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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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).
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.