Saturday, 11 February 2012

Dace Mechanics.

Apart from a trip to a commercial after perch I've mostly been working and looking after my children recently.

The perch trip was a week or so back and before the recent drop in temperature set in. I had to break the thin ice in the margin to fish the peg I wanted but the sunshine during the day was warming and the ice had almost completely receded come afternoon.

I caught one handsome perch just short of two pounds which fell to my float fished lob worm. Throughout the day I had  a number of  sharp dips on prawn which I put down to roach after I eventually caught one or two. This got me thinking whether small 5mm pieces of chopped prawn under a light float might not only be a good roach bait but also a way of discriminating in favour of the bigger fish. Some experimentation needed here I think.

A nice perch.

A robin, a stick, two rods, some ice and my boot.

With another trip to the famous Itchen in the offing later this month and with dace on my hit list I wanted to get some practice fishing with a maggot feeder today. Maggot feeder fishing can be a frustrating style when your tip is constantly bouncing and vibrating around but not resulting in much by way of fish. Most silver fish love a maggot bait and on the Itchen as with other rivers they offer you the chance of hooking grayling, dace, chub and roach. All worthy targets.

The first swim I picked on the Avon this afternoon was a dud. I gave it an hour but without so much as a tremble I couldn't  resist a move. Further downstream and in a spot well known for it's winter dace population I lobbed out my maggot feeder and waited. The watery sun carried a little warmth but the day was still icy cold.

My intention was to get amongst some bites and then chop and change hooklength, size of hook and number of maggots in an attempt to bake a dace cake with a winning recipe.

Within twenty minutes of my move I had the first rattle. Totally unhittable. My opening gambit was a ten inch hooklength with a barbless eighteen hook and either one or two maggots.  Amongst the rattles the tip would occasionally lurch round and spring back perhaps three times in quick succession. If I was quick enough I would catch the fish (mostly dace with the odd roach thrown in) but my hit rate was pretty poor.

I increased my hook size to a fourteen barbed carrying two or three maggots. Surprisingly the number of maggots on the hook didn't make much difference to the number of bites despite the hook looking conspicuous when carrying only two grubs. In amongst the trembles was the odd lurch round again but unlike with a barbless once pricked the fish were much less likely to get off. Having said that I caught less on a bigger hook.

I shortened up my hooklength to only four inches and put on a barbed eighteen. The trembles now became jags and the lurches were promoted to sharp tugs. My catch rate improved somewhat but it was the final alteration which made the most difference of all....

I used pliers to squeeze the barb down slightly in an attempt to reduce the amount of force required for it to prick the fish, but left enough of it protruding to still do it's job. This upped my catch rate again. I still had the wobbles and trembles to contend with which were caused by gudgeon and smaller dace - I know because I caught a few of these by accident when I picked the rod up to wind in - but if I sat those out there would eventually be a firm pull. Firstly the fish was likely to be on when I picked up the rod and secondly it would weigh four ounces or above.

Approximately four ounces was the lower weight limit of the fish I caught from the 'proper' bites I received and I believe their weight was their downfall as the force of them shaking their head when feeling resistance was enough for them to be pricked down to the tiny barb... and subsequently caught.    

I had perhaps half a dozen dace which I weighed in at five ounces and began to think I was not going to better this.

5oz Dace.

As dusk approached fish started to top all over the river and caught a six ounce fish quickly followed by one of seven ounces.

7oz Dace.

The fish pulled my spring scales round to 200g, and because they are metric I have a conversion chart from grams into ounces sellotaped to the back of scales for reference.

It's only this evening when I double checked my conversion that I see how tight this one is:

200 g = 7.05479 oz 

Oh well, at least I wasn't trying to weigh this slight fish on 50lb digitals or who knows what the answer would have been.



  1. Hey Keith. Just a reminder on your blogroll to change the URL for Northern California Trout to the new and improved site.

    The old site is going away in 10 days.



  2. Keith,I encountered similar problem with the dace down there. I ended up with a shortish link but found that lots of fish were only hooked after the bite had stopped. When I retrieved A fish would be hooked. As if they were just laying up with the bait taken waiting for the next morsel to come along. I started casting right across then striking bites but letting unhooked strikes lay without retrieving so I got three or four chances every cast. This worked.

    It doesn't work with bread of course. I wish I'd had maggots last trip as the dace from the roach swim I was in we're all in the half pound bracket but were really hard to hook on bread. Next time I'll have em and I think they may go even larger still