Saturday, 31 December 2011

“Lovely Chubley Send Off For 2011”

  First of all if you are reading this after New Year’s eve when this post went live I would like to wish you all a happy new year and hope you all had a great Christmas period.  I purposely didn’t do any updates to the blog while I was off and made a point of not even looking at the blog, with devoting one day every weekend to fishing throughout the year you have to, at this time of year make time for family and also give yourself a break from it as well, that’s not to say I didn’t winkle in one of two fishing trips in the past two weeks.

  I had thought about writing a post over Christmas as an overview post of my fishing in 2012 but decided against and although the weather was atrocious I decided to go on a few fishing trips and blog about them in a kind of bumper post around New Year.

Christmas came and went and after losing my mum 2 years ago I have to say I was glad to see the back of it to be honest and can’t see me enjoying a Christmas day till my own children come along and the magic of Christmas will be reignited again, hopefully, but that’s enough of that and one thing Christmas did bring me was some money to go and buy a seat box in the boxing day sales.

 The Boxing Day sales at Stapley Water Gardens have always been good to me, recent bargains include my 17ft carbon active float rod that before Christmas was advertised on my birthday at £280 and I managed to pick it up on Boxing Day for £160 so with my money in pocket I set off on boxing day hoping to get a seat box with a few quid knocked off it, I knew the boxes never have the best discounts like the rods do but I was optimistic of getting 30-50 quid of the online price.

  Arriving at around 11.30 we entered the shop to be met by four queues the length of the store and anyone that has ever visited here will understand just how long that is.  I quickly made my way to the seat boxes and I am not really one for messing around when shopping I had a few vital criteria to meet like a deep base for my reels and not being the lightest of anglers it had to be quite strong and I quickly had a Preston Onbox 2011 ltd edition waiting for me behind the tills.  I picked up a few vital accessories in a brolly arm and a keep net long arm and a few bits of terminal tackle and I was ready to join the queue and queue we did for getting on for 2 and half hours!!!. 


  When I travel to Stapley I usually go down the M6 motorway but always like to take the longer route back through Middlewich down the back roads and today there was a good reason for this as I wanted one to have a look at the Warrington Anglers stretch Trent and Mersey Canal  at Croxton Lane and being so close to the River Dane it would also give me a chance to see how the Dane was looking level wise for a planned trip the following day.

With the River Dane looking well coloured and really pushing through we decided to visit the Trent and Mersey Canal at lodge lane the following day with a view to leaving the River Dane till later in the week when we hoped it may have dropped just a tad further.

On to the fishing:
I spent most of boxing day afternoon sorting my kit out into my new seat box and I must say I was well impressed with the amount of storage it has with two compartments under the seat, a removable side tray for bits and another compartment with more winders than I have ever seen in my life and more importantly for my type of fishing plenty of room in the base for my reels, korum case and three bait boxes.   I think I will only keep one half of the winder draw for pole rigs and river hook lengths and the other as extra storage.  With all my essential gear for the next day in the box I was all set for a day’s pole fishing on the canal.

  We arrived on the canal just as the dawn was breaking and made our way along the bank towards a set of reeds that covered about a third of the canal, my uncle set up on the edge of the reeds with me setting up opposite a convenient gap in the reeds roughly 12 yards apart.  Bait wise believe it or not I was using the same maggots I had blanked so emphatically on recently on our icy trip to the Bridgewater Canal and I also took some of that essential canal bait punch bread.

 I started by feeding a swim just of the reeds and with the weather being a barmy 12oc I fed the swim more heavily than I had the previous canal session.  The reality of the session hit home as we only had a few really small roach to show for our efforts and the bites where very few a far between which was a real surprise to us both with the conditions looking so favourable.

We continued to plug away throughout the morning and every time we got one or two bites in quick succession they would die away just as fast and this continued till around 2pm and was to say the least very frustrating but it all became very apparent what was happening as the light dimmed we started to get one or two slightly better fish and as I was bringing one in a small perch came up in the crystal clear water to investigate the small roach and in the blink of an eye a pike lunged up to the top and nailed the perch. 


  Luckily for me I had packed my piking gear with me and I quickly set up a quick pike rig and the bait didn’t hit the water enough time for the float to settle on the top before it was nailed by the pike and what a fight entailed with the safety of the reeds so close the pike made lunge after lunge for the reeds and how its amazing just how hard these fish fight and after a real tussle the pike above lay in my landing net I reckon it weighed between 5 and 6lb.

I released the pike further up the canal and got back on the pole because before the pike I was getting a few bites and luckily the fish where still around but the very next fish I hooked was met with a green swirl and my blue hydro elastic being stretched to the maximum as yet another pike took a fish after playing the pike for a few minutes the fish let go of the roach which was in a real bad way, this is very common when hooking pike for them to fight till the end only to let go at the last minute. 

I promptly grabbed for the pike rod and sent the roach out and after a few minutes I was connected to the same pike as I was a minute ago and unfortunately the hooked pulled after a short fight.  My uncle who had been suffering the same bites as I was and decided to put the pike rod out in his swim and after a few minutes he was connected with a small jack pike around 2lb-3lb.

By now it was gone 3pm and in the space of an hour we had connected with 3 pike and landed 2 and we thought no wonder we had struggled so much and it was with that the pike float again started moving slowly towards the reeds and my uncle was again connected with yet another pike, they were going mad and I have never ever seen predator activity like that was ever before even on the river, was it the clarity of the water mixed with the warmer temperature but got us wondering just how many pike we would have had, had we stayed on even longer. Below is the third and final pike on the bank and unlike the olden days of canal fishing where these pike would have ended up in the hedgerow behind all went back safe and sound.


So on reflection I think we will be giving the canal another go as it definitely has potential for a decent bag of silvers if the pike are not active but one thing is for sure I will be piking my pike rods again next time I go to this venue and again we didn’t see another angler on the bank so much of  WAA waters go un fished.

River Dane Trip

  With the weather being so mild on Wednesday we decided to bring our trip to the River Dane forward by one day and hoped that the mild weather on the Wednesday would see the river drop and clear a little and on Thursday morning we made our way to the intricate and picturesque river Dane.

  We arrived at the river bank to be met with a howling wind and heavy rain and I knew this would mean a rising river come the afternoon with debris coming down so while my uncle set up I quickly put together my feeder rod I had set up the previous evening hoping to nick an early unsuspecting chub.

I get a lot of questions on the blog regarding my rig and to be honest my fishing is usually simplicity itself as you can see in the picture above.  My reel line for snag fishing on the Dane is always 10lb maxima down to a swivel and a 10lb Shimano Antares hook length with a Korum quick stop size 12 hook and today I was using a 2oz lead as I want the bait to be completely static underneath the raft I was fishing too.

  My bait is one thing I do like to tinker with and over the years have come up with a spice/flavour blend that has served me well for both carp and of course chub but I also would never got the river without maggot and of course corn.


  I decided to introduce a few pieces of meat under the raft and gently followed it not long after with my rig and settled down in position with the line across my finger, feeling for the unmistakable thud of a chub bite.  The bait wasn’t in the water more than a few minutes before the tip flew round and I struck into a fish that was already in the snags as I struck and this is where the strong line comes into play as it gives you the power you need to apply the pressure to get the chub into the main flow.  Once the fish is in the middle you are almost guaranteed one more hard run for the snags but with a soft action tip it gives you the cushion you need to apply the pressure to halt the run and it wasn’t long before the first chub of the day lay on the landing net.


In went a few more pieces of meat and a few grains of corn and I was back in position waiting for another bite as contrary to popular belief on the Dane you can catch more than one chub from each swim as long as you get them out without too much fuss.  The next action in the swim was a missed bite and when hair rigging this can be a real problem as chub are notorious for stealing bait without getting hooked so I decided to counter this by putting 3 pieces of corn on the hair tight up against the shank of the hook, this way the chub has to take the whole bait with it being so small and normally means less missed bits due to them mouthing the bait, had this continued I would have certainly cut off the hair and hooked the bait direct to the hook but fortunately for me the suttle change made the difference and I hooked into the next chub that fought like a demon and punched well above its weight so much so I was certain it was either a chub over 5lb or a barbel but was really surprised to see a average chub break the surface.


  After tis chub I rested the swim for a good 10 minutes and just tricked bait through the swim, chub fishing is definitely a war of minds and you have to be one step ahead of them, if you can do this chub fishing can be considered too easy at times due to their hungry willingness to gulp down a bait.   Not long after I presented another bait did the tip wrap round again and I was into another fish and couldn’t believe my luck at finding the chub so willing to feed buy unfortunately I suffered to agonising feeling of a hook pull half way through the fight and with the fish causing so much commotion I was certain that was the swim blown for at least a good hour.

  Cursing to myself as I re-baited the hook with a piece of meat I continued to put some bait through the swim, ideally I would of liked to have had the option to trot the swim like last time as presenting a moving bait can sometimes be as good as a change of bait for fooling a chub into taking the bait but alas the recent high water levels had dislodged a tree branch that now clay diagonally across the  head of the swim making trotting impossible so it was a case of re baiting and giving the swim time.

It was during the baiting up I just got the feeling I should try a sneaky but dangerous cast right to the back of the sunken tree this would put me right in the chubs lair but I was sure with the cover the chub would be confident enough to bite and I wasn’t wrong but unlike the other bites this was the gentlest of bites that I would no doubt of missed had I not been touch ledgering and with that I struck into another chub but unfortunately with the fain belting down I couldn’t take a picture right there and then so placed the fish straight in the keep net.

With the rain came the wind and all sorts of sticks, twigs, logs and leaves began to flow downstream a nightmare when you are trying to fish on the tip.  I decided to pay my uncle a visit and boy was he getting a battering as shown below it turned into a terrible day but we stuck it out.


While I visited my uncle he was happily trotting a swim down to some snags and had already had a few grayling when the struck into something in a different league and I knew straight away he was into a hard fighting chub which played ball till it came into the edge and made a lunge for the inside bank, luckily my uncle, from experience was waiting for this and played the fish really well and “the eskimo” was on the board and I returned back to my swim.


The day for me didn’t produce any more chub and looking back I should have maybe gone for a wander but with the weather so bad it was a case of battening down the hatches and riding it out.  I ended the day with 3 lovely chub and was pleased with my efforts although I think had I been able to trot the swim I could of winkled out one or two more but like I always say it is just a pleasure to be on the Dane as it is such a beautiful river to fish and full of wildlife.


I packed up around 3pm and made my way to my uncle’s swim to catch the last half hour of him fishing and he reported he had had another chub since I left earlier on.   Nothing came in the last hour and below is my uncles brace of chub from a killer of a swim, how he gets down them banks I will never know ut these two where worth the effort.

All in all was an ok day on the bank fish wise and it is always good to catch a few chub, hopefully the weather will clear a bit in the new year and we can get back on the river Dee and after those shoals of dace.  I wish you all a happy new year and wish you all tight lines for 2012.


Monday, 19 December 2011

Brass Monkeys Blank

  This week saw me having some time to put together a few more venue videos and upload them onto the relevant pages within the blog. The venues added where the River Severn and the River Gowy to the Rivers I fish page and I hope they will provide anglers new and old who fish the Warrington Anglers waters with a bit more up to date info on the venues on the card.  In this coming week I am hoping to get the River Alyn added to the rivers page and also make a new page or add the Bridgewater Canal at Daresbury to the Stillwater Venue page.

  This year so far we have been really lucky with the weather and just shows how mother nature is in full control of it all, the past two winters have been some of the worst I have ever experienced and I am sure the wildlife that had to survive through such tough conditions really felt the effects of those two winters more than us, who’s main inconvenience was getting trying to get to work never mind trying to find a decent meal in such harsh conditions.  These two harsh winters where mirrored this year with one of the mildest Autumn and Winters on record and as an angler that is on the bank every week you see the difference’s from the farmers leaving their cattle to pasture on the fields for longer to the birds gorging themselves on the bumper crops of berries that weighed heavy on the branches of the trees this year all these will see the balance restored.

  This past week though marked a stark and abrupt end to that honeymoon period we had enjoyed so much the past few months and winter arrived with its full force of ice cold winds, hail and snow and the view out of my work window on Friday resembled a picture from a Christmas card.  The snow didn’t bother me that much as if the temperature had held it would have just stayed on the ground, the problem came that evening with the downpour of rain which consequently melted most of the snow and of course this snow melt finds its way into our waterways and this saw our rivers that where just approaching a fishable level become swollen again with this added water.

  The one exception to this was the tiny River Dane which on Friday evening was still recovering from a recent spike in water levels but was still just about fishable.  A phone call on Friday evening between me and my uncle, who drives along some of the country back roads to work, put pay to any river trip as based on the roads around here we decided the farmer’s road down to the River Dane, which is really steep towards the end, was not worth the risk and it was decided there and then that the following morning we would be fishing on the local canal.

On to the fishing,

 With the destination the following morning set in stone I quickly put the hemp I had prepared in the freezer along with the luncheon meat I had been “glugging” in a secret concoction that has served me well for so many year’s chub fishing, as I placed these items in the freezer my heart did sink a little knowing we wouldn’t be on a river but in the same moment I realised just how long it had been since I last visited the canal back in the spring time.  The chosen plan of attack would be on the pole so I quickly emptied my holdall of all my river gear and packed in my pole and more importantly my trusty umbrella.

  The rest of that evening was taken up preparing some rigs for the following day and as the canal we planned to visit, the Trent and Mersey, was quiet this time of year with boat traffic and even more so with the recent drop in temperature, rigs would have to be cunning and light to get a bite in the clear water.  The main part of my rig was made up of 3lb monofilament line with 1.7lb line for hook length, the lightest line in my box and for a hook I chose a tiny size 20 Kamasan Animal micro-barbed hook to finish the rig.  These tactics have served me well in the passed years and I hoped they would see me right the following day, all rigs done and it was time to sit back and enjoy this week’s episode of Tight Lines on Sky and an evening of “researching” on the lap top for a forth coming venue after Christmas.

  The chosen canal was only a stones throw from my house so the meet up time reflected this and it wasn’t till gone 07.30am we set off on our short journey to the Trent and Mersey Canal just outside Whitehouse Industrial Estate.  The rain was pouring down and the temperature a barmy 33oc on the in car temperature gage, empty roads showed us just how mad we where to even be contemplating fishing in such conditions and my uncles point the previous night was proven as although the main roads where fine as soon as we turned off the road down to the canal the snow that had frozen was lethal and I remember thinking I was so glad we hadn’t risked the River Dane.

  The car tucked tightly into a lay bye we walked the short distance to the bridge to check out the conditions and it was the worst possible scenario, a frozen canal.  We walked along to the area we had planned to fish next to some reeds and the canal was frozen the whole was across and was with no apparatus to break the ice, un-fishable.

We decided to take a look at an even more local canal on the way back home in the evergreen Bridgewater Canal and we where surprised to see it not frozen at all with only one floating patch of thin ice in residence and it wasn’t long till we found out why as we disturbed a big group of ducks under the bridge as we walked down, obviously their movement had stopped the canal from freezing in this area and we decided to give it a go in front of some dead reeds that just had to hold fish.

  As we set up the day broke and was actually quite warm setting up in the early morning glow but our chosen destination at Daresbury Labs also overlooked the low lying surroundings and in the distance in all directions where dark grey clouds closing in on us and we knew the warming sun would soon be engulfed and when they arrived the temperature dropped and I mean it dropped you could feel the cold air dropping down, it was so cold…….

None the less we set up and as to not over feed the fish I introduced 7-8 maggots and a small nugget of ground bait to my chosen line tight to the reeds on the far bank and left it while I set my rigs up and made sure all my gear was tucked away tight as the wind was already beginning to get up.  My uncle also decided to fish a line tight to the reeds but also set up another line on bread closed in and again rested the swim while he sorted his gear out, by 9am we where all set up and ready to fish and I was optimistic for a few bites.

Three hours passed by and I had been trickling bait in over the line every 10-15 minutes and hadn’t had so much as a knock the never ending precession of joggers and dog walkers questioning our sanity at first was funny by dinner time and still without so much of a chewed maggot became less so and I think our lack of enthusiasm in our responses got the message across loud and clear, things where not going well at all.

  By 2pm we had endured the worst that the weather could throw at us and to give you an idea I captured a video of one of the first bands of ice cold rain to hit us, it did get worse with hail and snow but there was no way I was risking even picking my phone out of my pocket to record it as to be truthfully honest I had lost all feeling in my fingers so much so I struggled to even hook a maggot on the hook.  I was wearing my new thermal gear and although my body was warm and my legs I must admit my face and fingers lost all feeling in them.


By 3pm we finally convinced each other the fish where not going to come on the feed and we graciously accepted defeat and began packing away.  The day did however show me again how fishing is so much more than catching fish, time on the bank gives you time alone to think things over and this past week I had a real problem that was weighing heavy on my mind and after spending a few hours on the bank alone with my thoughts its now crystal clear in my mind what I need to do to sort it out and if anything came from Saturday it was that I now am not carrying that burden of a a problem around.

  Thank you if you have stuck it out this far and I hope to be back on the rivers some time this week hopefully on Saturday so I can get an update out over Christmas and if not I will do one big update towards the end of the festive period.  I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and thank you all for the support you have shown this blog in the first year of its creation, thank you!!!!

Till next time

Tight lines


Monday, 12 December 2011

We must be mad..................

The weekend after my birthday in December is one I always look forward to with gusto as it almost certainly means I will be on the bank with a new piece of kit and this year was no different I am happy to say although this year I had two presents that where fishing related.  The first of these after the bitterness of last year was essential and that is a thermal bib and brace and after some deliberation I decided to go with the Sundridge Retex mk4 bib and brace.  The second was a complete surprise and god knows how my fiancĂ© knew to get me it but apparently she found it by searching the internet for “good trotting reels” and to my amazement I woke up on my birthday to an Abu 706 closed face reel.

  As is the norm in my job my birthday also signals the start of my years allocation of annual leave and after a few months without a break from work I booked a few days of towards the end of last week with the hope of getting on the bank to wet a line and also spend some quality time with the missus which is always important if you do as much fishing as I do throughout the year. 
  To say winter arrived last week was an understatement and for Thursday and Friday my pike spinning rod lay dormant in the boot my car with the gale force wind, rain and hail all battering down all day long.  The rivers on the EA site where all running high and the dee especially was at a all year high, any trip to the river at the weekend was doubtable and on Friday afternoon I decided to take a trip out to the River Dee to see how she was looking and it wasn’t  good to say the least as you can see on the video below from the Warrington Anglers Stretch at Almere Ferry.


 In the same trip I decided to visit the River Dee at Farndon and it was totally unfishable as shown on the picture of the swim a fished a few weeks ago the difference is mind blowing.



  With our weekly trip out not planned until the Sunday it gave the river a few days to fall but even with no more rainfall  the river Dee would still not be fishable but I knew from experience that the tributary that feeds the river Dee at Almere Ferry, the river Alyn, is usually fishable and can at times produce the goods when the main river is in flood and with that we made plans for an early start on the river Alyn on the Sunday.
On to this week’s fishing:

When I started the blog back in February I promised myself two things, one I would do my best to get out fishing and a report done at least once a week which so far I have done and secondly to be open and honest about what I catch and not fall into the trap some bloggers do of only posting the good times when they come along.  Angling is as much about the lows as it is the highs and you learn so much more from a hard day on the bank as opposed to the days where you can’t do anything wrong and I would hate my blog to give the impression that I catch fish every time I go because angling just isn’t like that, for anyone, even the famous anglers you see in the papers fail to catch and are not afraid to say so if you follow them on twitter.

  The forecast for the coming day was dreadful the rain was already falling as we left the house and headed on our way to the river and all the signs where there telling us to knock it on the head and at best get a few hours kip and go for a trip to our local Bridgewater Canal but as always the draw of the rivers was too strong and we headed off into the drizzle bound for the small river dee tributary the River Alyn.

  We arrived on the banks of the river at first light and set up in the first swims either side of the bridge and as the video shows below the river was as low as it is in summer, a far cry for the bloated confluence where this river flows into the main river and low enough for me to stand in the river.

  As you can hear on the video above the young calf’s in the opposite field where in full voice and obviously mistook me for the farmer that feeds them around the same time we arrived on the river and to say they didn’t shut up was an understatement from the moment they spotted me trotting the river till the time we departed their calls where constant but it is all part of what I love about the river seeing how animals react to your presence is one of the things that always amazes me and these young calf’s were so funny to watch as one by one they grouped till they had the confidence to come forward I just hope they remember that I pose no harm when I share I field with them next summer when they are twice the size and have horns lol.
  The fishing was tough as we thought it would be and the rain that had departed when we arrived returned with gusto and for a good hour and half it proper belted down with a mixture of rain and hail and a memory of the day was seeing four runners go over the bridge to my right and I remember thinking how much other people watching me fishing and them running in such conditions would think we had a screw loose, in all honestly I think they may be onto something as the only return from the river from three hours of trotting was a few small grayling shown below, as Stewart Bloor says “at least I am not a blanker”.

  At around 11.30 am we got together and my uncle was having the same amount of action as me with only a few grayling and dace to show for his efforts and we decided to pack up and as it was on the way home we decided to spend the afternoon on the banks of the River Gowy, a river we have never fished before and with the day being so bad it was decided it was better to try this river on a day like this than on a perfect day when we could be bagging on the Dee.

  We arrived in the car park at the Nags head pub and was greeted by another animal of the bovine variety and I was so glad that my angling journey so far hasn’t crossed paths with one of these shaggy animals without the safety of a barbed wire fence between us.

  A quick check of the river showed it to be clear and at some points clogged with streamer weed and apart from where we set up devoid of any bank side features, any bites where going to be at a premium so we baited lightly and had a small competition to see who could catch the most fish.  The bad weather had not followed us from wales and we were treated to a clear if not bitterly cold afternoon on the bank.
The fishing as said above was really hard and it was well gone 2pm when my uncle connected with his first fish after a lot of gamesmanship about so called “snotted maggots”.

 I must admit I succumbed to the pressure mounted upon me and unfortunately I was on the wrong end of a 4-1 hiding with the roach above my only capture and I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a day on the banks of the river and caught so little fish.

Here are a fe pictures I took of the river gowy and when I get the chance I will be adding both the River Gowy, River Alyn and River Severn to my rivers page.

Till next week tight lines

Monday, 5 December 2011

Centre-pin cobwebs blown off on the Dane

  This’s blog update starts off with an article I read on Thursday night in the Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News a link to the BBC run article is found by following this link .  Having lived right next to the Mersey my whole life and witnessed as a kid whilst playing down Wigg Island all the chemical barrels that used to be dotted around this now nature reserve it amazes me just how much the river has improved in just a few years.  Now as of this article being published no otter has actually been seen but signs of these have been found by the local rangers in the form of paw prints and otter spraint and there are already talks of viewing platforms being installed to capture a glimpse of these animals.

  The River Mersey also grabbed my attention in the national press as well this week with a report in the Anglers Mail that a 30lb pike has been caught somewhere along the Warrington Stretch, this backed up with the weekly reports of the matches producing weights of bream and roach to near 50lb means the River Mersey is firmly back on any local River fisherman’s radar and had we not had so many new rivers to try already we would have already booked a visit on this local venue and who knows before the end of the year there may be a report on here of my first ever River Mersey fish, what a thought that is……

  This past week showed the importance again of the Environment Agency website as up till 9pm on Friday night we were all set to go the WAA stretch of the River Ribble but a slight incline in the water level coupled with the fact another local river, the River Wyre, was also well up showed us that there was obviously some bad weather in the area and by morning it was a good bet the Ribble would be high once the rain water hit our stretch.  The EA site also showed us that the River Dee was also on the rise and although we was confident we would bag a few fish trotting the highly coloured water we decided to risk it all on a trip to the tiny River Dane at Holmes Chapel which according to the EA website was low and had no rain water flowing through it or any signs of any.  I have lost count now at the amount of times this site has saved me a wasted journey and getting to know the levels and graphs of the rivers you fish is invaluable as it proved again this weekend.

 On to this week’s fishing….

  We left my uncles house again at around 5.50am as we would normally for a winter trip to the river and made our way down the deserted M56 and M6 motorway towards the Warrington Anglers stretch of the River Dane situated on the outskirts of the picturesque town of Holmes Chapel as stated above the roads where deserted and in what seemed like no time at we was pulling off the M6 motorway and making the short journey to the stretch, our actual time of reaching the car park was 06.10am a whole hour before even the first glimmers of light where due but what we was treated to was a crystal clear sky with all the star constellations on full display and what a sight it was truly remarkable and just another aspect of our world that us anglers have the privilege to see.
At around 7am we decided that three of us in a car was not healthy at all, something about last night’s curry was banded as some form of an excuse from some quarters but it was enough for us all to decide it was time to make a move and we set off into the darkness making our way to a selection of swims that could provide us all with a decent days fishing in close proximity to each other.

On our way to the swims we spotted something big in the moonlight and what is normally a field full of sheep certainly had something a lot bigger in it.  All our views where that the farmer had put some cows or worse a bull in his bottom field so we approached cautiously and the animal moved to the right as we approached closer and closer but to our amazement when we entered the second field there was nothing at all in the field, weird!! Had I been there on my own I would have probably passed it off a my eyes getting tricked in the dark but all three of us where in no doubt we had seen a large animal in the gloom, looking over franks past reports after the trip suggested the possible culprit could have been a buck deer as sightings of these have been made in the past and would explain how it disappeared into the night so quickly, either way next time I go I will not be going in the dark alone lol.


  We arrived at the swims in almost pitch dark as you can see form the picture above but it is weird how quick the light arrives around you with you really noticing it and it wasn’t long before the gentle blue glow of a new day illuminated the river and shown what a glorious swim I was due to fish for the rest of the day.  Past trips to this river have shown this swim to hold one of two chub but usually the hectic hit and hold capture of a chub from this swim usually would be followed by a long wait for your next bite as the shoal spook away under the cover.

  After spending most of the river season so far on the banks of the River Dee it was with great anticipation and excitement I began to set up and due to the shallow fast nature of the River Dane two piece of kit that so far hadn’t seen the light of day this year where due to have the cobwebs blown off them, one being my 13ft Korum Float rod and the other my Okuma Sheffield centre-pin reel loaded with 5lb “silk” line.  I also had already set up from my last trip for barbell my barbell rod and as this was going to be fished as close to the chubs lair as possible I kept my Shimano bait runner on it loaded with 10lb maxima line.

  After I was set up it was daylight and just lately the morning chorus has been dominated by flocks of large crows and today was no different and what a racket they made as they left their roosts so much so they forced a solitary heron into flight. 

There is nothing better than being on the river at first light:

  With my bomb rod put to one side I settled into my swim for the day and hoped that the baiting up I had done as soon as I arrived had attracted some attention as I prepared to make my first trot down the river.  The river incidentally was as low as I have ever seen it and as you can see from the picture of the swim the river was crystal clear with the beds of streamer weed clearly visible in conditions like this stealth is essential you must keep low and keep you movements to a minimum any anglers along with you for the day ask nicely to approach off the skyline and be as quiet as you can and you will be amazed how close these super shy crafty chub will come to you.

  First trot down the swim and right over my bed of bait the float buried and I was into a fish that although definitely not a chub was using the flow to its full advantage, I knew instantly that I had hooked the lady of the stream and boy did it feel good on the old centre pin you really can get a feel of how to play fish on the centre pin as your thumb is in full control of exactly how much pressure to put on the spool a great tool for teaching youngsters how to get a feel for playing fish and great fun especially when you have a lively grayling on the end putting on an aerial display of leaps and jumps trying to throw the hook, eventually she was on the bank and having her picture taken.


  Normally I would return a fish like this to the river but as I was staying in the same swim all day I put the keep net in upstream of my position and took time to hold the fish in the net till she recovered from the fight.  The reason for this is both grayling and chub have a tendency after released to shoot back into your swim and spook the whole shoal I knew bites could be at a premium today and was taking no risks so into the net she went.  In what seemed no time at all I was back in position ready to trot down again and for the next few trots down the float just trundled its way through but I kept the bait trickling through and out of the blue the bloat buried and I mean buried and I struck into what can only be described at first as the bottom until you see your float heading into the snags and you realise you most certainly have a chub on the end.

  On such a remote small river it really is hit and hold and its essential to resist the temptation to hold the rod high you need your rod tip under the water to attempt to stop your line getting caught in the roots of the trees and the rest is a battle of wills and down to how good your knots are and if they hold to get the fish into the main flow.  Once the fish is into the main flow you are half way there and one thing with chub you can guarantee is they will always have a second hard dart for cover and that can be also to your nearside bank as well, thankfully, in this case once the chub was out of the snags he came in nicely and was gleefully scooped up, what a result less than an hour in and two nice fish on the bank.


  After this fish I introduced some more bait and continued to trot down but it was clear the commotion of the last chub had seen the shoal spook into cover and this was confirmed to be by the capture of a few of these little critters below, minnows, or as they have become more n amongst ourselves “Barry minalows” the river Dane is paved with them and it was time to offer the chub something different and I reached for the bomb rod, time to go in after em!!!

  On went my chosen bait and introduced so the flow took the bait down underneath the labyrinth of twigs that the chub call home, no need for a rod rest just sit comfortably with the rod on your knee and your finger on the line and wait for the tip to bang round and that unmistakable pluck on the line.  Sat on the bank, hunched up like an expectant heron I was ready for that unmistakable chub bite and in normal Dane fashion it wasn’t long in coming and with the drag set tight I wasn’t giving an inch in this fight and it wasn’t long before the fish was tamed by the strong line and into the net.


This fish was removed with such quickness that it didn’t have a chance to disturb the swim but when after chub it’s a battle of minds and you have to be one step ahead of them, building their confidence before being cheeky enough to try and catch one and constantly changing your hook bait and presentation and with that it was time to go back on the float rod.  The float hadn’t been down the swim more than 5 or 6 times before it shot under again and I was into another chub and this one was having none of it a fought like a stink making numerous darts for the cover and I have to admit to being very lucky in catching it as at one point I could see a big splash right at the back of the trees which was in direct line with my float so the fish was well in the snags but when your luck is in these fish come out and today was my luck day and the fish slid nicely from under the trees and was soon in the keep net and a memory of the day was the commotion this one chub caused in the net trying to get out, he was not happy at all!!.


  One thing I see a lot when reading about fishing for chub on the float is all this about using massive hooks down to size 12 and 10 when trotting and hopefully this picture below shows that you can still catch nice chub from a snaggy swim on small hooks the one I was fishing with in Saturday was a size 18 hook and it does the job fine as you can see below.


  The next hour or so passed by with little action but a few minnows and a solitary grayling on the bank and despite changing tactics a few times and being snapped on the bomb rod by a really big fish it was gone 10am by the time the next chub came along and it was more than welcome and although the smallest of the chub caught by me on Saturday was again a feisty character and what fun I was having on the pin catching these chubby chub.


 After this chub the cloud cover broke and the sun rose high enough to cast its light on the swim, this marked the end of the action for a while and I knew it so in went a decent amount of bait and I went for a wander to see how my dad and uncle where getting on, my uncle had had around 10 grayling and a pristinely marked trout while my dad had also been getting into the grayling as well on his feeder rod neglecting to shout me to take a picture of his monster grayling approaching 2lb lol.

  After my wandering I returned back to my swim and endless trotting produced nothing until some cloud cover came over and almost like a light had been switched on another chub took the bait, again on the float rod and to be honest I could catch fish all day trotting over the feeder and I can’t believe I have neglected the River Dane so much this year.


  Five chub from the same swim in one morning on the Dane and I was well chuffed with my mornings efforts and through our the afternoon I continued to make the odd trip to my dad and uncle and kept a stream of bait going in my swim knowing that I had a decent amount in the keep net I was all set for the last hour before darkness to try and winkle out a big chub and from 2.30pm I settled back into my swim and was determined to catch a chub on my uncles secret recipe meat concoction and eventually right on last knockings I hooked and landed I think the best chub of the day it was really wide and fat and although not a monster by today’s standards I would say it was above average for the WAA stretch of the Dane and there was no better way to end the day, six chub and a few grayling I was well happy with my efforts.

And even the angling gods where shining on me as the chub where well behaved for their photo shoot although the fading light did affect the quality of the picture


As I write this blog tonight the hail is battering at my door and a quick check of the river levels tells me it is going to take a the rain to stop all together in the next day or so for there to be any chance of a trip to the river this weekend coming and if I am honest I really can’t see it myself so it could mean something different next week for the blog I am off work for my birthday towards the end of this week so I may take the short trip to my local Bridgewater canal in search of some jack pike but at this moment nothing is certain.
Till next week
Its tight lines from me and tight lines from this rubbery lipped chub


Monday, 28 November 2011

Severn Blues Blown Away on the Dee

 Last weekend we all endured at very disheartening day on the River Severn, the river was in perfect nick and the swim a trotting dream and just screamed fish. The big chub aside we caught around 7 small dace and gudgeon between us which in my eyes says that something was not right at all with the River.  This week the inquest began into the reasons behind this and amongst the numerous reports of the river fishing really bad at the moment was a reoccurring comment about otters being active in that area of the Severn system and how much they have devastated the small fish population and in some cases wiped out fish stocks on once prolific stretches, no wonder the big fish only came onto the feed under the cover of darkness.

There have been numerous reports of otters on the river Dee system and I myself have witnessed what looked like an otter on one of the River Dee’s tributaries a year or so ago and at the time I was honoured to have seen such a beautiful animal but with the amount of pressure our fish are already under on the Dee from cormorants, mink and illegal netting of fish, could these already pressured fish take yet another predator in the food chain? Only time will tell. A recent survey that was done found that otters now populate every county in the country so it would seem this animal are here to stay if us anglers like it or not but I will reserve my judgement till I experience there level of predation and effects on a fish population for myself.

  I have recently moved desks in work and have been fortunate enough to now have a window seat, good for me to wish my days away till my next fishing trip but bad for my work output levels!!.  Last week I watched as clear blue skies and ice cold mornings passed us by, wishing only to be on the banks wetting a line on such a perfect morning but alas it was not meant to be and I would have to wait till the weekend for my turn to be on the bank.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all came and went and the view out of my window hadn’t changed at all, still perfect and calm and I couldn’t wait for Saturday morning to come, all that was left was Friday to get through and I would be there re-enacting the fishing I had done all week in my head as I day dreamed out of the window.

  Friday morning came with a bang as I walked out of the front door to be met with a howling ice cold wind and heavy rain.  The rain and cold presented no problem to myself as you can always layer yourself up against the cold and it was going to take rain of biblical proportions to flood the river to a point where it was not fishable in one day but it was the wind that I knew would present the biggest problem as the next day we were due to go the River Dee trotting, my heart sank a bit as the weatherman confirmed my biggest fears as on the radio he uttered the words “windy today but gale force winds of up to 50mph are due to sweep the north west all weekend” Disaster for our fishing trip to the Dee but being far from a fair weather fishermen we wasn’t going to let it stop us trying to winkle out a few fish!!!

  Friday night and the air in my house was heavy with the pungent smell of hemp seed cooking on the stove and how weird that although I have only started to prepare my own hemp for a few months it has become a smell that already conjures up an excitement inside that you know tomorrow you are going fishing, with me its almost as if it kicks me into a fishing mindset and no matter how tired I am from my week in work I find the energy from somewhere to get those little jobs like re spooling my reel and making some hook lengths that save me so much time the next day on the bank done.

  One good thing with winter fishing is it doesn’t get light till gone 7am now so you can actually get a decent nights sleep before having to get up to go fishing as in summer a lot of the time it seems to be pointless actually going to bed as our fishing meet up time in summer is usually 3am so most times I just stay awake but now those extra few hours in bed really are not only welcome but essential to making sure you are keeping you concentration levels high during the whole day o the bank.

  Saturday morning and my slumber was interrupted by the dull monotonous thudding sound of my alarm clock going off, a quick rise of my head revealed to time to be a insane 4am, my toes retracting back under the warmth of the blanket told me the over night temperature had dropped considerably, had this been a work day it would have been a struggle to be enthusiastic about getting out of bed but today was far from a work day, today was Saturday morning and isn’t it amazing how easy it is to get out of bed on a weekend or maybe I need a new job lol.

  The hard work had all been done last night with regards bait and rig preparation and all I had left to do with regards preparation was to make the essential flask of coffee and make sure I had enough layers on to keep out the icy cold wind that was now howling through the ally way at the back of my house almost like it was telling me not to be so stupid and get back to bed, my dad of course has no intentions of making such a silly decision as to go fishing on such an appalling day and shook his head as I loaded up the car and set off on my way to my uncles who was also joining me for a day on the bank, who ever said anglers are mad was well and truly having their point proven by us two today, if only they knew what they where missing eh.

  Arriving at my uncles we discussed where we should head and we settled on the idea of fishing a large ox-bow in the river Dee hoping that at least one of the stretches would be sheltered from the wind and if not there was a multitude of stretches we could fall back on if this wasn’t the case and after chewing the fat on all things fishing we set off into the night.  We arrived at our destination and decided to walk the stretch first before we unloaded the car and what a wise decision this was as although where the car was parked was really calm the second field where we was due to fish was taking a real battering from the wind blowing off the welsh mountains and after checking all the swims we decided to take the short drive to Farndon to see if the cliffs there where offering any shelter to the wind but we knew no matter where we fished today we where in for a tough day on the float.

 Arriving at Farndon at 7.30am to an empty car park on a weekend in the middle of November is practically unheard of and I was totally shocked as I turned into the carp park, maybe the weather had seen a few of them off but still dint expect an empty car park.  The stretch here was a hundred times calmer than our previous destination when we arrived and we wasted no time in choosing our swims and getting set up as it was already light when we had arrived.  As we were setting up the wind began to build a bit and I began to question my decision to fish such an open swim but I knew from experience if the fish where here I wouldn’t have to trot far down to get them.


  The clock within the church across the river in Holt chimed to signal it was 8oclock just as I was making my first cast and for the first hour of the day it wasn’t too bad the float was going down nicely but already we were getting the odd big gust of wind that would see you turning round to make sure everything was still where you left it and not floating in the river.  The best fish early on was this nice roach shown below.

   The morning was a real blustery affair and one of the toughest on the Dee so far with really prolonged spells of strong wind blowing upstream so much so at some points my rod tip was bent round and facing upstream while my float trotted down steam which made striking very difficult.  The other major problem I faced was getting my bait out and accurate bait placement could only be achieved in the gaps in the wind.  Below is a picture and a video of the swim I fished if you look closely through the arches on the bridge you can see how bad the weather was below the bridge.


  The morning continued to be on and off with bite coming and going and the fish never really got going on the bait heads.  My uncle was fishing the peg above me and around noon the scheduled high spring tide hit and the water began to rise and rise and rise so much so my uncle had to move up the steps, on the picture below you can see the extent of the rise in level as the water was well below the bottom peg when the session started and on this picture it was fully submerged.

  From a fishing point of view the rise really changed the session as it got the roach really feeding and for the whole of the afternoon we bagged up on dace and roach and as the match finished on the other bank at 3pm we continued to fish on through and the last hour and a quarter saw some really top quality roach move into the swim, the best of the bunch is shown below.

  At the end of the session and in the early evening sunlight we got together to compare bags of fish, my uncle had done a lot better than he had anticipated as the rising water took all of the movement out of the peg and made it hard work, whereas the extra water in my peg really got the trot going and the roach on the feed and I ended with a total bag on 12lb 2oz a cracking result on the bank and I can only imagine what weight it would have been had I been able to present a bait well all day.

Uncles net:

My net of fish:

Video of my bag:

  Special thanks again go to my uncle as without his help this year I would not have got anywhere near two pound of fish from the dee never mind 12lb of roach and would just like to say a public thank you to him.  I am on strike this week on Wednesday so there may be a midweek session but that depends on if anything comes up but next weekend we are looking to get on the stretch we had earmarked for this weekends trip.

till next week

tight lines