A year ago this week a conversation between me and a colleague from work took place on our afternoon break, the topic of which centred around his blog about the sights and sounds he and his companion max, the German shepherd, experienced whilst on there long walks of a weekend. The conversation soon took a more humorous note when the conversation turned to me starting a blog about my adventures on the bank, that evening the thought stayed with me so much so I began to develop the beginning of the blog you now see before you and I am so glad I made that decision to do so.
Writing a blog can be tough at times as any blogger will tell you and there are times when even after a decent day on the bank it’s difficult to know where to start but when I started to write this blog I set myself two rules, one to update my blog weekly and two to update no matter what I had caught to give a true representation of what my angling life is truly like. The last thing I wanted was my blog to be, like so many seem to be, just about blogging about the good times when they come along and as any angler knows fishing just isn’t like that and I hope my blog this year has shown the highs and lows that we all experience throughout our angling year
This year looking back has easily been the best angling year of my life there has been so many new experiences and firsts for me. This year saw me fishing a commercial fishery for the first time, opening my eyes to what potential these places have for anglers after a hectic days fishing with lots of bites, not long after this I purchased my first ever proper fishing pole and had some great days sport on both commercials and local natural ponds. One experience that will stick with me this year was the capture of my first ever barbel from the my local River Dee, a challenge that I thought would take me hours of angling on the bank but in reality was something I was lucky enough to achieve on my first attempt.
I have always said angling is so much more than catching fish and like the Bernard Cribbins so famously said “it is just an excuse for being there!!” The banks of both rivers and still waters have been kind this year allowing me to share some special moments with the creatures that call its place home, so many special moments where experienced this year on the banks and I only wished I had been able to capture the moments of film for the blog. The graceful Buzzards that soar over the fields and the lightning fast kingfishers now seem to be just part and parcel of a day on the river bank and how easily the wildest of wildlife find it to come so close to us still baffles me.
Throughout the past year many families of swans have made an appearance on the weekly blog on all manner of waters but none really stick in my mind as much as the family we met last spring on a warm day on the river Dee, clearly only days out of the nest they made their way past me only feet away from me and was one of those experiences that stays with you, how ironic that this week fishing the same spot and as the blog comes full circle that the same family should seek me out at a stage where the two cygnets that made it this far looked ready to fledge and leave their family group, deep down I just know it’s the last time I will see them together and in my own way would like to think this was their farewell to me.
Summer continued to push on with regular visits to the commercial and trips learning the art of trotting on the Dee and this year I have been guilty of spending too much time trotting and not enough time targeting other species but it really is a branch of our sport that has really captured me and I must admit to have become a bit obsessed with chasing the shoals or silver darts that reside in the gentle glides on this most majestic of rivers. The best of these days has to be the 17lb bag of dace I caught on the Dee a few months ago and still is the bench mark I mark any sessions against now, individually the dace below has to make as my best river capture this year, how much I wish I had weighed this obvious specimen.
As the year moved from summer to autumn and the rivers received their first proper drink in a while the intimate River Dane took my eye and with that came the lovely capture of the following net of chub which was a day that saw both my dad and uncle all on the bank together and even if we hadn’t caught that day it would still have gone down as a great day on the bank as we all had some great fun chasing the chub that day and it holds plenty of happy memories. Around this time we also made a fleeting visit to the River Severn, a river that will certainly feature this summer as we chase the barbell and chub, on the subject of chub the best fish this year to feature on the blog that I didn’t catch has got to belong to my uncles 6lb 110z chub he caught on that sole visit to the Severn, a colossal fish and some of you may have seen this capture feature in the angling times section where you send your own pictures in a few weeks ago.
The winter never really truly arrived in my eyes until the last few weeks but with the river high with rain water we were forced onto the canals in search of action; little did we know what the pike had in store for us, greedily gulping down fish as we brought them in!! The next week I went armed and managed to land my first double figure pike in quite some time!!
All in all this year has been really good to me in the fishing stakes and if next year equals it I will be a happy man indeed!! Life of course, away from fishing, will have a say over the next coming months with the expected arrival of our first child but I am determined to keep the blog going in its current format of weekly updates and hope you all continue to follow us as we began a whole new year of discovery on waters old a new and believe me we already have a few plans up our sleeves regarding some new venues and targets which I will be discussing over the next few weeks as the river season comes to a close.
On to this week’s fishing……
This week I arrived at a popular spot on the river Dee with a few pegs still spare but I decided to try something different and chose to chase the lady of the stream, the grayling. This fish is one of the most beautifully marked fish in the river and for their size I doubt there is a fish that can match their strong fighting ability, the river higher up towards Bala is rumoured to be the possible place of the next record but as a person that is not out to catch the biggest fish in the pond I see their presence in the river as a signal of just how far the river has come from the catastrophic fish kill a few years ago a true sign the river is as clean as it can be.
I also decided to divert away from my usual trotting tactics and target these fish on the feeder rod with a simple set up of a Drennan maggot feeder loaded with hemp and caster and a long took length to a size 18 hook with castor as bait. I chose a spot where I had caught a few grayling before so I was confident of a bite or two but also knew that there would be nowhere near as many bite as I had experienced the past few weeks trotting and set my target at catching one decent grayling.
The feeder was cast time after time at the same spot as to try and build up a steady stream of crunchy castors for the fish to home in on and it was well into the morning before I connected with my first grayling and what a beauty it was.
Back in and the wait for my next bite began, over time catching many small grayling in the many streams that feed the Dee I have noticed that the smaller grayling seem to stick around and are not spooked by you capturing their buddies but the bigger grayling are a different animal and once one is captured it can often take some time to snare another and it was well into the afternoon I landed my second grayling of the day, not as big as the first but still a nice size fish.
You will notice I used my keep net here to hold the fish and it can be quite a controversial subject due to the fact that grayling give their all in the fish and can often go belly up in the net. My advice would be that if you are fishing in a situation where you can’t wade out and hold the fish in the net to recover then you should find a place to return the fish where you can hold them to recover and not put them in your net. When I know I am going to be putting grayling in my net I always wade our and pin my net top and bottom in the flow to make sure water is always flowing through the net so the fish has plenty of oxygenated water as they would in the swims we catch them from, fish welfare should always be paramount and that doesn’t just got for big carp and barbell, all fish deserve our respect and should be treated so.
No more grayling came to my castor tactics and all too soon my time on the bank was up for another week and I ended the session by feeding the swans with the bread I had brought to try and tempt a chub earlier on in the session.
Till next week