Friday, 5 September 2014

River Dee Dace On Stick And Autumn Arrives

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  This passed week or so the signs of the Seasons changing have been all around us for sure with Horse Chestnut trees starting to deposit their hardened fruits that will no doubt need some time in the vinegar pot before being at a stage where they are released for battle, at least it was the case when i used to collect them.  The whole sight of a horse chestnut tree with its brown broken fragile leaves and conkers glinting through their casing conjures up memories of my childhood where our our door step we had arguable the best conker tree around and many a stick was lost in its branches as we tried to knock down the fruits too early alas that tree no longer exists for a picture as it was cut down many years ago.

There have been many other signs on my travels this passed week where i have seen the V shaped formation of Canada Geese disturbing the tranquil peace as they travel over head of an evening, local elder berry trees and black berry trees laden with fruit and farmers fields with their stacks of hay drying in the late summer sun ready to be bailed and stored away for the harder months to come and the only surprise has been the fact that there still seems to be a good number of swallows left on these shores and this was still the case on Saturday when we visited the River Dane and they were skimming the fields picking off bugs.

The seasons above the water are changing dramatically but these changes are also happening below the water as the fish sense a drop in temperatures and i suspect when it rains they also notice the water coming into the water is also cooler than the warm showers of summer.  The text books will say this time now is the best time to be an angler as carp and barbel go on the feed for the long months to come but for me the good times are a good month or so off when the first frosts arrive, that is when i start to think things get interesting as the dace start to shoal and the pike follow and being mainly a stick float angler the extra colour, cold and the fact the fish are constantly against the flow forcing them to feed hard you see the change in the feeding habits of the river fish as winter gets a grip, colder the better for me.

Away from my stick float fishing i do like my piking and last year wet my toes into to the world of dead baiting for pike and loved it.  This year i hope to do more dead baiting on both rivers and still waters and with the pike season only a month away as i write this update the pike thoughts are well and truly flowing through my mind, that and a special recent capture which will feature in  a mid week blog on its own next week, till then here is a sneak preview of that blog update..

I am a firm believer in angling being a journey as you go through life and along the way you learn bits that all come together for you to pass onto the next generation later on in life and most of the time this learning comes from mistakes we have made and to develop we have to analyse and learn from these mistakes before we move on and i am seriously looking to do that with this years piking.  The last pike season i lost far two many fish after getting the bite and this came down to two reason, 1. Landing net being too small and the hooks getting stuck in mesh seeing the pike turn and flip from the hooks leaving me with a landing net full of hooks  2. The hooks not setting proper on the strike and the fish coming off.  I have put plenty of thought the past month into the piking and made two decisions around this and they are to purchase a bigger deeper landing net and also to come to terms that losing fishing by hooks net setting is just part of pike fishing with their bony mouths but to do as much as i can i am going to be making my own traces this season for my pike fishing, so the past few days has saw plenty of deliveries including all the bits to make a pike trace which i will be featuring as a guide in a future update as i learn how too and also a 30 inch Fox Rubber Mesh Predator net.  Sorry for the lack of diversity in product companies i have been infected by a Fox Addict.

All the components in place all remains now is to build some pike traces and the purchase of some dead baits next month and to batter the hours in work to get some Flexi to get the 01st of October off to get out on the bank for Esox on the opening day, excitement is growing.

Before we get into this weeks fishing which was on the banks of the river dee i would like to say how great it was during this trip to see Nation Resources Wales on the river in a boat checking the licences of anglers on the bank.  The guys apologised for disturbing my swim and thanked me for having a licence and my time and you my reply was simple "no worries, great to see you on the river, Winter time at 6am in the morning is the time to catch the people causing proper damage on the river taking pike two and three at a time" i then passed on any information i had witnessed over the last year or so and he did make some notes which was great to see.  This going up the river in a boat is a fantastic way of doing it as it means there is no hiding place no mater how many fields you walk from your car to the river bank the boat see's every swim and every angler, fantastic to see and i would not mind seeing it every week.

I thought i would include this in the blog as all to often we read bad news stories about how little these and the EA do to protect our rivers from poaching and non paying anglers so here is a good news story, great to see as said.

on to this weeks fishing....

River Dee Dace On Stick - Autumn and the Hemp Begins to Work.

The video above probably defines why i love rivers so much as there is no better feeling than walking the banks just before first light with only the sounds of the birds and flowing water to break the silence although i must admit being in such a remote location on this session and being the only one out die to uncle having other business to deal with it was a little eerie.  In the early morning light i could just make out the river and i was looking for the depth as i planned to fish on some rocks in the margin before a deep gorge dug out by the river as it sweep round a bend.

Rivers are dangerous places there is no doubt about that and you have always got to be on the ball on the banks and also do your homework off them.  I knew that all being well and no one being on the peg i was going to be not only fishing low to the river but actually a few feet in the river so building up to the session i was checking the water levels on the EA and also checking the tides time tables as i was low enough down to be effected by a high tide.  The thing to remember is that the water does not always rise where you are say, a lot of the time the first sign you get is the gear behind you floating past you as the water comes up behind you, had it happen to me once on almere but thank fully my uncle was with me and we managed to get all my gear off the shingle bank in time.

That experience is not something i am ever planning on repeating and as such do always take care to look into and learn the water level and tide charts for river i fish.   Setting up in the dark is something you learn to do over time and you would be amazed just how much you can do rig wise in the dark by just feel alone, knots can be tied and even hooks tied just by feel.  Stood threading a 17ft rod in the light offered by my cars headlamps is nothing new but is still one of the best memories of a days fishing as you do think to yourself just what are you doing at the age of 30 in the dark threading a rod in your car it bad haha.

The river dee is full of special swims and secluded little oasis's of privacy but i don't think i have ever fished in such a special and varied swim as this one.  The flow flowing round a bend and speeding up as it comes off into a slight straight the flow increases as it reaches my swim where the power of the flow has dug out a deep canyon in the river bed it looked good early light as i could make out a slower run along the far bank  down to a over hanging tree, looked good i thought.

The rod set up and my basket on some solid stones i must admit to struggling to find a place for my keep net as out in front was certainly out of the question in such a flow so a quick move further down the swim saw me finding a drop off to my left with enough water to place my keepnet.  All set i was ready to make my first cast.

By the time i had set up it was light enough to see the swim in its entirety and i instantly was left with a feeling like i had made a mistake the water was a lot faster than i had thought so i knew feeding was going to be hard and also i could see a few boils on the inside suggesting the presence of some big abstractions on the bottoms so i instantly ruled out a line down the inside.  Sitting in the swim for a few moments i was looking for a line to fish and i noticed a slow run with a smooth  glide to it across the other side of the fast flow so i began feeding this line.  The first trot down the float settled and buried striking i was met with the solid feeling of a snag!! Great i thought as i reached for another hook length and with a few rigs made up i was soon back fishing again, not for long though as just a bit further down the far bank run i hit another snag, not good and after that i abandoned the near and far bank line, what to do.

I placed the rod at my side and took a bit of time to think about a plan and began throwing maggots in places int he swim and watching where they went, it was during this i spotted that a piece of flow coming off the bend would go from my inside line right across to the tree on the far bank if i fed it right and place the float right on my rod tip.  I had finally found a set line i could fish that in knew should hold fish.  Now if anything sums up river fishing it was the next hours fishing, i know it was around a hour as i got a phone call and it was 6am and also got a text of the better half at 7.05 and i had just had my first fish, as for about an hour i fed and trotted away without a tap from a fish you would swear the river had no fish in it at all but i kept feeding as i knew that eventually i would draw fish and this is the good thing about rivers your bait is going in your swim and all over the river down stream for hundreds of metres if it has too but somewhere those maggots and hemp are getting eaten and eventually they move up far enough that your trot covers them.

After a hours fishing i had my first fishing i had my first fish, a dace.

Now some people would be a bit put off by such a tiny fish for all that effort but i was delighted as you never ever find dace alone, where there is one there is almost certainly more.  The next bit of the session i picked up the odd fish right as the swim was level with the far bank tree and it wasn't long before i clocked that this is where they wanted to hold so i began feeding my hemp so it was landing where i was getting my bites.  The bites where quite confident at this point and holding back just at the killing zone and letting go i soon got into a rhythm of feeding casting holding back let go and strike and it was amazing to see how alive the swim was considering it had been dead as a door nail for a hour, like i say that is the beauty of river fishing you always feel like something can happen.

For the next few hours i caught well and missed a shed load of bites as the fish came too soon after letting go after holding back for me to strike and i missed some sail away bites.  This was not all plain sailing though as the fish did seem to move out of the swim and it was noticeable that a big pouch of hemp fed over brought the fish back on hard.  Hemp is a fantastic bait for holding fish but it does not always work and can be hit or miss for silver fishing in summer but this time of year as autumn takes a grip and we move into winter hemp comes into its own for fishing for me and on this session i doubt i would have done so well had i not had brought hemp.

The fish kept coming lured in by the trickle of maggots and the bed of hemp that i am sure was being washed away quickly hence me having to feed it so much to bring them back on and it was during the later stages of the fishing right in the flow i caught probably the most unusual capture in this perch, a fish normally caught in  slacker water.

The fish i was catching were by no means the big dace but in the flow they all felt good fish and i enjoyed a fantastic morning's dace fishing and even the odd heavy shower could not ruin my happy days fishing although a well placed stick was always glanced at to see if the down pours upstream were having an effect on levels.

The final net went 10lb 10oz and packing in around 1pm i was more than happy with my morning efforts and pleased i stuck by my guns and believed the fish would come.

i got back in the car just in time to miss a big down pour

Till next time its tight lines from me and look out for a blog update midweek of a evening session i had on a small river where the cold really brought the predators on the feed.


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