A warm welcome to this week’s blog update and boy what a weekend on the bank it proved to be and I am still buzzing from it now, that’s the magic of fishing it can bring the angler so much joy and happiness, yes its nice being around the great wildlife the north west of England has to offer but nothing beats that feeling of achievement after a red letter day on the bank. Another milestone also passed by with last week’s post in that it was my 100th blog post!! It only seems like yesterday to me I was an avid reader of all the great blogs on Blogspot and now I am 100 posts into my personal blogging life, madness and surreal and all I can do is thank you all for reading my updates and I hope you all enjoy reading them as much I enjoy writing them.
I start this week’s update by covering a program that aired for the first time this week on the Quest Channel called Fishing in the Footsteps of Mr Crabtree (http://mrcrabtreegoesfishing.com/ ). There are 6 episodes to the series that will show weekly at 9pm on a Thursday evening and they will cover all aspects of our sport from pike fishing to river fishing, the opening week was devoted the fish of spring, the teddy bear eyed tench.
The program stars John Bailey as host as he takes a different child under his wing each week hoping to teach them the ways of Mr Crabtree. I have long said on my blog that it worries me how many new anglers to our sport only know how to fish with a heavy lead and a bite alarm, many times on the bank I get speaking to young people in our sport who have never fished a float, don’t get me wrong this is not me preaching but more me disappointed as it as such a shame that the art of float fishing a canal say for roach and perch is fast becoming a dying art and a young kid’s first fish these days is just as likely to be a 5lb carp than a perch of a few ounces and I just feel you have more appreciation for the bigger species like carp when you have spent time catching the smaller fish.
This program see’s John and Sam stalking the margins of a pond for tench kitted out with a rod and a centrepin reel fishing under the rod tip using old fashioned tactics tweaked with the best the modern day has to offer to fool these shy fish. It took me right back to the days before I started writing my blog when I used to fish a lovely tench water on the Warrington Anglers card called Cicely Mill, at only a few feet deep and reed lined margins I used to fish with my centrpin right under the tip of my 13ft float rod for these lovely fish. In review I thought the show was fantastic and a breath of fresh air to the very stagnant TV fishing series of late and it really didn’t surprise me to see the greats of our sport like Matt Hayes publically complementing the series on Twitter. I think it did exactly what it intended to do from the outset in taking people back to their childhood and open the eyes of the younger anglers to our sport to the joys of float fishing, it certainly ticked box one with myself and I can only hope box two was ticked with a few youngsters and I really can’t wait this week’s instalment on the rivers, 10 out of 10.
This week on the banks of the Dee went to show why it is important to be polite and friendly on the bank to the people you meet as I had a very special fish capture as you will see in the update later on but my electronic fishing scales packed up on me and I had no means to get a weight for a fish that was obviously a personal best. I walked along the bank to ask another angler if I could borrow their scales and on approaching the peg I realised it was a fellow I had had lengthy chats with last winter and he had no hesitation in lending me his scales. It just goes to show treat others as you would like to be treated and be polite and it will always have its benefits later on down the road, far too often people on the bank can give you the cold shoulder and be ignorant and there really is no need for it, thankfully on the river Dee they are very few and far between.
The result of this was this week I decided to invest in some new scales that don’t require batteries, I will get the old one up and running as a backup but inspecting these ones below I am already more than made up with them.
On to this week’s fishing and although it all happened in one day I will split it into two halves, the day session and the short “on the way home” session.
River Dee Day Session:- TROTTING FOR DACE
Last week I fell really ill with this vomiting bug that has been going round and it really knocked me off my feet so much so I was off work from the Wednesday and spent the majority of my days either in bed or in the bathroom. Friday came along and it began to feel as if the worst of this bug had passed and late on Friday evening I “perched” myself at my desk and watched while the thick snow began to fall out of the window of our house. The snow fell and fell and fell and eventually became so thick it blanketed the whole of our car park in a good foot of so of snow. I wrapped the blog up around 12.30 and gave my uncle a call as to whether it was sensible to go ahead with our trip to the river the next day, a quick chat and we decided the trip was off.
This decision was made, not because of the conditions being too bad to fish in but the fact that my dad and uncle both live down on streets that are on quite steep hills and with us leaving under the cover of darkness it would be really dangerous for me to travel in the conditions alone, not to mention we didn’t know how bad the conditions were in Wales.
With no fishing on the agenda I tried my best to have a lie in but it didn’t materialise at all and I was sat in my living room checking out the river Dee water levels at 5am. It would seem that I wasn’t alone in my early morning vigil as I received a text around an hour and half later from my uncle saying how mild it looked outside, a quick glance out of my window and he was right the snow was thawing and it was very mild. It took us a matter of minutes to change our minds and I was already in my fishing gear before I the phone left my ear and I quickly swallowed a few ibuprofen tablets and made a beeline for my mobile igloo, also known to many as a car.
The roads locally were treacherous and my head and body were aching more and more as the journey to my dad’s continued, this was a bad idea but looking at the EA chart I knew the river would certainly flood for the next week at least and this could feasibly be our last chance to get out on the river for a few weeks, the opportunity was there today we just had to take it.
Driving the river in the daylight is not something I am normally accustomed too and with our final destination being a popular stretch of the river we hoped the harsh conditions over night would see a few people turn over when there alarm clock went off. Pulling into the car park the stretch was empty except for two cars right at the top end of the beat so we settled on two relatively open pegs that we knew would hold some dace.
In last week’s update I went into detail about my general set up for trotting the river and this week I decided to try and add another string to my bow by using a Bolo float and fishing a lot further out than I normally would. These floats are traditionally fished with a bulk shot a few feet above your hook and I decided to go with this set up and used an ollivette to make up my bulk shot weight. This style of fishing is generally used to fish a third to half way across the river so it would also see me using a piece of tackle I don’t normally use on the river and that’s a catapult.
Getting used to flicking the line out tangle free and baiting the hook without the float wrapping round the blank of the rod took what seemed like an eternity to get right but eventually I began to get to terms with it and managed to get a few decent trots through the swim. The main problem I encountered was the swim was noticeably shallower just past my bed of hemp which made it really hard to get a decent presentation and to further my problems I was also struggling to cast in and feed the line with the catapult whilst letting line run from the reel to allow the float to still run through the swim.
With the wind coming down the river I decided to pull my line in to the end of the tree to my right, this had two benefits, one I gained control as it was closer in and two the maggots where going straight down so it meant I could trot a small distance in front of me and get bites.
Doing this soon saw me picking up the odd dace but all of a sudden the swim died and did so for around 10 minutes, I decided to persevere and I was so glad I did as not long after casting in the float buried and I was into a fish that was in another league all together.
The fish made lunge after lunge for the safety of the snags to my left but I was determined not to lose this fish like I had done the better fish I had hooked into in previous weeks. I am sure the new reel had a part to play in me winning the fight as it helped to cushion and control the fish’s powerful lunges where I feel the unforgiving nature of the closed faces drag would have seen me snap off on one of the final lunges the fish made. In my head I thought it was a nice chub, which have been rumoured to be in the area, but what came to the surface was something altogether more rewarding, a big perch and the person who said nothing looks bigger than a big perch certainly knew there stuff, I was shaking with the sight of what was in my landing net, definitely a new personal best.
The fish was put into the keep net so I could have another admiring look at the end of the session, the scales returned I spent a good hour chewing the fat with the guy who lent me the scales and both shared our knowledge of the Dee and the surrounding rivers. I eventually got back to the trotting and settled in for an afternoons trotting and between 12 and 3pm I put together a respectable net of 10lb including the perch. Not my best session on the float but considering I was on the bolo float I was more than made up.
My uncle had a solid days dace fishing with bites coming all day long and he ended with an outstanding net of 16lb of all dace, a more than respectable day’s work and would have actually put him joint top with the winning weight in the Dee anglers match on the other bank.
As many of the blogs followers on facebook will know I have been experimenting recently with an app called Instagram on my iphone and I am really impressed with some of the changes you can make to pictures, I was more than made up with what it allowed me to do to my perch picture, I feel it really brings out the fishes colours.
Going with the flow of the day – a bit of opportunistic piking
With there still a decent amount of light left and the fact we knew this would probably be our last trip to the river Dee in the next few weeks we quickly rounded up a few live baits in a bucket and set off to see if I could achieve my goal of a pike in the snow, after no activity all day again at our current location I was far from optimistic, but one thing I did know was if I was going to get a pike today the place we were heading was as good as anywhere.
Parked up I made my way to the spot and with freezing cold and shivering hands I baited up my rig, said a little prayer to the fish gods and cast out into the murky depths. The float danced on the surface as the fish plodded around under its surface and then it settled into a rhythmic motion almost as if the lapping of the waves agitated the dace into motion.
In a blink of an eye the float descended into the depths and I struck into what felt at first a small jack pike, that was till it realised the dace it had just engulfed wasn’t heading into its lair as easily as it would have liked and that’s when I felt the full power of this pike as it made a strong run. I was using my braided line for the first time and I have to say it left me in full control of this pike, I always felt I had power in reserve and whereas before I used to give the pike some drag this allowed me to firmly apply pressure to the pike so it remained in front of me and before I knew it I had my winter snow pike, I didn’t weight the fish as it was not a record breaking fish but I knew by holding it the fish was easily around the 10lb mark.
With the light fading fast I didn’t have long to try for another fish so I quickly got my pictures so I had time to hold the pike in the margins and let it rest fully, again this rumour that pike are a hardy fish is just that a rumour, we should really limit their time out of the water as much as possible, get our photos and rest them fully before releasing them, it is amazing how long a pike, that fights so aggressively will lie in the margins with you holding their peacefully before giving their big paddle a lazy kick and moving off.
The pike released I moved back into my swim and chanced my luck for another pike and I was not to be disappointed as after only a few seconds the float went for another soaking as it descended, this time towards the snags!! This was going to test thr line for sure so I quickly struck and applied as much side strain as I dared and I was amazed how the line gave me the strength to turn what was a decent pike and which turned out to be slightly bigger than the previous one. My target was one pike in the snow, two pike had me in dreamland, a dream land surrounded by a winter wonderland.
The pike is more than equipped for its role in the food chain.
That was it for the action and we reluctantly left the banks, a personal best perch and two pike around the 10lb mark, I still can’t believe I am catching pike of this size regularly and taking them in my stride, a few years ago a fish of around 10lb would have been a dream fish but I never take them for granted in my mind I know we are only a pollution incident or fish disease away from this great river going up in smoke, the fishing on the dee right now is up there with anything I see in the weekly rags and long may it continue, I am proud to be a River Dee angler.
my second home:
This weekend, if the conditions hold, we have a new destination on the cards, it’s a brand new fishing destination for us and will be a whole new learning curve, we may well blank, in fact I am sure there will be more than the odd blank as we learn this new place.
Till next week tight lines from one happy angler,