Fishing the tiny River Medlock and beyond

Fishing the tiny River Medlock and beyond

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.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Carp fishing and vodka in Moldova

Last week I ventured to Chisinau, one of Europe's least visited capital cities. England were in town for the World cup qualifying match against Moldova, a game that should get us off to a winning start on the road to the finals in Brazil. After a monster journey across Europe involving three flights I arrived at midnight on Thursday before the game the next day. Having booked a long weekend I had a spare day on the Saturday as the other lads were moving on to Roumania leaving me with some time on my hands. I had the foresight to pack a small bag of tackle and a telescopic rod just in case there was anywhere worth exploring. Searching google earth on the ipad revealed a few lakes within half an hour walk of the hotel, all I had to do was pick the one that looked easiest to access and keep my fingers crossed there were a few fish in it.
First though was a little matter of the match and up and out early on match day to walk into the City centre to meet the lads. The walk was a long one as I ventured into a couple of tiny bars to get a cheap beer, The cheapest pint coming in at a princely 42p. The lads tend to frown on my dinge bar expeditions so best to get it out of the way. Having picked up the match tickets and met up with the boys at midday we embarked on a leisurely journey to the stadium via numerous restaurants and bars. With a 9.45pm kick off we had a full day ahead. We even managed a power nap in the sun, which has become something of a ritual at away games.

We weren't the only ones having a leisurely stroll through Chisinau either. Bumped into Roy taking a walk mid afternoon near the team hotel, no doubt thinking through his team tactics quietly away from the camp, that is until he met us!

The game itself went to plan with a 5-0 victory. Roy must have drawn from our offers of advice in the afternoon obviously, and after a couple of beers it was gone 2.30am. Wanting to get a days fishing in tomorrow it was time to grab a couple of 50p Mcdonalds burgers and hit the road to the hotel.
Up for breakfast early and a quick last check of google maps to check the directions to the lake, I packed a small backpack and nipped to the shop next to the hotel for a tin of corn. It would have been rude not to have grabbed a cold 30p beer out of the fridge to keep me cool on the walk to the water. The road to the lake took me away from the City to the very edges of the suburbs. The gardens on the gradually deteriorating lane all had fruit and vegetables growing in them, people are self sufficient in this the poorest country in Europe. As I walked further and further I knew this lake could be a sewer pool for all I knew. Imagine my elation when I caught my first glimpse of what turned out to be a lovely lake filled with carp.

I managed to find a quiet corner and set up my travel rod with a very basic waggler set up, all the time watching large fish rolling all over the lake. If I hooked one of the bigger ones I wasn't sure my flimsy tackle would hold up. An hour passed and not a bite, then suddenly after a move into some more open water, the float slipped beneath the surface. After a gutsy but brief scrap I had a small carp on the bank, my first carp of the year as it happens, and I had come a long way to catch it.

I felt confident more would follow, and as the float glided away for a second time I was interrupted by the bailiff. I hadn't considered there would be a bailiff, and certainly not considered the language barrier that ensued. The extent of my Moldovan was to wave a 50 lei note at him, he was having none of it. So much for my bribery tactics. I agreed to walk round the lake with him to meet the owner. The reason for the security became a little more apparent on meeting the owner, who spoke broken English. He duly accepted my money as long as I didn't take any fish from the lake. They eat carp as a staple part of their diet in this country. I began fishing again in an area designated by the owner but I knew the fish were on the other side near the reeds and after an hour or so I decided to walk round and push my luck with him. I figured he realised I was here for pleasure and wouldn't be filling my Manchester City backpack with his slimy mirror carp. As I walked round, from the picnic tables came a shout. The bailiff was sat at the table and I thought I was going to get another piece of his mind, but quite the contrary. His wife spoke broken English and invited me over for a glass of home made wine. Result I thought! Not only did she pour me a glass of wine of very sociable proportions, she cut the large almond cake on the table and asked me to join them for lunch. This was my sort of fishing. She was excited to be trying out her English language with the real article, I sense they get very few English visitors to this outpost on the edge of town.

As the wine ran out I sensed my chance to get back to the fishing, but it was not to be. Out came a bottle of vodka. Now for anybody that has visited Eastern Europe you would know that to turn down an offer of a drink of vodka is frowned upon in these parts. Several shots later I began to make my excuses as I had a full evening to get through, to which I was promptly invited for dinner at the summer house by the lake. I politely declined based on the fact that I was the most sober, and dinner was to be two large mirror carp that had been flapping around in a plastic bag under the table, the rules of fishing are a little different in Chisinau.
I did manage to get a little more fishing in but decided time had run away with me and I needed to get some proper food. In the evening I visited a lovely restaurant on the edge of the city and decided against all my prior reservations, as this was a regional delicacy I did try grilled carp with roasted vegetables, and it was lovely. In true Manchester style I kept thinking though I could have had the same for free...never mind, my meal and several beers only came to £4 anyway. You tend to forget the prices at home when you are in these countries and I refused to get a taxi back to the hotel for £3 as the trolleybus was 5p!
So one fish to show for a full day out, but a day that was most unexpected. 
Sunday brought the marathom journey home but there was one bright point. I had seven hours to kill in Munich and left the airport to visit the world's oldest brewery in Freising a short bus ride away. The town was full of small streams and rivers and there were some nice rainbow trout and huge carp basking in the afternoon sun . It would have been a huge bonus had the security at Chisinau airport not taken exception to my fishing rod in my hand luggage and made me put my bag in the aircraft's hold all the way home. Some you win , some you lose, but just watching these graceful creatures was enough to round off an exceptional long weekend.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

A tale of two rivers

On Tuesday, spurred on by my trip to Wales I finally found the urge to visit the Medlock for the first time this season. Since the close season I have not bothered as the river has changed completely due to the demolition of a large weir. This has really changed the shape of the river through the Vale in Clayton. Swims which held good chub are now just a inches deep. I couldn't hide my disappointment as I walked the river with a local project manager to talk about the river and the fish holding areas.
The weather was fine for a change and on the one deep hole left I set up a maggot feeder rig and cast under a far bank tree. The fish were biting and within minutes I had a brownie of about 12oz. I backed this up with nine more fish including a couple of chub, and one decent one.
As the bites dried up and with no alternative swims to move to these days I decided to drive into the city centre and try a stretch of the Irwell new to me. I arrived about 3pm and decided to stick it out all afternoon. The only problem was the rain arrived pretty soon afterwards, and persisted for hours. With no cover and concrete banks it was a case of grin and bear it. It didn't stop the fish  from showing up though, and I managed to build up a tidy bag of fish including a chub of 3lb all caught on maggot feeder three quarters across the river. An interesting spot in the middle of the city drew quite an audience at times as the fish were being played in. From the offices opposite I could see the surprise as each fish came to the net. The only hazard is the rate of rise in the river level. To wade here you have to be confident, and in the pouring rain I had to remain vigilant. At 8pm I decided to call it a day with around 10lb in the net of roach and chub, and a solitary perch. Not bad for a first day out on the river. I could have done with some coaching from Derek (Salford friendly fame) today on stick float fishing as only one fish fell to this tactic. I am sure Del would have bagged up. I like to think I am proficient in the art of stick float fishing but had to revert to long range tactics. There's always another day.

Nuclear powered trout

Each year I seem to do at least one decent trip out to somewhere new, and this year's outing came courtesy of a work colleague who mentioned he had a caravan in Wales, and often went fishing on Trawsfynnydd lake. Not only was the caravan in close proximity to some interesting fishing, it was near to Barmouth, a seaside resort that I visited many times as a child for my summer holidays. Who could resist a trip down memory lane? Not me. So along with Chris and Lee another colleague we wrapped up work on Saturday evening and headed for Barmouth on our jollies, well for one evening anyway. We made the best of our short stay though and managed a good few pints in the pub before rounding off with a kebab by the sea. Back to the caravan and several cans more before we hit the sack ready for a good day out on the lake.
Arriving early at Trawsfynnydd I was expecting something spectacular for the £17 day ticket. I have to say the views alone are worth the ticket price, and the fishing though patchy, was most interesting.
Pictured above are the reactors from the decommissioned nuclear power station. They were buzzing all day, and apparently will do for years if not decades to come. It is quite a stark reminder of an era that started and ended within my lifetime.
On to the fishing and a slow start but gradually the bites started registering on the tip. Fishing long range with a maggot feeder on a surprisingly level bottom I had lots of positive bites. The main problem was me! I was rusty after a long break from fishing due to travelling to Ukraine for the Euros and playing catch up since getting home. I managed to hook and lose two fish before hooking a large trout. After a good scrap the fish turned quick as it neared the bank and snapped my hooklength, all 4lb 12oz of it, as it flipped over in the water I could see it would have been a PB trout. I finally bagged a couple of small brownies and a perch before Chris alerted me to the fact he had a good bend in his rod. After a long fight he banked a good rainbow trout. With no scales I would guesstimate 2lbs plus.

Not to be outdone I managed to bank one a little bigger, a beautiful fish. These fish go like a train and take some taming.
Lee, who hadn't fished for years was a little dejected by now, and switching him to a float set up with a 3AAA waggler and a little coaching did the trick. He completed a hat-trick of big rainbows.
So not prolific fishing but a great day and indeed weekend in some stunning surroundings with great company made for a trip to remember.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Droylsden Pope and chicks

The sun tried to break through all afternoon on the Ashton canal at Fairfield road. I had originally planned a trip to Cambrian street in Manchester but arrived to find my swim taken by another angler. I decided to head nearer home to a swim that I have fancied for a while in Droylsden to find that was taken as well! I guess today was going to be one of those afternoons. As I crossed the playing fields I came across this uplifting scene, two geese protecting their new born chicks. These geese have really made themselves at home on the canal.
I managed a few fish today including a couple of stripeys, roach and a nice skimmer. I lost a much bigger skimmer as I turned it towards the net. It bolted and shook the tiny size 20 hook, a nice fish by my standards this year.
Fish of the day award goes to the smallest fish though. Not often a Pope visits Droylsden! I still have no idea why they have derived that nickname.  I love these little Ruffe, they go like a train all over the swim when you hook them. I haven't caught one for a couple of years, some anglers never catch one in a lifetime.

Had I brought my seat box and pole today, I think I could have took a few bream from under the far bank overhanging tree. I have fished this swim before and had bream, carp, and tench up to 4lb. This close season I have gone back to basics on the canal, with a telescopic match rod, a folding chair and a small bag. I have to say, I enjoy it more as it seems more of a challenge. Roll on June though to get back on the rivers.
No fishing Sunday as we have a Salford friendly anglers event in Prestwich, and an even bigger event at the Etihad in the afternoon. Just one more win against Mark Hughes's boys will see us end an era of red domination hopefully. After thirty odd years of watching City I take nothing for granted though!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

An afternoon in Beswick

Following the previous evenings festivities at the Etihad I decided I couldn't keep away from the place. Nursing the remnants of a hangover I dropped on a swim on the Ashton canal in full view of the stadium in an attempt to lure the odd silver fish following my previous two blanks.

Armed only with my trusty Shakespeare Ganza 12ft  telescopic match rod,  a few bits of tackle and the rest of Sundays maggots (now mostly turned to caster) I cast to the middle of the canal and dragged the float back to the nearside trees to my left. It only took a few minutes to tempt my first bite which turned up a stunning little perch.

 After the week I have had this fish was more than welcome. I only stayed a couple of hours but backed up my little stripey with a nice skimmer and a few ounce roach before a boat trundled through the swim nearside churning the bottom up. That was that, not one single bite more.
This swim is really tucked away over landscaped waste land at the back of Cambrian street as you approach the City centre. It also overlooks a fishy looking stretch of the river Medlock. I flung the remainder of my bait over the bridge on to the sandy bottom of the river and watched, hoping to spot some monster Chub moving in on the gourmet offering. It was not to be today, but I bet they are around. A word of warning though, this spot is very isolated and it would be wise not to fish unaccompanied. I would only fish here if travelling light.
So there you have it. Proof if it was ever needed that you dont need to load the car with an array of tackle to catch a few fish, just a few essentials, a good telescopic rod and a little patience can bring you better results in less favourable locations.