Saturday, 27 December 2014

River Dane Stick Float: Bumper Chub Nets 'N' Move Pays Off

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update I  hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  Well we are fast approaching the end of 2014 and most blogs out there are now thinking about writing their summery of their angling year.  I must say 2014 has been some year for me for both trotting and of course predators but as a River angler i feel my year runs, not the conventional 12 months, but March to March when the River Close so i will be doing my summery of the season then.  I blog i am already excited to put together.

In this weeks update the fishing comes from the River Dane where we find the river in perfect nick but the temperatures well into the minus figures, the results of this session are more than worth reading on for.  The next day i was of course out piking for the morning and again it was nice to get a few pike on the bank and keep my total ticking over towards the challenge of 100 in a season.

The introduction this weeks covers our River Dane campaign and what where we are at with discovering this intimate river and a general look at how me and my uncle tackle new rivers over the year, a little bit on the yearly carp stocking charade from Warrington Anglers and a little piece on my fishing plans for the coming weeks over Christmas.

With that its onto the Update:

New River Need A Plan....

I have lost count how many times i have seen the following question on Forums and social Media pages "I have recently moved next to a river, how do i tackle it".  In my early years river fishing with my uncle the River Dee was the river we dedicated all of our trips too and week in week out we travelled to her banks and unless she was flooded or unfishable we wet a line.

To start off with we did our home work by locating all the EA water level stations along the rivers length and on all the major tributaries feeding the main river and every time we headed out i saved a copy of the water levels to go with the trips we were fishing.  Sometimes the level station might not bee in the length you are fishing, sometimes it can be miles away, but the key is remembering that the level at certain stations is all relative to the stretch you are fishing.  An example being i know if the level at Farndon on Dee is below 4.75 i knew the gravel bars at almere where not under water the two places are a good distance apart but you can see how one level lets you know information about the other when you learn your river.

The next stage of our plan is always to fish a wide range of water and fish as many locations along the river as possible taking in the deeper lower reaches as well as the middle reaches to try and locate the fish.  The dace especially is a fish that does shoal up in winter but in summer spreads far and wide but what we did find was these dace shoals would also return to the same areas in summer and finding these hot spots proved invaluable to us and to this day the fish still return to the same spring and summer spots before heading to the well known winter spots to form the huge shoals the river is famous for.

Dont get me wrong it took a long time and many many blanks fishing stretches that looked like they would hold fish but in truth did not to pin down the hot spots along the river.  Once these areas where known we then had a range of river to go at where we know good shoals of fish lived and we set about learning how the river fished in different conditions.  Many people will tell you that the river Dee is not worth fishing if it is over 6.5m high but you would be wrong to stick to these set in stone laws as i recall a session when we fished the river at 7.5m and bagged up on dace taking 20lb each from a swollen tributary on the stick float.  The key to this was knowing the dace where in the area in hue numbers and that come the main river rising they would all push into the slower tributary that had back up.

 I guess learning on such a big river gave us the confidence to then take this these principles onto the small river dane and have confidence in our plan, at the end of the day most rivers are the same just on a smaller or larger scale the same featured such as back eddys, under cut banks, smooth shallow dace glides and long deep roach swims are still there.   So far this season we have fished all the lower and middle reaches of the Dane and have already located areas that hold nice Roach, chublets and perch and we are currently moving into our first winter fishing this river as our main river so we hope to learn areas that will fish in high water and also see if the better chub in the 3-4lb bracket come more to play as the cold sets in and they come to the feed.

One thing is for sure to learn a river you need to get out there on the banks both summer and winter and sometimes you learn a lot more from the blanks than you do the sessions you bag up and it comes easy.  The road may be hard and sometimes you think why go here when we can go somewhere we know we will catch but in the long run it pays and this year we have reaped the rewards of having a good knowledge of the River Dee, Dane and Bollin and is the main reason the blanks on the rivers this year have been few and far between.  In short its worth the effort in the ling run.

Got To Keep Them Carpers Happy....

Reading Franks Collumn again this week a post came up i had been expecting for some time.  It was the yearly communal invite to come and rejoice on the banks of the local carp waters as the latest batch of carp where stocked into the waters.  Some people may laugh at the words genetically modified but the fact of the matter is in this day and age you can literally go these places and if you want a fully scaled mirror carp or a linear mirror carp then the answer is "of course sir we can breed you one of those".  Long gone are the times when these fish where the jewels and one in a life time fish you caught and admired and personally i think you lose the whole magic of such a magnificent creature when there more the norm than the exception.

At the time of me being excluded from the WAA facebook for merely acquiring the numbers of carp stocked from the Chairman's own blog and using these numbers to out my point across that the numbers of carp being stocked to silver fish was grossly unfair, i guess its easier to adopt a dictatorship mentality than actually listen to a member.  I mean like at the time of being kicked of i think i counted over 650 individual carp stocked and that was two yearly stockings ago now so i guess we must be fast approaching the stocking of 800-900 carp now.

I guess its only fitting at this most biblical time of year that the chairman and his band of disciples can now claim to achieve the feet of waling on water as there must be that many carp in Sandiway and Grey mist that you know must be able to walk on their backs there are that many.  I wonder how many people turning up to witness the stocking will then relieve our chairman of begging for catch reports by actually owning up when they catch these fish....hmmmm it would be interesting to count, yes lets count, fingers and thumbs at ready...doubt i will need my toes.

Don't let my moaning form time to time about these carp lead you to believe i am anti carp, i actually enjoy fishing for the species.  My upset is around the equality of the club and how just a small amount of the money spent on these huge amount of carp could do so much for one or two waters silver fish population.  I mean what does the average 20lb carp cost these days 400-500 quid??  you but 3 fish in roach and you would have a healthy weight of fish to stock the other pools with.  I said a few years ago High legh needed silvers stocking when they put the carp in as the fishery is not balanced and hey ho i read a week or so ago a WAA angler complaining he was blanking on there.  Well hey ho mucka the carp have shut down in the cold and on the long cold blank just think of the fun you could have had on a light whip for roach.

Merry Christmas.....

With the birth of our little boy imminent it may mean this is my last blog update before Christmas and maybe before 2015 arrives.  2014 has been a great year on the bank but it has been an equally fantastic year off the bank and it has been great to meet so many anglers who read my weekly blog both on social media. emails and on the bank.  I have also met a lot of people this year from the angling world with business like Beechwood Baits, Pondip, Water to Go, ALDI, Go Outdoors and the BBC all being fantastic people to work with on projects.

I would like to wish you and your Families a Very Merry Christmas a Happy New Year and a Safe Festive period.  May 2015 bring you all the tightest of lines and Success in your ventures.

On to this weeks fishing....

River Dane Stick Float: Bumper Chub Nets and Move Pays Off...

After a long hard week in work 4.30Pm on Friday had arrived and the weekend beckoned she had been a long time coming.  There had been little rain through the week so the River Dane was in fine fettle and after just dropping down from flood conditions we expected a good days sport the next morning.  That evening i spent a few hours on the bank with Garry fishing for pike at a well lit location but unfortunately none where forthcoming but it was great to back out on the bank with him as December is by far the busiest time of the year for him and bank time has been at a minimum so it was great to meet up again.

i recently came across a feature on Blogspot that allows you to schedule your blog posts to go live a certain time and Friday at 6pm was the first time i utilised this tool so sat on the bank i had a quick check and bang on time it went live and all updated fine so that will certainly be a feature i will be using more its just a pitty the pike where not as punchual in their appearance.

That evening i spent a few hours knocking up some rigs for the session on the river the next day.  With rivers and especially with trotting a float where you can really be hunting out snags this preparation the night before saves so much time on the bank.  I normally make up between  4 and 10 hook lengths the night before a session and if and when i want to change its a simple as attaching the hook length loop to loop.

Leaving the bustle of the town behind on the morning of the session myself and my uncle both commented on how mild the temperature was again despite it being a clear sky.  A quick glance at the temperature gauge on my car showed 40oc.  Passing out of the town the temperature dropped with every mile of the journey and then plummeted as we entered the dane valley to a water freezing 28oc. Luckily with flowing water you get some extra scope with water freezing so we where really confident when we pulled up in swims we had caught good nets from before the recent floods.

The first hour and half and i had one small chublet to show for my efforts and i was sat mulling what was wrong when my uncle visited my peg having caught 3 proper chub in the same time.  This let me know the fish where on the feed and it was the peg i was fishing not the fish that was the problem with the lack of success so far.  Whether you subscribe to the theory that frosts or the amount of day light hours cause fish to migrate to different swims on rivers there is no doubt that silver fish certainly do and it was quite possible that the fish that where holding in my swim all summer where now residing in their winter haunts elsewhere, it was time for a move.

If fishing was ever easy it would be boring and at the age of 30 i am thinking that you could waste a lifetime trying to work out fish and still come up miles short, work this one out.  Ste turned up for a chat and being the good man he is he helped me move my gear to a new swim.  The swim i left was 4-5ft deep and normally held a good head of roach and chublets.  I moved literally 40 yards to a straight glide and plumed up the swim, exactly the same depth as my previous one so no need to alter my depth.  Within 10 trots down i had netted around 6-7 fish and it left both me and Ste shocked how you could leave on swim so close and move and then be straight into fish.

Ste left to have a chat with Azza and i continued to catch well in the swim i had moved to.  The time was 12 and upon Ste and Azzas return around a hour later i had amassed a nice net of fish weighing around 5-6lb and was well on my way to a good net.  Azza had continued to build on his early chub by putting some more quality chevins in his keep net.

Ste left us both catching fish and during the remaining hours the swim i was in went from strength to strength as the fish really came on the feed, nothing massive but great sport and fun and like always with this river it was great to catch such a variety of species with Roach, Dace, Chub, skimmers, perch and even a rogue ide making up the net.

It was one of those sessions where the morning when i was not catching dragged and was hard work and when i found the fish in the afternoon time flew bye and before i knew it the light was closing in and it was time to weigh the nets.  My uncle was first and my god did he nail it with a 25.5lb net of all chub.  It was a net that was great to see and as i said in the introduction this is our first season on this river and we are already building a picture of where the fish hold in winter.

uncles net and weight

My net went 15.5lb and was a net i was really made up with as it came in around 3.5 hours of fishing.

my net

Few Hours For Mr Pike...

The next morning i had a few hours to burn and i decided to drop in on a spot where i had caught some pike recently in the hope i would find one or two pike willing to take my float fished smelt dead bait.

It was a set up of one rod fished on a float fished dead bait while the other i fished on my small wobble rod.  The first 20-30 minutes passed by with no sign of a fish in the clear water and it was beginning to feel like time for a move when right under my feet a flash of olive green and yellow propelled from no where and engulfed my free lined smelt.......GOT YOU i thought as i watched the pike turn the bait and it disappear into its mouth.  I could quite clearly see it was a small jack so once the smelt was out of sight I struck immediately to set the hooks in the roof of its mouth.  The fight on the small light spinning rod is always good no matter when the size of the fish and with the drag set light so not to pull the hooks it was fun to see the pike pulling line from the reel.

not the biggest pike in the world but most welcome.

With the first pike of the day on the bank you always breathe a sigh of relief and its almost as if the pressure is off and you can relax.  An early fish is always welcome on the pike trips although sometimes it can be a kiss of death as its the only bite you get on some trips.

I may have only been dead baiting for pike for a few months but i have certainly began to piece together some theories from my trips for these fish.  Two stand out ones are 1) there is certainly a pike feeding spell during the day where the pike seem to switch on and on some days all your bites will come in that short window 2) With jack pike i believe if they move off fast its to get the meal they have found away from the other pike in the area before the meal attracts attentions so they can sulk off and eat it in peace.   The fish that i caught first certainly did not hang around after it nailed the wobbled bait so i was confident of more action.

A quick glance at the static dead bait rod is all that is required and with each glance your hopes are heightened and then dashed as the float remains motionless.  Then out of the corner of my eye the static dead bait float began to show signs of a bite developing so i calmly brought in the wobbles bait and slowly tip toed past the float to pick up my rod and waited for the right time to set the hooks.  The result of the short fight under my feet was another jack pike but a fish is a fish in this game when piking and i will take them while they keep coming.

Unfortunately despite many moves this was all the action for the morning session out for pike and i left the bank feeling a little disheartened as i had caught two pike really early on but spent the next few hours chasing their tails.

Well that is it for this weeks blog update.  It was due to go out before Christmas but since the birth of our little boy all safe and well on December 19th time has literally not been there.

Till next time

Tight Lines


Friday, 12 December 2014

Stick Float Fishing the River Dee And Poaching Joke Fines..

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you well and your nets wet and not just from the precipitation we have been experiencing of late.  Well December 2014 is going to be a month to remember for myself i feel as just this Monday i turned 30 and also there is around a week and a half as i write this till the arrival of our second child, exciting times indeed.

In this update we travel back to the River Dee and have a crack at her in normal winter conditions hoping to find the sport as good as the previous week.  The next day i had a short pike session, would i get my one chance i go out to get? and more importantly would i take it?  In this update i also cover the terrible news i read in this weeks Anglers Mail around fines given to poachers, an update on our pike challenge and also a bit on my birthday and turning the age of 30.

On to this weeks blog update...

Your Taking The.....

This week i picked up a copy of the anglers mail as i wanted to read the Action Replay piece that featured a fellow piking pirate, Ste Daley.  The piece as i expected was great reading and i was made up i had picked up a copy.  Once i had read the piece in question i delved deeper into the other articles in this copy and came across the story on page 6-7 around court fines for poachers caught in the closed season and the fines handed to them by the court, see picture below.

So basically to sum up the story the EA catch 4 anglers fishing in the closed season with over 20 kilos of eels and spawn laden coarse fish dead in a bucket.  As is standard protocol the, well can i say anglers?, had their tackle taken and where summoned to appear in a Magistrates Court at a later date.

The offenders pleaded guilty to the charges and where then sentenced to pay the fines in the picture above, £25.00 per offence!!  Looking back over the frequency of my blogs you can see how often i am out on the bank and i see first hand the raping of our waterways by these people, i have seen the River Dee go from a river alive with pike to one where you are no longer seeing them attacking your fish as they are simply not there due to these parasites of our sport taking 3-4 10lb fish in carrier bags away at 4-6am in the morning before anyone is around.  These people know full well its wrong or they would not be doing such an act at such a early unsocial hour.

Again i now see this on all the venues i fish from night lines on ponds to groups of 6-7 walking in a line, no landing net pulling lures behind them and when they catch out comes a carrier bag.  Most anglers go out alone so us as anglers can no longer police our own waters working at such a ration of between 3or 7 to 1.  It then leaves us to trust the EA with their patrols will catch these people as we report them and as i have mentioned in previous weeks the EA officers are out in force.  They ARE doing their job.

These people then go to court and are handed a £25.00 quid per offence fine, i never swear on my blog but what the hell is that?? what type of deterrent is that to stop these people from committing such atrocities.  Hand them a couple of thousand pound fine, catch them again and hand them another couple of thousand pound fine and like the word spreads of good waters to poach amongst these reptiles the word will spread about the consequences of being caught poaching our waters.

I have got to say the biggest joke in this part is the last part where they say all angers had their tackle handing back to them, jesus christ that is like fining a burglar £25.00 and then waiting at the door to hand him his crowbar back on the way out! What an absolute joke.  This is not down to a lack of understanding of licencing laws as these people pleaded guilty to the offence they know is wrong so give them a fine it deserves and start protecting out waterways that are being raped of their fish.

This is OUR way!!!!....Rant over....

Hitting the Big 30...

Well the boy is most certainly a man now and i have to say the rebel youth that joined my current place of work at the age of 19 not really knowing anything about the real world and working life is a a distant memory.  Weekends i now spend fishing where at this stage of my life spent recovering from a heavy drinking session the night before with my mates or playing rugby league and then drinking a little bit more with them after the game.  Those days are now long gone and i can honestly say the time from 20-30 has seen me change so much both as a person and in life as i turn the age of 30 about to meet mine and my partners second child and i can honestly say i have never been happier.
The last 10 years have also been times of great sadness with the passing of my mother some 5 years ago in January so its safe to say its not been all sweetness and like and there isn't a day that goes by that i don't look at our little girl and feel a huge sadness that my mum never met her.

One person has been a constant through all those years and that person is my best friend and partner Lucy, without whom there would be certainly no blog you are reading now.  She lets me pursue my crazy angling dreams and spend money we sometimes don't have on as she calls it "feeding the fishes".  She really is a star and i know she reads my blog so thank you!

For my birthday i was expecting an present to mark the occasion, a watch or pendant etc but just showing how well she knows me i woke up on the Friday before my birthday to this tidy collection of birthday gifts, she knows me so well.  A new bait waiter as my last one had come apart after years of abuse, so to my keep net, two fox bite indicators, some new braid, landing net pole and a sneaky cheeky t-shirt saw me a happy man and i hit the bank a happy angler with a beaming smile, more on that session next week.

Trotting..Cheap as Chips.......

I read a lot on forums about "the art of trotting a stick float" and i guess its the same as anything in life the more you do it the better you get and with stick float fishing practise and repetition is what will see you getting bite on this method for sure.  I see so many arms of our sport though in the press and on the Internet being so over complicated by companies looking to part anglers with their cash for the latest set up or fishing tackle to catch you more fish.

Look at carp fishing as a major example of this in the modern fishing scene.  As a kid i remember casting out a ledger Arley bomb lead running free on the line stopped with a number 4 shot and a hook tied on the end with a piece of corn on a size 10 hook. You then look at the rigs of today with all their component parts some rigs can now incorporate 10 to 15 elements to just he end rig alone.  Pike fishing is also another example of a branch of our sport that is slowly becoming over complicated with ever elaborate rigs when in reality most of my fish in the last few weeks have come on a wire trace tied directly to my braid and a smelt twitched on the end or left lying under my feet free-lined using the line for bite indication.

Stick float fishing is a section of angling that has not yet been hit by the dissection of each element of the set up, apart from floats that is, so it means that this part of our sport is relatively cheap to participate in and it was during a visit from Ste to the bank for a chat this week i noticed just how simplistic the tackle is i use.  On a normal session on the bank my terminal tackle and side tray consists of a 10 number 4 stick float, a tub of number 4 weights, a tub of number 8 weights, a depth plummet, hook length line and a pack of size 18/20 hooks.

My bait trays are even more simple with one box containing hemp the other a few pints of maggot and i might push the boat out and sometimes open a tin of corn but as a general rule that is my side tray for 90 percent of my trotting and it costs me in bait about 6.50 a trip.  When you think this can see you sometimes putting a weight of fish over 20lb in the net of silvers then it really is a part of our sport that is great fun for very little money, so why not check out you local river and give it a try and let me know on facebook or email how you get on.

On to this weeks fishing..

River Dee Stick Float Fishing - Solid Dace and Roach Nets....

The previous weeks trips to this location saw us fishing a rising river and catching quite well indeed until a certain point when the fish just switched off as the rising water got too coloured.  This session told us that the fish where about for sure and that they where of the stamp you would associate with this venue so we had no hesitation in setting the River Dee as our chosen destination.  This decision was also made a lot easier by the fact that high tides where due the following week and with our baby due any moment it could mean our last chance for a while to get on the banks of this beautiful river.

I made up a few hook lengths before setting my alarm on my phone for a barmy 4.45am to be at my uncles for 5.15am.  Getting a peg on this location can be a nightmare at times with over night pike anglers and cars that contain 4 anglers or more camping through the night at weekends so we hoped to arrive at around 6am and anyone beating us, well good luck to them.  Dreaming of landing a monster dace i was just swinging it in as i felt the heavy thump on my feet of our dog Pippa and then the cold wet lick on my face that instantly wakes you from any dream.  A quick glance at the clock and it was 6am!! dam i had overslept and thank god for the dog as i was well away.

Rushing round the house the car was quickly loaded the car and picked my uncle up but i knew we would be lucky to get a peg i hurried along the B roads as quickly as legally allowed.  Turning the final bend i saw the disheartening sight of cars parked up but like last week they had fell for the old pegs you read about on the Internet forums and had paid no attention to the conditions on the day. The best pegs lay empty for us to drop on, as i always say there is no replacement or quick track to doing well than time on the bank and learning your rivers and how they fish in different conditions and water levels.

There is no need for a description of tackle as it was the set up your read above fished with my 17ft float rod.  I fed the swim with maggots as i set up and placed hemp where i was expecting the bites to come on the day.  Unusually for us we set up in the light of day as we are normally seen threading line through the eyes of our rods in car lights or head torches and it was easily gone 7.45 by the time we where both fishing.   I love this time of year fishing with my uncle as all the Himalayan balsam has died Right back and the banks are laid bare, for once it actually looked like winter on the river as the scene painted a picture of dull browns and black tea coloured water, it looked mint.  I knew on the day the problem we would have would be fish up in the water and no bait getting down but i had a plan for that with my trust bait dropper.

My uncle was into some clonking roach from the off that saw him using his keep net on many occasions during the early part of the session.  I was on my sixth or seventh trot down without a bite and then i hit a snag right at the beginning of my line and it was a proper lump of a snag that i had no doubt was laden with plooms of anglers lines and feeders.  What it meant was i started casting over the snag and bringing the line back in onto My line i was trotting to fish it but it also meant there would be no way i was risking casting my bait dropper in the swim today as the snag was bang on where i would put it and i was sure it would snag coming in.

As above my uncle had made a solid start with some mint roach but i was a lot slower off the mark but what i was catching was of a nice quality and again with it being a dace i was ultra confident as where there is one dace there is certainly a lot more.  Feeding by hand we where both getting swirls and great numbers of fish topping as we fed and i was sure not a allot of our maggot was getting down so i had to make a decision.  Do i up the feed to try and feed these fish off or do i reduce the feed and up the hemp hoping this will keep what fish are on the bottom there to take my maggot trotted through.   Mother nature soon made the decision for me as a nice pike swirly through the dace battering my maggots dispersing them every where.  This seemed to scare them off for a good hour or two and allowed me to feed maggots in the swim and begin to put together a decent run of quality dace.

The swim i was fishing had a sunken tree right to my left and my trot was down to a much larger tree on my inside and i noticed a lot of my bites came on or around level with the tree so i quickly began to feed my hemp there and although it was much further down the swim that i would normally feed hemp it was where the fish where and this steady stream of hemp certainly kept them there.

I also kept feeding a little inside line next to the sunken tree to my left where a steady flow coming off an eddy meant the was going straight down and i knew it was a perch dream swim.  Dark and mysterious water around the snag providing a perfect lair for a big perch I fed the swim for a good hour or so before giving it a go and it was a fantastic feeling when the first fish i caught was a pristine billy, not massive but the right species.

This half hour to a hour fishing the slack produced some smaller dace as well but it was certainly not as productive as the swim down to the snag that i had kept feeding.  Resting a swim when trotting certainly does do it some good, as long as you keep feeding it, don't just walk away and not feed it as the fish will literally move off to the next angler feeding bait and you will literally have to start to build the swim again.  Keep drip feeding the swim as if you are fishing it but don't run the line through it certainly brings the fish on better in my opinion.

After a hour trying for a better billy i felt like i was not getting the fish i expected to get and moved back over to my main line and the fish where literally stacked up and for a good hour it was dace soup as the fish came one after the other after the other, bite a chuck and great fishing.

My uncle i could see down stream was also having a good session and we where pretty much matching each other fish for fish right until we packed up at 4pm.  I must admit i hate packing in when you are still catching it really is a killer.

My uncle smashed it with a net of 21lb or dace and some stonking roach.

my net went 18lb 12oz and again a respectable net for the day.

In summary the session was one that gave us both great pleasure, not only in the catching of a decent net of silvers but the fact we had put confidence in what we had learnt in previous years and it had come good.  A great buzz and we drove home full of excitement and a feeling of achievement as we trundled along the B-Roads home.

Not Quite A Double...

The following morning i was up with the dawn chorus again, this time alone and out chasing pike.  I had been putting the odd bit of bait in during the week prior to this session so i was excited to get out on the bank and see if the effort had been worth it.  I baited up two spots both on Wednesday evening and again on Friday.

I arrived on the bank in the pitch black and set off on along the bank to my chosen pegs, a bit of a walk but in these times where some anglers can be quite lazy that little bit of effort can deter those car park swim anglers from ever fishing your spot.

The dawn just about to break over the hills i took a picture just as i was placing my dead bait mackerel on a drop off.  The rod in place i then set about rigging up my small bait rod for a spot of wobbling, a really simple task as the rod is always set up and its a case of literally putting the pieces together and attaching a bait.  The dead bait rod could just be made out in the dark and i began by wobbling a bait slowly back through the dark water.

A few chucks in with nothing to show i tried a cheeky chuck into some shallow water that then dropped off and half way in i felt that solid thud on the line, in fact its the hardest bite i have had wobbling the fish must have proper nailed the bait.  I quickly flicked the bail arm over and let the fish move off with the bait and the jagged pulls on the line let me know the pike was turning the bait for eating.  I gave it a few more seconds before testing the drag and striking hard and over the rod hooped as the fish kept deep and went on a long run right under my other line.

I quickly sunk the rod tip under the water and began to tighten the drag to bring the fish back towards me.  She was a feisty character to say the least and with violent almost petulant head shakes she defiantly came back under my other rod and under my rod tip where the fight continued.  She did eventually calm down a bit and come to the top where i gratefully slid my net under her green and gold flanks, a fist pump at an early fish i was over the moon.

She was a short but deep fish and i thought that there was a possibility she could go double figures but sadly the scales settled on 9lb 7oz, not quit a double but a more than welcome fish and so early on in the session.  The fish released the light was just breaking through and i quickly set about trying for another pike on the wobble.

When the sun came up onto the water my heart sank as i could see the recent cold weather had taken all the colour out of the water and it was gin clear.  I knew i had around a hour to try and winkle a bite out of the swim before the clear conditions would see the pike move for cover.

No pike where forth coming in the next hour or so and there was zero interest in both wobbled and static deads despite many moves.  It was great to come across this lovely bright red toadstool.

I decided not long after taking the photo to make a move to another location with more colour and it did pay off in a way as i lost two fish due to them coming off in the fight so i would say it was a sort of successful move but losing two fish i did leave with a feeling of i should have done better.  With piking though and losing fish i cant see how i could have prevented it as i certainly don't want to be leaving the runs any longer.

In reflection of the baiting up i feel it did work as i have fished this spot quite a bit in the past month or so and the fish is a fish i have not caught before, did the pre bait bring him into the area? I guess as with all angling we will never ever know.

Till next time

I wish you all tight lines


Friday, 5 December 2014

Good To Be Home: Stick Float Fishing For Dace River Dee

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you all well and you nets wet.  The week where these fishing trips come from the temperatures where still in the 40's and upwards which has made the fishing really hard to predict especially when it comes to tracking down the silver fish fro trotting.  The pike have been up one day and down the next some sessions there all over my baits and others they are slowly drawn from their lairs only to come along side to enquire rather than to dine.  I  am loving the challenge that comes with my fishing at the moment and where i am with it.

This weeks fishing takes me back onto the river dee hunting for dace but this was not our intended destination but boy does it work out well in the end.  The other fishing is a pike trip the next day where i for once take me chances.  So with that lets get into this weeks update..

BBC To Release Fishing Show..

This week i was contacted by a member of the BBC looking for me to mention their upcoming project to produce a fishing programme for main stream television.  I always have fond memories of watching Go Fishing with my dad on television and although this series seems quite a bit away from the way John Wilson portrayed out sport i think anything that puts angling in the public eye in an interesting light can only be good for our sport.

The series will send amateur anglers around the world testing their skills again local anglers to that region.  The BBC are looking for anglers to apply to enter this series with the only criteria that you have to be over 18 and also not a professional angler.  I must admit had i not been at a stage i am in my life with a new child on the way and another one just over 2 years old i would certainly be filling in that application form.  The promotional information is below:

How much do you love fishing?

Have you ever sat on the banks of the Thames and wondered how
you’d fare on the banks of the Amazon?

Ever wanted to swap Lake Windermere for the Great Lakes or trade
fishing on the Welsh coast for the coast of Mexico?

The BBC is making a revolutionary new series about the world of fishing, so
we're looking for amateur anglers to test their skills in some of the most epic
fishing locations around the world!


For more information or an application form please get in touch ASAP at: or 0117 974 2349 

            Please note: The current talent search is open to non-professional anglers aged 18
            or over and resident in the UK

Pondip Blog - Lets Talk Bait Droppers...

This week my latest blog for pondip went live.  I must admit when i first started writing guest blogs for this company i was really nervous about what to write and their expectations but i feel it is a role i have settled into now and i am really enjoying writing guest blogs for them.  On my personal blog i purposely write about my fishing as an experience and try to capture the magic i find from getting out on the bank and hooking into a few fish and all the great adventures that go with it.  The pondip tackle box blogs allow me the freedom to write about how i go about my fishing in more detail and this weeks blog was all about how i use the most simplistic of tools, the bait dropper.

A link to the update is here: Let's Talk Bait Droppers Pondip Blog

EA Stepping up their game? 

A week or so ago i spoke about the Environment Agency and how good it has been getting my licence checked so many times this season.  It gives me great pleasure to again report my licence was again checked by the EA this weekend and what was even more pleasing was the fact that the sights of years one by of anglers packing in as they had been collared was long gone.  I do think though they could improve by getting on the bank a lot earlier to catch the people wrongly taking fish from waters especially pike on the river dee who are certainly on the decline.

On to this weeks fishing...

River Dee Stick Float Fishing For Dace.....

Walking out of the bait shop door on Friday evening the rain was still coming down steady, it had done so since around midday.  The rain although not heavy was persistent and i knew passing the River Dane in the dark on the way home that she would be carrying some water upon my visit the next day.

The EA river chart is normally a god send in these scenarios as the levels normally come in around 4am and sun rise not till around 7am it is normally there to guide you on where to go.  The chart above was the river dane chart on the morning before our trip and amazingly enough it did not show any sign of a rise apart from the first signs of a rise if you looked very closely at the last reading.

With this in mind we headed out into the dark looking to hit the banks of the River Dane at first light to set up and as the rain had stopped we thought nothing else of it and off we went. We knew she would be carrying a bit of water as she was going to be around what we thought was winter levels but pulling up at the pegs she was a thick brown grey colour and in that instance it was obvious the chart was wrong and with Trees and logs coming down there was no fishing this river today, not on the stick at least.

In all honesty it was a case of either fishing a pond, calling it a day and going piking or taking a huge chance on a 40 mile drive to the River Dee and hoping that she was not flooded and we could get a peg.  The dee it was and the car was quickly swung round and my trusty phone led us through the A Roads to Chester.  Turning the last corner we was met with a load of parked cars but to our delight there was two pegs still Free so like greased lightning we threw our boxes on each and it was good timing as in the next ten minutes four more cars pulled in.

The peg i chose was a classic dace run of an even depth of around 5ft down to a over hanging tree and it is a swim i have fished a lot in the passed and done well in for dace and the other excellent news was this swim would allow me to fish my trusty 13ft Korum float rad, a rod that sadly See's less and less action due to me using my 17ft one so much.

A 10 No 4 stick float down to a 2lb 2oz hook length and a number 20 hook was my set up for the day and with a pint of hemp and around 2 pints of fresh maggot and 2 pint of old maggots from the previous week if they were having it i had the feed to keep them there.  My first trot down and the float zoomed and then back up again and i unfortunately struck when it was back up again, i was rusty big time and had become accustomed to the unmissable chublet bites of the dane, these dace bites where going to take some improvement in my striking. 

I quickly added a number 8 to my line to sink the float down to a mere pin prick on the water and tried again, this time i was ready and right on my hemp i held back slightly and then releasing the line the float again descended into the depths.  no missing this one and no mistaking the jagged fight of the dace and in came a pristine river dee dace.  She fit the hand perfectly and glistened in the early morning light and in that moment i knew i was home, back on the banks of the river i love so much.

The colour of the water at this point was perfect as she was a dark black colour almost the colour of weak tea and perfect for trotting a float.  The dace is a fish that always fills me with confidence when i catch them as you know they are never alone and with the stamp of this early fish if i had a shoal of them in my swim i would be on for a good days sport.

The next few casts saw a dace coming and before i knew it i had around 10 plump dace in my keep net.  All the dace came to single maggot and loose feeding maggot into the swim by hand.  The first two hours seemed to by by in a blur and the fish just kept coming and coming and coming and all came on the same spot in the swim to the point i just kept over casting my float to make the most of this bounty of dace in the swim.

A call from another angler that the river had rose a foot prompted me take a moment to put a stick in the edge as safety on the banks is paramount especially when you know a period of rain has been around the previous day.  I had been concentrating so much on hitting the bites on the float that i had failed to notice the colour had also changed in the river as it began to turn a brown colour.  I knew from experience of fishing in such conditions that i had to make the most of this period as a rising river almost certainly would see the dace go on a feeding frenzy until the river reaches a certain point and then the bites would die off.

I also knew that with my swim being between two trees and relatively slack that the fish would not stay in the main fast flow and would move into the slacker water so i upped to rate of feed to lure as many fish into my swim as possible during this period. 

i really do love the dee and everything about it, i love it sits in the shadow of other rivers like the Severn and the Trent, i love the beautiful locations along its length i have the pleasure to wet a line but most of all i love it because it is a river you can attack and really be aggressive with your feeding on and this was one of those sessions.   The normal careful feeding on the dane of 5-6 maggots every trot was replaced with 10-15 maggots a time on the dee and the bites just became more and more positive and the quality of the dace actually increased with some lovely examples of the species gracing my palm.

The morning moved along at a frantic pace and the fish kept coming and coming and coming and i was in that scenario where in knew i was sitting on a nice weight of dace.  The river at this point was rising quite fast up the bank and my uncle was literally moving to higher ground to keep fishing his swim it rose that fast.  The river at this point was resembling the Dane we had left and from around 1pm my bites died of completely as the flow showed its power as it came through the tree to my left creating the slack water i was trotting along, this also meant my bait was not getting down before the other tree and despite trying with the bait dropper the next few hours brought only odd flutters of fish as i chased the shoal around the swim.

Had the fish continued to feed i can only dream at the net of fish at the end but come us weighing our nets i was eager to see what i had put together in those early hours fishing.  Lifting my net from the water it felt heavy and a little groan as i lifted it from the peg i knew i was up in the teens somewhere.  The 32 inch pike net now follows me on all my trips to the river as you never know when mr pike will show up at this time of year but this net has also proved really good for putting our nets in for weighing at the end of session and it also gives the nets a true representation of the numbers of fish as sometimes in the smaller nets the fish are on top of each other so a 5lb net looks the same as a 15lb net as the pictures don't show the depth of the fish in it, this net i hope will help with that.

My final net went 20.5lb of all dace and i was over the moon! It always brings a tear to my eye when i do well on this river as i always think back to the days i fished this river where i did not know what i was doing and struggled to catch one dace.

My uncles peg fished the complete opposite to mine, he struggled early on and he put together a 12lb net of dace in around 4-5 hours in the afternoon when his fish came onto the feed on his peg.

A check of the River Danes EA Chart showed we certainly made the right call as when we where stood on her banks it was the very start of the rise and had we stayed just look how much the river would have rose on us during that day.

Dead Baiting For Pike...not exactly pulling the rod in....

Waking up on the morning of this session my arms where really aching from a hard days trotting the day before.  Those who see fishing as a leisurely activity and a past time for relaxing certainly have never done a full day on the river trotting for dace as anyone will tell you its hard work and you are constantly on the move either feeding maggot or hemp, reeling in from a trot on concentrating on getting your presentation right.  A days trotting done right should leave you tired on your return, a least good days should.

The morning was again mild and i jumped in the car around 6.45am in the pitch black leaving my thermal base layer behind along with my thermal boots.  My plan for the day was to meet up with Ste for literally a few hours fishing till around 10am and then part ways as he went to a job and i planned to move onto another location i had done well in the past.

Although the morning session with ste produced no fish on the bank what it did show me was how you can literally take just your wobbling rod and how versatile you can be with the one rod.  During these few hours we used our wobbling rods to of course wobble a dead bait to imitate a dying fish but it was great to learn how you can also use this same rod with only a dead bait and a wire trace on the line to static dead bait fish by leaving the bait to sink down and using only the line lying on the top of the water for indication.  It was yet another learning experience for myself with regards the vast world of pike fishing and as always it was great to share then bank and talk all things angling with another angler that shares such a passion for this sport.

The pike where very off the feed during this short session which saw only one bit of interest from a jack that despite the best efforts could not be tempted to snatch the free meal.  I loaded the rod and ruck sack back in the car and said my goodbyes and headed off to my second location where i hoped to find the fish more obliging.

I have to say it was a weird day on the bank and one i have never experienced before with pike fishing.  First of all i had a run under my feed as i left my wobbling rod to lie in the edge and upon striking i was met with a set of hooks coming out of water with no bait on them which was very weird considering the line was still peeling off as i struck, i can only thing the bait was on the out side of the pikes mouth and i pulled the hooks from the bait.   The next weird occurrence was two definite dips on the dead bait rod which saw me putting my full attention into that float but no more action developed from it apart from the float bobbing twice, this actually happened on two separate occasions during the session as i said the pike where behaving very strange.

I knew the pike under my feet had not felt the hook but i was pretty sure it had got off with its brunch and my only hope was it had left room for dinner so i purposely left the wobble rod lying in the edge and it did not take long before i noticed the line start to tremble and go slack as a pike picked up the bait and then the line went tight ant started to move off tightly as line was pulled from the open spool.

I gave the fish a few moments to begin to take the bait, tested the drag, then struck to set the hooks.  This fish from the off was not happy at all and i it was one of this pike that constantly shake its head and i knew the longer this fight went on the greater the chance of losing the fish so i quickly placed the rod between my legs and grabbed the landing net and waited for the fish to come up within my nets radar and as soon as it did it was a quick lunge with the net and luckily the fish turned into the mesh and onto my seasons tally.

The pike was great example of the species and more than welcome on my unhooking matt that was for sure.  A jack pike around 7 or 8lb she had been feeding well judging by her hard stomach.  Last week i wrote a blog on taking your chances and that session i lost a fish and it proved to be my only chance well this session was the flip side on this session i took my chance but again it was my only chance of the session.  The lines between a fish on the bank and a blank are so fine with pike fishing.

till next time i wish you all tight lines and wet nets,