Monday, 24 December 2012

A Saturated December and A Merry Christmas!!!

A Warm festive welcome to this week’s angling blog update and I hope I find you all safe and well and prepared for the festivities ahead.  This is our first Christmas as parents and although our little girl will know nothing at all about it this year it has been a joy to experience what Christmas is like as a parent and our only hope is we can make Christmas as magical as our parents made it for us.

One place we did visit recently was the Christmas markets in Manchester and I have to say I recommend it to anyone, the smell,  the atmosphere, the food and of course the beer all come together to make these markets a truly magical place to be at Christmas time and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit and will certainly be going again next year!!.

On to a quick update on Decembers fishing
December from an angling point of view has really been a none event, the rivers have been out of their banks more than they have been in them and even now most of the UK is still suffering from the none stop rain we seem to be receiving.   The weekend before last was really a angling trip to forget, we travelled out to the river Dee with a view of at least trying one of the slacks to see if we could at least find a fish or two.  What met us was a river barely in its banks and running through like chocolate.

We decided to give it a few hours in a slack we knew was over soft ground but unfortunately failed to entice and bites and with a high tide forecast to hit around midday we decided to head for a small river on the way home called the River Gowy that we hoped would be a little bit more agreeable due to its normal slow flow.

The river gowy when we arrived at Mickle Trafford was a raging torrent and was running through fast and coloured and was totally unfishable in its current state.  Luckily this river is on the way home so no petrol or time was wasted stopping off at this venue.  A quick chat and we decided to stop off on the Trent and Mersey Canal to try for a pike or two but was not only met with a froaen solid canal but also with it holding a terrible colour and half of it being drained of water due to the catastrophic collapse of the bank when we had the last bout of rain a few weeks ago.

This just topped off a truly awful days, well fishing would be the wrong word for it I think, day out is more apt lol. 

This weekends trip

The rain continued to fall all through the week and the river never really recovered to stage where it was anywhere near fishable and by the weekend it was out of its banks again and flooding the surrounding fields no doubt.  With all the rivers in the area in the same predicament we decided to put our faith in a still water.

Arriving at my uncles the weather was already awful with heavy rain falling and the wind howling down his street, it was far from the warm mornings we had experienced earlier on in the year.  With the temperatures a sweltering 9oc we decided to put our faith in Cicily mill.

Arriving at cicily mill we were met with a completely flooded car park and all the pegs around the lake under water.  We had a quick look around the outskirts of the mill but it was clear that it was going to be hard to find an area we could fish.  With the pegs being made from wood and noting underneath them we had to put the safetly of the fish first, had we hit a carp there would have been no way of stopping the carp going straight under the peg leaving us no angle to control the fish so we decided to stop off at Statham pool on the way home to see if it was fishable before settling on Ackers pit if it wasn’t.

Statham pool was in a dangerous state with it being completely flooded to the point you could see none of the pegs and there was only a few feet of the path down to the pegs visible, again not only unfishable but actually dangerous.  We knew Ackers pit had a dam at one end that would mean the level here would be controlled so we set off to the urban pool that is ackers pit.

We set up on ackers pit in a gap in the rain but it wasn’t long before it returned with a vengeance as the video above shows.  I knew from the reports on Franks Column that there had been a few decent roach coming out of here recently and as always we knew of the great head of carp it held.  We were due back home at 2pm so we only had a few hours to endure the rain for so we set about our task, both on the pole and both fishing 4 sections to help us keep control in the strong wind.

It was lovely to be joined on the bank by a family of swans, there was a time when they were a weekly feature on the blog, and was great to see a family swans doing so well.  The fishing was slow but with us both on castor we knew it would be worth the wait.  My uncle was first to get into some fish catching some fin perfect roach and to a decent stamp as well as the one below showed.  These proved to be a common catch for my uncle during our short session and had keep nets been allowed would have made a great photo.

My peg was fishing noticeably slower than my uncles and it was a while before I connected with my first fish of the session, a small roach.  The small roach continued to come for me until the peg completely died, yet my uncle was still catching, it left me scratching my head as to what to do.  I increased my feeding by using the catapult rather than the kinder pot and soon latched into a fish that was of a better stamp, at first I thought it was a small carp, a catch I would have been glad of given the bad conditions but no it proved to be much better than that, a perch!! And a nice one to boot, I was made up, no record breaker but it lit up a damp day on the bank.

That was it for us both with regards to better fish and 2pm soon swung round and it was time to pack away.  We will certainly be returning to this venue if the rivers continue to be high and will almost certainly be going here in the closed season.  The conditions made presentation hard and with no ledgering allowed as an option to counter this we feel if the conditions were a bit calmer we could do really well on this venue and it was great to see a Warrington still water with some decent roach in it, although the perch did bear the scars or a recent battle with a heron or cormorant.

Well that’s another year done and it will soon be the blogs second anniversary, how time flies eh.

Till next time I wish you all a Very merry Christmas, Matt Hayes is on Discovery shed 24/7 today so I am off to do my best to instil fishing into her head!!

Tight lines


Friday, 14 December 2012

Below "Par" trip to the recently "stocked" River Wyre

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update.  This week’s blog update is being written on a pretty unique date as believe it or not the 12.12.12 is the last repetitive date we are all likely to see, depressing or what!! But not as depressing as the “grueller” of a session me and my uncle suffered this weekend on the River Wyre.  On a much chirpier note it surprised me this week that the blog is almost reaching the 50,000 views mark, when I started this blog just under two years ago I never ever thought it would attract so much attention and influence so many people lives, it has given me a chance to meet and discuss all things angling with so many people.   A while ago I set up a twitter account for the blog that now has 599 followers and also a face book page what currently has 41 people liking it. If you are on any of these social media sites you can follow the blog on the following links:

River dee level

Friday morning arrived and all was not looking good when I checked the EA levels above for the river Dee, the river was rising and rising at quite a Sharp rate indeed and by the two o’clock update my worst fears were realised as the rivers level was well over the acceptable higher range of 6.5m at a heady 7.4m, any chances of fishing the river disappeared there and then.

Having not wet a line the previous weekend due to the river being in full flood we were itching to get our river fix and we considered a few rivers from fishing the small river dee on the feeder to fishing the tiny River Gowy at mickle Trafford.

River wyre

It was late on Friday night whilst mooching on the internet at other river water levels I checked the river wyre in Churchtown.  This river is a spate river and unlike the Dee it only takes a few hours to fine off from a full flood so by the following morning it would only be a foot or so above its normal level.  When on a river you always have to have safety in mind but with a spate river like thi its even more important to be careful on the bank and also do your homework on the weather forcast as these spate rivers can rise really fast and a flash flood is a real possibility as the EA level chart shows above, the river can rise a few metres in only a few hours.

Reading between the countless carp stockings on Frank column I found out the EA had stocked this venue recently with 2000 chublets which had me full of optimism as it was only around a month ago but investigating further I found the reason for this was that a seal had been in the river system for around 2 months, being so close to the sea I imagine the water is quite brackish which allowed it to survive there.  What effect this seal could have on the fish populations it is impossible to report on but I can’t imagine one seal could do catastrophic damage to stretches and stretches of river like was being suggested on some websites I visited.

We set off nice and early on our journey up the M6 motorway to allow us to arrive at the river just after first light.  The temperature monitor in the car dropped lower and lower the further up the country we went from a warm 1oc as we left home to a chilling -2 as we drove through Churchtown to the river, it amazed me to see such a difference, all the cars were frozen solid and the ground was blanketed in a white frost.

We parked up in the church carp park and made our way to the river bank and I don’t think I have ever has such an chilling walk to a river bank ever both in temperature and atmosphere we walked through a graveyard as the first rays of daylight shone in the distance.  The walk to the river was quite short compared to some of our treks on the Dee but this certainly had a variety of obstacles to navigate along its short path such as a sty and a rather rickety wooden bridge seen in the picture below.

Arriving on the banks of the river she looked perfect with plenty of swims that just cried out fish just over the bridge and we quickly settled in two swims that both had features in them that we thought would hold fish in the form of a submerged tree.  As mentioned above safety was always in the back of our minds so the majority of our gear was left at the top of the bank with only the bare essentials being taken to the waters edge.

Looking at the ground it became apparent we weren’t the first to grace these banks on this fine morning as the tracks below from a fox show, these tracks had to be recent as these area would have been under water the previous day and with it being sand any tracks would have been washed away.  Further upstream I did see some really small tracks in the sand right along the side the river, the owner of these showed themselves late on in the day.

With a nice trotting depth we were confident of catching and having drip fed the swim whilst setting up we were confident, the river was perfect and not a breath of wind it was a trotting dream.  Well the first hour went by as did the second and we were well on towards the third without so much as a stretched maggot, zilch, nothing!, a change of swim was in order.

The second swim I tried was right at the top of the stretch, where I was reliably informed the chub had been stocked, between our stretch and St Micheals, personally and I stress this is only my personal opinion here I cannot see the EA picking this point to release fish as for one there is zero access to the river and two its banks were really steep, does make you question whether the information on this stocking was reliable.

The swim was really deep, around 10ft I would guess and like the previous swim was a dream to trot as it had a steady pace and depth to it, but alas another two biteless hours passed me by in this swim, 2000 chublets?? Not to mention the fish that should be resident in such a river, it had me really scratching my head.

We then settled into the third swim which allowed me to actually trot along some sunken trees andi decided it was time to try a bigger bait so I moved over to bread flake hoping that if there was a big chub under there it might be lured out by a bigger bait, it didn’t work.

It was while in this swim the owner of the small prints sowed itself as a mink appeared upstream form us and made its way down stream right in front of us, bold as brass he was.


The weird thing about this swim was it was absolutely littered with golf balls of all things and ou can imagine my reaction as my uncle returned from stretching his legs with this tidy collection, tiger woods eat your heart out.

We persevered with the swim for the rest of the afternoon trotting down and even tried a more static bait approach on my feeder with no success and at around 3pm as the rain moved in we made our way back to the car, perplexed how such a nice looking river could be so bad.

On our way back we passed a house that every angler dreams of, right next to the river!!

In reflection on the trip I have to say I was really disappointed with it, the reports form every dog walker on the bank was that they rarely see an angler on the banks of this part of the river.  It shocked me that a river so perfect could be so devoid of fish.  I know every river has its off days but you expect to catch something, even if it was a minnow or a few small dace.  I am not a big headed angler, far from it, but I and my uncle are not bad anglers we know how to fish and it leaves you mystified.   

Looking at the bigger picture it was better to find out now how poor this river is on a trip where the Dee was unfishable rather than wasting a day where we could have had a few bites on a perfect river dee.  It also makes me look again at whether this card is really worth it for me any more, will waters like this ever see any investment from the club? Us river anglers read every week about carp going into every carp pool the club own, will they ever get round to stocking the rivers because this river at the moment is not worth the money they pay to lease it.  Two 27lb carp went into a pool this week to add to the countless other carp that keep getting stocked, makes you thing how many silver fish just one of them carp could buy that could transform a location like this that is just crying out for an injection of life.

I have nothing against the stocking of carp for that side of the club i think its great to see the investment in stocks but i think it is about time some of the River anglers on the card found their voices and questioning why in the past 4 years there has been zero investment into this branch of the club, barring a few wooden pegs on the Dane and a few materials to fix the path.

Till next week

Tight lines


Friday, 30 November 2012

"Barbaric" conditions on the Dee see us heading for Flushing Meadows Fishery

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update.  This week saw the whole of the country drenched in what seemed an endless deluge of rain, with the flood plains still saturated and the water table high our rivers soon began to rise and as the rain continued to our down some of our rivers approached bursting point.

As many of the regular followers of my blog will know the River Dee is my preferred river of choice and in my few years of fishing her I have built up a bit of knowledge about the water levels, what is normal summer level, what is the normal winter level are all information I hold in my armoury as a river angler so when I saw the EA chart below I knew instantly the river was well above the normal level and had in fact burst its banks. 

On the diagram above the top image shows the River Dee at its normal summer level and the image below that shows the same stretch on Tuesday at midday.  The two images high light two things to me about river fishing, one is the depth of the water, believe it or not on the summer image there are depths not more than a rod length out from the bank of over 10ft and more so just imagine how deep that water is on the second image with the entire bank covered.  Two is the steep banks and the water clarity, the water here on image two on Tuesday would have been very coloured with poor visibility and the steep drop off to the bank would have been invisible to the human eye, hidden by the murky water. 

I mention the above just to highlight to any inexperienced river anglers that come across my blog and want to try it for themselves to realise just how dangerous the rivers can be.  I first visited the river on a nice sunny day in the middle of summer the river was low and clear and gentle and after a few trips I soon became confident and dare I say over confident a bit like a teenager who has just got their first car and after a few weeks gets really confident behind the wheel and doesn’t see the danger.  The winter came and so did the first floods and my dad made a point of taking me through to the river just to witness how powerful and dangerous the rivers can be, I was shocked, whole trees coming down and the bank was so slippery.  It was a lesson well learned that day and opened my eyes. 

I am always a little embarrassed when people contact me regarding the blog saying it inspired them to try river fishing but when I see the river like it was this week it also gets me thinking how many people don’t contact me yet still are inspired to try it and don’t know the dangers or what state the river is in, hence why I have posted this on the blog and I hope it does show just how dangerous our rivers can be and by all means get out there and enjoy our fantastic rivers but always take care, no fish is worth it.

This weekend coming up, for one reason or another, I will not be out on the banks of any of our still waters or rivers.  Both me and my uncle have a fair few jobs to get done so with the rivers running high and the first frosts hitting our still waters its provided a timely gap in our angling to get these jobs done, I will be also taking this opportunity to replenish my tackle box and I will also be hoping to pick up the braided line I need for my pike fishing.  I today took delivery of my much anticipated pair of thermal boots.  I decided to go with the Skee Tex thermal boots that where highly recommended from many sources including my uncle and I look forward to giving them their first outing on my birthday next weekend.  There will hopefully be a short update next week just to check in, what it will contain god only knows but I am sure I have a trip or two from summer in my files I can post up.

On to this weeks fishing:

As mentioned above all the rivers in the area where running high with flood water and where out of the question so Friday morning was frantic with texts going back and two between my uncle about where to wet a line the following day.  Many ideas where put into the mix from risking getting a decent peg on Rixton Clay pits to trying our nemesis venue, the canal.  The canals have been so bad to us since we started this blog and I would go as far to say as its been a joke how badly we have faired on them so confidence in this as a chosen venue was at an all time low and with the chances of Rixton being free also being low we decide if we were going to wet a line in the predicted freezing conditions it would have to be at a venue that would guarantee us a bite or two so we opted to fish Flushing Meadows Fishery in Acton Bridge.

The upside of visiting this venue is it doesn’t open till first light which at this time of year is around 7.30 and with no shortage of pegs coupled with the fact we knew very few anglers would be mad enough to be out we enjoyed a well earned lie in and arrived at the fishery gates around 7.45am.

Parking the car in the carp park of the fishery we had a clear view of the farmers fields around us that glistened as if jack frost had decorated them with glistening diamonds over night, the full extent of the overnight frost was felt as a chill ran through my exposed hands, it was certainly one of the chillier mornings on the bank and as expected we were the only anglers in sight.

Over the past two years fishing this venue we have wet a line in all 5 of the pools at this venue and we knew the better silver fish resided in the easy access pool and that is where we chose to set up camp.  We knew the closed in nature of this pool would offer us some protection form the predicted bad winds and also the rain due later in the day.

As you can see form my side tray our plan for the day was to keep it simple so I went armed with a pint and a half of maggot and a small tin of sweet corn while my uncle went with the castors he had turned in the week for in anticipation for our usual river visit and also a small loaf of bread as a change bait to try for some of the bigger species in the pool.  Above you can also see my rig for the day, a homemade poly ball float made from a polystyrene ball and a small plastic stick, cheap as chips and absolutely deadly for silver fishing.  The floats only take a number 8 shot to cock and another number 8 shot on the line for bite detection a simple size 18 hook on the business end and your away, a rig that is so easy to set up you are on the bank and fishing in a few minutes.

The reason this rig is so deadly is it catches fish in all levels in the water column as the bait falls so naturally through the water it is easily mistaken by the fish as a free offering and also when fished correctly the bait will get to the bottom where you have a chance to pick up the bigger species that feel absolutely no resistance from the float when they take the bait.  It’s a method my uncle has taught me and one that gets you a few funny looks on the bank when you first start but soon has the angler behind your peg asking questions when your bagging up, one word to sum up this simple rig, DEADLY!!.

My play for the day was to fish short to my left along a reed line and catch whatever came along basically and just enjoy my day on the bank.  As you can see on the picture above it was a very atmospheric morning on the bank as a light fog moved in around us and the temperature actually began to drop further, these new wellies are a must I thought in my head.

A few maggots were introduced, only around 5 or 6, I always remember the rule of you can put more in but you cant take what you have put in out so I always start my feeding on the light side and then judge my feeding from there, a the start of any session on a Stillwater I am fishing for one bite.  This venue being the prolific venue it is it was not long in coming and as expected it was a roach of around 4oz in size, a great start to the session as at least the fish were up for taking bait, maybe the first hadn’t affected them as bad as we thought.

In went a few more maggots, again only around 6 or 7 as not to overfeed and within seconds the float shot under and I was into another small roach and for the first hour or so it was a case of rinse and repeat as roach after roach came to the net and as the swim developed as did the size of the roach as roach of around 6oz started to show in the swim.

My uncle’s decision to fish castor was paying dividends as he was avoiding the smaller roach (most of the time) and picking up a much better stamp of roach with some being around the 12oz mark and what was even more surprising was the regularity in which he was catching these fish and goes to show had this been a match the angler fishing castor will always attract the better stamp of fish.

As the morning wore on I began to prep a longer line close to the margin but a lot further up the bank just off a small tuft of reeds.  I knew from fishing this peg before the water here in the margin was a lot deeper and with the added cover might just see me picking up a better stamp of roach, that was my aim at the very least.

A shipped out my pole and fed the swim more heavily than the margin swim I had been feeding, this was down to two reasons, the depth and the fact I knew the fish were feeding I also introduced a few grains of sweetcorn as I planned to try this bait in the deeper water as well.   My confidence was increased as well due to the fact my uncle was picking up the odd crucian carp and small tench, madness I thought in such cold conditions to catch two fish we associate with spring and summer.

The fishing on the deeper line was explosive from the off and not with roach but with skimmer bream and I picked up skimmer after skimmer nearly every put in culminating in the one shown below which actually proved to be the best skimmer I had on the day.

The swim then went dead as quick as someone turning of a light it went from a bite a chick to me sitting looking at a stationary float, not a knock!!, I knew form experience on here that this was a good sign it meant something had moved in and pushed out the smaller bream and roach, what was it I thought, on here it could be anything from a proper bronze bream to a carp.  The float lay there, motionless, not even a fait breeze was around to agitate the float into life and then the bright yellow poly ball bobbed into life, dipping once, then again before moving slowly across the surface, I struck and as expected it was met with a solid resistance and blue hydro-elastic oozing out of the tip of my pole as the fish hugged the deeper water the fish wasn’t massive but put up a great fight compared to the lethargic bream I had been catching.

After this carp was returned the rhythm of the afternoon was set, I was waiting a lot longer for bites but when they came they were a quality fish and throughout the after noon I picked up a further three king carp a rogue crucian carp and a handful of tench.

My uncle was also catching well on castor and decided to move over to fishing bread flake to try and see if any bigger fish were about, it resulted in him catching some more quality roach and tench, I still cant believe I am writing a blog update going into December which includes the word tench without the words “is a fish I am look forward to catching come spring” after it.

My unlce then hit into a fish that was in another league all together it hugged the bottom and made long hard runs for the middle of the pool which saw line dripping from the reel and the clutch screaming as it did so, that clutch is like music to an anglers ears.  All the fish we had caught to this point had fought well but were not fighting as hard as they would in summer so we knew whatever my uncle was into was going to be the fish of the day.

The battle continued and we both had a guess at what we thought it was I thought it was a tench while my uncle threw a barbell into the mix.  The fish just wasn’t having any of it, every time he lifter its head and began to bring it up it would go on another run, a little prayer was said to the angling gods for us to at least see what it is and they must have been listening as a torpedo shaped bronze flank made the water boil as it again went on another run.  I grabbed the landing net in anticipation and thankfully we managed to net the fish, a barbell!!.

You read all the text books about barbel and they all say barbel should not be on the feed in such cold conditions, Saturday was a cold day on the bank but I guess these commercial fisheries are stocked in such a way that nature goes out of the window, you would find it hard to pin point a venue away from the commercial scene and not on a river, where you could catch the weight of silver fish we did on Saturday and I guess the competition for food makes these fish changing their feeding habits and feeding on the coldest of days.

The final fish of the session went to myself who instantly lobbed out a large piece of bread flake into his swim and was rewarded with my best carp of the day but the day will forever be remembered for my uncles barbel.

Till net time I wish you all,

Tight lines


Friday, 23 November 2012

Puttting The Piking On Hold.......For Now

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update and I start with a thank you to all the people who have contacted me and sent me emails in support of my decision to edit the pictures on last weeks blog update and to air there disgust at the actions being carried out on the River Dee.  What immediately became apparent is the scale of these incidents as it would seem they are now a common scene across the whole of the country on a variety of waters, only last night a post was put up on the Warrington Anglers Facebook page by an angler visiting a club water only to be greeted with a group of people lingering in the car park.  The water in question is really shallow which raises the concern around netting and is a real worry as it’s a seen a one of the jewels in the Warrington Anglers crown and holds some specimen fish.

Closer to home it has come to my attention this week that the Bridgewater Canal in Runcorn which was once owned by Halton Joint Anglers and more recently Runcorn Angling Centre is now free fishing.  There are a few rumours doing the rounds as to why the bait shop closed but I was told on the bank this week that the upside of the shop closing is they no longer hold the tenancy of the stretch so it’s free till a new tenant is found, so get trolley dodging and get catching those carrier bags that strewn the bottom of this urban canal.

The last point I want to get to before I go onto this weeks fishing is the fact I will be ceasing my pike fishing on the River Dee with immediate effect.  I got speaking to an angler on the bank on Saturday and the conversation moved over to pike gear, upon seeing his gear it hit me straight away I have been fishing far too light for these river fish.  The gear I have used for years to catch the pike from the canal has always done me proud with 10lb maxima being my chosen line and so I have kept faith in this line as I moved over to my river piking and after hearing the guy speak it is certainly not up to the task should I connect with a decent upper double specimen, which is highly possible on this productive river system.

I got home and took advice from some really helpful piker’s who follow the blog on Facebook who where great at pointing me in the right direction for a good quality braided line that will be good enough for the job in hand, so I again thank both the angler on the bank and the people on Facebook for their help and understanding, thank you.  So as soon as I have the line sorted and have nailed to new knots to a point where I am confident as I am with my mono knots that they are up to the task I will be back out after those river dee pike and I am actually looking forward to seeing how different the fight is on the braided line.

This week update on the fishing side of things will be quite short and sweet as the fishing was not the best as for some reason the fish where all up in the water and the only bites we could get on the bottom was from tiny dace.  The rising sun and clear water soon revealed that the dace where nailing all the bait just under the surface so no bait was getting any where near the bottom.


I quickly changed over to my pole and a poly ball to catch these fish on the drop and found it really difficult to hit the rapid bites.  I eventually got to grips with it by tweaking the bait and I also managed to draw the fish closer in which made it a lot easier to control the bait and I was amazed at the quality of the dace just under the water.


My uncle on the peg up from me was also catching the same small dace on the bottom but persevered with it and made changes to his line and feeding and soon the better fish were showing with some really pristine roach making an appearance.  My dad was getting tonnes of bites on the feeder and was missing them and had we not been on the float rod catching these tiny dace on the bottom he could have been in a situation where he was loosing his mind but in reality you are never going to hit such fast bites on the feeder.

My dads fortunes changed later on in the day when the bigger dace settled on the bottom and he began to catch some quality dace like the one shown below.

Catching the fish on the drop is never a method that is going to catch you fish all day and my bites tailed off and I continued to pick up the odd fish through the afternoon but nothing that was going to put together an amazing net of dace but still I enjoyed my relaxing day on the bank.

My net

Uncles net

As I write this short update the rivers have just had a good run through and hopefully will start to fine off for our trip on Saturday but the reality of it is should be have any more rain between now and Saturday the river is almost certainly going to be a washout.

Till next time I wish you all tight lines