Sunday 28 February 2016

Big Dace in a Wild Place ( Part Six )

 This afternoon I had a couple of spare hours, which for a Sunday is quite unusual, I was accompanied by my father for the short session. Initially we thought a little species hunt would be a good bit of fun but the time and conditions were against us so we decided otherwise and my father went off in search of Chub and I, well naturally I targeted the Dace.
 The distinct lack of rain in these parts has affected the levels here, so some runs were severely low in water and hardly any pace, this made swim selection difficult but not impossible. For Dace though I am certainly in the groove and this afternoon I landed another large specimen of 14.4oz, this one certainly looked as if it had been through the wars a little, chunk taken out of it and a dis-organised scale pattern. Character.

It's been a blast!
 I did continue but only a couple of bites followed which I didn't connect with, it seems strange that the runs go dead after very little activity, my only conclusion is that I'm only catching the occasional fish that is feeding but the shoal aren't switched on, I use a keep-net so what I catch isn't going back to piss off the remaining Dace and I know they're not pressured for a fact. Since I couldn't get any more Dace my attentions turned to Roach with a few spots in mind on the way home I bagged myself a plump male covered in spawning tubicals of a pound or so, the Roach are preparing to create the next generation.

Thursday 25 February 2016

Big Dace in a Wild Place. ( The Special One ).

 I have spent a sizeable chunk of this season targeting Dace with the ultimate goal in catching a pound plus specimen, throughout the season I have been lucky enough to catch plenty "Silver Darts" over 12ozs with the largest weighing a massive 15oz 4dr, so close to that magical mark but as the season nears it's conclusion most species of fish are approaching their top weights in preparation to spawn. Knowing this it's a case of putting a bait into the water, having already done all the hard work in location.

 This morning I woke up and went off to work as if it was any usual day, went about my business and managed to finish up early, naturally I shot off home, packed my trotting gear and camera then headed off out river bound for a Dace or two. Once I arrived at the river I quickly found out it was very low, the lowest I've seen it in a long time and gin-clear just to make it more difficult, not to be deterred I start trotting straight away as I only had a couple of hours out before dusk, my first swim usually provides me with some sport but this afternoon the wire-stem float went through untouched repeatedly until I concluded nothing was home. Typical, but I know Dace and know them enough that they won't be far away.

 By this point I was already halfway through the time I had available, thing's were looking hard but then I found a short run where magic was about to happen. First cast I bumped a nice Dace which was hard to take, but I continued running the float through and on the fourth trot I finally hooked a good Dace that stayed on!. A strong fight followed but it was only going to end one way, another specimen fish of 13oz 2dr nestled in the bottom of my net, wicked!. But it was about to get sooooo much better, maybe half a dozen trots on from the first Dace and the float slipped under sharply as a fish made off with my bait, the fight initially was so powerful I thought it was a Chub but I eased up the river and as it cleared the vegetation a bright pearly silver flank glistened in the sun as it cut through the water. It was a very large Dace and I thought it was going to break that magical barrier but I've thought that before this season and had just missed out. It wasn't to happen today, in all her glory the needle inched past the one pound mark and settled on half-ounce over. I weighed it twice after just to confirm the weight and the same reading was given. Bloody awesome!!.

One pound and half ounce of monster Dace. Brilliant.
 I can't even imagine how many hours I've put in and how many big fish I've had during that time but this specimen tops them all!, only a month or so a go I lost what was a certain pound-plus fish on a snag before disappearing into the turbulent water, this one was mine. I think I deserved this one.


 Knowing all of the hard work had paid off I could just continue and see what else I could manage, not long after I restarted I received another decent indication on the float and when I struck the rod thumped around, for more than 2 or 3 minutes I didn't get to see what the culprit was until it broke the surface in front of me and really was a good Chub, I thought at first it was an easy 5lb fish and approaching 6lb when it steamed back off downstream then as it vanished from sight the hook slipped and the float came hurtling out of the water.....gone but not forgotten, I shall be back with the proper gear for them at some point.

 That Chub unfortunately had ploughed through my swim on numerous occasions which put the Dace right off. I headed off downstream as the sun started to set and had a few trots for Dace in a couple of other runs but contrived to catch a couple of pristine Brown Trout, first was about 2.8 and the second was a long lean 4lb 4oz Male Trout which didn't fight particularly hard but when unhooking it he flipped and drove the hook straight through the top of a finger, lucky it was a barbless!

Big wild spotty.
 What a couple of hours fishing, just proves that the more time you spend on the bank the luckier you get.

Saturday 20 February 2016

The Magic of Winter.

 Trotting on a river in temperature's below zero are often uncomfortable, numb fingers along with uncontrollable nasal drip are just a couple of the issues you have to contend with, but when the line can't flow through the eyes of the rod because they're frozen up is arguably the hardest, almost every cast resulted in this happening. That persisted until the sun got high enough to warm the air up, it made for a beautiful morning and I wouldn't change it for anything. The Roach were my target for the day as is usually the case, with such large fish in residence it's very difficult to pull yourself away to fish for anything else.

Love it.
 This season I have fished quite extensively for Roach, plenty of blanks in search of fish have been backed up by some stunning specimens and all of which I recognise that I'm extremely fortunate to have experienced such catches. The conditions were perfect for Roach but I know that sometimes the right conditions are wrong. If that makes sense. Catches have been made at times when they shouldn't have and blanked when conditions were "bang on", so I've learnt over the years to just find the time and fish for them how I know, just be there is my motto.

 Being in the Test Valley the stocks of game fish are pretty large aswell, usually many are caught during the day and today was of no exception, many Trout slipped up to my trotted whatever, simply ravenous. Trout were not my target and were ruining swim after swim, just as I found good looking runs where Roach may be the Trout turned up in force, at one point I caught the same one THREE times! on the same bait. But before that no Roach were caught but plenty of Grayling to 1.11 were taken on bread, corn and maggot. Then I did find a small pocket of Roach with a couple approaching 2lbs, although I did catch a couple of the Roach around 10-12ozs I didn't manage to get one of the larger fish, then the Trout crashed the party as usual.

Stealthily targeting the Roach and myself just baiting the hook.
 It took ages to find more Roach, so I decided to head to a bend I know they hang around in quite a decent number, within minutes the float slipped away as it approached a slight depression on the river bed, fish on and it was a Roach, but not just any Roach. It won't win any prizes for size at 1.04 but it was without a doubt the most awesome of redfin I've ever caught, Brian echoed that too as we both simply have never seen a more exquisite example of the species. That Roach was the highlight of my day for sure, as day turned to night with plenty of knocks on the tip that was it for me as the action didn't provide any clear cut opportunities to hit, probably just the damn Minnows playing with me. 30 odd Grayling and 3 Roach plus the loads of Brown Trout and a corker of a Rainbow was my day in a nutshell.

Simply magnificent, size wasn't a factor in this one.

One of many quality Grayling
 It is heaven though, just a shame the Otter's have done a lot of damage already, will there be anything left by this time next year? Let's hope they all miraculously die!. I'm not sorry if that offends anyone either. Complete and utter vermin!.

Thursday 18 February 2016

Winter Fishing, So Enjoyable.

 Specimen Dace and Roach fishing has been the staple of most of my time spent on the bank, it's been successful and thoroughly enjoying, as fishing should be. So today I fancied doing a bit of everything, Dace, Roach, Chub and whatever else felt like coming along.

One of my favourite trots.

 A tub of maggots and a loaf of bread is all that was needed today, the Chub were my first target and in the heavily coloured water the fish were feeding very confidently, within 30-40 minutes I had four Chub to 5lb 1oz on trotted flake, but all the time I was there the colour was dropping out fast, once the colour reached a certain level the bites stopped and first part of the session was done.

Best of the day.
 Next up, Dace, I have a few cracking places that I fish for these impressive little creatures. A pound plus "Silver Dart" is the pinnacle of Dace fishing and one of them here is possible and I've lost one and landed one nearly there. The trotting wasn't easy as the extra water made presenting the bait properly very arduous, at times the crease of the water became fishable and usually this would induce a bite or a fish, nearly an hour's fishing resulted in three lovely winter Dace with the best a gnat's hair under 13ozs. Not bad at all, it's been quite a season for them.

 Then as dusk approached I thought with the colour in the river would be ideal for some Roach fishing, with the potential of a monster pretty much out of the question I enjoyed the vigorous scraps put up by the beautifully conditioned winter Roach, a joy to catch and it's not hard to see why they are so popular.
Some cracking examples of winter Roach.

Saturday 6 February 2016

28 and Counting.....

 The title at first might not make much sense but all will be revealed later. After a great day yesterday it would have been hard act to follow, but a plan was hatched. This was to try and get my angling partner Brian on to a personal best Roach and Dace, we saw some Roach of Thursday that would make the most experienced a quivering wreck, looking across the backs of Roach pissing all over 2lb and heading to 3lbs was awe inspiring, absolute monsters.

 Seeing as we didn't contact one of the biggun's yesterday we decided to give it a go again, I have been very lucky over the years with large fish over the two-pound mark, 27 to be precise, so I think Brian had served his apprenticeship and I felt it was time to show him a couple of the aces tucked up my sleeve, a very early start again wasn't what my body wanted as I peeled myself out of bed, but somewhat reluctantly I made it to meet Brian and blindfolded we headed to a secret spot of mine that I know holds Roach of dreams, the task was for him to catch one.

 Initially I was happy just to lead him in the right direction but once arriving we agreed to fish consecutively upon captures of Roach, when we arrived the Roach were topping in mid-river which was a good omen as they are often feeding quite well when they do that. Brian's first Roach took a while to materialize but materialize it did, a sturdy fight in the flow was ended abruptly as I slipped the fish into an awaiting net, a lovely pristine fish of 1lb 4oz 4dr, not bad at all. My didn't take long for me to contact a Roach and it was a Roach of "Fish of a Lifetime" proportions, another large Roach was snared but not before it gave a good account of itself in the turbulent water, this was to be Brian's first ever sight of a 2lb Roach and I think he was pretty impressed as I always am, not a shame that I caught it but wanted the guest to feel the elation that such a large fish gives you.

Bloody awesome. 5th of the season over 2lb.
 On the scales she registered a very pleasing 2lb 2oz 5dr, just the tonic for witnessing them yesterday and not catching. A cracking fish and that was my fifth two-pound Roach of the season, what a season it has been!. Back to Brian and he didn't take long to contact another fish but unfortunately escaped, then a carbon copy take on the next trot resulted in the same manner. Then the moment he and I hoped would come, the float slipped away in what was a mental twenty minute spell as the Roach were hard on the feed. His rod was being put through it's paces as a large frame of a Roach approached the surface clearly over 2lbs we both got very excited and I exclaimed "be careful now, that is a very big fish", not to put pressure on him, then after we both got a perfect view of the prize the hook inexplicably slipped and with one sharp flick of the tail it had vanished from sight. That hurt!.

 Although the next fish wasn't as big as the one just lost it was still a corker which spun the dial around to 1.10, it was turning out to still be Brian's best trip with a record brace for him, very happy days, the loss of that monster will play on his mind until the day he breaks that milestone, but baby steps are the best way. Back to me and the bites were still coming but losing confidence quickly, I knew it was nearing the end of the "Gold Rush" and that things would dry up if they weren't kept occupied, knowing this made things easy though and within ten minutes I managed another large Roach that looked every bit of two-pound but ultimately missed out...just, at 1.14 it was a cracker and great too see such a stunning fish, two big Roach in a day? I was certainly done and Brian had had a great morning too. The action on the Roach front did slide off a cliff but Dace did put in an appearance occasionally to break up the monotony of dead trots.

Just missed out on the magic mark, but a real beauty all the same.
 Time for a move and we travelled a good few miles before we arrived at our next beat, this one was in search of monster Dace, this season has been fantastic for quantities of large specimens and hoped to put Brian on a personal best, I know the stretch very well and if things aren't happening I usually know where it can work. The Dace weren't where they have been of late and were held up in a hole just 5ft long and 3ft deep, watercraft is paramount in these situations and with this we both managed Dace with Brian managing a new PB of 10oz 5dr and I managed another big one of 12ozs on the nose, a fantastic two days of fishing. Shame it was over but I'm all fished out now and it's midday on a Saturday and I've just finished this write up. Well done mate.

Another real big Dace. I was happy, honest!

Thursday 4 February 2016

A Day in Paradise.

 If there is one place I get excited about fishing it's this place, hidden away in deepest Hampshire it's just the ticket for escaping the pace of work and life in London. I don't usually need an excuse to get a day's fishing in but after a dreadful week which culminated in my first vehicle incident which shook me up a bit but apart from a sore back, everything is okay.

 Even before that unfortunate episode the trip today was already planned, so a minor setback wasn't going to ruin it, Brian and I made the journey down under the cover of darkness with the intention of making a full day of it. Upon arrival at the river it appeared to have little colour and was slightly up, just perfect for my chosen target of the day, Roach. These are never easy on this particular venue but I know that they grow in excess of 3lbs with a specific shoal averaging high 1's to mid 2's, a mind blowing shoal of fish and one that I have been trying to unlock, as of yet I'm just off the 2lb mark.

 Before I targeted the Roach a few hours was spent trotting and free-lining for Grayling. As usual though the Trout were on a mass feeding frenzy, Brown and Rainbow's of various sizes to 4lbs constantly featured, the fight's on the light gear was brilliant fun but ruined swim after swim. Luckily enough for me the Roach and Grayling are probably used to those crazy fish, allowing the swim to rest for 5-10 minutes meant I could continue to trot through some of the best swims I've ever fished.

Screaming reels as an alarm!
 My first fish of the day was a cracking Rainbow Trout, maybe around 3.08, then the floodgates opened with more than 20 Trout coming to the net before I saw a Grayling or Roach. Then the Grayling gently eased themselves into the frame, once I had got the depth right some good fish were caught with my best three going 1.12, 1.08 & 1.07.

 There was one bum note as I did lose a very good Grayling which was over 2lbs which left a sour taste, always one though I suppose, but why the bigger wouldn't be so bad if it was 6ozs!.

 We decided to target the Roach after lunch in the lower reaches for a few hours, thing's didn't go quite to plan as the recent attentions of an Otter have really put the shoals of Roach off and appeared to be very cautious, the shoal we were targeting clearly had other ideas, feeding wasn't it. 4 hours of trying and we had a Roach each but nothing large, my one just scraped a pound. We shall be back for sure, a day in paradise.


My only Roach of the trip.

8 Years in the Making.

   So we find ourselves finally able to get back on the rivers and thank god for it too. I don't mind stillwaters and canals now and aga...