Flustered in February

February, I’ve been fishing for 35 years but when it comes to February and particularly the end of this short month, I get flustered. 

I obsess about the weather and it’s role in my fishing, but I think February (and March) are the months that are made or broken by the weather. As the daylight hours start to  lengthen, the birds find their morning voice and the frogs enjoy their annual croak, fish everywhere are reacting. Which fish, where and when they start to wake up to the point where I think I can actually catch one depends entirely, in my opinion, on the weather. In recent years we’ve experienced record breaking February high temperatures of 20C. In facet, just 10 days ago it was in the mid0teens.  And, of course we’ve had the media loving “Beasts from the east”.  And whilst right now it’s not quite a beast, the weather has settled into a north-easterly airflow and the morning temperatures are back down to zero.  February can be pleasant or, put bluntly, it can be a bitch!

After the dark months of December and January when bites can be hard to find, the prospect of the new year’s opportunities get me all a bit flustered. The truth is, February is still a bit early for any of it, but if Lady Luck, and the weather, is on your side it can be a brilliant start to the year. Sometimes it works and it feels like you can’t put a foot wrong. But in all honesty, it’s the specialists that get it right, and probably with their single specialist species. 

I’m very much an “all-rounder”, a jack of all trades and most certainly a master of none. It’s not that I get bored focussing on one species, it’s just, I don’t want to miss out on all the others. Good old social media probably doesn’t help me. In February I’ll start to see the pictures of big mullet from the north coast, the first giltheads from the estuaries, big perch from still waters and of course, the carp are waking up. Fishing on limited time as I do, I’ve either got to get it right, or I’ve got to be lucky. I think that’s where I get it wrong. Without being a specialist on any species, I get carried away by the idea of catching a really early seaon fish but you can’t get lucky every week with just a couple of hours at your disposal. The anglers out there finding the really early season fish are the ones who have put in the hours. They’re not getting lucky, they’re getting it right. You’d think with 35 years’ fishing under my belt I’d have clocked up enough hours to get it right but when your tackling a wild animal in weather that can be anything from sublime to savage, there is still so much to learn. 

There’s so much to learn, so much to enjoy and so many adventures to have that when February comes around and that black bird sings his heart out, from the tallest tree as it’s coming on dimpsy, I’ll still be getting flustered in another 35 years’ time. 

This last month didn’t really work out at all if you’re counting fish caught.  But, i have chosen instead to use the time when it really didn’t look like a bite was on the cards to do my preparation for the season ahead, some work around the lakes and then when it does all come good in a few weeks’ time I’ll have done my homework and i’ll be able to go out to play!

If you can’t be good in February, be lucky!