Sunday, 14 July 2019

Small Brook Fishing Pt.8 – Bobbleheads and Bone Boxes

The prehistoric looking fish the big headed bullhead has remained elusive over the last couple of trips to this small Warwickshire stream. I stumbled upon this tiny waterway by chance when I was chasing canal Zander and subsequently once I started to fish it, I realised there are some surprises to be had. Apart from catching bullheads for the first time in a while the dace certainly in the winter have been disproportionate to the size of the tiny forgotten brook they frequent.

Proper chunky fish, my best up till now 8 ounces, that’s bigger than the dace I catch on the Warwickshire Avon.

And trout, yes wild brownies in Bard’s country, who’d have thought it !!!!

So post sloppy burger made by my fair hands, me and Sam discussed tactics and bullhead were the intended quarry. They have been a little elusive of late but with the streams crystal clear and badly in need of some water, the shy bullhead probably want leave the sanctuary of it's rock till dusk or in to dark. When the water is coloured that's when we have faired better.

Now I know for a fact bullheads can be caught on rod and line because me and the tangelator Sam who was with me for this session have done exactly that.

My little wand rod with the finest of tips registers bites from this fascinating fish, and they even have enough power to submerge a small float which is how Sam caught his, and the biggest we have had up till now, 25% of the British record apparently.

They appear to like clear rocky swims, because after all, they spend most of their time hiding under them.

One swim progressed on to another discovery, then a little more, then a more again, then a whole different stretch altogether and there is still lots to explore, in-fact probably too much to go at.

Winter is obviously the best time because not only are the fish fatter and hungrier particularly the dace, but also it is easier to rove to likely holding spots because the stingers and the like have died back, allowing freedom of passage from one stretch to another. Not only that but with the water a little coloured the fish feel more confident to move around.

Before lunch with the Wife I managed a reccy to another small stream not far from me that looks like might offer some potential when there is more water in it. Ridiculously clear and only small minnow spotted in some characterful swims.

We'll be back to fish it though, potential for sure, I love these tiny waterways.

This session the plan was to start on the first swim I actually fished because it’s a holding area in low water conditions and also it is the swim I’d caught the most bullheads from.

There is probably a reason for that mind you as we have fished it more than any other spot. We’d also try another bit with easy access and then progress to the newly discovered section of it that not only a manmade weir, but also more wild brownies that frequent these unfished dribbles.

A pocket full of maggots a small float rod and an even daintier quiver wand rod, what could we winkle out?

It was quite a mild day and it was clear the bullheads were not up for feeding. Despite fishing some shady deeper swims all we managed to catch were minnow, dace, perch and a few trout. The dace though were getting bigger and despite the biggest falling off that looked 7 or 8 ounces, the biggest went nearly 5. Sam was gutted it dropped off, but then he is beginning to understand more about fishing, that is part and parcel of the pastime.

We roved around quite a bit but bites were a little harder to come by for this session.

So we need to fish it again when the levels have been topped up little. The bullheads particularly seem to prefer it and to be honest that is the target to try and register a score on the challenge scoreboard.

An enjoyable session though,  and again these forgotten waterways throw up to lovely fish, all in excellent condition too. The most productive swim was under a bridge, less than a foot deep and contained dace and the biggest trout that took the maggot on the drop.

We'll be back !!!!

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Jogg-trots and Jockum Gages

Waders were donned for this short mornings sessions. With the water the way it is, shallow and clear I wanted to fish some moving baits to try and pick up a Barbel mooching in and around the streamer weed. The chub were up for feeding off the top here last time to I had a loaf of bread if there Barbel were not playing ball.

Slow sinking or off the top, both methods seems to pick up fish last time, slow sinking picking up the better fish that would easily go over 5lb come winter.

Simple tactics, a hook, some plasticine moulding around the line and some large pieces of meat. With the hook pulled through the bait with a needle, turn the hook 90 degrees and secure it along the side of the bait with the hook exposed. Everything is felt through the line using thumb and forefinger and you can work out what the bait is doing.

It's certainly a method I've used in the past in these sort of conditions and it usually works quite well. The method is also a rovers dream, the minimum of tackle, move from swim to swim. The step count heading the right direction.

When it gets hindered, maybe a rock or some streamer weed, give it a nudge and the bait will be on its way again. The theory being the fish are very wary at the minute, but a more natural presentation with the bait moving with the flow of the current, it can well trick the most wary of fish. Now I spotted my first Barbel of the season the last visit here, I was hoping there were around.

If I didn't get in the water, the swims wouldn't be fishable at all, kinda nice in these humid weather. Even the cheap waders worked well, no leaks, bone dry, just how I like it.

After a couple of swims fishing without any Chub coming up to take the bait and countless roll downs of the meat I decided to go to the swim where I spotted the Barbel last time. Sure enough peering over the edge of the foot deep swim I could see not just one Barbel but three or four. The biggest one easily a double was holding station in he flow behind a decent size rock.

There were a couple of nice chub here as well, now we're talking !!!!

Well that's what I thought, the Barbel were not interested whatsoever, no matter how the meat or bread was presented they actively ignored it. In clear view under the polarised sunglasses the biggest even came to inspect the meat and shot off at a rate of knots when something didn't look right maybe.

I thought the session couldn't get any worse but a huge chub probably the biggest I've ever seen hoovered up my slow sinking flake and it went from visible to down his gob within a split second.

I struck but could feel the hook hold and then come straight out of the fishes mouth. Damn, would have easily been a PB I would have imagined. Not good !!!!

Eventually I managed a few chub with the biggest going 3lb 15oz's. I love summer Chub though, dark tanned backs because of the clear water and they give a good fight as well. The Barbel well who knows they didn't appear to be spawning, but then then sometimes they are just not having it. I don't find them particularly hard to catch, but if they are just not interested, there is nothing you can do about it.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Adelphogamy and Addle-Plots

Some networking to be done first, a new long-term job I’ve won to be shared. A couple of well-kept light ales at country a pub, that despite the flagstone floors, battered dartboard and walls many stories to tell, offers the customer what they want. No not dancing girls and free Wi-Fi but indian food in a place people like me feel at home, feel part of the furniture.

Unpretentious and a place to feel at ease, what’s not to likes especially when the prices are so good as well….

Anyway mountains of poppadoms’ with all the pickles, piles of onion salad and sauces, a freshly cooked tiger prawn puri, and a well spiced and tender lamb dish to rival any of the good curry houses I frequent. A piping hot clay baked nan cooked and presented to perfection, and a mushroom basmati to share.

What it also has going for it for us maggot danglers is that not far off an onion bhaji throw away is an area where Barbel frequent. Dusk is the usual biting time for these creatures of habit so I’d dump ones gear off and try to winkle out a chub in one of the shallow oxygenated swims. They lay up in wait for food morsels to come their way but are cagey, very cagey indeed. These fish are fished for, the window of opportunity very small, very small indeed.

The problem is, the word on the ground is that, at the moment they could well be spawning, those that have more time than me who spend much of their time watching motionless tips, I said TIPS, have said they are very elusive at the moment. This is an area where over all the stretches I fish, if I wanted to catch a Barbel, here would be it.

Now Barbel spawn in wide ranging temperatures ranging from 14-20 degrees C, in late spring or early summer, between May and July after migrating upstream, often several miles, to their spawning grounds. Males will pursue the females that are ready to spawn to shallow riffles and splashing is common as the pursuit takes place.

From reading some boomph online males can exhibit interesting behaviour at the spawning sites. The courting males will follow a female to the spawning site and a single male will then swim with her and prior to her release eggs. The male will often court the female by swimming head to head with her at the spawning site, but when they start to release their eggs and milt.

Other males waiting at the spawning site will then swim upstream to join them and so release their milt in an attempt to fertilize her eggs, despite having played no part in the courtship at all !!! The females may spawn several times with approximately 14-days between each.

The females can produce 8-12,000 eggs/kg of body weight, depending upon their condition and health, the eggs themselves are a translucent yellow and are the largest eggs of the coarse fish in Britain. Apparently the roe of Barbel is poisonous to humans. As they develop into adults, the sexes reach sexual maturity at different times, with males first able to spawn at between 2-5 years and females at 5-8 years of age. Barbel are believed to live for up to 15 years.

I’ve said before I don’t fish for Barbel that often, I prefer to fish in the autumn and winter months when they are at their heaviest and hungriest. Times of flood when the water is coloured is another window of opportunity to catch these fantastic powerful fish, because it is about the only fish that bites in those conditions. They can venture out in to the murky waters without standing out like a sore thumb.

I was hoping they had now returned and were up for feeding, or would they spoil the party? !!!!

Anyway back to the session, where I’d hope to register some scores on the door for the Bloggers Challenge. A Krill wafter on one rod, a pungent meat boilie on the other, both with PVA bags of mixed pellets, an hour before dusk, wait for a proper bait. There are gluttonous chub here as well, meat can be snatched or dislodged from the hook and there is no time to check of the bait is still on,  a firmer boilie is more resistant to their persistence. ignore the pulls, plucks and knocks you will know exactly when a Barbel takes the bait.

Best laid plans and all that, the first part went very well indeed, with Chub in quite a few swims coming up to take the bread off the surface. One swim I could see a Barbel as well, certainly over 7lb by the look of it. Slow sinking bread took the biggest chub and when you're fishing water, not much more than a foot deep in pacey water, it gave a cracking account for itself. Maybe rolling meat might have tempted the Barbel but it looked very cagey indeed.

Three swims produced fish though, and I managed 5 Chub, the smallest around 3lb. Away from the pacey shallow swims though, the water looked dead. The water had dropped considerably so I didn't expect much action the last hour headed in to dusk.

The chub were still active though and there were quite a few chub rattles pulls here and there but no Barbel decided to bite. With rain not forecast I'm tempted to don the waders and fish not only floating bread, but maybe some rolling meat as I'm sure put a lump in the front of a Barbel it would take it.  

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Splenitives and Splodgenations

Rudd again were the target for this evening’s session headed in to dusk. On my terms though this time, I had the prise the rod away from little Sam’s clutches the last visit, not only that but I couldn’t get a word in edge-ways, not exactly relaxing let’s put it that way. Nic and Anastasia would be swim side as well for this session.

So slightly different tactics as well, this time some a few No 8’s to help the maggots down a little faster through the water column and I’d also have a sleeper out with a small maggot feeder and short hooklink, where I’d alternative between breadflake, corn and maggots.

Now the Rudd’s bottom jaw protrudes past the top, giving away the fact that it prefers to feed from above, be that on the water’s surface, or on food as it falls through the water. Its pelvic and anal fins are usually bright red but can be dull orange if living in coloured water, whilst the pectoral, dorsal and tail fins are sort of a muddy-red colour.

To the untrained eye Rudd are often mistaken for roach, the easiest way to distinguish between the two is to look out for the brilliant colouring of the Rudd’s fins and its bottom jaw which is set forward, unlike the roach which has its upper jaw set forward. I cannot see how you would misidentify them myself, maybe when they are really small but yet to a couple ounces and above, they are wildly different to me.

However because Bream, Roach and Rudd all spawn at roughly the same point in the year, hybrids between the species are not impossible and are in fact quite common. The Rudd-Roach hybrid causes the most confusion amongst anglers, as the two species are already quite tricky for some to distinguish between.

A Rudd-Roach hybrid will often look mostly like a true Rudd or Roach, but will have some confounding features, such as an extended bottom jaw, when everything else about the fish suggests it to be Roach, or vice versa. To be fair a couple of fish I caught the weekend appeared to show characteristics of these strange specimens! And could well have been hybrids.

Now I didn’t manage anything half decent last time, even a jack pike would have think twice over the mere toothpick, but there are much better fish here hence my return. You’ve got to fish for what is likely to be biting in these conditions and Rudd particularly in the summer months is a worthy quarry.

What else to target ? well chub off the top, eels, or trotting for whatever comes along, just maybe not wade in to the bleakakke (™ Russ Hilton ) seemingly going on at the minute, wrong in so many levels and target them specifically there will be casualties.

The river is full of them at the minute, for the Pike, Perch and Zander It’s like a conveyor of Haribo Tangtastics put in front of a kid in need of a sweet fix, after a while the gluttony wears off even Jack, Billy and Zedlet would be looking for the stop button.

After a swim was raked the bite were forthcoming with Nic managing a bite a chuck for the fits hour or so. Now I was fishing away from the raked swim but was fishing above the weed which is quite thick here, however I was still catching fish, bleak, small roach and my target the Rudd. Those fish were in the 1 to 2 oz range when out of the blue a much bigger Rudd turned up. Ok not big in the scheme of things but I rarely catch Rudd on the Warwickshire Avon.

All 6.2 Ounces of it. A lovely fish though, nice proportions and fat. After hooking a duck which took my maggots on the drop a couple of foot down, the bites dried up, not helped by a boat that churned the bottom up to be fair.  Anastasia was back catching the perch though and I lost count of the fish she caught by the end of the session.

As the light went I started to pack up as the bites were hard to come by but after a small bream out of the blue Nic's float buried under and a half decent fish was on. It was giving a good fight for his size and "A hybrid I reckon" said Nic. He was right, a roach bream hybrid, all 1.6oz's of it and a good scores on the board for the bloggers challenge. 

The sleeper rod remained untouched but there is too much weed here to fish it effectively. I will be back, this time for a dawn session and will fish and bait it a bit differently. I'm sure there are more surprises to be had.
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