Roger Mellon 1lb 2oz Dace

Triumph on Thames tributary for Roger Mellon
Sometimes making slight adjustments to your feed or the flavourings used can make a massive difference on the overall result, and that’s exactly what happened for Roger as he banked this stunning 1lb 2oz dace from a local river.He told us “There’s a little river in Surrey that I’ve fished for a few seasons. It’s home to some lovely dace and, as it’s a tributary of the Thames, fish often gather here it in the colder months. This river can lose its colour very quickly after rain, which can switch the fishing off in an instant. However, I’ve learned to prepare for these clear-water conditions and, by using a unique groundbait mix, I’m able to keep bites coming.

On a recent trip, despite being hit with piles of rain, I found the river running gin clear. But I wasn’t too worried – I broke out my mix, the bulk of which was made up of three loaves of liquidised bread. There’s a playground upstream where parents bring their kids to feed the ducks, which made bread a natural choice. But rather than mix this with water, I use coconut milk. This, combined with the bread, creates a large white cloud once dropped into the water, emulating coloured-river conditions. Sometimes, this mix would be all I feed, but, as it was autumn, leaves were falling into the river and carrying lots of little grubs with them, so I added a good helping of maggots, too. The swim I selected had some overhangs and a bit of depth, and I threw in 10 balls of groundbait just upstream of me. Instantly, I could see bleak boiling on the surface amongst its cloud, and I suspected a few larger fish would be sat below them.

My tactic was to fish the stick float, using a 2g pattern, a 3lb hooklink and size 16 hook with a double white maggot hookbait. First cast it buried with a roach of around 10oz, and over the next few hours I put a steady stream of fish into the net before I ran out of groundbait. Knowing the action would slow if the water cleared, I decided to create a cloud of a different kind. I was stood in the river, so shuffled my feet around to agitate the bottom and send a cloud of mud downstream. I still had plenty of maggots, so started feeding a handful a cast in the muddy cloud I was creating. It’s a slightly unorthodox tactic, but the swim became alive with fish! The float was burying seconds after casting, with quality dace being landed every chuck.

I was feeding mixed maggots but noticed the dace were only coughing up whites, so switched to using just these on the hook. I had another run of good fish before the bleak moved in. In desperation I swapped to reds and, interestingly, I was back into the big dace! They all seemed to be over 10oz – superb fish. But then, I hit into something much heavier and wondered if a small chub had got in on the action. However, when I netted the fish, I realised it was a massive dace. On the scales, it weighed 1lb 2oz. Four hours after starting I’d run out of bait, but what a session – 19lb of roach and dace with seven of the latter species weighing between 14oz and 1lb 2oz.

I believe that, had I not prepared for the river conditions and used my cloudy groundbait mix, I’d have hardly caught a thing. Being experimental with my additives and approach transformed what could’ve been a forgettable session.”

Well done Roger!