Piscatorial Quagswagging

...the diary of a specialist angler in around the Warwickshire Avon and its tributaries.

Monday 29 January 2018

Small Brook Fishing Pt.1 – Big Dace in the Hiding Place

I’d stumbled upon this hidden Brook whilst siphoning ones python off grid during a Zander session on the neighbouring canal and it looked worthy of a dangling a maggot or two.

What spurred my interest was not only the pool this small fishable section had as ones of its features, but a broken fishing rod minus its reel was spotted in some thicket within spraying distance. Since that was discovered I had in back of my mind “I wonder what could have been the monster that could have broken it”.

The problem is when the water levels are low this little brook could be navigated by a leprechaun with his trouser bottoms turned up. So any specimen fish potential would only really be able to be explored during the winter months when there was a little more water flowing.

Now a chance find of a pdf publication from a field trip at this diminutive brook back in the late 1990’s they added an appendix at the end from an environment agency electro fishing exercise where the Dace measured as part of the biomass of this river lived were up to proper Brobdingnagian stature.

All very intriguing especially as there were some brown trout present also. But the Dace though, seemingly a proper big fish from small waters….?

The exercise back in 1997, ok 20 or so years ago I know, but the biggest Dace went 321mm which is 12.6 inches for the 2lb of apple requesters.

I'd never caught said species up to anywhere near a foot in size and many others haven't either, well unless your surname is Denison and your first name is James.

So anyway, a screen grab of the Appendix from the said report is shown below.

Mr Jeff Hatt (I'm sure he will be back) published on his blog weight length graphs for some of the species he liked to fish for. They were compiled from data collected by Mr Hatt himself and were plotted against a logarithmic curve from fry and all the way to British record weight. His blog post spurred me in to conducting my own graph for Warwickshire Zander which can he found here.

One of his graphs was for Dace and not being able to find any online this was used to determine the weight of said fish measured and stunned by the EA.

So 321mm or 12.6 inches equates to 1lb 3oz’s that’s near British record proportions from this inconsequential stream. The stream though is an arterial vein to something a little bigger and eventually from one tributary to the next it joins the Warwickshire Avon itself.

However could these big Dace have been “a case of mistaken identity” (Russ Hilton), “Labourers in a dingy, the expert texting his girlfriend at the time....but anything is possible!” (George Burton)

Oh and there is a matter than the survey was conducted

It was a passage of text in David Carl Forbes book that could my interest in this potential goldmine though, as he had some blurb on a similar swim,

‘Holding points for Dace....’

‘When these dace shoals are not on the move, they tend to hole up in deep slacks and depressions in the stream bed. 

Sometimes, one is unable to locate dace no matter how cautiously one stalks the length and regardless of tackle permutations, but in winter I have been able to get a fair picture of where the fish might be according to the flow of the river.’

‘On the stream I have in mind, there is one swim we know as ‘Corner Pool’ and, after a flood, it can be guaranteed to produce Dace. However, when flooding is at its peak, ‘Bridge Slack’, just twenty yards or so downstream is the productive spot. Under these conditions, one can work along the length to no avail-except for the occasional chub or roach-but one of the known swims will, according to the state or effect of flood water, produce a number of Dace at one time or other during the day’

Another big problem is the survey was conducted when John Major was in number 10 and East 17 singer Brian Harvey was dismissed from the band after publicly commenting that the drug Ecstasy is safe.

Since then fish predation in ones locals waters has gone up exponentially, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. So only one way to find out whats lurking, so a short rod equipped with a maggot feeder to explore the swim and a couple of red maggots as bait.

Sam with me as he also wanted to be a joint capture of the British Record Dace...

The brook is very shallow in the most part and was pacey too as the recent rain had boosted it's levels but sure enough when we got to where I'd trod before it looked perfectly fishable. The waters had been much much higher here judging by the debris that was collected in the margins, but this helped make the 'pool' even more likely to hold fish carving out more the bank and making the swim bigger.

It was still very coloured but the first drop of the feeder in the swim I was glad I bought pungent maggots as I'm sure they make it easier for the fish to find.

A savage bite came within 5 minutes or so but Sam who was meant to minding the rod top was more interested in finding the small bag of cookies that were stashed away in my coat pocket. I caught it out the corner of my eye whilst I was sorting through the rucksack.

Bait went back out and a tentative bite turned in to a full blow affair and a fish was on. Target species, a small dace. Horrahhh !!!!

Then the dace got bigger and bigger 4oz, 5oz, 6oz then a jump to 8oz. They were getting fatter too with most with sizeable podgy bellies.

The the bites changed from strikable to sharp pulls, yeap small Roach....

Then the bites dried up a little till the point where Sam got bored. So an enjoyable first reccy trip and considering I've only fished one swim, very encouraging signs and I'll be back, but next time on my tod and with additional worms and bread and some more knowledge in my armory. 


  1. Interesting tale Mick.
    Can't beat adventures like that.

  2. Indeed, my kinda thing that session, eager to get out for the return trip now.

  3. Interesting stuff. The 1997 dace data looks odd when looking at biomass v fish, when compared to other years.

    A mistaken chub could easily slip into the dace count perhaps?

    Yet an 8oz fish showing up on first visit (backed up by a good range of others) suggests good cause for optimism.

    Good luck and I'll watch on with interest.

    1. I'll hopefully have a dabble over the weekend again, but yeah encouraging signs already. I'm sure it was a skinny chub or something because a Dace size is huge, really huge. I want to try and catch a trout too, so will use some worms next time I think.


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