Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Fishing in a winter wonderland.

I feel lucky too know of a special spot on old mother Avon, that when the weather is at its most horrid you can be guaranteed some wondrous sport. Fishing there can be so good in fact, that I would quite easily go as far as to say that it can be more consistent bite wise on bad day, than most others rivers on their very best of days.

Years ago I, like empty beer cans, was a regular feature of this understated bit of the Avon. My seasons would begin in the dark on June 16th attempting to hook hold of a rare barbel. During the summers I would jig the deep clear waters for perch and rampant jack pike. Then as autumn crept in chub could be relied upon to feed amongst the dying weed. But of all the seasons to be enjoyed sitting aside running water it was winter that was most enjoyable here, as when the cold easterly wind brought snow from Europe that was when the dace became king. And what dace they were too!

Nowadays it is only those dace which lure me back to this ancient river bank, and conditions this weekend just passed seemed torrid enough for a date to surely to be set. Truthfully we had it in our minds to travel to another place, but four hundred miles of driving to freeze half to death did seem slightly pointless on such a day. So after a myriad of suggestions, the name of old reliable was uttered and we were off.

Dace as far as I am concerned are the most underrated of our course fish. If I was to say that on our last session myself and Mr Lewis caught ourselves fourteen or more carp of between twenty and thirty pounds in under five hours, you would think I had surely gone mad. On the other hand if I said we had caught fourteen dace of between six and ten or more ounces... Well that statement would probably not raise so much as an eye brow, and considering that pound for pound or ounce for ounce they are just about the same comparatively, I think it would prove my point aptly.

What makes this even more amazing is that these fish were all caught on probably less than five pounds worth of bait; when was the last time you read about anyone catching even one carp on anything less than fifty pounds worth of bait.

As I knew would be the case, once positioned knee deep in freshly deposited mud in the half light, bait flowing, the bites came quick and fast. Though my first catch of the day was to have a total weight probably the same as everything other fish we caught put together, and maybe a few more too boot.

You see not only does this dace abundance provide great fishing for us but it also provides good feeding for pike, and most of the pike for miles converge at this time of year, like us, on this section. Oh, and are they a thieving bunch for sure. How many small dace have been stolen from me here I could not count on all my digits and yours. Feeders and floats to seem to be regularly taken on the retrieve as the pike here are that wound up in the frenzy.

The most unbelievable situation I ever experienced first hand, happened after I hooked a tiny dace which flipped my hook. My still baited hook was taken as it sank by a second dace which I began to reel in. This  fish was then grabbed by a small pike of maybe four pounds which bent my rod double. After playing the pike for a while I was thinking it may get landed if my luck held and then a bigger pike grabbed that one and ended the whole debacle in a flash.

Knowing the amount of pike present and having two predator rods in my quiver for the afternoon session I was always going to put out a bait just in case. But I never thought one would come along so soon!
My first enquire from a dace had just been spectacularly missed and as I loaded my feeder full of magics again I caught a slight bounce on my other rod tip from the corner of my eye. At first I wondered if I had knocked the rod as I was re-baiting my feeder then it bounced again with a little more venom.
Normally it takes an hour or so for the predators to move into that small zone right at your feet where the small fish exit and re-enter the water. Today though someone was already resident in the kill zone and my bait had dropped right into its lair.

Before I had even had chance to land a single lovely silver dace I found myself striking into a pike as it moved off. I don't know why but I always assume it's going to be a naughty little jack pike here. Maybe it's because when the water is clear you can see the little buggers racking up under your feet ready to attack your catches  Today was no different, and assuming it was just another jack I powered straight into it and gave it some real stick. It did not take long to get it on the surface where through the still murky light I sight as I thought a decent enough jack pike. Then it ploughed off like a steam train. This was when Andy called over suggesting I take it a bit easy that I replied " pah... it's just a little one with a big attitude" to which he replied
"I reckon that's a bit bigger than you think". When it next surfaced shaking its head I will admit it did look a bit bigger. Then when the net slipped under, it didn't seem that big again. But when I picked the net up and set eyes on its bulk filling my predator spoon, I did finally agree that I may have been a bit gung ho with this lovely lady.

What a start to a mornings fishing! I had not even taken my head light off and here I was wrestling with a plump mid double pike in the stickiest mud in Warwickshire.

It took a while to settle down after I returned her safely upstream and recast another dead bait back into the that kill zone, but soon enough I got my head down and caught up with Andy, who was by now swinging in dace and roach in one after another.

The silver fishing was out of this world as expected. Running a float through was scoring hard for Andy and fishing a tiny maggot feeder kept me striking all morning as the snow began to fall. The float as expected registered more bites, but as I have often felt, the feeder seemed to sort out a larger class of dace quicker rather than having to wade through all the tiny ones to catch a big one here or there.

All in all the stamp of fish was great and if only could have caught just one dace the length of Andy's longest fish and the girth of my fattest fish, we may of actually stood a real chance of landing a one pound dace from the Warwickshire Avon.

By noon I was clean out of magics and quite frankly caked in fish slime. After another enjoyable dace bashing session my only regret was that I never got one single picture of one of those lovely dace as I was to wrapped up in catching them to remember to get any pictures. Oh well, all I can to do is go back again try for that pounder or maybe even a twenty pound pike.


  1. Ah blimey, I've put it off and put it off but I'm gojng to have to get down there for the silver bonanza that happens every year from now till season's end. A bite a chuck? nope, chuck right across and inch it back and the tip'll bounce all the way in! I reckon there's a million fish between one end and the other...

    But bloody hell that's a good pike for the Avon! Dan. if you'd said it was a 'twenty' I'd not have blinked!

    1. It is well under way down there mate and as you know the snow only makes it better. Seeing the average size of some of the Dace makes me think that pound fish is getting ever more real.

      As for that pike she won't take long to get to 20lb. A bit more hard feeding and she will be most of the way there and she ain't the only big one I am sure ;)

  2. The old girl never lets you down does she ........


  3. I don't know if I could agree that the old girl never lets me down... But I suppose it could be said that me and that bit of the Avon have a decent relationship ;)

  4. Great stuff Dan!

    'Really enjoyed that and a lovely catch allround by the sounds of it

  5. Great read that Dan and cracking results. Lovely pike mate too!

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  7. thanks for share.

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