|Here are the observations of a North Manchester Angler written in 2009 – it gives a great insight as to the impact Cormorants have made on my local River Irwell. (and I’ve added a few observations of my own to conclude)
“I’ve run Wickenhall bottom lake in Newhey for around 8 years now. It was a chance remark by one of the regular anglers about fishing the river Irwell in Manchester. loads of roach, most of them between 6 ounces and a pound he said, and on some days we get maybe 8 or nine chub up to 3lb or so, we’ve even had a couple of bream too.
After probing the said angler on areas to fish, he said ,”don’t go on your own cos it can be a bit rough, and swims are hard to find but worth the effort if you find the roach shoals”.
a couple of months later and after talking my daughter into a pre Xmas shopping trip, (on the condition that we have an hour looking at the river for possible access points, I was stood high over the Irwell on the impressive Trinity bridge, fish were regularly topping a few hundred yards upstream, nothing massive, but definitely fish. Anyway plans were made for me and Pete Healy, to go and have a go the following Sunday.
We arrived 30mins or so before first light. Fish were topping everywhere. We both started on maggot feeder. My first bite came before I put the rod down, a perfect roach of 10 ounces. I turned to tell Pete, who was fifty feet further upstream, only to find him with a similar fish in the landing net.
The next few hours were ridiculous. Fish after fish came to the double maggot baits. In fact at one stage we both stopped fishing for half an hour to have a brew and a butty.
Without going through every session we had in a period of 4 years, I’ll just say that the place was incredible. On numerous occasions, Pete, my daughter Abbie (9 to 13 years old at the time)on many, and I mean many days had at least 50 or sixty pounds of roach, chub, perch and dace. we only ever saw another four or five lads fishing over all that time and all of us kept it pretty quiet. Stickfloat was probably the best method with maggot, caster and hemp. But we caught on big baits like bread and meat too.
You’ll have noticed by now a lot of this article is written in the past tense.
These glory days of the Irwell have now sadly passed. After speaking to one of the regulars last year and finding out the fishing had gone downhill we decided to have a couple of sessions in the old swims,(we hadn’t been down for over 10 months). I can tell you it was a total waste of time, conditions were spot on for trotting, the water was perfect, but not a single bite in four trips.
now it’s quite normal for shoals of silver fish to hold up all winter in city centre rivers. whether it’s the lights or maybe due to it being a tad warmer I don’t know, but it happens in lots of rivers in the UK.
It’s also normal for fish to suddenly not be there one year for apparently no reason, quite often though they won’t be that far away. So with that in mind we took my small rowing boat (normally used for piking) to have a look around with a fish finder. We did find fish quarter of a mile downstream in a couple of places and caught some on trotted maggot from the boat. These were mainly roach but we only had about six each.
There’s a word I’ve deliberately missed out in this article up to yet, well here it comes……
In the last two years of fishing we saw a huge increase in the numbers of these birds, starting with one or two at first and then going up to dozens in the end. We saw them many times taking big roach, chub and dace all day long on some days.
It was heartbreaking to see and is the main reason we stopped fishing there. Previously unmarked, pristine fish, were now very badly marked indeed and the fishing dropped dramatically. The reason I decided to submit this article was to let the lads in the Manchester area, who fished the Irwell now or in the past, know about the situation.
2008 between Xmas and new year we took the boat onto the Irwell. At this time of year, centre of town should be solid with fish….. we spent ALL DAY looking in every nook and cranny from M.E.N arena all the way to Salford quays.
WE DID NOT SEE ANY FISH AT ALL IN MILES OF RIVER, OR ANY OF THE BASINS, ETC, THAT CAN’T BE ACCESSED FROM THE BANK.
So what’s happened to all those beautiful fish? Pollution would have turned some up for all to see but no one has reported any. Maybe they migrated further than we looked, but I doubt it, I think the black death is back in the country……..only this time it can fly.
As a footnote we caught from six swims in the centre of town. (are you ready for this):
ROACH TO OVER 2LB
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Fishing Fiends Opinion Below
Coming to the end of 2018 now – its interesting to see how the Irwell has changed – the roach have all but disappeared despite regular restocking by the Environment Agency.
The bream in the lower river have grown on to near double figures, carp started to show – some of them nudging 30lbs
Sea trout ??? do they really exist ?? or are they just smolted up brownies – which now grow to nearly 13lbs. The three huge locks on the Manchester Ship Canal are an effective barrier to migratory fish (though plans are being put in place to enable fish passage in the future)
Pike — well they are still present throughout the river from Bury down to Manchester, with lots of small jacks but the occasional big girl to 20lb.
Tench – I’ve never seen one from the Irwell.
Grayling – a recent stocking by the EA of 3000 tiddlers but an odd fish to 12 inches being caught in the Bury area. Dace are present but not prolific.
Chub to 6lbs,
Plenty of Gudgeon.
A smattering of Perch but they are not prolific.
200 Barbel were stocked at the waters meet of the Irwell and Croal in the early 90s by Farnworth Anglers – and the odd fish has turned up between Bury and Manchester to 13lb – however these fish are as rare as hens teeth, and its a real achievement to catch the mythical Irwell Barbel. The EA stocked 500 fingerlings in 2014, and again with 500 slightly bigger fish in 2017 and another 500 in winter 2018. However they don’t appear to thrive in Irwell waters and are still the Holy Grail for Irwell anglers.
As water quality improves – the fishing has without doubt declined from the halcyon days of the early late 90s and early 2000s. I too can remember catching 50lb+ nets of roach on hemp and maggot – but these events are now a thing of the past.
However,the trout fishing goes from strength to strength as water quality improves, and their fry are better suited to fast flowing water.
Without doubt the Gooseander which so effectively predate on fish fry, the Cormorants which so effectively predate on adult fish, mink and frequent pollution incidents have decimated our river.
I wonder what the future holds..
I arrived at the river yesterday afternoon with my pal Terry for a short session, to discover that I’d forgotten my usual trotting floats and only had a few pole floats in the boot of the car. Not ideal for trotting the river, but its not the first time that I’ve used a pole float for trotting on a river. When you have no other choice you have to adapt !
However -as you can see in the pics below – a 0.6 gram float wasn’t ideal for a fast pacy river that had a bit of extra colour in it from overnight rain.
Terry chose his swim at the head of the pool – and fished with a simple gold head Pheasant Tail Nymph,,,, I settled down in the smoother deeper water at the tail end of the pool and fed a few maggots every couple of minutes… and then cast in.
I needn’t have worried as 4 fish in my first six casts soon gave me the confidence that my bait was down where it needed to be.
Maggots did the trick on a size 12 Kamasan B560, 3lb hook length and my trusty old Abu 506 – I caught fish steadily for an hour…. including taking a break to sort out my friend Terry who accompanied me.
Looking at the river in the picture below, you’d never believe that such a light rig would be effective. But believe me 3 x No4 shot which only adds up to 0.6 grams had the bait down doing the business where it needed to be.
We only had time for an hour or so fishing and we ended up with 16 fish between us. A nice short sharp session on a cold Novembers day.
My reward was plenty of these……. happy days.
As I’ve said in my last few posts….. I’ve been doing a lot more fishing than blogging this year so I thought I’d share a bit more about how I’m getting on.
Work and family commitments have put an end to the long undisturbed sessions of the past, and I’ve been having to take my kicks where I can.
I’m driving round with a 7ft light spinning rod and reel loaded with 6lb braid in the back of the car and a lure box that looks like this – and with a ready rigged rod I’m ready to fish as soon as I park my car.
The lure tackle is a perma-fixture in the back of my car and enables me to stop off at venues for half an hour now and then to let my scratch my urge to go fishing. Most successful lure has to be this perch pattern in the picture below. I liked them at first sight in a tackle shop, and bought two packets. Sadly I’ve been using them up, and only have a few left,,,,,,and like the nitwit I am… I’ve forgotten who makes them.
You can see from the picture that I also use two sizes of weight – 3 gram for canals, and 5 grams for bigger more open water.
They are absolute perch nailers…. and the takes can be savage.
I drove past a local canal marina earlier this week, and had 15 minutes to spare between meetings so out came the rod. I was fishing in an instant and was rewarded with some lovely perch from around the live-in boats where perch love to lurk.
If anyone reading this knows the manufacturer of these lures can you please let me know in the comments section. I need to stock up!!
I’ve been doing quite a lot of fishing over the last few months, but have been a bit slack with my blogging. The perch fishing on my local lakes has been great so far this autumn, lots and lots of fish but nothing spectacularly big. I few days out with the kids bit bashing on local commercials such as Bradshaw Hall, and Sycamore Fisheries, and some carp fishing at Drinkwater Park Lake… I have the photos to prove it honestly – and will do some write ups over the winter months.
However, I have a pal who needed a night out on the beach last night and I was happy to oblige with the driving. We arrived at 5 Bar Gate at Bispham just as low tide was turning into the flood, and walked up the beach towards Rossall.
We found a spot where we could feel comfortable that the tide wasn’t going to come in a gully behind us in the dark without our realising, and set up a single rod each…. myself with a 2 hook flapper rig, and my pal Phil with the same but instead of loose hook lengths, his were to short wire booms. We both used 4 oz breakaway leads.
I used a 14ft continental style beach caster, and a big fixed spool reel loaded with 30lb braid.
Bait was frozen black lug from Bispham Angling shop.
Using this set up, I can get a good 100+ yards with a simple overhead lob. And I was casting a good 120 yards as there was a stiff offshore breeze.
It didn’t take long for the bites and fish to arrive, and we were catching Whiting, Doggies and a single Codling as the tide made its way up the beach. We fished until an hour after high tide and then packed up and made our way to the chippy for tea..
A good chin wag, setting the world to rights – I find beach fishing to be a very social experience as we can fish a rod each from a single tripod and chat all night long without fear of creating a disturbance. We had a great time, chatting about this and that, and as it was a cold clear night, we watched the constellations, the planes, satellites and shooting stars as we stared up at our rod tips.
An interesting thing we noted was that all the bigger fish of the evening came near to low tide, and all the smaller fish at high tide and the hour after. We had some really good sized Whiting to begin with and they got smaller and smaller as the night wore on. The tides were quite small, only 7.3m – so we agreed to come back for another session later in the month when the moon fills, and the tides reach 9.3m. It will be interesting to see how the fishing compares from a big low to big high tide.
You might think that I’ve been out sea fishing going by the title of this post – but Monton Lighthouse is 30 miles from the sea – located on the banks of the Bridgewater Canal in deepest darkest Salford.
I’ve been interested in fishing this bit of the cut for a number of years now for a few reasons, 1. you can park your car right behind your peg (see photos below) 2. the water is stained orange by the ochre colour caused by washout of old mine shafts that honeycomb the area 3. its near my office and somewhere that I think might hold some decent tench, bream and carp.
However today I had the kids with me – so armed with a top 2 with 4’s elastic, Katies 6ft dayglo pink rod, some maggots and half the contents of the local sweeties shop we set up for a short 2 hour session.
Katie has lots of patience and will sit and fish for ages, but I can only get half an hour out of Tommy before his attention wanders – he spent most of the time playing with different radio stations on the car radio – but at least i got a couple of hours in.
We caught small roach and perch from the off – a delicate rig 1lb bottom size 22 hook. Nothing over 6oz but they kept on coming.
Now that I’ve tried it out once on maggot and battered the bits on the inside line, I might revisit with some proper kit and fish hemp and caster to see if the suspected bigger fish which live in the vicinity might want to come out to play.
I can’t believe its so long since I posted anything on here….. I have been fishing … honest …. but with two young children and a wife who does shift work opportunities are sometimes thin on the ground these days.
When I have been out on the bank …. its usually with kids in tow
Here are a few pictures of my young apprentices doing their stuff..
As the river season opened yesterday -on the few occasions i get the chance to go fishing on my own I hope to be out on my local river, trying to catch an elusive Irwell barbel….
I made it out this afternoon for a couple of hours to a small lake close to home. The temperature was cold as you might expect at this time of year,, and the water temperature was a chilly 3 degrees so I wasn’t really expecting much other than a bit of fresh air.
This lake has a good head of tench and carp – but there wasn’t much chance of them feeding – so set up with a very light end tackle of size 22 hook to 0.07mm hook length. Bait for the session was some old maggots that had turned to casters. I tipped them in water and was disappointed to find that 3/4 of them were already floaters – so I didn’t have much loose feed to play about with. I had some crushed hemp at the bottom of the box – so i fished caster and hemp setting my stall out for a few roach…
Which for a while appeared to be a bad decision as it took me an hour to get my first bite – and then it was from a bream.
I then managed to bump two more bream in the next 10 minutes and predictably the bites then dried up.
I swapped to a different line at the edge of the far bank rushes and then thankfully found the roach – getting half a dozen fish to 8oz in the last half hour before home.
My fishing sessions seem to be coming in short sharp bursts at the moment – a stolen hour or sneaky afternoon out of the office. Today was my mate Petes birthday – and he wanted a bit of company – how could I not oblige…….. and to create a bit of extra birthday fun,,,,, I invited mutual friend and professional predator fisherman Ant Glascoe Jnr to join the birthday party.
Being the selfish so and so that I am, I inveigled the chaps into helping me knock a couple of species off my list for 2017.
Manchester has its own North South divide – Grayling are found in South Manchester rivers but not in the Northern ones.
So in order to strike Grayling off my species hunt – I headed south to the River Goyt.
I’ve never fished the Goyt before, so before tackling up – I had a good walk along the river bank at Woodbank Park in Stockport to search out any potential good swims….
It was great – a great section of river with plenty of variety – weir pools, shallow fast runs, deep fast runs, and slow glides.
So I tackled up the trusty old 15ft Drennan and Okuma Sheffield pin – a medium lignum stick and size 20 hook… Grayling love a maggot so……….
So do out of season brown trout – my first fish of the day was returned to the river without any fuss.
Working my way downstream swim by swim I began to feel as though I was struggling – water which I was convinced should hold fish appeared to be devoid of fish.
The gang of three reunited on a pool offering a great variety of swims – and none of us managed to raise a fish – until I started lifting rocks and scooping mini species (I am on a species hunt – in case I hadn’t mentioned it at least a dozen times before)….. a Bullhead and Stone Loach obliged within 5 minutes of each other.
Working our way downstream we finally started picking up Grayling in deep slack water above a weir.
Just love these fish – many thanks to Ant for his lovely pics
Great to see the River Goyt fishing so well – another urban Manchester river which has recovered from its polluted industrial past.
Have been given an all day pass this Sunday —- so many choices………….. lets see where I end up
It was far too nice a day to remain stuck in the office, so when the phone rang with the offer of a couple of hours on the bank I jumped at the chance.
The venue chosen was Bradshaw Hall Fishery in Bolton – not my normal sort of venue – but ideal for a cold clear January afternoon when bites elsewhere would be hard to come by.
I had some old maggots that were on the turn, and a stop off to buy a sliced loaf gave us plenty of options for hook bait….
We considered stopping off at a tackle shop on the way to buy some crushed hemp, but both agreed that the fish would be happy with very little feed, and that a bit of loose fed maggot would be more than enough to bring the fish on……. and this proved right when we got stuck in to the fishing
Its been a while since I fished at Bradshaws, so being short of time we set up on Lake 7 which is near to the cafe.
I set up with a very fine rig,,, a 0.2g pole float, size 20 hook and 0.08mm hook length.
A good plumbing up session revealed that the lake was only 2 and a half foot deep – making us question our decision to fish such a shallow lake on a cold crisp day.
However I had a small roach on my first put in (on maggot), followed by another, and another……then a F1,,,, then a gudgeon… then. the float didnt stop burying all afternoon – from 12 til 3 we caught fish after fish. I also had skimmers, crucian carp, a small ide.
A great bit of sport for a short winter session.
It sounds easy but I had to work for the fish…. constantly changing hook baits to keep the bites coming as if I stayed on any one bait for too long the bites dried up,,, before coming back immediately after changing bait.
By constantly swapping bread flake, punch of different sizes, caster and maggot – the fish just kept coming.
Nothing big but a great confidence booster after thehigh number of blank sessions on the rivers and canals I endured at the back end of 2016..
And another 6 species knocked off the 2017 species challenge – bringing by years total up to 8 species.
I feel like a little Grayling trip next.
Its been a while, but today I caught a few fish.
A quick early morning whirl around 3 local park lakes saw me land 3 fish (2 perch and a pike) caught using the fishing rod I received for Christmas 2015 – which had been out on numerous occasions in 2016 but never christened.
Using a small white latex shad lure I blanked at Heaton Park Lake, but caught a small Pike at Broughton Park Lake, and then two perch from Queensmere Dam
I’ve a long standing relationship with all three of these venues, as they were the lakes where I first cut my teeth as a young angler…..
Maybe I look back with rose tinted spectacles, but all three of these lakes used to hold far more fish in the late 70s than they do today – a direct consequence of the current cormorant plague ??
I was joined for the morning by my mate Ant Glascoe Jnr, and we had a great few hours chewing the cud….we had a great time reminiscing about old fishing venues, so when we completed our circuit of the Boating Lake, we decided to have 20 minutes on Broughton Park Lake.
It was a great decision – I had a little pike after only a few casts which attracted the attention of the local teen gang who turned out to be quite sweet and not at all threatening.
They were incredibly interested in the fish we caught, and about fishing in general so we let them have a go.
As you can see from the pics below – they loved it
Species Count for 2017 Salford Friendly Anglers Society Challenge = 2