Saturday, 26 January 2013

Trout, Dace and snow in yer face..........

A warm welcome to this week’s blog update and WOW what a difference a week can make with the whole of the country getting smothered in a suffocating layer of snow, great news for the local kids in the area who jumped at the opportunity of a day off school by hitting the hills sides on their sledges but me I greeted the changer with mixed feelings, sure this snow  and plummeting temperature would help get the dace shoaled up on the River Dee but I also knew that once the snow melted it would see the river swell again and after all the fishing lost this year to flooding it was something I wasn’t looking forward too.

During this week the snow had thawed slightly round these parts but as I write this update, late on a Friday evening, there is a fresh front of the white stuff turning our road into a winter wonderland.  The river Dee is our chosen destination tomorrow and we are in for some fun and games navigating the local back roads that seem to have been missed off the councils Gritting route but I think once we get on the motorways and B-roads we should be fine.

Fishing last Sunday in the blizzard conditions we got many a funny look from passers bye and the ever present anglers that stalk the pegs to gleam information from the anglers fishing, some said I must be mad some said your braver than me, all fair comments but me personally I don’t get out of bed on these frosty mornings and hit the bank to prove a point to someone as in look at what conditions I go fishing in as to male myself look good for doing it, I go out in those conditions simply because I love fishing.  In fact the weather for me is almost a side thought as I go out well prepared for the conditions at hand to make sure I am warm on the bank. 

Writing that last paragraph reminded me of a fishing trip a year or so back when me and my uncle fished a popular stretch of the river Dee, well story goes we pulled up and quickly put our gear on our chosen pegs and went for a walk to see who else was on the beat that day, on peg 1 was this young lad who was out on the banks for the first time after pike, I looked at him stood there in his tracksuit bottoms, trainers and hoodie and thought I give you till 9am.  The temperature that day was below freezing as I remember the rod rings freezing up on us but now whenever I go out in these conditions I always think of that young lad and how some people just don’t go prepared.

For anyone interested the gear I go out in is my Sundridge thermal big and brace with two T0-shirts underneath it and I also wear my Maggot Drowners Hoodie over the top of my bib and brace for extra warmth and keeping my feet nice and toasty are my pair of Skee Tex Thermal Wellies.  All the stuff mentioned there gets my seal of approval all have done me proud this winter and the only bad thing I can say is the Skee Tex willies are not for walking any distance in, but for short trips on commercials and short trecks on the river bank, you can beat them.

Looking forward to the coming days I have hopes to get out on the bank in search of a pike in the snow, size won’t really matter it is more a case of getting that picture of a pike with a white back drop so hopefully I will get a chance to put one of those majestic metallic green carnivores on the bank.

On to this week’s fishing:

Walking into last Thursday I cut a lonely figure is a trudged through the snow, head down, looking at the Accuweather  App on my phone and although the location on the picture wasn’t were I was intending to go it was close enough for it to mirror the weather we would be facing at our chosen destination.  As much as I said the weather doesn’t really bother me a report like this does make you think about your personally safety on the bank and you have to weigh does the risk outweigh the rewards and I have to say since our little girl has come along I have been a lot more conscious off this than in my past days when I used to head out without a thought, maybe it is called growing up hehe.

Thursday brought the main of the weather and it got worse for there on in and me and my uncle made the choice on Friday night to leave our trip till the river till the Sunday, this would give the gritter’s a chance to get out on the roads and we hoped that Saturdays traffic would make the roads a little safer.

Sunday morning and me and uncle set off to the river hoping to find the B roads in reasonable condition and thankfully they were snow free but with the ice warning light on in the car the philosophy of take it easy and get there was applied, some people though just amaze me as a car going in the opposite direction sped by in a flash easily doing 60-70mph and people wonder how they then wrap the car round a tree.

We arrived on the banks to be greeted by the red glow of a new day burning in the distance and the dawn chorus reaching its crescendo, our pegs chosen it was up with our umbrella’s and we were dug in ready for a day’s fishing.  The river looked in fine fettle with great clarity and was pushing through at a steady pace, we just had to be in for a good day and if not we were on adjacent pegs so a good bit of banter was guaranteed. 

The river Dee is a river you can really attack when it is like this and be really confident with your feeding this helps one get the feeding shoals of dace in your swim and two keeps them there.  I use hemp seed as my holding bait but I know many anglers use many other methods like heavy balls of ground bait or liquidised bread, either way all these are there to serve this purpose of keeping feeding fish in your swim.

My tackle for the day was my trusty 17ft float rod coupled with my new pen faced Diawa reel loaded with 3.2lb Drennan Float line down to a 10 number 4 stick float all this was connected to a 1.7lb Bayer Perlon hook length and a tiny size 20 Kamasan Animal hook.  I have always adopted to the saying of a number 4 per foot of water you are fishing and it has always put me in good stead, some would say this set up is too light for the river but I feel it serves me well in targeting my chosen species, the silver dart, the mirror of the river, the dace.

Whenever I fish for a bag of dace I always set myself a target that is achievable and that target is 20 fish, this is a target you can easily pass on a good day but is an achievable target on those tough days.  This session was too be one of those  good days as I found the dace to be ready and waiting on my first few trots through the swim, it might have been cold all around me but inside I was glowing as my hunch the fishing would be good paid was right, It really does give you a buzz when you get it right and shows that I am starting to learn the moods of this great river.

The dace were coming with great regularity for me while my uncle, only a few metres upstream was hitting grayling after grayling, isn’t it mad how two swims identical in pace and depth can hold such different species of fish.  My uncle had caught a few fish that had taken line from his reel but I caught a glimpse through the sunken trees of him bent into a fish that was putting up a proper scrap,  time and time again it splashed on the surface and made another gill bursting dive for the snags to my uncles right, what was it, a grayling, a chub both of these were in the back of our heads until we saw a bright flash of silver as the fish came up to the surface again, mouth open and beaten.

At the time we had no clue whether it was a sea trout or a brown trout but when I got home and posted it on the blogs facebook page ( ) a follower confirmed it was in fact a sea trout and the first one I have seen in the flesh, very very similar to a brown trout in looks and their fighting ability and we returned it straight away to its watery home.

Winter at its most harsh really does have its benefits for us lovers of the bank side as it means all the birdlife is very visible from robins too magpies they all paid a visit to my free offerings of maggots on Sunday and as we moved into the afternoon both me and my uncle where treated to the sight of a Buzzard flying low overhead, a real sight to behold, nature really is alive and well in the UK, its all around us from our towns and cities to the bottom of a farmer’s snow covered field.

As the afternoon wore on I began to pick up some of the quality dace this river is becoming famous for and ones like the one shown below began to make an appearance.  The sign of the rivers health is clear to see in the final net with fish of all class sizes showing in nets, great news for the future.

During a days trotting, like on our still waters, you always get times when the Action dies down a bit ans so it was on Sunday as the peg slowed to a standstill between 3 and packing up time at 4pm.  I must say the whole day shot bye in the blink of an eye but I was more than made up with my final net of 16lb of Dace while my uncle also put together a solid net of 9lb of dace and grayling but in reality was around 10-11lb with the trout added on.

My net

 Net weight

Uncles net


We left the bank two happy anglers and were more than made up with our efforts and on the day I couldn’t have wished for more the fishing was first class sport and a laugh to boot.  I returned home and parked up my car to be greeted with my foot steps from walking to the car earlier in the morning, the only footsteps in the carp park, no one had been out even for bread and milk, maybe when I get to know them a bit more and get them into their fishing I may come home to more footsteps as they have made their way to their cars to go fishing, they don’t know what they are missing!!!

Till next time I wish you all tight lines and happy sledging!!


Friday, 18 January 2013

Its not how you start.....its how you finish.........

A warm welcome to this week’s blog update and I hope I find you all well.  This week has got me really thinking of the year ahead, a strange feeling really as I don’t normally count this as the beginning of my angling year as I tend to work more not from march to march with the closing of the river season.  A few things need rectifying this coming closed season with the number one priority being to find more time to dedicate to my quest for a 10lb carp blog which succumbed to the big life changes I went through last year away from fishing.

Last year I moved house and it has landed me on the doorstep of some relatively untapped canal fishing so I have some plans around that for summer with regards the carp challenge but more of that too come and I will be going into full detail of exactly everything that I do from baiting up to the fishing trips out.  Looking short term between now and the close of the season I am really hoping to squeeze in a trip to a new river and also planning a few targeted sessions on the Dee for pike, it will mean sacrificing some quality time chasing the dace but when I look at it I know what I want more right now and that’s a river dee pike.

Moving attention back to this week and the day after the session detailed below we decided to take a family day out and made our way to a place I haven’t visited in years, Walton Gardens.  Very little has changed at this venue with the old bridge over the Bridgewater canal there and all the animals I spent hours and hours watching in the petting Zoo still occupying the same space in the Gardens.  One part of Walton Gardens though holds a very special place in my heart and that is the small overgrown pond that as a kid was filled with all manner of ornamental carp, but would they still be there??

Approaching the pond it was a lot shallower than I remembered as a kid and the first half of the pool look dead and devoid of anything that could house and support a decent amount of hungry carp.  I worked my way round the pool which was actually iced over in parts and eventually caught up with the carp in the far corner of the pool, all shoaled up together tightly in one corner.  Is this the corner they are fed from of did it go to prove what a lot of anglers say that the fish do shoal up tightly  in winter and had I been fishing here and set up on the other side of the pool would I have sat their frozen solid in gnome form without a bite while the whole population of fish in the pool lay sulking against the other bank??  I guess that’s the mystery that goes with fishing and one we will never understand.

I stood, childlike, gazing at the colourful shapes, mesmerised by their every movement and how easily they navigated through the crystal clear water.  My other half gave me a few extra minutes than I deserved before politely asking if we could move on and so we did to s small room full of information on how the main house on the estate was back in 1905 I began reading the menu from back then it showed the fish course to be Dee Salmon, now this could be the river dee in Scotland but in my head I hoped it was the local river Dee I have grown to love so much, it filled me with such happiness that this glorious river was alive back then as it is now and supporting local people.  I wonder if the dace fishing was so good back then?

One more note before we get onto this week’s fishing, I would like to say big congratulations to fellow Warrington Anglers member Ade Green who showed real dedication this week to try a WAA water a fair distance away and had some real success with some really nice grayling.  Warrington Anglers have so many waters far and wide it was great to read a river report form a lesser known, more remote venue, well done Ade and nice unhooking mat lol.

On to this weeks fishing.

Saturday 15th January 2013 – River Dee

Saturday morning and while most of the normal world were probably turning over and settling in for a relaxing lie in I was shovel in hand clearing all the mud from my chosen peg on the banks of a very soggy and muddy River Dee.  A civil servant is my occupation through the week and I am not ashamed to admit it has been a while since I have put my soft, smooth palms though such vigorous work.  With a decent spattering of sediment built up on the peg it was a while before I had the peg as clean as I wanted.  Walking back to the car with a shovel in hand I got a few strange looks from one or two early dog walkers, who could blame them!!

Next it was time to set up my peg and in the dim early morning light I began my setting up ritual and just like in my rugby days I am really superstitious things have to be done in the right order!!,  first of all its my seat box, then landing net, then my side tray, next in go in is my keep net and so on till I am all set.  Well today was a little different, maybe my mind was elsewhere but for some reason I set my box up and then decided to put my keep net in.  No sooner had the end of the keep net hit the water I heard that dreaded noise of another splash a bit further out, it may have been dark but I could clearly see the blue rim of my landing net sinking out of sight!! GREAT I thought as I ran up the steps to grab the pole to try and reach it but when I got back it had disappeared into the murky depths.

I quickly set up my pike rod with a weight and trace on the end to try and snag the netting but after a hour of trying all I had to show was a small maggot feeder someone had lost recently.  This accident meant any ideas I had for pike fishing were straight out of the window, I did have a pike angler offer to net my fish if I gave him a shout but that was far from ideal, in fact the whole idea of fishing for anything without a landing net was far from ideal.  Luckily my uncle was set up in the swim near to me and we both had our mobile phones and with the likely hood being I was only going to catch dace in my chosen fast glide I set up my float rod.

The time on the river always fly’s by and Saturday was no different, no sooner had I plumed up than it was midday.  The morning was tough with only a few fish coming to the net, it really was turning out to be a very slow day on the bank and coupled with the loss of the landing net it was starting to become frustrating.

My homework firmly done before hand I knew around 12.30am there was a pretty sizable tide due to hit which would see the river level rise a noticeable amount.  The tides normally see sport on the river decline as the river backs up so I was far from optimistic, I took this opportunity to take a visit to my uncles peg and he reported he was having a decent day and had a few nice roach, the best of which is this stunning roach below we estimated to be around the 1lb mark.

I sipped my coffee and chewed the fat with my uncle for a while and I have found over the months that this act of leaving my peg completely for a good 10-15 minutes really does recharge my batteries and gets my head focused back on my fishing and I returned to my peg with a new found optimism.  I made a few changes to my depth to match the swelling height of the river and began to increase my feed rate, this change had instant effect and I started to hit some proper dace just past a down stream snag. 

The fishing form this point on went from strength to strength as I started to pick up some nice fish with some regularity and even had a few fish over my hemp line.  In the last half of the session I would say I put together the vast majority of the final net of fish.  The one thing that has become very noticeable this year though is the lack of pike striking at my fish, I am yet to have one where normally you would get at least one a session and I have done two sessions now without any sign of them.

My net 10lb

Uncles net

Uncles net weight

My uncle weighed in an impressive net of fish considering the floods we have had recently and the fish never settled over his bait like they can in winter on the Dee.  We both left two happy anglers, after we had helped a fellow angler push his car out of a massive rut it had got stuck in.

I got home and on Sunday evening I got online and ordered some replacement gear, I had strict orders to get online and order one single landing net, of course this order developed to a landing net, a new reel and some line for said reel.  I have to say i have used a few times now and there delivery is second to none the stuff below was waiting for me when i got home on Tuesday, not sponsored by them, not supported by them just believe that good service deserves a mention, imagine if that philosophy was adopted by the bigger anglers we see in the weekly papers.

Publishing this blog now, looking out of my window to a blanket of white this week’s trip to the bank really is in the balance we are certainly not on the bank tomorrow and hope to wet a line on Sunday, I have a sneak feeling though when I go the bait shop tomorrow morning there may be a few dead baits finding their way into my basket, let’s hope I can find some still water not wearing its ice cap.

Till next time tight lines


Friday, 11 January 2013

Water finally "flushing" out of our Rivers

A warm welcome to the first blog update of 2013 I hope this update finds you all well and healthy having had a great festive period.  The blog took a break over Christmas and I think it may well develop into an annual thing, there is very rarely any fishing done over this period to blog about and this year spending every minute with my family was just the best feeling ever and as all the people who follow this blog who write blogs themselves, it isn’t half good to have a break from it and recharge those blogging batteries.

As I mentioned above I didn’t really get out to wet a line over the festive period and with the rivers all filled to bursting point I had very little enthusiasm to drag myself off to a local still water as we moved into 2013 and it wasn’t until the weekend that the big finally bit and we loaded the gear and made our way to the bank, our destination was Flushing Meadows Fishery.  To make things interesting I used bait I had never used on this venue and all will be revealed later on in the blog.

That session out of the way I made my way into work on Monday and all I could think about was the river, she was thinning off nicely and was just approaching a fishable level, a day’s annual leave during the week was on my to do list as a priority.   Work came through and I managed to wangle Wednesday off, floating on air in a world of my own I drifted to the bait shop for my bait, two trips out in a week!! It has been a while to say the least.

On to the fishing:


  Flushing meadows or “flushing” as we call it for short is a venue that we visit quite a lot since we found it a few years ago; it offers some great fishing for both silvers and carp but for someone who fishes mainly naturally stocked waters it is very easy, to the point it can get boring to catch!!  That might sound mad to some people but when you are pulling in quality roach after quality roach they hold very little sense of achievement as opposed to catching just one of these fish on say a canal or pond where it would be the fish that made the session for you and you would be more than made up.  in short I think you have to take these unnaturally stocked places as exactly that, you will learn very little about “real” fishing for example how to feed a swim correctly and how much to feed but it is a great place to guarantee a few bites and also have a bit of fun experimenting with different techniques and baits and that’s what I had in mind on Saturday, a bit of fun using a different bait.

As you can see from the picture bread was the chosen bait, cheap and cheerful and if this bait worked well would it would save me a decent amount of money come summer time and since our new arrival in the family I am all about saving money and when a session costs you the price of a loaf of bread its always going to gain you favour with the missus when you want to get out to wet a line.  With my bread head on I was in my element in the kitchen blitzing up slice after slice into a commercial sized bag of bread crumb, the only thing left to do was to prepare the hook bait slices the following morning before I left for the bank.

Arriving on the bank not long after the farmers key had left the lock we decided to settle on Pool 5, the canal pool, my plan of attack was to fish bread tight against the far marginal shelf where I hoped to catch anything that came into the peg with a view of slowly building up the peg and catching a carp or two later on in the session.  The bites came thick and fast with rudd being the first fish to find the bait and their presence in the number one spot for first 2013 fish was of little surprise to me as they are the main silver fish staple in this pool.

As time passed the fish increased in size with some really nice rudd coming and eventually the bream moved in, small skimmers at first and then the decent skimmers moved into the swim and I began putting together a nice weight of fish.

Around 11am the farmer came round for the peg fee and we had a decent chat, we knew from a past visit that the EA were due in around Christmas to thin out the small silvers in this pool, we were shocked when he said that they had taken 8000 rudd and skimmer fry, I knew these pools held some fish but 8000 first and second year fry ad the skimmers, carp and rudd over fry size to that it boggles the mind just how many fish this place could hold.  The farmer also told us the pool had not been fishing too well for the carp and said if we wanted to move to another pool then we could.  We decided to take him up on his offer and moved onto the easy access pool, purely as it was the closest to the car so we could be out and fishing really quick.

As we packed away a pair of buzzards broke the serenity of the day passing bye as they called back and forth to each other, these birds are fast becoming my favourite species and you see so many of them on our travels now.

Moving onto the easy access pool meant there was a good chance of picking up some really nice roach but that came with the sacrifice that we knew if we did hit any carp they would not be in the calibre of the ones in the other pool.  My plan was the same tactic as on the canal pool but I fished it down the edge to a marginal grassy outcrop.  In went a decent ball of crumb and over the top I went with my largest diameter bread punch, it didn’t take long for a bite to develop and when it did it was a fin perfect roach that graced my landing net.

I continued to pick up some nice condition roach but in my head I was waiting for that magical time from 2pm onwards that would see the better fish start to move about and with the un-seasonally warm conditions I knew it could be any of the species that call this place home. 

The 2pm March began in earnest with this nice skimmer bream, it is funny on flushing as you can tell there is a decent fish about as you have to wait a while for a bite but my patience was rewarded with this fish.

The last two hours of the session saw the swim produce some better fish with the odd better roach and eventually the carp and tench also got in on the act.

At very last knocking the best fish of the session made an appearance when this pristine roach took a liking to my float fished bread.

I learned quite a bit from this session in regards to bread fishing this commercial in that come summer I think I may have to take a lot more crumb and feed a lot heavier to stand any chance of getting to the better carp and this session also showed me that if I want a relatively cheap days fishing which is guaranteed and local then this place is a viable option.

Wednesday 09th January  - RIVER DEE

The River Dee has been out of her banks more than she has been in them for the past few week’s, any drop in the level was soon replenished by another front or rain and put a nail firmly into the coffin of any trips to the river for all except the barbel anglers amongst us, who had been spoilt of late with the mixture of flooded rivers and high temperatures.
Monday morning and as I trudged into work, heavy with the woes that come with a Monday morning, my feet were like lead and my hands demanded the snug warmth of my hoodie pocket, Friday seems so far away at these points and just to add insult to injury I thought I might as well see how the river is looking.  I wiped the sleep from my eyes as to take a double glance at what I was seeing, a river at 6.5m and dropping and dropping like a brick through a greenhouse. 
There was a sudden spring in my step, a warm glow inside that felt like an old friend had returned, I just had to get on the bank to wet a line.  My head fizzled with ideas on where I could wet a line, past trips to the river played through my mind in full high definition, it was settled both in my mind and with the powers that be that Wednesday would be the date that marked my reunion with the glorious, majestic River Dee.
Needless to say Monday and Tuesday seemed to go by at a snails pace and that was also reflected in how fast my work pile was depleting as I dropped into day dream after day dream, of course each time the float would go under directly on queue over the same spot and the reward as always was a pristine dace.
Arriving on the river I departed my car to be met with the cold crisp freshness that you only get when you are on the banks of running water, I could almost feel the stagnant layers I had built up from fishing still waters being washed away.  The smells, the sound of running water and the therapeutic sound of the wildlife waking up around me I was back where I had longed to be for so long, I was home.

Climbing down the frosty peg it was clear from the prints in the mud that I wasn’t the first visitor to this elevated perch and this is one aspect I am aiming to improve on this year is being able to identify which prints belong to which species, looking at these prints it would seem there were two separate animals to walk on the peg in last few hours.  Anyone that can out a name to these feel free in the comments section at the end of this post or hit me up on twitter or Facebook.

Setting up with shaking hands, no not from the cold but from sheer excitement, many mistakes were made with eyes being missed threading the rod up and weights disappearing into the quagmire mud at my feet a second was needed to slow me down.  I set up on the peg and began on the float rod feeding both maggot and hemp.

The water had about a foot or so of visibility and was still very coloured from the past floods it wasn’t quite the chocolate milkshake colour it can be but was still far too coloured for me to have confidence in catching on the float.  I persisted on the float rod for a good two hours without so much as a knock. 

I had come equipped with my puddle chucker swim feeder rod after some sound advice from the blogs Facebook page and it came into its own straight away with small fish ringing the dinner bell time after time but not getting hooked.  A quick change of hook size saw these rattles developing into fish on the bank.  When I first started fishing the river with my dad the swim feeder approach was the method for me, since getting to grips with the float rod all that has changed to the point I cannot actually remember the last time I fished the tip on the river but it will be in the holdall this weekend that’s for sure.

The dace continued to come more frequent on the feeder rod to the point where they just had to be catchable on the float so I quickly changed over to my running line and from 1pm through to 3pm I managed to keep the bites coming on both methods, catching a few on the rod and then switching over to the feeder when things got quiet.   My efforts were rewarded towards the very end of the session with this superb dace a sure sign the better fish are about.

The fish never really got going like they can, sometimes you only have to trot a few feet down to your hemp to hit the fish but on the day all the fish where right on the extremities of the peg and I cannot remember getting one bite over my bed of hemp in the whole session, it is one of them though you have to feed it as it has more good days than bad when using it.

In reflection I was more than pleased with the net of fish on the day and when all was said and done I would have taken half of this net when I was struggling during the first few hours had I been given the choice.  It was a great session to ease me back into the river mode and during the next few trips out I will be looking to connect with a few of the pike the river has to offer, especially if this promised cold snap hits in the next few days.

Till next time I wish you all

Tight lines