The main thing that caught my attention over the weekend was the occurrence of exceptionally high tides around the north west of England. These tides would normally see the rivers rise quite significantly anyway but given the fact our local rivers are already swollen with water from the constant precipitation we heave experienced recently these high tides could and did in some cases like the river Dee see them burst their banks and flood into the surrounding fields.
link to River Mersey Bog post video: http://www.satonmyperch.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/river-mersey-big-high-tide-010214.html
My plan on Saturday was to travel through to the River Dee system around midday to try and capture some footage of what the river looks like in flood, given the lack of rain i saw little danger in doing this as i knew the roads there would be far enough away from the river to put me at risk and also using knowledge of the area i knew a few spots where i could get some pictures without having to get on the actual river banking. This plan was unfortunately cut short by the fact my car failed its MOT test on the Friday and needed a job doing on it that the garage could only fit me in for on the Monday so the trip was cancelled completely. I did however manage to gather some footage of the River Mersey during a exceptionally high tide which saw the gantry lock gates overflowing with water from the river Mersey system, it was that high! I have included a link to the blog post containing the video above this paragraph.
The footage i wanted for the River Dee was just for my own personal interest of what the river would actually look like in these exceptional conditions. Visiting a river that is flood that you fish regular but only normal conditions is something i would suggest to any river angler, of course common sense about location and not getting on the actual flood bank is needed here, when i first was taken the river by my dad he made a point of us going through when the river was really high and unfishable just so he could show me how powerful the river is and how we need to think of our safety at all times when on her banks as no matter how scenic and poetic we all get about the rivers we fish if we treat them lightly and are not vigilant they are places where you can easily find yourself in trouble. My dad has taught me almost everything i know in angling and this is by far one of his greatest and most memorable lessons.
To give people who don't live locally to this river an idea of the scale of these levels the normal summer level of this stretch where the chart above is taken is between 4.5m and 4.7m in winter this is is normally increased to around 5m-7m depending on water fall. This weekend saw the river at around 8.2m before the tides hit and during the height of this tide the river was reported to have reached 10.21m by some sources. The river I'm this place normally overflows her banks around the 8.5-9m mark so this would have certainly seen her flooding at this location and as this is quite a deep area compared to lower down i imagine the meadows and into Chester it was in the farmers fields, certainly there was no hope of getting on any river this weekend.
In last weeks blog i talked a bit about my thoughts on the dredging of our river to reduce the risk and the devastation of the flooding mentioned above and regular followers of the blog will know i find it hard to get my thoughts down on the page so they reflect exactly what i am trying to say. Most of the time i base my opinions on what i "think" more on the science of what will happen and it was great for me to come across the following you tube video this week that ass the the science behind what I was trying to say about the increased erosion caused by dredging, a very interesting video indeed for any keen river enthusiast to watch.
youtube video of dredging.
Last week i talked a bit about my aims to reduce my weekly expenditure on angling both from a bait and petrol point of view and as i have mentioned before the purchasing of the Northwich Angling Card will reduce my petrol bill ten fold but it is the piking i have been doing of late where i feel year on year i will see the benefit as the outlay of bait is so cheap. When you put it into actual monetary terms the savings are astronomical over time, a normal one day trip for me to the River Dee trotting for roach and dace would see me purchasing 2 pints of maggots at a cost of £2.50 a pint, 1-2 pints of uncooked hemp normally £2.50 in total and some weekends half a pint of casters which are normally £2 what this means in short is my expenditure for bait for one week is leaving not much change out of £10.00 and this across a whole months fishing you are looking at a bait bill of around 40-50 pound. This comes in stark contrast to the pike fishing where my expenditure on bait for the whole month of January was 20 sprats - £1.27, 5 mackerel - 2.50 and 10 sardines £3.00 this along with even the purchases going into this month still would equal at most £15 on bait with enough bait still my freezer to probably see me through February.
The contrast in £100 compared to a possible two month outlay on piking of £15 not to mention the piking is a lot cheaper on petrol i feel could prove to be a deciding factor in the ratio of River Dee trips to pike fishing trips come next winter.
I buy all my pike baits form my local Supermarket fish counter and although this may seem to some a little too up market for just feeding to fish you can pick up some real bargains if you go at the right time of day. The key is to remember that fish like sprats and sardines come to think of it are not the most popular fish on sale at the fish stall and as such you normally find these fish are left spare come the end of a day and are either greatly reduced or if you speak to the fishmonger and explain whet there for they will sometimes do you a deal. This tidy bunch of ten sardines set me back i think £2.80 odd in total and with the sprats you could probably buy close to 40 sprats for that price. What i do then is break down the fish into bags so i can just take a session sized bag of bait with me each time i go out this not also means you can store the bait a lot easier for freezing so it doesn't become damaged but also you are not constantly freezing and refreezing your entire batch of bait, each time i go out i grab a bag of each bait and put it in my cool box, below is two packets of session sized sprats ready for the bait freezer.
This mindset to save money in my fishing will almost certainly be overwritten by the need to run a stick float down a river so as soon as that river Dee gets close to right i will be out on there trotting gear under one arm and a pike rod under the other and i would hazard a guess that some of my annual leave in work might be under threat as well. In all honesty though the river is going to take a while to be right as they say but i still live in hope.
And with that we move onto this weeks fishing:
Sunday 02nd Feb - Dead baiting for pike: Watercraft saves blank
The threat of the apocalyptic storm if the century failed to materialise into anything more than a gentle breeze up' north as they say and all day Saturday whilst walking the local waterways with my daughter i had a date with Mr pike fixed in my thoughts and i began in my mind to set about a plan of action for the session the next day.
I started off on the location i caught the first double a week or so back it is a spot that has gave me 4 runs and 2 fish so far this season so i always arrive with confidence. The venue containing better quality fish than other locations i fish called for a more substantial bait so it was away with the sprats and on with the smelly mackerel tail section on my first rod and a sardine on the second rod, both baits i have had a fish on so confidence in the baits was high. The rods in i settled into the swim and waited for the action to develop.
On this location all the action has come early on and even if i get a fish i have had no action past 10am so once that time has passed i do tend to start getting itchy feet. The water clarity was spot on in my opinion and i had no fears that the pike would struggle to see my bait and it was whilst testing a bait in the margin i noticed i could see my bait quite clearly on the bottom so i quickly changed my rig and bait and fished a sprat suspended at half depth letting the wind drift it around hoping to cover as much area as possible as i knew any fish lying hard on the bottom would at least see this bait above them with ease.
My plan for the day if nothing developed in the first swim was to at least try two completely new areas and by 11am i felt i had covered the first spot as well as i could have so i decided to move on and this is where i came across another love with this pike fishing in the fact moving was so easy as once the roods where reeled in it was a case of grabbing the landing net pop on my rucksack and i was all set to move and of course once i arrived at the next swim it was as simple as plumbing the depth and attaching the baits again and i was fishing again. I gave spot two and spot three a hour a piece without and interest from a pike so i decided in a completely different venue with the view that if this was poor to fall back on the venue where i have had some success with the jacks.
The next location proved to be more trouble than it was worth as no sooner had i cast in a line of watercraft approaching regatta proportions sailed through the swim one after another leaving the swim resembling a hot chocolate than a pike swim. I guess this is just part and parcel if this particular spot so i gave it the hour before making the 30 minute journey to the final location of the day.
The final location of the day is a place i have not blanked on since i have got to grips with the swims and have found an area where there are a good number of pike in residence and this coupled with help on tactics from a friend has seen this as my banker location of late. I set up in the usual location and out went two baits and with it my final hopes for the day.
The baits fishing i began to scan the water for signs of where the fish could be and this is very important as just because you find the pike in one place on one trip does not mean you will find them there the next. Settled into the swim the first thing i noticed was the wind had slightly changed direction and was blowing slightly different direction to previous trips. The rods recast again after 40 minutes i noticed a grebe i had seen on previous trips moving around the margins looking for its dinner and unlike past trips where i have been able to get a good luck at this bird it has been so close to the grebe was working the end of the wind further down.
These two factors together in the wind which i thought the bait fish might have followed and the fact this was confirmed by a predator working another area made my mind up and i quickly pulled the rods in a moved to a new location. I had 30 minutes before i had to leave so it was all or nothing. The reality was it took no more than 5 minutes before the float slowly bobbed and gently moved away before submerging, i struck hard and solid and instantly knew i was into a small jack as the fish came straight to the top, was i disappointed? Not a chance.
The fish on the bank i instantly recognised the fish as a fish i had caught before in fact it was the very first fish i caught from this venue this year and people who have followed this piking would remember it made up part of a double take on both rods. The reason i recognised it was the fact two of its gills where detached and it was also a very small jack. I always like it when you have a recapture a fish and get to see how they are doing and getting along but this one was tinged with some sadness as since me catching it last time it has sustained some damage to its back, i cannot tell if it is from a cormorant a heron or is actually just some type of infection but it was sad to see him not dong to well. Luckily for him he is currently living in a location with a lot of jacks where as if there was any bigger pike he may be on the menu come spawning time with him being in such poor condition.
The pike released i had one more dropped run before i called it a day and led by my belly after a phone call from my missus saying a Sunday dinner was almost cooked i headed home happy and confident that my reading of the conditions had seen me winkle a fish out on a hard day on the bank.
Wednesday - Great afternoon learning from and watching how a dedicated piker goes about it.
Since starting to explore this new branch of fishing that is dead baiting for pike i have been lucky enough to have been helped by Garry, a guy i first spoke to a year or so back on the old Warrington Anglers Facebook Page and over the past few weeks he has helped me no end with little hints and tips and these little tricks that can make the difference when it comes to pike fishing. We agreed this week to meet up on a local venue for a joint session chasing pike. It is fair to say over the past few years writing this blog i have had a few emails asking me if i could take people to locations where i had caught X Y and Z fish that i have featured and although i always try my best to help out people who ask me for help it was so refreshing for someone to actually go out of their way to help me and actually ask me if i fancied meeting up for a piking trip.
Wednesday was the day we set and in my mind there was no problem with that as the car was in for its MOT on Friday well in time for the session. Disaster hit though with the car failing its MOT and problems getting the part in saw me not getting my car back till midday in the Wednesday. I quickly loaded the car and set off to the spot we had decided to fish and it was great to see that Gary had already had two fish before my arrival, a fish if 9lb and a fish of 14lb if i remember rightly, oh and i promised i wouldn't forget and i nearly did, a PB branch of 9lb 9oz and 9dr :-) this i am reliably informed beats his previous best non fish capture of a Tesco trolley,joking aside both fish where crackers and fish i would gave been over the moon to have not only caught but seen in the flesh,pictures of these filled me with confidence for the remainder of the session.
Although no fish came to our rods all afternoon it was great chewing the fat on all things angling related from piking to river fishing and as far out as tips on cooking hemp. For me personally it was great to see how someone who has been pike fishing these locations for a few years goes about their pike fishing i can honestly say i learnt so much about piking in those few hours talking about piking. I wont go into too much detail as i am sure what Gary does and the extra work he puts into his piking to are the defining line to his success but it was safe to say when i have been leaving the bank thinking i had done all i could have done then compared to what Gary does i am falling far short. I was also, not relived as that is the wrong word, but more at ease with my piking so far as he told me he had been out 5 or 6 times and blanked, i have been going out expecting to catch every time and thinking what i am doing is wrong if i didn't catch and with piking its just not the case blanking is part of the course with this type of fishing.
I mentioned a few weeks back about etiquette in the pike fishing world and this is another example of this as Gary invited me to a location where he feels there will be pike, done his work with depths and features and has found them there. This venue though is somewhere you wont see me fishing this coming weekend when i go out pike fishing as that is an area where he has done all the work so in respect of that you would not then go and fish this location, unless you of course are doing another joint session on there like we have planned to this coming week. It is not even a pike fishing etiquette as such, more being respectful in general.
The session ended and i headed off to one of the spots i have been fishing on the way home and fished into dusk with no takes. I am really looking forward to this weekends and next weeks session chasing pike. All that remains is for me to again thank Garry for all his help these past weeks and with that its tight lines till next week.
till next time its tight lines