Last weekend we all endured at very disheartening day on the River Severn, the river was in perfect nick and the swim a trotting dream and just screamed fish. The big chub aside we caught around 7 small dace and gudgeon between us which in my eyes says that something was not right at all with the River. This week the inquest began into the reasons behind this and amongst the numerous reports of the river fishing really bad at the moment was a reoccurring comment about otters being active in that area of the Severn system and how much they have devastated the small fish population and in some cases wiped out fish stocks on once prolific stretches, no wonder the big fish only came onto the feed under the cover of darkness.
There have been numerous reports of otters on the river Dee system and I myself have witnessed what looked like an otter on one of the River Dee’s tributaries a year or so ago and at the time I was honoured to have seen such a beautiful animal but with the amount of pressure our fish are already under on the Dee from cormorants, mink and illegal netting of fish, could these already pressured fish take yet another predator in the food chain? Only time will tell. A recent survey that was done found that otters now populate every county in the country so it would seem this animal are here to stay if us anglers like it or not but I will reserve my judgement till I experience there level of predation and effects on a fish population for myself.
I have recently moved desks in work and have been fortunate enough to now have a window seat, good for me to wish my days away till my next fishing trip but bad for my work output levels!!. Last week I watched as clear blue skies and ice cold mornings passed us by, wishing only to be on the banks wetting a line on such a perfect morning but alas it was not meant to be and I would have to wait till the weekend for my turn to be on the bank. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all came and went and the view out of my window hadn’t changed at all, still perfect and calm and I couldn’t wait for Saturday morning to come, all that was left was Friday to get through and I would be there re-enacting the fishing I had done all week in my head as I day dreamed out of the window.
Friday morning came with a bang as I walked out of the front door to be met with a howling ice cold wind and heavy rain. The rain and cold presented no problem to myself as you can always layer yourself up against the cold and it was going to take rain of biblical proportions to flood the river to a point where it was not fishable in one day but it was the wind that I knew would present the biggest problem as the next day we were due to go the River Dee trotting, my heart sank a bit as the weatherman confirmed my biggest fears as on the radio he uttered the words “windy today but gale force winds of up to 50mph are due to sweep the north west all weekend” Disaster for our fishing trip to the Dee but being far from a fair weather fishermen we wasn’t going to let it stop us trying to winkle out a few fish!!!
Friday night and the air in my house was heavy with the pungent smell of hemp seed cooking on the stove and how weird that although I have only started to prepare my own hemp for a few months it has become a smell that already conjures up an excitement inside that you know tomorrow you are going fishing, with me its almost as if it kicks me into a fishing mindset and no matter how tired I am from my week in work I find the energy from somewhere to get those little jobs like re spooling my reel and making some hook lengths that save me so much time the next day on the bank done.
One good thing with winter fishing is it doesn’t get light till gone 7am now so you can actually get a decent nights sleep before having to get up to go fishing as in summer a lot of the time it seems to be pointless actually going to bed as our fishing meet up time in summer is usually 3am so most times I just stay awake but now those extra few hours in bed really are not only welcome but essential to making sure you are keeping you concentration levels high during the whole day o the bank.
Saturday morning and my slumber was interrupted by the dull monotonous thudding sound of my alarm clock going off, a quick rise of my head revealed to time to be a insane 4am, my toes retracting back under the warmth of the blanket told me the over night temperature had dropped considerably, had this been a work day it would have been a struggle to be enthusiastic about getting out of bed but today was far from a work day, today was Saturday morning and isn’t it amazing how easy it is to get out of bed on a weekend or maybe I need a new job lol.
The hard work had all been done last night with regards bait and rig preparation and all I had left to do with regards preparation was to make the essential flask of coffee and make sure I had enough layers on to keep out the icy cold wind that was now howling through the ally way at the back of my house almost like it was telling me not to be so stupid and get back to bed, my dad of course has no intentions of making such a silly decision as to go fishing on such an appalling day and shook his head as I loaded up the car and set off on my way to my uncles who was also joining me for a day on the bank, who ever said anglers are mad was well and truly having their point proven by us two today, if only they knew what they where missing eh.
Arriving at my uncles we discussed where we should head and we settled on the idea of fishing a large ox-bow in the river Dee hoping that at least one of the stretches would be sheltered from the wind and if not there was a multitude of stretches we could fall back on if this wasn’t the case and after chewing the fat on all things fishing we set off into the night. We arrived at our destination and decided to walk the stretch first before we unloaded the car and what a wise decision this was as although where the car was parked was really calm the second field where we was due to fish was taking a real battering from the wind blowing off the welsh mountains and after checking all the swims we decided to take the short drive to Farndon to see if the cliffs there where offering any shelter to the wind but we knew no matter where we fished today we where in for a tough day on the float.
Arriving at Farndon at 7.30am to an empty car park on a weekend in the middle of November is practically unheard of and I was totally shocked as I turned into the carp park, maybe the weather had seen a few of them off but still dint expect an empty car park. The stretch here was a hundred times calmer than our previous destination when we arrived and we wasted no time in choosing our swims and getting set up as it was already light when we had arrived. As we were setting up the wind began to build a bit and I began to question my decision to fish such an open swim but I knew from experience if the fish where here I wouldn’t have to trot far down to get them.
The clock within the church across the river in Holt chimed to signal it was 8oclock just as I was making my first cast and for the first hour of the day it wasn’t too bad the float was going down nicely but already we were getting the odd big gust of wind that would see you turning round to make sure everything was still where you left it and not floating in the river. The best fish early on was this nice roach shown below.
The morning was a real blustery affair and one of the toughest on the Dee so far with really prolonged spells of strong wind blowing upstream so much so at some points my rod tip was bent round and facing upstream while my float trotted down steam which made striking very difficult. The other major problem I faced was getting my bait out and accurate bait placement could only be achieved in the gaps in the wind. Below is a picture and a video of the swim I fished if you look closely through the arches on the bridge you can see how bad the weather was below the bridge.
The morning continued to be on and off with bite coming and going and the fish never really got going on the bait heads. My uncle was fishing the peg above me and around noon the scheduled high spring tide hit and the water began to rise and rise and rise so much so my uncle had to move up the steps, on the picture below you can see the extent of the rise in level as the water was well below the bottom peg when the session started and on this picture it was fully submerged.
From a fishing point of view the rise really changed the session as it got the roach really feeding and for the whole of the afternoon we bagged up on dace and roach and as the match finished on the other bank at 3pm we continued to fish on through and the last hour and a quarter saw some really top quality roach move into the swim, the best of the bunch is shown below.
At the end of the session and in the early evening sunlight we got together to compare bags of fish, my uncle had done a lot better than he had anticipated as the rising water took all of the movement out of the peg and made it hard work, whereas the extra water in my peg really got the trot going and the roach on the feed and I ended with a total bag on 12lb 2oz a cracking result on the bank and I can only imagine what weight it would have been had I been able to present a bait well all day.
My net of fish:
Video of my bag:
Special thanks again go to my uncle as without his help this year I would not have got anywhere near two pound of fish from the dee never mind 12lb of roach and would just like to say a public thank you to him. I am on strike this week on Wednesday so there may be a midweek session but that depends on if anything comes up but next weekend we are looking to get on the stretch we had earmarked for this weekends trip.
till next week