Tuesday, 28 February 2012

First river pike session one to remember!!!!!

 Normally I start my weekly blog talking about something that has caught my attention or imagination throughout the previous week but this week’s session requires no such introduction so I will be getting straight into writing about this weekend’s adventures on the bank and what an adventure it was a real red letter day.

Last week’s capture of a lovely pike played heavy on my mind throughout the week and it lit a spark in me that had been dormant for some years now and that was my love of pike fishing.  As a kid growing up next to the Bridgewater I used to spend hours and hours fishing for the pike lurking in its then murky depths.  In the past year I wouldn’t say that I have intentionally gone out to find pike more they have found me.  All throughout the summer we have been hounded by small jacks where ever we have roamed on the river and slowly but sure the size of the pike has got larger culminating in last week’s decent fish.

My tactics so far for these fish have been to have a pike rod ready set up should one of these fish arrive in the swim and ruin the dace fishing and solely as a method for moving them out of the swim and relocating them further up the bank.  Don’t confuse this with me not liking the fish as my thoughts on these fish could not be further from the truth they are easily one of the most beautifully marked fish in the river and is there a fish bar the barbel that fights harder? Either way for sheer power the pike takes some beating.

With that in mind I made myself a promise that come the weekend I would fish for silvers till 2pm and spend the rest up until dusk purposely trying for a pike and I must admit I was looking forward all week to seeing that pike float come alive and slowly sink under as the pike took the fish into its watery depths.

Saturday seemed to take an age to come round and as normal nature saved its rain for Thursday night meaning the river was carrying a good couple of feet by the time we arrived on the bank early on Saturday morning.  We both where amazed at the clarity of the water with so much extra water on it usually means the rivers carries a fair bit of sediment in it but this seemed absent on the day.

The first fish of the day was a nice dace which came as no surprise as the swim I had chosen had a fair amount of pace to it so much so I expected to also encounter the odd grayling throughout the day as well.  The water being up I decided to fish a quite heave float but found myself missing a lot of bites and believe it or not actually ended up fishing a 6 number 4 float in the end and it worked a treat with every knock on the float resulting in the float darting under and another dace added to the daily total.

I would normally say the dace on the river are pristine but looking back at the photos one thing I remember now about Saturday was the unusual amount of damaged fish with tail and scale damage I caught on Saturday.  Some of the damage was obviously the work of the local pack of pike but others where less easy to pin down like the picture below, was it a pike or a cormorant damage on the fish??

I continued to pick up dace regularly throughout the day and basked in some glorious February sunshine in what was a beautiful day to be on the bank and I also met a few people who also post on the maggot drowners forums who recognised me from my posting on there and it was a pleasure to put a few more faces to forum names.  The day continued to progress through to dinner time and beyond with both me and my uncle picking up fish, me bagging up on dace and my uncle also catching dace mixed with the odd trout that of course homed in on the steady stream of maggots flowing down stream.

Before I knew it, it was 1.30pm and I remember thinking what work didn’t go so quick and also remembered my decision about having a proper go for a river pike from 2pm and in that very instant I managed to snag on the sunken tree I had been trotting down to all day no problem and managed to lose all the rig bar my float, a sign to move over the pike rod??, I just had to be.

Over the last few years since getting back into my fishing I have made quite a few purchases but none have been as versatile as the Shimano barbell rod 1.75 test curve rod I purchased a year or so ago.  This rod coupled with a Shimano bait runner reel loaded with 10lb line has so far been used for catching barbel from the river Dee, chub from the river Dane, Carp and Tench in spring and summer when used as a sleeper rod and now made its debut as a pike rod a truly magnificent piece of kit.

The rod set up I was quickly casting a bait into the water hoping to lure the interest of a hungry pike that may have been attracted into the area by my trotting throughout the day and was just waiting for the right opportunity to strike and claim its afternoon snack.  The float lay motionless on the top of the water as the ripple caused by the slight upstream breeze that had developed lapped against its flanks and I sat back at poured myself a well-earned cup of coffee. 

Half way through taking my first sip of my brew the pike float came alive and I knew straight away something was about causing the bait to become agitated and in a split second the float cocked and sunk below the surface.  When float fishing baits for pike there are some old tales that say you can leave the float to go under and make yourself a brew before striking, these are old, outdated methods it is much better to strike as soon as the float goes under than risk a deeply hooked pike, in my opinion I would rather loose the fish than deeply hook the pike and as a rule of thumb I strike as soon as I think the pike has got a solid grip of the prey.

The fish didn’t half put up a stink of a fight as all pike seem to do but a few glances of the fish below the surface showed it to be a small jack pike but boy it fought above its weight.  After an intense battle that saw the pike tail walk and make many darts for the middle I managed to get some control over the fish and quickly netted the pike.  The fish topped the scales at 5lb 4oz and looked to have been feeding well.

Like all larger fish they need time to recover and I found a slack piece of water upstream to return the fish safely to allow it to recover before moving back into the deeper part of the river to recover this is just as important part of fishing for pike fishing as it is for carp and barbell we fish for.

The fish returned I would normally have got back to my trotting but i was determined to stick to the plan and quickly put out another bait and the float literally hit the water and within at most a minute the float was again heading for the depths.  I struck early again and was met with solid resistance as the fish kept very deep and was very hard to gain any line on and was in totally another league to the previous pike and I knew deep down that this pike if I managed to land would easily beat my river pb of 5lb 4oz. 

The fight of this fish was a battle of wills with the fish making hard lunges which where cushioned by the smooth action of the rod and the drag on the reel being set to allow me to apply pressure but also allow the fish to take line under pressure without snapping the line or having enough slack to reach the sanctuary of the many snags the line the river bed and banks.  The fish eventually tired and we got a first glance of the fish and it just had to be my first ever river double.

The fish was well behaved and slid nicely into the landing net and onto the sort ground behind my box and the hooks where nicely situated in the pikes mouth and easy to unhook which again goes to show the importance of striking early.  The fish for all my weighing and re weighing just wouldn’t go over the magical 10lb mark and I eventually had to settle for the fact the fish was not the double I had thought but weighed 9lb 14oz i must admit to being slightly disappointed till my uncle pointed out that I had just banked two decent pike on my first proper river trip for them.

The pike was again returned to the same place I returned the last one and I had to think god help anyone turning up late for a few hours trotting if they pick that swim.  I took a minute to finish of my brew that was now stone cold and although I don’t take sugar any more in my brew it couldn’t have tasted sweeter and the smile on my face was going to take some removing.

The brew gulped down it was time to chance my arm and see if I could winkle another pike from the swim and this time I took my time and gave it a good five minutes before introducing another bait and as I did I realised all the fish in my keep net where right on the top which is in my book a sure fire sign a pike is about so I must admit my confidence levels rose considerably as I cast the bait out.  The water was gin clear and I remember seeing the bait glistening in the sun in the upper layers and I felt a sharp tug on the line almost like a bite from another fish had I been touch ledgering and I thought a pike must have missed the bait which is they never seem to do when I am trotting but it must happen and then in one heart stopping moment a pike launched its self out of the water as it nailed the bait and I couldn’t not believe my eyes.

The fish again headed for the bottom as all bigger fish do and I must admit until it hit the net I was convinced it was the previous one I had just returned, this was till I saw the depth of the fish and the length of it and realised it was a lot bigger and if this want a double I was ready to throw myself in as bait for the next one  but thank fully this wasn’t needed as the fish topped the scales at 13lb 10oz a challenge I set at the start of the winter  was to catch a proper river pike and I would consider this to be that objective achieved.

What a hour on the bank and it will be a long time I think before I have a hour like it again it was one of them moments that I think don’t come along that often but when they do you have to appreciate them and remember them when you are there and struggling for a bite.

I spent the next hour with a bait in the swim but alas nothing was showing and I decided to spend the last half an hour watching my uncle with a pike bait in the slack and low and behold the float again sailed away and I managed to bank another jack pike around 5-6lb I estimated.

We both packed up after this fish and began to compare nets my uncle had accumulated a decent bag of fish weighting over 14lb in a day that say bites coming all through the day for him with the odd surprise trout thrown in.

Uncles net and pics:

It was then over to my net and I weighed in over 11lb but I did pack in trotting at 1.30pm I hastened to add lol

My net and video

All in all a day on the bank that a year ago I could have only dreamed of, a year ago just the net of dace would have been enough but to take that and over 30lb of pike as well it will be a day I will never forget!!!

Till next  time one over the moon  angler

Wishing you

Tight lines


Monday, 20 February 2012

You just never know on the river.......

This week I have been catching up on the blog’s I follow and one thing that has been consistent in some of them, apart form the fish of course, is the amount of locations that have had recent pollution problems on them!! It is a sad state of affairs when the biggest problem to a fish population is so avoidable some of the figures mentioned on one of the reports was of a tiny stream that had a pollution incident in 2010 with an estimated fish kill of up to 22,000 fish, thankfully the angler in question went on to catch a few specimen chub for that river that is showing now thankfully showing signs of coming through the other end.

The Angling community at the moment is full of reports of what damage natural predators like cormorants, signal crayfish and otters are doing to fish stocks and rightly fully so but pollution by companies is a completely different kettle of fish all together.  The polluting of a river coarse will kill all types of species along the river banks as well as all generations of fish from this years fry to the old war horse of a chub that has got to his size by being cunning and avoiding all the natural predators, unfortunately the polluting of his water is something he cant escape.

The answer, in my eyes, is simple increase the fines that these companies face for committing such vile and in some cases pre meditated crimes, hit them where it hurts them most, in their pockets!! Some of the fines that are handed out are about as much deterrent as a modern day footballer feels from the fines they receive, pocket money.  As you can probably tell this is a subject I feel deeply on and as much as I get into a rant it’s a problem that can so easy de avoided in most cases.

On to this weeks fishing

The river season is now meandering its way slowly to its close for another year and as luck would have it the last few weeks of its course has seen an influx of case into work leading to an abundance of overtime which at this time of my life I cannot afford to turn down.  This has meant my river wings have been clipped the past few weeks to just one session a week which have the past few weeks been concentrated on the River Dee and this week was no different.  The amount of visits to the Dee has meant my mind has been ever increasingly wandering to the small and intimate river Dane and the crafty wild chub that inhabit its overhanging trees and submerged snags and a trip to this river is more than over due.

I hope to grace the banks of this river in the not too distant future and I am toying with the idea of setting up in one swim or adopting a more mobile approach with just a bag of essential bits and a trotting and feeder set up, searching out the shy shoals of chub and grayling.  With Annual leave in work now being at a premium with the future arrival of our baby to consider it is a tough to justify taking a day’s annual leave to go fishing but as all anglers know fishing is like a bug that burns deep within and never truly leaves us through out the day and I can see me giving into the temptation of a days fishing on this most beautiful of rivers in the not to distant future, no will power what so ever lol.

The adventures on the Dane will wait for another day but as I said earlier it was the River Dee that again lured us in this weekend with the promise of a bag of pristine silver darts and the hope of an ever elusive chub.  We found ourselves arriving on the banks at an insanely mad time and wasted no time waiting for first light as we set up out pegs in nature’s torch, the moonlight.  Some tasks of course need the intervention of some unnatural light, one such job being threading the line through the eyes in your rod and for this we used the headlights of the car.  You really know you have got the fishing bug when you as stood in a freezing cold car park painstakingly trying to thread the thinnest of lines through your eyes in the light of you head lamps while the sensible anglers all sat back in their cars waiting for first light.

Having fished this peg a few times before I knew exactly where I would be trotting so began to introduce some bait while I was setting up thinking it cant do any harm to have a few waiting for me when I would finally be ready to trot through.  Rod set up and no sign of first light I can categorically say that there is only one thing more crazy than setting up in the head lamps and that’s trying to plumb up and trot using the natural light of the moon, crazy!!.

The first few trots down of the morning where full of anticipation, knowing the form of the peg and the fact I had been trickling feed in for a good half an hour but alas nothing was forthcoming apart from a few tiny dips on the float.  Not long into the session the water in front of me came alive with fish topping all over obviously feeding of some type of food source coming down in the flow and believe me this is never a good sign when you are planning on catching fish on the bottom for obvious reasons.

The float was trundling through like a dream and I was mystified as to why I wasn’t having the rod dragged in, the flow, depth and clarity all where perfect and I was completely stumped as to why the fish seem to absent from this location.  It all became a lot clearer when the float buried not long after casting in and was solid straight away on the strike, bottom I thought until the line started moving slowly out into the middle of the river, it could only be one of three things a decent chub or perch or a pike and after what seemed like an eternity of a fight involving my new Abu 706 reel breaking the line flew back at me, cut clean.  Pike in the swim in the first hour of a session is bad enough never mind a pike swimming around the swim hooked I knew there and then the rest of the session would be tough.

The reel breaking really did annoy me, it is no more than a few months old and well maintained and half way through the right I was actually gaining on the pike and reeling in and then as I was reeling the reeling in function on the reel just stuck and would not reel in ant more line, the line was not under a great deal of pressure as i was fishing with a 1lb 7oz hook length so that tells you how little pressure I could had exerted on the line without it breaking on me.  I must admit to being really disappointed in this as my uncle has also recently has his reel that is now out of warrantee break on him.  I will be contacting the company I purchased it off and hoping to get a replacement.

So after all the enthusiasm of setting up early and doing everything by the book I was now left with a broken reel and the prospect of setting up from scratch.  Times like these I always do one thing and that’s take 5 minutes away and go and have a brew and this usually sees me coming back replenished with enthusiasm and today was no different I quickly set up and it wasn’t long before I was back in business trotting away but still with little result till a rare capture for me made an appearance in the form of a perch.

I don’t know what it is about river fish but they seem to have more vibrant colours than their still water counterparts in my experience and this perch was no different the stripes where so dark and it just looked the part and even held its spiny dorsal up for the camera.  This is probably down to the clarity of the river and the fact that most of the still waters I fish are quite coloured.

The day moved slowly on and had a weird type of rhythm to it with one or two dace coming quickly followed by nothing for 10-15 minutes then a few more fish and nothing again and the fish really lacked the standard I was expecting and a lot of the time the fish where small fry.

The sky in the distance over Chester was jet black and with the wind blowing in my face I knew we where in for some bad weather and you could literally see the rain and hail coming up the river towards us and when it hit it really did hot hard with hail and heavy rain battering down, brolly’s appeared from all quarters on all the other pegs and the ferocious wind began to swirl causing me to momentarily make grabs for the umbrella pole to keep it sturdy. 

I looked down toward my hook to re-bait with another caster and I couldn’t believe my eyes what I saw in front of me, a salmon battered from spawning making its was slowly back out to sea.  I have seen these fish throughout the year leaping clear of the water on their way upstream and this lonely fish was a shadow of those earlier on in the year and this fish just goes to show how much effort these fish exert in the journey to reproduce and I have to say what a welcome sight it was to see the fish not only running the river but returning back to sea again to come back in a few more years to reproduce again and it can only be a good thing for the river as a whole.

Not long after this salmon moved on and during the worst of the weather I connected with possibly the best silver fish of the day in a fin perfect roach.  The river does have some nice shoals of roach and the challenge is finding them as they come and go with the wind, a peg that can produce a decent weight of roach one day can be completely devoid of them the very next as if they where never even there.

The weather, as aggressive as it was, passed as quickly as it arrived and we where then basked in complete sunshine and was one of those days had it snowed we would have had all the seasons in one day a really unusual day on the bank.

My expectations of the day where of dace, dace and more dace but it just goes to show you never know with the river and that is where a bit of the magic with rivers lies, you just never know what you are going to catch next and the next fished proved that more than any other.  The float buried and straight away I connected with a fish that was jumping clear of the water producing some amazing aerobatics to loose the hook and put up a very good account for itself, the fish, a trout was the quite possibly the last species I expected to make an appearance on the day but was most welcome and added even more variety to the day.

With the silver fishing being a bit on and off and already had some pike activity in my swim I decided to spend the afternoon trying for a pike and put my trotting rod to one side and set up a live baiting rig.  Live baiting for pike is a controversial way of fishing for pike but in my opinion there is no more deadly method on the river than a live fish. 

Live baiting if you are doing it correctly should allow you to return the bait afterwards if of course the pike doesn’t show up.  I usually hook one treble through the top lip and just nick the other into the fishes back but in a way it leaves no lasting damage should no pike be forth coming, which can be the case some times.

The live bait out I enjoyed a relaxed day sat back having a cup of coffee and feeding the birds with some of the maggots I had left and after weeks trotting on the river it was really good to just sit back and take it all in and its amazing the things you see.

The float was lying calm in the slack and I began to think maybe it wasn’t a pike why the fishing was so off and half an hour turned to an hour but I persevered with it and all of a sudden the pike bung began to dance up on down on the surface and make its way slowly into the middle of the river, I gave it a few second and set the hook and one thing you can guarantee with a pike is one hell of a fight and boy did this pike fight hard.

The drag on the reel I had preset to allow the pike to take line but not snap me and it was working a treat as the line drained effortlessly from the spool and the sort action of my pike rod cushioned its hard determined lunges for the safety of the snags on the bottom of the river.  Eventually the pike saw my side of the argument and slowly slinked its way defiantly into the landing net.

I am not an angler who is interested really in weights of fish, of course if I catch one that’s really big I will weigh it but most of the time I can judge the weight of fish well and I estimated this one to be around the 8 or 9lb mark and really made what was a tough hard day on the bank really worth while what with the broken reel and horrible weather.

I released the fish back into the river and decided to chance my arm for another one and decided to try another swim with a sunken tree in it which just screamed pike to me earlier on in the day.  The bait was only in the water 5 or 10 minutes when the float shot under and I connected with a fish that was no where near in the same league as the previous one and unfortunately it spat the hooks early on in the fight.  A shame really as it would have been nice to catch two pike for my efforts but alas it wasn’t to be.

Pike fishing is something I have done all my life really and I must admit those few hours on Saturday has given me a taste for it and I will certainly be spending a few more afternoons after these lovely fish before the river season closes and maybe after if we get a cold snap in March or June.

The nets on the day where not the best,  my uncle having the better day when he finally got them going in the last few hours but that’s fishing isn’t it and it

My net

Uncles net

Till next time

I wish you tight lines


Monday, 13 February 2012

A year in my shoes.......

  A year ago this week a conversation between me and a colleague from work took place on our afternoon break, the topic of which centred around his blog about the sights and sounds he and his companion max, the German shepherd, experienced whilst on there long walks of a weekend.  The conversation soon took a more humorous note when the conversation turned to me starting a blog about my adventures on the bank, that evening the thought stayed with me so much so I began to develop the beginning of the blog you now see before you and I am so glad I made that decision to do so.

 Writing a blog can be tough at times as any blogger will tell you and there are times when even after a decent day on the bank it’s difficult to know where to start but when I started to write this blog I set myself two rules, one to update my blog weekly and two to update no matter what I had caught to give a true representation of what my angling life is truly like.  The last thing I wanted was my blog to be, like so many seem to be, just about blogging about the good times when they come along and as any angler knows fishing just isn’t like that and I hope my blog this year has shown the highs and lows that we all experience throughout our angling year
This year looking back has easily been the best angling year of my life there has been so many new experiences and firsts for me.  This year saw me fishing a commercial fishery for the first time, opening my eyes to what potential these places have for anglers after a hectic days fishing with lots of bites, not long after this I purchased my first ever proper fishing pole and had some great days sport on both commercials and local natural ponds.  One experience that will stick with me this year was the capture of my first ever barbel from the my local River Dee, a challenge that I thought would take me hours of angling on the bank but in reality was something I was lucky enough to achieve on  my first attempt.

  I have always said angling is so much more than catching fish and like the Bernard Cribbins so famously said “it is just an excuse for being there!!”   The banks of both rivers and still waters have been kind this year allowing me to share some special moments with the creatures that call its place home, so many special moments where experienced this year on the banks and I only wished I had been able to capture the moments of film for the blog.  The graceful Buzzards that soar over the fields and the lightning fast kingfishers now seem to be just part and parcel of a day on the river bank and how easily the wildest of wildlife find it to come so close to us still baffles me.

  Throughout the past year many families of swans have made an appearance on the weekly blog on all manner of waters  but none really stick in my mind as much as the family we met last spring on a warm day on the river Dee, clearly only days out of the nest they made their way past me only feet away from me and was one of those experiences that stays with you, how ironic that this week fishing the same spot and as the blog comes full circle that the same family should seek me out at a stage where the two cygnets that made it this far looked ready to fledge and leave their family group, deep down I just know it’s the last time I will see them together and in my own way would like to think this was their farewell to me.

  Summer continued to push on with regular visits to the commercial and trips learning the art of trotting on the Dee and this year I have been guilty of spending too much time trotting and not enough time targeting other species but it really is a branch of our sport that has really captured me and I must admit to have become a bit obsessed with chasing the shoals or silver darts that reside in the gentle glides on this most majestic of rivers.  The best of these days has to be the 17lb bag of dace I caught on the Dee a few months ago and still is the bench mark I mark any sessions against now, individually the dace below has to make as my best river capture this year, how much I wish I had weighed this obvious specimen.

As the year moved from summer to autumn and the rivers received their first proper drink in a while the intimate River Dane took my eye and with that came the lovely capture of the following net of chub which was a day that saw both my dad and uncle all on the bank together and even if we hadn’t caught that day it would still have gone down as a great day on the bank as we all had some great fun chasing the chub that day and it holds plenty of happy memories.  Around this time we also made a fleeting visit to the River Severn, a river that will certainly feature this summer as we chase the barbell and chub, on the subject of chub the best fish this year to feature on the blog that I didn’t catch has got to belong to my uncles 6lb 110z chub he caught on that sole visit to the Severn, a colossal fish and some of you may have seen this capture feature in the angling times section where you send your own pictures in a few weeks ago.

The winter never really truly arrived in my eyes until the last few weeks but with the river high with rain water we were forced onto the canals in search of action; little did we know what the pike had in store for us, greedily gulping down fish as we brought them in!! The next week I went armed and managed to land my first double figure pike in quite some time!!

All in all this year has been really good to me in the fishing stakes and if next year equals it I will be a happy man indeed!! Life of course, away from fishing, will have a say over the next coming months with the expected arrival of our first child but I am determined to keep the blog going in its current format of weekly updates and hope you all continue to follow us as we began a whole new year of discovery on waters old a new and believe me we already have a few plans up our sleeves regarding some new venues and targets which I will be discussing over the next few weeks as the river season comes to a close.

On to this week’s fishing……

This week I arrived at a popular spot on the river Dee with a few pegs still spare but I decided to try something different and chose to chase the lady of the stream, the grayling.  This fish is one of the most beautifully marked fish in the river and for their size I doubt there is a fish that can match their strong fighting ability, the river higher up towards Bala is rumoured to be the possible place of the next record but as a person that is not out to catch the biggest fish in the pond I see their presence in the river as a signal of just how far the river has come from the catastrophic fish kill a few years ago a true sign the river is as clean as it can be.

I also decided to divert away from my usual trotting tactics and target these fish on the feeder rod with a simple set up of a Drennan maggot feeder loaded with hemp and caster and a long took length to a size 18 hook with castor as bait.  I chose a spot where I had caught a few grayling before so I was confident of a bite or two but also knew that there would be nowhere near as many bite as I had experienced the past few weeks trotting and set my target at catching one decent grayling.

The feeder was cast time after time at the same spot as to try and build up a steady stream of crunchy castors for the fish to home in on and it was well into the morning before I connected with my first grayling and what a beauty it was. 

Back in and the wait for my next bite began, over time catching many small grayling in the many streams that feed the Dee I have noticed that the smaller grayling seem to stick around and are not spooked by you capturing their buddies but the bigger grayling are a different animal and once one is captured it can often take some time to snare another and it was well into the afternoon I landed my second grayling of the day, not as big as the first but still a nice size fish.

You will notice I used my keep net here to hold the fish and it can be quite a controversial subject due to the fact that grayling give their all in the fish and can often go belly up in the net.  My advice would be that if you are fishing in a situation where you can’t wade out and hold the fish in the net to recover then you should find a place to return the fish where you can hold them to recover and not put them in your net.  When I know I am going to be putting grayling in my net I always wade our and pin my net top and bottom in the flow to make sure water is always flowing through the net so the fish has plenty of oxygenated water as they would in the swims we catch them from, fish welfare should always be paramount and that doesn’t just got for big carp and barbell, all fish deserve our respect and should be treated so.

No more grayling came to my castor tactics and all too soon my time on the bank was up for another week and I ended the session by feeding the swans with the bread I had brought to try and tempt a chub earlier on in the session.

Till next week

Tight lines

Monday, 6 February 2012

ICE ICE BABY.........

For a few weeks I have been harbouring a special secret from both family and friends and believe me it has been so hard not to tell anyone our little secret, especially over the festive period.  But this last week the time finally came to tell all that I and my Fiance are expecting the birth of our first child towards the end of August.  Today was the day of the first scan and was easily the best day of my life so far and such a moving experience and of course the rest of the day has been taken up speaking and visiting friends and family so understandably this week’s update has been a little more rushed than I would normally like.

  What will happen to the blog!!, no more fishing for you!! Where the calls from all that knew how addicted and dedicated to my angling exploits I am and of course the arrival of a baby will affect my time on the bank, it is bound too, but I think this will only become a problem next winter when the evenings draw back in and I won’t have the luxury of long warm summer evenings to sneak off to my local commercial for a few hours carp bashing but come winter I will be doing my best to at least get out once a week but that is a long way in the distance and there is a lot of time to spend on the bank between now and then.

On to this week’s madness!!

Everything about the week leading up to this weekend said don’t go fishing and stay in bed, first of all the predicted -9 temperatures should have put pay to any trip but no we decided the trip was still on even after the second sign came of 5 to 10cm of snowfall during Saturday we still thought stuff it and decided a trip to the river Dee was just what any sane person would be doing come Saturday J.

Arriving at our chosen destination on Saturday morning the in car reading was a barmy -4 degrees yet upon leaving the car and walking the bank you wouldn’t have thought it as it actually felt quite mild as we walked the bank to our pegs.  On the way to the bank we bumped into a young lad who was on the river bank for the first time ever trotting.  I had to admire his dedication but dressed in only a hoodie and trackie bottoms I had to question quite how long he would last on the bank.

 I set up in a swim I had fished earlier in the year and started to get a few fish from the off and was beginning to think my barmy decision to come fishing on such a cold day might just pay off with a bumper net of fish when I hit a problem that had actually popped its head up a few weeks earlier on our frosty blank on Almere, the problem being the tip rings on my rod freezing as the water from reeling in the line froze solid in the bitterly cold air. 

I have been told many tricks over the past few weeks for sorting this out and this time I was armed with Vaseline that I was told on good authority stops the water from collecting on in the rings and hence the problem is solved.  I can see this working in temperatures just around freezing but in the really really cold temperatures all that seemed to happed was the water froze solid before it could run off the Vaseline.  The next tip I tried was when the line began sticking I quickly dipped the tip of the rod in the river hoping the river water may be slightly warmer that the air temperature and would either wash the frozen water out of the tip rings or thaw it and this proved the most productive if not unusual was of keeping this problem at bay.

Of course no angling blog entry would be complete without the ever present swan picture and this week the swans where in a less approachable mood and did not stick round long at all and probably sensed the bad weather that was making its way towards our location.

I had started the session fishing caster and was picking up the odd decent dace and at some points had the fish going so well they were one a chuck but all that changed when a finger-tip chilling wind howled down the river and brought with it sleet and hail that forced me to put my brolly up to protect me from its icy blasts.  The instant warmth this brought me was I have to say more than welcome.  The downstream wind really played havoc with my bait presentation and made long trotting almost impossible so I decided to make a massive change in my baiting approach to draw the fish to me and that saw me catching fish again at a steady pace.

  My uncle, fishing no more than 20 yards away believe it or not had ice coating the full length of his rod, the temperature difference in the two pegs was remarkable and it totally put pay to any trotting possibilities for him and he stuck it out on the pole off a sunken tree in his near side margin.  Big respect to him for sticking it out in such tough conditions on a day where it would have been all too easy to knock it on the head and sit in the car.  My uncle being the accomplished angler he is still managed a respectable net of fish on the pole but nowhere near the net he could have had, had he been able to trot his peg like he had intended too.

One fish at this time of year you can put your money on showing up in you swim is the grayling, these fish that I am sure where left in our waters from the melting of our glaciers many many years ago thrive in the coldest of temperatures and Saturday was no different when the float buried right over my hemp and the fish glided into the flow straight away I knew I was connected with a grayling.  These fish fight like no other fish as they twist and turn in the current using there brightly coloured dorsal fish as a sail in the flow to exert maximum pressure on your tackle and like a pike they give there all in the fight and will often need a few minutes held in the landing net to recuperate fully from the fight and like all fish should be shown the upmost respect and deserve this extra attention from ourselves for letting us have a close up glimpse of their majestic beauty.

To give you a few ideas of just how cold it got on Sunday I managed to capture a few pictures throughout the day as it went along.

Third place goes to the picture of my brolly at the end of the session which was frozen solid with ice.

Second place goes to my landing net picture that when turned upside down still held its shape in frozen form!!

And first place goes to this shot looking down my keep net which was full of icicles!

All in all it was easily the coldest day I have spent on the river bank and although my body was warm and toasty in my thermal gear the same couldn’t be said for my finger tips that where at times beyond numb!! The constant putting of my hands in a frozen slush of hemp seed and water added t this problem but when it was time to take a picture of my net of dace I was more than happy with my efforts and it was well worth getting out on the for.  My fingers where so cold I didn’t weigh the net but estimate it to be around 13-15lb of dace and goes to shows the fish are there if you are willing or mad enough to go out in such bad conditions.

My net:

Video of net

Till next time one absolutely mad angler wishing you

Tight lines