First of all if you are reading this after New Year’s eve when this post went live I would like to wish you all a happy new year and hope you all had a great Christmas period. I purposely didn’t do any updates to the blog while I was off and made a point of not even looking at the blog, with devoting one day every weekend to fishing throughout the year you have to, at this time of year make time for family and also give yourself a break from it as well, that’s not to say I didn’t winkle in one of two fishing trips in the past two weeks.
I had thought about writing a post over Christmas as an overview post of my fishing in 2012 but decided against and although the weather was atrocious I decided to go on a few fishing trips and blog about them in a kind of bumper post around New Year.
Christmas came and went and after losing my mum 2 years ago I have to say I was glad to see the back of it to be honest and can’t see me enjoying a Christmas day till my own children come along and the magic of Christmas will be reignited again, hopefully, but that’s enough of that and one thing Christmas did bring me was some money to go and buy a seat box in the boxing day sales.
The Boxing Day sales at Stapley Water Gardens have always been good to me, recent bargains include my 17ft carbon active float rod that before Christmas was advertised on my birthday at £280 and I managed to pick it up on Boxing Day for £160 so with my money in pocket I set off on boxing day hoping to get a seat box with a few quid knocked off it, I knew the boxes never have the best discounts like the rods do but I was optimistic of getting 30-50 quid of the online price.
Arriving at around 11.30 we entered the shop to be met by four queues the length of the store and anyone that has ever visited here will understand just how long that is. I quickly made my way to the seat boxes and I am not really one for messing around when shopping I had a few vital criteria to meet like a deep base for my reels and not being the lightest of anglers it had to be quite strong and I quickly had a Preston Onbox 2011 ltd edition waiting for me behind the tills. I picked up a few vital accessories in a brolly arm and a keep net long arm and a few bits of terminal tackle and I was ready to join the queue and queue we did for getting on for 2 and half hours!!!.
When I travel to Stapley I usually go down the M6 motorway but always like to take the longer route back through Middlewich down the back roads and today there was a good reason for this as I wanted one to have a look at the Warrington Anglers stretch Trent and Mersey Canal at Croxton Lane and being so close to the River Dane it would also give me a chance to see how the Dane was looking level wise for a planned trip the following day.
With the River Dane looking well coloured and really pushing through we decided to visit the Trent and Mersey Canal at lodge lane the following day with a view to leaving the River Dane till later in the week when we hoped it may have dropped just a tad further.
On to the fishing:
I spent most of boxing day afternoon sorting my kit out into my new seat box and I must say I was well impressed with the amount of storage it has with two compartments under the seat, a removable side tray for bits and another compartment with more winders than I have ever seen in my life and more importantly for my type of fishing plenty of room in the base for my reels, korum case and three bait boxes. I think I will only keep one half of the winder draw for pole rigs and river hook lengths and the other as extra storage. With all my essential gear for the next day in the box I was all set for a day’s pole fishing on the canal.
We arrived on the canal just as the dawn was breaking and made our way along the bank towards a set of reeds that covered about a third of the canal, my uncle set up on the edge of the reeds with me setting up opposite a convenient gap in the reeds roughly 12 yards apart. Bait wise believe it or not I was using the same maggots I had blanked so emphatically on recently on our icy trip to the Bridgewater Canal and I also took some of that essential canal bait punch bread.
I started by feeding a swim just of the reeds and with the weather being a barmy 12oc I fed the swim more heavily than I had the previous canal session. The reality of the session hit home as we only had a few really small roach to show for our efforts and the bites where very few a far between which was a real surprise to us both with the conditions looking so favourable.
We continued to plug away throughout the morning and every time we got one or two bites in quick succession they would die away just as fast and this continued till around 2pm and was to say the least very frustrating but it all became very apparent what was happening as the light dimmed we started to get one or two slightly better fish and as I was bringing one in a small perch came up in the crystal clear water to investigate the small roach and in the blink of an eye a pike lunged up to the top and nailed the perch.
Luckily for me I had packed my piking gear with me and I quickly set up a quick pike rig and the bait didn’t hit the water enough time for the float to settle on the top before it was nailed by the pike and what a fight entailed with the safety of the reeds so close the pike made lunge after lunge for the reeds and how its amazing just how hard these fish fight and after a real tussle the pike above lay in my landing net I reckon it weighed between 5 and 6lb.
I released the pike further up the canal and got back on the pole because before the pike I was getting a few bites and luckily the fish where still around but the very next fish I hooked was met with a green swirl and my blue hydro elastic being stretched to the maximum as yet another pike took a fish after playing the pike for a few minutes the fish let go of the roach which was in a real bad way, this is very common when hooking pike for them to fight till the end only to let go at the last minute.
I promptly grabbed for the pike rod and sent the roach out and after a few minutes I was connected to the same pike as I was a minute ago and unfortunately the hooked pulled after a short fight. My uncle who had been suffering the same bites as I was and decided to put the pike rod out in his swim and after a few minutes he was connected with a small jack pike around 2lb-3lb.
By now it was gone 3pm and in the space of an hour we had connected with 3 pike and landed 2 and we thought no wonder we had struggled so much and it was with that the pike float again started moving slowly towards the reeds and my uncle was again connected with yet another pike, they were going mad and I have never ever seen predator activity like that was ever before even on the river, was it the clarity of the water mixed with the warmer temperature but got us wondering just how many pike we would have had, had we stayed on even longer. Below is the third and final pike on the bank and unlike the olden days of canal fishing where these pike would have ended up in the hedgerow behind all went back safe and sound.
So on reflection I think we will be giving the canal another go as it definitely has potential for a decent bag of silvers if the pike are not active but one thing is for sure I will be piking my pike rods again next time I go to this venue and again we didn’t see another angler on the bank so much of WAA waters go un fished.
River Dane Trip
With the weather being so mild on Wednesday we decided to bring our trip to the River Dane forward by one day and hoped that the mild weather on the Wednesday would see the river drop and clear a little and on Thursday morning we made our way to the intricate and picturesque river Dane.
We arrived at the river bank to be met with a howling wind and heavy rain and I knew this would mean a rising river come the afternoon with debris coming down so while my uncle set up I quickly put together my feeder rod I had set up the previous evening hoping to nick an early unsuspecting chub.
I get a lot of questions on the blog regarding my rig and to be honest my fishing is usually simplicity itself as you can see in the picture above. My reel line for snag fishing on the Dane is always 10lb maxima down to a swivel and a 10lb Shimano Antares hook length with a Korum quick stop size 12 hook and today I was using a 2oz lead as I want the bait to be completely static underneath the raft I was fishing too.
My bait is one thing I do like to tinker with and over the years have come up with a spice/flavour blend that has served me well for both carp and of course chub but I also would never got the river without maggot and of course corn.
I decided to introduce a few pieces of meat under the raft and gently followed it not long after with my rig and settled down in position with the line across my finger, feeling for the unmistakable thud of a chub bite. The bait wasn’t in the water more than a few minutes before the tip flew round and I struck into a fish that was already in the snags as I struck and this is where the strong line comes into play as it gives you the power you need to apply the pressure to get the chub into the main flow. Once the fish is in the middle you are almost guaranteed one more hard run for the snags but with a soft action tip it gives you the cushion you need to apply the pressure to halt the run and it wasn’t long before the first chub of the day lay on the landing net.
In went a few more pieces of meat and a few grains of corn and I was back in position waiting for another bite as contrary to popular belief on the Dane you can catch more than one chub from each swim as long as you get them out without too much fuss. The next action in the swim was a missed bite and when hair rigging this can be a real problem as chub are notorious for stealing bait without getting hooked so I decided to counter this by putting 3 pieces of corn on the hair tight up against the shank of the hook, this way the chub has to take the whole bait with it being so small and normally means less missed bits due to them mouthing the bait, had this continued I would have certainly cut off the hair and hooked the bait direct to the hook but fortunately for me the suttle change made the difference and I hooked into the next chub that fought like a demon and punched well above its weight so much so I was certain it was either a chub over 5lb or a barbel but was really surprised to see a average chub break the surface.
After tis chub I rested the swim for a good 10 minutes and just tricked bait through the swim, chub fishing is definitely a war of minds and you have to be one step ahead of them, if you can do this chub fishing can be considered too easy at times due to their hungry willingness to gulp down a bait. Not long after I presented another bait did the tip wrap round again and I was into another fish and couldn’t believe my luck at finding the chub so willing to feed buy unfortunately I suffered to agonising feeling of a hook pull half way through the fight and with the fish causing so much commotion I was certain that was the swim blown for at least a good hour.
Cursing to myself as I re-baited the hook with a piece of meat I continued to put some bait through the swim, ideally I would of liked to have had the option to trot the swim like last time as presenting a moving bait can sometimes be as good as a change of bait for fooling a chub into taking the bait but alas the recent high water levels had dislodged a tree branch that now clay diagonally across the head of the swim making trotting impossible so it was a case of re baiting and giving the swim time.
It was during the baiting up I just got the feeling I should try a sneaky but dangerous cast right to the back of the sunken tree this would put me right in the chubs lair but I was sure with the cover the chub would be confident enough to bite and I wasn’t wrong but unlike the other bites this was the gentlest of bites that I would no doubt of missed had I not been touch ledgering and with that I struck into another chub but unfortunately with the fain belting down I couldn’t take a picture right there and then so placed the fish straight in the keep net.
With the rain came the wind and all sorts of sticks, twigs, logs and leaves began to flow downstream a nightmare when you are trying to fish on the tip. I decided to pay my uncle a visit and boy was he getting a battering as shown below it turned into a terrible day but we stuck it out.
While I visited my uncle he was happily trotting a swim down to some snags and had already had a few grayling when the struck into something in a different league and I knew straight away he was into a hard fighting chub which played ball till it came into the edge and made a lunge for the inside bank, luckily my uncle, from experience was waiting for this and played the fish really well and “the eskimo” was on the board and I returned back to my swim.
The day for me didn’t produce any more chub and looking back I should have maybe gone for a wander but with the weather so bad it was a case of battening down the hatches and riding it out. I ended the day with 3 lovely chub and was pleased with my efforts although I think had I been able to trot the swim I could of winkled out one or two more but like I always say it is just a pleasure to be on the Dane as it is such a beautiful river to fish and full of wildlife.
I packed up around 3pm and made my way to my uncle’s swim to catch the last half hour of him fishing and he reported he had had another chub since I left earlier on. Nothing came in the last hour and below is my uncles brace of chub from a killer of a swim, how he gets down them banks I will never know ut these two where worth the effort.
All in all was an ok day on the bank fish wise and it is always good to catch a few chub, hopefully the weather will clear a bit in the new year and we can get back on the river Dee and after those shoals of dace. I wish you all a happy new year and wish you all tight lines for 2012.