Fishing: I beat the big freeze thanks to Swanswater's paddles

I SUPPOSE you could say I was lucky to get to cast a line before the big freeze set in, writes STUART FRASER.

While all the others waters were icebound, I managed to get a couple of hours in at Swanswater fishery thanks to the aerating paddles the management have introduced.

Although there were several areas that I could not fish, I did manage to find a stretch in front of the dam wall.

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It was cold, very cold and the eyes in my rod kept freezing up and trapping my line.

Still, I managed to get a line out and stuck to my favoured midge tip line with a long leader.

Normally, at this time of year, darker colours usually do the most damage so I kicked off with a black-and-green lure.

With the temperature so cold the metabolism of the fish has slowed right down and they will not chase anything put by them.

With this in mind I resorted to a very slow retrieve and hoped that something would pick it up.

Several hours passed without success except the odd tweak so I felt it was time to change.

An orange rabbit was my next plan as it has often been a banker in the past.

After freeing the iced-up eyes for the umpteenth time, I put out a good line and let the fly sink. Inching it slowly along the bottom, I started to get very small but subtle pulls.

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Nothing would lock on, however, until I jerked the line and hooked a fish of more than 4lb. It was so cold that I could hardly feel my fingers but that gave me a new lease of life.

It is amazing how the cold leaves you whilst playing out a fish but returns with a vengeance once the battle has ended.

Taking time to revive the fish with my feet and hands submerged under the water it felt like the coldest I have ever been.

After returning to the lodge for a coffee and heat, I decided to have one last cast on the small pond and cast right on to the ice.

Dragging the fly off the ice I had a great take from a small blue trout of about 2lb. It was not the size of fish that got me excited but the venom with which it took the fly. An enjoyable end to a very cold day.

• LEADBURN Manor is hosting an open catch and release competition on Saturday 23 January. The rules are a maximum of two flies on barbless hooks and the match will be fished on a progressive basis to prevent anglers hogging hotspots. Entry is 20, which includes lunch and the prize money is 100 for the winner and 50 to the runner up. To enter or for further details call 07796 767194.