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.