In this update we travel back to the River Dee and have a crack at her in normal winter conditions hoping to find the sport as good as the previous week. The next day i had a short pike session, would i get my one chance i go out to get? and more importantly would i take it? In this update i also cover the terrible news i read in this weeks Anglers Mail around fines given to poachers, an update on our pike challenge and also a bit on my birthday and turning the age of 30.
On to this weeks blog update...
Your Taking The.....
This week i picked up a copy of the anglers mail as i wanted to read the Action Replay piece that featured a fellow piking pirate, Ste Daley. The piece as i expected was great reading and i was made up i had picked up a copy. Once i had read the piece in question i delved deeper into the other articles in this copy and came across the story on page 6-7 around court fines for poachers caught in the closed season and the fines handed to them by the court, see picture below.
So basically to sum up the story the EA catch 4 anglers fishing in the closed season with over 20 kilos of eels and spawn laden coarse fish dead in a bucket. As is standard protocol the, well can i say anglers?, had their tackle taken and where summoned to appear in a Magistrates Court at a later date.
The offenders pleaded guilty to the charges and where then sentenced to pay the fines in the picture above, £25.00 per offence!! Looking back over the frequency of my blogs you can see how often i am out on the bank and i see first hand the raping of our waterways by these people, i have seen the River Dee go from a river alive with pike to one where you are no longer seeing them attacking your fish as they are simply not there due to these parasites of our sport taking 3-4 10lb fish in carrier bags away at 4-6am in the morning before anyone is around. These people know full well its wrong or they would not be doing such an act at such a early unsocial hour.
Again i now see this on all the venues i fish from night lines on ponds to groups of 6-7 walking in a line, no landing net pulling lures behind them and when they catch out comes a carrier bag. Most anglers go out alone so us as anglers can no longer police our own waters working at such a ration of between 3or 7 to 1. It then leaves us to trust the EA with their patrols will catch these people as we report them and as i have mentioned in previous weeks the EA officers are out in force. They ARE doing their job.
These people then go to court and are handed a £25.00 quid per offence fine, i never swear on my blog but what the hell is that?? what type of deterrent is that to stop these people from committing such atrocities. Hand them a couple of thousand pound fine, catch them again and hand them another couple of thousand pound fine and like the word spreads of good waters to poach amongst these reptiles the word will spread about the consequences of being caught poaching our waters.
I have got to say the biggest joke in this part is the last part where they say all angers had their tackle handing back to them, jesus christ that is like fining a burglar £25.00 and then waiting at the door to hand him his crowbar back on the way out! What an absolute joke. This is not down to a lack of understanding of licencing laws as these people pleaded guilty to the offence they know is wrong so give them a fine it deserves and start protecting out waterways that are being raped of their fish.
This is OUR way!!!!....Rant over....
Hitting the Big 30...
Well the boy is most certainly a man now and i have to say the rebel youth that joined my current place of work at the age of 19 not really knowing anything about the real world and working life is a a distant memory. Weekends i now spend fishing where at this stage of my life spent recovering from a heavy drinking session the night before with my mates or playing rugby league and then drinking a little bit more with them after the game. Those days are now long gone and i can honestly say the time from 20-30 has seen me change so much both as a person and in life as i turn the age of 30 about to meet mine and my partners second child and i can honestly say i have never been happier.
The last 10 years have also been times of great sadness with the passing of my mother some 5 years ago in January so its safe to say its not been all sweetness and like and there isn't a day that goes by that i don't look at our little girl and feel a huge sadness that my mum never met her.
One person has been a constant through all those years and that person is my best friend and partner Lucy, without whom there would be certainly no blog you are reading now. She lets me pursue my crazy angling dreams and spend money we sometimes don't have on as she calls it "feeding the fishes". She really is a star and i know she reads my blog so thank you!
For my birthday i was expecting an present to mark the occasion, a watch or pendant etc but just showing how well she knows me i woke up on the Friday before my birthday to this tidy collection of birthday gifts, she knows me so well. A new bait waiter as my last one had come apart after years of abuse, so to my keep net, two fox bite indicators, some new braid, landing net pole and a sneaky cheeky t-shirt saw me a happy man and i hit the bank a happy angler with a beaming smile, more on that session next week.
Trotting..Cheap as Chips.......
I read a lot on forums about "the art of trotting a stick float" and i guess its the same as anything in life the more you do it the better you get and with stick float fishing practise and repetition is what will see you getting bite on this method for sure. I see so many arms of our sport though in the press and on the Internet being so over complicated by companies looking to part anglers with their cash for the latest set up or fishing tackle to catch you more fish.
Look at carp fishing as a major example of this in the modern fishing scene. As a kid i remember casting out a ledger Arley bomb lead running free on the line stopped with a number 4 shot and a hook tied on the end with a piece of corn on a size 10 hook. You then look at the rigs of today with all their component parts some rigs can now incorporate 10 to 15 elements to just he end rig alone. Pike fishing is also another example of a branch of our sport that is slowly becoming over complicated with ever elaborate rigs when in reality most of my fish in the last few weeks have come on a wire trace tied directly to my braid and a smelt twitched on the end or left lying under my feet free-lined using the line for bite indication.
Stick float fishing is a section of angling that has not yet been hit by the dissection of each element of the set up, apart from floats that is, so it means that this part of our sport is relatively cheap to participate in and it was during a visit from Ste to the bank for a chat this week i noticed just how simplistic the tackle is i use. On a normal session on the bank my terminal tackle and side tray consists of a 10 number 4 stick float, a tub of number 4 weights, a tub of number 8 weights, a depth plummet, hook length line and a pack of size 18/20 hooks.
My bait trays are even more simple with one box containing hemp the other a few pints of maggot and i might push the boat out and sometimes open a tin of corn but as a general rule that is my side tray for 90 percent of my trotting and it costs me in bait about 6.50 a trip. When you think this can see you sometimes putting a weight of fish over 20lb in the net of silvers then it really is a part of our sport that is great fun for very little money, so why not check out you local river and give it a try and let me know on facebook or email how you get on.
On to this weeks fishing..
River Dee Stick Float Fishing - Solid Dace and Roach Nets....
The previous weeks trips to this location saw us fishing a rising river and catching quite well indeed until a certain point when the fish just switched off as the rising water got too coloured. This session told us that the fish where about for sure and that they where of the stamp you would associate with this venue so we had no hesitation in setting the River Dee as our chosen destination. This decision was also made a lot easier by the fact that high tides where due the following week and with our baby due any moment it could mean our last chance for a while to get on the banks of this beautiful river.
I made up a few hook lengths before setting my alarm on my phone for a barmy 4.45am to be at my uncles for 5.15am. Getting a peg on this location can be a nightmare at times with over night pike anglers and cars that contain 4 anglers or more camping through the night at weekends so we hoped to arrive at around 6am and anyone beating us, well good luck to them. Dreaming of landing a monster dace i was just swinging it in as i felt the heavy thump on my feet of our dog Pippa and then the cold wet lick on my face that instantly wakes you from any dream. A quick glance at the clock and it was 6am!! dam i had overslept and thank god for the dog as i was well away.
Rushing round the house the car was quickly loaded the car and picked my uncle up but i knew we would be lucky to get a peg i hurried along the B roads as quickly as legally allowed. Turning the final bend i saw the disheartening sight of cars parked up but like last week they had fell for the old pegs you read about on the Internet forums and had paid no attention to the conditions on the day. The best pegs lay empty for us to drop on, as i always say there is no replacement or quick track to doing well than time on the bank and learning your rivers and how they fish in different conditions and water levels.
There is no need for a description of tackle as it was the set up your read above fished with my 17ft float rod. I fed the swim with maggots as i set up and placed hemp where i was expecting the bites to come on the day. Unusually for us we set up in the light of day as we are normally seen threading line through the eyes of our rods in car lights or head torches and it was easily gone 7.45 by the time we where both fishing. I love this time of year fishing with my uncle as all the Himalayan balsam has died Right back and the banks are laid bare, for once it actually looked like winter on the river as the scene painted a picture of dull browns and black tea coloured water, it looked mint. I knew on the day the problem we would have would be fish up in the water and no bait getting down but i had a plan for that with my trust bait dropper.
My uncle was into some clonking roach from the off that saw him using his keep net on many occasions during the early part of the session. I was on my sixth or seventh trot down without a bite and then i hit a snag right at the beginning of my line and it was a proper lump of a snag that i had no doubt was laden with plooms of anglers lines and feeders. What it meant was i started casting over the snag and bringing the line back in onto My line i was trotting to fish it but it also meant there would be no way i was risking casting my bait dropper in the swim today as the snag was bang on where i would put it and i was sure it would snag coming in.
As above my uncle had made a solid start with some mint roach but i was a lot slower off the mark but what i was catching was of a nice quality and again with it being a dace i was ultra confident as where there is one dace there is certainly a lot more. Feeding by hand we where both getting swirls and great numbers of fish topping as we fed and i was sure not a allot of our maggot was getting down so i had to make a decision. Do i up the feed to try and feed these fish off or do i reduce the feed and up the hemp hoping this will keep what fish are on the bottom there to take my maggot trotted through. Mother nature soon made the decision for me as a nice pike swirly through the dace battering my maggots dispersing them every where. This seemed to scare them off for a good hour or two and allowed me to feed maggots in the swim and begin to put together a decent run of quality dace.
The swim i was fishing had a sunken tree right to my left and my trot was down to a much larger tree on my inside and i noticed a lot of my bites came on or around level with the tree so i quickly began to feed my hemp there and although it was much further down the swim that i would normally feed hemp it was where the fish where and this steady stream of hemp certainly kept them there.
I also kept feeding a little inside line next to the sunken tree to my left where a steady flow coming off an eddy meant the was going straight down and i knew it was a perch dream swim. Dark and mysterious water around the snag providing a perfect lair for a big perch I fed the swim for a good hour or so before giving it a go and it was a fantastic feeling when the first fish i caught was a pristine billy, not massive but the right species.
This half hour to a hour fishing the slack produced some smaller dace as well but it was certainly not as productive as the swim down to the snag that i had kept feeding. Resting a swim when trotting certainly does do it some good, as long as you keep feeding it, don't just walk away and not feed it as the fish will literally move off to the next angler feeding bait and you will literally have to start to build the swim again. Keep drip feeding the swim as if you are fishing it but don't run the line through it certainly brings the fish on better in my opinion.
After a hour trying for a better billy i felt like i was not getting the fish i expected to get and moved back over to my main line and the fish where literally stacked up and for a good hour it was dace soup as the fish came one after the other after the other, bite a chuck and great fishing.
My uncle i could see down stream was also having a good session and we where pretty much matching each other fish for fish right until we packed up at 4pm. I must admit i hate packing in when you are still catching it really is a killer.
My uncle smashed it with a net of 21lb or dace and some stonking roach.
my net went 18lb 12oz and again a respectable net for the day.
In summary the session was one that gave us both great pleasure, not only in the catching of a decent net of silvers but the fact we had put confidence in what we had learnt in previous years and it had come good. A great buzz and we drove home full of excitement and a feeling of achievement as we trundled along the B-Roads home.
Not Quite A Double...
The following morning i was up with the dawn chorus again, this time alone and out chasing pike. I had been putting the odd bit of bait in during the week prior to this session so i was excited to get out on the bank and see if the effort had been worth it. I baited up two spots both on Wednesday evening and again on Friday.
I arrived on the bank in the pitch black and set off on along the bank to my chosen pegs, a bit of a walk but in these times where some anglers can be quite lazy that little bit of effort can deter those car park swim anglers from ever fishing your spot.
The dawn just about to break over the hills i took a picture just as i was placing my dead bait mackerel on a drop off. The rod in place i then set about rigging up my small bait rod for a spot of wobbling, a really simple task as the rod is always set up and its a case of literally putting the pieces together and attaching a bait. The dead bait rod could just be made out in the dark and i began by wobbling a bait slowly back through the dark water.
A few chucks in with nothing to show i tried a cheeky chuck into some shallow water that then dropped off and half way in i felt that solid thud on the line, in fact its the hardest bite i have had wobbling the fish must have proper nailed the bait. I quickly flicked the bail arm over and let the fish move off with the bait and the jagged pulls on the line let me know the pike was turning the bait for eating. I gave it a few more seconds before testing the drag and striking hard and over the rod hooped as the fish kept deep and went on a long run right under my other line.
I quickly sunk the rod tip under the water and began to tighten the drag to bring the fish back towards me. She was a feisty character to say the least and with violent almost petulant head shakes she defiantly came back under my other rod and under my rod tip where the fight continued. She did eventually calm down a bit and come to the top where i gratefully slid my net under her green and gold flanks, a fist pump at an early fish i was over the moon.
She was a short but deep fish and i thought that there was a possibility she could go double figures but sadly the scales settled on 9lb 7oz, not quit a double but a more than welcome fish and so early on in the session. The fish released the light was just breaking through and i quickly set about trying for another pike on the wobble.
When the sun came up onto the water my heart sank as i could see the recent cold weather had taken all the colour out of the water and it was gin clear. I knew i had around a hour to try and winkle a bite out of the swim before the clear conditions would see the pike move for cover.
No pike where forth coming in the next hour or so and there was zero interest in both wobbled and static deads despite many moves. It was great to come across this lovely bright red toadstool.
I decided not long after taking the photo to make a move to another location with more colour and it did pay off in a way as i lost two fish due to them coming off in the fight so i would say it was a sort of successful move but losing two fish i did leave with a feeling of i should have done better. With piking though and losing fish i cant see how i could have prevented it as i certainly don't want to be leaving the runs any longer.
In reflection of the baiting up i feel it did work as i have fished this spot quite a bit in the past month or so and the fish is a fish i have not caught before, did the pre bait bring him into the area? I guess as with all angling we will never ever know.
Till next time
I wish you all tight lines