Fishing the tiny River Medlock and beyond

Fishing the tiny River Medlock and beyond

Sunday 7 August 2016


Watching the Olympics reminded me of the blog that never got typed up. Three years since I tackled the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio de Janeiro. I walked the length of Copacabana beach down to Ipanema to be beaten by both the fish and the weather unfortunately. All but devoid of decent fish now due to well publicised pollution incidents, but I still had to have a try. Managed s few tiny fish before a huge tropical thunderstorm cut short the fishing trip. Oh well, it was a good excuse to retire to the local bar before heading back to town on the bus.

Sunday 26 January 2014

The land that time forgot

You could be forgiven if you know nothing about Ashton-under-Lyne. I live just three miles from this quite large town and until a cruel illness rendered my father hospitalised in the local hospital for some months now, I rarely ventured inside it's boundaries. Once famous for a thriving night life, most of the bars are closed and the shops are slowly moving to the trendier retail parks near the new tram lines. The market hall was completely raised in a huge fire some years ago, and the town planners have performed miracles to preserve the historic atmosphere within the rebuilt Phoenix from the flames. The fire could have signalled the end for Ashton, along with the declining disorder problems on Saturday and Sunday nights. However almost in defiance the town is slowly regaining popularity. Monthly farmers markets, Xmas markets, Leisure parks, Ikea, metro link tram station, refurbished train station replace bric a brac stalls, barren moss land and scruffy industrial buildings. Through the turmoil that is Ashton flows a quite beautiful river that never changes, except that just as it's host town improves, so does the River Tame. Now renowned for large Barbel downstream in Stockport, little is written about the fishing upstream within Tameside and Mossley. I can tell you it is alive and well , and on Tuesday I visited a stretch that I had not fished for more than twenty years. The fish are much bigger and healthier than those days. I spent a cold Wintery afternoon stick float fishing in the shadows of the railway aqueduct, and amongst the harrowing sounds of the abattoir. The river gave up three brown trout, all sleek and strong. The biggest pictured below. One fish slipped the hook at the net which was much bigger, however I was not down hearted. People pay decent money down South for this standard of river fishing. No sign of any chub today, or perch for that matter, but a lovely afternoon nonetheless. The river seems not to be so secretive locally though judging by the rubbish left by the bank by less contentious anglers. My father, himself up until last year a keen angler all his life, and my original inspiration would be proud to know I am catching good river fish in his present home town.

Sadly the tell tale signs of a good swim

Tuesday 24 September 2013

River Tame trout

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Fishing hair rigged Campbell's meatball for barbel, I managed to catch this huge River Tame trout. Not quite the barbel I was expecting but a beautiful specimen anyway. No complicated tactics, just half a meatball secured on the hair rig with a piece of grass stalk, and a constant trickle of much smaller loose pieces fed sparingly down the channel near the hook bait. After a couple of hours the bite came and it was unmissable. This fish tore up and down the swim for twenty minutes before it came to the net. Exciting stuff after a long absence from the bank.

Sunday 5 May 2013

A Beswick beauty

On Thursday I spent a full day on the Ashton Canal armed with all my tackle, pole, seat box the works. I caught two perch no bigger than 2 inches in length. Tonight I took the remainder of the bait out for an hour on the same canal but on the edge of Manchester City centre, armed only with a hi tec rucksack with some bits and bobs, my Caperlan telescopic holiday rod bought in Spain and a fold up landing net and caught this big old roach and lost a small Jack pike at the net. Funny old game fishing.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

The Red River

Affectionately known as the red river by locals, the river Medlock should have stopped shocking me long ago. Through the last two years I have seen prolific chub fishing, a pollution incident that all but wiped that out . Then the demolition of a prominent weir changed the whole shape and flow of the river rendering my favourite swim, and indeed the swim that started the whole blog, unfishable. I have witnessed a fox trying to catch ducks swimming in the water, and today cormorants all along the Vale.
But days like today happen when least expected, and generally when you are at your least prepared. Being my first trip this year I travelled light, expecting little action after the recent snow water. No camera and just a fold up landing net. Today was really a chance to get back into the swing and check what bits and bobs needed stocking up.
A couple of hours on the Vale did nothing to change that opinion. Before the demolition of the weir this stretch had some really obvious fish holding areas, but now there are few fishable spots, and even these seemed barren today.The banks have taken a bashing this year with the constant barrage of water and the river has really taken on a different shape.
After a couple of fruitless hours I decided to move downstream to give it one last hour in a swim behind the Etihad stadium. I generally find it difficult to blank on the Medlock but today looked like it was heading that way, but the move proved fruitful and the trout began devouring my double white maggot offering freely.

Not small fish either. With no scales or camera today and having to rely on my mobile phone to get photos, I will leave the guestimation to you as to the weight of some of these beauties, but let me tell you,  every fish fought like a trojan today, and had I not had the help of a passing Lithuanian lad on the landing net some of these fish may not have been banked. His English may have been broken but his amazement at the size of these fish was most apparent. It was nice to have some company in an otherwise desolate inner city location, even if he did tell me he had spent three months of his seven month stay in England in HMP Forest Bank for possession of a knife! He did play it down though, telling me in Lithuania they carry big knives (indicating the size with his outstretched hands in much the same way I describe my fish), without a problem.  Anyway he offered me a beer out of his rucksack, so in my book he seemed like a decent lad!
Now there can be no logical explanation why a monster like this lives in a red brick culverted stream (hence the local name), with a river bed comprised of 70% sand and 30% used sanitary towels. But after a twenty minute scrap due to fear of the fish slipping free from my tiny size 20 Kamasan 511 barbless hook, this beauty finally came to the net.

Whatever weight this fish was, it gave me the thrill of the year so far and was worth it's weight in gold. look at the colouring on its fins, and the muscle behind its gills. This has to be the biggest trout I have banked from the Medlock. I would guess this fish was in the 4-5LB range. I know it filled the landing net. This is the reason I continue to focus my fishing on urban venues. People travel, and pay good money to catch a fish like this. My bet is they live in most rivers in Britain but rarely get fished for in some of the grimier locations. As the rain closed in and the bites dried up, seven fish to the good, I packed up and headed back through the park, climbing the gates (really at 47 years old!) and headed to the car. I said goodbye to my Eastern European friend, who happened to have the same name as me. As he headed into the City centre I headed back to the relative comfort of suburban Manchester and home to a  plate of Polish hams, sundried tomatoes and olives and a glass of Chardonnay. What a way to begin my fishing year.

Friday 30 November 2012

Frost and furious on the Etherow

A heavy frost on the Etherow this Thursday did nothing to dampen the appetite of the trout and perch population of this pretty Greater Manchester river. Within minutes of setting up Andy and myself were into our first trout of many, on a day we expected the weather to beat us in the end. But the weather was to take a back seat as the sun kept shining and the fish kept biting. These crisp winter days really revitalise me. Wrapped up well with thermals and neoprene boot liners inside my waders, I was determined the cold was not going to be an issue. We both worked a stick float through several swims and waded all day to catch too many fish to count, of varying sizes. Mainly brown trout up to 1lb, but I also found a couple of small perch, which have proved elusive over the last year or so.

We managed to catch steadily all day. Wherever we moved to the fish were voracious. As the sun moved behind the trees the temperature dipped severely. I managed to fish until I could finally just make out the red tip of my stick float dip below the waterline to produce a final brownie. By now the rings on my rod were frozen with ice and my landing net was frozen solid. We did it justice though and had stuck it out to the last of the fading light. Days like this you remember and talk about for years. The fishing was superb even if the fish were not huge. As we rounded the day off with a pint of Thwaites' Wainwright in the Pear tree inn we could only enthuse about a special winter's day on the Etherow.

Sunday 18 November 2012

River Etherow Woolley Bridge

The problem with my fishing and blogging  is that it often needs some inspiration to get me up and out or writing. My life is so busy that days off are increasingly about doing nothing. I have decided that from today it has to stop. My new found blogging inspiration has come from the blog of a good pal and fellow Salford friendly member, . Some terrific fish from the Irwell can be found on this blog, if you ever needed some inspiration the fish on his latest post should provide it. My fishing inspiration came from a couple of emails from a reader of my blog enquiring about the River Etherow, cheers Rob, I owe you one.  Manchester's rivers really are thriving and the Etherow is an old favourite, which flows between the edge of Greater Manchester and Derbyshire out of Bottoms reservoir in Tintwistle down through Tintwistle and on to Compstall to join the Goyt and Mersey river system. I decided to try an area I had previously had little success in, but ever the intrepid I tackled up at the confluence of the Glossop brook and the Etherow in a lovely deep glide. The water in this river has a lovely clear but rusty colour, just looking at it excites me, it doesn't take much these days! In the winter this river guarantees a fish or two. They may not be as big as the Pecheurs urban monsters, but every last fish I catch in this river is special to me as they all bring back great memories of our trips on the bus, followed by a pint in the Pear tree pub.

Today was not going to disappoint either. It wasn't long before the tip was bouncing round in a way that only trout can make it move. The bites were unmistakable and the fish came to the net one after the other. The perch and chub have all but disappeared from the higher stretches of this river, but the trout thrive. A steady dozen or so trout later as the bites slowed and the light dipped I decided to move to a swim higher up the river.
The move to a glide by Rossington Park trading estate brought the catch of the day. I have fished this river over thirty years and reasonably regularly but in all those trips only managed one Rainbow trout before. This little beauty may only be small but no less exciting than any of the huge Medlock brownies I have caught. Rainbows are not really prevalent in the local river system, nonetheless they are there.

So in early fading light, on a really windy , overcast day nineteen fish is not to be scoffed at. This river will always keep you busy if nothing else, it,s a great place for the beginner or younger river angler. On a sadder note, as the river continues to progress, the surrounding area seems to be declining. The pub by Woolley Bridge now a mere vandalised shell. The Spring tavern further down the road, once famous for hearty meals and genuine German lager also closed. The road to the river now boasts a huge municipal dump facility and a host of industrial units where once green fields prevailed. The price of progress I suppose. Fortunately the bank side of this river remains unspoilt and it really is a beautiful stream to walk along. Anyway, next week has to see me searching for some of those Irwell chub rather than playing about on the Etherow with the tiddlers. Just goes to show though, its about the fishing sometimes, not the catch.