Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Stick Float Fishing for Dace On A Rising River

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  A huge thank you to all the people who emailed me this week with regards help with their fishing it was great to sit down on Sunday and write the replies to them all.  I do get out fishing a lot but i really do not see myself as one of these amazing anglers who knows everything, i try to reply to the questions with as much knowledge as i can pass on and it is great to receive the replies when people go out and catch from your help, it is so fulfilling.  There are of course the emails where people just get in touch to thank me for writing the blog and how they enjoy reading it and again these emails are what give you that boost to know you are doing something right.  Again thank you to all who emailed me this week made a angler and blogger really happy on Sunday.

On to this weeks blog update

Splitting the Hemp...

So my hemp order came in a week or so ago and coming home to a huge 20kg sack of dry hemp seed i knew the daunting but ever so therapeutic task of splitting it down into 1 pint session bags was on the horizon.  I still had one or two bags left from last years batch so i put this task off for a week or so, last weeks session saw the last bag boiled and used so there was no option.  It was out with the sack of hemp and with the early morning sun warming the patio it was time to set up the production line.

My little girl was at the front of the Queue her job to pass the bags to Lucy, her job to keep the bag open while i scooped and poured in a pint of seeds.  This worked a treat and in no time at all we had a pile of sealed food bags covering the floor.  These orders come in a hessian type sack and then the actual seeds inside are held in a card type bag and this is fantastic as you can literally use each bag to split the order, one for me one for you and we soon had them bagged up and over my uncles for him to use.

Pike Dead Bait The Order Of The Day....

So the start of the pike season is literally a few days away now and i can almost see that pike float gently moving to the rhythmic motion of the water as it waits to be ignited into life by a passing esox.  Like last year Garry was very generous in asking us if we wanted to be put in on his bait order on line as the bulk buy saves on shipping and also you can get some cracking discounts on bulk buy popular baits.  I was very selective this year in my bait choice and went for baits i caught well on last year in Smelts, joey mackerel, sardines jacks and roach.  These baits should be fine for the start of the campaign and see me right for the first month or so depending on how many times i get out and how many pike i catch of course.

I am sure Ste will join me here in thanking Garry for putting this order together and splitting it down for us, cheers mate. 

On to this weeks fishing...

With all the weeks of trying to work out the River Dane we had probably seen enough of this river to last us both a lifetime so we made a decision on the Friday that no matter what we would be fishing a different river the next day.  A quick stop in the tackle shop revealed my rod replacement section still being mark as awaiting delivery, a quick phone call by the shop owner and hopefully it will be here next week. 

To say it rained on Friday was an understatement and when this down pour continued into the evening i knew we would have a decision to make the next morning.  This time of year is great for that as we meet up around 5am and the EA chart for that morning are normally posted on their site to give us an idea of the levels of the local rivers.  All the charts showed no rises in the rivers, very odd we thought given the rain, but we knew the rise was to come for sure, there had been too much rain for it not too.

We sat for a second and thought about aborting the river session and going a local pond but we decided to go the river and the reason was this.  Fish go on a big feed when i river begins to rise as all food washed into the river comes down, we both knew the fishing would be good but also knew once the colour came things would change and the fishing on the float would subside.  At max we thought we had from first light till around 9am, 10am max, before the river would be unfishable.

Arriving on the banks of the river she was gin clear and running low with no signs of any extra water or colour in the system.  We quickly set up in our swims as we knew time was of the essence and i quickly fed maggots into the swim while i set up as i knew there was a chance of a chub in this area and where as other sessions where i was happy to wait for them to edge onto the feed i felt today i needed to enforce the message that free food was coming in upstream and almost push the fish into moving up.  The first few trots down brought no action at all as the float trundled through the swim time and time again.

Incidentally the float i used was a 6 number 4 stick float with 6lb line down to a 2.1lb bottom and a size 20 hook.  This set up seems light but you will be surprised just how much strain you can put on a chub with this set up.  I do hasten to add that the river is not really snaggy and in most swims its a case of keeping the fish out of the brambles on the surface and under the water than and severe sunken trees of even trolleys you find on other rivers. 

Around a hour and half into the session and still i plugged away with nothing to show as reward for my efforts.  It was during the next hour though things changed.  I began to notice a lot of debris coming down the river, grass cuttings at first and as time went on the off twig and branch and there was one big swell in the eddy to my right that confirmed a rise in the river was happening for sure.  A tinge of colour at this point, nothing more, and the first bite came with this cracking dace below.

As predicted the rise in river had triggered the fish to come on the feed and another dace followed shortly after.  This next half hour to forty minutes the swim went mad with fish solid on the feed right on my hemp.  I knew this would not last but with dace of this quality i knew we had made the right decision.

A hour into the rise and the colour was starting to show really bad.  I could no longer see the bottom at all on any part of the river and the colour was beginning to look more like milky hot chocolate than the weak tea of an hour or so ago.  The bites where also tailing off now as the fish sensed the rise in the river was too great and i think moved into the slacks out of the main flow. 

I decided to abandon my torrent down the middle that was once a gently glide and began to fish the slack to my right.  A few minnows at first but the fact i was getting bites was the main thing and then i struck into something a bit more substantial that went straight into the flow.  My line was perilously down the middle of the river and with logs coming down it was more a case of dodging the snags than the fish finding one as a game of line tetris was played out, oh how kids of today will never know the joys of a game boy :-)

The fish was the best fish of the day and although not big was the chub i was after.

Not long after this i saw the shape of my uncle coming down the field.  His swim was just a glide with no slack so i knew the game was up with regards fishing the river.  We both going fishing together and as a team we fish all manner of rivers and lakes but we also do work as a team if the fishing is good for one and not the other.  My uncle had caught well taking a few nice dace and a chub to boot he had a cracking net of fish that showed how valuable it is to know the rivers you fish.  We both knew we would catch and catch well but not for a long duration and i think i speak for us both when i say it was good to finally get some bend in the carbon.

We both left the river in a right mess but happy with our exciting but brief session.  That concludes another weekly blog update and i hopefully the next update will see us build on this one. 

Till next time

Tight lines


Friday, 11 September 2015

Pondip Blog Live and New Swim Trecks!

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  Well i arrived at the bait shop on Friday and unfortunately there was no replacement rod section waiting for me, no fault of the shops just no Preston orders had come in that week, fingers crossed for this week.  A tough start to the working week today as i feel the pain from a weekend trampling through the undergrowth and of course that monday morning blues feeling of no fishing for a few days.  A third cup of coffee of the morning just arrived on my desk so fingers crossed that this much needed caffeine gets me through this afternoon.

Since the birth of our children my fishing has remained structured but the writing of the blog has been all over the place but i finally feel that i am finding some much needed structure to my week with writing my blog on my dinner hour in work.  Jotting my ideas for the blog down over the weekend while fishing means i am now starting writing the blog on the Monday and hopefully this will see me starting to publish my blog on Friday evenings.

On to this weeks blog update..

Down at the Bottom of the Garden....

Now we all remember the famous program as kids called the poddington pea's,  respect to those currently signing the theme tune!! But this week i was literally down at the bottom of my garden amongst the birds and the bees, i didn't see a lot of Little people but i did find a gem right at the back of my garden that i never knew was there.  This gem is a elderberry plant and although not yet in full bloom it soon will be and for me as an angler it means i can now have a go fishing with elderberries over hemp seed.  A great little find!

I will be leaving this a few days to come into full bloom and hopefully i will beat the birds to this bounty, do they even eat them? sure they do.  The first session they are ripe i will be taking a few to the bank and trying them out.  The end of the garden is a right little Aladdin's cave of surprises though with a Apple tree currently laden with apples, any ideas on variety appreciated in the comments section.  There is also some form of berry tree as well and i am informed its not the best thing to make cherry pie from so i will be giving these a miss but the apples might get a look in if they are edible.

All in all with the bird feeders up the garden has been a real surprise this year.  What started out as a overgrown wild garden is slowly getting to a managed state and the wealth of wildlife is astonishing from robins, finches and sparrows to hedgehogs, frogs and squirrels.  These have mainly come from the bird table but most have had little don't to attract them in so i can only imagine the oasis we could have if we really directed some energy towards their habitat.

Natural History Museum.....Great Day Out!!

Bank holiday weekend and we decided to make a trip into Liverpool town centre to visit the Natural History Museum.  All i can say is WOW! what a fantastic day out and set up they have there it really was a great day out and i have to say it was done in the right way.  The exhibitions are set over 5 floors with aquariums, space rockets, dinosaur bones, preserved animals and a bug zone to name a few areas they had.  As an angler i was of course pulled by the aquarium bit and it was fantastic to see so many children fascinated by the fish on show.

We had recently visited the Blue Planet aquarium and it was a nightmare with every room containing children's rides or sweet vending machines, all these do is distract the attention of the children and you are left with kids crying to go on rides rather than looking at the fish, in short had we wanted to go the fair ground we would have gone Alton Towers.  This place had none of that and it showed in the fact all the kids where looking at the fish and reading the information on show.  This spoke volumes for me and it is a place where entry is free!.

Parking right outside the place and i think it was £3.00 for a few hours parking.  All in all a great day out and a place i fully recommend for taking the kids too.  I know its not angling related but thought it worthy of a share.

Pondip Blog Goes Live.....

My most recent blog for Pondip Tackle Boxes went live this week.  It is the second instalment of my canal baits series i am writing for them.  This blog looks at castors and hemp seed for fishing the canal and the results it can bring.  We all live close to a canal and even the most neglected of waters can hold a decent head of fish, in fact waters that are gin clear and you can see the bottom all the way across are not always the best quality for fish to survive.  Why not have a read of the blogs and try your local canal and even better drop me a email or message on facebook and i will feature it in one of the blogs.

link to Pondip  Blog:

On to this weeks fishing

What is going on!

So Saturday morning and we pulled up on the banks of the river dane and in the gloom of the early morning light the river was looking in tip top shape.  We walked the banks looking at all the swims before deciding on where to fish.  We are always out on the bank at first light and are very rarely beaten to a peg if we really have one in mind but on this river that is not even an issue as the gear stays in the car and we walk the banks looking at the swims before even getting the gear so confident are we no one will be on the peg when we arrive back.

By the time we walked back to the car the river was fully visible and she looked in mint condition in fact as rivers go she was bang on!  The river was carrying a little bit of water, had a nice pace but more importantly she had a lovely colour.  You could not see the bottom in the middle and the edges where just visible.  Having fished the rivers for a few years you begin to understand how they fish and in both mine and my uncles opinion it looked class and we expected a decent days sport.

I set up in a swim where i placed my basket actually in the water and fished a few yards into the river.  The main glide on this swim was on my side of the river so it was nothing more than a two rod length cast to be on the line i wanted to fish.  I fed the swim with maggots and fed it slightly down stream so i was confident the fish would not be right up on the feed and my float was settled by the time i got to the swim.  A few pouches of hemp seed and i was all ready to set up my 13ft float rod loaded with 5lb line and a 1.7lb hook length.

The fishing from the off was frantic as the fish moved right onto the feed and a shoal of chublet where obviously in residence as the early exchanges where dominated by these fish with their mouths laden with maggots.

At this point it was looking like we were set in for a good days sport as i could also hear my uncle some 50 yards down stream confidently striking into bites.  Chublet and the odd roach coming each cast you begin to think it could be a good days fishing with a decent net.  The float rarely made it to my bed of hemp seed at this point and i must admit alarm bells where ringing as the bites where beginning to feel frantic and not the settled swim you really want when trotting a float.  I persevered with it but slowly i could feel the bites ebbing as i went further down the swim and onto my hemp seed where i found the odd skimmer had taken up residence.

This was around a hour into the day and i will never forget this skimmer as it was literally the last fish i caught on the session as the swim died.  From a bite a chuck to nothing and the float going through the swim with not so much as a knock, "it can not be right this" i thought in my head "all these fish can not just go!".  This time i was determined to do all i could so out came the maggot feeder rod and ground bait and i began fishing on the tip where i had fed my hemp.

The tip remained as motionless as the float and i even decided to risk a cast right on top of a over hanging tree where there just had to be a fish lurking but still the tip remained motionless.  My head ticking over i could only imagine a predator had moved in so i set up a small live bait rig.  If any predator was in the swim it must have been blind as this live bait was doing all you would want it to do making a commotion and frantically moving all over the swim.

I have said in previous blogs this place is getting me down and i have to admit on Saturday i finally gave up.  I literally said stuff this and packed my gear away and went to see how my uncle was doing.  He was a good 50-100 yards down stream and his swim had literally mirrored mine and he was going through with not a knock.  I took a picture of my net and thought about what to do next.

Not one to waste time

We had plenty of the day left so we decided to pack in and do some investigation into some other areas of the river i had researched in the last few weeks.  The first was a stretch miles upstream and upon getting out the car we where met with head high balsam and nettles.  We grabbed the bank sticks and began hacking a route through to a point where we could at lease see the river.

like with most rivers you get through some of the under growth and you find big open expanses of bank behind it and so was the case with this.  The river was really neglected so a lot of fallen trees had gone into the river and had not been removed but the whole area screamed fish and had some really nice glides.  Getting the gear to the swims was going to be a nightmare so we made our way back the car and vowed to return another time to hack a route through and fish the swims we found and we headed off to another area we had explored the previous week with a view to seeing if it held any fish at all such was its remote location.

Armed with a shovel we began digging in some foot holes and a place to sit on the steep banks.

We fished the swim for a hour or so in the blistering heat, not the best time to be wetting a line on a shallow river but we knew these fish would not have seen a bait so we where confident of getting an idea of species present.  My uncle set up just upstream and we took it in turns to trot the swim.  Early trots down saw us catching bottom as the swim gradually got shallow but eventually we found a line and to our surprise some stinking dace came to the net!!

By the end of the hour or so on the bank we had caught a few nice dace that showed us this area does have some potential and is worth us dedicating time to this area.

We left again a little frustrated with the days action and we are yet to find an area that can sustain a day session and produce a decent net of fish.  Moving and picking around is not how we fish and its really becoming a problem.  Hopefully this coming weekend my rod will be here and we can make some moves to other rivers.

Till next week i wish you all tight lines


Friday, 4 September 2015

Pike Season Prep and The Gudgeon Swim.....

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  Last weeks blog update i was a little apprehensive about publishing as i was not sure if it was what people would want to see or read about.  The views this week on the blog have been mad so i guess that's a good litmus test to a posts popularity and a little insight into the behind the scenes work on the blog is something i thought would be interesting to read about. Thank you to all who emailed me this week with regards to the update your kind words are greatly appreciated and provide me with plenty of motivation I'm doing something on the right track to what people are interested in.

On to this weeks blog update..

Changing Seasons: Signs are all around!!

Walking the bank to the river this weekend there where plenty of signs all around me that the seasons are on the change.  It may seem with temperatures in the upper teens to twenties that we are still enjoying summer but nature follows its own signals to begin preparing for Autumn and the signs are all around.  We decided to look at a new stretch this week with a view to scouting it out for a future session and as we walked the banks a flock of Canada geese flying in a V formation passed over head, these are always a sign for me of change and as much so as the swallows arriving to mark the start of spring and summer these birds moving in high numbers is a sign the wild life around us is starting to think about migrating to other shores. 

A look at the hedgerow and the elderberries are starting to bear fruit, a great sign that hemp seed is going to be the bait to go to shortly and then we look further and little changes to the leaves on the trees have started to show, the sycamore trees leaves now have a tinge of brown about them with the odd leaf completely dying off and on Sunday the river was away with leaves coming down stream after losing their grip on the branches in the wind. 

Time are changing but for me as an angler i could not be happier! Autumn and certainly winter see the fish in the rivers become more compact in the deeper stretches.  The lack of food in the natural larder sees the fish coming onto the feed and the need to feed and not pass up a free meal for some species like chub sees the leaving the safety of the snags and moving into the swim.  The pace pf life on the banks of the canals and rivers starts to wind down as the fair weather summer dog walkers and boats fall into a slumber and leave you at times completely alone on the banks in complete peace and tranquillity.

This time of year also signals the start of the pike season......

Pike Season Prep.....

So September is here and we are literally weeks away from the first pike bung being cast in Earnest, me I'm quite calm about the whole situation but i hear reports of other, no names mentioned, Garry cough cough, already making up back up rigs in case he has to dip into his back up rigs for his back up rigs.  Joking aside having people around you like Garry and Ste that have a passion for pike angling and a will and determination to go the extra mile and get out there in all weathers with you is fantastic.  You know that they will be there in the dark setting up in the snow and hail, just like me uncle does with the river fishing.  Even now as i type this up in my dinner hour in work a message has just been posted to our group on facebook with pictures of pike getting the blood flowing for the end of the month! As said great to be mates with people so passionate and sharing your passion for the sport.

This week i began my preparation for the upcoming season by having a good sort through my pike box and seeing where i need to stock up.  Last year taught me so much about actually catching pike but it also gave me a understanding of the amount of tackle i will get through and the areas where i use most and surprisingly that department is hooks and crimps!  Next pay day there will be a trip to the shops before i start my pike campaign on the 1st October 2015.


Its fair to say that the fishing on the blog has been a bit one dimensional the past few months and a lot of that is down to me only having a 13ft rod to work with.  Not having my 17ft river rod basically has stopped any trips to the river Dee due to the areas we fish holding quite a deep depth and being quite wide in their nature.  This lack of a longer rod for my river fishing has also put a hold on us exploring further afield on rivers like the Severn and Ribble.

This week hopefully marks a line in the sand as last Friday i finally ordered a replacement top section for my 17ft rod from the local tackle shop.  The earliest i can expect it is this Friday but with it being a niche piece of kit i am not going expecting it to be there.  If it is then a trip onto a new river is a certainty, even if just for a change of scenery.  I have a swim in mind if i do get it and hopefully it will see us finding some nice shoal of roach.  If the rod is not there then a trip for chub might be on the cards if the conditions allow the swims to be access able.

All in all the rod is coming at the right time as we move into the colder months and we naturally move away from the shallows and into the deeper areas of the rivers. Fingers crossed.

on to this weeks fishing...

River Dane Stick Float and the Gudgeon Kid!!

Its safe to say nothing at all is taken for granted when fishing and although that goes for all branches of our sport it is even more so the case with rivers.  A swim can be rammed with big dace, roach and chub one week and the next its like they where never there as they can move miles upstream.  People also assume that with rivers you draw fish into your area and although this is normally the case sometimes that big shoal of fish 100 yards down stream are quite happy to stay there and not move up to where they can be caught.  This is the perils of river fishing and no amount of planning or research before the session can predict how the fish will react on the day or even if they will be there.

Friday night and with the river at rock bottom levels due to no rain fall during the week we knew the river was going to be a tough prospect and more than likely all sport would be done by the time the light started shining on the water.  We decided as the fishing was going to be unpredictable in the normal area we had nothing to lose ion scouting out a new stretch and fishing that.

As mentioned in last weeks blog i had been doing some research on a completely new stretch of the river dane and had spent a few hours trying to find out as much as i could about this new area but the main problem i had was accessibility as there was literally no where to park my car near the stretch.  A hour before first light we set off and arrived at a lay bye some walk from the actual banks of the river dane.  Walking the field we eventually hit the verge of the bank side foliage but with head high balsam and grass so over grown it had knotted at our feet it was a hard slog to even get the the river bank.

The river looked quite nice here but with only the odd deep glide it did not scream huge amounts of fish and looked more of a big fish area than an area to be fishing 4lb line to a 1.7 hook length.  The stretch was heavily neglected, it looked like no angler had been near all season and with the first rays of light hitting the river we could see it was frightfully shallow in places and very snaggy.  The recce was a useful one as i let us know that this area was worth a punt just to see what was in it but we certainly needed to head back with the sheers and a spade to prepare the swims for our boxes before making the long hard walk with out gear to the swims, one for the future.

We decided to head to an area we had both had solid double figure nets in the previous weeks.  I settled into a nice long 5ft deep glide lined with overhanging trees where my uncle set up in the inside of a bend in the river with a slack at his feet and a nice gentle flow down the middle of the river.  I was optimistic of catching a few fish and in my head i was thinking the nice roach and dace i caught in this session below could not be too far away.

link to session:

Its a swim i dug in a last year and fishing it last time i noticed the floods has back filled it slightly so before setting in a dug the peg back a bit so now it easily fits my seat box on it and provides a sturdy plat form to fish from for any other anglers and hopefully gets some more anglers thinking about fishing this underrated river, Jesus i say underrated this catch coming up does little to promote it haha.

The first trot though and the obligatory small roach claimed the crown of the first fish of the day.  Alright i thought, a roach to start off and there must be more around the area and maybe the better ones.

The next few trots down brought tiny chublets that could be from this year they where so small, so small in fact I'm sure one of the maggots had one in a headlock, real eyes of fish.  Not good i thought, then the gudgeon moved in and one after another after another gudgeon of all sizes came to the bank.  I love catching fish of all species but these fish being so small it was a case of striking and then reeling something in with no resistance, not much fun.

After countless gudgeon i decided to slow down on the hemp thinking the bed of these grains was the reason they where all over the swim, attracted in by my fiery hemp, so i just fed maggot for a good hour.  This did nothing to bring the better fish in the swim and the gudgeon just kept coming and coming.  These fish being bottom feeders also meant a lot of bites where missed and i felt this was down to me pulling the bait out of their mouths as i struck and them not getting hooked.

During the gudgeon fest i did strike into something that kicked a little and although put up hardly any fight i knew it was not a gudgeon and upon swinging it in i was proven right as another tiny barbel graced my palm.  Fantastic to see lets just hope they all make it to the stage where we are catching them at 5-6lb.

During my time fishing the swim i was constantly full of expectation that the better fish would suddenly arrive in the swim and the action would take off.  My uncle fishing down stream was also having the same problem with the swim dying but he had caught a few roach that he had used the net for, action was still patchy for him though.  I continued to plug away and plough through the endless gudgeon that seemed to have taken over my swim and eventually i struck and was met with something that at least put up a fight.  The skimmer bream was probably my best fish of the day for me and upon catching i was expecting one of two more of these fish but in keeping with the day the tide of gudgeon continued.

At 11am the bites from even the gudgeon had gone and i was not trotting through the swim not even a knock despite changing baits and also depths to tempt a bite.  My uncle was in the same boat and again we where left perplexed at how up and down the sessions have been on this river.  We made the decision to make a move to a small pond.

The final nets on review where not too bad but when you look at the gudgeon you can see the average size of fish in the net was tiny.

We spent around a hour and a half on the pond and the mad thing is every time i have been with my little girl on the whip she has hit a carp yet me tackled up to the eyes on the pole failed to connect with a single one, going to be some angler hahaha.  An enjoyable hour or so on the pole was had and we left early as to make the most of the afternoon at home with the family.

Well that is another week on the bank wrapped up I'm glad you all enjoyed last weeks update and here is to hopefully picking my replacement section up after work today and getting on the river tomorrow.

Tight lines