Sunday, 3 January 2010

Off the Blocks

T'other night I made the grave error of going out for a booze up with Keith, Danny and Pete. I got fairly plastered it has to be said; unfortunately I'd been on the vino for most of the day and because wine and beer is decidedly queer in my (honestly) vast experience, every single inch of ale imbibed from thereon in was to result in a country mile of fucked upness. I never learn...

After pints and pints and a fairly coherent discussion about the Silver Bream and its record potential, Dennis Flack and his four micro fish records and failure to achieve his lifelong aim to gain the record dace, I really cannot remember very much of what was discussed afterwards apart from my suggesting that we all go set ourselves the new year challenge of catching between us all, a British Record Fish...!

My logic being that if one man can bag four records, then four men can bag one.

Next morning I found that my laudable but laughable idea had been taken around the back and given a good kicking by the rest. Now we are going to catch the individual record fish weights, whatever they are, as a bag of fish. So, four pounds three ounces of roach in the form of a netful of blades gets you a point.

Simple enough...

Till you try pike, or carp...!

With all this in mind set myself up with a first excursion of 2010 on New Years Day to the Avon at the Saxon Mill, after dace, chub and roach, but it transpired that the weather would get in the way of my perfect plan to have three of the easiest in the bag by nightfall. Rain caused by a temporary pulse of relatively high temperatures pushed a load of salty road wash into the system, then it froze hard overnight so I cancelled and took the day after.

The frost overnight was severe and temperatures would rise only slowly throughout the day, I thought my chances were nil. Upon arrival another I saw another angler occupying a swim on the opposite bank. He looked most cheesed off by the lack of morning action ~

I chose the banker dace swim to start off with but it was as dead as a doornail. I then set off on an excursion far upstream in search of a chub or two. I didn't find any but did find some interesting swims that I'm sure will produce something good at a later date.

Then around mid afternoon a spectacular wintery shower passed by - I hoped that it would improve matters as I'd only had two tiny plucks in the past four hours.

At the last hour of light I went back to the dace swim and half heartedly ledgered a bunch of red maggots under a cage feeder. To my surprise I got bites straight away. At last, feeding fish...!

Bites were tentative affairs but I managed to connect quite easily when I began to strike at the small indications rather than waiting for a pull around, and these were dace of a stamp of three to four ounces, eight of which were landed over the next hour or so. My advice to anyone considering ledgering for dace is to strike even if you feel that a fish is near the bait, often a fish hooks itself without giving even the slightest indication, I think they often pick up the bait and just sit there without moving off. Curiously these self hooked fish were always lip hooked when you'd expect them to be hooked deep in the gullet. I found that casting right across stream, touch ledgering and striking the bait all the way back at every knock or tremble, four or even five times, was the best tactic. Once understood it became almost a fish per cast.

Eight dace at even my lowest estimate of a three ounce average (some fish were pushing five and none under three) is still one pound eight ounces and the dace record is one pound five so I eventually scored a point for my efforts. After staring an outright blank in the face all day long I considered this late haul a proper result.

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