This week I have been catching up on the blog’s I follow and one thing that has been consistent in some of them, apart form the fish of course, is the amount of locations that have had recent pollution problems on them!! It is a sad state of affairs when the biggest problem to a fish population is so avoidable some of the figures mentioned on one of the reports was of a tiny stream that had a pollution incident in 2010 with an estimated fish kill of up to 22,000 fish, thankfully the angler in question went on to catch a few specimen chub for that river that is showing now thankfully showing signs of coming through the other end.
The Angling community at the moment is full of reports of what damage natural predators like cormorants, signal crayfish and otters are doing to fish stocks and rightly fully so but pollution by companies is a completely different kettle of fish all together. The polluting of a river coarse will kill all types of species along the river banks as well as all generations of fish from this years fry to the old war horse of a chub that has got to his size by being cunning and avoiding all the natural predators, unfortunately the polluting of his water is something he cant escape.
The answer, in my eyes, is simple increase the fines that these companies face for committing such vile and in some cases pre meditated crimes, hit them where it hurts them most, in their pockets!! Some of the fines that are handed out are about as much deterrent as a modern day footballer feels from the fines they receive, pocket money. As you can probably tell this is a subject I feel deeply on and as much as I get into a rant it’s a problem that can so easy de avoided in most cases.
On to this weeks fishing
The river season is now meandering its way slowly to its close for another year and as luck would have it the last few weeks of its course has seen an influx of case into work leading to an abundance of overtime which at this time of my life I cannot afford to turn down. This has meant my river wings have been clipped the past few weeks to just one session a week which have the past few weeks been concentrated on the River Dee and this week was no different. The amount of visits to the Dee has meant my mind has been ever increasingly wandering to the small and intimate river Dane and the crafty wild chub that inhabit its overhanging trees and submerged snags and a trip to this river is more than over due.
I hope to grace the banks of this river in the not too distant future and I am toying with the idea of setting up in one swim or adopting a more mobile approach with just a bag of essential bits and a trotting and feeder set up, searching out the shy shoals of chub and grayling. With Annual leave in work now being at a premium with the future arrival of our baby to consider it is a tough to justify taking a day’s annual leave to go fishing but as all anglers know fishing is like a bug that burns deep within and never truly leaves us through out the day and I can see me giving into the temptation of a days fishing on this most beautiful of rivers in the not to distant future, no will power what so ever lol.
The adventures on the Dane will wait for another day but as I said earlier it was the River Dee that again lured us in this weekend with the promise of a bag of pristine silver darts and the hope of an ever elusive chub. We found ourselves arriving on the banks at an insanely mad time and wasted no time waiting for first light as we set up out pegs in nature’s torch, the moonlight. Some tasks of course need the intervention of some unnatural light, one such job being threading the line through the eyes in your rod and for this we used the headlights of the car. You really know you have got the fishing bug when you as stood in a freezing cold car park painstakingly trying to thread the thinnest of lines through your eyes in the light of you head lamps while the sensible anglers all sat back in their cars waiting for first light.
Having fished this peg a few times before I knew exactly where I would be trotting so began to introduce some bait while I was setting up thinking it cant do any harm to have a few waiting for me when I would finally be ready to trot through. Rod set up and no sign of first light I can categorically say that there is only one thing more crazy than setting up in the head lamps and that’s trying to plumb up and trot using the natural light of the moon, crazy!!.
The first few trots down of the morning where full of anticipation, knowing the form of the peg and the fact I had been trickling feed in for a good half an hour but alas nothing was forthcoming apart from a few tiny dips on the float. Not long into the session the water in front of me came alive with fish topping all over obviously feeding of some type of food source coming down in the flow and believe me this is never a good sign when you are planning on catching fish on the bottom for obvious reasons.
The float was trundling through like a dream and I was mystified as to why I wasn’t having the rod dragged in, the flow, depth and clarity all where perfect and I was completely stumped as to why the fish seem to absent from this location. It all became a lot clearer when the float buried not long after casting in and was solid straight away on the strike, bottom I thought until the line started moving slowly out into the middle of the river, it could only be one of three things a decent chub or perch or a pike and after what seemed like an eternity of a fight involving my new Abu 706 reel breaking the line flew back at me, cut clean. Pike in the swim in the first hour of a session is bad enough never mind a pike swimming around the swim hooked I knew there and then the rest of the session would be tough.
The reel breaking really did annoy me, it is no more than a few months old and well maintained and half way through the right I was actually gaining on the pike and reeling in and then as I was reeling the reeling in function on the reel just stuck and would not reel in ant more line, the line was not under a great deal of pressure as i was fishing with a 1lb 7oz hook length so that tells you how little pressure I could had exerted on the line without it breaking on me. I must admit to being really disappointed in this as my uncle has also recently has his reel that is now out of warrantee break on him. I will be contacting the company I purchased it off and hoping to get a replacement.
So after all the enthusiasm of setting up early and doing everything by the book I was now left with a broken reel and the prospect of setting up from scratch. Times like these I always do one thing and that’s take 5 minutes away and go and have a brew and this usually sees me coming back replenished with enthusiasm and today was no different I quickly set up and it wasn’t long before I was back in business trotting away but still with little result till a rare capture for me made an appearance in the form of a perch.
I don’t know what it is about river fish but they seem to have more vibrant colours than their still water counterparts in my experience and this perch was no different the stripes where so dark and it just looked the part and even held its spiny dorsal up for the camera. This is probably down to the clarity of the river and the fact that most of the still waters I fish are quite coloured.
The day moved slowly on and had a weird type of rhythm to it with one or two dace coming quickly followed by nothing for 10-15 minutes then a few more fish and nothing again and the fish really lacked the standard I was expecting and a lot of the time the fish where small fry.
The sky in the distance over Chester was jet black and with the wind blowing in my face I knew we where in for some bad weather and you could literally see the rain and hail coming up the river towards us and when it hit it really did hot hard with hail and heavy rain battering down, brolly’s appeared from all quarters on all the other pegs and the ferocious wind began to swirl causing me to momentarily make grabs for the umbrella pole to keep it sturdy.
I looked down toward my hook to re-bait with another caster and I couldn’t believe my eyes what I saw in front of me, a salmon battered from spawning making its was slowly back out to sea. I have seen these fish throughout the year leaping clear of the water on their way upstream and this lonely fish was a shadow of those earlier on in the year and this fish just goes to show how much effort these fish exert in the journey to reproduce and I have to say what a welcome sight it was to see the fish not only running the river but returning back to sea again to come back in a few more years to reproduce again and it can only be a good thing for the river as a whole.
Not long after this salmon moved on and during the worst of the weather I connected with possibly the best silver fish of the day in a fin perfect roach. The river does have some nice shoals of roach and the challenge is finding them as they come and go with the wind, a peg that can produce a decent weight of roach one day can be completely devoid of them the very next as if they where never even there.
The weather, as aggressive as it was, passed as quickly as it arrived and we where then basked in complete sunshine and was one of those days had it snowed we would have had all the seasons in one day a really unusual day on the bank.
My expectations of the day where of dace, dace and more dace but it just goes to show you never know with the river and that is where a bit of the magic with rivers lies, you just never know what you are going to catch next and the next fished proved that more than any other. The float buried and straight away I connected with a fish that was jumping clear of the water producing some amazing aerobatics to loose the hook and put up a very good account for itself, the fish, a trout was the quite possibly the last species I expected to make an appearance on the day but was most welcome and added even more variety to the day.
With the silver fishing being a bit on and off and already had some pike activity in my swim I decided to spend the afternoon trying for a pike and put my trotting rod to one side and set up a live baiting rig. Live baiting for pike is a controversial way of fishing for pike but in my opinion there is no more deadly method on the river than a live fish.
Live baiting if you are doing it correctly should allow you to return the bait afterwards if of course the pike doesn’t show up. I usually hook one treble through the top lip and just nick the other into the fishes back but in a way it leaves no lasting damage should no pike be forth coming, which can be the case some times.
The live bait out I enjoyed a relaxed day sat back having a cup of coffee and feeding the birds with some of the maggots I had left and after weeks trotting on the river it was really good to just sit back and take it all in and its amazing the things you see.
The float was lying calm in the slack and I began to think maybe it wasn’t a pike why the fishing was so off and half an hour turned to an hour but I persevered with it and all of a sudden the pike bung began to dance up on down on the surface and make its way slowly into the middle of the river, I gave it a few second and set the hook and one thing you can guarantee with a pike is one hell of a fight and boy did this pike fight hard.
The drag on the reel I had preset to allow the pike to take line but not snap me and it was working a treat as the line drained effortlessly from the spool and the sort action of my pike rod cushioned its hard determined lunges for the safety of the snags on the bottom of the river. Eventually the pike saw my side of the argument and slowly slinked its way defiantly into the landing net.
I am not an angler who is interested really in weights of fish, of course if I catch one that’s really big I will weigh it but most of the time I can judge the weight of fish well and I estimated this one to be around the 8 or 9lb mark and really made what was a tough hard day on the bank really worth while what with the broken reel and horrible weather.
I released the fish back into the river and decided to chance my arm for another one and decided to try another swim with a sunken tree in it which just screamed pike to me earlier on in the day. The bait was only in the water 5 or 10 minutes when the float shot under and I connected with a fish that was no where near in the same league as the previous one and unfortunately it spat the hooks early on in the fight. A shame really as it would have been nice to catch two pike for my efforts but alas it wasn’t to be.
Pike fishing is something I have done all my life really and I must admit those few hours on Saturday has given me a taste for it and I will certainly be spending a few more afternoons after these lovely fish before the river season closes and maybe after if we get a cold snap in March or June.
The nets on the day where not the best, my uncle having the better day when he finally got them going in the last few hours but that’s fishing isn’t it and it
Till next time
I wish you tight lines