It seems hard to believe that the photo above of my fishing companion Pete's son was taken on an early morning trip just three weeks ago. No coat, scarf, gloves or hat- the balmy, sunny, Autumnal days of October. Simon and Garfunkle may have sung something about "seasons changing with the scenery" but they should have said something about the rapidity of that change. October's mild Autumn has given way to November's attritional offering of dark mornings, short days and dropping temperatures, and with the changing weather has come a change, too, in our fortunes.
No longer do the perch chase with abandon and the pike find their way to the bank with- if not regularity- reasonable frequency. The fish have become as curmudgeonly as the water and air cold. If September and October's compliant predators seem like a fading memory, August's arm wrenching carp are beginning to feel like ancient history.
My last three trips have resulted in just two small perch (both caught this morning), while Pete's last two sessions have resulted in just one perch; slim pickings.
There are contributory factors: our sessions are always short, a couple of hours snatched here and there, and today's session saw the nightmare combination of a gin clear canal, caused by the recent frosty cold snap, accompanied this morning by pouring rain.
Pete spent quite a bit of time drop-shotting (why not, everyone else is), but to no avail, while I alternated between soft plastic shads and crankbaits for pike, interspersed with spinners for perch. My brace of extremely modestly sized perch both fell to the ever reliable Ondex spinner. Today it was Pete's turn to blank.
It's only four week's ago that Pete caught a decent pike on one of our early morning pre-work sessions, but confidence is beginning to dip and doubt to creep in. Should we continue our exploration of the Grand Union Canal (there are a few new areas we've got lined up to try), or should we give the canal and lures a rest and steal three hours of float-fishing on a local lake?
One thing's certain: irrespective of whether we give the canal a rest or carry on our investigative forays of new stretches, this noble waterway is not only an ongoing reminder of our industrial heritage and past, it's providing an ongoing puzzle that should turn a few more of my remaining hairs grey and add one or two more furrows to my brow.
Temporarily beaten, but by no means defeated!