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


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