The thought that I may get a second outing this past weekend had never entered my head. I had the weekend sorted in my mind; Friday go south and pour liberal amounts of maggot into a chalk stream, Saturday go to work all day and then Sunday spend the whole day with Jacky. So when Jacky proclaimed that she assumed I would want to go out Sunday morning as the weather was no nice I was stunned. Just to make sure it was not some kind of insidious trap I replied, "well I wasn't planning on going out" to which she confirmed it was ok and I should go. It did cross my mind that she may of been drinking or that Gerard Butler had finally succumbed to her psychic pestering and was heading round for a Sunday morning liaison. Turned out neither was correct and she instead had a date with chap called Link who wears green tights and lives in the land of Nintendo.
Conveniently I just happened to have a pint+ of magics left over from Friday, which I was intending to freeze for use in a few weeks time. But a pass plus bait equals fishing. So off I went early Sunday to do a spot of dace fishing on one of my favourite river runs.
I do love dace fishing. Probably because it is relatively easy to land a whopper. I don't think a lot of anglers put two and two together when they catch a big dace and realise what they have in their hand. It's odd because in these modern days of commercial fishing where everyone wants to catch weighty carp that very species serves best as a perspective species for the humble dace. Catch yourself a 10oz dace and it is about equivalent to catching a near 35lb carp. Which I don't suppose a lot of us could claim to have done, and trust me it certainly going to be easier to land a 10oz dace than a 35lb carp.
When I arrived at this spooky dace filled river, it was shrouded in mist and I was shocked to find an over keen twitcher hiding behind a thicket trying to snap a kingfisher that often perches close to the bank. Awaiting a tasty young dace no doubt.
The dace fishing went off like a dream. It only took a couple of plops of the feeder to line them up and I was off. The only problem was there were too many of the wrong sort of fish at first. I was averaging five small roach and two dace to every ten casts. Keeping the bait going in regularly soon changed those numbers as the dace came onto the constant stream off grubs flowing down the river and eventually pushed the roach off never to be seen again.
My rhythm wasn't broken until a pike swirled in the centre of the river nicking my feeder as it did so. Unperturbed I quickly set up and found the shoal had not been disturbed by the attack only feet away. Again I got back into that all important rhythm and again what seemed to be the same pike broke me out of it, stealing a small dace this time. It nabbed one more feeder before disappearing for a good few hours.
In that time I got my head down and the dace grew bigger. I landed my first 8oz fish just as Baz dropped by to say hello on his way down to another section of river, piking.
I did suggest he stick around as the pike seemed to be both here and feeding, but he stuck to his plan and headed off to another a stretch he fancied for a pike or two.
The pike for their part had seemed to have gone quite. So I went about my business of dace bashing whilst the sun warmed my back through the trees. Most of the dace I caught seemed to be slender males and apart from two deeper females I had landed earlier but all were seemingly the same year class.
I was just skipping a small fish across the surface when I spotted a pike dart out from my own bank and snatch it clean off my hook. The next two got savaged no matter how quick I reeled them in. I was getting seriously hacked off as they were ruining a great session and worst of all was I hand only really light feeder rods with me.
When the biggest dace of the day was robbed twenty feet from my hand, that was it, I'd had it! Earlier a passing angler mentioned he had a pike rod with him to cater for such a situation. So off I went to cheekily ask for the loan of a rod and to which he happily agreed.
Two foot of 20lb braid and a size two Drennan specimen hook and I was ready to attack. One of the savaged dace was floating in the edge where I'd tossed it. That plus a couple of 3xssg shots and I had a cobbled together jigging rig.
I also located my Polaroid glasses from my bag so as I could get a full on view of the strike. Holy crap! What I saw when I put those glasses on shocked me. There was not one, but three pike all of a similar size, racked up in a row like bleeding sausages. But when my dead little fish sank past them, they did not react how I would've expected them to.
All three started slowly moving towards it but not one of them struck. Time and time again they followed it round vacantly. I did eventually split them up and that's when the first one had a shot and missed by a mile. This in turn seemed to force another to strike at it, and that too missed. They all seemed to drift off into deeper water after those couple of attacks but I kept jigging the silver bait up and down until shadows again appeared below it. One of them approached looking like it was going to grab it then turned off at the last moment. I was trying to spot one coming in from the deeper water when a round nose came from under my own bank and nobbled it in a confident flash of the gills.
It had no idea it was hooked until it's head poked out the water then it went mad thrashing about. I think it was then that I remember something I had neglected. For as long as I can remember I have been using a Fox predator spoon net head. I use it for everything from Zander fishing, carp fishing and just general stuff. Today however I thought as I was after dace the 16" drennan net would suffice. WRONG!
For a while I did consider just chinning it out. But the thought of lying on my front in the mud trying to grab hold of a thrashing pike did not appeal, so I went for gold and tried to scoop a three foot long pike into a 16" of landing net. Low and behold it somehow went in and as I lifted it up what I though was an over sized Jack turned into a chunky young lady.
She was absolutely fin perfect from head to tail and was certainly and well feed on little dace it would seem, as she pulled the scales round to 12.8lb.
As I released her back into the water I warned her to remember my face as I ain't the sort of angler that tolerates fish theft. Then as she went off, one of the others which was still hanging round took a swipe at her.
I then returned the loaned rod back and thanked the chap before packing up and heading off. Looking back as I went off towards the car I am sure I spotted him walking over to my peg with that pike rod in hand looking like he fancied one himself.