finished in third overall place behind local experts Sams Tackle. Tri-Cast Rochdale, who will be returning to the Pennine Winter league next season, came in fourth.

TIP OF THE WEEK: Forgive me if I sound too fixating on bread punch. However, it is one of the most reliable baits at this time of year. Its preparation has, for some reason, taken on mystic proportions. Everyone has their own way of doing it but for those wishing to learn I can offer three pieces of very good advice. Use bread that is past its sell by date. By all means discard the two crusts, but do not waste time cutting the edges off the other pieces. Grind the whole lot down in a blender and then push it through a metal flour sieve.

HOT PEG: A contradiction perhaps, however, for those brave enough, try the boat yard of the Battyeford Canal for perch up to 2lbs.