Monday, 30 December 2013

River dee on the rise 30.12.13

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

Friday, 20 December 2013

looking forward and the Dace Chase

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and with that we move onto past fishing trips:

Winter and that hunt for Dace Perfection

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

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

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

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

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

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

My net

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

My uncles net:

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

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

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

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

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

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

till next time

tight lines


Friday, 6 December 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

on to this weeks fishing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dropping back for the Dace 

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

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

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

The final nets:

my net:

uncles net

That is is for this weeks instalment for the blog,

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