The changes are also shown in the different wildlife we see on the bank, swallows that once cut through the air skimming the water for an early morning drink are a distant memory as they have all but began their epic migration to Africa, cormorants that we didn't see in summer are now forced inland to find food on our inland waterways and rabbits that where once fed confidently, safely concealed in the farmers field are now more visible after the farmer has harvested his crops and quickly scarper in all directions at the slightest noise. On he bank, feeling part of it all, you get a real sense that all the animals are busy piling on the pounds in preparation for the winter to come.
The seasons also dictate a change for all the fish we target, carp will now have sensed the changes in water temperature and will, in the next few weeks be packing on the weight, barbel will use the extra flow and subsequent flood to gorge themselves while the pike that found food so easily in summer will begin to find food more scarce and become more willing to pick up anglers dead baits all in all the year round angler looks forward to the chill of winter as much as the warm glow of spring and I cant wait to see what delights the rest of this year has to offer.
On to this weeks fishing......
Saturday 17th September
Around two months ago when my uncle started coming fishing with me on a regular basis we made it our mission to fish as much of the river Dee as possible to find the stretches that are first of all accessible to fish and two have the potential to contain our target species. This week saw us again on a new stretch of river and with that came high hopes for the session to come.
River fishing is in general the other side of the angling spectrum to commercial fishing and the walk to the river on Saturday proved that as both me and my uncle walked field after field, clambered over farmers gates and dodged old barbed wire fences hidden in the undergrowth to get to the river banks and all this with our rods and baskets on our backs, fishing the river Dee you certainly have to be dedicated or slightly mad.
Our first glances at the new section of river showed it to look like a real find with long straight runs with a lot of overhanging trees on the near and far bank my uncle set up in a swim upstream from me while i set up opposite a sunken tree and what looked like a deep steady run shown below.
The river was lower than last week but on closer inspection was really pushing through at great speed which did take us both by surprise but we were here now and up for the challenge. The banks where the first challenge as they where high and very steep so care had to be taken. Arriving in my swim I was soon set up and began to plumb the depth of the water in front of me which showed it to be over 14ft deep!! This was far from expected as although the river looked deep I wasn't expecting it to be as deep. The depth is not so much of a problem on slower stretches of river but with the speed the river was pushing through here, knowing where my bait was getting to the bottom was going to be a challenge in itself and so it proved.
Throughout the morning we experienced heavy rainfall in the form of showers followed by bright periods warm sunshine and the result of which was this full rainbow in the clear sky, so far removed from the urban scene outside my window in work, what a pleasure it was to be on the bank surrounded by nature and all the sights and sounds that go with it, good fishing today was only going to serve as a bonus.
My uncle had by now moved from his original swim and in true mountain goat style had found is way, somehow, to the waters edge down a near vertical bank!!. It was worth the effort as it was not long before he started to get fish with some level of regularity. Meanwhile I was struggling big time and was only picking up the odd dace as the swim slowed towards its tail but at these depths trotting was really hard work and after a few hours I have around 15 dace to show for my efforts, time for a change of tactics and I decided to put all my eggs in one basket and tried for a big pike in the slack to my right.
In the picture above you can just make out my pike float in the slack behind the pieces of wood, it is there somewhere. My tactic change proved to be in vein as no pike fell for my float fished dace but my uncle did manage to lure a predator into his swim in the form of a perch. The river does hold some real specimen sized perch so far this year between us we have had some really nice perch from Farndon and what vibrant colours they have on the river.
My uncle continued to catch fish until around an hour before we packed away when the river rose in a short space of time as rain water from the welsh mountains made its way through the system and with it came all manor of debris washed down in the rising water. We called it a day around two o'clock and looking at my uncles bag he again showed his worth on a tough day with a decent bag of roach, dace and perch.
All in all this new stretch does have a lot to offer and I think next time we visit this stretch I will be taking my feeder rod and fishing the slack behind the tree across the river and looking on Google earth there is a vast amount of this stretch we have not even explored yet. To think on all these stretches we have fished in recent weeks we are yet to see one fisherman that wasn't salmon fishing the river, such a shame this gem of a river is so under fished!!.
Sunday 18th September
Sunday saw my fiance joining me on the bank for a short session on Flushing Meadows Fishery, the plan like last week was to arrive as the fishery opened at 7am an be home in time for the football around 2pm. The "snake lake" was our chosen spot for the day and we set up in the same swim as last week but with slightly different tactics, last week was all about small baits like maggots, hemp and Castor's while this week i was armed with larger baits all fed over a bed or sweetcorn. What maggots I had left over from the river would be used to fish a margin swim on a lighter elastic when the main swim went quiet.
The pictures above show the swim we set up in and before I even unpacked the rods I had to get the brolly up and her chair in place so she could sit comfortably and read her book and fulfill her role for the day as "chief nets-woman". After setting up her chair and my bits and pieces I went about making up my two rigs for the day, one rig would be solely made for my maggot line and was set up on a lighter white hydro elastic and aimed at having some fun with the large ide, rudd and roach that reside in the margins of this lake. My second rig was aimed at presenting larger baits on the bottom right down the central track on the fishery using a black hydro elastic in the hope of luring a carp or two and if I was really lucky a barbel.
After potting in a few cad pots of corn over my middle line I decided to rest it for the first hour and spend my time on my margin line for the silver fish and it was stupidly easy and really does make fishing sometimes too easy with small roach and rudd coming thick and fast along with a few roach like the one shown below, really top quality fishing on this place for silver's as the place is full of them!!
After a while the swim seemed to die off and the float settled just like last week, again I suspected bigger fish and I was right again as the float shot across the surface and I was connected to one of the bigger carp in the lake as it stretched the white hydro to its maximum as it motored into the distance and predictably the hook pulled, the carp where feeding at it was time to try my swim down the middle.
In went two cad pots of maggots over my margin swim and it was over to my middle swim and with the float shotted down to the arm of the bristle so the constant dipping on the float by small fish didn't pull it under but it did show fish where in the swim. On this fishery its a case of waiting for the float to bury when a better fish takes the bait and it wasn't long in coming as not long after the knocks stopped the float slid away and I was into my first carp of the day. This swim unlike the canal lake has a lot more water for the fish to run in and is also the more mature lake on the complex and has fish approaching 20lb living in it, this although was not anywhere near that size of fish but was defiantly a fish I did not want to loose and it hugged the bottom as it made deep hard runs for the back of the island but this time I was well equipped for that and quickly applied some pressure and turned the fish back towards me and eventually got down to my top two kit. If i have learned one thing this year about carp on the pole its that you cant rush them and its all about letting the fish tire itself out against the elastic, with that game plan in place there was only one winner and lifting the fish out of the water in the net it felt a really heavy fish.
The fish topped the scales at 7lb 9oz and was a new personal best carp for me breaking my overall carp personal best as well as my mirror carp personal best at the same time. The two fish could not be so far apart in looks, the common was long and thin while this carp of around the same weight was very short but its weight was in its shoulders and belly a proper fat carp!!. I really cannot complain one bit about my time this summer on this fishery it has been very kind to me.
The fish returned safely and it was back in with a few pots of corn and back over to my margin swim and the silver fish where again very obliging with a really big ide coming to the net but unfortunately it came as my fiance had nipped to the car with the camera, not wanting to keep the fish out of the water and no sign of her coming down the path I put the fish back but I am sure there will be more of them to come judging by the size of the fish I have seen swirling at the maggots. My efforts overt the maggot line where rewarded again not long after her return with another plump roach.
In all honesty I got carried away on my margin swim as the fishing was so prolific for the silver fish and it was gone 11am before I decided to go for the carp again that had started showing against the far bank in the late morning sun. It was a fair distance to the island and it would take the full 13 metres of my pole to reach the island margins in this wide swim, to date i have not used my pole at its full distance let alone hooked a carp at such range. At first it was very awkward to get the sections together and ship to pole out without hitting the water but after a few attempts I got there and in went a big lump of meat against the margin.
No sooner had the bait settled than the float shot across the surface and the elastic shot from the pole as the fish swam along the margin, it was scary stuff and for the first 30 seconds of the fight I was really worried about controlling the fish but quickly learned that the key was to ship back straight away to get the fish into the middle and with that under control, from there it was where I wanted it and soon into the net.
my first carp caught at 13 metres:
Now firmly addicted to the buzz of catching carp so far out it took over the next three hours of the session and in all honestly I lost a lot of fish due to spooking them by not keeping the pole steady but I did manage to snare one more carp from the margins and for such a small carp it didn't half put up a sterling account for itself.
The day was over far too quickly and I really enjoyed being on the bank with Lucy and will miss her company next time I am on the bank at flushing meadow. I am constantly overwhelmed by her knowledge of the sport I partake in even down to identifying the different species of fish we caught on the day (must be all those angling times i leave around the house) but I am so lucky to have someone who lets me pursue my hobby every weekend and I would like to take this opportunity to thank her again for her patience and understanding of my angling addiction, THANK YOU!!!.
Next weekend will see us back on the river and Sunday will see me on flushing meadow again but I am hoping to try some different tactics other than the pole this time.
Till next time