Saturday, 21 July 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Pugnastics and Punxsutawney

This summer's heatwave has had a dramatic impact on the UK's landscape, turning previously lush parks and playing fields yellow. The green swathe of land has turned brown and barren-looking after weeks of dry heat. Apparently it’s the longest Britain has experienced in 42 years, I want a change in the weather, as I think many do. I’m a bit tired of it all now to be honest. Although I like a nice spell of hot weather, this 6 weeks or so we've already had is enough for me.

What I’m not bored with though, is the variety in my fishing, which to be honest, I’m trying to mix it up more than ever these days, the small water fishing in-particular, it’s what I like doing, despite the mediocrity of the fish to be caught.

The next session back to the Tiny River Alne I think, I'm sure there are some nice Roach to be had in the deeper swims I'm yet to fish.

For this session though, it was Groundhog Day…

A return to the area where I caught the big Chub couldn’t have come soon enough, you see the swim where I caught it from had fish which were clearly visible and there were bigger fish to be had.

Now they backed off once the 5lber was caught and disappeared as quickly as they appeared. They were in a proper tussle and scrimmage to beat the other fish to the floating bread, it was a survival of the fittest.

The props were not as quick as the hookers and I’m sure I had one of the wingers. There were bigger fish there at the time for sure.

Were they back again…?

Well only one way to find out, make hay and all that….

Now a summer caught Chub at 5lb will be much bigger come wintertime when they get their duffel costs on and that is certainly encouraging. The deep frame and length of the fish I caught might even push 6lb or beyond after Jack Frost has left the area, such its statue.

The freebies made the cagey Chub let their guard down and I was waiting for the opportunity for their corner to put the towel in. I nearly ran out of bread last time though, so for this session I was back with a couple of sliced loaves despite the session being the same length.

There’s not a British freshwater fish that offers so many challenges or can be tempted in so many ways, or on such a wide variety of baits as the chub. Old rubber lips cannot possibly resist something flapping away in trouble on the surface so I had the lure rod with me as well. In predatory terms, even from a very young age, and we’re talking a fish of four inches or so, the chub had few equals.

The rainbow trout shares a similar kind of aggression level when near the surface and looking for food, but then they are programmed to accepts floating pellet from birth, they are difficult to quantify. Either way, I cannot think of another coarse species so willing to have a go like a chub and that feeding mentality is there to be exploited for the angler.

Arriving early the fish were willing to feed however they were far more cagey this time. Once a fish was hooked the swim went dead to you had no choice but to move on to the next swim. Not a bad thing because that's how I like to fish. The smallest fish went 2lb or so and the biggest caught a nice big framed fish of 4lb 9oz's. Two three pounders, one an ounce off 4lb which was caught on the lure. So another decent session however the fish switched off after the initial feeding spell so it was time to head back home.

Usually the bigger fish start milling around come sundown so I think a session in the week is on the cards to try and tempt an even bigger Chevin.

The river well, I've never seen it so clear....

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Lollygags and Loggerheads (PB Chub !!!)

No fisherman today learns all that he knows about his art as a result of his own experience. Much must be gleaned from others, through their writings or their conversation and I should be the first to acknowledge a debt to those many long-suffering friends who from time to time have taken me under their wing, have shown me the folly of some of my theories and have taught me from their own store of practical experience.

Sam was with me when he saw the powerful bite a Chub can give when a free lined peace of flake was hooved up by the grey shadow of our rivers and nearly ripped the rod out of my hands. That solid lump of fish which appeared so lethargically close to the surface but which, once hooked, is worthy of all your craft. That fish down at the ‘Brook’ properly did me over and despite a 5lb hook link and all the power I could muster to prevent it from getting under some thick overhanging branches, the hook pulled and the fish was gone.

“Sam, now ‘THAT’ was a ‘BIG CHUB’ !!!”

He often refers to that day, the day that the “That Chub nearly ripped the rod out of daddy’s hands”

A two-pound Chub is pleasant enough to catch, a three pounder gives you something to be pleased about and a fish of four pounds is good on any river, while a five-pounder is in my opinion, large enough to be called a specimen fish.

Now as someone with a mediocre PB of 4lb 13oz’s that elusive 5lb Chub has eluded me so far, but it’s one of those targets that I know will turn up eventually. Half the problem is I like convenience and many of the stretches of river I fish are less than 10 minutes from door to door.

Yeap, a 5lb Chevin is easily the biggest Monkey on my back !!!

I’ve seen them though and that’s what makes me returning to the well-trodden as I know one will eventually slip up. This particular venue I’ve caught countless 4lbers, in-fact one winters days I had 5 or 6 if I recall over 4lb when fishing lumps of cheesepaste. You know when the colour of the water is just ‘right’, the air and water temperature perfect, it was just one of those mornings I’ll never forget.

They are spooky in the summer though particularly with water this clear. A chub’s shyness or sensibility is another factor which must be considered by the angler. One cannot expect to catch them unless the approach to fish is unseen or unsensed by them, a thoughtless movement, a sudden heavy footstep, a shadow upon the water can deprive you of the sport you’re hoping for. A broken cast and a lost fish can put a whole shoal into a state of greater awareness and caution. 

I usually use a floating lure for summer chub but for this session it was out with the bread, a few freebies to try and spot where they are hopefully and then freeline a piece downsteam to try and get one to intercept the floating bait. 

A dunk in the water gets it sinking nicely though so I’d also drop in to a few swims to try and tempt one to feed instinctively. Tackle to a minimum, a roving approach; this is how I like to fish.

There are few nice swims to go at as well, one in particular, the tail end of the swim is under a willow tree, but not only that, there is some thick streamer weed here as well and Chub are often milling around popping in and out to feed on what’s coming their way.

As I said before though, they are cute these fish, if they get wind of an angler in the vicinity or something isn’t right, they bugger off quicker than my mate Hilly when it’s his turn to get a round in.

Anyway back to the fishing !!!!

Wow what a session, as soon as I got to the first swim the fish were up for feeding, still very spooky mind you even after loose feeding a good ten or fifteen minutes with freebies.

The first fish went 3lb 8oz's and I managed another 4 Chub from all different swims. As soon as one was caught they backed off and were not interested.

The last swim there were countless fish in the swim and I could see them in the clear water quite clearly. A couple were even feeding quite close in. A big chunk of bread on the hook and the bread is on it's way, half way down the swim a massive swirl in the water and a fish is on.

It felt a decent fish and tried to get under some snags to my left, with as much side strain as I dared the it's out in the open water. After a powerful fight it's in the net and looks massive.

Scales out, first it indicated 5lb 1oz but then settled at 5lb on the nose....!!!!

Yeap that big monkey that's been clinging on for dear life for years, is finally off my back.

I caught another fish in the last swim and it was home before dusk and had a nice rum to celebrate.

Oh Yes !!!!

Got to love surprises in fishing and this was one of those days.

The water was gin clear but this is a great method to try and bank a fish or two, it's an exciting as well and the tackle couldn't be any simpler, a size 6 B983 Kamasan hook and a couple of loaves of bread. Certainly the last swim seemed to have the bigger fish in it, so yeap I'll be back. Encouraging signs for this bit of river though as it's had it's predation problems in the past, I'm just hoping all will be well for winter.

A 5lb Warwickshire Avon Chub

Saturday, 14 July 2018

The Tiny River Alne – Tiny Tiddlers and Titanic Tits

An insulated garage door, the relentless sun a space like a sauna. The result a usually well cared for batch of lobworms somehow forgotten turned in to a rather smelly ball of yuck. Their cries of help unnoticed whilst chilling at the White Isle. 80 died due to my neglect, and I put ones hand up for the monumental massacre that occurred under my watch.

It could have been avoided, the expense and mental turmoil ever strong in the back of one’s mind, there was blood on my hands, don’t let me forget it.

What a tit !!!!

I've another four holidays planned before this year end, here and abroad so need to get on top of my bait management quick sharpish.

Maybe a sort through the bait fridge and be ruthless with chucking stuff away is the first thing to get sorted.

To be fair you only have to look at the grass to see it's been stupidly hot and no rain in what seems like weeks and weeks.

I'm sure although it could have been avoided, I'm not entirely to blame. A local fete had seemingly raised flags in honour to mourn the victims, such the public outcry.

So bait remaining, well, hmmm a few small worms and half pint of pinkies.

“Hey Sam, fancy trying to catch a sticklebacks, maybe a bullhead or two, oh and even maybe a stone loach to add to your species tally !!!”

“Dad, what’s a stickleback look like”
(Shows Library Pic)

“Whoooooooooaaaaaaaaaaa, they look cool, like a dinosaur fish”

Now a few species of sticklebacks inhabit British waters after a quick peruse of archive of fishing books .

They are the three-spined stickleback, the ten spined stickleback and the fifteen-spined stickleback. The last-named is a marine species living in shallow coastal waters and rock pool and is therefore not qualified for further mention.

Size 22 Hook with a pinkie
The names of the sticklebacks are self-explanatory, and the three-spined has thee spines in front of the rayed dorsal fin. The rear spine is smaller the other two. Sticklebacks with four spines are not uncommon. On rare occasions specimens with only two spines have been recorded, but these are varieties of the three-spined, not a different species apparently.

Their armament is not confined to the upper deck. A pair of formidable spines are set just in front of the single-rayed ventral fin and there is a short sharp spike immediately forward of the anal fin.

Frequenters of still and running water, preferring the shallows of ponds and quiet reaches of the river to fast currents and turbulent waters. They are the haunters of side-streams, backwaters and drainage ditches, where they live upon the countless animaculate such water afford and the smaller insects, molluscs and fish fry.

Fish spawn is also a favourite dish, they are hardy too, being tolerant of salt and brackish waters. They are also revel in and partake in the digestive dunking in low oxygen level waters which we are experiencing as anglers and fish during this ridiculous heat wave we are having.

No thumbs down to be seen here !!!!

The plan was to pay a visit to the Alne again, to search for some big fish from small waters, the brook visit was bit of an eye opener with some decent dace caught, as well as trout and even some bullheads, but the stingers would be huge, and Sam is like a magnet to them, so the Alne was probably the better choice for a couple or three swims.

I bet like the brook, there are so nice fish to be had here. The alne was also pastures new to him and with a chance of a small trout, a fish he’d not seen before as well let alone caught, it was a no brainer.

Our countryside streams and small rivers are not quick to yield their better fish that easily, and a season or two is required to at least get familiar with the water to ascertain what it can produce. It calls for a specialised form of fishing, and a very cautious approach to the water. By comparison with larger waters, the inherent shyness of the fish will be greatly magnified, and while the discerning angler may enjoy good sports with caution and concealment, the clumsy angler may find it an unrewarding pastime.

A disturbance in the confines of a small stream can finish the fishing for several hours along a length of two or three hundred yards. I've experienced that a few times myself, being a little heavy handed and lead footed. How one agitated fish can convey fear to another fish I don't know, I only know it does happen. Those that fish for chub know what I mean.

So one should start small stream fishing by exploring every foot of the available water, and no area should be disregarded and classed as 'fishless' until it has been thoroughly studied. There are definite holding points which, provided they are fished cautiously and wisely, will always produce fish, but catches can always be made in the most unlikely looking spots and it will take the angler a few trips, even seasons to find and memorise all the holding spots.

Enough of the David Carl Forbes preamble Mick, back to the fishing....

So two small light rods, one quiver one float. Lines lights and small hooks, as would be the bait for this session….

Now at one time I had perfect 20/20 vision, in-fact when having a cyst removed from ones eye around 5 years ago, when I had my eyes tested I was up there with some of the best eyesight the tester had ever seen with someone of my ageing years.

I'll be 46 this year though and despite weighing less than I did when I got married 10 years ago, unlike my waistline my eyesight isn't going down the same path. My left eye for proper close up stuff is a little more blurry than it used to be and to be honest tying a small hook was a little more difficult than I imagined.

Guru size 22 F1 eyed hooks are the smallest I'd got in my armoury and not having tied hooks that small recently having used hooks to nylon in the main, it was a pain in the proverbial's to be honest. So I need to seek some more suited to the task in hand.

Now with the river really low as expected the fishing was tough, plenty of minnows, in-fact they were on the pain in the backside but to occupy a 7 year old old, with a small attention span ideal.

Roach succumbed as usual, but no stickebacks or bullheads. Some of the minnows were of proper quiver bending size, so I might bring my scales next time, proper fatties.

Trout, trout, more trout...

We caught quite a few and one nearly gave us a proper doing over. I thought it was a chub at first the way it powered off but it was quite clear to see what it was when it came up stream.

Not a bad session but where were the species we were after ?

There is plenty to explore down here, with some water in it, I bet there are some nice fish to have. I'm sure there are decent Roach and Dace here, I'm sure of it. I might venture down to the deeper swims next time. More feature and areas where trout less likely and coarse fish prevalent.

On to the next one...

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Wrigglers and Wristlets

The fitbit secured loosely on ones wrist was telling me to reach the goal I’d set myself, I needed to get ones legs and feet moving. Luckily for me the only real opportunity to go fishing to seek the solitude I seek, had to be this evening otherwise I’d not get out till the weekend. So nothing to exciting, some maggots and some trotting at a swim I know contains a shoal of dace eager to get feeding on the grubs coming their way. 

I’d bought it to monitor my sleep, which frankly is pretty naff, it always has been, but it maps out the shuteye I have, or lack of it and gives me an indication how I could improve it and if there is a pattern emerging.

I chose the furthest carp park away from the location and hot footed it there for a couple of hours. The river despite the lack of rain, looked in good nick, and the levels certainly not as low as I thought it would be. The temperatures are dropping overnight and water felt cool not warm like it has done. 

Some rain on the way though, and boy do we need it, the grass is a dry as a teetotallers booze cupboard.

The water has a nice pace on it and a few maggots ever cast quickly had the fish feeding. Not the biggest Dace mind you but sometimes it’s not about the fish size but about being out in the countryside with a foxes fart the only disturbance from the detachment fishing can give. After an hour or so with quite a few fish caught some chublets moved in, again not the biggest fish but welcome all the same. 

I’ve said before, I don’t trot enough, because when I do, I love it as a technique especially when the larger fish nail the float and something worthy of a bend in the rod come along.

I need to do more of it….
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