Tuesday, 19 January 2016

River Mersey Seal and Silver on Bread Punch...

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you all well and you nets wet.  This week has seen me book a weeks leave for the first time in a long while.  With the view to hopefully getting out and finding some pike during this week i have to say i am excited.  I just hope the cold snap stays around as any warm sustained weather could see my week off being a disaster if they decide to spawn.  A week on the river is not such a bad back up though.

Moving on to this weeks update i talk a little on my thoughts on the seal that has found its way into the mersey system and also a look at my plans for the coming weeks towards the end of the river season.  The fishing sees us

on to the update

River Mersey Seal of Approval..

Well the secret is finally out there that a seal has set up home on the mersey so i thought i might as well cover it on the blog.  The seal no doubt took advantage of the extraordinary high water levels to get above the weir in Warrington.  If it is anything like the ones on the river dee system it has no doubt followed up a run of salmon who will have also taken advantage of the high water.

The problem with this one on the Mersey is the area it is situated.  The seal is now trapped between  two big weirs and the only good news is the fact the chances of it going any further upstream is limited by the huge woolston weir, i think.  This leaves Warrignton Anglers with a apex predator trapped on its waters and with a fresh run of tidal saltwater coming up daily i imagine the water will be brackish enough for it to be comfortable.  The seal has already been seen with large pike in its paws so damage is already being done.

The seal on the Severn is still there as far as i am aware a good year at least on so actually moving the seal is really difficult and this will only become worse as the seal gains popularity with the public.  The mersey in reality holds no where near the prestige of the severn so a feeling of "it can not be moved from the severn how can it be moved from the mersey".

The other end of the story is how remote the mersey is.  On other rivers like the River Wyre the seal has mysteriously appeared dead on a sandbank with suspicious wounds to the carcass so there is the chance this seal could meet the same fate.

We do need to remember here though that this is no fault of the seal the animal is just following a food source and is now trapped.  Action does need to be taken though.  The mersey area it is in has come on leaps and bounds over the passed few years with match weights showing the increase in fish,  This is still at this stage a very fragile ecosystem with fish stock now at their full potential.  I do hope this situation is dealt with the severity it deserves and the seal is some how moved over the weir.  Fingers crossed!

Not long left now....

So we are fast approaching the month of February and the end of the pike season and the river season looms large.  I am sure this will see then usual petitions for doing away with the closed season appearing on social media and in the angling press.  This year for the rivers has been a complete wipe out so looking solely at the rivers first my hope is to get out and wet a line for dace on the river dee and hopefully some sessions for silvers and chub on the dane.

The other branch of my angling right now is pike fishing and the rising temperature has got me thinking the end of this season might come sooner than we think.  It is always wrong to set targets with fishing but my focus with this is to end the season with a nice pike either a mid or upper double.  I have a week booked of next week and i will be going all out to try and find a pike to close the season out on.  There will of course be some fabulous socials during that week and im hoping to also sneak in a river session.

This week sadly also marks that dreaded week for any angler.  The dreaded MOT on the car week.  There is no way I'm getting away with it this year i just hope the car is done in time for my week off work.

So fingers crossed for a nice croc and as i have always said i will never fail in angling through lack of effort.  I will put the time in and if after next week i end it with a few pike on the bank instead of the double I'm after i will be happy knowing i had caught a few pike and i had done all i could, that's all you can do.

On to this weeks fishing

It finally felt like the nightmare with the rivers was coming to and last week as all the rivers where dropping nicely.  Monday through to Wednesday all was fantastic as the levels plummeted and it even looked like the mighty Dee might get to a level where fishing was considered sane.  Waking up on Thursday morning the rain was bouncing down and my heart sank, how long had this been coming down for?   I checked the EA chart and there was no sign of this water hitting the rivers.

Thursday afternoons level also showed nothing of this rain and a excited angler called his uncle making plans for the Saturday on the River Dane.  A few pints of maggots purchased i headed home from work on Friday and was a happy camper till i noticed the Dee had stopped rising and the Dane showed a slight rise.  0.60 is about the limit for stick float fishing on here and the level showed 0.58m, i hoped the next morning would bring a chart that showed a drop overnight.

I knew the river would be up and slightly high but rather than being down beat about it i decided to be positive and really attack the river.  Three pints of maggot, a pint of hemp and a full load liquidised i was ready to attack this river and really go for it hoping for a positive outcome.

Waking up on the Saturday morning i put the kettle on and followed my morning routine before fishing getting the gear ready.  A quick check of the EA levels and a reading of 0.75m!!! A disaster she had gone even higher over night.  We decided to give her a go any way and heading off in the car we kind of both knew the river would be a mess but with the seasons end fast approaching we where desperate to have a decent session on the river.

Arriving on the banks she had a good colour considering but she was belting through.  We both set up on pegs with a slack on our inside and both felt unusually confident.  On any other river you would bag up with that clarity and a huge slack on the inside of a river belting through.  The dane is unlike and other river though and despite my uncles sole dace we both completed a two hour stint in our swims without a knock or anything that resembled a bite.

Admitting defeat we dropped back on a still water with the hope of catching a few silvers on the pole.  I started off feeding maggot to the side of some reeds and i also fed a ball of liquidised bread to a swim a few yards to my left in a similar depth of water.  The fishing on the maggot was slow to say the least and my temper tested by having to set up from scratch twice.

That was it for me with the maggot line it was slow to say the least and having got stuck on the reeds and snapped off twice i was in no mood for playing any more reed roulette.  What happened next shocked me.  I went in over my bread line on punch and under the float zoomed!  A small roach my reward but it was a start.

Next put in and a few taps on the bread resulted in a hard strike and another small roach.  The next few put ins saw me striking at little knocks on the float and i was quite frankly shocked how a float as dotted down as mine was could not go under but could be teased to the point of going under, was madness.

I began to get to terms with the bites and in time i picked up that striking as soon as the float moved up down left or right was the key.  Getting the bread shipped out presented a whole new set of challenges and also taught me next time to spend time preparing the punch bread.

I got to grips with it and bites came every put in and as soon as they stopped i fed with another small nugget of feed and the bites came back.  I would say in total i was fishing bread for around a hour to hour and half and put together a respectable net of fish considering its a bait i do not really fish much and it certainly has given me confidence have another go.

well that concludes another angling blog i hope the weather is kind to you and your nets are wet over the coming week


Monday, 18 January 2016

River Roach and Dace Brace To Remember!!

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  Well finally the temperature has dropped and unlike the rest of the non anglers i am over the moon.  This update i share my thoughts on going fishing in the cold and then look back at some of my favourite memories of fishing in the cold and the snow. The fishing this week see's us heading out to take advantage of another window of opportunity on the river and this time i remember my scales.

On to the Update...

4 Below Are You Mad To Go??

The news is full of all manner of stories telling of the "Storm of The Century" is on its way or "brace for the Icy Blast" and although from time to time they are right on most occasions the weather is no where near as bad as they mention.  Angling is a sport that has many divisions and sub divisions but the biggest way to divide all arms of angling is into two brackets.  Anglers who fish all year round or anglers who fish in the warmer months, commonly know as fair weather anglers, there in my eyes is nothing wrong with being in either camp.

I am most certainly in the All Year round camp and one of the things i love most about angling is experiencing the great out doors in all its forms.  I find the sight of a canal path laden with ice covered puddles and snow covered river banks just as exciting as the sight of the first daffodils rising in spring and the new lambs in the many fields as you travel to your location.  Each season is as magical as the other in my opinion.  Winter is not a season to be afraid of, many look out and think "as if I'm going fishing in this" but others also look out and think they wont catch in the cold and in my opinion that is the thought process i aim to challenge in this piece.

Winter for me fishing wise is a season i love and although the bank sides are barren and died back it really is in my opinion the season of plenty and actually the easier months fishing for me.  Fishing can be hard don't get me wrong but if you have put the time into learning where the dace will shoal up or taken the time to walk a lake at first and last light to see where the silvers as topping then you are already half way there.  At this time of year location is everything and being on the fish is paramount as the distance fish will travel to their winter haunts can be huge but the difference between catching and not can be minute.

 A great example of this was a session me and my uncle fished on the river dee.  We both fished an area known to hold huge heads of silver fish in winter.  My uncle pegged below the bridge and me above it a gap of only 100 yards and both swims an even depth.  All above the bridge netted up to and above 20lb of fish while my uncle had 3 bites.  Again once you find the fish the lines of success can be so thin.

You have to be prepared to fish in the colder months with the right gear but with good thermal base layers and solid thermal boots you should be fine.  Target fish you know will feed in the cold and you will be amazed what great fishing you can have.

Cold Sessions To Remember...

So when the cold really sets in the excitement levels really start to rise and there has been a few times we have headed out with snow on the ground and had some fantastic sessions but the river Dee sessions really do stand out for me.  The first i remember was a session when me and my uncle headed off to the river in search of dace.  The roads all the way there where a nightmare and it was more out of relief than anything else when we pulled up to the pegs.

The weather for the day had forecast freezing rain, what the hell is that we thought, we ll later on in the session the rain hit and as it hut the floor it froze instantly.  I remember being warm in my thermal gear but my hands where sooo cold and every time i had to put my hand into my hemp that was no mixed with a freezing cold slush i regretted it.  The dace really showed up on the session and i remember us both bagging up on dace, a real show of what can be caught even when the temperature goes into minus figures.

full update of this session here: http://satonmyperch.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/ice-ice-baby.html

The next species normally on my mind when the cold and especially when the snow arrives is the pike.  A few years ago i set my heart on a pike in the snow and off i set to try and achieve that goal.  A stop of first for a bit of stick float fishing to catch some live baits and it was off to the spot i had in mind, same river mind.

The mighty river dee was my river of choice and i arrived at a spot i had caught some pike in summer.  The pike in summer where all jacks around 3-5lb but my target was a pike in the snow i did not really care about size of pike.  The bait lowered into the slack i waited and it didn't take long for the float to disappear into the depths.  A good hard strike and the rod hooped over, at this time i was not really into my piking and was using my 1.75lb barbel rod so you can image the bend.  Certainly not the tiny jacks of summer and yet not a monster, in the net i had my pike in the snow.  Was there more to come though? find out in the update.

link to update: http://satonmyperch.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/dreaming-in-winter-wonderland.html

There are of course many other sessions over the years where we have gone out in the snow but these and the ones that spring to mind.  Having been out yesterday as well in the snow with not so much as a touch you really appreciate the sessions you make the effort and it all comes good.

On to the Fishing...

Brace To Remember On The Stick Float...

The night before the session we had a good look at the rivers and decided to fish the same river as the previous session and in a twist we decided to just take one set of gear and fish the same swim taking it in turns of around 30 minutes to trot the swim while the other fished a lead into a deep hole. 

We arrived on the bank full of expectation and hope.  The swim we knew from experience held a good head of chub with the potential to give us both a bend in our rods for most of the day.  We expected to get the full day as there was no rain forecast and although the river was up a foot or so it had a nice clarity so we expected to catch.

Feeding the swim as we set up i was excited as i sat in the hot seat for the first half an hour stint.  The first trot down and i small little dace was my reward, a good sign as these fish in the swim would only increase the amount of fish In the net s.  A trot down again and the rod hooped round as i struck, a chublet came up in the water and into the net.  Two casts and two bites a solid start.  The nature of this swim is that you normally hit a few nice chub and then the swim can die for a half hour or so and then they come on again.  By fishing the way we did we hoped for one person to catch, then stop catching and then time it so the other person took over right on bite time.

The third trot down i hooked into  fish that felt like another chublet, this was till it came up int he water and i noticed it was a dace and a big one to boot!.  Fighting in the clear water i could see my prize right in front of me and it was a dace i did not want to lose.  A few anxious moments as the dace held in the current and then moved flank on in the current giving you that horror feeling of slack line and a lost fish.  Eventually she came up and slid into the net, a clonking dace and this time i had my scales, 14oz!

The next trot down i decided to go along the fast water to the snag and inched the bait down the swim.  Reaching the snag i held back and the float zoomed under, a nice bend in the rid again and in the fast flow it put up a great fight.  Again an unusual fight that had force but lacked the brute power of a chub.  Up the fish came and revealed itself to be a massive Roach!  Another big silver and a fish i did not want to lose.

My hands trebled as i lifted the roach from the landing net and marvelled at its beauty, a very rare fish indeed and one that certainly a new personal best for myself.  On the scales she went 1lb 5oz, although in the roach world a long way off a monster fish, for me, was two trots down the river i will never forget.

Handing the rod over to my uncle i sat back and thought about the two fish i had caught and was over the moon.  The only thing i love more than fishing a river is watching my uncle trot a float through, it takes me back to when i first started trotting and i would spend ages just sat in his swim watching how he fished the river.  Asking questions about why he fishes that line and why he holds the float back in that place in the swim was all a vital part of the stick float angler i am today.  Able to read a river and approach a swim on my own and feel confident i can catch fish is all down to those early sessions.

Trotting the float through it was no surprise that he was soon into some chub and a good standard to boot.  He took a number of dace and chub during his stint.  Taking over i caught some more but the bite had become really patchy.  The fish where not moving out and the river had gained pace.

For the next few hours we really struggled for bites with my uncle picking up the odd one on the float and a lead fished tight to the snag accounting for another.  Come pack up time at 2pm we had put around 15lb in the net, not the 30lb plus we had hoped for but a nice day on the bank with plenty of banter. 

This session will aways live in my memory for the two trots down in succession early on with a 14oz dace and a 1lb 5oz roach looking as pretty as a picture together on the mat.

One happy angler wishing you all tight lines till the next update


Sunday, 10 January 2016

Lets Talk Blanking And Monster Dace Scale Regrets...

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  To be brutally honest i have tried to put a blog together a few times since new year and each time my mind has just been blank.  Just like fishing blogging can have its peaks and troughs where blogs like fish either come easy or seem to be a struggle.  A day or two off work i find myself with time on my hands and suddenly it feels right, laptop booted and here we go.

So in this update i am going to really concentrate on one main topic and that topic is blanking but before we get into that i would like to take a second to wish you all a happy new year and i hope 2016 is a year filled with success both on the bank and in your family lives, all the best to you all.  The fishing sees a trip to the river and boy do the fish turn up, sadly it is the one and only trip i have ever forgot my scales and boy do i live to regret it.

On to the update..

Blanking, A story or woe? or good lessons learnt? 

I am very fortunate to be an angler that gets on the bank at least once a week, madness some say and others will call it passion, me? I call it a necessity for my sanity.  Fishing offers me all manner of benefits, time alone to think through problems, relaxation and with a ever increasing amount now companionship and comradeship towards a common goal.

Getting out on the bank this much you experience peaks and troughs in your angling, the times where you feel like an angling god where it seems no matter where you out your bait you catch a fish, you never tangle and no fish come off.  You then have the flip side of this where the float can be as stagnant as the very still mill pond you are fishing, every cast down the river is a snag and it seems that no mater what you do the float not go under.

Blanking, a word that seems to send chills down any anglers spine, a word loaded with a sense of failure and almost embarrassment as each trip seems to be a quest to avoid "the dreaded blank..  I know when i first experienced a dip in my angling a few years ago it really hit me hard and fishing turned into something that was not a pastime filled with excitement and relaxation and became more a chore that built into fishing becoming frustrating.  As time has gone on and i have matured and grown into fishing these dips i know are times to not to be too hung up upon, i know from experience to keep doing what worked before and in time the tide will turn.

Blanking is part and parcel of fishing, we all do it and at times its to be expected and this is all forms of angling.  In mine when i try a new area of river or a completely new river then finding the areas the fish congregate especially in winter can lead to a string of hard sessions but in the long run these hard sessions make the good ones even the sweeter.  Pike fishing of course has taken off with me the past few seasons and these early lessons learnt trying rivers have put me in a good mindset for dealing with the blanks that come more often with the pike fishing.

Pike fishing does present a new set of problems with blanking as you might only get one chance on a session so that chances of a blank are high.  I feel the key to dealing with these is to evaluate if the area you are fishing is still where you think the pike will be as pike can be so seasonal in their movements as they follow the silvers and then also remain confident in your tactics.  Very rarely are huge changes in tactics needed i feel, the tactics and baits that caught pike before will catch pike now and as mentioned location can be reevaluated but in essence time is the only healer here and keeping positive, the fish will come.

One thing we should try to avoid is beating ourselves up as this only leads to you making more bad decisions on the possible bad decisions you are already making.  Try to avoid looking too much at what other anglers are doing and concentrate on your own fishing.  When blanking it is never a good idea to go looking at groups or pages on facebook of other anglers catching as remember only catching anglers really post so it will seem like the whole of the world but you is catching. Keep concentrated on your own fishing and in time the bites will come.

On to the fishing....

Monster Dace, Big Chub and Scale Regrets.....

So with the majority rivers around all in the fields we had a good sit down on Friday night and evaluated our options.  The river Dee was in the fields and most would say un-fishable but if you find the areas where there is a slack and the colour is not like chocolate you have a chance.  Most people look at the river charts, as i do, but from this chart only see the numeric level.  The chart is there to show you the trend of the level, if a river is in the fields then it is deemed un-fishable yet if this river has been in the fields for 10 days then the clarity of the main river might be good for fishing and its a case of finding the right spot.

We went through our options looking at the blog and past trips, yes the blog is my main tool for looking at passed trips over the years haha, we settled on a venue where we knew the level was i would say "ok".  In reality it would be the highest level we had ever fished this river but it had been dropping for a day or two so we knew we where in with a chance of a fish.

My plan for the day was to spend the morning in one swim where i was hoping to pick up the odd chub and if it died, it normally does due to the low stock of fish in this swim, then move and spend the afternoon in another swim where i knew there was a good head of chub.

The swim i was in was a stick float anglers dream, a nice even pace, even depth and fair bit of cover along the banks for the fish to feel safe around.  The first trot down brought the expected trout, greedy and always willing to feed i had a feeling this would be the first fish in.  Either that or a chub, i would have preferred the latter.  Trout are lovely fish but their erratic fight and flapping allover the swim does little to help your dace and chub swim.

half an hour into the session and i was pleased to see the dace hard on the feed as i knew it would prolong the longevity of the swim.  The swim being positioned where it is i knew the shoal of chub would be around eventually when the maggots proved too much to resist but in reality i would be happy to catch dace all day.  The quality of the dace seemed to suddenly improved with a me losing a nice dace and putting this dace on the bank.

I took a minute to admire its beauty, scale perfect as its mirror like scales glistened in the mottled light coming through the trees.  A few more trots down brought a few more dace and i was in heaven and then i hit a fish that felt nice.  You can normally tell from the fight what you are connected too, dace seem to thug and give a gliding fight, dace you really feel the tail, chub feel like your connected to the bottom and barbel leave you feeling like your in trouble from the off.  This was a weird fight and at first i thought chublet and even more so as it came up as it was a nice big fish, chub i thought, then i saw it on the top!  "jesus its a dace i thought!!"  in the net i was in ore at its beauty it was a really big dace.  I then thought scales which hit me where in my pike gear! gutted.

A fish i will never know the size of although i will always have the memory of its capture and this photo.

After this dace was in the net it seemed the dace died off and over the next hour or so i picked up the odd chub but as predicted around midday the swim seemed devoid of bites.  All my tricks to tempt another bite attempted i decided to take a picture of the net and move on, not a bad mornings work.

The move of swim brought me closer to my uncle and i looked forward to an afternoons banter as we fished the last two hours of the session.  The swim i was in i knew held a good head of chub and i had experienced some phenomenal sessions in this swim over the years with nets of chub over 30lb but the next two hours i have to say shocked me.

The pace of the river was more than i would have liked here and at first i thought i was wasting my time as the bait float trundled through the fast glide down to the snag.  A few trots down and nothing to show i started to experiment with feeding and presentation and it took a few changes here and there before i unlocked the key to the lock on how the chub wanted the bait on this session.

Trundling down the swim i feathered the line through my fingers along the swim slowing the bait right down and then right before the snag a gentle hold on the line and as soon as i released the float buried!  Solid resistance as only a chub gives and the 13ft korum float rod was bent double.  A tense battle i the extra flow and the chub came up to be netted.

The tactic nailed i went on to have two hours fishing to remember taking 11 chub and a few dace for a net estimated to be around 25-30lb.  A cracking two hours sport and fishing does not come much better than that on the stick float.  All caught on maggot and hemp.

That brings us to the end of this weeks blog update i hope the talk on blanking and the nice river session where a nice introduction to 2016.

Till next time i wish you all

tight lines