The idea for this came to me in work when i got into a conversation with my work colleagues about the damage done to fish by angling and how they didn't see what i saw in fishing to put them all back, any fisherman will know the conversation and how they go and it always ends up with someone who doesn't go fishing making a sweeping statement and this conversation was no different. The argument i put up against it was exactly the one below and it gave me an idea to maybe run this as a little ongoing fun part of the weekly blog and so Fishy Fact or Fiction was born, so here we go.....
"About one third (33%) of fish caught on bait will die after being released and over 60% of deep hooked fish die .."
So the statement says one third of fish caught on bait and 66% deep hooked will die, it is a hard statement to disprove 100% so i applied this to mine and general fishing on the River Dee for Dace for which i use a keep net to put my fish in before i release them. In this weeks blog myself and my uncle caught a combined net of 16lb of dace from the river, I released the net back into the the river and witnessed every single fish swim off strongly, one or two took a moment or so before moving off but they all did swim off so the first question i ask is, given the fact they where all lip hooked, at what stage does one third of this net which equates to 5.3lb of fish go belly up? is it just after they get out of sight? or is it over a course of the next week or so?
If we then accept this as a fact and 33% of all fish die and then apply this to winter fishing on the river Dee where its not uncommon for both banks to be full of anglers which would roughly equate to 20 anglers and the top nets are normally over 20lb so as an average we will say for this that the average net is 15lb being caught by anglers in one day for a total weight of 300lb of fish, based on this statement it would mean 99lb of fish dying from being caught that day. These banks are normally full on both a Saturday and a Sunday not to mention the nets caught during the week it would equate to a massive weight of fish dying every week and a weight that i think would be unsupportable and would soon see no fish left in the river rather than the 20lb weights being caught consistently week after week through winter and lets not forget the fact that in my years of fishing the river i have never seen pounds and pounds of dace floating dead downstream.
I think the final nail in the coffin for this comment comes from the carp fishing world in the fact that carp are caught a number of times through their lives to the point they are given names like gut bucket and tommo's fish etc surely running the 33% gauntlet for these fish each time they are caught would see very few of them reaching maturity and certainly would not see so many fish reaching over 50lb. So for this weeks fishy Fact or Fiction i am saying i think this is Fiction!.
Moving on, this week in work the leave sips for next year came round, a time of year that See's all the mothers in our place booking holidays to coincide with the school calender, but not me, i had my eyes firmly fixed on the 16th June 2014. This drew plenty of weird looks from all the people around me but i had a smile from ear to ear knowing i would be out on the bank on such a magical day. The 16th is always a day i like to get out and although the fishing is never normally great after a three month exodus from the bank just being out next to flowing water is enough for that first session, so next year i will be out again next to flowing water on the 16th.
I was also asked this week if i would agree to take part in a bit of charity fund raising so along with a few other lads in out office i have agreed to take part in Movember. Movemeber, for those who do not know is a charity event where men don't shave their moustaches for a whole month to help raise money and awareness for male heath. I must admit i am not too bothered about walking around work with a tash but i have my reservations about how much of an idiot i am going to look walking round town and on some of the upcoming blog photos. The blog i have a plan for that of course relies on the fish being co-operative but if it comes off should make one or two humorous pictures, so please enjoy every minute of me looking like a fool hahaha.
Looking forward to this weekends fishing coming up its not looking like it is going to be the driest of sessions as even now a i write this blog at tea time on a Friday evening i can hear the rain taping at my window and how i have to say, how much does it now feel like we are moving into winter, it is pitch dark outside! I also noticed on the way to work this week that it was still dark at 7.30am, this on one hand is bad as it means less time on the bank as the mornings and evenings draw in but on the other hand my whole body tingles with excitement at this time of year as i know full well the time for those big bags of dace and the chance of a special pike capture is drawing closer, i cant wait, lets hope mother nature gives us more time on the bank this year than we got last, you are in our debt this year madam!
on to this weeks fishing:
I must say before i get into this weeks fishing a big thank you to Cheshire Angling Shop in Warrington as for one reason or another my uncle was unable to get get into town in time to buy his bait on Friday and i called through to this bait shop to see if they were still open and although i got there in the nick of time they agreed on the phone they would wait open for me if i confirmed i was certainly coming through, i have no doubts had i been a bit late the shop would have still been open, many thanks for your great customer service.
With last weeks session on the River Dee proving to be a bit of a disaster we headed further afield for this weeks fishing, still on the Dee but a completely new section to us. The river was up around a foot or two but judging form the banks she was dropping slowly and the colour of weak tea she really was bob on for a spot of dace fishing. The only downside being the pace of the river as she was really belting through on a stretch that looked like it normally had a bit of pace to it at the best of times.
I set up a good distance down stream form my uncle to give him enough water to work with so his bait was getting down before it got to myself. I always see the two of us going fishing as us working as a team, we generally allow enough room between us to give both of us the best chance of getting a solid net at the end, on some occasions this hasn't worked out to be the case but i would say more often that not we get it right. There is of course those stretches where there is always a better peg and although its hard to always guarantee getting on those pegs on consecutive weeks we always try to share out who goes on this peg during the season so we both get to enjoy the pegs that have an easier trot or hold better fish.
I was being strict with myself on this session with my pike fishing but there was a great looking swim at the tail of the pool that just screamed pike to me so i said i would give it an hour at the start of the session and a hour before we packed up at the end and the rest of the time i was determined to enjoy a days trotting for dace. The bait for the session would be hemp and maggot and would be fed generously throughout the course of the session and judging by how fast she was going through i was going to need a fair bit.
The session started off slow for us both as the float trundled through the swim without so much as a knock and at these early stages on a fast bit of river it can be really disheartening as at least on the slow deep sections you find minnows and gudgeon to keep you going till the dace arrive but on sections like this you have to keep going till the dace move on the the steady stream of bait, this can take 10 minutes or on some days it can take a hour and of course on the days to forget they do not show at all.
The first hour past by in a blur with only a single dace to show for my efforts, my uncle had had a few fish but nothing like we expected to catch from the look of the river. I decided to give the pike rod a go next to the snag i had seen further down stream and was soon nestled against the bang with my pike bung bobbing in the slack. It was during this hour fishing for pike i noticed a disturbance on the other side of the tree to my right, at first i thought it was a duck or a swan, which there seemed to be a number of on this stretch. The splashing continued but it was right close into the edge and i was really intrigued now as i could not see any sign of a bird a rat i thought or bank vole but then on the debris beneath the tree a otter popped up and sat on the dead tree branches beneath the tree and for what seemed an eternity we stared at each i guess trying to work out what each of us would do next. i was first to flinch as i slowly reached into my pocked to grab my phone but as i did the otter slip silently back into the water and a line of bubbles went across my swim as the otter moved upstream. This was the last i saw of the otter as i kept my eyes pealed for the rest of the session but i did spot this behind my peg which i think might be otter spraint.
The pike fishing was a none starter which might have been down to the otter working the inside bank but i think it was more down to the pike just were not feeding as we did not get bothered by pike all session. After the hour was up i moved back up to my peg and began to feed the swim heavily with hemp seed and also moved out slightly on the line i was fishing, it is a line i don't fish often as i much prefer to try and get the fish to come to where i can catch them easily and fast and that is normally right under my feet or just off the rod tip but today with the river so fast they just din not want to know close in. When moving further out it is always important to have control so i upped the weight of float i was suing from 10 number 4 to 14 number 4 just to give me that extra weight and control. The fish would take a while to get going given my departure from the swim for a hour but it was not as long as i thought before i connected with my first dace and i was made up with the quality of it as it was what you call a "proper" dace and what made it even better was it was not alone as a few of his friends joined him in the keep net.
The dace shoal kept on moving in and out of the swim and it would see flurry's of fish coming to the net before they would move for a while then all of a sudden they where back on the bait again and for a while i was perplexed as to why this was happening. My uncle was catching steady above me and had found a good shoal of fish on a closer in line than mine and was well on his way to putting together a nice net of fish.
It took me till the afternoon to nail the method on the day that would see me getting bites more consistently and it was to hold the float back really hard to the point it was going down the swim in what looked to me an unnatural way with the float pulling out of the water but it must have looked right under water as if i got it right the float would nail under at the same point in the swim every time.
My uncle had of course got onto this method and in previous months i would have probably gone up to his swim and had a look at what he was doing but i feel i am now at a stage with my trotting where i can trot a float down with confidence but i need to develop the different techniques and more importantly when to use them and i am only going to do tat by finding my own way through sessions and working these puzzles out for myself.
Once the method was developed the bites came with greater regularity and it almost became predictable when the float would bury and there is no better feeling in river fishing than the seconds before the float gets to that sweet spot and you know inside the float is going to bury under and sometimes the excitement gets too much and you inevitably strike too early, truly magical fishing. The bites coming regular and with great quality dace still coming to the net i was more than made up with how the afternoon was going and i eventually hit a fish that was a bit better in this trout? sea trout? below. I think it is a brown trout but it was the length of it that had me confused as it was a really long fish.
The fish returned to the river i continued to pick up some nice dace and i could hear form the striking upstream that my uncle was also having a good session as well. The bites continued to come and go for the next hour or so as the game of cat and mouse continued between getting the presentation right and wrong. The end of the session came and i have to say i was cream crackered from the amount of striking and reeling in through out the day as when you imagine a trot was lasting around 20-30 seconds its some amount of trotting throughout a few hour session. The average size of the dace was really impressive and i cant wait to get back on this beat once the river drops again, first class fishing for pristine dace.
My uncle ended the day with 10lb dead
The final picture of the two nets combined was really impressive considering the time of year and shows how fertile a river the Dee is at the moment and we have not even had the first frosts yet.
Short Session on the Bridgie
On Sunday i found myself with a few hours free in the afternoon so i decided to have an hour or so on the local Bridgewater canal. The weather report for the afternoon was not the most promising with heavy rain showers due but to be honest i rarely look at the weather now when going and travel in the knowledge i am well prepared for what ever conditions come along. I must say there is an exception to this rule with the wind and it was the wind on Sunday that designated what stretch of canal i chose to fish. I chose a stretch that was relatively sheltered and set out my stall to fish 11 metres, just where the river started to shelve on the far bank.
The session was steady and i caught steady for the majority of the session and although i was not there long enough to build a swim for the bream to move in i did connect with some nice roach and roach bream hybrids. The shock of the otter the previous day was still with me and i must say the rare sightings continued into Sunday as to my shock i was joined by a Warrington anglers Bailiff, the guy was a pleasant man who took great interest in what i had to say and i am glad he was open to my my thoughts on the club even though they may not have been what he wanted to hear i feel its only far to be honest and inform the bailiffs about what i see week in and week out on the banks of the club waters from litter to waters that i have been that really should not be on the card. It was also great to speak to such a wide variety of visitors to my peg over the course of only a hour or so, i guess that is part of the magic of fishing the canal.
The final net was just a picture to be taken rather than the reason for the session, i just thoroughly enjoyed a few hours on the canal.
Well that brings to an end another blog update, if your out his weekend, take care and tight lines.