Saturday 26 March 2016

Not Just a Season For Specimen Dace.

 The Dace fishing had been a blast but it wasn't the only thing that enabled me to get my flowing fix, many species were tempted but the Roach fishing was also very good. Hard at times but if it's worth catching it's worth working for. Over the years I've made it clear that Roach are my favourite species and whether they are 8oz or 2lb 8oz I get a serious amount of satisfaction from catching them.

 I started the season on the first day with a massive haul of Redfin's, seventy-one of them to be precise, the average weight was around 10-11ozs to which a handful were over the pound mark, the sight of the float burying itself on what seemed like every trot was a real treat. Session's don't always pan out like that but it was clear they were hungry and particularly foolish. That wasn't my only red-letter-day for the species, but the trips that I ventured out and caught very little were often the trips that I contacted the jewels of waterways. Again, I've said it on numerous occasions in the past, a two-pound Roach is a monster of a fish for the species, one that has and will elude many anglers during their lifetimes, the fact I have caught nearly thirty over that magical weight is something I treasure already and under no illusion's at how tough it has been to get where I am.

 It took five sessions of Roach fishing at one point to catch, patience was required in large quantities but just like the Dace I was almost certain it would happen, on the fifth session I landed a stunning Roach of 2lb 3oz, this fish made it onto the front cover of the now unfortunately defunct "Coarse Angling Today", regrettably, probably the best angling glossy of my generation ceased to go to print as costs were crippling the company behind it, advertisement is so powerful and is the sole reason the remaining angling magazines are still going, even these seemingly large empires are struggling and have come close to ceasing print themselves, sad state of affairs but I felt honoured to appear on the front cover on the second to last ever run. Privileged.

First "two" of the season.

 My attention's turned away from the Roach for a little while before giving them a quick go, to my surprise it didn't take much to come across my next gem, the river wasn't in great condition from what I remember but the loss of clarity must have made the Roach a little more confident, absolutely pristine.
2lb 5ozs, stunning fish.
 So next was my third of the season and my largest of the season, actually my largest in nearly a decade, at 2lb 10oz it was colossal. The width and length was madness, when that fish was approaching the net I seriously thought it was going to trouble my personal best, alas it did not but I was thoroughly chuffed, what a specimen she was and had the pleasure of inching her into the river by hand to revive and then allow her just to slip out of my hands, back into the river.

In a state of enchantment, what a colossal fish.
 So when I thought Roach fishing was over as the Dace fishing was in full swing I snuck out for a four-hour session to see if I could tempt a Roach, not only did I tempt a Roach but it was another two-pounder. I was in dreamland, 2lb 6ozs of pure muscle, it still amazes me how strong large river Roach are, nothing can prepare you for how dirty and strong they can scrap.

 And last but not least, this corker below. Photo was courtesy of the very man who this session was intended, the task was for me to impart my knowledge and guile to catch/be within a chance of catching a two-pound Redfin, this wasn't for the faint hearted, Roach this size are extremely rare in rivers but I was confident that the condition's were good, within an hour I posed with this peach of 2lb 2oz, a large frame and a great fight, what a season it was for specimen Redfin's and I had plenty of back-up fish between 1.08 and 1.14, I missed out on the 2lb mark another three times by two ounces, this coming winter they will all surpass the magic mark.

A beauty of a Roach, number 28.

Sunday 20 March 2016

Dace: One Hell of a Campaign.

 With the river season now consigned to the history books I can safely say it has been a joy, many amazing catches had been made and managed to spend a healthy amount of times walking the banks whilst immersing myself in the beauty of the English countryside. What could be better?, It's an answer I can't give, but as an angler you will know.

 The catches that I've experienced this season have been some of my best in my career spanning more than two decades already. This season that has just ended was a success on many fronts but none more so than my quest for specimen Dace. The "Silver Dart" has always been a favourite species of mine, this season I targeted a couple of different sections on a couple of rivers, both of which I hadn't any information on, stocks and location were unknown, my seasons main target lay on a hunch, not something for the angler who's imagination and determination lacks, patience was required by truck load.

 Summer was in full swing when I decided to start my fishing, the low, clear condition's aided me to find fish although the shoals were small, Dace are typically fish that hang around in shoals sometimes reaching the thousands. Throughout the season I never did find a super-shoal but pockets of fish were found in numerous spots throughout both of the areas I fished, details of the areas fished will remain well hidden as the chance of a British Record I believe is a strong possibility, the fish I encountered throughout the season were typically young and pristine fish, amazingly they averaged over the course of the season to well over 11ozs ( more than 50% of the existing record ).

 My ultimate goals for the campaign was to find a sustained shoal of specimen fish in less than accessible locations and I achieved that, another was to find a specimen fish of one pound or more, I also achieved this feat. Dace surpassing that one pound barrier are extremely rare fish and to have actually caught one based on a hunch represents two things: one is that watercraft / knowledge are an essential tool to being a successful angler and two is persistence, the shoals at times were non-existent or so it seemed, all of a sudden a couple of fish would come on the feed and slip up. But once hooked, landing them was not always straight forward, the fights that ensued were very similar to Grayling as they squirm and writhe to avoid capture.

 With my campaign spanning almost the entire river season the rewards have been immense, my seasons average for Dace from the two specific areas was a staggering 11oz +, below is a breakdown of the weights caught in those areas I targeted.

1lb plus:      1  to 1lb 4dr
15oz plus:   1  to 15oz 4dr
14oz plus:   5  to 14oz 6dr
13oz plus:   5  to 13oz 7dr
12oz plus:  10 to 12oz 6dr
11oz plus:  13 to 11oz 5dr
10oz plus:    4 to 10oz 7dr
9oz and below: 18.

The hunch paid off big time and a complete success, a gamble I'm very glad to have made. Here are some highlights from my season's dart fishing.

The "One" 

Sunday 13 March 2016

Short, Sweet and Snotty.

 The season is nearly up with one more session to embark on before another action packed year is committed to the history books. Before tomorrow comes though I'll give a quick run through a trip from the back end of last week, it was initially in search of Roach but they were difficult to locate and ended up with nothing to show for our efforts which included a 5am start.....doesn't always workout for the best.



 Instead of giving up though I felt even though the Thames was in a shit state the misty conditions were too intriguing to ignore, amongst a multitude of Swans I managed to get myself amongst some sturdy river Bream in fairly challenging circumstances. It was good fun, an hour or so later I had bagged a dozen slabs to 6lb 8oz which was fairly decent going, maybe around fifty pound of snotty's was good and all on the trusty bread flake. Enough of that though, Myself and Brian headed off to continue with our faff of a session to catch some Chub, nothing big was targeted. A few small fish were banked along with probably upwards of a dozen Brown Trout to 3lbs or so. The session was ended quivertipping for Roach but these were a no show too, damn things know how to be evasive.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

More Big Dace.

 Not long left now, the season is nearly done. It's been quite a season with many quality fish caught and finishing off armed with a lot more knowledge to hopefully aide me in having another great season. I for one always wish the season was longer, but one simply can't complain with the amount of time spent on the bank, any spare time not spent with the missus has been spent on the banks of canals, rivers or lakes.

 Yesterday I snuck out for a little while even though I'm trying to shake off the flu, maybe not everyone's first choice but I simply couldn't sit and what another second of the drivel on television nowadays, so the Dace were my port of call and although it wasn't easy I managed three weighing 13.06oz, 13.03oz & 11.01oz, again these were big Dace and from yet another new swim but on the same mile beat that I've narrowed the fish down to.

13.06oz best of yesterday.

 Now to today, again maybe I should have been curled up in bed feeling sorry for myself but that simply isn't in my repertoire, so under the weather I still wanted to get out for a little while before retreating to the warmth of my bed. Dreadful I know but the small amount of time I spent out was anything but dreadful, a pristine Barbel and solid Chub fell to normal trotting tactics. This though was not the pinnacle as I have mentioned in the past, I have really wanted to really amongst the Dace numbers and build a decent bag, I know I can not complain, it has been a revelation in regards to what has been caught from what was nothing more than a hunch.

Looker or what.

A thick set Chub, taken on trotted bread flake.

 I can only imagine what the real numbers are in these nomadic shoals, one thing I'm sure of is that the surface is only just being scratched, swims aren't swims but mere holes in the vegetation, even at this time of year the briars and various other shrubs make access pretty difficult, where there are Dace though and I'll be close. Not for long now though, as of next season I will concentrate on different species which I didn't focus on this season. So close to the end of the season and I got my wish to catch quite a few, I finished up with seven Dace and lost/bumped another six fish.

14oz bang on, awesome.

Love it!!! six in the bed.....

Monster Dace, going to miss these. 14.06oz

 The size of these fish have been mind-bending, I hoped I'd find a couple specimen fish but in reality 90-95% of the Dace have been in excess of 11ozs, just one that size is brilliant but spoilt is a word that springs to mind. My three largest today were all over 14oz, infact the biggest went 14.06oz and the other two bang on 14ozs, the others were between 8oz and 12oz. It's been pretty darn good. I will at some point try to compile a list of trips including amount of Dace caught and weights of fish caught during those visits, in the next couple of years I honestly think that the shoal present may have a healthy population of pound plus fish, a British Record is a distinct possibility, out of what I had caught I had the one monster over 1lb and lost one that was clearly in the same league but others that have been lost haven't been that close to think there's a few around, but they are largely in pristine condition with only a couple with knicks and scrapes.

Thursday 3 March 2016

Frome vs Stour.

 Today I had a bumper session planned with the morning in search of Grayling on the River Frome and the afternoon on the mighty Dorset Stour. Both of these rivers are still largely unknown to me, I've only fished the Stour a handful of times and the Frome only the once, so this trip today was as much exploratory as it was a fishing trip. The weather was almost perfect, the wind a little stiff at times although not enough to get annoyed at, the Frome was chugging through still, this made fishing difficult still in some swims but there was life.

 First blood was a baby Grayling around 6oz which took ages to follow up and when I finally connected with a bite I lost it just 4-5ft from the net, a Grayling certainly approaching 2lb which really knocked the wind out of my sail as it was fishing hard, but I wasn't to be annoyed for long as I landed a powerful fish that I thought was a lot bigger than it turned out, although I thought it was a "two". Alas it just missed out but a pristine male which made everything all seem a little rosier.

A chunky 1.13, which I thought would do 2lb but oh well...

 I spent the remaining hour or so trying more spots but I couldn't manage another bite. On to the Stour, it's a river that can be moody one day and fish it's nuts off the next, today it looked like it should have fished it's nuts off but I remained biteless from 2pm to around 630pm, I believe my setup, bait selection and swim choice were right but maybe the Chevin's weren't on the munch. I shall return for them before March 14th comes.

Wednesday 2 March 2016

A Long Time Ago.....

 Here is something a little different. This was a journal I kept under my fathers tutelage, many sessions spent catching Carp, Tench, Bream and Roach. My first entry was back in 1992, I was just approaching five years of age when I started unleashing James Snr' knowledge in my own way on to a selection of lakes I used to fish. By 1996 ( aged 9 ) my personal best Carp was a fully scaled mirror at 27lbs. Not much has changed in 20 years. I missed many entries so it was very patchy but it also had the entry of my first two-pound Roach which are to date my only 2lb from a stillwater all the way back in 1992, how I must have been envied as a four year old with two 2lb plus Roach under my belt.

Blackwater Returns.

   Throughout my teenage years I spent many thousands of hours targeting Barbel in low gin clear rivers and really hammered home my love for...