A season bound by endless restriction saw very little angling of note taking place and what with a constant stream of work surrounding my garden and paid work coming in swathes to keep things afloat in the Denison household I had barely found the urge to fish beyond the odd hours after work in search of Barbel. So around valentines day Brian and I took an afternoon off from the mud-pit ( my garden project ) in the hope of finding some Dace as the females begin to put weight on in preparation for spawning around mid-April.
We began by trotting the head waters where sometimes they start to congregate around mid-Feb but after 15 minutes of running the 6g stick float through with a generous lump of bread flake was ignored it was time to get moving, which is strange as late season can often see shoals of 100 fish plus, but recent heavy rains may have displaced the shoal so we headed downstream, fortunately for us we know roughly where they will be and chances of monsters 12oz and over bracket are certainly possible and I have achieved fish over the 1lb barrier from these very swims, so if there was ever a reason to remain focused and fired up for a trip that would be the tonic.
Clear and cold conditions were order of the day and have been very successful when shrouded in mist, low pressure and cold, its something like this just seems to get the Dace feeding, but now after three swims it seemed like they either had other ideas on feeding or we simply hadn't found them. The game of cat and mouse is always a thrilling one and after a good two hours of searching I peeped over a hedge and could see 30-50 fish including Dace, some of which were real corkers and the sense of excitement went through the roof, like a little child unwrapping a desired toy at Christmas, we couldn't wait to get fishing for them and in the crystal clear water we could see them hovering around mid-depth, flashing on the gravel, turning at objects coming down in the water and darting in and out of the numerous beds of ranunculus. This was the chance, so I gave Brian the rod and hoped to be on camera duty for a big Dace.....
Unfortunately for Brian, Trout and Chub decided to scupper his efforts, but I got lucky with two Dace on the alternate fish, one was around 6oz, then this one which was a welcome sight and a beautiful winter "Silver Dart", praying it didn't come off in the brisk current were answered as I got to cradle another chalkstream beauty.
Then as the light failed the mornings rain started to affect the river and clarity was lost and then the fish started switching off. That was it for us, not a bad result for an off-the-cuff afternoon visit. Locally!