The Dace is a freshwater or brackish water fish, inhabiting streams and rivers of northern Europe into Asia, with cool clear water flowing over gravel bottoms, in summer they are often seen darting up to dimple a streams surface whilst taking small flies. Such behaviour has led to the fish also being known as Darts.
Whilst closely resembling Roach, in both size and shape, the Dace has shiny silver sides without the blue hue that Roach have.
The fins of Dace are white, but have a pale red tinge to them, whilst the dorsal, pectoral and caudal fins are tipped black. Small Chub can be distinguished from Dace by the fact that their anal fin is convex, whilst that of the Dace is concave, added to which their mouths are much smaller.
Due to its lively nature and and bright appearance, Dace remain a favourite choice for Pike anglers when live baiting.
Dace are lively and active fish, prolific enough to form large shoals in the rivers and stream that they inhabit. They will occupy well aerated fast flowing glides and pools, but avoid ‘rough’ water. Prior to spawning, male fish move into faster shallower water whilst the females move to deeper, calmer water.
Spawning takes place in water temperatures between 9 – 10°C, around April. The females which can produce between 6,000 – 9,500 eggs per female, move upstream to join the males in the shallows, where they deposit pale yellow eggs at the bottom of the stems of aquatic plants and within the finer gravel.
Rods and reels should be either 12 – 15’ flat rod in conjunction with preferably a centre pin or close faced reel, which allow better presentation whilst trotting.
Use a mainline of 3lb with a 2lb hooklink and fine gauge, spade end hooks with a wide gape.
Look for an open swim with fast flowing water, ideally with depths of 2’ to 4’ (0.6- 1.2m).
Look for a swim with steadier flowing water, where possible with depths of 2 to 6’ (0.6-2.0m).
Before starting, ensure that you plumb the depth. Trotting with a stick float with ‘shirt button’ style shotting pattern (ie. with the larger shot nearest the float and the smallest shot evenly spaced with smallest shot at the bottom and biggest nearest the float), and a tell tale No 10 shot 6” from the hook fished so that the bait runs through the swim at just off bottom. Holding the stick float back against the current occasionally, just momentary or up to a few seconds, will allow the bait to gently rise in the current and encourage bites.
Consider a leger when you are getting bites on the float but cannot hit them. Shorten the hooklink to 6” so that the fish cannot spit out the hook before feeling the lead, hence the shorter link. This method will usually result in the fish hooking themselves. Use 2- 4+ swanshots directly on the line, which are an advantage over leger weights, in that they can be moved easily to change the distance to the hook.
Use single or double maggots or casters with hemp as loose feed. Caters are a great bait, but the hook needs to be buried, but beware, bites are normally very fast.
Consider using small dry fly or nymph patters.
Dace do not generally feed well in coloured water conditions.
On FAS waters, members should consider the River Wey at Dockenfield, the River Wey in general or the River Blackwater.