This’s blog update starts off with an article I read on Thursday night in the Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News a link to the BBC run article is found by following this link http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-15852705 . Having lived right next to the Mersey my whole life and witnessed as a kid whilst playing down Wigg Island all the chemical barrels that used to be dotted around this now nature reserve it amazes me just how much the river has improved in just a few years. Now as of this article being published no otter has actually been seen but signs of these have been found by the local rangers in the form of paw prints and otter spraint and there are already talks of viewing platforms being installed to capture a glimpse of these animals.
The River Mersey also grabbed my attention in the national press as well this week with a report in the Anglers Mail that a 30lb pike has been caught somewhere along the Warrington Stretch, this backed up with the weekly reports of the matches producing weights of bream and roach to near 50lb means the River Mersey is firmly back on any local River fisherman’s radar and had we not had so many new rivers to try already we would have already booked a visit on this local venue and who knows before the end of the year there may be a report on here of my first ever River Mersey fish, what a thought that is……
This past week showed the importance again of the Environment Agency website as up till 9pm on Friday night we were all set to go the WAA stretch of the River Ribble but a slight incline in the water level coupled with the fact another local river, the River Wyre, was also well up showed us that there was obviously some bad weather in the area and by morning it was a good bet the Ribble would be high once the rain water hit our stretch. The EA site also showed us that the River Dee was also on the rise and although we was confident we would bag a few fish trotting the highly coloured water we decided to risk it all on a trip to the tiny River Dane at Holmes Chapel which according to the EA website was low and had no rain water flowing through it or any signs of any. I have lost count now at the amount of times this site has saved me a wasted journey and getting to know the levels and graphs of the rivers you fish is invaluable as it proved again this weekend.
On to this week’s fishing….
We left my uncles house again at around 5.50am as we would normally for a winter trip to the river and made our way down the deserted M56 and M6 motorway towards the Warrington Anglers stretch of the River Dane situated on the outskirts of the picturesque town of Holmes Chapel as stated above the roads where deserted and in what seemed like no time at we was pulling off the M6 motorway and making the short journey to the stretch, our actual time of reaching the car park was 06.10am a whole hour before even the first glimmers of light where due but what we was treated to was a crystal clear sky with all the star constellations on full display and what a sight it was truly remarkable and just another aspect of our world that us anglers have the privilege to see.
At around 7am we decided that three of us in a car was not healthy at all, something about last night’s curry was banded as some form of an excuse from some quarters but it was enough for us all to decide it was time to make a move and we set off into the darkness making our way to a selection of swims that could provide us all with a decent days fishing in close proximity to each other.
On our way to the swims we spotted something big in the moonlight and what is normally a field full of sheep certainly had something a lot bigger in it. All our views where that the farmer had put some cows or worse a bull in his bottom field so we approached cautiously and the animal moved to the right as we approached closer and closer but to our amazement when we entered the second field there was nothing at all in the field, weird!! Had I been there on my own I would have probably passed it off a my eyes getting tricked in the dark but all three of us where in no doubt we had seen a large animal in the gloom, looking over franks past reports after the trip suggested the possible culprit could have been a buck deer as sightings of these have been made in the past and would explain how it disappeared into the night so quickly, either way next time I go I will not be going in the dark alone lol.
We arrived at the swims in almost pitch dark as you can see form the picture above but it is weird how quick the light arrives around you with you really noticing it and it wasn’t long before the gentle blue glow of a new day illuminated the river and shown what a glorious swim I was due to fish for the rest of the day. Past trips to this river have shown this swim to hold one of two chub but usually the hectic hit and hold capture of a chub from this swim usually would be followed by a long wait for your next bite as the shoal spook away under the cover.
After spending most of the river season so far on the banks of the River Dee it was with great anticipation and excitement I began to set up and due to the shallow fast nature of the River Dane two piece of kit that so far hadn’t seen the light of day this year where due to have the cobwebs blown off them, one being my 13ft Korum Float rod and the other my Okuma Sheffield centre-pin reel loaded with 5lb “silk” line. I also had already set up from my last trip for barbell my barbell rod and as this was going to be fished as close to the chubs lair as possible I kept my Shimano bait runner on it loaded with 10lb maxima line.
After I was set up it was daylight and just lately the morning chorus has been dominated by flocks of large crows and today was no different and what a racket they made as they left their roosts so much so they forced a solitary heron into flight.
There is nothing better than being on the river at first light:
With my bomb rod put to one side I settled into my swim for the day and hoped that the baiting up I had done as soon as I arrived had attracted some attention as I prepared to make my first trot down the river. The river incidentally was as low as I have ever seen it and as you can see from the picture of the swim the river was crystal clear with the beds of streamer weed clearly visible in conditions like this stealth is essential you must keep low and keep you movements to a minimum any anglers along with you for the day ask nicely to approach off the skyline and be as quiet as you can and you will be amazed how close these super shy crafty chub will come to you.
First trot down the swim and right over my bed of bait the float buried and I was into a fish that although definitely not a chub was using the flow to its full advantage, I knew instantly that I had hooked the lady of the stream and boy did it feel good on the old centre pin you really can get a feel of how to play fish on the centre pin as your thumb is in full control of exactly how much pressure to put on the spool a great tool for teaching youngsters how to get a feel for playing fish and great fun especially when you have a lively grayling on the end putting on an aerial display of leaps and jumps trying to throw the hook, eventually she was on the bank and having her picture taken.
Normally I would return a fish like this to the river but as I was staying in the same swim all day I put the keep net in upstream of my position and took time to hold the fish in the net till she recovered from the fight. The reason for this is both grayling and chub have a tendency after released to shoot back into your swim and spook the whole shoal I knew bites could be at a premium today and was taking no risks so into the net she went. In what seemed no time at all I was back in position ready to trot down again and for the next few trots down the float just trundled its way through but I kept the bait trickling through and out of the blue the bloat buried and I mean buried and I struck into what can only be described at first as the bottom until you see your float heading into the snags and you realise you most certainly have a chub on the end.
On such a remote small river it really is hit and hold and its essential to resist the temptation to hold the rod high you need your rod tip under the water to attempt to stop your line getting caught in the roots of the trees and the rest is a battle of wills and down to how good your knots are and if they hold to get the fish into the main flow. Once the fish is into the main flow you are half way there and one thing with chub you can guarantee is they will always have a second hard dart for cover and that can be also to your nearside bank as well, thankfully, in this case once the chub was out of the snags he came in nicely and was gleefully scooped up, what a result less than an hour in and two nice fish on the bank.
After this fish I introduced some more bait and continued to trot down but it was clear the commotion of the last chub had seen the shoal spook into cover and this was confirmed to be by the capture of a few of these little critters below, minnows, or as they have become more n amongst ourselves “Barry minalows” the river Dane is paved with them and it was time to offer the chub something different and I reached for the bomb rod, time to go in after em!!!
On went my chosen bait and introduced so the flow took the bait down underneath the labyrinth of twigs that the chub call home, no need for a rod rest just sit comfortably with the rod on your knee and your finger on the line and wait for the tip to bang round and that unmistakable pluck on the line. Sat on the bank, hunched up like an expectant heron I was ready for that unmistakable chub bite and in normal Dane fashion it wasn’t long in coming and with the drag set tight I wasn’t giving an inch in this fight and it wasn’t long before the fish was tamed by the strong line and into the net.
This fish was removed with such quickness that it didn’t have a chance to disturb the swim but when after chub it’s a battle of minds and you have to be one step ahead of them, building their confidence before being cheeky enough to try and catch one and constantly changing your hook bait and presentation and with that it was time to go back on the float rod. The float hadn’t been down the swim more than 5 or 6 times before it shot under again and I was into another chub and this one was having none of it a fought like a stink making numerous darts for the cover and I have to admit to being very lucky in catching it as at one point I could see a big splash right at the back of the trees which was in direct line with my float so the fish was well in the snags but when your luck is in these fish come out and today was my luck day and the fish slid nicely from under the trees and was soon in the keep net and a memory of the day was the commotion this one chub caused in the net trying to get out, he was not happy at all!!.
One thing I see a lot when reading about fishing for chub on the float is all this about using massive hooks down to size 12 and 10 when trotting and hopefully this picture below shows that you can still catch nice chub from a snaggy swim on small hooks the one I was fishing with in Saturday was a size 18 hook and it does the job fine as you can see below.
The next hour or so passed by with little action but a few minnows and a solitary grayling on the bank and despite changing tactics a few times and being snapped on the bomb rod by a really big fish it was gone 10am by the time the next chub came along and it was more than welcome and although the smallest of the chub caught by me on Saturday was again a feisty character and what fun I was having on the pin catching these chubby chub.
After this chub the cloud cover broke and the sun rose high enough to cast its light on the swim, this marked the end of the action for a while and I knew it so in went a decent amount of bait and I went for a wander to see how my dad and uncle where getting on, my uncle had had around 10 grayling and a pristinely marked trout while my dad had also been getting into the grayling as well on his feeder rod neglecting to shout me to take a picture of his monster grayling approaching 2lb lol.
After my wandering I returned back to my swim and endless trotting produced nothing until some cloud cover came over and almost like a light had been switched on another chub took the bait, again on the float rod and to be honest I could catch fish all day trotting over the feeder and I can’t believe I have neglected the River Dane so much this year.
Five chub from the same swim in one morning on the Dane and I was well chuffed with my mornings efforts and through our the afternoon I continued to make the odd trip to my dad and uncle and kept a stream of bait going in my swim knowing that I had a decent amount in the keep net I was all set for the last hour before darkness to try and winkle out a big chub and from 2.30pm I settled back into my swim and was determined to catch a chub on my uncles secret recipe meat concoction and eventually right on last knockings I hooked and landed I think the best chub of the day it was really wide and fat and although not a monster by today’s standards I would say it was above average for the WAA stretch of the Dane and there was no better way to end the day, six chub and a few grayling I was well happy with my efforts.
And even the angling gods where shining on me as the chub where well behaved for their photo shoot although the fading light did affect the quality of the picture
As I write this blog tonight the hail is battering at my door and a quick check of the river levels tells me it is going to take a the rain to stop all together in the next day or so for there to be any chance of a trip to the river this weekend coming and if I am honest I really can’t see it myself so it could mean something different next week for the blog I am off work for my birthday towards the end of this week so I may take the short trip to my local Bridgewater canal in search of some jack pike but at this moment nothing is certain.
Till next week
Its tight lines from me and tight lines from this rubbery lipped chub