Top specialist angler, Gareth Goldson, shares his 'must-use' tips for catching dace during the colder months and end of the river season.

Be prepared to explore

The great thing about big dace is they can be caught from big rivers, but also from the smallest of streams so it really pays to do your homework and do a big of exploring.

I’ve caught some huge dace from a river so small you could actually jump across it proving that bigger venues don’t always hold the bigger fish.

Where there’s one there’s usually more

It pays to fish a variety of swims to locate the fish. Being shoal fish once fish are located bites can often come thick and fast.

It will often be a case on moving around, having a few trots in each swim, and once a few bites start to occur focusing your attentions on that particular area.

Dace shoals generally hold a variety of sizes so it pays to keep fishing a swim even if you’re catching only small dace to start with.

My favourite areas to look for are nice steady glides of between 2-4ft in depth.


Keep the feed going in little but often

It’s vitally important to feed correctly when fishing for dace. I’ve always found a little but often approach to work the best on most venues.

I usually look to put 10 or so maggots in before each trot and will increase this slightly if bites are coming every cast.

If you get the shoal really competing for the bait action can be fast and furious so it always pays to be prepared with enough bait. A couple of pints of maggots should cover most situations.

Keep things light and balanced

By far my favourite way to fish for big dace has to be on the stick float. I like to use a light 13ft float rod which cushions the jagged fight that dace tend to give, and helps to prevent hook pulls which can be a problem when using heavier tackle.

Bearing in mind I would classify a specimen dace being 10oz and upwards small hooks and light lines really are the order of the day. My float set up will usually consist of 3lb reel line and a hook link of either 1.8 or 2lb with a size 18 or 20 hook.

Although dace are the desired target it’s not unusual to encounter the odd big roach or trout so it pays not to go much lighter to ensure everything you hook gets landed.


Sharp and fast

Dace are notorious for giving quick sharp bites so you really need to be on the ball. Slow reactions usually mean plenty of missed bites.

It’s important to keep in contact with the float to make sure bites are hit quickly. Big bows in the line will not only hinder the strike, but also make presentation of the bait worse.

A nice light float rod of 13 or 14ft will certainly help to pick up the line much quicker leading to more hooked fish.

Good luck,