Tubing in ice cold water

Float tubing for cod in the cold Danish sea

By Martin Joergensen
| Home | Seasons | Wind and weather | Cod on a fly |

Date: Thu, 29 Dec 1994 15:25:05 +0100
From: Martin Joergensen MARTINJ@LOGIN.DKNET.DK
Subject: Tubing in ice cold water (long trip report)

Hi fellow Fly fishing and float tube fans,

Xmas and cold weather or not - at least one of the days between Xmas and New Year was destined to be used for something else than eating and unwrapping gifts.

Tube fan
As some of you might have noticed from my recent postings I'm becoming more and more fond of my float tube, and this trip would be a tube one too. All my favoutite wading spots are iced down anyway. The weather here has been very cold lately and the fjords, which are normally the water of choice for the winter, are unfishable.

So I decide to go for a trip the the open ocean just north of Copenhagen. I've been fishing there several times before, and only once without seeing a fish. I have caught a lot of cod and a few nice trout. The cod will normally be taken on the spinning gear because they are in deeper water (4-6 meters or 12-18'), but this time I have rigged my super sinker and plan to fish my crab fly on the bottom.

30 minutes later
The drive is less than 30 minutes and I am ready to sail in 10 more minutes. As I mentioned it's cold right now, and the water is just above the freezing point. The place I've chosen is close to an estuary and I can see thin ice forming on the surface right in front of the stream. The ice forms an arc far out and north, indicating where the current of fresh water is. I will head for that, because the trout will seek into the fresh water when it's cold. There's absolutely no wind and the sun is just above the horizon. It's just before noon. The air is minus 7 deg. centigrade.

I start fishing my spinning rod. It's not as fun as the fly, but it's a good fish finder and covers a lot of water. Some 300 meters (900') and less than 10 casts from the shore I have my first strike. I land a nice cod within a few minutes. A nice start that makes some promises.

Crab time
I continue outwards and get one more fish. OK, the fish are there. Time to dip the crab. I'm on a depth of approx. 5 meters (15') and getting a fly down there can be quite a challenge. I use a 9 wt. WF sinking line and a heavy pattern made on a 1/0 hook with lead eyes and hot glue. I know people that wouldn't call this fly fishing, but still: it's a fly rod, a fly line and something that's too light to be cast by itself. And it's great fun!

I cast out the crab and plunge a few loose roll casts on top of that. The line and the fly will sink. Then I straighten the line by kicking backwards a few times, and start working the fly on the bottom. It's an upside down pattern, but still it snags from time to time. That's a good sign of bottom contact.

Slow takers
I feel fish right away. Cod are slow takers. They'll often miss a fly on the bottom, but as soon as I feel the fish, I lift the fly and whomp! The water is no-fighting cold and the cod is not known for its strength. But getting a 2 kilo (4 lb.) cod up from 5 meters is not easy. The fish will turn upside down and swin for the bottom several times, stripping off line. The water is crystal clear, and I can see every detail on the bottom - including the struggeling fish.

I hand land the fish, unhook it and let it go. The next few ones take with a few minutes apart. This is great! I'm about 500 meters (1500') from the shore and having a ball. The fish are quite large 2-3 kilos (4-6 lbs) and there's a lot of action. I rig my keepnet (an unframed net bag) and whack the best ones over the head before slipping them down there. It's nice and warm, and even though the water on the back of my woolen fingerless gloves is frozen, I'm not cold. I have a cup of coffee and a few Xmas cookies on the apron while the fly drifts in front of me. This is GREAT!

Ice forming
I fish for a couple of hours. I keep five nice fish and release at least as many. I LDR and miss a few too. It's getting darker and colder. I can see the brine ice forming along the edge of the fresh water, and the arc has become wider and moved north in the light current.

I start moving in. I change the fly to a trout type and start fishing high in the water. Nothing happens, even though I fish all the way in. I take it easy and it lasts almost an hour before I'm close to the shore. The depth is now between 1 and 2 meters (3-6') and and still fish the trout fly. It's getting darker and I change the fly to a long haired, red/yellow, Mickey-Finnish pattern. I start kicking towardsthe landing spot.

I'm fishing in a trance, thinking about all kinds of things when suddenly. Bang! Not a cod, that's for sure... or is it? It feels heavy, but doesn't run. It just shakes its head and seeks down. Well, one more cod to go on, that's OK. I start getting the fish closer when it suddenly wakes up. Wiiizzzzzzz. Line goes out. Not far, but still. It's a trout. We repeat the incident. I get it close, and whizzzz - out she goes. I've seen the fish now. It's a nice one.

Get out the net
I get out my net for the first time today, but... it's stuck. There I am with a fish and the net masks are stuck in a zipper behind my back. Sh**! I fumble a bit, but the fish demands my attention. So it's another hand landing. The fish comes close a few times, and it's getting very tired. Fish tire quickly in the cold water. I can see it's big - probably more than 3 kilos (6 lbs). I grab it gently and ease it onto the apron.

It is big - at least 70 cm (28'), but it's gray as a lead pipe and skinny. It's spawning female that probably missed it's chance and dropped the eggs. I get out the fly and let the fish slip into the water again. It swims off. Man, would I like to meet that one in two or three months? A lot heavier and shiny as silver... whau!

It's dark now and I fish my way to the car. Nothing. Next time I'll start out in the shallower water and look for some trout before I tie on my crab.

Next time... well, what am I doing tomorrow...?


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