Last Saturday I had the pleasure of guiding for Deano on my favourite stretch of the river Dane. I’m by no means a seasoned guide and in fact it was offered as a prize for our charity auction last April, which incidentally raised a total of £2500 for Macmillan Cancer Support. Someone suggested it was the booby prize but Deano won it fair and square with the highest bid and despite the ribbing from my mates I took the challenge seriously and looked at how I could ensue Deano got the most from the day/evening session. Last season I probably fished this stretch most weekends and you tend to get a feel for where you’ll find the fish but this season has proved extremely difficult with a long summer and little rain it’s been a mission to avoid a blank most of the time.
River Dane 25th October 2014
The guiding day arrived and arrangements made to meet in the farm car park at 7:30am. As is customary I cooked us both some bacon butties before setting off on the long walk down the hill, Deano was fully fed and ready to do battle, being mainly a tench and carp angler he said he was really looking forward to fishing the river and particularly the Dane as, if he liked it, he only lives twenty minutes away so it would add another choice to his fishing options.
We headed off passed the ‘excitable’ dog and down to the horseshoe at the upstream limit of the stretch, this is an area I know well and we could fish at least three or four swims in rotation so we started by bait dropping some hemp and caster into each swim returning to the first some thirty minutes later.
The set up was simple although Deano had tied up a reasonable hook length it was a little long in the hair for me and also there was a decent flow on the river which was up a foot since my last visit so the three SSG shot wouldn’t hold the bottom. After thirty minutes of no action we re-rigged and went for meat straight on a size 6 hook, this is a good bait for both chub and barbel and Dean soon realised that lifting the rod occasionally showed us where the meat had settled and was able to reel it back towards the over hanging trees to our left where I’d had some decent chub in the past.
Touch ledgering and feeling for bites Dean commented on how relaxing the situation was, the sound of flowing water and an abundance of wildlife really hit the spot with him and I know exactly where he was coming from as it’s the same for me every time I go fishing!! We had a full day ahead of us and plenty of time to enjoy the experience and not having a rod in my hand was easier than I thought it’d be. As we talked about methods, swim choice, slacks and creases over a brew I started to realise just how much pleasure there is in passing on knowledge gained from putting the hours in on the bank, I may not consider myself a full on sherpa but Dean was in good hands and there were a few mountains to climb in order to give him the confidence to come back another day on his own.
The first swim hadn’t delivered us a ‘quick bite’ although we did get a tug probably from an inquisitive chub so we moved across to the other side and descended into Shrinkers swim, my first guiding fail was I’d left my trusty rope and dog corkscrew in the car so it was a little more than a smooth descent but we made it and soon had the bait cast into the swim.
We probably over stayed our welcome but to be fair we did solve most of the worlds problems as Dean told me of his work and recent semi-retirement from the engineering industry and we saw the vivid blue and orange flash of a kingfisher as it flew on a low-level mission above the water. Although we probably could have stayed chatting all afternoon I knew if a swim here doesn’t produce within half an hour it’s unlikely to produce at all.
We collected our gear and walked downstream to the ‘gate’ swim, this swim has also produced plenty of fish in the past some monsters too. Sticking with meat Dean cast where I told him too and sat back enjoying the view which, as he rightly said, had changed three times all ready. In the middle of another conversation the rod tip pulled round but unfortunately Dean missed it so a recast and touch ledgering employed to catch the crafty chub, it went again and Dean lifted the rod sharply to the right, it arched over and this time he was in. Keeping a good bend in the rod he played it towards the net and in true Grazy style I missed it on the first attempt so he guided it back upstream and let it drift down, this time I didn’t miss and we had Dean’s first river Dane chub in the back of the net!!
I was delighted for Dean and after taking the photo’s and returning the fish I declared it was time for Tiffin but not before we moved to our final swim for the evening session, the ‘Willow’ swim.
Afternoon tea was served back in the car park and Dean provided some home-baked fruit cake to go with the chocolate chip sponge, he asked what was meant by Tiffin and I must admit I had to look it up but by definition ‘The word originated when Indian custom superseded the British practice of an afternoon tea, leading to a new word for the afternoon meal.’ it also refers to a fridge cake ie a cake that is not baked in an oven but rather it is chilled in the fridge until set. In any case it was most enjoyable and set us up for the evening session ahead.
We walked down the concrete path and settled in for the evening session. As Dean had caught his first Dane chub and the swim was particularly tight for two anglers to occupy I liberated the hardy rod from its bag and set up on a peg around the bend and within easy shouting distance should he hook into another fish.
Evening into dark can be the most productive time to fish and I often wonder whether the results would be better if we just turned up at 5pm and focussed on a couple of swims instead of an early start and fish all day but then I like to get the maximum amount of time from my once a week visits and it’s not always about the catching so we settled down and started to enjoy the evening as it unfolded before us.
Dean had a number of plucks on the rod tip but couldn’t connect so I suggested he free lined the meat instead, this particular swim was always slow-moving and an accurate cast would see the bait fall slowly under the tree where usually the fish are waiting.
It was getting on for 10pm when I decided on a move downstream of the Willow swim so armed with the bare minimum I set up in a shallow run and switched to a banded Laguna pellet soaked, as usual, in the SAC Banana juice, a few free offering were tossed in and I didn’t have to wait long before I felt the usual vibrations down the line, I struck and missed the bite twice before deciding to stand like a pelican perched on the side of the bank. I felt the line tighten against the crease in my finger and struck this time the rod arched over into its usual curve and I was in, a short but powerful fight and the chub was mine…… ‘Grazy never known to blank’ had succeeded and saved an almost certain ribbing from his mates.
On the scales it tipped round to 3lb 12oz, a very respectable chub for the day and a fitting end because although we continued until the early hours of Sunday morning we had no more takers for our bait. We walked up the path and back at the cars Dean said he’d really enjoyed his day on the Dane and would in fact return soon now he had a good idea on how to approach a small, but perfectly formed, river. Job done and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it myself, great company, great result and money raised for a good cause too!!
If you want to follow Bob aka 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.