The main angling event of the weekend is undoubtedly the opening round of the perennially popular York and District Winter League.

A capacity crowd will line the banks of the Ouse from Fulford through to Bishopthorpe.

If the fish have got used to the sudden onset of winter that arrived unannounced last week, then some good sport can be expected from the roach population of the waters below the city. Competitors are asked to note that the draw has been moved forward from 9am to 8.30am.

Readers of this column will no doubt have noted that I failed to point out that the Animals Hospitals Cup had wisely been postponed so as to avoid the annual clash with the rowing regatta.

The event will now take place next weekend and tickets are still available at all the usual outlets.

Many lakes and ponds have been frozen through the week and with many thawing and then re-freezing regularly, sport on the many still-water venues could be very hit and miss this weekend.

Some anglers believe that the act of breaking the ice actually serves as a stimulus for the fish to feed, almost acting as a dinner-bell. While this may be difficult to prove, I do believe that fish can respond in this Pavlovian way to certain sounds that they associate with food.

One only has to look at the success of the splashing waggler or method feeder on some carp venues, or how about 'clonking' for catfish.

In reality, the action of breaking the ice is more likely to stimulate the fish into feeding as a result of the additional oxygen it permits to be released into the water rather than any dinner-bell effect.

Running water has got to be a safer bet this weekend and some good bags of roach have come from a number of venues in the past few days. Seek out some deep water would be my advice and the red fins shouldn't be too far away.

Some decent hauls have been taken from the new York water at Poppleton, where pole or slider will both score. I would opt for a static approach with a straight lead and gauge the fish's response from there before running a float through.

Further downstream, some decent quality roach are to the fore in the city centre where things always seem to be a degree or two warmer.

Bread continues to be the bait of choice despite the free groundbaiting from the tourists' duck-feeding exploits ending for the year.

Try a small cage feeder with liquidised bread and a small piece of flake or punch on the hook. You could end up bagging some pristine winter roach like the angler I watched for half an hour opposite the end of Marygat. In half a dozen cast he had five roach to over a pound and topped it all off with a four-pound bream.

Weekend bookings


Palace Ings - Local AC


Donkey Woods, Fulford, Palace Ings - York and District Winter League; Howsham (opposite Hall) - Icebreakers AC

Updated: 11:23 Friday, November 25, 2005