Friday, 25 October 2013

Fishy Fact or Fiction and River Dee Dace Fishing

 A warm welcome to this weeks blog and this weeks blog marks the start of a little something new on the blog and its longevity will depend on how many interesting bits of information i can find.  The idea is to search the Internet for sweeping statements that are made about angling and discuss whether based on logic built up from the fishing i do whether i think they are Fact or Fiction.  It is a bit of fun and will add some diversity to the blog and feel free to get involved in the comments section at the end of each post or on twitter and facebook if you want to add anything and who knows we could always do a round-up of the comments in next weeks update.

The idea for this came to me in work when i got into a conversation with my work colleagues about the damage done to fish by angling and how they didn't see what i saw in fishing to put them all back, any fisherman will know the conversation and how they go and it always ends up with someone who doesn't go fishing making a sweeping statement and this conversation was no different.  The argument i put up against it was exactly the one below and it gave me an idea to maybe run this as a little ongoing fun part of the weekly blog and so Fishy Fact or Fiction was born, so here we go.....

"About one third (33%) of fish caught on bait will die after being released and over 60% of deep hooked fish die .."

So the statement says one third of fish caught on bait and 66% deep hooked will die, it is a hard statement to disprove 100% so i applied this to mine and general fishing on the River Dee for Dace for which i use a keep net to put my fish in before i release them.   In this weeks blog myself and my uncle caught a combined net of 16lb of dace from the river,  I released the net back into the the river and witnessed every single fish swim off strongly, one or two took a moment or so before moving off but they all did swim off so the first question i ask is, given the fact they where all lip hooked,  at what stage does one third of this net which equates to 5.3lb of fish go belly up? is it just after they get out of sight? or is it over a course of the next week or so?

If we then accept this as a fact and 33% of all fish die and then apply this to winter fishing on the river Dee where its not uncommon for both banks to be full of anglers which would roughly equate to 20 anglers and the top nets are normally over 20lb so as an average we will say for this that the average net is 15lb being caught by anglers in one day for a total weight of 300lb of fish, based on this statement it would mean 99lb of fish dying from being caught that day.  These banks are normally full on both a Saturday and a Sunday not to mention the nets caught during the week it would equate to a massive weight of fish dying every week and a weight that i think would be unsupportable and would soon see no fish left in the river rather than the 20lb weights being caught consistently week after week through winter and lets not forget the fact that in my years of fishing the river i have never seen pounds and pounds of dace floating dead downstream.

I think the final nail in the coffin for this comment comes from the carp fishing world in the fact that carp are caught a number of times through their lives to the point they are given names like gut bucket and tommo's fish etc surely running the 33% gauntlet for these fish each time they are caught would see very few of them reaching maturity and certainly would not see so many fish reaching over 50lb.  So for this weeks fishy Fact or Fiction i am saying i think this is Fiction!.

Moving on, this week in work the leave sips for next year came round, a time of year that See's all the mothers in our place booking holidays to coincide with the school calender, but not me, i had my eyes firmly fixed on the 16th June 2014.  This drew plenty of weird looks from all the people around me but i had a smile from ear to ear knowing i would be out on the bank on such a magical day.  The 16th is always a day i like to get out and although the fishing is never normally great after a three month exodus from the bank just being out next to flowing water is enough for that first session, so next year i will be out again next to flowing water on the 16th.

I was also asked this week if i would agree to take part in a bit of charity fund raising so along with a few other lads in out office i have agreed to take part in Movember.  Movemeber, for those who do not know is a charity event where men don't shave their moustaches for a whole month to help raise money and awareness for male heath.  I must admit i am not too bothered about walking around work with a tash but i have my reservations about how much of an idiot i am going to look walking round town and on some of the upcoming blog photos.   The blog i have a plan for that of course relies on the fish being co-operative but if it comes off should make one or two humorous pictures, so please enjoy every minute of me looking like a fool hahaha.

Looking forward to this weekends fishing coming up its not looking like it is going to be the driest of sessions as even now a i write this blog at tea time on a Friday evening i can hear the rain taping at my window and how i have to say, how much does it now feel like we are moving into winter, it is pitch dark outside!  I also noticed on the way to work this week that it was still dark at 7.30am, this on one hand is bad as it means less time on the bank as the mornings and evenings draw in but on the other hand my whole body tingles with excitement at this time of year as i know full well the time for those big bags of dace and the chance of a special pike capture is drawing closer, i cant wait, lets hope mother nature gives us more time on the bank this year than we got last, you are in our debt this year madam!

on to this weeks fishing:

I must say before i get into this weeks fishing a big thank you to Cheshire Angling Shop in Warrington as for one reason or another my uncle was unable to get get into town in time to buy his bait on Friday and i called through to this bait shop to see if they were still open and although i got there in the nick of time they agreed on the phone they would wait open for me if i confirmed i was certainly coming through, i have no doubts had i been a bit late the shop would have still been open, many thanks for your great customer service.

With last weeks session on the River Dee proving to be a bit of a disaster we headed  further afield for this weeks fishing, still on the Dee but a completely new section to us.  The river was up around a foot or two but judging form the banks she was dropping slowly and the colour of weak tea she really was bob on for a spot of dace fishing.  The only downside being the pace of the river as she was really belting through on a stretch that looked like it normally had a bit of pace to it at the best of times.

I set up a good distance down stream form my uncle to give him enough water to work with so his bait was getting down before it got to myself.  I always see the two of us going fishing as us working as a team, we generally allow enough room between us to give both of us the best chance of getting a solid net at the end, on some occasions this hasn't worked out to be the case but i would say more often that not we get it right.  There is of course those stretches where there is always a better peg and  although its hard to always guarantee getting on those pegs on consecutive weeks we always try to share out who goes on this peg during the season so we both get to enjoy the pegs that have an easier trot or hold better fish.

I was being strict with myself on this session with my pike fishing but there was a great looking swim at the tail of the pool that just screamed pike to me so i said i would give it an hour at the start of the session and a hour before we packed up at the end and the rest of the time i was determined to enjoy a days trotting for dace.   The bait for the session would be hemp and maggot and would be fed generously throughout the course of the session and judging by how fast she was going through i was going to need a fair bit.

The session started off slow for us both as the float trundled through the swim without so much as a knock and at these early stages on a fast bit of river it can be really disheartening as at least on the slow deep sections you find minnows and gudgeon to keep you going till the dace arrive but on sections like this you have to keep going till the dace move on the the steady stream of bait, this can take 10 minutes or on some days it can take a hour and of course on the days to forget they do not show at all.

The first hour past by in a blur with only a single dace to show for my efforts, my uncle had had a few fish but nothing like we expected to catch from the look of the river.  I decided to give the pike rod a go next to the snag i had seen further down stream and was soon nestled against the bang with my pike bung bobbing in the slack.  It was during this hour fishing for pike i noticed a disturbance on the other side of the tree to my right, at first i thought it was a duck or a swan, which there seemed to be a number of on this stretch.   The splashing continued but it was right close into the edge and i was really intrigued now as i could not see any sign of a bird a rat i thought or bank vole but then on the debris beneath the tree a otter popped up and sat on the dead tree branches beneath the tree and for what seemed an eternity we stared at each i guess trying to work out what each of us would do next.  i was first to flinch as i slowly reached into my pocked to grab my phone but as i did the otter slip silently back into the water and a line of bubbles went across my swim as the otter moved upstream.  This was the last i saw of the otter as i kept my eyes pealed for the rest of the session but i did spot this behind my peg which i think might be otter spraint.

The pike fishing was a none starter which might have been down to the otter working the inside bank but i think it was more down to the pike just were not feeding as we did not get bothered by pike all session.  After the hour was up i moved back up to my peg and began to feed the swim heavily with hemp seed and also moved out slightly on the line i was fishing, it is a line i don't fish often as i much prefer to try and get the fish to come to where i can catch them easily and fast and that is normally right under my feet or just off the rod tip but today with the river so fast they just din not want to know close in.  When moving further out it is always important to have control so i upped the weight of float i was suing from 10 number 4 to 14 number 4 just to give me that extra weight and control.  The fish would take a while to get going given my departure from the swim for a hour but it was not as long as i thought before i connected with my first dace and i was made up with the quality of it as it was what you call a "proper" dace and what made it even better was it was not alone as a few of his friends joined him in the keep net.

The dace shoal kept on moving in and out of the swim and it would see flurry's of fish coming to the net before they would move for a while then all of a sudden they where back on the bait again and for a while i was perplexed as to why this was happening.  My uncle was catching steady above me and had found a good shoal of fish on a closer in line than mine and was well on his way to putting together a nice net of fish.

It took me till the afternoon to nail the method on the day that would see me getting bites more consistently and it was to hold the float back really hard to the point it was going down the swim in what looked to me an unnatural way with the float pulling out of the water but it must have looked right under water as if i got it right the float would nail under at the same point in the swim every time.

My uncle had of course got onto this method and in previous months i would have probably gone up to his swim and had a look at what he was doing but i feel i am now at a stage with my trotting where i can trot a float down with confidence but i need to develop the different techniques and more importantly when to use them and i am only going to do tat by finding my own way through sessions and working these puzzles out for myself.

Once the method was developed the bites came with greater regularity and it almost became predictable when the float would bury and there is no better feeling in river fishing than the seconds before the float gets to that sweet spot and you know inside the float is going to bury under and sometimes the excitement gets too much and you inevitably strike too early, truly magical fishing.   The bites coming regular and with great quality dace still coming to the net i was more than made up with how the afternoon was going and i eventually hit a fish that was a bit better in this trout? sea trout? below.  I think it is a brown trout but it was the length of it that had me confused as it was a really long fish.

The fish returned to the river i continued to pick up some nice dace and i could hear form the striking upstream that my uncle was also having a good session as well.  The bites continued to come and go for the next hour or so as the game of cat and mouse continued between getting the presentation right and wrong.  The end of the session came and i have to say i was cream crackered from the amount of striking and reeling in through out the day as when you imagine a trot was lasting around 20-30 seconds its some amount of trotting throughout a few hour session. The average size of the dace was really impressive and i cant wait to get back on this beat once the river drops again, first class fishing for pristine dace.

My uncle ended the day with 10lb dead

and my net went just under 7lb.

The final picture of the two nets combined was really impressive considering the time of year and shows how fertile a river the Dee is at the moment and we have not even had the first frosts yet.

Short Session on the Bridgie

On Sunday i found myself with a few hours free in the afternoon so i decided to have an hour or so on the local Bridgewater canal.  The weather report for the afternoon was not the most promising with heavy rain showers due but to be honest i rarely look at the weather now when going and travel in the knowledge i am well prepared for what ever conditions come along.  I must say there is an exception to this rule with the wind and it was the wind on Sunday that designated what stretch of canal i chose to fish.  I chose a stretch that was relatively sheltered and set out my stall to fish 11 metres, just where the river started to shelve on the far bank. 

The session was steady and i caught steady for the majority of the session and although i was not there long enough to build a swim for the bream to move in i did connect with some nice roach and roach bream hybrids.  The shock of the otter the previous day was still with me and i must say the rare sightings continued into Sunday as to my shock i was joined by a Warrington anglers Bailiff, the guy was a pleasant man who took great interest in what i had to say and i am glad he was open to my my thoughts on the club even though they may not have been what he wanted to hear i feel its only far to be honest and inform the bailiffs about what i see week in and week out on the banks of the club waters from litter to waters that i have been that really should not be on the card.  It was also great to speak to such a wide variety of visitors to my peg over the course of only a hour or so, i guess that is part of the magic of fishing the canal.

The final net was just a picture to be taken rather than the reason for the session, i just thoroughly enjoyed a few hours on the canal.

Well that brings to an end another blog update, if your out his weekend, take care and tight lines.



Friday, 18 October 2013

River Dee Piking and Rixton Clay Pit Roach

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update and I had no problem with inspiration for this weeks blog update as having watched the final interview given by John Wilson before he leaves the UK which was published by the Angling Times on You tube I am full of inspiration and have straight away loaded the laptop to get my views down on the blog,

This is the video below:

I grew up fishing with my dad and have fond memories of us both sitting in the house between fishing trips watching John Wilson videos and as anyone from this era will know i am not talking about the new fancy videos that Discovery Shed repeat time and time again, I am talking about the old videos that started off with the loud introduction a sound that is really hard to put into words but a sound that lives with you for a lifetime.  I always remember my dad complaining about the amount of wildlife in the shows and he wanted to see the fishing and at the time I was with him on that but growing up and watching the videos back those part of the videos en-capture everything that angling is for myself and I now appreciate those moments as much as the fishing on show.  My fond Memories of the shows include the one where he fishes he river in full flood below a bridge catching nets of nice roach trotting a float and afterwards when the river has dropped he comes down in a kayak and it just shows how high the river was and then he shows you he was actually trotting over a field!, magical stuff.  In later years I have enjoyed his cameo appearances in some of Martin Bowlers films like Caching the Impossible where he fishes with Bernard Cribbins and that line by Bernard "two anglers, in the Autumn of their years" just encompassed how fishing can last with you for a whole lifetime for me and its true it never leaves you, at least i hope its true.

Returning to the interview John is asked a few questions which he answers honestly and openly and the first I want to cover is when John questions whether the Environment Agency has kept to their promise to maintain and protect the inland lakes and rivers given the 25 million pound of angling revenue they receive annually from anglers licences.  It is a very thought provoking comment given the fact that species like otters where helped to be reintroduced by the environment agency and the damage that these creatures, through no fault of their own i may add, are causing on the rivers and surrounding waterways.  In the piece John says about the environment agency spending more time on surveys than protecting the fish in our rivers and although this may well be the case with regards to the demise of the river roach and other certain aspects of British angling I have to say after following the Environment Agency on Twitter and seeing some of the work they carry out they do more than just complete Surveys although i do feel the spending of flood defences and some of the butchering they do to the bank sides of some streams when cutting back tress to prevent flooding is questionable but as I mention to in my upcoming piece for the angling gazette the stocking they did after the pollution on the river dee in 2000 was first class.

Cormorants and Otters where the running theme of this interview and I must say at the moment i fall into the bracket of anglers John mentions in the piece that has not had their fishing decimated by otters yet although it is a fact that the otter is slowly creeping in as populations grow on the River Gowy, Weaver, Dee, Ribble and Mersey which are all rivers close to myself.   The other predator, the cormorant, I have crossed paths with more than once and also seen the damage they can do both on the River Dee where flocks of 15 to 30 birds are a regular sight in winter to the picturesque Cicily Mill where I spent many a morning in the early years in Warrington Anglers watching cormorants swallowing big crucian's and tench bit what is the answer?  A cull is what many anglers call fro but just look at the protests that are going on now with badger culling and the bad name it is giving the farmers and activists that have give the go ahead for the cull, people forget sometimes that angling already is not seen in the best of lights given the fact we stick hooks in fish and pull them out of their natural environment for sport and does the sport really need to further degrade its name by being seen as a pastime that sees anglers killing uncontrollable amounts of sea birds as lets face it there is no way of knowing the numbers involved once a cull in given the go ahead.  The problem of cormorants is a real issue that is dramatically shaping the angling world of today and is a problem that is of course our own doing by forcing these birds inland by abusing the stocks of fish around our inland coasts lest not forget but the solution to the problem is not one that is going to come easy or quickly I feel,  otters, again a problem caused by humans introducing them in areas that are not able to sustain them over time is one that wont be solved quickly but i do feel in the end the solution will involve some sort of controlling of numbers or if left long enough nature finding its own balance over time.

The next point I want to cover is one I am 100 percent in agreement with John over and that is the demise of what is seen as proper fishing in this country over the past 20 years. I remember fishing on the banks of the local canal for perch and roach and if i was really lucky a big bronze bream being armed only with a "snatcher" pole, maggots and of course Van Der Enyde ground bait and we used to share the bank with many children out with their parents learning to fish  and no doubt had we been closer to a river my dad would have taken me to the river  at a much younger age to learn trotting, an art i only learnt a few years ago.  Now days the children of today, baring a few exceptions, it is all about carp carp carp and although their is nothing wrong with this part of angling it worries me the lack of youngsters I see on the banks of the river and in youngsters i mean anglers under the age of say 25 there is just no one coming through especially where trotting is concerned.  In the video John, who owned a tackle shop himself, mentions about the shops of today being 90 percent full of carp hooks, bolt rigs and bivvy's and its true I mean like three weeks ago I asked my dad to pick me up a pack of size 20 hooks form the local shop, the response he got? "sorry we don't sell them any more as their is no market for them", speaks volumes for me and another sign of the times is how hard it is to find a tackle dealer that sells squats, for shops that border canals its a travesty for squats not to be sold they should be selling out of these to the point you have to put your order in not having to scour the net for suppliers if you want them.  Don't get me wrong I love my carp fishing and it has a place in angling as much as any other aspect of angling and it is not my place to say how people should fish but i just feel the basics of fishing are not instilled into out children any more so how can we expect them to move into other avenues of fishing when the lessons they have been taught is around casting a bolt rig and waiting in a bivy for a bite?, well i did say at the beginning i was ready to write this blog haha.

One thing John this say and i think it was his last comments on the film was to anglers out there to experience all of the British isles and not stay fishing the same venues you fish week in week out and although it is very hard in this financial climate to justify travelling 4 hours to fish a new river is a comment that has stuck with me a bit and hopefully in time the financial constraints of the world we are in will allow me to travel to the River Wye and the Severn around Shrewsbury and the river Trent to experience some of the other rivers this wonderful country has to offer but for now at least i intend to bask in the beauty of a winter on the River Dee and River Ribble.

Before we get onto this weeks blog update we received some information this week on the the new section of the River Alyn Warrington anglers have leased and although this information is being drip fed to us its been released that the stretch is situated in Caergwree and is marked up and if you can find it you can fish it apparently. More good news this week is Warrington have joined forces with the other angling clubs on Budworth Mere and now have access to fishing from the boat club end of the mere which is very good news as this area is reported to be deeper close in and wont mean anglers having to wade a 50 metres into the mere to find a decent depth hopefully.

on to this weeks update:

River Dee Pike and Rixton Clay Pit Roach
All my weekend sessions start on the Friday night for me as after publishing my weekly blog i move onto preparation for the session the next day whether that be getting the Castor's out to turn to a bright red autumnal colour or just getting my gear organised its all part of the preparation for the session the next day.  Friday evening it was time spent tying up some hook lengths for the fishing the next day so out came the Bayer perlon line and the size 20 hooks and whilst the missus watched the end of Coronation street i was well on my way to completing a good batch of rigs that will see me through a few sessions, snags permitting of course. 

The river dee was the destination for the day and we left in good time to get on the banks for first light, my plan was to fish the stick float for the entire day but also packed my pike as the river has been a bit out of sorts of late for the silvers, at least where we have been going at least so the pike rod is always a good alternative to try if the day is slow and boy was a glad i packed it.  

Walking the bank to check out the pegs we could see that the river was low and well down on normal level in fact it is the lowest i have ever seen the Dee since i started fishing her.  We both settled on swims that had some depth them and hastily set about setting  up for the session ahead.  As the light developed we could both see that the slack on this side of the river was enormous covering nearly half the river and there was little if any flow to trot the float down so much so leaving anything more than a few inches of line on the deck would see the float sit stationary.  In my head i thought well if the roach are here i could be in for a good day as they really do hug the slacks on the dee but i was lest optimistic about the possibility of some decent dace action. 

The early exchanges saw me catching the one fish that seems to start of most sessions on the river dee the Gudgeon and it was during the early exchanges i connected with a proper gudgeon it was not so long as it was really wide you could have strapped a saddle to its back it was so thick! It was a clonking big gudgeon and one i definitely took more than a passing moment to admire and what a pleasure it was to see such a beautiful example of the species on the bank. 

A few more gudgeon graced my palm before i got into my first proper fish of the session in the form of a morale boosting roach.  This gave me great confidence because as mentioned before if these fish where around in any numbers i could be on to a really special days fishing.  This initial roach was followed by another around the same size and then another slightly bigger and at this point i was really starting to think a special session could be on the cards, little did i know this would be the penultimate roach of the session. 

The swim continued to develop after that roach and it saw me catch a few dace and that final roach of the session but around 3 hours into the session the swim completely died and saw me trotting away for two hours with only a foul hooked flattie as reward.  I changed depth, the line i was fishing and the amount of feed to no avail and trotting really is one of those types of angling where the hard times are really hard as there is nothing more soul sapping that trotting away with no reward at all.

The swims where very quiet for both of us form that point on and with little chance of that looking like changing i took the opportunity to try and add to my pike tally for the season so it was out with the pike gear and away with the float fishing gear.  In went a paternoster rig just off the marginal  shelf and i sat back and waited for what i hoped would be a toothy visitor. 

What actually happened was a completely new experience for me in my short pike fishing career as not long after introducing the bait i saw the float going mad and moving towards the inside bank so i struck and instantly there was resistance bit it was short lived as the pike spat the bait so i replaced the rod closer to the margin and this time i could see the bait and the pike came in but completely missed the bait all together on a number of occasions it came right up and swam along side the bait but did not take it, very strange behaviour indeed.  

I decided to wait it out and returned the rod back off the marginal shelf and waited it out and eventually the red top of the float descended into the depths and i left it slightly longer than i normally would to make sure if it was the same pike it had time to grasp and turn the bait although i took care not to give it too long and i suppose in pike angling you get a feeling of when the right time is to set the hooks and i struck when it "just felt right".  This stroke was met with solid resistance and from the outset i could feel it was not a bug pike i was dealing with and the pike was up under the surface before i knew it.  The bait fluttered away which let me know i was in full contact with the pike and i took my time to make sure i got this pike in and my patience played off as a pike with lovely markings graced the inside of my landing net,  five pike since the start of the pike campaign i am more than made up with the start i have made and it was time to get some pictures of this nice pike weighing 7lb 110z.

After this pike we decided to pack in and have a hour or so on a small tributary of the river dee on the way home where we hoped to connect with a nice grayling or dace but before we did so we took a picture of the net of fish we had put together during the few hours trotting. 

The river we dropped back on was the tiny river Alyn and is a river i fished a long time ago and since getting to grips with the main river is one i have not been back to in a long time and boy how it has changed in that time, swims that where deep holes in the past where now dry as the river had changed course and now was flowing over to the other bank of the river and one pool in particular below the second bridge was unrecognisable to the swim i fished all those years ago.   The river when i fished it used to contain a good number of grayling and below is one of those fish from yesteryear.

The diversity of fish in this river has really changed as i never really remembered catching many dace but on this short session we caught quite few nice dace and the diversity of this river was shown with the amount of grayling, dace, trout and salmon par we caught.  The fish apart form one really nice grayling i lost at the net where all juvenile fish which goes to show the importance of this side streams and rivers where young fish can grow up before migrating into the big river they really are habitats that need our protection and us to nurture these areas by leaving some cover in the rivers for them to hide from predators in.  I fully enjoyed my few hours back on the river alyn and i will certainly be back on there soon.  One memory of the day that sticks with me is peering through the fence at the car to see this sprightly young fellow staring back at me!

Sunday  Morning Session Rixton Clay Pits

I again found myself with a bit of time free on a Sunday morning and i wasted no time at all in getting my gear sorted and heading for a few hours on Rixton Clay pits.  It is a venue that normally sees you having to arrive early to get the carp park swims so it was up and out around 6am for me and it wasn't too long before i was turning the final corner into the car park.  i expected to see one or two cars in the carp park even though the rain was belting down but to my amazement the car park was completely empty, obviously the over night rains has knocked a few fishing plans on the head and at this time of year into Christmas as the temperatures drop that will be more and more the case.  

I must admit it was quite eerie walking down to the pegs through the trees but i thought the sooner i get to the pegs and set up the sooner it will be light and time to fish so i put me head down and set about getting the peg set up ready to fish the pole and before i knew it it was light and i was setting the landing net up away from fishing. 

peg for the day

The tactic for the day was an all out silver fish approach on the pole and for the first time this season i scaled down my hook length to a pound bottom and went with a really light elastic as i wanted to land every silver fish i hit but knew full well i was probably going to lose and carp or tench i hooked into.  My bait for the day was maggot, ground bait and a change bait of worm with the hope the worm section would get me a better stamp of roach or bream.  I only had a few hours till around 11.30 on the bank and all the time in the early stages i expected another angler to turn up but the never did.

The fishing was steady from the off as was the rain and to make the session even better i was catching my target for the day in some beautifully marked roach that had that lovely blue metallic glisten to them.

I continued to catch fish for the entire session and the with around 30 minutes of the session to go i connected with a fish that was really the fish of the weekend for me in a lovely 1lb roach it filled the palm beautifully and was a good fist full of roach. 

As with all sessions they come to and end all too soon and even more so when its only a short morning session but i departed the scene really happy with my mornings efforts and on a venue as beautiful as this you can not help but enjoy a session on it and it really is amazing just how out of it you feel on the venue given the fact it is right next to a main road.  The final net was one i was happy with and the tactics will be one i will be looking at employing again on this venue as the worm really did single out the bream and better roach.

Well that is it for another weeks fishing,

till next week its,

tight lines 


Friday, 11 October 2013

Winter Looms and Paternoster Booms...

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update and first of all I want to cover what there was no update on the blog last week.  I was asked at the start of September if i would like to feature as a guest blog on the Angling Gazettes website and after thinking about it for around 2 seconds i said yes, of course i said yes and i was over the moon to have been asked to write a piece for a website i think so highly of.   September was always going to be a hectic month for me when with going on holiday at the start of it and having the Minke fishing tool review to write as soon as i got off holiday i knew time would be tight so i agreed with the Angling Gazette that i would get the blog over to them towards the end of September beginning of October.  Last weeks blog update was that guest blog and I sent the blog over to them on Friday morning and it is currently being edited by their team so i will post a new blog on here when it goes live on their page in the near future with the link on it, so watch out for that one.

So moving on to this weeks update and its been a really good week for me as I have had a few people get in touch with me on the blogs email address and as you all know i love it when readers of the blog get in touch, some just want to say hi and say how much they enjoy reading the blog, some get in touch with pointers and tips for myself and others get in touch looking for help on venues i have fished or on writing a blog, all of these emails i love receiving and i hope all the people who have ever got in touch with me would go away and say that i have always done my best to help them and been honest in my emails to them if i cant.  There are some times that you just cant help people and some aspects of my angling that i do not divulge in private emails and these normally circle around piking spots which is down to protecting this species that does not really take well to angling pressure.

If the email is not your thing the blog does have a Twitter page and a Facebook page, both of which are regularly updated and a great place to keep up with the blog and pictures that do not make it into the weekly blog and unlike some Facebook pages out there feel free to post your catches on the page its there for everyone to interact on and not just for me to post on so why not join others on there and let me know how you are getting on with your fishing.

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 The trees are starting to loose their leaves and coating the ground with natures carpet, trips to the river from now on will be met with a steady stream of browns, oranges and yellows fluttering through the swims. The silver fish will be starting to shoal up and begin to think about migrating to their winter haunts and behind them dressed in a full dinner suit of speckled green will be the hungry pike lurking in the shadows, chub will be feeling the pinch as the natural larder runs dry and the grayling well the grayling will still think its summer and behave accordingly and carry on as if nothing has changed ........winter is just around the corner and as i write this blog on a dark Wednesday night its safe to say the weather has taken a turn for the worse.  There is a draft coming in from the open window to my left and  there is certainly a nip in the air tonight and for the first time this year i think it may be time for the heating to get put on, roll out the extra blankets and on with the slippers.  In fishing terms it means it is time to brush down the thermal pants and bob hat in preparation for the colder sessions ahead and i always like to be prepared for my sessions and in winter this certainly means being warm. This year we will also have the luxury of warm food on the bank as we make the most of the Calor Grill to Go I reviewed in the summer and i said back then i would get my use out of it in the colder months and i am sure sessions like this freezing cold session where the landing net froze upside down and i had icicles in my keep net will be so much easier with a hot meal inside me.

freezing nets blog:

In terms of actual fishing it normally starts the feeling inside of freezing cold trips on the River trotting for dace and grayling but this year i am going to try and go down a different line with my fishing.  There will of course be trips trotting for Dace and chub on the blog but i am going to try and add some variety to my fishing with sessions specifically targeting Pike and i am setting myself a target of a 15lb plus pike for this winter, a target i feel is achievable and a target i almost hit in the guest blog i wrote for the Angling Gazette.  It would be so easy for me here to come out and say, right my target is the stereotypical 20lb pike but when i set these targets they are more there for me to keep myself on track and although i ultimately want to beat the target i do not see it as a do or die target as in reality i am happy with whatever i catch on the day whether that be a 3lb or a 10lb pike as i just love admiring the personality of each individual pike and how beautiful their markings are when they come from our rivers.

The one hope i have this year is just to spend some more time on the river bank as last year was a complete washout with the heavy rain, snow and subsequent floods it seemed the river was never really right and was not on proper form till February or march time.  One thing that is going to be hard for us if we get another winter like that is finding somewhere on the river to fish as we used to head to a inlet on the river where the fish used to back into in floods but that is no longer available so we will have to look into alternatives and that may well mean trips to the canal or purchasing a different card with a river that drops quicker than the river dee, one thing that is guaranteed is it will be a cracking adventure finding out what the next few months have in store as we move onto what i regard as the best time of the year....

and with that its on to this weeks fishing...

Winter Looms and Paternoster Booms 

After last weeks trip to the river where we landed a few pike we decided to venture to the same stretch again but this time i set my stall out for just pike.  On the previous trip we had both trotted for a few hours in the morning but we both came to the conclusion that we were fighting for the same fish as one person would be catching solid and the other would be struggling and then vice versa throughout the day so with this in mind i made the decision to go all out for a predatory pike.

It really amazes me when i go out dace fishing just how many times i am approached by anglers fishing for a pike who ask you if you can catch them a dace or a roach and as a rule i generally say no as surely to be able to catch a pike you first have to have the ability to catch the bait? surely catching the bait is part of the whole process, at least it is in my eyes.  With this in mind i spent around a hour or so in the morning catching a few baits for my pike fishing session ahead, only a few and i always make a point of not using baits that are too big although after getting some advice from pike anglers this week this could be one reason i cant get over the 14lb mark and i suppose the theory of big bait big fish can be logical in pike fishing. 

The bait safe and sound in the keep net it was away with the float gear and out with the pike rod and for sessions where i am going to target pike direct on the river i always go with a paternoster rig.  They are fool proof really in their design and i go with the Greys Prowla 360 degree pike boom as this also comes with a up trace and the system is really simple you attach a weak link on the bottom with a lead on the end and set the depth with a slip knot so the bait is held in position at the depth you want.  The trace is attached via a snap link to the boom so its really easy to change trace should a pike make a mess of your trace.  

I only started using these last year and honestly can say i would not be without it now it completely takes away the moving of a bait all the time when it heads for snags like all baits invariably do and on occasions last year i have put a bait in on a short line below a float and not got a bite and then changed over to this and its gone instantly and i am sure this is down to the face this paternoster puts the bait further down in the water column and given sometimes i am fishing in 10ft plus of water it can make the difference. The rig as it would sit in theory is shown below:

My uncle was further upstream and he set out his stall for dace and roach using maggot and hemp tactics and was having a steady session with bites coming steady for longer periods since i stopped feeding my trotting line.  All set up and ready for action i slid down the bank and into my first swim of the afternoon armed with the minimal of tackle i tested the depth to make sure that if a pike did take it did not have enough slack to swallow the bait without me knowing as the last thing we want is a deeply hooked pike and with the depth set it was a case of adding the bait before lowering the it in position.

There is one thing that you can almost guarantee with pike and its if you drop a bait in the right place and there is a pike about they normally do not mess around and today was no different as the float had only settled for a minute or so before it slid away and i always think its almost a sinister look as the float submerges and you loose sight of the bright red top of the pike bung.  I never leave it too long before striking preferring to lose the fish than risk deep hooking one so i gave it a second before striking and setting the hooks and one of the best feelings for me with pike fishing is that feeling of solid resistance on that first strike, whether the pike is big or small that original contact gives nothing away of the fishes size, although i may have to retract that comment if i ever connect with one of the big girls. 

The fish made a hard run for the middle of the river and pulled some line from the spool but at this point i felt the fish did not really know it was hooked as its run was halted it seemed to hold for a second in the fast flow before showing its self just below the surface as it eased back into the slack its tail just caressing the water before with one rapid flick of its tail it flared its anal fins and tail and made a hard run for the submerged tree to my left, this esox certainly knew where home was as it made for this snag twice more during the fight but each subsequent time i was one step ahead and quickly applied the brakes giving no quarter and it was not long after that the fish rolled on the top and i took my opportunity to slide the net under the fish. On the scales it went exactly 8lb and i was over the moon as it was only early on in the session and this fish was a solid start.

The fish rested in the margins upstream of our position till it regained its strength in the landing net before being released it was time for me to rest the pike swim for 15 minutes while i chatted away with my uncle and spent a few minutes watching how my uncle goes about trotting his swim all the time learning little hints and tricks and not only watching what he does but asking why and that is the important part about it i find knowing why he makes a change and what he hopes to achieve from it.  These little bits of information hopefully will all come together to improve my river float fishing when the winter comes and we start to target the big shoals of dace. 

My trotting lesson and two brews later i returned to my pike swim and after no initial take i relaxed into my peg and took in my wonderful surroundings and fully enjoyed being beside the river.  When you are trotting a float you are constantly concentrating and focused on presenting the float right and sometimes this does mean you miss some of the sights and sounds of the river but Saturday, for me, was different i was well and truly spoilt by the nature that resides on the banks of the river dee.  On the day i enjoyed watching a kingfisher work the river upstream form his tiny perch while breaking through the background noise of the river flowing over the shallows upstream was the faintest tap tap tap of a woodpecker searching the bark for grubs.  Later on in the day the warmer air thermals saw a pair of buzzards riding high above much to the annoyance of the local crows who hounded them ferociously causing them to move on out of sight while my session from a nature point of view was topped of with this lovely butterfly that behaved so well letting me have its picture taken. 

Judging by the striking upstream my uncle was still getting a few fish and upon checking my watch it had been a good two hours since my last fish so i upped sticks and dropped in another swim i had my eye on looking to give it half an hour or so.  In total i tried 2 more swims before returning back to my original swim for the rest of the session and after getting to that point you think its not going to happen the float dipped a few times but unlike the normal ebbing and flowing of the float that goes with the occasional swirl of water through the swim these dips where more purposeful and direct and a few seconds later the float skulked away towards the middle of the river.  

This fish felt bigger than the first one during the fight and like the first it knew all about that snag to my left  but unlike the first one i was all onto that tactic from the off and was waiting for it to make for it.  Last year i got some great advice on the blogs Facebook page about line for pike and took their advice and moved over to a strong braided line and i am so glad i did it puts you right in touch with the fish and gives you so much control and this extra confidence in your tackle really puts you in the driving seat when trying to land pike that can be really strong with their runs.  The fish on the bank it had a strange deformation on its back which was well healed and at first i thought it was a cormorant bite but upon checking further along the pikes back there where further marks and it looked like it had been grabbed by a much bigger pike, these wounds were old and healed but proves there are bigger pike in this area. 

During the unhooking i caught my knuckle on the the hook in the pikes mouth as i chinned the fish out of the net which was a shock to say the least and this is the slight bit of blood you can see on the pikes gill plate.  After resting the pike in the margin till it was fully recovered it was time to see it swim away back into its watery home a practise that should be part of any anglers day, that is putting the pike back and not taking them home as unfortunately there are still people on the bank in the early hours looking to catch pike and take them for the table no matter what the size.

pike going back

After this pike i gave the swim another 20 mins while my uncles keep net dried out but no more pike where forthcoming.  My uncle had a good day for the time of year when the dace can be quite dispersed still putting together a 8lb net of dace and i think the odd roach.

the best fish on the day was this fin perfect dace which looked great with a few other decent fish form the session.

All in all i was well pleased with the session, two more pike to add to the pike form last week and with one pike into double figures and a number of separate pike all just under the 10lb mark i feel i have made a steady start to my piking campaign.  With regards the targeting of bigger size pike i think i am going to keep on the way i am at the moment as i am obviously naturally picking the right areas and pike are coming to the bank so i will continue with how i am doing it before i look at making changes. 

A silver itch to scratch - Sunday 6th October

Although i thoroughly enjoyed my pike fishing on Saturday it still left me with a silver fishing itch to scratch so early on Sunday morning i set out for a local pond hoping to put together a nice net of silvers.  Driving along the road to the pond the sky i front was a real picture and i just had to take a detour to capture a picture of such a glorious morning, to all those people who think there is only one 6 o'clock in the day you are missing out big time.

sunrise over the river Mersey. 

The session was one where i got plenty of bites and had a very enjoyable morning on the bank as predicted the carp moved in as the weather warmed and on a number 5 elastic i was not offering up much resistance to these small carp.  I looked back thinking should i have gone heavier and all out for the carp given how close to winter we are but thinking about it in the afternoon after the session i went for roach and rudd and set my stall out for them and i caught my target for the session so looking back on the session i was happy with the result and the carp can wait for another day.

The final net was testament to a steady mornings fishing and although the better roach failed to show i couldn't think of a better way to pass a few hours. 

This weekend we are hoping to get on one of the canals but with the weather turning cold we may end up on the river.

till next week

tight lines