Saturday, 22 February 2014

Deadbaiting For Pike: 3 Years Blogging and Missed Chances

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update. We are fast approaching the end of the river season and this time of year is normally a time where my type of fishing, dace fishing, is at its best but this constant rain keeps presenting a wall of brown water between myself and my quarry.  I guess dace fishing is one branch of river angling that suffers most with the floods as chub and barbel anglers always have the option to use a bigger lead and a smelly bait to attract their quarry but dace being such a delicate fish in my mind it takes a lot longer for it to be right and i guess this has been shown by how quiet the dace pages on facebook have been this past week compared to the chub and barbel ones where some nice specimens have been coming out and in good numbers.

This time of year for myself is also synonymous with the anniversary of me starting my blog and this week my blog passed the 3 year mark.  This blog has been pretty much a weekly account of my angling life and baring life getting in the way and of course illness from time to time i would say its a regularly updated blog.  There are many blogs out there and many contain much better specimens than mine but i don't think there are many out there that are updated with up and above 3000 words a week.  I must admit writing this blog is one of the proudest things i have done and i look forward each week to putting it together piece by piece during my dinner hours in work and sometimes late into Friday evening.  It is a blog that has also sprouted many benefits and some would look at the few product reviews i did in the past year but myself i look to people i have met through writing it over the past 3 years, i love seeing emails dropping into my in box letting me know how they have gone on or on Facebook seeing that people are out on the bank and what they are catching.

Looking back over this last year preparing this update it made me realise just how many great memories and achievements fishing has presented me with this year but i would have to say the biggest achievement this year for myself came away from the bank and it was when i decided in September to start on probably the biggest life changing journey of recent times in losing weight, so far i have lost between 3.5 and 4 stones and although the past month has seen it plateau both in loss and effort to lose more on my part i plan on building on this further this year.

The beginning of this blogging year started with some really nice nets of dace from the river dee which culminated in a really good session just before the season ended, March also saw a major milestone for the blog in that it got featured in the Angling Gazettes Top 10 blogs for February 2013.  During this period i was heavily dedicated to catching a double figure carp to round of the carp quest and i was over the moon when i accomplished this in May. June and July saw us moving onto the Bridgewater and Sankey canal and we had some really good success on them both with some nice nets of bream and some really nice perch,  July also saw the blog featured for the second time in the Top Ten  Blogs on the Angling Gazette an achievement i was immensely proud of.  Moving into September we continued to explore the local canals and the odd foray to the rivers and it was around this time i started fishing a local river and connected with a few chub and my scary first night session.

October saw us on a voyage of discovery along the river dee as we tried new and old spots in the hope of discovering some more dace holding areas and we succeeded and of course where the dace are so are the pike and i managed to get a few of these beautiful pike on the bank.   Little did we know fishing the river dee in November that it would be our last session on this river for 3 months! A Saturday dace fishing for me followed by a hungover session chubbing was one of the most memorable weekends of the year. December was a complete washout in reality and it was during this month i knew i had to make a decision and move into another branch of our sport if i was to still get out on the bank and with that i started to look into dead baiting for pike and i have to say new years day to now has been one of the steepest learning curves i have ever been on and i don't think anyone can doubt the effort i put in and that was rewarded with a new personal best still water pike last week of 13lb 8oz, my own personal best moment of this last year.

Thank you to everyone who has visited and lived every session with me through this blog over the past year and to all the people who have helped me out with my angling, you will all know who you are because i have thanked you all personally,  special thanks go of course to my dad who joins me on the bank in all weathers and of course to my uncle who i am fortunate to have shared so many of these amazing sessions with, he has been missed the passed few weeks that is for sure!!  Here is to another year on the bank and the adventures that come with them.

below are the links to the posts mentioned above:

River Dee Dace Session Feb:
Quest to catch a 10lb carp:
 Sankey Canal Bream session:
First night session:
River Dee pike :
Hungover chubbin':
New pike Pb:

And with that its onto this weeks fishing:

Saturday Morning:  Pike, Pike Pike Everywhere But Not A Sniff

One of the major plus points i have found with piking is how mobile you can be on the bank, it is a point i have mentioned a few times before this winter but time and time again i find myself looking at the back of my car and remembering days travelling to the River with my seat box, 3 rod holdall, net bag, pike rods and on the odd occasion a Grill ha-ha, so this lightweight approach i am finding to be a major benefit and it also i feel is essential to any type of success as when you have too much gear you can have a tendency to not want to move and stick to one spot.  This past week i have to admit though that a brolly and my chair have crept into my car boot and this is plainly just because i was planning on spending all day on the bank and lets face it there are no prizes for catching fish because you have stood in the freezing cold wind and rain for 8 hours.

Walking the bank to my peg i was again greeted with the local crows clearing their throats and the neighbourhood it seemed as they mobbed a Buzzard scouring the fields for any dead carrion.  I have settled into quite a routine with my pike fishing now when i get to the bank and the first action for me is always to get the baits i am planning to fish with out of my bag and thawing in the margins, next is setting up my chair, brolly, unhooking Matt and tools and then finally the rods are prepared.  It may seem a little presumptuous to set up the unhooking Matt and tools at the start of the session but not only am i a very confident person when i go fishing in i expect to catch as my thoughts are if i don't have that mentality then what is the point? Secondly i also feel it is very important with pike fishing to be prepared for a fish on the bank there is no point getting a fish in the net then rummaging around trying to find your Matt and forceps as it is a thing i have done in the past and only leads to a build up of stress and anxiety and you rushing around which is not good for the pikes welfare, yourself and even your rods lying on the bank.  The scene set i cast out my two rods and with them went a prayer to the angling gods.

Good planning i feel is key in all aspects of life but with my fishing i try to be as far planning as possible, normally by Tuesday or Wednesday i know what times i will be going fishing that weekend and with the rivers we then normally leave it till a Friday evening to settle on our final destination.  The piking this winter has been a different challenge all together as although i know in advance what times i will be out on the bank picking the destination has provided me with a very welcome headache.  I don't really like moving from one venue to another with my piking as i have learnt very quickly that pike have feeding periods and they can switch on at any time,  some people doubt this mass feeding ability but as you will read further on in this blog the evidence of it is there in almost all the sessions i have been on with numerous takes. 

Since starting dead baiting for pike i have had a few requests and emails for more information on the locations and my tactics i am using and although i do welcome people to contact me and ask me questions on all parts of my angling I do adopt a rule of not divulging any location information on any parts of my pike fishing whether that be on flowing or still waters and there are a few reasons for this, 1) we now live in a age where anyone can see posts we publish on facebook and although the person asking the initial question might use that information with the best of intentions there is always a chance that people scouring the Internet for information to catch fish for the pot will see it and i don't want to ever think that this chain of a fish being taken started from myself in any way 2) I have been lucky enough to have been given advice and met some quality pike anglers and been taught many new techniques from them, all have their different ways of doing it, but they all have the same stance on reporting pike locations, don't do it, pike are a fish that don't take well to angling pressure anyway but all will tell stories of times they have told locations only for it to be completely ruined a year or so later by angling pressure.  Just look at how long it is after these monster pike you see in the Angler Mail and Time before they are reporting the record breaker has been found dead in the margin.

I find it slightly embarrassing when asked about rigs to be honest as i really am at the most basic end of the scale.  I use two rods that are identical in every way apart from the amount of lead i use on them.  My rig consists of a heavy duty wire trace double treble with size 6 hooks above that is a free running lead up to a pike float and a stop knot to control the depth.  The difference in weight is only there so i can have one of my rods fished off the bottom without the float being pulled under while the other has a heavier weight to fish it hard on the bottom.  Baits, Sardine, Mackerel and Sprats, again something i am no expert on as i really did just go the supermarket and have a look at what i liked and fortunately i have had my confidence boosted on all these baits as i have landed a fish on all of them over the past weeks.  I never really like going into tactics and rigs too much on my blog or how i do it as i never want to come across as a know it all or my way is the way type person as i feel angling should be a personal journey of exploration and success where you develop knowledge over time, of course take on advice from other more experienced anglers as that is invaluable when first starting out in a new part of our sport but angling i feel is best done where you learn as you go along, it makes the captures so much sweeter, for example Garry started off buying shop bought pike rigs like i do now, he now makes his own from scratch i can only imagine how good that feels to catch a fish on a trace you have made yourself a feeling i hope i get next winter.

For this session i arrived at the water around 7am and had to be in the car by the latest at 12.15am so i had a good chunk of time.  I always have one particular part of the venue i feel is the best area and i like to devote at least the first hour or so to this unless that is i see any signs of predator activity elsewhere and after this time i then search for the fish by leapfrogging around the places i fish.   Saturday was no different and by 11.30am i had covered a fair bit of water hunting out feeding fish with no success i was sat alone with my thoughst considering another move and where i was going to fish the next day when right between my two rods there was an explosion of activity as pike attacked some bait fish sending them scattering out of the water.  This commotion instantly saw my interest pricked and i quickly presented a dead bait shallow in the area hoping that the pike where feeding in the upper layers and would see my fish as a wounded fish from their marauding attacks.

No action was forthcoming so as a last gasp attempt i decided to start twitching the bait back with almost instant results as the float slid away confidently, i gave the fish enough time to turn the bait before striking hard and instantly the fish came to the top, a jack of around 3lbs came to the bank.  In the edge i could see a hook flying loose so being ultra careful i grabbed for the landing net and scooped the fish up, result i thought.  Then in one move the fishsflipped up and pulled the mesh with its mouth and the fish was on the outside of the net, a quick scoop saw the hooks pull and the fish was gone and i was left with a right mess to sort out.

The loss of the fish would have probably gutted me previously but i was still riding high on last weeks 13lb personal best so i must admit it cushioned the blow.  The birds nest untangled i tried my arm again and in two casts had another fish on, again a jack but unfortunately this fish spat the hooks during the fight.  There are always lessons to be learnt from session like this and the biggest eye opener on this was the fact you can have fish all over you but if your presentation is  not right you wont get a take it seems finding the fish is only half the challenge.

Sunday - The Reality Of A Days Piking

Sunday morning and it was an unusually late start for myself as i did not arrive in the swim till gone 8.30am.  I don't know about other anglers but i always feel like i have missed half a days fishing if i miss the first hour of day light as it in my eyes holds that much promise and even more so i feel when hunting a predator as in my mind i imagine those fresh water sharks lurking amongst the dead reeds cloaked from their prey by a blanket of dimpled light.  The baits cast out and i knew i was taking a big risk in fishing this location as i was yet to see any action from a pike in 3 previous trips.  Garry was soon on the phone asking if i was out and about and no sooner had i sent him a tantalising picture of my swim he sent me no end of moral boosting pike he had caught from this very location, a much needed morale boost indeed and i must admit got the blood pumping.  The first location spot failed to produce and action so it was time to up sticks and try the next spot.

The next spot looked very pikey indeed as a depression in the bottom and a cut back in the far bank made it look ideal place for a pike and i was also informed that it also holds a rather large tree to one side of it that holds some pike.  The suspended dead bait was cast as close as i dared and i turned to reach for my second rod, a quick turn to pick it up was halted as out of the corner of my eye i saw my float already in the swim dip twice and sail away confidently, a sure sign the fish has taken the bait well.  I waited for the float to submerge for a few seconds then hit the run and was pleased to be met with a good solid and defiant pike on the other end.  The fish put up a great account of itself leading me to believe it was bigger than it later turned out to be and i was actually relieved when the fish coasted in to the side, no messing around here with the net this fish was getting chinned out if it was the last thing i did.  The fish on the bank it weighed 5lb 7oz so only a jack, i say only i was over the moon!.

Inspecting the fish after unhooking it i noticed it had some markings across its back, these can be from all manner of things from cormorant or heron stabs, damage during spawning or damage from a previous capture with another angler if it got into a snag but it also could have a more sinister origin from another larger pike seeing this small, almost certainly male pike, as breakfast.

You will notice that the title for this days fishing is the reality of pike fishing and it comes around from the fact that i was the only angler on this location and i tried every inch of it during the day but did not have any other action between this fish capture at 9.30am and 2.45pm.  At 2.45 pm i had a run on the left hand rod which took the bait around 3ft before stopping and the float just tremored, not wanting to risk a deep hooked pike i struck as i thought the pike was eating the bait on the spot only for the me to feel the gutting sensation of the bait being pulled form the pikes grasp.  I returned to re bait the rod and as i did the other rod zoomed off straight into the reeds, i must admit it took me by surprise and i should have struck sooner than i did but again the fish came off.  Now this is not the first time in this dead baiting i have experienced such feeding periods where the fish just turn on as when all three of us had those 7 fish last week all the action was done and dusted before 10.30am and on the location where i had my first double this winter i have also noticed a distinct feeding period of the day where all the runs have come.

I guess the difference comes in the fact you have to take these chances and on Sunday i just didn't i put the hours in and when the bites came i messed up or didn't take the opportunity as i could now be writing this blog having caught 5 pike this weekend instead of one, my conversion rate of bites is an area i need to look at it more detail.

Whilst on the bank on Sunday you could see all around that nature was telling me time is running out for this years dead baiting, snowdrops shooting up into flower, green daffodil shoots bursting form the ground, female ducks now seem to be the centre of all the local drakes attention again, robins and blue tits collecting nesting material and a quick look at my ruck sack to see a pair of ladybirds warming in the midday suns glow revealed spring is just around the corner.

Till next time i wish you all tight lines


Friday, 14 February 2014

DeadBaiting For Pike: Blanks, Dropped Runs, Great Laughs and a New PB

A warm welcome to this week's blog update.  I am sure by now must river anglers are sick of the constant weather conditions, well that is unless you are Martin Bowler and see this as an opportunity to fish tied to a tree, truth be told the past few days will have seen most of those river side trees at a high risk of ending up horizontal across the very river they shade so well in summer.  My uncle, a river man at heart, has not been out since the floods began and the last i hear he was seen casting out of winnick mental health centre windows hoping to land in the Mersey, joking aside his not travelling to the bank is primarily down to the fact that piking just isn't his thing at all but the length of time i have been doing this piking now, getting on for 7-8 weeks, is testament to just how bad the flooding has been.

This picture below testament to the high waters experienced down south,  time to think about moving when you expect to see the local fish populations through your bay windows.

This flooding has only touched myself from a fishing point of view and even as a selfish angler who thinks solely about how this is effecting his fishing i cant help but think if all those houses and businesses that have been effected by these catastrophic floods that in all honestly looking at the forecast for this coming weekend look like they are no where near their conclusion with another band of heavy rain and high winds hanging just of our coasts waiting to move in.  I wish all those effected by these floods the speediest of recoveries after the waters recede and lets hope the government are having the fore thinking to get plans in place to make this recovery as smooth and as stress free as possible.  It was pleasing to hear on the news this week that the most popular insurance companies are already in the area waiting for the waters to recede to set up stalls so claims can be assessed and processed as quickly as possible to allow people to get money from their claims to get the work carried out on any damage.  We all think of insurance companies as these places that shy from paying out so its great to see them being so proactive and visible when they are needed, anyhow this is a fishing blog not a insurance comparison site so that's enough of that talk, underdog, although if anyone wants me to review a meerkat toy, just get in touch ha ha.

Another post i saw on social media that made me laugh a little was the picture doing the rounds of the Osprey that had caught a fish, nothing new there apart from this fish was unusually a carp.  The humour from myself came not from the fact a carp had been caught as i never like to see any fish being harmed but the fact it made me think back to the days on Warrington Anglers Facebook page where the constant stocking of carp was justified or sold to the members by a cop out clause that stocking carp at 3 to 4 pound would see them immune from being predated like roach and bream would have been.  I sincerely hope this new development does not see licences increase due to the fact they may need to know stock 8-9lb carp instead due to predation, it does make me laugh the short sighted reasoning people who don't fish the waters in the club they run use to justify their endless ambition of creating a number of runs waters to attract more people to buy their licences.  In my eyes they should just spend the money on buying a commercial like Bay malton did with Border or spend the money doing up a venue like the moat in frodsham that if money was invested would make a fantastic location for a venue for both carp and river men if it was invested in and stocked correctly as i am sure the serious anglers who fish Sandiway hoping for an elusive big twenty or possibly a rogue 3olb fish are not going to welcome the mass stocking of fish around the 3-7lb mark i know this approach was not welcomed with open arms by regulars on appleton Reservoir or the Mount.

Me saying how much i am missing trotting a float down a river has been a regular paragraph of late in these blogs but i guess as this blog is a true representation of how i am feeling about my angling life it was always going to be.  This week i have been watching a few of the stick float videos on Youtube, a activity that in reflection just makes it worse and as i am a glutton for punishment i also spent one evening reading over some of my older posts from sessions on the river gone by, again this just made me think about what i was missing even more.

Trotting for dace post:

Moving onto developments away from the the main blog but still concerning my blog i have started to upload all the pictures included in each weeks update onto the blogs Facebook page.  There is currently an album including all the pictures from this winters dead baiting for pike and each picture includes links to the actual post it was featured in.  This should be a great way for anyone to see one particular species or type of fishing they are interested in whilst also giving me a solid back up of all my pictures so i can Free up space on my phone i use to capture the pictures for the blog.

A link to the blogs Facebook page is here: DANNYS ANGLING BLOG FACEBOOK PAGE

Before we move onto this weeks adventures on the bank i would like to share with you all a book that Garry was kind enough to lend me this week.  The book is called Fox Guide To Modern Pike Fishing and i have to admit this book has really taken over my breaks in work.  This book is fantastic for anyone new to pike fishing it goes into great detail breaking down the different type of venues,Rigs, Baits, unhooking and handling pike and terminal tackle to name just a few of the topics included in this fantastic book.  As the name suggests it pushes all the fox products but after seeing some of the tackle Garry uses that comes from Fox i personally have no problem with that as the tackle i saw him using looked first class especially the interchangeable egg sinkers.  I can safely say one thing though come next winters piking i will certainly be putting together my own treble wire traces after discovering what exactly you have to do to construct these rigs.  I was going to photocopy this book before passing it back to Garry next time we meet but i am that impressed with it i am actually going to purchase this book myself as it is invaluable in my opinion.

And with that its onto this weeks fishing:

Saturday Morning - Time To Find A New Spot??

With a short window of opportunity arising on Saturday morning to fit in a few hours i decided to visit the location i fished into dark after leaving Garry on Wednesday.  This is the only area i have been adopting the method of baiting up before my visits on and i arrived on Saturday morning full of optimism.  I fished from first light till around 10.30am in this spot with not so much as a touch on the floats and to be honest looking around i saw no signs of pike striking or even silver fish topping.  The conditions where far from ideal with a strong wind gusting along the towpath but as this was a location that i have had 4 runs and 2 decent fish to double figures i was confident that float was going to go at any moment, unfortunately it didn't so at 10.30am i decided to move to a completely new area hoping to locate the fish if they have moved or even find a pocket of fish.  It is very apparent with this dead baiting for pike that you can be only a few hundred yards away from the fish and not get a bite so i adopted the approach of if you don't try new areas you will never know and tried a completely different area with unfortunately no success, i headed off home wet and battered but still determined.   The time stood patiently looking at the rods gives you more than enough time to think your tactics over, too much time if I'm honest and its got me thinking .  Pike at this time of year will follow the bait fish which do shoal up in certain spots and maybe the pike have moved on from here and its time to cut my loses with this location now and concentrate on the other spots i have been fishing.

The waiting Game:

Sunday first light till 2pm  - Putting The Hours In And Missed Opportunities Really Linger

After the tough conditions on Saturday i groggily rose from my bed and began to pack the gear into the car, a job that with this piking only takes seconds,  i set off full of hope more than anything after 3 blanks on the run i was unsure about my tactics and if my spots where even places i should be fishing. my confidence low and expectations a little lower i was at a crossroads with the piking and unsure what my next move should be.

When i say crossroads please don't confuse this with me thinking like i should give up and call it a day i only mean to use that phrase to refer to the locations i was fishing and whether i thought they were the right spots.  I had made a conscious decision a week ago not to fish the spot that i know will produce a few small jacks and try and concentrate on the locations that would not produce as many runs but then they come along you are almost guaranteed a better quality fish, its these locations i was unsure in my mind about.

Thinking on a problem for too long can sometimes see you make the wrong decision and on Sunday morning i pulled up at the spot i fished around 6 weeks ago when i first started this dead baiting adventure, a place i have fished 3 times and put many hours in without a bite and it was only as i walked the bank getting battered with a straight in your face gale the penny hit and hit hard.  A voice in the back of my head suddenly appeared like jimmy cricket in Pinocchio and said "what are you doing even contemplating fishing here? A location you have not had a bite in and you are going to get battered by the elements for your trouble."

As some photos on this blog will testify i am a man that follows his gut ha-ha and i promptly turned round and headed back to the car and decided to go for a drive.  I knew instantly what i was looking for, a brand new location, it had to be look pikey and it had to be relatively calm i wanted a comfortable days fishing in a  completely new location and it was not too long till i found it, it cost me a bit of money in petrol but instantly i knew it looked like a place that could hold a pike.

The baits for the day where a mackerel tail on one rod and a sardine on the other both presented on the bottom.  I settled into the first swim and as normal now on these sessions after around 2o minutes i normally update the blogs facebook page with a picture of where i am or what i am doing and i was half way through typing when out of the corner of my eye i saw my left hand float dipping and slowly moving towards myself.  The fish moved towards me causing the float to go under quite quickly so i gave it a few seconds before striking.  I struck hard and connected with solid resistance of a fish that felt really nice and the fish started to move slightly to the right before i felt the fish shake its head and it was off......Gutted!!.

I continued to fish this spot for 2 hours hoping the fish would return with no luck and then spent the next 3 hours leap frogging along the stretch but that first run was all she gave up.  I am not going to lie this fish loss left me really gutted as i replayed the scenario time and time again in my head and as is always the way you work out a number of reasons where you have gone wrong in the vain hope you can learn from it.  In hindsight i think me error come in striking too soon and not reeling down to the fish before striking.  Runs on these venues can be hard to come by and you can do a number of blanks before finding a few fish and i knew i had just blown a great opportunity.  The session another blank i left happy i had had a run but upset i hadn't converted the opportunity.

Tuesday - Two's Company And The Odd Pike, Three Is Just Great Fun And Pike Chaos

Tuesday and it was a session i had looked forward to all week, a social pike session with Garry.  All pikers will tell you that they are as solitary as the pike they chase and it can be quite a lone chase at time hunting pike it is certainly a part of this piking i have found very difficult to come to terms with, i suppose anyone would, but myself i feel has felt it more having gone fishing for the past 3 years with my uncle week in and week out.  Unloading the gear from the car Garry kindly passed me over the Fox guide to modern fishing book, at this time i had no idea what a real gem this book was, whilst checking the gear another car pulled up and it was Ste.  Ste is a guy who along with Garry i remember from my days on the Warrington anglers Facebook page, both genuine anglers who i hold in the highest esteem who always posted their captures on Facebook for all to see and are one of the few anglers who did this from what i can remember.  To understand this you have to understand that the warrington facebook page had over 300 live members at the time yet there was only around 10-15 maximum ever posted any information the rest just sat in the background taking, taking and taking a bit more, gleaming off other anglers captures for their own personal interests to try and fast track their angling exploits, either that or being hyper critical of any photos posted and whenever i check back in these nothing much has changed to that effect, maybe some of them do more fishing on the Internet than on the bank, anyhow i digress, again.

Three of us on the bank and it was almost like a pyramid of experience as Ste who has many years of piking experience had helped Garry out with his piking and below that Garry had helped me out so although i had done quite a bit of river piking i felt a little out of my depth to say the least and i suppose my nerves showed with the amount of talking i did ha-ha.  All six rods out Ste loaned a bait from Garry while his defrosted, quite cheap as he loaned it for free and we all settled into chewing the fat on all things piking.

From the off it was apparent the pike where active with plenty of swirls and pike crashing into fry on top giving away the pike where certainly feeding mood and our optimism levels rose.  Garry was the first of us to get a run as his float drifted slowly along the top before slowly disappearing way, a strong strike and the fish was on and putting up one hell of a scrap.  The fish in the bank it was swiftly unhooked and photos where taken by all and the fish was returned to its watery home.  The fish was beautifully marked and it surprised me just how vibrant the colours on this fish where and at 8lb 9oz a solid fish and start to the session.

Not long after returning this fish, well i think we were still checking the pics of Garry's fish we spotted that my float fished sardine was getting some interest as the float bobbed slightly and began moving off, i gave it a bit of time before striking hard and the fish was on and felt a nice fish that we got a few good glimpses off during the fight and then around midway into the battle the fish was off.  I lowered the bait straight back down and to my amazement the fish again picked up the bait and moved off but dropped the bait, a few twitches saw this fish of around 6-8lb lunge at the fish but after leaving the rod a good half hour nothing materialised.

Ste was next to get a run as a fish took the bait so confidently if literally swam off with the bait under a overhanging tree branch and we could see the fish come up in the water as it began to turn the fish ready to eat.  Ste struck and you saw a mixture of green and metallic blue as the fish lit up on the far bank in a stand of pure defiance but the game was well and truly up for this fish as it was played into the waiting landing net to be unhooked.

Garry was the next to connect with a fish and i began to regret my missed fish a little as i knew this feeding spell was not guaranteed to last and i knew i had missed a big opportunity to put a fish on the bank.  At this stage i began to think about that missed fish on the Sunday session and if my set up was wrong.  Garry s fish was again a lovely marked fish and its amazing looking at the pictures of this fish now as i do not recall it having so many lumps and bumps on it at the time, it was at this point me and Ste began to worry as we caught glimpses of Garry erecting signs saying the bait that was doing the business was now going up to around 100 quid a fish.

A quick check of our watches and we were amazed to see it was only 9.30am, four runs and three pike in a hour and half fishing we were doing quite well and it was great for my understanding of dead baiting at this point as Garry and Ste both took time to show me different methods and floats they have at their disposal and it really opened my eyes to just how refined pike fishing can be.  We were stood at Ste's rod around 20 yards from my rods and it after scanning back to my rods constantly while chatting i noticed my left hand float not bobbing but tearing off along the top, i sprinted that bank like Usain Bolt and full of adrenalin i picked the rod up and i knew straight away there was no need to give this fish line so i quickly wound into the fish and struck for all my worth and was met with solid resistance unlike anything i had felt so far this winter the rod unlike other battles hooped over as the fish stayed down deep demanding me to give it line and as this was not a fish i wanted to come off i grudgingly obliged as the fish made run after run.  I should have not been so generous given the amount of snags in residence but at the time i was trying to concentrate on not shaking ha-ha.  The battle like with all nice fish you catch felt like it lasted a lifetime but in reality it was probably no longer than a minute before the fish was in the landing net and all i can recall then was a feeling of relief and either Garry or Ste saying "you got a nice double".  The were not wrong a 13lb 8oz fish i was over the moon.  I must say at this point a big thank you to Ste and Garry for the shots they took on their cameras and sent me later on, thank you.

This is a moment when you know you are out with true genuine anglers as what happened next meant a great deal to me, both Ste and Garry came over congratulated me on the fish and shook my hand.  Its a thing myself, Azza and my dad do regular when either a nice fish is caught or a fish you know means a hell of a lot to the angler involved and it was a really nice gesture of them to do that, thank you guys.  I must say the capture of this fish took a while to settle in and it was not till later on in the day i snook away from the group to sit and look at the pictures on my phone it began to settle in that i had just caught my a new still water personal best pike and in a solid double a fish i never dreamed i would catch this year, from blanks to lost fish to a new personal best show the highs and lows of a weeks pike fishing.

The next half hour we all caught personal best branches that came literally one after another with i think Ste taking the unsavoury award of "log of the session".  The branches unhooked and rested in the margin before being slung up the bank we awaited more action and at this point with us all having landed a fish felt the session could not have gone any better.  The fish began striking under the water again and from no where Ste  pulled out a rod and was suddenly flicking twitched dead baits just below the surface, think it was second cast he had a take and connected with the 5th fish of the session and a fish that rewarded Ste for his quick thinking and actions, still only 11am we were surprised the spell had lasted so long.

Again the fish released the fishing stories rolled freely in the conversation from rivers, to ponds and gudgeon to carp all manor of stores where shared and it was during one of these chats that Garry's bite alarm sparked into life that saw Garry sprinting the bank as i had earlier in the morning i had sympathy for the lad running in wellies as had earlier and we man Ste joined Garry to net a fish of 9lb 7oz that shocked us all did not go over 10lb as it was easily the longest fish of the day again its colours where reminiscent of those from a river the colours where fantastic. A cracking fish and move us onto 6 fish for the session.

The action then really slowed up completely for a good hour or so and it was not till around 12.30 the next run came to Garry's rod, me and Ste considered converscating Garry's bait while he was playing the fish as it was getting out of hand and suggestions if underhand tactics where suggested from all corners.  Joking aside this fish turned out to be the fish of the day it had some of the best marking i have ever seen in a pike its tail was so vibrant and colourful and i remember how jet black its marking where in the flesh and just what a vast array of colours it had from yellows to green and blues it was a fantastic example of the species the nicest pike i have seen colour wise that has not come from a river.

The session sadly ground to halt as we all tried more than one or two last casts hoping for a final fish but none where forthcoming.  We left the bank over the moon not only with the fish caught but it was great to share a morning with two really genuine anglers and i am sure this wont be the last session we have out together piking, maybe not this season but in years to come as if this warm mild weather continues it could see the pike spawn sooner rather than later, bring on the frosts!.

till next week its tight lines from me



Saturday, 8 February 2014

Deadbaiting for Pike: Watercraft Saves Blank

A warm welcome to this week blog update.  In last weeks update i mentioned the horror headlines published in the press about apocalyptic storms due to hit the country, well give yourselves a big pat on the back as you all survived the storm of a century.  As you will read later on in the blog my personal experience of the conditions on the bank where that it was quite mild, granted windy but very very mild.  (at least on Sundays trip, this introduction is being wrote before my Wednesday trip).

The main thing that caught my attention over the weekend was the occurrence of exceptionally high tides around the north west of England.  These tides would normally see the rivers rise quite significantly anyway but given the fact our local rivers are already swollen with water from the constant precipitation we heave experienced recently these high tides could and did in some cases like the river Dee see them burst their banks and flood into the surrounding fields.

link to River Mersey Bog post video:

My plan on Saturday was to travel through to the River Dee system around midday to try and capture some footage of what the river looks like in flood, given the lack of rain i saw little danger in doing this as i knew the roads there would be far enough away from the river to put me at risk and also using knowledge of the area i knew a few spots where i could get some pictures without having to get on the actual river banking.  This plan was unfortunately cut short by the fact my car failed its MOT test on the Friday and needed a job doing on it that the garage could only fit me in for on the Monday so the trip was cancelled completely.  I did however manage to gather some footage of the River Mersey during a exceptionally high tide which saw the gantry lock gates overflowing with water from the river Mersey system, it was that high!  I have included a link to the blog post containing the video above this paragraph.

The footage i wanted for the River Dee was just for my own personal interest of what the river would actually look like in these exceptional conditions.  Visiting a river that is flood that you fish regular but only normal conditions is something i would suggest to any river angler, of course common sense about location and not getting on the actual flood bank is needed here, when i first was taken the river by my dad he made a point of us going through when the river was really high and unfishable just so he could show me how powerful the river is and how we need to think of our safety at all times when on her banks as no matter how scenic and poetic we all get about the rivers we fish if we treat them lightly and are not vigilant they are places where you can easily find yourself in trouble.  My dad has taught me almost everything i know in angling and this is by far one of his greatest and most memorable lessons.

To give people who don't live locally to this river an idea of the scale of these levels the normal summer level of this stretch where the chart above is taken is between 4.5m and 4.7m in winter this is is normally increased to around 5m-7m depending on water fall.  This weekend saw the river at around 8.2m before the tides hit and during the height of this tide the river was reported to have reached 10.21m by some sources.   The river I'm this place normally overflows her banks around the 8.5-9m mark so this would have certainly seen her flooding at this location and as this is quite a deep area compared to lower down i imagine the meadows and into Chester it was in the farmers fields, certainly there was no hope of getting on any river this weekend.

In last weeks blog i talked a bit about my thoughts on the dredging of our river to reduce the risk and the devastation of the flooding mentioned above and regular followers of the blog will know i find it hard to get my thoughts down on the page so they reflect exactly what i am trying to say.  Most of the time i base my opinions on what i "think" more on the science of what will happen and it was great for me to come across the following you tube video this week that ass the the science behind what I was trying to say about the increased erosion caused by dredging, a very interesting video indeed for any keen river enthusiast to watch.

youtube video  of dredging.

Last week i talked a bit about my aims to reduce my weekly expenditure on angling both from a bait and petrol point of view and as i have mentioned before the purchasing of the Northwich Angling Card will reduce my petrol bill ten fold but it is the piking i have been doing of late where i feel year on year i will see the benefit as the outlay of bait is so cheap.  When you put it into actual monetary terms the savings are astronomical over time, a normal one day trip for me to the River Dee trotting for roach and dace would see me purchasing 2 pints of maggots at a cost of £2.50 a pint, 1-2 pints of uncooked hemp normally £2.50 in total and some weekends half a pint of casters which are normally £2 what this means in short is my expenditure for bait for one week is leaving not much change out of £10.00 and this across a whole months fishing you are looking at a bait bill of around 40-50 pound.  This comes in stark contrast to the pike fishing where my expenditure on bait for the whole month of January was 20 sprats - £1.27, 5 mackerel - 2.50 and 10 sardines £3.00 this along with even the purchases going into this month still would equal at most £15 on bait with enough bait still my freezer to probably see me through February.

The contrast in £100 compared to a possible two month outlay on piking of £15 not to mention the piking is a lot cheaper on petrol i feel could prove to be a deciding factor in the ratio of River Dee trips to pike fishing trips come next winter.

I buy all my pike baits form my local Supermarket fish counter and although this may seem to some a little too up market for just feeding to fish you can pick up some real bargains if you go at the right time of day.  The key is to remember that fish like sprats and sardines come to think of it are not the most popular fish on sale at the fish stall and as such you normally find these fish are left spare come the end of a day and are either greatly reduced or if you speak to the fishmonger and explain whet there for they will sometimes do you a deal.  This tidy bunch of ten sardines set me back i think £2.80 odd in total and with the sprats you could probably buy close to 40 sprats for that price.  What i do then is break down the fish into bags so i can just take a session sized bag of bait with me each time i go out this not also means you can store the bait a lot easier for freezing so it doesn't become damaged but also you are not constantly freezing and refreezing your entire batch of bait, each time i go out i grab a bag of each bait and put it in my cool box, below is two packets of session sized sprats ready for the bait freezer.

This mindset to save money in my fishing will almost certainly be overwritten by the need to run a stick float down a river so as soon as that river Dee gets close to right i will be out on there trotting gear under one arm and a pike rod under the other and i would hazard a guess that some of my annual leave in work might be under threat as well.  In all honesty though the river is going to take a while to be right as they say but i still live in hope.

And with that we move onto this weeks fishing:

Sunday 02nd Feb - Dead baiting for pike: Watercraft saves blank

  The threat of the apocalyptic storm if the century failed to materialise into anything more than a gentle breeze up' north as they say and all day Saturday whilst walking the local waterways with my daughter i had a date with Mr pike fixed in my thoughts and i began in my mind to set about a plan of action for the session the next day.

I started off on the location i caught the first double a week or so back it is a spot that has gave me 4 runs and 2 fish so far this season so i always arrive with confidence.  The venue containing better quality fish than other locations i fish called for a more substantial bait so it was away with the sprats and on with the smelly mackerel tail section on my first rod and a sardine on the second rod, both baits i have had a fish on so confidence in the baits was high.  The rods in i settled into the swim and waited for the action to develop.

On this location all the action has come early on and even if i get a fish i have had no action past 10am so once that time has passed i do tend to start getting itchy feet.  The water clarity was spot on in my opinion and i had no fears that the pike would struggle to see my bait and it was whilst testing a bait in the margin i noticed i could see my bait quite clearly on the bottom so i quickly changed my rig and bait and fished a sprat suspended at half depth letting the wind drift it around hoping to cover as much area as possible as i knew any fish lying hard on the bottom would at least see this bait above them with ease.

  My plan for the day if nothing developed in the first swim was to at least try two completely new areas and by 11am i felt i had covered the first spot as well as i could have so i decided to move on and this is where i came across another love with this pike fishing in the fact moving was so easy as once the roods where reeled in it was a case of grabbing the landing net pop on my rucksack and i was all set to move and of course once i arrived at the next swim it was as simple as plumbing the depth and attaching the baits again and i was fishing again.  I gave spot two and spot three a hour a piece without and interest from a pike so i decided in a completely different venue with the view that if this was poor to fall back on the venue where i have had some success with the jacks.

The next location proved to be more trouble than it was worth as no sooner had i cast in a line of watercraft approaching regatta proportions sailed through the swim one after another leaving the swim resembling a hot chocolate than a pike swim.  I guess this is just part and parcel if this particular spot so i gave it the hour before making the 30 minute journey to the final location of the day.

The final location of the day is a place i have not blanked on since i have got to grips with the swims and have found an area where there are a good number of pike in residence and this coupled with help on tactics from a friend has seen this as my banker location of late.  I set up in the usual location and out went two baits and with it my final hopes for the day.

The baits fishing i began to scan the water for signs of where the fish could be and this is very important as just because you find the pike in one place on one trip does not mean you will find them there the next.  Settled into the swim the first thing i noticed was the wind had slightly changed direction and was blowing slightly different direction to previous trips.  The rods recast again after 40 minutes i noticed a grebe i had seen on previous trips moving around the margins looking for its dinner and unlike past trips where i have been able to get a good luck at this bird it has been so close to the grebe was working the end of the wind further down.

These two factors together in the wind which i thought the bait fish might have followed and the fact this was confirmed by a predator working another area made my mind up and i quickly pulled the rods in a moved to a new location.  I had 30 minutes before i had to leave so it was all or nothing.  The reality was it took no more than 5 minutes before the float slowly bobbed and gently moved away before submerging, i struck hard and solid and instantly knew i was into a small jack as the fish came straight to the top, was i disappointed?  Not a chance.

The fish on the bank i instantly recognised the fish as a fish i had caught before in fact it was the very first fish i caught from this venue this year and people who have followed this piking would remember it made up part of a double take on both rods.  The reason i recognised it was the fact two of its gills where detached and it was also a very small jack.  I always like it when you have a recapture a fish and get to see how they are doing and getting along but this one was tinged with some sadness as since me catching it last time it has sustained some damage to its back, i cannot tell if it is from a cormorant a heron or is actually just some type of infection but it was sad to see him not dong to well.  Luckily for him he is currently living in a location with a lot of jacks where as if there was any bigger pike he may be on the menu come spawning time with him being in such poor condition.

The pike released i had one more dropped run before i called it a day and led by my belly after a phone call from my missus saying a Sunday dinner was almost cooked i headed home happy and confident that my reading of the conditions had seen me winkle a fish out on a hard day on the bank.

Wednesday - Great afternoon learning from and watching how a dedicated piker goes about it.

Since starting to explore this new branch of fishing that is dead baiting for pike i have been lucky enough to have been helped by Garry, a guy i first spoke to a year or so back on the old Warrington Anglers Facebook Page and over the past few weeks he has helped me no end with little hints and tips and these little tricks that can make the difference when it comes to pike fishing.  We agreed this week to meet up on a local venue for a joint session chasing pike. It is fair to say over the past few years writing this blog i have had a few emails asking me if i could take people to locations where i had caught X Y and Z fish that i  have featured and although i always try my best to help out people who ask me for help it was so refreshing for someone to actually go out of their way to help me and actually ask me if i fancied meeting up for a piking trip.

Wednesday was the day we set and in my mind there was no problem with that as the car was in for its MOT on Friday well in time for the session.  Disaster hit though with the car failing its MOT and problems getting the part in saw me not getting my car back till midday in the Wednesday.  I quickly loaded the car and set off to the spot we had decided to fish and it was great to see that Gary had already had two fish before my arrival, a fish if 9lb and a fish of 14lb if i remember rightly, oh and i promised i wouldn't forget and i nearly did, a PB branch of 9lb 9oz and 9dr :-) this i am reliably informed beats his previous best non fish capture of a Tesco trolley,joking aside both fish where crackers and fish i would gave been over the moon to have not only caught but seen in the flesh,pictures of these filled me with confidence for the remainder of the session.

Although no fish came to our rods all afternoon it was great chewing the fat on all things angling related from piking to river fishing and as far out as tips on cooking hemp.  For me personally it was great to see how someone who has been pike fishing these locations for a few years goes about their pike fishing i can honestly say i learnt so much about piking in those few hours talking about piking.  I wont go into too much detail as i am sure what Gary does and the extra work he puts into his piking to are the defining line to his success but it was safe to say when i have been leaving the bank thinking i had done all i could have done then compared to what Gary does i am falling far short.  I was also, not relived as that is the wrong word, but more at ease with my piking so far as he told me he had been out 5 or 6 times and blanked, i have been going out expecting to catch every time and thinking what i am doing is wrong if i didn't catch and with piking its just not the case blanking is part of the course with this type of fishing.

I mentioned a few weeks back about etiquette in the pike fishing world and this is another example of this as Gary invited me to a location where he feels there will be pike, done his work with depths and features and has found them there.  This venue though is somewhere you wont see me fishing this coming weekend when i go out pike fishing as that is an area where he has done all the work so in respect of that you would not then go and fish this location, unless you of course are doing another joint session on there like we have planned to this coming week.  It is not even a pike fishing etiquette as such, more being respectful in general.

The session ended and i headed off to one of the spots i have been fishing on the way home and fished into dusk with no takes.  I am really looking forward to this weekends and next weeks session chasing pike.  All that remains is for me to again thank Garry for all his help these past weeks and with that its tight lines till next week.

till next time its tight lines


Sunday, 2 February 2014

River Mersey Big High Tide 01.02.14

Took a quick drive down the the Mersey Estuary yesterday.  This tide was exceptionally high and is the first time i have seen most of the marshes flooded and the water coming through the gantry locks.


Saturday, 1 February 2014

Dredging Good? or Bad? and Limited piking time

A warm welcome to this week's blog update.   Well in technical terms it is now an age since i last visited a river with any real enthusiasm about catching a few fish and i must admit it is a scratch that needs itching badly.  A change is as good as a rest and the piking has been a complete change and i will continue to venture out piking until the point where the bites dry up and the fish move on to spawn and if the unthinkable happens and the rivers actually drop to a point we can see the tops of the pegs i will certainly be hoping to head out for a trip just for the pike of course after i get my much needed dace fix.

Reading the online papers during my dinner break in work i was not at all surprised to read that this past month has been the wettest in the last 100 years and in true Internet fashion the next story down threatened of a,how did they word it APOCALYPTIC Storm bridged "rages" towards the UK threatening "killer" 150mph winds, rain and snow.  Now listening to these scare mongering stories will certainly send every angler mad if your really read into these each week and if i had a penny for every time they reported the storm of a century was due to hit and i have gone out fishing to be met with clear skies then i would be very wealthy but i am also not so short sighted to not see what is in front of me and although these storms may not live up to the hyped up descriptions the sky most days is heavy with rain and the odd bit of hail that certainly tells me we are still a good way off getting back onto the banks of any of the big local rivers.

The constant deluge over the past month has seen a river i watch closely the river dee in almost constant flood conditions with the levels getting close to a fish able level only for the level to shoot back up again.  At this moment in time i am losing hope of getting onto the banks before the close of the season.

This coming weekend the River Dee is set to be hit by some really large tides and this along with an already swollen river will see the levels reach up to around 10.25, this i just a number of course but when put in comparison the the normal summer level of 4.5m you can get an idea of just how dramatic this flooding is.  Flooding is a topic that is all over the news at the moment and causing a lot of controversy among the angling world with David Cameron vowing to dredge the rivers to help reduce the flooding in future.

The main aim for any flood reduction by the EA is to basically get the water from the hills and surroundings through the water system and into the Sea as quick as possible and there are a number of ways to achieve this.  The main one i see on the rivers i fish in the north west and wales is the removal of fallen trees from the river and trees along the banks of the river that could come down in floods and cause the water to be held back linger in the river and this increase the chance of flooding.  Lets look at this one first, don't get me wrong i understand why it is done but this act also removes the habitat from a river that young fish use for cover from predators and also removes the cover for the bigger fish to also evade predation the other major issue with this is also the fact that the tree roots also hold the bank together so although the removal of the trees gets the water through the system quicker it also mean these weaker exposed banks are open to dramatic erosion.  I remember learning about the in GCSE geography how deforestation along the Ganges has a dramatic effect on the flooding and deposits of large amounts of silt in the delta which makes it really surprising this action is still carried out here.

below is a video of the river dee a took a few weeks ago and you can see the evidence of recent felling of trees aimed at reducing flooding, as you can see the river flows fast and obstacle free and although ti may seem many trees remain i remember this stretch being quite overgrown a few years ago.

One of the other ways the Agencies try to reduce the flooding is by dredging and this is the main practise that is up for debate at the moment.  The act sees the removal of silt and gravel from the river via a dredger, this action increases the depth of the river leaving the river further within its banks and allows a larger cubic amount of water to be held within the river before it bursts its banks.  This is in my opinion the most logical method and the issues and concerns are when the action is not carried out in a detailed and structured manor.  The main concern is that not enough research is done into the natural spawning grounds of fish, on most rivers there are certain areas where great numbers if fish will gather on a yearly basis to spawn and these can be different for each fish, chub and barbel will head for shallow gravel beds while dace on the rivers i fish normally shoal up on the deeper sand banks prior to spawning and it is this technical research that needs to be carried out prior to dredging and also the work done afterwards to replace the habitat back to how it was before the dredging.

Dredging carried out well can actually have a good impact on fish and the aquatic life in the river as the in increased flow and removal of silt can open up new areas for spawning for fish and actually benefit the life in the river, done badly it can destroy breeding grounds by removing the gravel and making the river too deep can slow the river speed down resulting in even more silt being deposited in effect clogging the breeding runs with silt.   Balance and research is the key and fingers crossed it is done in the right manor.

I am a regular visitor to my local tackle shops for my week to week purchases such as hooks, maggots and most of my terminal tackle but there are also times when i am browsing the Internet and want to take my time and pick a few more specialist items and for this you will normally see me using this website this is a website i have used for the last few years and i have got to say in that time my orders have been processed really fast and delivery has been prompt.   Unlike most of the praise you see for companies on the Internet I receive no financial benefit for mentioning this company on my blog and there have been no contact between ourselves but what i do believe in is credit where credit is due and this company have been faultless so far for me and i thought it was worth a mention.

The aim for myself is to try and build up a separate tackle box away from my silver fishing for just my piking and carp fishing so i can just pick up this gear and head out at any time rather than having to constantly move tackle form my seat box to my rucksack depending on what i am doing.  The box isn't looking to bad at the moment and it is just a few purchases for the carping off being there now.  In my younger years i would have just gone out and bought this all at once but with a family to support now it has to be built up over time and the good thing about the pike fishing gear is that most of the items like floats, weights and beads will last year to year, once the main gear is in place there should be only traces, odd breakages and of course bait to buy which is great a shave i have mentioned before i am all about trying to reduce my week to week expenditure on angling this year.

Moving onto to this weeks angling:

Not enough Time!!

With the change in my partners working patterns it has seen my fishing timetable change and for the better as it gives me a whole day of fun with my little girl exploring the world.  I always want her to be a person who loves nature and the world around her and she is at a beautiful age now where she is starting to notice these things, birdie, doggy and pussy cat are all common words now, being a dad is the best feeling in the world.

Most weeks this will leave me with all day Sunday to wet a line and i had plans to make the most of a whole day pike fishing but this weekend was the weekend my office was changing location and we had the option to go in on the Sunday to make sure everything was fine and working ready for business as usual on the Monday, participation in this was not compulsory so my my plan was to judge my participation in this by how good the fishing was going.  My dad being the trooper he is said he would join me on the bank for a bit of company and i think when making this proposal he had not looked out the window as outside the wind was howling and the trees bent double, not one for the weather my dad, but after nipping back in for the umbrella and another coat he was all set to go. 

We hit the bank with pike being our chosen quarry and as seen above quickly set up a shelter to block the ice cold wind from ourselves.  The venue being the most protected one we could think of was always going to be tough to last all day in and by dinner time i was fish less and the constant wind and rain had taken its effects on us both we decided to have half an hour in a new spot closer to the car on the way back.  This new spot again provided no action and we called it a day and i headed off to work.

Till next time

wishing you all tight lines,