Not the best of sessions although it’s always great to get out fishing and this session was a long time coming. I attended the Northern Show on Saturday on my clubs stand which was even better than earlier in the year, plenty to see and too many tempting offers but I managed to keep my wallet firmly in my pocket, I had to as the fishing wagon had just cost me well in excess of £300 to pass it’s MOT!!
On the Sunday I was off to Bury with my daughter for a training session with the England squad followed by a five-hour first aid course so we didn’t get back home until 8pm but I still needed my weekly fix so a Monday evening session was planned after work.
Arriving at 4pm I quickly met up with Penno who’d been there since mid afternoon and had already had a small chub on The Hook Bait Co ‘Flakey’ which is a strong smelling bait based on bread flake, one whiff of said Flakey and you’ll know why chub love it!!
I headed for the swim where I’d pulled the hook on something big the week before and started to set up, it was dusk and Penno came over to say hello as well as give me an early Christmas present of a really nice Zippo lighter and silver case with a barbel emblem on it, I was chuffed so we celebrated Christmas early with a self take or eight as that’s what the camera is set for but this one turned out the best.
I fed small pieces of cheese paste into the swim and resisted the temptation to cast until 5pm, I found that an under arm cast from opposite the raft was more accurate and then a short walk back to my peg so in it went, game on or so I hoped.
Apart from a few plucks I had nothing so decided to try the ‘Pier’ swim upstream, then Shrinkers before returning to my original swim around 8pm. Despite trying cheese paste, meat, Flakey and Flakey wrapped in cheese paste it was a fairly uneventful evening and after fifteen last casts I finally packed up at midnight and headed home. Reflecting in the car driving up the M6, as you do, I concluded it was worth every minute, a bad evenings fishing beats sitting in front of the TV every time!!
Daisybank 14-12-13 “I’m going slightly mad”
Completely undeterred by Monday’s rather uneventful blank session I geared up for more of the same and, like the last one, it was a late start to proceedings due to some mid afternoon pre-Christmas visiting.
I arrived at 4:30pm and was set up and fishing by 5pm, I’d chosen the swim downstream of the island as although a rope is needed to drop onto the bank I fancied this swim for a quick unsuspecting chevin plus with the wind and rain blowing in from behind me I was sheltered by the high bank.
For this session I’d brought along a couple of loaves worth of liquidised bread and a small cage feeder, hook bait – well apart from the trusty cheese paste I had prawns, meat, black pudding (yes I know but apparently it can be a killer chub bait), bread and Peperami. Such a wide selection of baits showing my recently deflated confidence in the ability to catch.
It was with much doubt I made the first cast but it lifted my spirit slightly as it landed perfectly on the crease of an overhang and fell through the swim settling just about where I’d had a chub a few weeks earlier in much the same conditions. I settled back under the umbrella and poured a cup of coffee the rod tip twitched twice, a definite sign of activity in the swim, I picked up the rod and waited, touch ledgering is really quite simple and tells you much more than watching the tip. I struck as I felt a vibration on the line and felt that almost forgotten resistance……I’m in!!
Not wanting to lose the fish I was cranking it in as much as I could on the light set up when it locked solid in a clump of weed, stalemate ensued for a minute or so but eventually it came free and slid over the waiting net. Yes, yes, yes no blank for Grazy on Daisy today, delighted, no need to weigh it as it felt around 3lb and in pristine condition.
I carried on fishing that swim for an hour before gathering the roving gear and heading downstream. I would describe the next five or six hours as “plenty of interest but no takers” and that’s why it felt like I was going slightly mad, I ended up staying until the early hours of Sunday morning in the raft swim where I’d twice lost a big fish two weeks earlier, the moon was out and the swim well lit which made it easy to cast within two foot of the far bank, feel the feeder touch bottom, rod in hand and finger crooked across the line, one, two, three…. pluck one, two pluck pluck, one, two pluck and STRIKE…… missed it!!
This happened almost every cast, I could feel them competing for the bait and on most occasions stripping the soft cheese paste off the hook but could I catch them? I’m convinced chub have developed a ‘pick-pocket’ technique over the years, you know they have their fin in your pocket and are systematically stripping you of your hard-earned but can you catch them at it? can you heck as like!!
Fifteen ‘last casts’ later and I was packed up and heading for home, I should have called it a night at 9pm not 2:30am but you don’t catch fish sat at home and technically it was one of my shorter sessions so I couldn’t complain. I had that tired but satisfied feeling driving home, the roads were empty and I was soon wrapped up in bed nodding off to the beat of one, two, three STRIKE…..bugger!!
I fancy a change of scenery for next weeks exploits and have decided the River Bollin will be my first choice, it’s similar in size to the Dane but has a reputation for being a difficult river to catch on but with winter well and truly here it’s the same story for most anglers and I’ll enjoy the day out with Chub Study Group regional organiser Phil Hatton who knows the river very well and may help me catch a chub or two along the way.
Not quite the River Bollin 21-12-13
Well I did try to fish somewhere other than the river Dane but I’d arranged to meet up with Phil Hatton and he decided mid-week that my choice of the Bollin would prove difficult and as he’d not had much luck there recently we agreed a morning session on the Dane at Saltersford followed by………. yes you guessed it Daisybank in the afternoon.
The plan was to meet up at 7:30am however the early start for me was delayed because I fancied trotting maggot and my usual Friday night trip to the tackle shop was abandoned due to the owner going in for a minor operation and shutting shop so it was my first visit to Daves of Middlewich that saw me stood outside at 8:55am bait box in hand and no more than a tenner in my pocket due to my incurable shopping habit when presented with an aladdins cave of fishing tackle in shops such as this. Ten minutes later I was back in the car with a pint of red and whites and a box of lob worms plus about four quid left from my tenner, bonus!!
I arrived and parked in the farm yard, it really does set the scene for a nice day in the countryside, the yard has buildings on three sides with old stables and a lovely little brook running through it, this time of year the holly bush was in full bloom giving a nice Christmas feel to proceedings.
Phil confirmed he was on his way so I loaded up the gear and headed off towards the upper limit mindful of the cows ‘incident’ a few weeks earlier plus I’d heard of a confirmed haul of chub and grayling from this area on trotted maggot.
The river levels were dropping having risen mid-week but nothing really prepared me for what I was greeted with at the river’s edge, it was in full flood, murky brown and pushing through at a rapid pace. Thoughts of gently trotting maggot soon disappeared and I started to think through my tackle and wonder if it was up to the job!!
The river raced passed my feet and I knew the only option was to find the slacks and drop a smelly bait in, hopefully a chub might be resting up and locate the bait in the muddy depths.
I set up my usual 2oz tip and added a 3oz grippa lead to try and hold bottom, casting to the far bank that ran towards the fallen tree pictured above I didn’t even feel the lead hit bottom. The flow picked it up and ran it the full length of the swim before I clipped the bail arm over and put the rod down on the rest, within seconds it was arched over to the right and pulling to the point were I thought it was going to take off!!
I reeled in and discovered a huge mound of leaves had gathered around the lead and the cheese paste hook bait had long since gone so I added another 3oz lead making 6oz in total on a 2oz tip that’s not good practice.
After 2 more casts I gave up and waited for Phil to arrive, time for a brew and a re-think. We had a natter and wandered upstream looking for likely spots but nothing looked promising apart from a couple of areas Phil had spotted walking up to meet me so I re-rigged with a 4oz tip and wandered back upstream, at least this area was nearer the car for later on.
I found a slack and dropped a lead in with a long hook link and a lump of meat, it was virtually under my feet in the margins but I had around four foot of depth and I figured that fish would be holding up away from the main flow. A group of ducks braved the fast flow edging up the far bank in a determined manner.
I stuck it out for an hour before finishing another brew and some biscuits with Phil, we concluded it was never likely to happen and as Phil had a week’s trip to the Wye booked just after Christmas all wasn’t lost so we went our separate ways and I headed for Daisybank.
As it’s only a mile or so downstream of Saltersford I knew the river at Daisybank would be up but standing on the top of the hill I could clearly see the river which is not good and something I’d never seen previously so I headed straight for the pier swim and set up actually in the field at the top of the bank.
The slack area behind the bush was ideal for presenting my cheese paste which actually settled upstream of the lead due to a back eddy drawing it closer to the cover, perfect!! After half an hour I moved downstream to another slack area this time not bothering to set a chair up but instead holding the rod steady on the rest stood up like a pelican waiting for a bite. I could feel a number of vibrations through the line and struck at anything that felt like a bite but perhaps it was just debris clipping the line and gathering around the lead as before.
I moved again and found myself back at the raft swim where I’d spent many an hour trying to tempt the mysteriously large inhabitant out from its lair. It was 4pm and the sun was quickly disappearing behind me, one minute it was there the next it was gone.
My faithful weather site yr.no had predicted rain at 6pm so I set the brolly up to also act as a wind break as a ‘moderate’ south easterly breeze blew in behind me and with the river up I was sat with my head level with the top of the field.
I decided to give it a couple of hours and this time I cast downstream of the raft to a pool that had been formed over time as the bank had eroded, it was almost like casting into a still water and once the lead touched down it didn’t move so I knew the bait was static and more likely to remain on the hook. An under arm cast was all that was needed with a short walk back to my chair so I poured a brew and settled down for evening.
At 6pm I heard the first drops of rain on the brolly which had swung around slightly in the wind, I had the rod perched perfectly on the rod rest and the green isotope shone brightly with little or no movement from the current as I had the rod tip high to keep as much line out of the water as possible. Out of habit I was touch ledgering and had the line crooked under my forefinger and the rod butt resting on my leg. I was comfortable and warm and as the rain came down heavier I took a moment to reflect back on why we do this great pastime in such dire conditions, it was blowing a hooley with heavy rain battering the brolly, it was dark and cold and there I was sat in a field on the off-chance a fish might just stumble across my bait and feel sorry for me!!
At 7pm the rain subsided so I decided to reposition the brolly, that was my first mistake, the second mistake was letting the wind get under the brolly which immediately ripped the cover off three of the spines so with a flapping half chewed brolly I embraced the moment and saw the funny side as would you if you’d have been fishing opposite me. Eventually I managed to get the brolly back together and packed it away, the rain clouds had subsided and the night sky looked promising at least for another hour.
I continued fishing and checked the weather forecast on my phone, more rain at 9pm so I’d definitely have to be on my way by then but as the clouds blew across the sky and slowly disappeared I started to think it wasn’t coming. I’d been updating my Facebook page at regular intervals and had it on good authority that it was raining heavily in Rudheath some three miles north of where I was so naturally I was waiting for it to hit me, it’s only now that I’ve looked on the map do I realise that the rain in Rudheath was one and the same of that which had hit me at 6pm so I was actually alright to fish on. My hands however had lost all feeling and despite my usual fifteen last casts I called it a night when I overcast to the far bank and snagged up, I pulled for a break and unfortunately lost all the end tackle but it was a fitting end to a difficult day the likes of which would test the resolve of the most hardcore of angler.
Not the best of starts to my two-week Christmas break but ‘things can only improve’ and after this session it shouldn’t be too difficult to have a better one!!
I’d been keeping a close eye on the river levels mid-week after being caught out last Saturday so I was pleased to see the Dane dropping nicely and although it did start to rise Friday night I was reasonably confident as I waited in the car park at 8am for Phil and Lee to arrive.
Phil holds the current club record for barbel at 12lb 5oz caught on the river Severn at Rossall however the recent weather had not been too kind to the Severn which saw it breach it’s bank leaving Shropshire anglers with little or no choice but to give it a miss or risk life and limb to fish it.
I’d contacted Phil the day before and suggested he headed north to give the Dane a try as he’d mentioned recently he’d like to see what all the fuss was about so once he’d parked up the three of headed off on a quick guided tour of the infamous Daisybank stretch.
Tour over and appetites suitably wet we split up and started fishing around 10am. Lee headed straight for the end swim, a nice wide bend with plenty of pace on due to the extra water and Phil dropped into a chubby looking swim in the lower field. I on the other hand hadn’t yet got ‘the big Dane monster’ out of my system so headed straight for the raft swim that had seen me stood there like a pelican the week before until 2:30am in the morning.
I started off perfectly with a 1oz feeder full of liquidised bread dropping a smelly piece of cheese paste about a foot short of the far bank in the hope that a four foot hook link would roll the paste under said raft and tempt ‘the monster’ out of it’s hiding place but instead of my cunning plan working I’d managed to snag it underneath the raft so after twenty minutes I recast and pulled back before it hit bottom to ensure it didn’t snag up again.
After an hour or so I wandered down to the gate swim and met Lee who’d had a chub and declared (in his own words) it had stolen the bait from the mouth of a big barbel or so he believed!! Phil had also had a chub and lost a barbel so it was hang your head in shame time as the home team came in for tea and biscuits 2-0 down. Undeterred I continued to fish with much optimism and tried the swim after the gate and finally the swim after the island both of which had proved successful in recent weeks……………. just not on this occasion.
Trudging back to the raft swim at around 4pm I captured the sunset and thought where has the day gone?
Phil had settled into the gate swim and Lee had joined him so I made up the trio of Piscators and we chatted about how the day had gone. I was pleased to hear that Phil had caught three grayling from the gate swim on nothing more than the humble worm, he’d taken my advice and was using a small lead to trundle the worm through the swim and was pleased with the days result.
I was even more pleased to hear that both Phil and Lee had witnessed what they thought was a mid-double common carp cruising in reverse downstream right under the rod tip, this had to be the Dane monster I said and collectively we agreed if only to passify my own curiosity but lets be absolutely clear, I’m not a ‘carper’ although I don’t mind catching them on the right tackle what I mean is I don’t do the whole ‘carp’ thing, it’s just not my style of fishing, yes I do very long sessions sometimes 48 hours but I tend to do that during close season and mainly for tench on Lymmvale. I once did four nights on the upper Severn but even then that was under my oval brolly and the rods were reeled in whilst I slept and to be fair I did look like Robinson Crusoe on day four and smelt of halibut oil but the young bullocks didn’t seem to mind and actually seemed to accept me as a guesting neighbour during my stay.
Fired up by the sighting I returned to raft swim just as it went dark, I cast in a big lump of meat after a quick re-rigging and a welcomed cup of coffee and said good-bye to Phil and Lee who’d by all accounts thoroughly enjoyed the day, so much so Phil was returning the next day to do it all again as was I due to a signing off of a 48 hour pass out from home!!
We’d discussed earlier why the barbel didn’t seem to be feeding and concluded that the sudden drop in water temperatures must have put them off. I had cold korma turkey curry for tea which actually tasted very nice considering it had sat in my bag all day but once the sun finally disappeared the air temperature plummeted to below zero and I lost all feeling in my toes so given I was returning the next morning anyway I packed up at 6:30pm and headed for the car park and that all important car heater to defrost.
Worms and maggots seemed favourite for Sunday’s session oh and some much needed sleep!!
Daisybank 29-12-13 (Or Grazy on Daisy take two)
I didn’t retire to bed until 2:30am and nodded off eventually to the sight of a mid-double common drifting up and down the raft swim blowing big carpy raspberries in my direction. The alarm had me up and out for 8am and I arrived in the busier than usual car park just before 9am.
My plan of attack for the morning session was to deposit a pint of dead maggots in the pier swim and fish a couple on hook in the vain hope that I’d ‘nick an early fish’ (see I know the terminology but that still doesn’t make me a carper).
Penno arrived at 10:30am having been and bought the fresh maggots and lobs so the plan was a few hours trotting in the horse-shoe followed by an afternoon on the tip. I settled on Shrinkers as my main swim and planned to fish until the rain arrived at 6pm, Penno jumped in a swim just upstream of me and we fished for an hour or so before tackling up to run a stick float through a few tempting swims.
Word of a few grayling coming out to maggot lifted my spirits but I was starting to have one of those days when nothing was going right. Firstly I had a rats nest of line to deal with on my centre pin and secondly I needed a screw driver which I’d left in my other roving bag back at home, after trying to search for an alternative I discovered the key used to open a tin of meat did the job and I was able to sort out the tangle.
After trotting for an hour I realised the lady of the stream was not going to show herself easily and headed back to Shrinkers. It was 2:30pm but I felt I hadn’t really started fishing properly yet so I baited up with hemp and fished half a lob worm with bread in the feeder.
Nothing stirred in the swim not even a line bite although some leaves had caused a major twist in the line resulting in tangle number two, this time on the Browning fixed spool reel, I’d only put the new line on two days ago so to chop best part of 20 yards out until the twist had gone really did make think I should have stayed in bed. Once sorted though I was able to relax and take in the surroundings, it’s amazing how much wildlife there is along the riverbank when you stop and take notice, a robin was mooching around and stayed still long enough for me to take a few shots.
By 4:30pm it was dusk and I suddenly thought about the Dane monster which I’m convinced had snapped me off in Shrinkers earlier in the year as well as Dave a few weeks later and as I’d brought a bag of soft fishy pellets to pre-bait the raft swim it’d be rude not to put the centre pin rod out directly in-front of me as a sleeper rod so complete with a PVA bag of halibut ground bait and chopped pellets it was cast out with fingers crossed and this time without tangles!!
Penno departed at 5pm but I said I’d stick it out for another hour, it was freezing cold and the wind was picking up but apart from a definite chub pluck on meat the rod tips remained silent and at 7:30pm after my usual fifteen last casts I packed up and faced the long walk back up the hill. Another blank for Grazy on Daisy but I’ve long since stopped worrying about the lack of fish and on this session it was great to meet up with other members and swap some fisherman’s tales some of which are actually true!!
The Bollin beckons and after confirmed captures of big chub and barbel this season I’m going to make the effort and give it a go, who knows 2014 might even see me achieve that magical 5lb chub or double figure barbel either way I’d like to thank you for reading my Ramblings from the Riverbank in 2013 and for sharing my passion (some might say obsession) for river fishing.
Tight lines for 2014,
If you want to follow Grazy and his mates on their fishing exploits as they unfold I usually put a post up on Facebook when I’m out so click the button below.