Friday, 22 February 2013

Quality Over Quantity On the River Ribble

Welcome to this week’s blog update and I doubt I have ever sat down to write an update for this blog feeling so emotional about its content.  The introduction to my weekly blog has covered a wide variety of issues over the past two years, some that affect me directly and some I can only hope never will.  This introduction was due to be about the changes I have seen in the past week in regards the seasons changing and wildlife and was supposed to be a nice, relaxing and pleasant to celebrate the fact we are slowly beginning to move out of the worst winter I can remember, that all changed on Wednesday evening as I received news about the fact Warrington Anglers had lost a stretch of the River Dee that holds such a magical place in my heart.

All anglers have venues and places that hold dear to themselves,  a special capture or the sight of an early morning mist lingering ghostly over the water’s surface can be only a few reasons a place can become special to an angler, the stretch Warrington have just lost was that stretch for me.  It was the place I first cut my teeth on the "proper" river having started my angling life on one of the small tributaries of the Dee and I will never forget that first walk to the river the grass glistening with dew and the smell of fresh flowing water in the air and the only sound to be heard was the gentle soothing sound of water flowing over shallow gravel, I blanked that day as I did so many times on this venue whilst learning its moods and hot spots but it was always a pleasure to explore its mystical depths.

This location also put me in contact with some of the nicest, genuine anglers I have ever met Gordon Munro, gave me a pint of his maggots he had left over at this venue on only our second time bumping into each other, Gordon Ashton, barbel expert, spent a good 2 hours showing me the ropes on how to fish for barbel here and I also remember fondly long chats had this year with Richard Jones and Neil, all genuine river men who were a credit to this sport and a credit to Warrington Anglers and this venue.

Unfortunately these people, like myself, my Dad and Uncle and all the other genuine river men who I didn’t have the privilege to meet will all now have to suffer the pain of losing a stretch we all hold so dear and its all because of the actions of a minority of so called anglers that don’t have the decency to go about their sport in a respectable manner.  I heard rumours about 6 months ago that WAA where to lose this stretch due to so called anglers making noise and driving around the fields as if it were a rally track on the opening weekend at an obscene hour, thank you so much for your actions, well done!, you are a disgrace to the club and the sport, I am a firm believer in what comes around goes around, we can only hope.

In my mind I don’t think these people where serious river men as I remember that weekend fondly, after all it was the magical June the 16th, the opening of the season and a day I had waited 3 months for.  I distinctly remember it as I remember being frustrated that it rained the whole week before and actually put the River Dee into full flood and unfishable, no serious river man would have even considered fishing a river in such a state, never mind driving a car around the saturated fields, the car parks on this stretch are clearly marked out as well so a clear sign or disrespect and appalling behaviour.

One or two people have pointed the finger at the residents but in reality how can they be blamed, if the shoe was on the other foot I certainly would not have been happy at all.  I am feeling a mixture of emotions at the moment an unrelenting feeling of loss mixed with bouts of happy memories and annoyance that the stretch has been lost for something that should never ever be a problem!!  Maybe the WAA is too cheap to purchase and thus opens it up to the non-desirable people of this world who think they can treat everyone with disrespect and abuse. 
For me personally, I have spent countless hours researching this venues past history and more hours than I care to remember fishing this venue and learning the good spots to fish, not only that but when writing a weekly blog you have plan your future trips weeks in advance and I had already drawn up plans of what I wanted to try on this venue in the coming season, all now a waste of time.
What this will do is make me refocus and go again on another venue, I WILL find other spots and other locations to find these special fish and I WILL put in as much effort as this venue to succeed, onwards and upwards.

River Ribble – “Quality not quantity”

We have fished the River Dee now for around two years solid and over that time we have begun to learn her moods and how she fishes in different conditions, looking at the EA chart on Friday for the River Dee we knew she would be a tad too high for us to try seriously and would also be carrying a fair amount of colour so we decided to move out attention elsewhere.  The river Ribble was looking good but with only one trip to her under our belt we had no idea what conditions we would be arriving too but she was dropping and had a day or two where she had continuously fell so we decided to travel through on Sunday for a second visit in 3 weeks.

Before that visit I had a date with work as I had put my name down for some overtime on the Saturday and on the way in I crossed paths with a sight that screamed one thing to me, spring! As I turned the roundabout towards my work I had to slam on the breaks hard as right in front of me stood without a care in the world, in the middle of the road was a duck and two drakes.  These animals starting to compete for females is a small sign there is change on the way and after the winter we have just endured it is not a minute too soon.

With my endurance and patience tested to the max on overtime it was time for some relaxation and it was with great excitement we headed off to the river Ribble.  We arrived at our chosen destination and began to set up using my new lamp from Sports direct that I am reviewing to set up in the dark and first impression are its great value for money but more on that in another blog post.

Regular readers of this blog will be looking at the above picture and thinking they had stumbled on to the wrong blog but I assure you that your eyes are not deceiving you, that is ground bait on my side tray.  I arrived at the river with a plan and that was to fish a closed cap feeder on maggot ground bait and hemp.  My uncle being a good float man was determined to stick to his guns and prove you can catch close in on this river.

I made a few quick casts to get some bait down and then left the feeder a bit longer and it was not long before the tip of my Shimano purist rod rattled round and I was into the first fish of the day a small dace.   This dace was quickly followed by a small roach and a few more dace before I missed a real wrap round of a bite that just had to have been from a better fish, I was gutted but at least I was doing better than I had last week.  I re-baited my feeder and back out it went, at this point we were a good hour or so into the session but it felt like it had gone by so fast.

The fact I had not fished the feeder much really showed, when I got the cast right i was normally rewarded with a bite but those cast’s where few and far between and it showed in my keepnet.  My uncle was starting to pick up a few fish on his float line and it was noticeable the fish fed in spurts before moving off and then moving back in very slowly a few more fish and the process was repeated.  It was while watching my uncle land a small chub I felt a hefty pluck on my finger and my natural instinct to strike saw me latched into a much better fish that felt really big in the fast flow, I was certain it was a nice chub by how hard it was fighting, I eventually got the fish under my feet but it was keeping really deep so I still had no idea what it was I was connected too!!  What felt like minutes passed where in reality it was no more than a few seconds but I felt every shake of the fishes head as it began to tire and eventually it gave up its identity as it slid over the landing net lip and made its mark in this week’s blog update, a bream, and a first ever river bream for myself.

The fish didn’t quite reach 3lb as much as I tried (weighed it 3 times lol)

The fish safely into he keep net I quickly got back to the fishing and from this fish on it was as if a light was switched off in the swim, the quiver tip remained set in stone with only the rhythm of the river causing it to occasionally pull round and slowly settle again.  I tried everything I could think of from longer hook lengths to just feeding maggot in the feeder.  My unce started to pick up a bit more action on the float line but my swim remained dead.

Hein sight is a thing in fishing you get good at using and looking back I stayed on the feeder too long as soon as the swim had died for 20 minutes I should have moved over to the float rod but the reality is I wasted a good 2 and half hours trying to make something happen.  This could have been down to me being tired from a long days overtime the previous day and looking back I have to admit I had a tad bit of a case of “lazy-i-tis”.

I decided to stretch my legs and visit my uncle for a bit and refresh myself with a strong coffee,  there is something about watching someone trotting a float, especially someone who is quite good at it, the way they control its decent down the river and almost drop the bait into the fishes mouth is a true art.  While I was stood with him he was going through a slow patch and in the best John Wilson fashion we began to talk up a bite “got to be a chub there Azz!”,  “yeah, got to be “ was my uncles reply and with that bang the float disappeared and my uncle was into a fish that certainly wasn’t a dace and with my uncles drag set looser than a porn stars belt buckle there was no chance he was losing it and in came one of the best cub we have had form the Ribble so far, but bot was he a warrior with a pike bite on his lower back and another bite above its dorsal, this was one lucky chub.          

I returned to my peg and quickly set up my 17ft carbon active float rod and I decided to fish a bolo type set up to see if it gave me more control in the fast water and it wasn’t long before I was happily running a float through the swim.  At first it was all quiet but I soon struck into a fish and it felt a nice fish to boot, in the fast flow of the ribble you never really know what you have got on the other end size wise till the last moment but I was over the moon when the shiny mirror like scales of a big roach slipped over the lip of my landing net, I was pleased as punch at this capture, 1lb 3oz and made the trip worthwhile in my eyes.

I continued to pick up a few more dace but I didn’t get the chub I had hoped for but in reality I had left it too long before moving onto the float rod and had I done it sooner then who knows and its that unknown that will get me out of bed this weekend chasing the dace and chub shoals on the river. 

The river ribble, for ourselves, is proving to be a river where you have to work for every bite and it is rewarding us with quality fish when we get them.  To put it into perspective my uncle caught 8lb of dace last time out on the River Dee which I guess was made up of about 50 dace whereas on Saturday my uncle had 8lb of fish and it was made up of around 15 fish.

Uncles net

My net

Hopefully this week we will find the rivers in a nice state which should see up picking up a few dace.

Till next week thank you for reading

And tight lines



  1. great read yet again fella. you are clearly very passionate about your fishing and obviously saddened about a stretch of the river that you losing having fond memory of. i like you can't understand why certain so called fishermen treat these places like they do i get wound up when i go to my club water and there is litter everywhere i mean how hard is it to take it back with you after all its lighter to carry after you have used it. anyway rant over keep the posts coming m8y.

  2. hi paul, thank you for taking the time to comment. I fish a place in spring and summer called rixton clay pits, i have blogged about it on here a few times, the litter on there is a disgrace, like you i am baffled, some anglers just put it in a carrier bag and tie it to a tree in their peg with the attitude someone else will move it, then you have the people who put it in a carrier bag, carry it to the car park and then put it next to the shed for someone else to clean (its so lazy its more effort to chuck it there than the car boot) some people are a disgrace to the sport but its the genuine ones that pay the ultimate price.

    must admit i wrote last weeks introduction on he morning after i found out so i was quite emotional about it lol.

    thanks again for commenting mate