River Dee Amazing Dace Fishing

4th November 2015 (a Wednesday, as I write this, it’s also an evening when Arsenal appear to be getting totally stuffed by Bayern Munich in the Champion’s League) was a great day to fish. It was a particularly great day to fish the Dee at Sandy Lane. Calm, warm, and CALM again. The “CALM” bit is important. For those who don’t know the venue, the river there is wide, about 350ft, and very shallow, about 3 feet. When the wind blows it’s pretty much unfishable, at least with any sort of light tackle. Furthermore, the option to freeze one’s nuts off becomes relevant if the breeze is cold, as it can be in November. But today… today was magic. I think it got to 15 degrees Celsius (about  4 pints) and at no time was it necessary to shiver.

River Dee, Sandy Lane, Chester
Downstream looking towards Chester

I’ve fished this venue a few times and have only ever caught small stuff but that’s because I’m rubbish. In the summer fishing this venue can be a bit frustrating due to the large number of bootlace eels you can encounter. It can be soul, and rig, destroying. Today I had no such problems. Back to the wind….it was alternating between dead calm and about 3 mph. Most of the time there was just a gentle ripple, only for short periods did it go flat calm. In such shallow water the fish can get shy when there’s no wind at all and so it proved in the short moments it went flat calm, the bites would die off a little.

River Dee Sandy Lane Chester
Looking upstream, my net would later become temporary home to about 200 dace. Honest!

Now, I’d mentioned that I’d only ever caught small fish there in the past. Nothing changed. Today I caught small fish. And only Small Fish. All dace, every single one, the biggest was about 3 ounces. But, what fun! They were really on their game and in 4 hours I put close to 200 in the net. I must have “bumped” another 100. For those unfamiliar with fishing, “bumping” a fish means a very bad word is imminent. I may have invented a few, I seemed to run out of the conventional bad words after about 20 “bumps”.

River Dee Rowers
Common sight on the River Dee in Chester. Grunting Rowers. I’d much rather be fishing.
River Dee Sandy Lane Chester
The Lady Rowers were going much faster than the Men Rowers downstream towards Chester because the shopping is good there.

The rig included a 4BB semi-loaded insert crystal waggler.  Americans call these “Bobbers” but they’ve been screwing with English forever and I think it’s about time they got their own language. Rod, 15ft Okuma Carbonite Match Rod with the optional 2 ft section left out (you do the math). 3lb main line, 2lb hook length, size 18 hook. Bait was single maggot. I brought bronze and red maggots.  The dace were well into my light ground bait mix of molehill soil, river crumb, brown breadcrumbs all liberally laced with maggots. I used maggots which had been climbing through my ground bait mix on the hook. The fish definitely liked those ground bait-flavoured wrigglies more than the maggots out of the maggot box. Loose feed produced almost nothing. Those fish wanted the security of the cloudy ground bait mix. It didn’t take much, maybe half a kilo of crumb/river groundbait and 2 molehills, all flicked in small loads throughout the session.

River Dee chester
River Dee, Sandy Lane, Chester. I was that Little Yellow Marker today.


Here’s an interesting fact: When I put a single red maggot on the hook the dace were well into that and I caught plenty. But, when I put a bronze maggot on the hook the same thing happened and I continued to catch plenty. Had I brought white maggots with me as well it’s possible they might not have worked at all, or they might have. It’s too late to take bets on it now although with Arsenal now losing 4-1 to Bayern Munich with  15 minutes to go it’s a safe bet that they (the white maggots) would not have beaten Bayern Munich on this night. OK, you’ve been reading this nonsense and lapping it up, you might as well plough on to the end.

river dee sandy lane chester dace
A Nice Little Netful.

And, here we are, almost at the end! Our nice net of dace getting ready to tell their friends of the day they were outwitted by The Compleat Angler (or Complete Idiot, you decide).

river dee sandy lane chester
Just look at that flat calm water, it doesn’t happen too often in November in North West England.

In summary, a hugely enjoyable afternoon of dace fishing. It would have been nice to have caught some bigger fish but it was a lot nicer than blanking. STOP PRESS: Final score, Bayern Munich 5, Arsenal 1. This evening I think the white maggots might have gotten a draw vs. Arsenal. At the risk of alienating my entire readership, I want to point out that I’m a Spurs fan. This means I’m used to the agony of defeat as well as the ecstasy of yet more defeat. But I will enjoy tonight.

More on the Asian Carp

This is a repeat of an article I did a couple of years ago when I was fishing in Thailand.

Thai anglers catching a Silver Carp, also known as an Asian Carp and locally as a Chinese Carp. It was taken yesterday at BoSang Fishing Park. I’ve been trying for days to catch different fish species other than the ubiquitous Striped Catfish I’ve plastered all over this blog. I found out why I’ve failed to catch the Asian Carp. They’re filter feeders. They literally suck up algae and plankton. In other words they eat nothing bigger than a grain of sand. Hook bait is useless, no matter how finely presented.

Here’s Wikipedia’s take on how to catch them:
“Silver carp are filter feeders, and thus are difficult to catch on typical hook and line gear. Special methods have been developed for these fish, the most important being the “suspension method”, usually consisting of a large dough ball that disintegrates slowly, surrounded by a nest of tiny hooks that are embedded in the bait.The entire apparatus is suspended below a large bobber. The fish feed on the small particles that are released from the dough ball and will bump against the dough ball, with the intention of breaking off more small particles that can be filtered from the water, eventually becoming hooked on the tiny hooks.
In some areas, it is also legal to use “snagging gear” in which large, weighted treble hooks are jerked through the water, to snag the fish. 

In the United States, silver carp are also popular targets for bowfishermen; they are shot both in the water and in the air. In the latter case, boats are used to scare the fish and entice them to jump, and the fish are shot when they jump.”

Thai fishermen at BoSang Fishing Park (where the video was taken) can’t use the above referenced “Suspension Method”because the Striped Catfish which they are not permitted to remove for food at the park would grab the whole ball of bait and become hopelessly entangled in the tiny hooks.

What the Thai anglers do is string 8 – 10 hooks along fine line and either suspend this from a tiny float or attach a weight to the end and drag it through the water, both methods are an attempt to snag the silver carp. No hook bait is used. Thais do ground bait the area their fishing in to try and concentrate the fishing “kill zone.” And they try and use ground bait considered not attractive to catfish. Again, when they catch one of the silver carp it’s for consumption. That said I recently caught a Striped Catfish with one of these rigs snagged in its flanks…it was easy enough to remove the 2 or 3 small hooks and the catfish didn’t seem to be any the worst for wear.

Take a look at this incredible BBC video of these same fish on the Illinois River in the USA where they are considered a serious eco-threat to native species:

It’s worth noting that these fish can grow to close to 100lbs!

I know there are numerous other videos of this phenomenon on YouTube but no-one does Nature like the BBC. Sometimes they do know how to spend our TV Licence fee.


Asian Carp, What a Bloody Nuisance!

We’re very lucky in the U.K. not to have these things invading our rivers.  It’s the Asian Carp, also known as the Silver Carp. They look awesome, as though they’d be a great hard-fighting sports fish. But, here’s the catch: You CAN’T catch them on rod and line, at least with normal and relatively humane traditional single-hook rigs.

Instead the only way to catch them on rod and line is to use a large dough ball which has a number of small hooks that hang in a nest around it. Basically you’re trying to snag the fish as it rummages through the doughy pasty bait. They are filter feeders and are incapable of ingesting anything much larger than a grain of sand.

asian carp 1 asiancarp2

I’ve fished in Thailand and seen the locals fish for the Asian Carp. What they do is even less like sports fishing than the dough ball method. They rig up about 5 feet of line with many hooks, about 1 every 4 inches and put a small weight at the end. They cast this out and literally jerk it quickly through the water. They try to snag the Asian carp anywhere on the body. No bait is used. To their credit Thai fishermen are not doing this for just sport. The Asian carp is considered good eating by the locals and so any fish caught doesn’t have to suffer its injuries too long.

Hopefully this highly invasive species will never see the light of day in the U.K.


Yew Tree Fisheries, Wirral, Review

Sunday 1st November was misty, calm and cool. A day to fish if ever there was one! A quick Google search of fisheries in my local area and up popped “Yew Tree Fisheries” just 20 minutes drive from my house.

yew tree fisheries
A misty start to the session, photo taken around midday.

Went to the office, bought my ticket and chose the big lake. I asked for the best tactics for catching silvers on waggler and was told “Maggot, feed little and often, the big Ide will come up in the swim. You’ll catch bream on the bottom.” Good advice for the average angler but as I’m still significantly below average it remained to be seen if this would work for me.

Here is how you should set out your gear if you want to be as good as me at fishing:  Start with rod rests, stick them in the ground carefully so that you can easily reach your rod, then put together your landing net.  Lay out unhooking mat, almost trip on landing net handle, skillfully avoid but causes you to stomp on unhooking mat in all likelihood making your boot the only decent size object that will use the unhooking mat today,   push bait tray bank stick into the ground, screw bait tray on to bank stick then pull tray and bank stick out of the ground because tray is at 25 degree angle and would provide easy escape for maggots. Re-insert bank stick and tray nice and straight. Now place seat box in between rod rests and bait tray and discover that your arms are too short to reach rod and bait. Remove rod rests from ground and re-position.

Remove match rod from bag, put together, lay on rod rests. (Even I know not to lay the rod on the ground!). Pull reel from box, attach reel, thread the line, select float, thread on line, tie loop for hook length. Quick check to see that all is well so far. Cut loop off, remove float, remove the line from the top 5 rod rings having spotted that you missed TWO of them because you’re an old blind git, re-thread, re-check (all good!), tie loop, spend 5 minutes trying to pass loop through waggler float ring because you forgot to thread the float before tying the loop and you’re already tired of tying loops, succeed in threading float, take hook to nylon out of plastic wallet, fail to unloop it, it, birds nest immediately, discard tangled hook length, take another hook length out, succeed in un-looping, attach, place your shot on the line, set float and VOILA! It’s almost time to pack it in for the day!

fishing seat box
My old fashioned fishing station, painstakingly put together throughout the day.

I want to add that none of the above is Yew Tree Fisheries fault. I did eventually get set up but I really have to get more organised, get slicker, get a brain, get something, there isn’t enough daylight in Winter for me to take what seems like 2 hours setting up.

Now on to the fishing. Although it was a bit slow for me other anglers were catching fairly regularly. Most seemed to be targeting carp and so had the obligatory long waits in between bites, but catch they did. I started out loose feeding maggots, fished near the bottom and had a few small roach. I slowly moved the bait up in the water (by moving the float down the line, yes, even I know that) and hooked into a lovely ide, the biggest I’ve ever caught in World History. (Try and argue with that, you can’t because it’s true).

And Here It Is, My Biggest Ever Ide in Human History.

Now I did continue to catch a few ide and lots  of little roach but I never really got the swim “going” with silvers. Alan Jones (who also happens to be a bailiff at Yew Tree) was fishing a couple of pegs up from me (instead of checking my rod licence which I assure you is current and up to date) and he was alternating between the pole near the surface and a pellet feeder with small floating boilie. While I struggled a bit he was catching freely on both methods but that’s because he’s a Fishing Instructor specializing in showing disabled folk the joys of fishing whereas I’m a bloke who can type who also takes an entire fishing season to set his gear up.

common carp
Alan Jones and a very nice Common Carp

The Common Carp you see in the photo had the most amazing colours…bright orange twinges, simply gorgeous. Unfortunately my photo above  doesn’t quite show this so you’ll have to trust me. It was a Cute Carp alright.

Now to the Ide fishing: Alan started banging out the ide on the pole, one after the other, all a very nice size,  and to say I was curious was an understatement. I approached him slyly, innocently mimicking a shy hamster, determined to spy on him in order to steal valuable information without his knowledge. It didn’t work out that way. Being a fishing instructor and seeing that I was clearly a Fishing Numptie, he gave of his secrets freely. Blobs. That was the secret…you don’t know about Blobs because you’ve been away from the U.K. for 27 years (well, I have, I just returned in April this year) but there Alan is, he’s fishing a Blob float, the simplest rig I’ve ever seen, his single maggot on a size 18 is just 7 inches below the surface and the ide are loving it. I simply must buy some Blobs. Even if they didn’t catch fish I’d buy them because I like the word “Blobs.” They’re cheap, too:

[easyazon_table attributes=”Manufacturer,Brand,Size” identifiers=”B00WZPNUAA,B00IJ8T62I,B00G92R470″ locale=”UK” orientation=”at” tag=”thecomang-21″ text=”Korum Blobs Medium qty 6|BLOBS HIGH VISIBILITY FLOATS SMALL|Blobs Medium”]

Alan also showed me different techniques for hooking the maggot. Now, I’d always been taught to hook the maggot right on the little flap of skin between the “eyes” (they’re not really eyes, they’re simply markings put there by the maggot for our benefit so we know where to hook them). Alan showed me a couple of different ways of hooking the maggot, I thought at first it was to inflict maximum pain on the maggot but, no, it turns out that Alan is not a Maggot Sadist. Instead he uses the various hooking techniques to ensure that the crafty ide is hooked most of the time when it takes the bait. It’s a well known fact that maggots actually don’t feel any pain unless you stick a hook in them. Hopefully maggots don’t feel pain when they drown because you have to feed a few at a time but CONSTANTLY, 3 or 4 times a minute, in order to keep the ide busy.

This was Alan’s last cast of the day. A nice ide, but far from the best of the day but that just goes to show the quality of the fish at Yew Tree.

My take on Yew Tree Fisheries: Even though it’s a fairly new venue, less than 5 years old, it has the feel of a mature and natural lake (2 lakes, really). The Big Lake is rather open so if the wind is really blowing it might be hard to fish if the sheltered pegs are already taken up. Depth is good, 5 – 8 feet, there’s plenty to satisfy the carp or silverfish angler, the pegs are well laid out and if you’re like me and don’t yet have a fishing seat box with rod/pole/bait try attachments you’ll find the ground perfect for inserting bank sticks, pulling them out, re-inserting etc. etc. You can get a hot cuppa at the office/shop. They sell bait, including maggots and worms, at the office, and they also carry essential tackle such as hooks, weights etc.  A superb venue, I’ll be back. With some Blobs, count on it!




Well, this is just awful. The things you see when fishing in the U.K.

Guru Catapult
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Price: £7.98
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Product Review: Lightweight Fishing Seat Box is Well Worth The Money for the Roaming Angler

Now I feel quite qualified to review this particular item as I own and use one myself! It’s a lightweight fishing seat box with two slide in tackle boxes, side and front pockets, adjustable legs/feet and a strong shoulder strap which can be converted for backpack-style use.


My take on it is that it’s actually really good value for money especially if you know how to get the best price out there. I’ve seen it advertised new in the £56.00 to £79.00 price range which is quite a spread. I paid £65.00 for mine at Go Outdoors a few months ago and now it’s right at £72.00 there.  See below..on Amazon it’s now right at £56.00 with free postage to U.K. addresses.

The seatbox itself is highly practical and very lightweight for a box with a rigid frame. The padded seat is very comfy even for long sessions and the material covering the frame is super-hardwearing water resistant nylon with a waterproof inner liner. The box contents can be accessed from the front or rear of the box so getting to your stuff is easy even when you’re sat on it.

fishing seat box
My seat box on the bank at Yew Tree Fisheries

Adjustable legs make it great for uneven banks. Two high quality slide out tackle boxes are included and I personally find there’s enough space and compartments in the two boxes for all of my terminal tackle. Even with the tackle boxes inserted into their drawers there’s still plenty of room in the main seat box for reels, catapult, line spools, camera, spare clothing and more.

It’s a great seat box for anglers who like to travel light but still fish in comfort. It’s not in the same league as a full seat box fishing station costing £250 or more but of course those give you a whole different way to fish and are better for anglers looking to stay in one spot for the whole day. This lightweight box is light enough to stalk with. If you scale down on the rest of your tackle you can easily take it from swim to swim.

It’s worth noting that on some commercials with hard standing platforms which go out over the water you’ll have trouble figuring out where to place rods rests and bait trays as this style of box can’t accommodate either as attachments.

Our score is easily 4.5 stars out of 5 …it’s a great little seat box, comfy, well built, practical and only loses a half star because of the lack of options for attaching accessories such as bait trays and rod rests. You’ll just have to stick those in the ground in the old way!



Stunning Casting Skills in Thailand

This is absolutely ridiculous. The casting skills these Thai anglers possess are out of this world. The fish they’re catching are (mainly) snakeheads, great sport, great eating (unfortunately for the snakehead, that is). There’s also the  Hampala Barb in a couple of scenes. Two videos, one great talent! A GoPro or similar camera is used for some of the shots, super stuff to watch!

It’s Why We Fish.

GoPro HERO Camera - English-French
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Nice! Drop the float in, relax, enjoy. This Is Why We Fish.

Coarse Angler David at Badger Lake, Lloyds Meadow Fishery, practicing for his match in a few days. He had over 60lbs of carp and silvers.

A word about the camera I used. It’s a Panasonic FZ270 camera with a ridiculous zoom on it. You can see that from how close we get to the float at the start of the vid. The Camera also has image stabilization which is handy at the long zoom lengths we sometimes need when filming nature.  It takes great photos too, which is always a bonus when using a camera……


Here it is on Amazon:


Note the flappy carp making good his escape on the soaking wet grass as I took the photo! (Dave posing with a few of his fish).

This Is Ridiculous. U.K. Population Growth Getting Out Of Control

Alarming stuff.  The population of the United Kingdom is going to increase by 10 million in the next 25 years. Soon we’ll be the most populous country in Europe even though our land mass is much smaller than many EU countries.  OK, so what has this got to do with fishing?

  1.  There will clearly be more pressure on the countryside as the need for new built up areas become inevitable as towns and cities are forced to expand.
  2.  There will be more road traffic as you try to get to and from your favourite fishing venues. More road traffic also means more noise which in some venues will affect the tranquility of the fishing experience.
  3.  There will continue to be an influx of people who don’t understand that we don’t eat our carp, pike, perch and other coarse fish. Furthermore they won’t know that when we fish we clear up our discarded line, hooks and other rubbish from our swim and the area around us. We even clear up the garbage left by others. More discarded fishing line and hooks = more blame being attached to the angling community as a whole for wildlife loss.


These are just some of the negative effects that uncontrolled population growth will have on the Angling Community in the coming years. I personally hope that David Cameron’s commitment to reducing net migration to the tens of thousands per year rather than the 400,000 or more per year it is at now actually sees the light of day.

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