West & Fens Fishing: Last chance for predator anglers to bag big catch

Your float dips, the indicator goes, the line twitches – but it's dropped it before you've even picked the rod up.

This time of year can be the patchiest of all, especially for the predator angler.

The fish are at their biggest, as the hens swell with spawn. But as the days lengthen and the water warms, they soon become more interested in making little pike than eating.

That's when you get the dropped runs, sometimes with toothmarks that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you think what might have been.

Either side of the next cold spell will probably be it for the winter, as a mild spell forecast for early March will almost certainly send them off on their nuptials.

After a dreadful season, I'm guessing most will be pinning their hopes on a big fish or two at the back-end to turn it around.

Since mid-November, the drains and rivers have been a real struggle, with flow, weed and debris to contend with.

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Perhaps it's no great surprise things have been so bad, bearing in mind the conditions.

But years when we see heavy rainfall are tipped to become more common. And you wonder where that's going to leave a lot of waters in the Fens in 10 or 20 years' time.

A return to something resembling normal on the Ouse saw a few roach and skimmers showing around Modney and St Mark's.

This was always a banker winter area for silver fish, especially roach, but recent conditions have rendered it barely fishable for weeks on end.