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,