Back on the rivers at last -Silver Fish in Winter.

starsky

Well-known member
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
214
Hi all,
I’ve just joined my local club to have a go at whitefish on the fly . I’m used to fishing for trout and grayling in rivers and I know what the holding water is for those fish. On my club waters the rivers have varying types of water from fast gravel bottom with deeper pools and slower deeper sections. What sort of water would you recommend at this time of year for whitefish ?. I have a lot of river to target and as the fish will probably be shoaled up i would like to narrow down the amount of river I have to prospect .

Many thanks,
Mark
 

Skateboard Dave

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 20, 2007
Messages
636
Location
Whetstone - South of Leicester
Hi all,
I’ve just joined my local club to have a go at whitefish on the fly . I’m used to fishing for trout and grayling in rivers and I know what the holding water is for those fish. On my club waters the rivers have varying types of water from fast gravel bottom with deeper pools and slower deeper sections. What sort of water would you recommend at this time of year for whitefish ?. I have a lot of river to target and as the fish will probably be shoaled up i would like to narrow down the amount of river I have to prospect .

Many thanks,
Mark

Hi Mark.

I don't know your rivers but the Eden looks pretty tiny which is a good thing.
I've found in winter the bigger the river the harder it is but that might just be my local waters.
The main thing is finding fish. Around here most brooks are nearly devoid of fish but if you find a stretch with a good head then the fishing is superb and pretty easy once you know what to do.
Built up areas or zones with lots of dog walkers are usually productive as the activity keep the predators away. Bridges are always good too.
The silver fish tend to like slower flows and deeper pools but having said that dace (if they are present) can be in shallow gravel runs, usually just out of the faster water in slightly deeper or slacker areas.
Slower and deeper bankside runs especially with tree cover both near or far side can be great.
Log jams and sunken trees especially the slacks below them as long as there is still enough depth. Perch really love it in amongst sunken branches and can be really easy to catch on a super heavy fly just jigged under your rod top around the cover.
The main thing to remember in winter is fish directly downstream and use enough weight (a team of beaded flies or add split shot on your top dropper tag) to get the flies down to the deck. DO NOT fish upstream - 99.9% of the time it will be a waste of time. That is why a long rod helps as you can cover more of the brook. With a 12 foot rod you can fish the near and far banks on many tiny rivers without getting wet. ;-)
If you're getting down, fishing downstream (slow twitches back or just holding it in the flow and letting the flies slowly settle) and haven't spooked the fish you will get takes. If you are not then there is probably nothing in the swim - move on. I only ever give a swim a few minutes if no action unless I know for sure it holds a load.
The Eden looks small enough to be able to spot fish if we don't get any more rain that is. A walk along it when it is low and clear will tell you all the areas you need to be concentrating on. If you don't see anything then it might be a waste of time- coarse fish don't hide that well.
I'll be interested to hear how you get on as my daughter is at Uni. down your way - just south of the Thames. I've been checking out a small river near her halls but haven't had chance to fish it yet. Before all the rain I walked/ ran a mile or so of it but saw not a single fish. ;-( I won't be fishing there but supposedly a couple of miles upstream is a park with plenty of dace and chub. I'll take a run along it sometime and if a see something there then will have a bash when a chance arises.
Good luck.

Dee
 

Skateboard Dave

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Joined
Mar 20, 2007
Messages
636
Location
Whetstone - South of Leicester
Earlier today myself and Swelly (Simon) took a drive up the M1 to Nottingham to try the little river Leen
I had fishing it a couple of times over the summer when the amount of roach and good sized perch I saw had me convinced it would be an awesome winter venue. Since it had been dry for a while now I felt the time was right and finally the river would be fishable. We arrived at about 9:30 and both of us agreed it looked "right" for a fish or two. Game on!
The early optimism soon faded though as neither of us saw a fish or even managed to get a take.
We walked at least a mile of it. Saw nothing, despite being able to see the bottom in most swims, from the high bankside footpaths. There were many pale sand/gravel patches which would have made spotting roach a doddle - nothing.
I couldn't understand where they had all gone. In summer it was heaving. It is a really straight fast flowing brook though so maybe the months of floods have washed everything into the Trent!
So frustrating.
Simon had to go early so I decided to jump off the M1 at Loughborough and have a short bash on the Black Brook since I really didn't want to blank. ;-) Simon didn't have that option so less than a week into the new year and he's already chalked one up. Sorry mate, I was 100% certain we'd catch on the Leen.
I was at the BB and ready to fish by around 2pm.
I tried the lower zone near the Soar today as I've hit the upper reaches too often recently.
The top section of this area as quite shallow and gravely. Today it was far too clear and low - not something you've been able to complain about so far this winter. Getting in the brook and fishing down through any colour I stirred up helped but any silt was soon washed away.
I managed a couple of takes here and landed a tiny roach and similar sized dace - not really what I was after but no dry. ;-)
It really wasn't fishing well but once I had waded through the shallow gravels to a slightly deeper, silty, slower zone that all changed.
Nice little roach:
blackbrook 4th Jan 2020 roach.jpg
Slower swim - fish on the far side out of the flow.
blackbrook 4th Jan 2020 swim.jpg
This is a swim that usually gives up a fish but that is about it.
Today it was bite after bite from small dace after than initial roach. Lots of missed takes but I added 3 or 4 dace. Nice.
blackbrook 4th Jan 2020 dace.jpg

I could have stayed and milked that swim but a wider pool just downstream was calling to me.
 

Skateboard Dave

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 20, 2007
Messages
636
Location
Whetstone - South of Leicester
The downstream pool had changed dramatically since my last visit.
A tree bough had come down and had drastically the flow but not in a bad way.
There was a nice nearside eddy and again over towards the far bank with a really nice steady flowing narrow channel in the middle.
blackbrook 4th Jan 2020 swim2.jpg
The best bit was it was stuffed with dace! I was getting a take every chuck!
Initially the action was from just below the "jam" but a few yards downstream was also stuffed. ;-)
blackbrook 4th Jan 2020 swim3.jpg
It was all dace here again, I wasn't complaining. That was until this little chap popped up.
blackbrook 4th Jan 2020 gudgeon.jpg
It's been a long time since I've had a gudgeon. They might be small but I'm always happy to see them. Most fly fishermen will have never caught one.
I couldn't believe it when 5 minutes later I caught another - like buses.
I ended with 13 dace, two roach and those two gudgeon.
Better than Simon's blank and I was back home by 3:30pm.
I need to fish that zone again soon.
 
Last edited:

William Hurst

Active member
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Messages
27
Location
Retford Nottinghamshire
Hi I fish the chesterfield canal in Retford problem's at the moment with goosanders and the black plage if you look on you tube at Doms fishing and the ginger fisherman that's all round hear .
 

starsky

Well-known member
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
214
Hi Mark.

I don't know your rivers but the Eden looks pretty tiny which is a good thing.
I've found in winter the bigger the river the harder it is but that might just be my local waters.
The main thing is finding fish. Around here most brooks are nearly devoid of fish but if you find a stretch with a good head then the fishing is superb and pretty easy once you know what to do.
Built up areas or zones with lots of dog walkers are usually productive as the activity keep the predators away. Bridges are always good too.
The silver fish tend to like slower flows and deeper pools but having said that dace (if they are present) can be in shallow gravel runs, usually just out of the faster water in slightly deeper or slacker areas.
Slower and deeper bankside runs especially with tree cover both near or far side can be great.
Log jams and sunken trees especially the slacks below them as long as there is still enough depth. Perch really love it in amongst sunken branches and can be really easy to catch on a super heavy fly just jigged under your rod top around the cover.
The main thing to remember in winter is fish directly downstream and use enough weight (a team of beaded flies or add split shot on your top dropper tag) to get the flies down to the deck. DO NOT fish upstream - 99.9% of the time it will be a waste of time. That is why a long rod helps as you can cover more of the brook. With a 12 foot rod you can fish the near and far banks on many tiny rivers without getting wet. ;-)
If you're getting down, fishing downstream (slow twitches back or just holding it in the flow and letting the flies slowly settle) and haven't spooked the fish you will get takes. If you are not then there is probably nothing in the swim - move on. I only ever give a swim a few minutes if no action unless I know for sure it holds a load.
The Eden looks small enough to be able to spot fish if we don't get any more rain that is. A walk along it when it is low and clear will tell you all the areas you need to be concentrating on. If you don't see anything then it might be a waste of time- coarse fish don't hide that well.
I'll be interested to hear how you get on as my daughter is at Uni. down your way - just south of the Thames. I've been checking out a small river near her halls but haven't had chance to fish it yet. Before all the rain I walked/ ran a mile or so of it but saw not a single fish. ;-( I won't be fishing there but supposedly a couple of miles upstream is a park with plenty of dace and chub. I'll take a run along it sometime and if a see something there then will have a bash when a chance arises.
Good luck.

Dee

Hi Dee,
Thanks for the excellent reply and info you provided.
I had a walk around one of the stretches yesterday and it’s a nice small size so easy to cast a line on it without wading. The access is limited with steep banks and slippery as hell but there are a few spots
I can safely get a line out . Some of the runs will be perfect for the French leader .
I’m trying out the Eden on Wed and I will let you know how I get on. I’m told that the Upper Medway is about that same size as the Eden so hopefully I’ll have lots of water to cover.
From what you’ve explained the fishing is not that far off grayling fishing with the exception of fishing downstream. It’s having the confidence that you will pick fish up in coloured water.
The stream you’ve been looking at , is it the Wandle?.

Mark
 

Skateboard Dave

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Joined
Mar 20, 2007
Messages
636
Location
Whetstone - South of Leicester
H Mark.

No it's not the Wandle although I did fish that once many years ago when I did a talk for the Wandle Restoration Society. I know that has loads of fish in it - access/parking is the hard bit like most of London. ;-(
It's the Ravensbourne brook/river through Lewisham.
A bit of googling and it seems there are fish to be caught in the Ladywell Fields area.
I've only scouted a length at Brookmill park so far. That looked superb but I never saw a single fish and it was super clear at the time so I'm pretty certain that area is a waste of time.
I will be trying the Ravenspoure soon - maybe even this weekend as I've driving my daughter back to Goldsmiths on Sunday.

ATB

Dee
 

starsky

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Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
214
Hi Dee,

Now that’s very interesting as the Ravensbourne is my local river . I live ten minutes from the source at a place called Keston which is near Bromley. I never even thought of checking out the stretches near me as I’ve always tended to drive out to the countryside more to fish.I know your into your urban fishing but I tend to avoid as my job( tube driver) means I’m surrounded by people all day and I like to get away from it whilst fishing.
I know Goldsmiths well as my missus went there for her three year degree many moons ago.
If your going to fish on Sat I might be able to get out for a few hours if you fancy meeting up ?

Mark
 

jerryrum

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Joined
May 13, 2016
Messages
367
Location
Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzard
This one is pushing it as far a ‘rivers’ go, but according to Google Maps, this is Tongwell brook:
Capture 1.jpg

Now this may not be the image you think of when someone says ‘fly fishing’, but surely the principles for fishing here are the same as when stalking trout on a summer chalk stream?
I approached low, keeping behind what bush cover there was. Whilst crouching (but not too much, I’m wearing my suit as usual), I pay out my line and with minimal false casting drop a single fly to a feeding fish. A flash of movement, a slight feeling of tension on the line, and ‘fish on!’
Capture 2.jpg

Not bad considering the scenery. In the net is a pristine, wild fish that has never before seen an artificial fly, never mind been caught by this (or any other) method.
A quick photo and then back to the waiting shoal.
Capture 3.jpg
 

jerryrum

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Joined
May 13, 2016
Messages
367
Location
Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzard
The brook is a way of draining water away from the local industrial areas, and is as culverted and penned in as it gets. It’s one up side is that during flooding episodes the neighbouring lake overflows bringing fish along with the water.
The fish make their way to the deeper areas and survive by picking at whatever the drain brings.

Glamourous it isn’t.

This ‘brook’ is only a short bike ride from my work, so I get about 40 minutes fishing in on my lunch hour. Today I managed about 5 Roach, 2 Chub, and a Minnow whilst my colleagues sat at their desks, eating sandwiches and shopping online.
Capture 4.jpg

Along with the fish I got fresh air, exercise and excitement.
Capture 5.jpg
Capture 5a.jpg
 

jerryrum

Well-known member
Joined
May 13, 2016
Messages
367
Location
Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzard
Capture 6.jpg
For those that are interested, the kit was: Telescopic rod (£14 inc del, Wish.com), Cheap plastic reel (£7 inc del, Maxcatch), #4 fly line (£ cheap, found at the back of a drawer), 4ft 4lb and 4ft 2lb leader and a #16 beadhead GRHE.
Conditions were blustery and wet, and you have seen the location.
For Gods sake don’t tell Halford, he’d spin in his grave.
Capture 8.jpg
Capture 9.jpg
 

starsky

Well-known member
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
214
I don’t know what’s more amazing , the fact you are catching from there or the fact your going fishing wearing a suit on your lunch break 😀.

Well done !
 

Shangerlad

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Joined
Jan 1, 2020
Messages
62
Location
Milton keynes
these coarse/fly threads are the best on the forum. I joined because i want to fish for trout after many years coarse fishing. i've got a basic kit. But you've inspired me to try. i want to try fly fishing the upper great ouse for chub.I will make do with my 6wt while i''m learning to cast. is that suitable or to heavy, i saw a utube video some one dry fly fishing with a beetle in winter. i assumed wet fly would be better this time of year,but worth a try. i'll put up a post when i catch one. might take a while!
 

Cooperman

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Joined
Dec 17, 2019
Messages
60
Location
Leicester
I am also enjoying this thread as I live in the same area as Dave. For information Dave I live in Barrow upon Soar within yards of the river by the Navigation. I don’t fish at the moment but thinking about getting my old Chapman Chess rod out and giving it a go.How do you rate my chances of a trout in the faster runs between Barrow and Quorn. This stretch should be good for chub as well I think. Have you ever fished it Dave?
 

Skateboard Dave

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Joined
Mar 20, 2007
Messages
636
Location
Whetstone - South of Leicester
these coarse/fly threads are the best on the forum. I joined because i want to fish for trout after many years coarse fishing. i've got a basic kit. But you've inspired me to try. i want to try fly fishing the upper great ouse for chub.I will make do with my 6wt while i''m learning to cast. is that suitable or to heavy, i saw a utube video some one dry fly fishing with a beetle in winter. i assumed wet fly would be better this time of year,but worth a try. i'll put up a post when i catch one. might take a while!

Your 6wt will be fine - I only use super lt wt rods as it makes the small fish so much more fun and is a big advantage spotting roach takes. For chub and perch though it isn't going to make much difference.
I wouldn't bother with the dry fly until summer. Stick to bead headed nymphs (tungsten) and fishing downstream as I describe and you'll have a good chance of a fish or two from the Ouse.
I've fished the Ouzel out your way a couple of times too. That was good but chub were very thin on the ground. plenty of dace and roach though.
If you don't tie your own flies then check out Lucian Vasies's web site. He does some of the best commercially available tungsten bead flies I've seen.
Tungsten Bead Head Nymphs

A selection from #12s to #18s should see you covered for all species.
I've found for coarse fish the bushier. hackled patterns are best. The really slim flies such as the Perdigon just don't have enough "life" in the relatively slow coarse fish water.
This would be the sort of fly i'd be going for:
Troutline Tactical Orange Tag Buggy GRHE Nymph BL

...and some of his squirmy Worms but I'd chop off half of the tail for smaller fish.

ATB

Dee
 

jerryrum

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Joined
May 13, 2016
Messages
367
Location
Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzard
I’ve got to agree with everything Dee says. The fish aren’t feeding on the surface at the moment as (generally) there is nothing there for them to eat.

Fish wets now and through into the spring, then when you start to see fish taking flies on the surface switch to dries if you want. Although don’t discount Klink and dink as they will still be feeding sub-surface as well.

There are plenty of Chub in the Ouse and Ouzel, but the big ones are shy and used to the bait fishermen being after them.

If you fish for Dace and Roach you’ll get the odd big Chub as a bonus (so use a strong leader). If you fish specifically for big Chub you may come away empty handed and disheartened.

Are you an MKAA member? If so, keep away from the heavily fished area’s and use the fly fisherman’s advantage of mobility to search out uneducated shoals.
While the water remains high the fish will all be in back eddies and behind obstructions.

PM me and I can point you at some likely spots.

Jerry
 

Shangerlad

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Joined
Jan 1, 2020
Messages
62
Location
Milton keynes
Thank you both for your replies, all very helpfull. I last fished the ouzel 2 years ago.it was so full of crayfish it was unfishable,using my usual methods. so didn't go back, maybe it was just the day or that swim but it put me off, some of the great ouse is like that now,thats partly why i liked the idea of fly fishing. i have fished all the MKAA and DATS stretches up to Beachampton for 45+ years. and joined Olney this year. I will order the flies suggested, i have a nice begginers assortment from troutflies. but no tungsten. Hopefully out fishing in the next few weeks,will let you know how i get on.
all the best
Shangerlad.
 

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