Friday, 18 October 2013

River Dee Piking and Rixton Clay Pit Roach

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update and I had no problem with inspiration for this weeks blog update as having watched the final interview given by John Wilson before he leaves the UK which was published by the Angling Times on You tube I am full of inspiration and have straight away loaded the laptop to get my views down on the blog,

This is the video below:

I grew up fishing with my dad and have fond memories of us both sitting in the house between fishing trips watching John Wilson videos and as anyone from this era will know i am not talking about the new fancy videos that Discovery Shed repeat time and time again, I am talking about the old videos that started off with the loud introduction a sound that is really hard to put into words but a sound that lives with you for a lifetime.  I always remember my dad complaining about the amount of wildlife in the shows and he wanted to see the fishing and at the time I was with him on that but growing up and watching the videos back those part of the videos en-capture everything that angling is for myself and I now appreciate those moments as much as the fishing on show.  My fond Memories of the shows include the one where he fishes he river in full flood below a bridge catching nets of nice roach trotting a float and afterwards when the river has dropped he comes down in a kayak and it just shows how high the river was and then he shows you he was actually trotting over a field!, magical stuff.  In later years I have enjoyed his cameo appearances in some of Martin Bowlers films like Caching the Impossible where he fishes with Bernard Cribbins and that line by Bernard "two anglers, in the Autumn of their years" just encompassed how fishing can last with you for a whole lifetime for me and its true it never leaves you, at least i hope its true.

Returning to the interview John is asked a few questions which he answers honestly and openly and the first I want to cover is when John questions whether the Environment Agency has kept to their promise to maintain and protect the inland lakes and rivers given the 25 million pound of angling revenue they receive annually from anglers licences.  It is a very thought provoking comment given the fact that species like otters where helped to be reintroduced by the environment agency and the damage that these creatures, through no fault of their own i may add, are causing on the rivers and surrounding waterways.  In the piece John says about the environment agency spending more time on surveys than protecting the fish in our rivers and although this may well be the case with regards to the demise of the river roach and other certain aspects of British angling I have to say after following the Environment Agency on Twitter and seeing some of the work they carry out they do more than just complete Surveys although i do feel the spending of flood defences and some of the butchering they do to the bank sides of some streams when cutting back tress to prevent flooding is questionable but as I mention to in my upcoming piece for the angling gazette the stocking they did after the pollution on the river dee in 2000 was first class.

Cormorants and Otters where the running theme of this interview and I must say at the moment i fall into the bracket of anglers John mentions in the piece that has not had their fishing decimated by otters yet although it is a fact that the otter is slowly creeping in as populations grow on the River Gowy, Weaver, Dee, Ribble and Mersey which are all rivers close to myself.   The other predator, the cormorant, I have crossed paths with more than once and also seen the damage they can do both on the River Dee where flocks of 15 to 30 birds are a regular sight in winter to the picturesque Cicily Mill where I spent many a morning in the early years in Warrington Anglers watching cormorants swallowing big crucian's and tench bit what is the answer?  A cull is what many anglers call fro but just look at the protests that are going on now with badger culling and the bad name it is giving the farmers and activists that have give the go ahead for the cull, people forget sometimes that angling already is not seen in the best of lights given the fact we stick hooks in fish and pull them out of their natural environment for sport and does the sport really need to further degrade its name by being seen as a pastime that sees anglers killing uncontrollable amounts of sea birds as lets face it there is no way of knowing the numbers involved once a cull in given the go ahead.  The problem of cormorants is a real issue that is dramatically shaping the angling world of today and is a problem that is of course our own doing by forcing these birds inland by abusing the stocks of fish around our inland coasts lest not forget but the solution to the problem is not one that is going to come easy or quickly I feel,  otters, again a problem caused by humans introducing them in areas that are not able to sustain them over time is one that wont be solved quickly but i do feel in the end the solution will involve some sort of controlling of numbers or if left long enough nature finding its own balance over time.

The next point I want to cover is one I am 100 percent in agreement with John over and that is the demise of what is seen as proper fishing in this country over the past 20 years. I remember fishing on the banks of the local canal for perch and roach and if i was really lucky a big bronze bream being armed only with a "snatcher" pole, maggots and of course Van Der Enyde ground bait and we used to share the bank with many children out with their parents learning to fish  and no doubt had we been closer to a river my dad would have taken me to the river  at a much younger age to learn trotting, an art i only learnt a few years ago.  Now days the children of today, baring a few exceptions, it is all about carp carp carp and although their is nothing wrong with this part of angling it worries me the lack of youngsters I see on the banks of the river and in youngsters i mean anglers under the age of say 25 there is just no one coming through especially where trotting is concerned.  In the video John, who owned a tackle shop himself, mentions about the shops of today being 90 percent full of carp hooks, bolt rigs and bivvy's and its true I mean like three weeks ago I asked my dad to pick me up a pack of size 20 hooks form the local shop, the response he got? "sorry we don't sell them any more as their is no market for them", speaks volumes for me and another sign of the times is how hard it is to find a tackle dealer that sells squats, for shops that border canals its a travesty for squats not to be sold they should be selling out of these to the point you have to put your order in not having to scour the net for suppliers if you want them.  Don't get me wrong I love my carp fishing and it has a place in angling as much as any other aspect of angling and it is not my place to say how people should fish but i just feel the basics of fishing are not instilled into out children any more so how can we expect them to move into other avenues of fishing when the lessons they have been taught is around casting a bolt rig and waiting in a bivy for a bite?, well i did say at the beginning i was ready to write this blog haha.

One thing John this say and i think it was his last comments on the film was to anglers out there to experience all of the British isles and not stay fishing the same venues you fish week in week out and although it is very hard in this financial climate to justify travelling 4 hours to fish a new river is a comment that has stuck with me a bit and hopefully in time the financial constraints of the world we are in will allow me to travel to the River Wye and the Severn around Shrewsbury and the river Trent to experience some of the other rivers this wonderful country has to offer but for now at least i intend to bask in the beauty of a winter on the River Dee and River Ribble.

Before we get onto this weeks blog update we received some information this week on the the new section of the River Alyn Warrington anglers have leased and although this information is being drip fed to us its been released that the stretch is situated in Caergwree and is marked up and if you can find it you can fish it apparently. More good news this week is Warrington have joined forces with the other angling clubs on Budworth Mere and now have access to fishing from the boat club end of the mere which is very good news as this area is reported to be deeper close in and wont mean anglers having to wade a 50 metres into the mere to find a decent depth hopefully.

on to this weeks update:

River Dee Pike and Rixton Clay Pit Roach
All my weekend sessions start on the Friday night for me as after publishing my weekly blog i move onto preparation for the session the next day whether that be getting the Castor's out to turn to a bright red autumnal colour or just getting my gear organised its all part of the preparation for the session the next day.  Friday evening it was time spent tying up some hook lengths for the fishing the next day so out came the Bayer perlon line and the size 20 hooks and whilst the missus watched the end of Coronation street i was well on my way to completing a good batch of rigs that will see me through a few sessions, snags permitting of course. 

The river dee was the destination for the day and we left in good time to get on the banks for first light, my plan was to fish the stick float for the entire day but also packed my pike as the river has been a bit out of sorts of late for the silvers, at least where we have been going at least so the pike rod is always a good alternative to try if the day is slow and boy was a glad i packed it.  

Walking the bank to check out the pegs we could see that the river was low and well down on normal level in fact it is the lowest i have ever seen the Dee since i started fishing her.  We both settled on swims that had some depth them and hastily set about setting  up for the session ahead.  As the light developed we could both see that the slack on this side of the river was enormous covering nearly half the river and there was little if any flow to trot the float down so much so leaving anything more than a few inches of line on the deck would see the float sit stationary.  In my head i thought well if the roach are here i could be in for a good day as they really do hug the slacks on the dee but i was lest optimistic about the possibility of some decent dace action. 

The early exchanges saw me catching the one fish that seems to start of most sessions on the river dee the Gudgeon and it was during the early exchanges i connected with a proper gudgeon it was not so long as it was really wide you could have strapped a saddle to its back it was so thick! It was a clonking big gudgeon and one i definitely took more than a passing moment to admire and what a pleasure it was to see such a beautiful example of the species on the bank. 

A few more gudgeon graced my palm before i got into my first proper fish of the session in the form of a morale boosting roach.  This gave me great confidence because as mentioned before if these fish where around in any numbers i could be on to a really special days fishing.  This initial roach was followed by another around the same size and then another slightly bigger and at this point i was really starting to think a special session could be on the cards, little did i know this would be the penultimate roach of the session. 

The swim continued to develop after that roach and it saw me catch a few dace and that final roach of the session but around 3 hours into the session the swim completely died and saw me trotting away for two hours with only a foul hooked flattie as reward.  I changed depth, the line i was fishing and the amount of feed to no avail and trotting really is one of those types of angling where the hard times are really hard as there is nothing more soul sapping that trotting away with no reward at all.

The swims where very quiet for both of us form that point on and with little chance of that looking like changing i took the opportunity to try and add to my pike tally for the season so it was out with the pike gear and away with the float fishing gear.  In went a paternoster rig just off the marginal  shelf and i sat back and waited for what i hoped would be a toothy visitor. 

What actually happened was a completely new experience for me in my short pike fishing career as not long after introducing the bait i saw the float going mad and moving towards the inside bank so i struck and instantly there was resistance bit it was short lived as the pike spat the bait so i replaced the rod closer to the margin and this time i could see the bait and the pike came in but completely missed the bait all together on a number of occasions it came right up and swam along side the bait but did not take it, very strange behaviour indeed.  

I decided to wait it out and returned the rod back off the marginal shelf and waited it out and eventually the red top of the float descended into the depths and i left it slightly longer than i normally would to make sure if it was the same pike it had time to grasp and turn the bait although i took care not to give it too long and i suppose in pike angling you get a feeling of when the right time is to set the hooks and i struck when it "just felt right".  This stroke was met with solid resistance and from the outset i could feel it was not a bug pike i was dealing with and the pike was up under the surface before i knew it.  The bait fluttered away which let me know i was in full contact with the pike and i took my time to make sure i got this pike in and my patience played off as a pike with lovely markings graced the inside of my landing net,  five pike since the start of the pike campaign i am more than made up with the start i have made and it was time to get some pictures of this nice pike weighing 7lb 110z.

After this pike we decided to pack in and have a hour or so on a small tributary of the river dee on the way home where we hoped to connect with a nice grayling or dace but before we did so we took a picture of the net of fish we had put together during the few hours trotting. 

The river we dropped back on was the tiny river Alyn and is a river i fished a long time ago and since getting to grips with the main river is one i have not been back to in a long time and boy how it has changed in that time, swims that where deep holes in the past where now dry as the river had changed course and now was flowing over to the other bank of the river and one pool in particular below the second bridge was unrecognisable to the swim i fished all those years ago.   The river when i fished it used to contain a good number of grayling and below is one of those fish from yesteryear.

The diversity of fish in this river has really changed as i never really remembered catching many dace but on this short session we caught quite few nice dace and the diversity of this river was shown with the amount of grayling, dace, trout and salmon par we caught.  The fish apart form one really nice grayling i lost at the net where all juvenile fish which goes to show the importance of this side streams and rivers where young fish can grow up before migrating into the big river they really are habitats that need our protection and us to nurture these areas by leaving some cover in the rivers for them to hide from predators in.  I fully enjoyed my few hours back on the river alyn and i will certainly be back on there soon.  One memory of the day that sticks with me is peering through the fence at the car to see this sprightly young fellow staring back at me!

Sunday  Morning Session Rixton Clay Pits

I again found myself with a bit of time free on a Sunday morning and i wasted no time at all in getting my gear sorted and heading for a few hours on Rixton Clay pits.  It is a venue that normally sees you having to arrive early to get the carp park swims so it was up and out around 6am for me and it wasn't too long before i was turning the final corner into the car park.  i expected to see one or two cars in the carp park even though the rain was belting down but to my amazement the car park was completely empty, obviously the over night rains has knocked a few fishing plans on the head and at this time of year into Christmas as the temperatures drop that will be more and more the case.  

I must admit it was quite eerie walking down to the pegs through the trees but i thought the sooner i get to the pegs and set up the sooner it will be light and time to fish so i put me head down and set about getting the peg set up ready to fish the pole and before i knew it it was light and i was setting the landing net up away from fishing. 

peg for the day

The tactic for the day was an all out silver fish approach on the pole and for the first time this season i scaled down my hook length to a pound bottom and went with a really light elastic as i wanted to land every silver fish i hit but knew full well i was probably going to lose and carp or tench i hooked into.  My bait for the day was maggot, ground bait and a change bait of worm with the hope the worm section would get me a better stamp of roach or bream.  I only had a few hours till around 11.30 on the bank and all the time in the early stages i expected another angler to turn up but the never did.

The fishing was steady from the off as was the rain and to make the session even better i was catching my target for the day in some beautifully marked roach that had that lovely blue metallic glisten to them.

I continued to catch fish for the entire session and the with around 30 minutes of the session to go i connected with a fish that was really the fish of the weekend for me in a lovely 1lb roach it filled the palm beautifully and was a good fist full of roach. 

As with all sessions they come to and end all too soon and even more so when its only a short morning session but i departed the scene really happy with my mornings efforts and on a venue as beautiful as this you can not help but enjoy a session on it and it really is amazing just how out of it you feel on the venue given the fact it is right next to a main road.  The final net was one i was happy with and the tactics will be one i will be looking at employing again on this venue as the worm really did single out the bream and better roach.

Well that is it for another weeks fishing,

till next week its,

tight lines 


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