Monday, 25 January 2016

My Quest for Specimen Winter Dace.

 Since the turn of the year I had a couple of species that I wanted to target, Dace being one of them. I won't say I have been obsessed by them this season but it is borderline, my quest for a one pound specimen is the ultimate goal, but more importantly I've been keen to locate shoals and try to monitor them, not necessarily for conservation but more along the lines to see how quickly they grow.

 The last couple of trips out have been in search of Dace, with plenty of maggots the plan was to trot every run possible. Holding areas have already been located and these have produced good fish to a dram over 14oz with the average roughly 10oz, they're some of the largest average Dace I've ever come across. Whilst I have this pool of special fish to aim at I intend to find out how large they grow. Yesterday I managed a couple of hours on the bank for the "Silver Darts", the colour and level of the river was perfect so I hoped they'd play.

 With only a couple of hours to fish I decided to target a stretch that I've located two distinct shoals, to maximise my time I started feeding maggots immediately and run the float through on a far bank crease, from experience I know that indications are few and far between. For some reason I don't get many fish on each visit, not entirely sure why as I'm certain the shoals are around 30-40 strong each.

 So, before arriving I know that I have to make every opportunity count, well that didn't happen yesterday. The one opportunity I got to land a Dace was ended abruptly by a sneaky bit of willow, a very large Dace cruised up to the surface as it fought in the flow, a clearly big specimen which was very close to the pound mark if not over headed straight for the snag, within seconds it was gone. Witnessing a large Dace transfer the hook to the branch and swim off was gut wrenching, needless to say I swore, a lot. After that two small Chub managed to stay on and represented the only fish caught, it could have been so much better.

Stunning creatures, this is a specimen fish.
 Payback time. Again with a couple of hours to spare today I was determined to go some way to banishing yesterday's nightmare. After a quick stop off at the tackle shop to stock up on maggots I was river bound. With the same tackle as usual I set about working two areas, one of which being the scene of the previous session, I hoped that the Dace were feeding. twenty trots later things seemed a little quiet but that all changed once the bait finally hit the far-bank crease, the first decent trot and it resulted in a fish and not just any fish either, she was big!

 I was extremely cautious in bringing it up the swim towards the net, in the flow it wasn't easy but made sure that I didn't suffer the same fate, lucky for me though she made it in, it was very big and I knew they were in these sections of that size. As I leant over the net to unhook her I found the little size 16 nestled in the bottom of the net......phew, after yesterday I deserved a bit of good fortune, without wasting any time she went straight in my trusty bag to give me a pleasing weight of 15oz 4dr......oh so close, she looked every bit of a pound too.

Proper winter Dace, seasons best at 15oz 4dr.
 Perfect. Amazing creatures. I can't see why such a small amount of angler's tackle the smaller species of our rivers, these are arguably one of the prettiest, but maybe one of these are!

River Rudd are very rare, great stuff!
 That Rudd was a very nice surprise and the monster Dace was backed up by two more lovely fish weighing 13oz 2dr and 9oz 2dr which were in immaculate condition. As I said time was short and that was that, I shall be looking forward to a couple more sessions soon, give it a go.

Another large Dace at 13oz 2dr.


  1. Hello there
    Firstly congrats on some great dace - I note you weigh these fish down to nearest dram - which scales do you recommend ??
    Regards Dek

    1. Hi there Dek, cheers for dropping in. My Dace are weighed on Salter kitchen scales in a plastic dish to give me accurate readings or a set of Rubén Heatons 8lb set which are very sensitive too. Hope this helps. Best Wishes, James.

    2. Cheers for that .. Keep up the good work on the blog - I follow with interest and envy .. I am in pursuit of a 2lb roach and the 300 mile round trips to britford over the last three years has been a tale oh so near with a dollop of epic fails along the way .. If I see you there I will say hello - Tight lines

    3. No worries. Britford Roach are a tough nut to crack, I've watched two separate shoals there but haven't got amongst the big ones yet, I know how, just a case of getting them on a good day when they're feeding hard. Those fish incidentally are some of the most targeted Roach in southern England, so you have your work cut out for sure. But I wish you all the best with that and yes, I may pop down at some point before the seasons out for a swipe at some of those enormous Dace. Maybe even a Roach will slip up. Be Lucky.

  2. Amazing fish James

    I wonder how old the 15ozer is? Looks like old warrior.

    Great catch.

    1. Cheers George, it's hard to put an estimate on the age but from averages they have a life span of anywhere between 7-10 years, this particular specimen looked at the peak of condition, if I was a betting man I'd say 6-7 years old with room to grow on, hard to say but that's my guess. Not gospel !. But yes they're getting bigger, it's only a matter of time.

  3. Nice fish well swap a sesh for some scottish shark

  4. Nice work there. I haven't tried targeting Dace yet, but I think it's great that you're setting goals for yourself. Makes the experiences even more worth it!

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