Friday, 26 October 2012

Red letter Day trotting the River Dee

A warm welcome to this week’s Blog update and from an angling point of view it finally feels like things are coming back together.  I have spent a fair amount of time in the past few days investigating the Dee Anglers AA card with a view to becoming a member next year, if there are any Dee Angler members out there who read my blog I would be eternally grateful if you could take the time to point me in the direction where I can find some information on the stretches of the Dee they have or if you know of them yourself.
Arriving at my desk on a Monday morning is very rarely met with a feeling of happiness but this Monday was an exception as I was greeted with quite possibly the best gift we have received for our little baby girl (in my eyes), what greater incentive to get our little girl into the joys of fishing than starting her off from an early age with a magnetic fishing game with real fishing rods, I literally can not wait now for her to be old enough to use it, lets just hope I can refrain from opening it till then.
On to this weeks fishing escapade,
The week building up to Saturday I was struck down with a Flu bug so I had plenty of time to see what the weather was up to looking out of my bedroom window and surprisingly the weather on the whole was dry.  I kept a check on the Dee levels when I could and apart from some really high tides the river level was dropping slowly but the level was still well up with it being over 6m on the EA chart.
Saturday morning arrived and it was on with the Thermal bib and brace, 3 pairs of socks, a hoody and thermal bob hat, I was taking no chances on being cold on the bank of the river. We arrived on the banks with just enough early morning light to set up and to our amazement were greeted with a sight I thought I would never see on the River Dee and that was the sight of an otter working the river upstream of us. 
The re-introduction of otters into our waterways over the past few years has been met with divided opinions form the angling community and to be honest I can see both points of view on the matter. I personally was privileged to have witnessed one of these rare and beautiful creatures in the flesh and will certainly be approaching the river from now on with stealth in mind in this area and I agree with the introduction of otters but only in rivers that can support such a predator.  The river Dee is a huge expanse of water with a healthy population of fish both large and small so I do feel this river could support a controlled population of otters, would I have been so happy seeing it on the River Dane, probably not as I don’t think this water could sustain it long term given the stocking of fish in this river being mainly big chub and barbell, I have heard from a reliable source that there is otters now on the River Dane.
The otter was not the only predator we saw on the bank on Saturday morning with both a kingfisher and a Grebe also working the area we had chosen to fish, the sight of these predators ciupled with a lot of fish topping in the area filled us both with confidence that we were in for a good days sport and we couldn’t set up fast enough, like two school kids we hurriedly set about our work whilst priming the swim ready for our first trot through.
I was situated downstream of my uncle and as there was only a small section of banking available to fish it would mean we were fishing closer than we would normally like.  Over the course of the year on the river this scenario pops up from time to time and we take it in turns to be the downstream rod, mainly because the person downstream generally has the better day as some of the bait introduced by the upstream rod inevitably runs through the bottom rods trot and its almost like it receives twice as much bait.
We both started fishing at the same time and from the off we were both into fish, myself I seemed to have hit on a shoal of dace while early indications suggested my uncle was attracting the beautiful grayling into his swim.
Uncle grayling

my dace
 I tried to feed a different line to my uncle as much as I could to give him the best possible chance of attracting fish upstream to him and for the most part it worked as we both then started to catch mixed bags with myself starting to pick up the odd grayling and my uncle started to see some “stonking” dace come to the net.
Grayling of a certain size should not really be kept in your keep net and I have to hold my hands up and say I have been guilty of this in the past but ideally its best to walk them down the bank and rest them in the net before letting them go.  My uncle throughout the day must have been shattered walking back and two as he actually finished the day on 36 grayling between half an pound and a pound and half.  I also lost count at the number of grayling I caught and below are some of the grayling we landed.
uncle grayling
My grayling
The grayling has to be one of the most beautiful fish swimming in our rivers and time after time I am taken back by their beauty and its not only in their majestic dorsal fins but all along their silvery body that every so often catches the sunlight and reveals all manor of colours from deep purples to electric blues they really are a joy to catch and best of all they feed in the coldest of weather.
Grayling spots and gill cover

As the day wore on many anglers visited our peg and chewed the fat with us and the fishing went from strength to strength with dace and grayling coming with great regularity and the sport only improved as we approached the later end of the day as we began to really “hoof” the bait in. 
After so many hard trips on the Dee this year it was a joy to be catching so well and the swim must have been literally jam packed with dace as time and time again the float buried in the same spot and a plump dace of grayling made its way to the net, the grayling providing a great strong thudding scrap between the short jagged fights of the dace.
As the session came to an end it was time to weigh in our nets and we started with my uncle he weighed in 8lb of dace from his keep net but he did return 36 grayling which were all of a decent size which would have easily took this net into the 20 to 25lb bracket.
uncle net pic
Uncle net weight
It was time for me to weigh my net in and I was absolutely knocked back when I lifted the net from the water I honestly didn’t realise how good of a day’s fishing I had done. Lifting the net from the water my uncle instantly said well done to me and congratulated me on a cracking net, but to be honest I owe so much of this to my uncle 2 years ago I couldn’t imagine catching this many fish trotting, I just want doing anything right at all on the bigger rivers and again I thank you for all he has shown me.
Weighing my net it went 19lb of dace, roach and the odd small grayling that much have snook in when I wasn’t concentrating this coupled with the 10-15 grayling I caught easily smashes my previous best net of 17lb of dace from winter last year, even writing the blog now a few days on I am still buzzing!!
My net videos

My net pic
My net weight
Well that’s it for this week and I thoroughly cannot wait to get back on the bank this weekend I am sure the fishing wont be as good as the previous weekend but one thing is for sure we will have a great time finding out.  Fishing wise this weekend I think I might spend half the day trotting and spend the second half really trying for my first pike of the season.
Till next time its tight lines from one ecstatic angler,

Friday, 19 October 2012

Carp go mad for maggots on Flushing meadows

Sorry for the lack of updates lately i have been mad busy and this past week have been knocked off my feet with a virus that really knocked me for six, thus this weeks update will be more of a drop in than a full blown blog.

On Saturday we decided to visit our local commercial, flushing meadows, situated in Acton Bridge.  all the rivers in the land were flooded and most of the ponds around us we also under a few feet of water, this coupled with the freezing cold temperature saw us opting for the highly stocked commercial.

with the weather cold and with winter drawing in fast we knew the fish would not be up for big baits like corn, meat and prawns so we opted for a few pints of maggot.  This bait is so under rated on commercials, possibly due to it being hard to feed off the silvers, but we knew the carp would be feeling the cold and would soon see off any rudd or bream.

Well what happened over the session was a joy to behold, i took over 35 carp in total throughout the day and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I fished a secluded peg as far away from the carp park as possible and it is a swim people dont look at twice due to its isolated situation but carp love these quiet spaces on commercials so i was confident of a few fish but certainly didnt expect to catch as many as i did.

I have put the session together in this short video below

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

thick line or just plain THICK!!!

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update and as I write this I am on my last day before I go back to work after my paternity leave and I can tell you it’s not a good feeling at all!!, it leaves me asking myself just where did that month go?  Who knows eh, but I know one thing for sure I will always look back at this month off with the fondest of memories and although I have used a large chunk of my yearly leave allowance in having an extra two weeks off it was more than worth it.  (although I doubt I will be thinking that in a month when the rivers start fishing and I am stuck in work)

I start this weeks blog update on a bit of a sad note, unfortunately while we were fishing on Saturday on a local carp pond my uncle hooked into a carp on his pole that suddenly went very solid and heavy, as my uncle continued to play the fish it became clear the fish had got tangled in some discarded fishing line.  Thank full my uncle got the carp in and them began pulling in the other line which as you can see on the picture below was stupidly thick to the point we couldn’t tell if it was line or not.

My uncle eventually pulled in around 30 yards of line with the above rig on the end.  When looking at this picture bear in mind that the pond in question holds carp to around 5lb so first thing I noticed was the size of the bait and hook and then I noticed that there was in fact a weight on the line behind the ledger weight so if any fish had managed to eat this bait and got hooked they would have been tethered to the lead weight as there is nowhere for it to go. 

As the line went all the way to the bank I can only imagine it was a night line left for someone to come back to later as the line was so thick I couldn’t see it ever cracking off on the cast.  I see my fair share of bad angling in my time on the bank but this is by far the worst thing I have seen, hopefully the “angler” involved is bumped into by a more experienced carp angler and shown a thing or two about how to fish responsibly.

Looking forward to this weekend’s fishing and I highly doubt we will be on the river Dee this weekend judging by the Environment Agency levels on the picture shown above.  I half expected this though when it rained constantly for two days solid, no river can take that amount of water coming into it and still be fishable a few days later.  Its times like this fishing takes a back seat and my thought turned to the people who live along the banks of these flooded rivers and how hard it must be for them to deal with our ever changing, unpredictable weather patterns.

Just before I started to put together this week’s blog update I had two videos fall into my Youtube Subscription box from anglers, who’s adventures on the bank I follow closely.  The anglers in question are “Charlie” and Stewart Bloor.  The videos they posted are shown below respectively.

Youtube videos

When we sit on a warm summers day on the banks of our favourite river watching the water pass us gently by we can sometimes forget just how powerful mother nature can be and its videos like these that remind me never to take it for granted when by the river bank, the river is certainly the most dangerous venue I fish and videos like this always serve as a reminder of what even the smallest of rivers is capable of, take care on the banks and never forget your safety is worth more than any fish.

From my angling point of view there is no way the river is going to be in any fit state by Saturday for my type of fishing, yes the river may well drop but not to a sufficient level for it to be a viable option to travel to the river to try so I think this coming weekend we will be either back on a local pond or commercial, which I don’t think would be a bad thing for me as I think I need that confidence boost that comes with fishing a commercial and I am looking forward to it already!!

On to this weeks fishing…..

“deja-vu or what!!!”

Anyone that read last weeks article will see I left it with the presumption that if we went the river then this weeks update may well leave you with a big sense of deja-vu, well I have to confess now although the standard of fishing and size of species was greatly improved the agenda for the day was exactly the same in that we started on the river and ended up on a local pond.

As regular followers of the blog will know I recently moved out of my parents’ house and now live a good 5-10 minute drive away from my dad’s.  This has meant the start to my mornings fishing has a new feel to it and I can say one thing for certain it’s a lot harder to get yourself out of bed to go fishing when you are snugly tucked in bed opposed to my normal Friday night vigil of browsing the internet, unable to sleep with the excitement of the day ahead, a new baby coming along kind of makes you appreciate sleep a little bit more!!

Saturday morning came and I had accidently left the kitchen window open the previous evening and boy did I know it when I entered the kitchen to make my breakfast, the floor was icy cold on my bare feet and there was a real chill in the air, a quick glance out of the window and up at the sky revealed it to be as clear as a bell and studded with countless stars, the first frost of the year had arrived.

We arrived at our chosen destination with precision timing as the first rays of light warmed the now drenched grass; all around us was heady with the smell of flowering Himalayan Balsam that as a mass looked as confused as our seasons have been this year with a mixture of bright greens from the new shoots to the dark lifeless browns of the plants that had fulfilled their duty.  Walking through the undergrowth, laden heavy with all the fishing gear I could hear the closed bugs of these flowers exploding as they jettisoned their seeds far a wide, it left me with no doubt that change was on its way, and so it proved to be this week.
The swim I had chosen to fish was a shallow glide down to the submerged branches of a tree downstream, it was in fact like a mini version of the swim I had fished the previous week but lacked one thing, the depth.  This week's swim was only around 4ft deep but did have a nice slow slack on the inside line where I knew I had a chance of a nice roach or perch.
The river has been really out of sorts of late and it had been a long hard decision to commit to giving it one more try and not try a local still water venue, so my expectations of the day, I have to admit, where quite low and I set myself a target of 20 fish for the session, a total you would laugh at achieving normally in the past year from this venue.
My side tray also saw the effects of the river fishing so poor and it lacked a bait I normally feel like I am fishing unprepared without and that was my half a pint of castors.  This bait has not worked at all the past few weeks in any capacity and has gone to waste at the end of the session so rather than wasting money I chose to not take this bait at all and went with maggot and hemp seed.
Maggot is a good al round bait that I hoped would catch me any fish from small “eyes” to plump fat roach.  As I had fished this swim a number of times before I began feeding the swim up as I prepared my tackle, I knew from experience that the swim had a deeper holed around two thirds the way down the trot and this is where I would pick up the majority of my fish so I began to trickle bait in on that line.
Reading the angling press they always say to go by the rule of a number four shot for every foot of water you are fishing, I have found that not to be the case on the river Dee and I always fish slightly heavier as I like to have a bit of line lying on.  So armed with 8 No 4 float and a size 20 hook I made my first cast into the unknown.
The first hour brought plenty of bites from fish with this lovely dace one of the better fish to come in the first hour.  It looked like I was in for a good days sport and with my uncle and dad not paying me a visit yet it looked like they were also enjoying a much needed bend in their carbon fibre.
In the next hour I put together a decent number of fish, nothing spectacular but the bites where coming regularly enough for me to keep the swim ticking over nicely.  It was then my first visitor of the day arrived and it was my uncle with the not so good news that he was really struggling for bites.  Obviously I had struck a bit of luck and landed on a shoal of fish as my uncle was doing nothing different to me and was only around 20 yards upstream.  While my uncle was sat on my peg having a blood warming brew I had my second visitor of the day, a pike swirling in the edge, not a good sign for the future of the swim.
After my uncle returned to his swim I picked up a few more fish, again nothing of any size till I struck into a bite that felt by all intents and purposes as the bottom until it kicked and went hard for the tree, at first I thought it was a pike taking the fish but it wasn’t strong enough for that, my mind then went into overtime thinking what it could be from a grayling to a chub but to my amazement it was deep green flanks that broke the surface and I was amazed to see it was a perch.
Now a fish this size would offer little resistance on a pond but fish in a river are a different animal all together, they are lean and hard fighting and have the flow to their advantage, this is one thing I love about the river, you just don’t know what your next fish will be.
As the afternoon moved on I picked up another small perch and continued to catch the odd dace and as the swim deteriated further the odd minnow!! My dad and uncle had gone back to their pegs and their fishing had improved but was still poor.  I decided after a hour of trotting without a bite to spend change over to my pike gear to see if there was anything doing.
In went a small roach live bait and after around 20 minutes I had a take, I actually thought the pike had let go or I had missed the take but no I had my first pike of the year, a pike that wasn’t much bigger than the roach it took, easily my new personal best smallest river pike!! It drew laughs from my uncle and dad with calls that the roach had it in a headlock being banded around, with my tail between my legs I returned the pike to its watery home, see you in ten years when you’re a 20 pounder.
I spent the next hour chewing the fat with my uncle on his peg whilst watching him trotting a float relentlessly through his swim with little or no return, again the tide began to ebb and the fishing had died , it was again time to make a move any stop in on another venue on the way home.
I was reasonably happy with my works morning, let's hope this week's floods get the fish on the feed.
“spot of carp fishing”
Not long after leaving the banks of the river Dee we found ourselves hurriedly tackling up to fish another local pond, this is a pond I have featured on the blog before where we had a cracking net of small carp in only a few hours.  We were not the only anglers who had chosen this destination for our weekend’s recreational activity so as always I went over and had a quick word about how they were getting on.
The answer was not good, they had tried every bait under the sun and had only one carp between them and what was worse they reported there had been a few lads fishing our chosen swims and they had thrown the best part of a big time of sweet corn into the margins.
One bait they hadn’t used was maggot and with the bottom of this pond being thick with silt it was a good bet the carp spend most of their time rummaging through this picking up bloodworms and invertebrates to make up their natural diet, so all of us were confident, the only thing was time was already against us, we had to pack up at 5pm and it was already 2pm.
The fishing started off very slow with none of us even getting a knock for the first hour and then my uncle connected and landed the first carp of the day, at least they were up for the bait and with renewed confidence I kept feeding the swim with a lazy trickle of white maggot, eventually this paid off and the elastic melted out of the top of the pole as the fish went hard for the middle. It resistance tamed it was soon in the keep net with my uncles fish.
As the afternoon went on the sport got better with us picking up carp at a slow but steady pace and it was great fun, the only down side being my uncle pulling in that awful rig .We ended with a creditable net for the time we were there and left happy
This weekend looks even worse as I am finishing this blog update off so it looks like a commercial for sure for us tomorrow.
Till next time
Tight lines