This week saw the publication of an article in the Angling Times rag of the 30lb pike caught from the River Mersey which is sure to arouse more attention to this once severely polluted waterway. Reading the article you get a sense of the lengths specimen anglers will go to for their quarry from crawling on his belly through brambles to the monetary costs of breaking five rods in the process not to mention the hours he spent each week fishing this spot for its giant resident.
Living on the banks of the River Mersey myself you always hear stories on the grapevine and in this last year alone I have heard nothing but positives from this local river which come from the full length of its course from salmon running the river higher up, 40lb plus weights coming out in matches in Warrington, 20lb plus carp being caught and even the estuary is making a comeback with numerous anglers now sea fishing from Spike island in Widnes all this bodes well for the future and who knows in a few years time I may not have to travel to Wales for a good days dace fishing, fingers crossed!!!
On to this week’s fishing which I am really pleased to say was back on the River!!! (finally!!)
With the weather settling and the rain that had caused our rivers to flood now reduced to a few small showers the River Dee finally showed some sign of falling a process that would take a few days of little rain to be any where near fishable by the next weekend. Every morning I tentatively pulled back the curtains and prayed there had been no overnight heavy downpours and religiously checked the EA site to track the waters decent. Thursday morning came and still no rain and the river levels had dropped to around 6.5m at Farndon, al level I knew would still be tough fishing but was definitely fishable and with frosts due the next day and all weekend I hastily booked the following day off work with a view to fishing Farndon the next morning, all that stood between that was a gruelling overtime shift in work till 7.30pm!!.
Red clear sky at 4pm from work window confirmed I was in for a bitter cold calm on the bank.
Thursday night was taken up preparing my hemp and creating a few hook lengths for the following day but it is a task I now have come to love as it means fishing the following morning and this week it was a day earlier than normal, rigs prepared and hemp cooling I was all set for a day on the river the following morning.
The alarm clock ringing in my ear at 6am was regrettably not put back on a 10 minute snooze and it was closer to 7am when I left my house for the river bank and was undoubtedly an error that would see me not getting a peg on such a busy stretch of river. The whole journey there down the motorway I refused to let myself even think about what lay ahead as to not be disappointed when I arrived but to my amazement I pulled into an empty car park when I arrived at Farndon and was a sight that could only mean two things either one the river was fishing poorly or two the cold sharp frost that hit on Friday had seen a few anglers turn over and give it a miss.
I pulled up in a peg that although wasn’t the best peg on the beat was one that would allow me to fish comfortably and that is exactly what I was looking for on such a bitterly cold day. My first view of the river took me back as she looked to have a bit more water in that I expected but once I saw the peg I realised it wasn’t so bad with it just covering the bottom step.
With the first step out of bounds this would normally have seen me standing for the entire session on the next step up but with my new seat box I could easily fit the first four legs on the second step and have the foot plate legs extended down onto bottom step and made for a really comfortable days fishing sat trotting the river, worth the purchase already in my eyes.
The river itself was like ice with not a breath of wind to cause any problems with presentation and although the main flow was moving at some pace as the rain water filed off the water in front of me was at a more manageably pace so I decided to scrap the heavy 5gram bolo float I had intended to use and went with a much more sensitive stick float dotted right down to detect the slightest most delicate of bites.
During the first part of the session there was a lot of commotion from peg 1 closest to the bridge and upon investigating I found out it was the Environment Agency removing the debris that had got lodged behind the arches of the bridge in the recent floods and great to see them hard at work so soon after the floods have subsided. The commotion caused by the operation was as expected loud but the speed at which they worked was outstanding and certainly earned my praises and within an hour had completed their job and packed away.
The fishing from the off was like any other recent visit to farndon, fast and furious, with bites coming in quick succession as the fish held over my hemp offerings and as time wore on the quality of the fish improved and saw me taking the fish below a chunky roach that was holding in the inside slack. The inside line produced some decent fish through out the session but trotting that line was lined with danger as there was a hook length stealing snag lying on the bed of the river that greedily took three hook lengths off me in the space of an hour and although that line produced some decent roach I quickly decided to go with the line further out that was producing small dace.
Not long after this roach I was happily fishing away when out of the corner of my eye I caught the sight of two men walking along the top of the path in suits, very unusual I thought as the location I was fishing in farndon is more accustomed to fishermen, ramblers and dog walkers and I just thought they where looking at the derelict houses that line the fishing at Farndon and carried on with my fishing.
A few more roach and dace came to the net when I heard the guy on the peg next to me speaking to someone about these two people in suits and as she walked past the top of my peg I realised it was a police woman who had been talking to him and with that all hell broke loose with two police cars turning up and coppers getting out with sniffer dogs followed by the police helicopter arriving overhead and methodically flying low above our heads and the surrounding village. I remember thinking whatever they have done it must be serious and I must admit I was just glad I had decided against going the loo a few minutes earlier!!!!
The helicopter seemed to stick around for what seemed like and age just scouring the area and as the commotion was taking place towards the end of the stretch I got back to my fishing that had hit a mixed patch as the bites where more scrappy as if the fish where darting in and out of the peg for the bait and I also remember looking down at my keep net to see all my catch up in the net and this is always a sure fire sign that there is a pike down there somewhere.
The distance I was trotting was improving cast on cast to try and search the fish out and after around 20-30 minutes without a bite I eventually hooked into a decent dace right at the bottom of the trot and just as it was coming into sight from nowhere a pike nailed it and slowly headed into the depths. The pike was solid on the bottom of the river and there was nothing I could do with it every time I got it half way up in the water column it made a strong run back to the bottom and was on the line for 5-10 minutes before it spat the bait out, as you can see from the video below it was a decent pike judging by the bend in the rod.
In these scenarios I never get too confident and reach for the net as 99 times out of 100 the pike will either bite through your line or let go of the fish and that can be at any time in the fight even at the point where you have it on top beat!! Only rarely does the hook transfer from the fish into the pike and hook somewhere its teeth cant cut through the line and you get them in. The dace was a right mess when I finally got it in.
The pike during the fight really did cover the whole of my peg and to be honest the fishing never really recovered I did catch steadily through out the day but nothing like I had at the start and the fish never really got their heads down over the bait again and as the day wound on the fish in fact came up in the water and had I packed my pole I am sure I would have had them one a chuck on the drop.
Below are the final pictures of the nets and of course they never do them justice.
Below are the final pictures of the nets and of course they never do them justice.
All in all it was a very enjoyable day on the bank and was so good to be back on the river again, canals are great places and my time on them in the past few weeks produced some lovely pike but the rivers just hold that magic about them that is so addictive.
I nipped out on Sunday for a few hours with my uncle to another stretch on the dee that fished well in the summer and really struggled but what we where treated to was a visit form the resident swans from summer with their nearly fledged cygnets. Any one that followed this blog back at the start of summer will appreciate this following picture as the small family we met on a warm summer morning has come through the rough and smooth one the river and come out the other side, a sight that warmed up even the coldest morning on the bank.
till next time
p.s searched high and low for what the guys in suits had done on local news but turned up nothing.