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River Dove

River Dove

One of the most idyllic pieces of river you could wish to see, an example of nature at her best and a far cry from the man made carp pools which for a variety of reasons now seem to attract the majority of anglers.

The Dove is undoubtedly a river for the dedicated angler seeking quality fish rather than quantity, caught using watercraft and presentation skills, but remember swim selection in many cases involves a good walk, so travel light.

The river holds some Dace, Trout, Bream to 5lbs, Pike to 20lbs, Carp to double figures, roach, perch, gudgeon and minnows with the main species being Barbel, Chub and Grayling and it is these 3 classic river fish which will be used to provide an insight into ways to tackle this intimate and challenging river.

Without doubt this species is now capturing the imagination of many more anglers and is present in good numbers with fish from 2lb to double figures being caught during the summer and autumn. The typical size would be 7lb to 10lbs and the power of these fish is quite incredible, with them once aptly being described as 'torpedos with fins' they are indeed a beautiful fish.

Barbel are often found in the shallower swims of around 2 ft deep with bankside features or streamer weed and time spent walking the river with polaroids to locate fish is both educational and usually rewarding as several swims provide the opportunity to watch the fish feeding. During the early season you are often faced with low clear water and presentation is the key to success.

Remember this is the Dove not the tidal Trent or lower Severn, so leave the 4oz leads at home and use the opportunity to stalk fish. Although many anglers prefer to fish at night and have some good results, these fish will still feed during the day when the sun is beating down. Be prepared to use a roving approach, experiment with terminal rigs and baits, and also be prepared to reduce both bait and hook size to trigger a response.

Heavy feeding is not always the best approach, since there are not vast shoals of smaller fish in the river it can be more affective to introduce smaller quantities of feed using a pva bag or catapult with a view to getting that first fish on the bank, then adjust feed according to bites and activity in the swim. As with most rivers pellets have become increasingly popular, but corn, meat and boilies will all produce, and red maggots as well as casters can be an excellent small bait alternative especially in clear water during the warmer months. One point worth bearing in mind is the Dove tends to run colder than many other rivers and the barbel can become very elusive from early November, but there are still 2 other main species to target.

The typical size of fish are in the 2lb and 3lb ranges, with an increasing number of 4 pounders being caught and a few fish over 5lbs reported. Again they are mostly found in the shallower swims during the warmer months and with low levels. Fishing in the day with waggler and stickfloat using maggots or casters is usually productive, but a lot of the bigger specimens tend to get caught during darkness by Barbel anglers.

Under winter conditions the fish seem to prefer the steadier water around creases in the flow and bankside features. Bread can prove a good bait as the water temperature drops and the fish will still respond down to 39F when a legered bait is more often the best approach. Again be prepared to visit several swims during a session, don't make the mistake of assuming the fish are off the feed, you can fail to get a bite in one spot and catch half a dozen in another.

This species has suffered in the past from the attentions of predatory birds, but fortunately it is an efficient breeding fish having a fast growth rate and over the last few seasons the numbers present in the river have been on the increase with fish from a few ounces to 2lbs being caught. The grayling are usually in the faster swims and are at their best in cold/clear water, which are the ideal conditions for running a stickfloat through using red/bronze maggots.

Through September into December with a bit of sun on the water, fish can be seen rising on the glides, an ideal opportunity for the fly fishing enthusiast. Traditional patterns with peacock herl bodies such as double badger, red tag and steel blue are worth a try, the last named being particularly useful as it can be fished either wet or dry.

The club has a policy that grayling are returned to the river and with licensed control of avian predation now in place on most of the Dove, the lady of the stream will again provide some good winter sport.

Rough location of our waters

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