Friday, 5 December 2014

Good To Be Home: Stick Float Fishing For Dace River Dee

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you all well and you nets wet.  The week where these fishing trips come from the temperatures where still in the 40's and upwards which has made the fishing really hard to predict especially when it comes to tracking down the silver fish fro trotting.  The pike have been up one day and down the next some sessions there all over my baits and others they are slowly drawn from their lairs only to come along side to enquire rather than to dine.  I  am loving the challenge that comes with my fishing at the moment and where i am with it.

This weeks fishing takes me back onto the river dee hunting for dace but this was not our intended destination but boy does it work out well in the end.  The other fishing is a pike trip the next day where i for once take me chances.  So with that lets get into this weeks update..

BBC To Release Fishing Show..

This week i was contacted by a member of the BBC looking for me to mention their upcoming project to produce a fishing programme for main stream television.  I always have fond memories of watching Go Fishing with my dad on television and although this series seems quite a bit away from the way John Wilson portrayed out sport i think anything that puts angling in the public eye in an interesting light can only be good for our sport.

The series will send amateur anglers around the world testing their skills again local anglers to that region.  The BBC are looking for anglers to apply to enter this series with the only criteria that you have to be over 18 and also not a professional angler.  I must admit had i not been at a stage i am in my life with a new child on the way and another one just over 2 years old i would certainly be filling in that application form.  The promotional information is below:

How much do you love fishing?

Have you ever sat on the banks of the Thames and wondered how
you’d fare on the banks of the Amazon?

Ever wanted to swap Lake Windermere for the Great Lakes or trade
fishing on the Welsh coast for the coast of Mexico?

The BBC is making a revolutionary new series about the world of fishing, so
we're looking for amateur anglers to test their skills in some of the most epic
fishing locations around the world!


For more information or an application form please get in touch ASAP at: or 0117 974 2349 

            Please note: The current talent search is open to non-professional anglers aged 18
            or over and resident in the UK

Pondip Blog - Lets Talk Bait Droppers...

This week my latest blog for pondip went live.  I must admit when i first started writing guest blogs for this company i was really nervous about what to write and their expectations but i feel it is a role i have settled into now and i am really enjoying writing guest blogs for them.  On my personal blog i purposely write about my fishing as an experience and try to capture the magic i find from getting out on the bank and hooking into a few fish and all the great adventures that go with it.  The pondip tackle box blogs allow me the freedom to write about how i go about my fishing in more detail and this weeks blog was all about how i use the most simplistic of tools, the bait dropper.

A link to the update is here: Let's Talk Bait Droppers Pondip Blog

EA Stepping up their game? 

A week or so ago i spoke about the Environment Agency and how good it has been getting my licence checked so many times this season.  It gives me great pleasure to again report my licence was again checked by the EA this weekend and what was even more pleasing was the fact that the sights of years one by of anglers packing in as they had been collared was long gone.  I do think though they could improve by getting on the bank a lot earlier to catch the people wrongly taking fish from waters especially pike on the river dee who are certainly on the decline.

On to this weeks fishing...

River Dee Stick Float Fishing For Dace.....

Walking out of the bait shop door on Friday evening the rain was still coming down steady, it had done so since around midday.  The rain although not heavy was persistent and i knew passing the River Dane in the dark on the way home that she would be carrying some water upon my visit the next day.

The EA river chart is normally a god send in these scenarios as the levels normally come in around 4am and sun rise not till around 7am it is normally there to guide you on where to go.  The chart above was the river dane chart on the morning before our trip and amazingly enough it did not show any sign of a rise apart from the first signs of a rise if you looked very closely at the last reading.

With this in mind we headed out into the dark looking to hit the banks of the River Dane at first light to set up and as the rain had stopped we thought nothing else of it and off we went. We knew she would be carrying a bit of water as she was going to be around what we thought was winter levels but pulling up at the pegs she was a thick brown grey colour and in that instance it was obvious the chart was wrong and with Trees and logs coming down there was no fishing this river today, not on the stick at least.

In all honesty it was a case of either fishing a pond, calling it a day and going piking or taking a huge chance on a 40 mile drive to the River Dee and hoping that she was not flooded and we could get a peg.  The dee it was and the car was quickly swung round and my trusty phone led us through the A Roads to Chester.  Turning the last corner we was met with a load of parked cars but to our delight there was two pegs still Free so like greased lightning we threw our boxes on each and it was good timing as in the next ten minutes four more cars pulled in.

The peg i chose was a classic dace run of an even depth of around 5ft down to a over hanging tree and it is a swim i have fished a lot in the passed and done well in for dace and the other excellent news was this swim would allow me to fish my trusty 13ft Korum float rad, a rod that sadly See's less and less action due to me using my 17ft one so much.

A 10 No 4 stick float down to a 2lb 2oz hook length and a number 20 hook was my set up for the day and with a pint of hemp and around 2 pints of fresh maggot and 2 pint of old maggots from the previous week if they were having it i had the feed to keep them there.  My first trot down and the float zoomed and then back up again and i unfortunately struck when it was back up again, i was rusty big time and had become accustomed to the unmissable chublet bites of the dane, these dace bites where going to take some improvement in my striking. 

I quickly added a number 8 to my line to sink the float down to a mere pin prick on the water and tried again, this time i was ready and right on my hemp i held back slightly and then releasing the line the float again descended into the depths.  no missing this one and no mistaking the jagged fight of the dace and in came a pristine river dee dace.  She fit the hand perfectly and glistened in the early morning light and in that moment i knew i was home, back on the banks of the river i love so much.

The colour of the water at this point was perfect as she was a dark black colour almost the colour of weak tea and perfect for trotting a float.  The dace is a fish that always fills me with confidence when i catch them as you know they are never alone and with the stamp of this early fish if i had a shoal of them in my swim i would be on for a good days sport.

The next few casts saw a dace coming and before i knew it i had around 10 plump dace in my keep net.  All the dace came to single maggot and loose feeding maggot into the swim by hand.  The first two hours seemed to by by in a blur and the fish just kept coming and coming and coming and all came on the same spot in the swim to the point i just kept over casting my float to make the most of this bounty of dace in the swim.

A call from another angler that the river had rose a foot prompted me take a moment to put a stick in the edge as safety on the banks is paramount especially when you know a period of rain has been around the previous day.  I had been concentrating so much on hitting the bites on the float that i had failed to notice the colour had also changed in the river as it began to turn a brown colour.  I knew from experience of fishing in such conditions that i had to make the most of this period as a rising river almost certainly would see the dace go on a feeding frenzy until the river reaches a certain point and then the bites would die off.

I also knew that with my swim being between two trees and relatively slack that the fish would not stay in the main fast flow and would move into the slacker water so i upped to rate of feed to lure as many fish into my swim as possible during this period. 

i really do love the dee and everything about it, i love it sits in the shadow of other rivers like the Severn and the Trent, i love the beautiful locations along its length i have the pleasure to wet a line but most of all i love it because it is a river you can attack and really be aggressive with your feeding on and this was one of those sessions.   The normal careful feeding on the dane of 5-6 maggots every trot was replaced with 10-15 maggots a time on the dee and the bites just became more and more positive and the quality of the dace actually increased with some lovely examples of the species gracing my palm.

The morning moved along at a frantic pace and the fish kept coming and coming and coming and i was in that scenario where in knew i was sitting on a nice weight of dace.  The river at this point was rising quite fast up the bank and my uncle was literally moving to higher ground to keep fishing his swim it rose that fast.  The river at this point was resembling the Dane we had left and from around 1pm my bites died of completely as the flow showed its power as it came through the tree to my left creating the slack water i was trotting along, this also meant my bait was not getting down before the other tree and despite trying with the bait dropper the next few hours brought only odd flutters of fish as i chased the shoal around the swim.

Had the fish continued to feed i can only dream at the net of fish at the end but come us weighing our nets i was eager to see what i had put together in those early hours fishing.  Lifting my net from the water it felt heavy and a little groan as i lifted it from the peg i knew i was up in the teens somewhere.  The 32 inch pike net now follows me on all my trips to the river as you never know when mr pike will show up at this time of year but this net has also proved really good for putting our nets in for weighing at the end of session and it also gives the nets a true representation of the numbers of fish as sometimes in the smaller nets the fish are on top of each other so a 5lb net looks the same as a 15lb net as the pictures don't show the depth of the fish in it, this net i hope will help with that.

My final net went 20.5lb of all dace and i was over the moon! It always brings a tear to my eye when i do well on this river as i always think back to the days i fished this river where i did not know what i was doing and struggled to catch one dace.

My uncles peg fished the complete opposite to mine, he struggled early on and he put together a 12lb net of dace in around 4-5 hours in the afternoon when his fish came onto the feed on his peg.

A check of the River Danes EA Chart showed we certainly made the right call as when we where stood on her banks it was the very start of the rise and had we stayed just look how much the river would have rose on us during that day.

Dead Baiting For Pike...not exactly pulling the rod in....

Waking up on the morning of this session my arms where really aching from a hard days trotting the day before.  Those who see fishing as a leisurely activity and a past time for relaxing certainly have never done a full day on the river trotting for dace as anyone will tell you its hard work and you are constantly on the move either feeding maggot or hemp, reeling in from a trot on concentrating on getting your presentation right.  A days trotting done right should leave you tired on your return, a least good days should.

The morning was again mild and i jumped in the car around 6.45am in the pitch black leaving my thermal base layer behind along with my thermal boots.  My plan for the day was to meet up with Ste for literally a few hours fishing till around 10am and then part ways as he went to a job and i planned to move onto another location i had done well in the past.

Although the morning session with ste produced no fish on the bank what it did show me was how you can literally take just your wobbling rod and how versatile you can be with the one rod.  During these few hours we used our wobbling rods to of course wobble a dead bait to imitate a dying fish but it was great to learn how you can also use this same rod with only a dead bait and a wire trace on the line to static dead bait fish by leaving the bait to sink down and using only the line lying on the top of the water for indication.  It was yet another learning experience for myself with regards the vast world of pike fishing and as always it was great to share then bank and talk all things angling with another angler that shares such a passion for this sport.

The pike where very off the feed during this short session which saw only one bit of interest from a jack that despite the best efforts could not be tempted to snatch the free meal.  I loaded the rod and ruck sack back in the car and said my goodbyes and headed off to my second location where i hoped to find the fish more obliging.

I have to say it was a weird day on the bank and one i have never experienced before with pike fishing.  First of all i had a run under my feed as i left my wobbling rod to lie in the edge and upon striking i was met with a set of hooks coming out of water with no bait on them which was very weird considering the line was still peeling off as i struck, i can only thing the bait was on the out side of the pikes mouth and i pulled the hooks from the bait.   The next weird occurrence was two definite dips on the dead bait rod which saw me putting my full attention into that float but no more action developed from it apart from the float bobbing twice, this actually happened on two separate occasions during the session as i said the pike where behaving very strange.

I knew the pike under my feet had not felt the hook but i was pretty sure it had got off with its brunch and my only hope was it had left room for dinner so i purposely left the wobble rod lying in the edge and it did not take long before i noticed the line start to tremble and go slack as a pike picked up the bait and then the line went tight ant started to move off tightly as line was pulled from the open spool.

I gave the fish a few moments to begin to take the bait, tested the drag, then struck to set the hooks.  This fish from the off was not happy at all and i it was one of this pike that constantly shake its head and i knew the longer this fight went on the greater the chance of losing the fish so i quickly placed the rod between my legs and grabbed the landing net and waited for the fish to come up within my nets radar and as soon as it did it was a quick lunge with the net and luckily the fish turned into the mesh and onto my seasons tally.

The pike was great example of the species and more than welcome on my unhooking matt that was for sure.  A jack pike around 7 or 8lb she had been feeding well judging by her hard stomach.  Last week i wrote a blog on taking your chances and that session i lost a fish and it proved to be my only chance well this session was the flip side on this session i took my chance but again it was my only chance of the session.  The lines between a fish on the bank and a blank are so fine with pike fishing.

till next time i wish you all tight lines and wet nets,


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