Monday, 30 December 2013

River dee on the rise 30.12.13

With a free morning and no work I decided to take a drive out to the river dee.  She has dropped back with her banks after recent floods but still very high and with more rain to come will only get higher.

Friday, 20 December 2013

looking forward and the Dace Chase

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update and forgive me now as this blog is more of an update blog that about the fishing i have been doing although it still features just not in as much detail as normal.

 In past weeks i have covered the RiverFest Tournament in great detail and it was great this week to see it got s mention on Tight Lines and even better that that video is making its way around the angling world via all the social media sites.  All the anglers interviewed, whether they fished the match or not, agreed that this competition will go from strength to strength and i firmly believe this will be the case and with plans already in place for next year i am sure  even more sponsors will jump on this competition given the excellent manner at which it was received and promoted this year.  The video is available on the link below:


This competition, as i have said before on this blog, is a breath of fresh air to the river angling side of our sport it is literally history being made in front of our eyes as never before has a competition been held on running water for such an amount of money and as participation increases and the need for more venues past the 20 is sought who knows we may see rivers like the River Dee used and maybe just maybe the tales my uncle tells of the meadows of the dee lined with anglers may become a reality in years to come,  the river dee certainly has the fish in the autumn moths to produce good weights and make for a fair competition before the fish shoal up making the match winning location a formality.

Still on the theme of next year and followers on Facebook and Twitter will no doubt know this but i have been mentioning a lot about next years Quest for the blog.  The quest will almost certainly centre around Carp fishing and i have been busy drawing up a list of items so that i am fully prepared for this quest this year in terms of mentality and of course tackle.  I will go a lot more into my tackle choices closer to the time when the quest is a lot closer but for me being able to put together a in depth blog post each week involves a great deal of planning and forward thinking and also lessons have to be learnt and built upon from the previous quest.  The previous quest was a steep learning curve and maybe i bit off more than i could chew asking for a 10lb fish from a non commercial, natural water for my first double but i did it and one thing you can guarantee from myself is dedication.

One of the biggest factors i noticed in the first quest was the amount of times i saw two spots i wanted to fish but only fished one rod, that has been addressed now with the purchase of two new carp rods and this weekend i also visited Stapley Water Gardens and picked up some bank sticks and bars.  I am no tackle tart as long as it does the job it will do for me, money spent on the tackle under the water is money better spent that money spent on how your gear looks above it.  Sunday saw me taking a step into unknown territory again:

These purchases are also an investment in my wider vision for the all round type of angler i want to be as these rods bank sticks and future bite alarms will also cross over into my winter pike fishing and also my tench fishing, both areas i want to get more involved into and learn more about so i am able to just grab a ruck sack and a chair and head off for a relaxing day by the bank and it will no doubt see me being able to capture more wildlife for the blog and add some much needed variety.

Moving back to the quest and it is looking like next years quest will be sponsored by a local bait company, all being well and it is the first time i will be working directly with a a company that wants to sponsor an idea of mine and i have been approached in the past by other companies to do such things but opted  against the idea but this time the guy who runs the company is a guy that has been around my blog since it started many years ago and someone i have shared many emails and location conversations with and is someone who's type of fishing is quite similar to mine and all these together made it the right thing to do from my point of view.

It also got me thinking about opening this up to other companies as well, of course not bait related, but if you have a item of tackle, terminal tackle, PVA bags systems or leads you want featuring in this quest by all means feel free to contact me on the blogs email address, facebook or Twitter.

Moving away from the quest on onto the impeding festive period where we all get a chance to relax and reflect on the year gone by and as is customary with the blog i will be putting together a few highlights of 2013 from the blog in next weeks blog update.  Christmas falls at a nice time of year this year for any angler as Christmas is sandwiched right in the middle of two weekends so it should see me getting out at least twice over the festive period.  I also aim, if i get the missus's present bought that is, to spend some time refreshing the look of the blog, not so much the colour but the layout and removing some dead blogs that are on the list that do not get updated and also updating some of the links to companies that i feel really help me out on twitter and really help the blog to grow like it has over the past few years.

These people help me out for no monetary gain for themselves of self promotion but just because they like reading my blog and believe me i read a fair few angling blogs in my weekly breaks and its amazing how many blogs i promote on my page that do not even have the courtesy to have me mentioned in the sidebar or blogs they follow list.  I spend a lot of time on my blog and i see the regulars who comment, comment of facebook, re tweet, mention me on their blog and really help me out and i think i should be doing more for these people and companies to scratch their back.   There will be also more added to the still waters, rivers and commercials i fish sections if i get time.

Moving along but still on the theme of Christmas i have put together a little fun video for the blog to say Merry Christmas to all the people who take time to read my weekly blog.  Merry Christmas and a Safe and happy new year from Myself, Dad and Uncle.

The weather of late has really surprised me and how mild it is of late was confirmed by the fact Martin Bowler commented on his Facebook page this week that he had just released his fourth barbel of the day back to the river and also another angler i keep in contact with who follows the blog got in touch to say he had caught his first still water barbel from Flushing Meadows Fishery, again in December which is crazy!!  The temperature has creeped down towards freezing but it has not stayed low for ant considerable amount of time, certainly not for more than two days with the daytime temperatures reaching up around the 7oc mark, methinks Santa might be delivering his presents this year in his under crackers at this rate.

and with that we move onto past fishing trips:

Winter and that hunt for Dace Perfection

Expectations of winter normally fill the mind with images of snow covered fields, iced rod rings and friendly visits from plump red breasted robins but this year has been unique as although the pages of the newspapers seem to be full of horror weather reports of the worst storms since records began the reality has been much different.  the morning commute to work has seen me met with fiery red skies with the early rays of sunlight providing a claret tinge to the morning clouds.

The majority of the country wakes and breathes a heavy sigh of relief as yet another promised overnight frost fails to materialise, myself, my heart sinks as yet another day passes by with mild temperatures and rain free days.  The rivers wait in expectation of their yearly refreshing winter deluge of water and subsequent cleansing floods but its a wait that has seen our rivers run clear and low for the majority of the winter of 2013.  We now are fast approaching the middle of winter and the day with the shortest amount of daylight hours is right there in our sights and the majority of river and still water predator anglers hope and pray for the second stanza of winter to be glistened with jack frosts ice cold touch.

My angling confidence of late has been as changeable as the seasons of the year with it being as high as a buzzard in the midday summer sun a few weeks back too it being as low as i can remember of late and the past two sessions i mention in this update have been some of the most difficult sessions i have been on in a long time.  My tactics have not changed from previous dace trips to the river dee and although there has been some really nice fish to remember these session for, such as this pristine roach below that weights just over a 1lb, in reality the sessions as a whole have proved frustrating.

The first session i was well prepared for the fishing to come with hook lengths lined up like soldiers next to a hard boiled egg all waiting to be called upon to be dunked into the murky depths.  The session started off great with me straight into fish and nice ones to boot.  The roach mentioned above was one of these fish that came early on in the session and for the first hour or two i put a decent weight of fish in the net, so much so it had my uncle coming over to check my progress as he was struggling.  I ended the session with 9lb off fish and i would say around 7lb of that came in those two to three hours as from 3 hours in i could not buy a bite, it was like someone had knocked the switch off altogether.  The fish where there but i could not catch them and when preceded to occur was the odd fish capture here and there over the rest of the session.

I say the odd fish here ant there but the fish when they came were worth catching as they were generally fish over 6oz the frustration came in the fact i could not keep more than one or two coming.  The river dee and especially dace fishing on this river is always an ongoing battle with the pike that love to sneak into your swim but i really think this was down to me not doing something right and the answer does not normally show itself till you are back home thinking over the session and this was the case on Saturday.

The reason i feel i struggled after 3 hours of the session was bad feeding of the swim, i basically fed too much which drew the fish up the swim and up in the water and as they where drawn up in the water so my bait was passing down the right line but not the right area of the swim so rather than changing float and line during the session maybe i should have changed depth and not fed as much maggot to bring the fish back down over the hemp where i had caught them in the first few hours.  Over feeding a swim is something i suffer from quite a lot with my fishing as i am an angler that really likes to attack the swim i am in and even more so when the fish are coming thick and fast but in reality once i have the fish in the swim my feeding should change from feeding a lot to drip feeding it into the swim to create competition for bite, fishing is a journey where we are constantly learning in my opinion and although this may not be the reason i caught next time i am in that situation i will have another option to test rather than plodding on with the way i was doing for the first few hours.

My net

My uncle is the master of putting together a net of fish and his feeding and way he catches the fish is a joy to watch and this was the case on this session as although he did not catch much for the first few hours he had almost doubled my net by the end.  The dace on his swim where strangely coy for dace in the river dee and he found that he only got bits when he trotted really close to a downstream snag, he had no bites anywhere else in the swim all day.  Normally when dace fishing the fish grow in confidence and you bring them up onto the feed where you want them during the session but on this occasion these fish where not leaving the sanctuary of the snag.

My uncles net:

The session this week was a complete disaster of a session on the River Dee.  These sessions come along from time to time and in angling terms it was "one of those days".  Sat in the car park with a hour to go till sunrise i got on my phone and loaded up the Blogs Facebook page and began posting about my excitement for the session ahead and the really windy conditions i would be faced with.  I had a plan for these conditions and it was to fish a heavy bolo float as i knew if i could present a bait in the correct depth of water the levels and more importantly the clarity of the river where spot on for a decent weight of fish.

First light came and i set up my box in the swim and set about getting my float rod ready for fishing, line threaded i went in my box for a float and that is when the nightmare began, no float tube!!  I began searching in my side tray for a float and the heaviest i could find was 6 number 4, not ideal and with the wind gusting through i knew i was in trouble but as always i was optimistic, i very rarely am not confident with my fishing especially so when dace fishing the river Dee.

The wind at this point was just coming in gusts with prolonged gaps where i managed to catch some nice dace and roach but it did not last long and by 9am the wind was so strong it was bending the tip of my float road around towards 90 degrees at times.  It was time to make a change so i went to my holdall to get my feeder rod but alas the feeder rod was not to be seen and that is when i realised i had left it on the table at home with my float tube, things could not get any worse surely, or could it as from this moment on the wind got so hard it was blowing the float and rig into the edge as soon as it hit the water, i wasn't even going down the river but trotting back into my bank, side wards haha.

 I persevered for 3 hours on the float rod without a fish to show for my efforts before a gap in the wind saw me in with a chance, i quickly trotted the line further out and hit a fish fist time, a nice dace as well, well lets just say it WAS a nice dace as no sooner had the fish broke the surface a pike came from the depths and took the fish and bit straight through the line which shot into the air and into a birds nest around the float.  Enough was enough, there where all manner of better things i could be doing than struggling on the river so i called it a day and spent the afternoon with my fiance and little girl.

This makes the session sound all doom and gloom when looking back at the better fish from the session it was not so bad.

Well that concludes another blog update, this week i doubt we will get on the dee with this rain but i am sure we will be on the banks somewhere in this wonderful country of ours, might even get on the canal for some piking!!

till next time

tight lines


Friday, 6 December 2013

If you never try you'll never know...River dee Exploring

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update and thank you to all the people who sent me nice messages around my weight loss i mentioned in last weeks blog. Thank you it really is appreciated and although with Christmas looming large temptation will be all over the place i am sure i will get through it and still be on track come the new year.

The first thing i would like to do this week is congratulate Dave Harrell in his capture of this fantastic match winning weight of chub below.  The story behind it goes that he woke up really late for the match and only arrived just in time for the start of the match and goes to show that sometimes you can think to much about your different options on the river and not do them all justice, all these fish were caught on the same rod, on the rig and even the same hook if i remember rightly and as i said goes to prove that sometimes narrowing down your options and concentrating on one can be the best way to go.  A fantastic net of fish, a dream net for any river man and it is great to see that after a the bad draws in the RiverFest competition that the river is starting to repay its debt to Dave for all his hard work in putting together that fantastic competition that has really put river angling back on the map.

I have always believed that to write a blog every week and keep it as interesting as possible you need to have great planning and believe it or not this past week or so my mind has been running wild with my plans for the blog for 2014 past when the rivers close.  You can of course only plan so much as with river fishing you really are at the mercy of mother natures winter wrath but some things do run in set cycles and we all know that come next spring and summer carp and tench will be at the forefront of our minds as anglers and with that i began putting a few ideas together another Quest for the blog. As regular followers of the blog will know the last quest i did was to catch my first ever double figure carp, it took me two seasons but considering i started from nothing knowledge wise on carp fishing and i learnt as i went along i think that is quiet an achievement. This time i  am running over a few ideas as to what i want the quest to entail am slowly putting together a small portfolio on each idea taking into account venues as in are they local and easy for me to fish?, do they contain my target? and most of all is it something that is going to keep me motivated as whatever challenge i choose its going to be a step up for me.

The past quest for a double figure carp can be found here:

The quest for a 10lb carp of course taught me lessons on rigs and watercraft when fishing for bigger fish but i also noticed a few things as i was completing the quest and the two main things that occupied my mind where 1)  how much a second rod would be use full, there were plenty of times i wanted to try two areas but only had the one rod and times where i did not know whether a pop up was best of bottom bait and two rods would allow me to experiment on one 2) how under gunned i felt fishing with my 1.75tc barbel rod in its Avon form, i didn't know if i was under gunned or not but just the thought of not knowing really worried me at the time, what if i hit a 20 would i get it in? that's not fair on the fist at the end of the day, so i made a promise that once the quest was over i would make sure i was equipped properly before embarking on the next one.

With that in mind i have been keeping my eyes peeled for a pair of carp rods in the 2.75lbtc bracket for some time now .  I had originally had my eyes on the Sonik SKS  range as i wanted a rod that could do the job but not see me spending a fortune on it and 50 quid per rod was the maximum i wanted to spend and with my birthday coming up quickly time was running out to make a decisions, so on Tuesday night i was all set to make a buy a pair of these rods when i decided to make a quick brew, on my return there in front of me was a big advertisement on facebook of a sale on at Climax Tackle, Prologic C3 carp rods reduced down to 49.99.  In my research i had come across these rods but with each costing well over 100 pound they were well out of my price range, needless to say i took no time at all in snapping two of them up and all being well by the time this blog goes out i should be the proud owner of a pair of these rods.

These rods will not be sat gathering dust as they will be going straight into use for my piking as i have a session planned for the pike this very weekend all being well.  My barbel rod will become just that from now on a river rod for barbel and chub fishing and the ultimate aim is to be able to vary my fishing at easy without having to keep changing the same rod over from barbel fishing to pike fishing, having two rods will also add to my options with the pike fishing and will see me targeting pike on future sessions on the Dee as two rods give you the luxury of two baits in the water.   All in all there are exciting times ahead for the blog there a a few conversations ongoing with people with ideas going into 2014 and i must say i cant wait to make a start.

This weekend marks my birthday and as is the tradition i have booked an extended weekend off work with the plan of getting out on the bank as much as possible.  All being well there should be some river fishing for dace and chub and also i am hoping to get out for a pike fishing trip on dead baits as well, of course these plans are always subject to change but all being well a nice weekends fishing lays ahead.

This does not fit in with the blog right here but as many of you know who follow me on twitter and facebook i write this blog over a few evenings, anyhow i fear there is never a right place for this.  Tonight as i set up the laptop to continue with the blog the news has broke about the passing or Nelson Mandela. In my younger years  in college i was fortunate enough to travel to South Africa for three weeks playing Rugby Union on tour, i left full of enthusiasm for a holiday playing rugby and i returned having learnt a huge life lesson from a country this main carved from a cell.  During my time there we saw many shanty towns and saw the poverty that still exists there and also saw the very island that nelson Mandela spent 27 years of his life imprisoned on.  The whole three weeks changed my thoughts on life dramatically and the stories of how life was during apartheid stick with me to this day, at the time the country was still far from a reformed and perfect country but it was certainly nothing like the stories we heard. RIP Nelson Mandela a true great of our era and a man that whose actions will be taught in history lessons for hundreds of years to come.,

on to this weeks fishing:

"if you never try you'll never know...River Dee Exploring"

  As the title of this weeks blog suggests it was a weekend of discovery for me and my uncle on the River dee this weekend and although it is always great bagging up on the more productive sections of the river a big part of my river fishing is about discovering new areas and hunting out those little spots where fish shoal up.  Along the whole of the river course there are places where the fish will go to in numbers at different times of the year and if you find these spots in winter it can mean you can really bag up on fish whilst also getting some peaceful fishing away from the crazy, hectic, much busier areas of the river that can become irritating over time.

Rivers are unlike their sillwater counterparts in more than just looks, on a river you always feel like you could start catching at any time, this is of course a common feeling on a still water but as a river is constantly flowing and pushing your bait downstream you can draw fish from great distances downstream onto your bait, but you also need to know when to cut and run and this comes down to knowing the river well from past visits and experiences and Saturday was a great example of this as we actually left the swims whilst we where still catching.

We decided to visit a stretch we had fished close to before and had noticed a decent depth change on the visit and had earmarked it for a visit in Winter.  The nature of this area means it is only really fish able at a certain water level and with the unpredictable British weather we knew if we were to try it out last Saturday was our chance as the river was in perfect condition and the water level favourable.  The area we fished before had produced some nice nets of dace and it was this species we had our sights locked on, on Saturdays trip.

Maggot and hemp was the bait for the day and i made my first cast as always full of expectation and excitement.  The float went down the deep glide a dream, not a breath of wind meant the float was a mere pin prick in the surface of the water and utilising my 17ft trotting rod i was able to tease the bait through the swim searching out those different places in the swim where i expected a bite.  As with most sessions on the river the wait for that first bite seems like an eternity, unless that is you hit the ground running on one of those magical trotting sessions the dee can grant an angler.

That first bite took an age to come but when it did it was solid resistance i was met with, certainly not a dace or a roach but i did think i could have been a chub due to its stand and fight stance.  This was short lived as the fish soon gave its identity away the fact it moved upstream with the grace and elegance that only the lady of the stream possesses, this was a grayling and i knew given the cold conditions she would have her full winter colours in bloom, although capturing this fishes beauty on film is easier said than done as any angler will testify they are as wily as they are strong.  During the time we spent at this venue i went to pick up 4 more fin perfect grayling, not all made it in front of the camera though.

With grayling fishing slowing down i  took a walk down to see my uncle who had also had a similar session to myself with a mixture of grayling, salmon par and trout but none of us had even had a sign of the dace we were so hoping for.  I sat with my uncle for a good half hour and i tell you now you cant help but learn something when you watch a person who can trot a float down a swim as well and he can i could literally sit and watch him trotting for hours, a little hold back her and slowing the float down there almost guiding the bait into the fishes mouths, it almost inspires you to want to get back to your peg and try and replicate it and that i did although not with the touch that he does, the way he holds the float back without it rising out of the water at all is so hard to do.

I returned to my peg and first trot down i struck into a fish that had me chuckling like john wilson as the fish jumped time and time again and it was not a bad fish so my heart was also in my mouth each time.  A trout it was of course but it was this fishes markings that caught my attention it was mesmerising in its beauty i certainly have never caught a trout with such vivid markings as this fish.

Both myself and my uncle where desperate for one dace to show up as we both knew where there is one dace there is more but as time passed and more and more grayling continued to show up we both knew a decision had to be made, the dace where not here and it was obvious from the amount of game fish coming to our swims that there was no dace in the area, if they had been around we would have certainly hit one by now.  With this we decided to drop back on another venue on the way home to a place we knew held some dace.

Dropping back for the Dace 

Like i have mentioned before on this blog we always have a plan on our trips we very rarely hit the bank without a plan B and we visited this stretch on Saturday with the intention that if we did not find the dace we would drop back on a stretch we knew held some dace.

Arriving on this popular beat we were amazed to find it so quiet,we quickly settled into our pegs and instantly was into dace action.  My uncle was out of sight but i could hear form the noise of his striking he was getting a few fish going.  The dace where right there from the off and i soon was over the ten fish mark and although i didn't have much time i was sure i was in for a decent net.  The dace action was steady but it was not over my help and i found the dace to be coming at all areas of the swim and not really in one place which can happen in a fast swim.  It was during one of these trots down i hit a fish right on my hemp, i was actually taken by surprise as i wasn't expecting it but luckily for me it was one of those unmissable bites, my reward? A fantastic river dee roach, the fish of Saturdays session for me.

The session for me got a bit hit and miss after this fish with the fish seemingly moving in and out of the swim to the point they were there one minute and not next.  I visited my uncle during one of these dry spells and he had got the fish going right under his feet, one a chuck.  I returned to my peg for the last hour of the session and continued to pick up the odd dace and on last knocking had a fish taken by a pike that spat the fish at the last moment, like last week, seconds before i was to get a glimpse of him.

The final nets:

my net:

uncles net

That is is for this weeks instalment for the blog,

till next week i wish you all tight lines and stay safe.


Friday, 29 November 2013

River Dee Dace and the Rolling Pike

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update and you find me probably in one of the best places i have been for a long time, coming up to four years ago my mum sadly passed away and with that i lost all interest in the sport of rugby league, a sport i had played since 10 years old.  The mixture of these two things and the depression and comfort eating that goes with it had seen me pile on the pounds over the past few years and it was not till September this year it hit me that i had too stop this trend and sort it out for myself and also for my little girl growing up.  I am here now, at this moment in time 3 stones lighter than i was in September, i feel great but i know as well i still have a long way to go.  I was going to go public with it earlier on the blog to put myself in a situation where i have to stick to it but i really am the type of person that if i say "i am going to" means i will do it as opposed to me saying "i might" which basically means "i wont".  As i said i feel great and there is still a long way to go but already there has been some real morale boosters and milestones,  my Berghaus coat that i never wore as it was too tight i wore on this session you will read about on Saturday and the difference was it was loose enough to sit in, which was great, but even better was the fact i had two T-shirts and my thick jumper on under it as well, long way to go but i have made a start.

The picture above got posted on the internet this week and how true it is as sometimes it feels like it only rains on Fridays causing the rivers to flood and not be in the best nick for the weekend yet all week driving in work its calm and clear, perfect for trotting.  This week has been a week that has killed me being in work as driving into work i knew the conditions were just perfect for a days trotting or even for hunting a big pike but alas as my missus always says fishing doesn't put food on the table and although i don't eat as much now she still insists the fishing wont pay the way ha-ha.

The river this coming weekend will be in fine fettle and the popular beats will fish well but i must admit the buzz for me comes from finding those quieter areas and the shoals of fish that the masses do not know about and not to mention the bystanders you get visit your peg on the more popular stretches can be tiresome at times, even to me as ask any of my family and colleagues form work i can talk for hours about fishing but when i am actually fishing i like to get away from it all, so this weekend i will be targeting a stretch of river where i have found some depth on a summer trip hoping that it is home at this time of year to some shoals of dace and chub as lets face it not all the fish in the river can go to the popular areas as you literally would not be able to fit all the fish in the short stretch, so this weekend will be some of the most enjoyable fishing i do, searching out new areas of river and learning more about this fantastic river, we may well blank but what if we don't?

One of the joys of writing a weekly blog is you have a detailed account of each trip you go on to look back on and it is something i often do, not from a vain point of view but more to remind me of the session i am reading about and it lets you know where you fished in the same conditions in previous years and it can influence your decision come the weekend. For example around this time last year i fished the dee in the snow and caught well fishing for dace and pike but on on the session in question i remembered i had caught a few roach on corn so this weekend i might pack in a tn of corn and feed it during the session it also provides you with a brilliant confidence boost when times get tough.

Here are a few i have read this week:

Fishing in the snow:

Dace when rivers fining down:

This week i was contacted by a company around possibly reviewing one of their products on a future blog and as discussions are only in the early stages at the moment so i cant go into detail on this product review but thought it a great opportunity to show some of the product reviews i have done in the past and also open the opportunity up for other companies, so if you are a company that has a product or piece of kit you think i would use and want a honest review on a popular blog that at the moment attracts 6000 plus views a month feel free to approach me and we can see if we can put something together.

past reviews i have featured:

Calor Gas Grill to Go:
iFishlocator Review: 
Minke Fishing Tool :

Moving on to this weeks Fishing:

River Dee Dace And The Rolling Pike

The joys of last weekends net of dace and the bonus session for chub where still flowing through my veins like the water through the river i intended to fish which was again the River Dee.  The winter of 2012 taught me one thing, make the most of the fishing while the river is in form as for too long it can be unfishable like it was last year and although weather forecasting technology is the best its ever been you never truly know what is around the corner and us river men really are at the mercy of the winter rain and snow.

Although it is probably obvious from my weekly writings about the dee, i think this river is a magnificent venue and in my eyes one of the most underrated rivers in this country and although her fishing quality is often questioned one thing that is not in doubt is her sheer beauty.

With no birthday celebrations this week i was joined again by my uncle on the bank and we headed for the same area i had fished the previous week where we hoped to find the dace hungry.  Arriving at the river we were full of anticipation for the session ahead as our arrival on the bank was greeted with a cold overnight frost and temperatures below freezing.  Walking the bank with the leaves crunching under our feet we debated which area to target but after taking into account the river levels, temperature and colour of the river we settled on two swims close to each other that had a steady pace and even depth.

As always the first trot down was etched with expectation and although the freezing conditions would have put many off we knew this very cold would be the reason we would catch.  This is why rivers a re so magical as they offer anglers a chance to catch fish all year round and the fishing is especially good in winter as a number of factors come together to make the fishing so good,  the depth offers the fish warmth so they are attracted to the few deep areas on the river and the fact the fish are constantly swimming against the flow means they have to feed to survive and as there are large numbers of fish in this area you get competition for the food that,if fed right, keeps the fish coming.

The first dace of the session took a while in coming but like on so many sessions on the dee the first fish is always the most difficult as once you hit that first fish you know a shoal of fish is about and you get that flush of confidence.  The fishing at this point was slow with bites being at a premium on both our pegs so much so after a good two hours of fishing we were both in single figures for fish in our nets.

We both chewed the fat over a brew and agreed something was not right and it was amazing to see the similarities in our experiences so far, we both had caught fish all over the swim and both had noticed that any hooked fish was fighting in a way they could not wait to get out of the river, pike are what sprung to mind but i guess only time would tell as if it was pike it would only be a matter of time.   Our brews finished we returned to our pegs and continued our trotting ritual and it seemed like the break had done my uncles fishing some good as straight away i could hear the unmistakable sound of him striking into fish and the same could be said of my swim as it seemed like it was really starting to improve as well as bites where now coming on the same line in the swim and with greater regularity and for the next hour or so i caught with increasing regularity.

The swim was really starting to get to the stage where you think i might be on for a decent net here when on retrieving a dace i had the life scared out of me as a pike rolled at the dace about 7 yards in front of me, i just was not expecting it and what surprised me was the fact it missed such an easy meal.  Never to be one to miss an opportunity and knowing the pike was about i quickly grabbed my pike rod and had a go for the pike but nothing was doing so it was back to the dace fishing.  This marked the start of  a pattern in my swim that would last for the whole session and it was surreal experiencing such a weird phenomenon as what i witnessed on this session.  I would continue to catch dace all over the swim, maybe four or five and then BANG the same pike would roll at a dace as i was bringing it in, not take it just roll at it then the fishing would die for 10-15 minutes and the swim would slowly build up with four or five fish and then bang there was the pike again.  Even when i thought i was due a roll from mr pike i would try the pike rod with no success and then the next fish i caught it would have a go at.  I lost count during the session how many times this happened.

My uncle was also having a similar experience on his peg where he had pike attacking the fish in his keep net, pike lying in wait in the margin of his swim yet he never had one dace taken all day, very very very weird behaviour and certainly i have not witnessed anything like it.  We have all seen videos of pike or seen in the flesh how devastatingly accurate pike can be at taking fish and in my eyes no pike misses upwards of 4 times never mind 15-20, very unusual and interesting at the same time.

What was really weird was the quality of the dace we was catching with such pike around with the one above being my best fish of the day and a real example of what winter river fishing is for me, dace with fat plump pigeon chests darting and gliding upstream through the swim as they come to the net and that sudden realisation that this is a dace you cant lift in and you joyfully reach for the landing net.

My uncle continued to fish for dace the whole session while i, in hindsight, wasted far to much time on mr pike but his dedication and skill showed in the final net as he put 18.6lb on the scales at the end and my net went just over 10lb.

my net:

uncle net: 

Till next week i wish you all tight lines


Sunday, 24 November 2013

River Dee Dace and the Hungover Chub chase

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update.  This weeks blog update marks comes after a historic weekend for the branch of our sport that is river fishing as whilst i was on the banks of the River Dee on Saturday, further down in Wales the final of the first ever River Fest was taking place.  All the anglers that had qualified from their respective matches converged on a River Wye that was by all accounts in good nick after the recent floods.  The reports coming from the event are that it was a complete success and an event that was enjoyed by all its competitors and spectators and one thing that was great to see was some really big powerhouse companies get behind this event, an event that really will put river angling back on the map.

The days since have seen the event organisers commit to River Fest 2014 and are already taking ideas for venues that could be used for next years qualifiers.  I have a secret hope that the river dee will get a look in but i guess the lack of stretches that could house 60 anglers is the main issue but what a spectacle it would make to see 60 anglers in Chester city centre and a real event made of the qualifier, i live in hope.

This week also saw the weather settle a bit and the rivers that across the whole country where approaching bursting point get a chance to settle down and begin to fall to a reasonable level.  The spate rivers of course took no time in falling and that is the joy of having these rivers at your disposal and example of this is when you compare the River Dee to the River Ribble,  Monday the river was peaked at at its maximum height on both these rivers after a recent deluge yet a day later the Ribble was down to a fish-able level whee as it took the Dee a good 4 days to drop and even then she was carrying a fair bit of water come my weekend session.

I  would like to talk for a bit on how i feel i have grown as an river angler over the past few years, i have learnt over my few years fishing the River that just because you want to go the river does not exactly mean it is the right thing to do and you cannot pr-determine your tactics before you go, you need to fish the river in front of you, just because you want to fish the stick float does not mean that is the tactic you can use as the feeder and ground bait may be the way to go that day.  These are all lessons i feel you learn as you get a bit older and are not so hyperactive about your trips to the river, that is not to say i do not get excited before my fishing trips because i do,  i mean i set up on the bank now in a controlled calm manner, taking my time to get it right before making a start where as before it was almost as if i was in a race with the angler next to you to get a bait in the water first. I also feel now i am more confident in my river angling and in the decisions i make from choosing swims when i arrive to fishing the right areas of the river, i am not there 100%, but then again are any anglers truly a complete angler?  I feel angling is like all things in life the more you do it the better you get but you are always learning and adapting as you move through your angling career.

I always like to add some of myself in these blog updates so moving on and away form angling for a moment this week also marks the release of the most anticipated consoles in years the Xbox one and shortly after the Playstation 4.  Never before have two major consoles released so close to each other and it is going to be really interesting to see if Playstation come to the fore again in this generation.  I have been saving my pennies for some time now and by the time this blog goes live i will hopefully be the owner of a Xbox one and i have to say i am a wee bit excited.  I get quite a few comments around how i manage to get out on the bank every week but i have to admit i have a very understanding partner and the way i see it i work hard all week and hard in the house so i see a few hours on the bank as my time to relax and get away form it all and lets face it when you have made the big purchases in angling like rods, baskets etc etc then buying bait each week is quite cheap if you buy in bulk and the same principle goes for my purchase of the Xbox one, i work hard all year to earn my bonus so i should see something for it and this year it is an xbox one console on launch evening.  If you also have an Xbox one, why not drop us an email with your gamertag and i will add you onto my friends list.

Last weeks fishy fact of fiction drew great comments on the Internet forum i post on and lets face it a question like that is always going to draw some attention and divided opinion.  I was lucky enough this week to come across a copy of Photo shop Elements at my nans house of all places so i will be looking to install that on my new laptop as soon as possible, for all those who do not follow me on facebook, i am currently waiting on my laptop to come back form the repair shop and my little daughter decided at 14 months old to conduct a little science experiment, do laptops and waters mix? haha.  She is so hard to be mad at though and as annoyed as i was that morning by the time i had cleaned up the water she was melting my heart with her cheeky smile and funny nature.  So in the coming weeks i will be trying to put some things together on photo shop with new designs for the blog and images and looking to launch the Fishy Fact or Fiction with some more professional back up to it.  There is also a few more irons in the fire with regards additions to the blog in the coming week, whether they become a reality is another matter but there is certainly exciting times ahead for the blog.

The one thing that needs to be mentioned this week is a BIG happy birthday to my uncle who celebrated his 50th birthday this weekend, a great night was had by all and we even managed to go fishing the next day, more on that later! Happy birthday if your reading this Zorro!!

On to this weeks fishing and what a first class week it was on the bank:

Saturday - River Dee - In the Search of Dace

The week building up the this trip the river dee was recovering from a deluge of rain that saw her approaching the tops of her banks at times but a prolonged period of steady weather and reduced rainfall had saw her fining off nicely for a few days prior to my trip and i knew by checking the charts she would be not only approaching a level that would allow me to wet a line but the colour of the river would be spot on for a fish or two, of course at this time of the year finding the fish is the key as the colder it gets the more the fish shoal up and the more barren certain stretches become, so that's when knowledge of the river comes into play and information built up from where you found the fish in previous years in similar conditions.

While we are on the topic of looking at sessions with similar conditions the blog is a great way of keeping track of your own fishing but i also do a side write up each Monday on my break in work of the swim i fished at the weekend, temperature on the day and how the fishing was.  At first they just seem like sporadic notes but build them up over a few years and definite patterns appear, so on Saturday, dropping river, nice colour, mild temperature, i had a fair idea where to head too.  You get out of this sport what you put in and time spent away form the bank so you are as prepared as you can be is so valuable.

Arriving on the bank we inspected the river, as much as we could in the dark, shining a torch across the river revealed the river was pushing through at some speed down the middle and like i had predicted she was carrying a good few feet of water.  This extra few feet is of course on summer levels as the level she was at now was only a few feet above winter conditions and easily fish able all along the beat i was on.  I settled in a swim that was a lovely glide as the river flowed along it without any breaks in its surface revealing no obvious snags on the bottom and as the river in this location is mainly soft mud and quite sandy it meant i could run the float through with confidence and it also gave me the option to lie a bit if line on if i wanted too.  All in all i was really confident that i was in for a enjoyable session.

I was fishing a swim that was between 6-7ft deep and all the trotting text books will tell you that the float of choice should be at most a 8 number four but for this session i went with a 10 number 4 wire stem float.  The reason for this is the extra weight gets the bait down on the bottom and also adds weight to the rig so you can really hold that float back over the hemp and control it going down the swim and in a swim that was flowing above normal pace slowing the trot down would be an invaluable tool on this session as it allows you to keep that bait in the killing zone for much longer giving the fish longer to take the bait.

Two pints of hemp and 2 pints of maggot are all i really ever take the river and today was no different and some of that bait found its way into the river whilst i was setting up my gear, i knew this swim well and knew where i would be fishing during the session so i was confident in my bait placement at this point.  Time was taken to make sure the rig was right, the shot evenly spaced and the depth of the rig set to what i thought would be the best on the day.  The morning was just breaking in the distance and a overnight fog was just lifting i i made my first cast.

The fist trot down a swim is always a magical moment and as much as i try to ignore a trot down with no fish as a bad sign for the day that first trot i am always full of optimism and a sense of expectation and that is testament to what a fantastic river the River Dee is as on every stretch i visit at any time of year i expect to catch, its that good of a river.

The first few trots down you could have been forgiven for thinking you were in  for a bad day as the float went down time and time again untouched but dace fishing can be like that and so it proved as after around 30 minutes of trotting the float buried right at the end of the swim and a the jagged bouncing on the rod tip let me know it was a silver dart on the other end and what a pleasure to the eyes she was, my first dace of the winter campaign.

Dace are a fish that give me so much confidence as you know where there is one thee is more to be had and it was just a case of keeping the feeding accurate to get the fish where i wanted them. Over the three hours or so the swim built gradually from a dace every other cast to a dace a chuck right over the bed of hemp and it was really enjoyable fishing which peaked with this lovely roach below.

As any river angler knows, where the dace and roach go, so do the pike and as the swim is building you know you are at the mercy of a pike moving in as the constant fighting of the dace not only attracts the pike in but can prove irresistible to any dormant pike around the swim.  Just after striking into another dace i was just bringing in what i thought was another nice dace when it all went solid, you almost think its a snag till the snag starts swimming into the centre of the river, an epic battle ensued as the pike began to feel some resistance stopping him, or more likely her, from moving into the flow and on a 1lb 7oz hook length i had to take it easy.  The pike slowly started to come closer into the bank but i still had not moved this pike of the bottom and although you can never really tell on a float rod this pike felt like a decent fish and just as i began to lift the pike from the bottom it spat the fish out.  Its very rare you catch the pike in these situations, i would say in 9/10 cases the pike bites through the line, snaps you or spits the fish out.  The fish was in a right mess and was terminally injured form this experience, putting the fish back would mean a slow death so i did the only right thing.

just to show what damage a pike does here is a comparison picture below.

After this pike i noted the time and it was a whole hour ad a half till the my next fish, pike really do that much damage to your dace fishing.  I used to beat my self up about it but i now understand that the two go hand in hand, me dace fishing is the reason the pike moved in and it is part and parcel of fishing for dace.  The next fish i caught after this pike was a really special dace and the fish i had come for it was fin perfect and had that  plump pigeon chest that all good dace have, a pleasure to cross paths with such a beautiful fish.

This dace marked the start of the swim building again and boy did it build as dace after dace after dace kept coming to the net and on the odd occasion the float would bury right at the top of the swim, hard bits to hit but when i did i was rewarded with a nice grayling or a trout.  I managed to photograph the grayling but the trout evaded the lens as in just as i was taking a picture the fish "flipped" from my grasp and back into the river, slippery little sucker!

I ended up taking 3 grayling during the whole session, each i estimated to be around a pound, a welcome fish in the swim, great fighters and is their a fish with more vivid colours in the UK?

As with all good sessions they are over all to quickly and on this session it came round sooner than normal as we had to pack in around 2.30pm as we had my uncles party in the evening to attend.  The final net went just over 16 pound and with the grayling and trout added to the net it would have meant a total net around the 20 pound mark, i was one proud angler as on my own i had done my homework, picked a swim based on me looking at the river and also caught the fish, all without my uncle being there to guide, i was chuffed to bits.

The final net:

Sunday: Hangover Chub fishing

Sunday morning as i was woken by a text message on my phone, through bleary eyes i made out it was a text from my uncle and it read "Ready to go when you are Dan, say 10.30" my head fell back on to my pillow, fishing today? surely not.  After around a hour of drinking coffee and eating a big greasy bacon buttie i was just about ready to tackle the day.  I dont want it to sound like i was still drunk as i wasn't it was a hangover and as i never drink normally it was bad even considering i had not had too much to drink, either that or i really am getting old.

A days fishing for chub was on the cards and unusually for us it was around 12 noon when we arrived on the bank.  Trotting and ledgering maggots and corn would be the tactics for the day with the hope of connecting with a chub or two.

The river is thick with minnows so trotting maggots can be a bit of a relentless mission but with the weather cooling so did their numbers and although there was a few about it was no where near as bad as passed weeks.  Trotting maggots saw the downfall of the first fish of the day for myself in a lovely chub of 3lb 14oz.

My uncle was next to connect with a fish in a sublimely coloured grayling, unlike the dee fish this fish was dark with a mixture of blacks and dark purples on its gill covers and its flanks speckled with spots, it was a picture to look at and even harder to hold, at 1lb 12oz a special grayling indeed.

My uncle then went on to lose two fish, on almost certainly a trout and the second a fish that as my uncle put it, just went and i could not stop it, we both know this river holds some barbel so we reckon it must have been on of these.  I was next to hit the net with a grayling of my own, not as impressive as my uncles but more than welcome and weighed in at 1lb 5oz.

The swim then went through an eerie silence and i sat back and watched the nature all around me going about their daily routine and i admit to being a tad jealous that these animals get to call this wonderful setting home, mr squirrel on the far bank clinging to the branches that overhang the river with astute strength and confidence, a flash of lightning blue as a urban kingfisher darts past and then  the unmistakable sound of a buzzard in the distance meant i was in a wildlife oasis right in the middle of one of the most industrial cities in this country.

My liaising with nature was suddenly interrupted by an unmistakable pull on the line across my finger and instinct took over as i automatically struck into solid resistance, a chub for sure,it was not powerful enough to be anything else its unmistakable stand and fight nature then a dart for the snags and safety was thwarted by some side strain and a thumb across the spool increasing the strain this guy fought twice as hard as the first chub and slipping the net under her i had high hopes but alas she hot the scales at 3lb 2oz.

The third chub for me came in the very next cast and unusually within minutes of the first fish, very unusual for chub in small rivers but we are approaching that time of year where temperatures drop and food is less abundant for the fish to find so they come back onto the feed much quicker as they don't want to miss out on such a free meal.  The third chub was slightly smaller than all the others at 2lb 15oz but meant we now had 3 nice chub in the net and already i was looking forward to a nice photo at the end.

That was it for my fishing for the day apart from losing two floats that is but my uncle did take one more chub himself and what a nice chub it was as well a great way to sign off the session.

All that was left was to take the final net shots of the chub.

And thats it for another week on the bank i do hope you enjoy reading my weekly blogs.

until next time

its tight line from me


Friday, 15 November 2013

Chubbin..... at your age?

"I walked across an empty land,
I knew pathway like the back of my hand
I felt the earth beneath my feet,
Sat by the river and it made me complete"

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update and I am sure we have all heard or been involved in a conversation about the song that the lyrics above were taken from.  It is of course the Christmas John Lewis advert about the Bear and the Hare, a very sad video and one that does tug on the heartstrings but it was the very first verse of the song, shown above, that stuck in my heart and there is a lot of truth in it for myself as when you are sat beside that river with the sight and sounds that go with such a scene you can sit back, look around, and the worries that go with life drift away like the very leaves passing down the river in front of your eyes, fishing offers so much more than the thrill of catching a fish sometimes.

The River Dane Valley on Sunday, i was all alone, the only one on the bank, perfect time for peace, quiet, relaxation, reflection and contemplation. 

Drifting slowly away from that sombre opening we move onto a subject that was posted on the River Dee facebook page this week which caught my eye, the Welsh Dee Salmon Conservation Fund.  The Fund is trying to raise funds for a Scientific investigation into the current and historical release patterns of water from Llyn Celyn.  The conservation believe that these unnatural releases of water are partly to blame for the decline of salmon spawning in the upper reaches of the River Dee area, an area it is suggested that should be the breeding area for 15-20% of the total breeding stock of salmon in the river dee system.  Money raised for this fund will go towards undertaking studies into the effects of these releases and see if they are in some part to blame for the decline.

You can check the Fund out on the link below and maybe purchase a raffle ticket to help towards this cause.

Last weeks Fishy Fact of Fiction drew some great comments both in the comments section on here, Blogs Facebook and Twitter Page and on Maggot Drowners Forum where i have been posting this subject up.  The most funny comment of the week has to go to one of the people who commented on Facebook, Andy Wareham (said you would be in haha) who commented the following to the debate and i quote "Nope, there as thick as s$$t, but smarter than a lot of the anglers that fish for em" Not the most scientific of comments that was posted in relation to this subject this week but the certainly the only one that saw me spewing out a gob full of nescafe gold blend. 

on to this weeks fishy Fact or Fiction:

 "The introduction of Commercial Fisheries Ruined Fishing"

  Commercial fisheries are now firmly part and parcel of our fishing world, like it or not the truth is that you are now normally no more than a few miles away from a heavily stocked pond, snake lake, canal or arena, its the current angling world we live in.  But has the introduction of these fisheries improved or damage fishing?  First of all lets look at the positives that commercials have brought to angling.

There is no doubt that commercial fisheries offer older anglers a chance to go fishing till a much older age the comfort of parking behind your peg so you can literally park behind your peg and your fishing and the same can be said for any disabled anglers out there are some of these fisheries have exceptional fishing platforms and facilities.  The angling industry has dramatically benefited financially from these commercials as well just look at the wide variety of tackle that has exploded thanks to these commercial fisheries, walk in any tackle shop these days and the shelves are stacked with all manner of pellets and infinite gadgets a gizmo's to get that bait into your swim not to mention the money generated by the countless poles on the market.  There is no doubting that had commercials not come about you would not have seen as many poles aimed at carp fishing with extra strong carbon fibre and power kits to tackle the large carp in these pools.  The fishing industry are not the only ones to benefit financially from the angling worlds lust for easy access fishing with plenty of bites, its safe to say the Farming industry has seen great financial benefits from building fishing ponds on their land and the very one i fish, Flushing Meadows, is exactly that, set up by a farmer to supplement their income during what has been a terrible time for farming in this country, these ventures have saved a lot of farms from going under. 

These commercial fisheries also serve as a great place to introduce youngsters and new people to the sport.  The pools are generally stocked to over the recommended level suggested by the EA meaning, in the summer at least, catching is guaranteed, if you can put a rod with a maggot in the water you will catch a fish and this showed when we fished flushing this year when Ricky, who had never ever fished before came along and left catching countless silvers and a few carp.  The bottom of these commercials are generally of the same mould with 3ft margin shelves dropping down to 8-9ft then back up to a shelf on the far bank so they make for quite simple fishing meaning they are a great place for new people to the sport to start and the fact they catch fish can hook them for life.  Many think they offer invaluable places to test out new methods and to learn new techniques but as you will read in a bit i do not necessarily agree with this.  The boom in these fisheries has also seen increased revenue for fish farms that are paid to stock fish into these ventures.  In summary i feel that commercials offer quite a lot of good into our sport both financially and into the grass roots levels.

Of course there are always two sides to the story and i have to say for the good that commercial fisheries have done for angling the bad damage they have done is just as dramatic.  Pre the rise of commercial fisheries the banks of the local rivers where well populated with anglers, my very own local canal the Bridgewater regularly held open matches being fished by a 100 plus anglers, a sight you no linger see.  The river Dee had matches and anglers all along its lengths where now there is no sign they were there at all as nature has completely reclaimed to pegs they made and gaps in the trees that once where there are now thick with shrubs and new trees.  This exodus of people from canal and rivers is definitely down to the rise of commercial fishing, no doubt in my mind about that, as just look at it this way why would anyone, on a cold, wet and overcast day want to walk two or three farmers fields to fish a river or lug their gear along a canal bank where they may only catch 10lb of silver fish when they can pull up at their local commercial, pay 6 quid, park behind their peg and be certain to catch double maybe triple the weight of fish they would have done.  As a country, over the past 20 or so years, have become very lazy look at the introduction of cars now and how people get in a car to go the local shop rather than walk and the same can be said for angling with the introduction of these commercials, walk fields or roll out of your car, many choose the easy option, and on some days who can blame them.  So i would certainly say commercials have had a devastating effect on river fishing in this country and i only think things will improve once people get fed up with the repetitive nature of the different commercial fisheries. 

The general findings are that most commercial fisheries are stocked to around 25% more than what the Environment Agency state is suitable for a water and the only reason this is allowed id the fact that the anglers bait going in regular provides enough food for these fish to survive at such a population, but is this right? should fish be forced to feed so willingly that they lose their natural fear because the need to feed.  Earlier on in the piece i suggested that commercial fisheries offer great places for people to learn fishing and that is correct but what they do not do is teach people anything about proper fishing in this country away from commercials, these people who have only ever learnt to fish a commercial go to a local canal and feed it the same as they would the commercial and soon find the fish away from commercials are not so easy to catch and a lot soon lose interest where as if they learnt the sport the other way round, i.e learnt to fish on a canal they would find that they were a lot more successful in their commercial fishing.  These commercials teach people how to fish but not how to catch fish in my opinion. 

On the final note and this has nothing to do with financial gains to the fishing world, its more personal and emotional to me than that and its the fact that commercials have created this aura that if you are not catching carp on these commercials then its a bad day and the measure of how good a day is going is by how many carp you have caught.  Match weights in this arena of anglers displaying like peacocks are not worth mentioning unless they are over 100lb in weight and they do create a feeling amongst young anglers that silver fish are a nuisance i see it all the time of flushing meadows, a kid gets a bite, strikes and pulls in a big roach approaching a pound, a cracking fish! yet why does he look so upset with this capture? its because its not the carp he was after, meanwhile i am sat there getting funny looks as i am hurriedly looking for my camera to photograph a roach half the size, its a sad sight to see and it kills me every time i see it to the point i feel like going over and taking the lad to a canal to teach him to appreciate all he catches.

Well there is is, more writing than you will probably see in your weekly fishing rag and i haven't even got onto my fishing yet haha.  Over to you guys what do you think?? 

I did have something else to talk about but that will have to wait, on to this weeks fishing:

Saturday 9th November 2013 - Canal Roulette

Speaking to my uncle on the phone late on Friday night as i walked to the local shop i had a fear inside that our panned trip to the canal the next day could well be a tough encounter.  A glance up to the sky revealed a dark blanket of deep blue speckled with all the stars of the solar system in full display, there was not a cloud in sight, this could only mean one thing if it continued into the late evening, an over night frost.   Frosts are a welcome sight for myself as it means the fishing in our rivers is about to come into its own but an over night frost just before a session on a canal is a killer.  Frosts and still water fishing generally follow a set way of thinking that the day after the first frost will be really poor fishing wise but if that frosts continues and the temperature remains low for a few days the fish do get used to it and you can have some really good days fishing once the low temperatures have settled, our session would be the first day after a hard frost, not good.

Our chosen canal was the Sankey Canal in Widnes, we chose this purely because of its depth, it is a lot deeper in general than the Bridgewater and we hoped this would improve our chances of the frost not effecting the fishing.  Walking down the path to our chosen area of the canal the sun rose over the Mersey estuary illuminating it in a warm red glow that turned the sky a deep red colour which was reflected in the rivers watery surface providing us both with a beautiful scene across the estuary.  Most of the country was still in bed and did not knew what they were missing, i have to say that when the day comes that i can no longer get out and wet a line it wont be the fishing i will miss be the beautiful scenery and atmospheres i have experienced during the early morning, it was a privilege to have witnessed such a lovely sunrise.

As we examined our chosen swims we were both amazed by how clear the water was, it was in stark contrast to our trips a few weeks ago where you could not see the bottom clearly at all but now snags and rises in the bottom where plain for all to see and worryingly there was little sign of any fish.  I set up two lines, one straight down the middle and another against the far reeds and to my amazement the depths where very similar, surely there had to be fish holding in water this deep.  My uncle had set up a short distance down the canal but between us there was a whole bank of white crunchy grass that bore the evidence that we had in fact experienced a hard frost.

I fed the swim as lightly as a dared and only introduced a small amount of bait, my ground bait mixed as slop to produce a cloud and colour the water up to try and give the fish confidence to feed but with no substance in the ground bait slop to feed the fish at all.  the bait was a humble white maggot, a sign of the times again was that the local tackle shop did not have and pinkies or squats for sale on Friday.  The short story about this is the only action either of our swims saw was the sight of two swans passing through and in fact i think as one passed through it might of been the only time the top of my float threatened to get wet.

Three hours in and neither of us had had as much as a knock, it was time to stick or twist, stay and maybe the the fishing would pick up or twist and head of straight away to the stretch of the bridgewater we fished last week where we had both caught a decent weight of fish.  We both decided that it was highly unlikely that the fishing where we where was going to improve so we decided to pack up and head off to the Bridgewater Canal.

Its safe to say that autumn is definitely slowly giving way to winter and almost all the trees are know a mixture of the colours of the fall and it was amazing to see such the colours of the end of autumn in the trees on the far bank of the canal when we arrived.  We are on the banks every week and it really does put you in situations where you can see the seasons change and i must say even the most famous of artists can not compare to natures vast palette.

the trees of late autumn, beautiful.

trees pic

The fishing here started off like a house on fire with 3 instant bites and i thought, yes! here we go but the reality was that this brief early flurry would make up the majority of the action as i tinkered and searched around for the remaining few hours picking up another one or two fish.  The two nets from this week and last week put side by side shows just how much a frost effects the fishing, i have no doubt the fish where still there but where just not feeding. I guess that is fishing for you, one week 10lb next week 10 fish.

Sunday 10th November - Chubbin' your age?

The cold still tingling in my finger tips i woke early on Sunday with one intention and that was to get out on a river.  Rivers run cold all year and as the fish are constantly swimming against the flow they are not effected as much by the frosts, in fact on some rivers the frosts are actually the start of the really good fishing.  There are of course fish , like barbel, that's metabolism slows down as the weather cools but I had my heart set on a fish who's veracious appetite is as large as their mouths, the gregarious Chub.

There River Dane was my destination a river that i have not fished as much as i would like to over the past year but as it one of the small rivers i began fishing when i started fishing rivers it holds a special place in my heart.  As i turned off the motorway and start passing along the back roads my heart begins to beat that little bit faster in anticipation of that first glimpse of the Dane Valley.

Arriving at the car park i had the minimum of tackle with me, a ruck sack with my bait and tackle box, feeder rod, trotting rod, landing net, rod rest and a unhooking mat that would double up as something to sit on.  I walked straight to the nearest point i could find where i could see the river and like i had thought she was carrying a good bit of extra water and was really pushing through at some speed but the one thing that that i did notice in this early look at her was that the colour was dropping nicely and the river had that almost tea colour to it, it was not going to be easy but i was in with a shout if i used my head and read the river correctly.

To my amazement, on such a fantastic morning, the car park was empty, i was the only angler and i had the whole two fields to explore.  I was a man with a plan and i quickly set in my mind 4 swims across the two fields that i wanted to fish.  I knew from experience where the different pockets of chub would be so it would be a case of reading the river to work out where i thought they would be in the conditions i was faced with.

I started off in a swim where i have caught many chub in the past its an area with plenty of cover where the main flow kisses some nice snags as it moves through. Normally this is a swim i would trot a float through but that was certainly out of the question today as the float would be in and out in a matter of seconds, it was going to be a day on the feeder for sure.  The rig I use has developed over time and i must say my time chasing carp on the blogs carp quest has seen me develop my rig from a simple running lead stopped by a shot to the rig in the picture below.

my rig

The rig itself is still the simple rig i used when i first started in its principle and the additions are there to improve the functionality and reliability of the rig.  I never add something to a rig if it does not add something substantial for me and every aspect of this rig does.  The lead clip system not only allows me to quickly change the weight of the lead i am using quickly but it is also free running and the reason for this is when the fish takes the bait it feels no resistance from the lead as the line pulls straight through the lead clip yet i get a lot of reaction on the tip as the chub is pulling directly on the tip and not against a fixed lead.  The rig sleeve below the swivel is something that come from the carping and helps to kick the line away from the lead to reduce the chances of the rig tangling as lets face it you do not want to be sitting there watching a tip if below the water your rig is not fishing so this aides that and the quick change link allows me to quickly change the length of my hook length with east should i need too.  You may also notice the hook has no hair rig on it, in my experience chub and hair rigs do not go together all bait for my chub fishing goes directly on the hook which in this case is a size 10 and of course the line is Maxima, old school till the end.

I purchased a bait dropper a few months ago for my fishing on the River dee when the fish are coming up in the water and i feel no bait is getting down so i can introduce some bait on the bottom and get the fish feeding where i want them.  I have since found this to be a invaluable tool in my fishing on smaller rivers, i used it on the session i caught the chub and barbel on another river earlier on in the year to great effect.  It is safe to say my fishing style on these rivers has changed dramatically since i first started out, as my knowledge of rivers has built up i have developed a new found patience, years ago i could not wait to get a bait in the water but time has taught me differently and with that i introduced two bait droppers of maggot, corn and my secret chub bait into the area i thought the chub would be in and i sat back, poured myself a warming cup of hot vimto and admired the beautiful, crisp cold morning as the world around me woke up.

Chub are not really a fish you are going to see topping to give their presence in the swim away and unless it is really clear and you can see the fish in the swim, you have to trust to your judgement that you are doing the right thing.  I lowered my rig into position as to not spook any fish that may have been attracted by the bait, placed the rod on the rod rest and laid the line across my finger waiting for that unmistakable pluck on the tip.  I was confident and sure i was doing the right thing and for once there was no doubts in my head, had read the river and this is where i thought the chub would be.

The river in front of me continued to plough through and along its continuous conveyor belt was an endless stream of autumnal leaves, yellows, browns and reds all fluttering through the swim with the odd one plucking the line as it moved through but to strike at these would be foolish no matter how violent the pulls where they were no chub bite.  When i am roaming the river i normally only give each swim around 30 minutes but i had around 5 hours of fishing time today and as the swim i was in was a swim i knew held a good number of chub i decided early on to give this swim the more time than the others.

The tip danced as the odd bit of extra flow boiled along the crease in the river almost as if it was dancing to the rivers beat and it was just after one of these flows in the rod tip i felt a sharp pluck across my finger and the tip wrap round, it all happens in a split second and to be honest you never really remember the sight of the wrap on your tip as the instinct to strike takes over and you feel the vibrations through the carbon rod.  i struck and was met with solid resistance as the chub held its ground for a split second before making a lunge for the cover, no room for niceties here its time to trust in your knots and keep the rod low and your finger on the spool to not let the fish take any line, if you do its over as if the fish makes the labyrinth of tree roots and branches for sure.  The rod, a drennan heavy feeder was working a treat as it cushioned the lunges really well whilst having the back bone to turn the fish.  The fish in the middle of the river now presented me with another problem and that was moving the fish up to the net against the almighty torrent it was tough going with the fish now beaten and on the top but with my new long handled landing net i was able to net the fish quite far into the river so this really eased the problem and with the fish now resting in the landing net i took a second to catch my breath before wetting the unhooking mat and unhooking the fish.

The fish went 5lb 5oz on the sclales but the net weight 1lb 8oz so that makes this chub 3lb 13oz.

The pictures done and weight taken it was back into the landing net to be fully rested in a slack before releasing the fish back.  I must add here i do normally carry a keep net with me as putting chub back into a swim, if you intend to fish on, is not the best idea as it does spook the shoal  but today i did not want any extra weight to carry that would make me think twice about moving, i wanted to be mobile.

The fish returned i introduced another bait dropper of bait and celebrated my chub with another hot vimto as although i was fully prepared for the cold conditions with my thermal bib and brace, two T shirts, a thick hoodie and my skee tex thermal boots you still need that warm drink inside you.  Testament to how cold it was during the morning was the fact that after these chub pictures where taken my phone had 70% battery, not long after its return i wanted to take a picture of the rig on the box for the blog and i was met with a blank screen and the picture for me to plug my phone into to charge before i could use it again!! The phone made its way into my fleece lined pockets to warm her up whilst i warmed my inside with some good old vimto and after that chub it tasted as sweet as could be.

I spent the next hour or so in this swim with only a tiny grayling as reward for my perseverance although it was a fin perfect example of the species and does show the grayling are breeding in this area, which is good news.

Eventually my expectations for this swim dwindled and the inner explorer in me was itching to try the next swim and my hope was that the fish would be ready and waiting as i had nipped along all the swims with a dropper of bait before fishing.  This next swim was  a tough swim to fish as the area i wanted to fish was on the other side of the flow but i knew it just had to hold a chub or two.  Over went my rig and the rod rest was held high to keep all the line out to the main flow.  This next bit shows the importance of having your finger on the line as it was while i was not looking at the rod tip and replying to Mr Munro's comment on the blogs Facebook page i felt that tell take pluck on my finger tip and instinct took over as i dropped the phone and struck into the fish, had i just been watching the tip and looked away i would of missed the bite for sure.

The fight from this fish was weird to say the least as it did not feel like a chub at all in fact the fight felt more like a roach as it zigged and zagged in the swim.  It had the weight of a nice fish and i did wonder if it was a big trout or grayling at one point but then the fish dropped down into the flow and with it being quite shallow here i could see the tell take big white rubber lips that only chub posses silhouetted against the sandstone bottom of the river.  Again the flow provided me with a problem but the long landing net pole again helped me out.

The chub went 5lb 2oz on the scales so slightly smaller than the previous one.

It is worth mentioning here a bit about safety on the bank and especially on the river banks.  I was alone on the river on Sunday but i had told two members of my family the exact stretch of river i was going and i had made plans to get home for the football in the afternoon so they knew what time to expect me back home.  Safety on the bank is also important, especially when you are alone, as although the river may be shallow enough that if you did go in you would be able to stand up in most places, you turn your ankle on the way down or worse break a leg and you are in serious trouble, those heavy thermals that are there to keep you warm, when wet become your undoing.  One bit of kit, apart from a mobile phone of course, that i have found invaluable on the rivers is my long handled landing net as the picture shows below i could land the fish and rest it in the margins all from the top of the high bank without ever having to go down the bank to land the fish, be safe out there.

This swim and the remaining two swims produced no bites at all for myself but it was not through want of trying i feel i gave every swim my all and maybe the only thing i may have done better was to not have spent as much time on the first swim as i dad and maybe i would have been able to get around a few more swims.  I left one happy angler i really felt i had read the river, in tough conditions and user my watercraft to find the fish, i have no doubt had i been fishing this a year or two ago i would have blanked as i would have gone for the same places i normally fish and not where the fish are.  The dane really is a great river to learn about creases, undercuts and slacks, i am sure the river will be in fine fettle this weekend so why not give it a go and let me know how you got on.

One thing i did notice on my way back to the car was this shallow pond that has been filled by the recent rains.  I remember passing it and having a chuckle to myself as i thought please god do not let Warrington  Anglers committee see this pool as they will have it stocked with 3lb carp in no time at all!! On the upside at least it will mean the road down to the stretch will be kept in pristine condition, maybe we should dig one on the Dee at Worthenbury haha.

Well that is the blog for another week i do hope you enjoy reading about my adventures on the bank.

till next time

Tight lines