Monday, 24 February 2020

Warwickshire Avon - Gypsy Kings and Gutturniforms

With mild temperatures overnight I was back on the Barbel chasing again. 10 degrees or so with heavy cloud meant that the water had jumped a degree to an unseasonable 8 degrees. Certainly in my experience if you can find the Barbel, they will be up for a feed.

Now I didn't want any old Barbus though, oh no !!!, there was a good'un here that showed me the door like Tyson Fury did to Deontay Wilder. 

To be honest I did wonder why I was bankside during this awful weather, the strong gusts of wind enough to dislodge the rods of their rests and when the rain came, combined with the wind it was horizontal.

But I'm not a fair weather fisherman like the matchmen that fish these rivers, in-fact I'm all for these turbulent times, three sessions in so many days, three different stretches, not another angler in sight.

We haven't really had a winter yet though have we, bombarded with rain and more rain, my favourite season largely a damp squib. If any fish is going to feed in these conditions though it's the Barbel. But as I said before, they need to be there for starters, but you also need to time your session with their short feeding spell.

Simple tactics again, a lump of spam on the downstream rod, the upstream rod a boilie with a groundbait feeder full of freebies to try and get a fish grubbing around.

The river had dropped considerably over 48 hours and the colour was starting to drop out of it, albeit slowly. The banks showing the signs of where it had been, these fish haven't had a good time of late, having to shelter from the waters rising, then then falling, then rising again.

It's a relatively shallow section this and come summer you could why the Barbel would like it here. Gravel under their whiskers and streamer weed among their fins.

Where the river bends round though and eats in to the bank this area is much deeper, perfect for big fish to seek some sanctuary and even a predator to hide out. The cover downstream also a good place for a big fish to hold up where it could ride out the conditions.

In this flow though those swims are not fishable, even with a big heavy lead the flow dislodging it within seconds even with rods high with line off the water.

Fanimal wasn't enjoying the conditions and gave me his disapproval quite early in to the session. But after giving it some shelter sat in a tree, I gave it another couple of hours. The weather very wild indeed, the wind blowing straight in my face dislodging the cobwebs. Sam would have hated it.

The rods though resisting the wind to the best of their ability were sadly motionless, in-fact apart from a couple of small fish topping not even a chub pull or pluck.

A huge chunk of Spam is my go to bait for big Barbel, I pull a long shank hook through with a baiting needle, turn it 90 degrees and hug the side of the meat exposing the point. Bites are ridiculous when the fish picks up the bait and makes off downstream, but sadly that never happened.

But this is a big river, for all I know the Barbel that frequent this area could well be a mile downstream in a completely different area.

A blank !!!!

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Warwickshire Avon - Sacricolists and Snobographers

The morning started brightly, a huge piece of cake unravelled from its foil wrapper made by her indoors, by yes, her own fair hands, which let me tell you is a rare event indeed. She ain't a baker, she never has been, but when she gives it a go, my God, she does a good'un.

It consumed quick smart and washed down with a mug of tea to elevate the energy levels to do battle with a Warwickshire Avon barbel or two.

A change of venue this, a bite required and this area of the Warwickshire Avon has Barbel in numbers.

The problem is when the water temperature is as cold as it was today, at a mere 6.9 degrees the fish won't be feeding for any long periods of time, why waste energy in these conditions, when they can be tucked up out the way. The water was still well up and motoring through and with debris still coming down despite the river dropping considerably even one bite would be welcome.

The river was still chocolate brown but slowly starting to lose its colour. Just I settled down with the rods out the rain started and with the wind gusting up to 40 miles an hour, the surface from still to choppy, it wasn't exactly pleasant.

Hat off Hood up !!!!

But if any fish is to bite in these testing conditions it would be a Barbel.

A Hot Fish and GLM boilie on one rod, a lump of spam on the other, I fished the same swim where I banked 3 barbel last time although the staging was visible this time, last time it was buried under another couple of feet of water.

Both rods again with a cage feeder and full of pungent groundbait.

Now what I didn't expect was a bite when the cake had just reached ones stomach. A violent pull on the boilie rod turned in to a bite only a barbel can give. I knew straight away it was a small fish but hey, in these turbulent times where the river is out of sorts, any Barbel, whatever the size is more than welcome.

To be fair it gave a good fight and despite probably not even making 5lb it still made my arm ache even on a 1.75 TC rod.

When you're battling with flow like they have been for a while, these fish are fit things and when you're packed with muscle like a barbus is, every time I hook one their power still amazes me. Now I thought I was on for a good session but sadly it couldn't be further from the truth.

Over the next 4 hours or so that was the only bite I had. I moved swims three times and in the last swim even put on a smelt to try and catch a Zander in a slack. The reports from others that fish in and around here I was lucky to catch a fish, blanks and more blanks seemed to be the norm.

Another session for Barbel in the morning hopefully, the air temperature in double figures the water still on the drop. But where to go ? the fish I lost still troubling me, I may have already made a decision

Friday, 21 February 2020

Warwickshire Avon - Rantiploe's and Rackaback's

Everyone needs a bait fridge of their own, you see Scott Gill a fellow WBAS member has had to make a compromise on, something as an angler shouldn't be compromised and sadly has had to resort to freezing, yes you heard right, freezing his cheesepaste used for winter Chub.

The family fridge out of bounds to things fishy related. Now my batch of cheesepaste on the other hand I've been adding to over the years and some of it must be 4 or 5 years old. It's a good batch I tell thee, Warwickshire Avon chub of 5lb and over have now succumbed to this offering.

The pungency of the mouldy paste so strong, it's like hitting a massive wall of festering stilton, the air so thick it could be cut with a knife.

There are also other benefits as well, the Wife won't go near it, so that big bag of pork scratching you'd rather not share, yeap, put it in the bait fridge.

That chocolate bar that doesn't fit in with the healthy eating you're both partaking in, yeap, a 4 pack of Wispa Gold tucked behind the maggots.

Even a Christmas present you want to hide from the beloved, time to make some space in the bait fridge.

Anyway enough of the that, back to the fishing.

This piece of water has been good to me in the past, some clonking Chub to over 5lb, Barbel to nearly 12lb and some clonking Gudgeon.

What has eluded me thus far though is Albuttbarbelbutt, now Albuttbarbelbutt aptly named by Sam the tangleator, is bar far the biggest Barbel I've seen frequenting these parts, a fish so huge if it was diagnosed with flesh eating bacteria the doctor would give it 86 years to live.

Now I don't fish for Barbel that often but having somehow caught quite a few doubles, the biggest 12lb 14oz's, I can tell you that this fish was bigger, much bigger in-fact. That's why despite not fishing here that often now, it's always stayed on ones radar, a fish this bigger needs some attention it really does.

The problem is blanks can become tiresome, and having fished it quite a few times now the 'Big'un' has eluded me thus far.

Heck Jeremy Wade may well be interested !!!!

Is it still here ?

Has the resident Otter given it, it's marching orders ?

Could my eyes have been deceiving me ?

I've caught some nice Barbel here to be fair. in-fact the fish I registered for this years Bloggers Challenge was caught in these special waters, a lovely torpedo shaped fish of 10lb and 11 ounces.

The next trip here, another fish of around 9lb. The stamp of fish does seem to be a little higher here than other areas I fish but as I said before, more often that not you'd blank.

One swim in particular has been kind to me and for this short after work session this is the only swim I'd fish. With the river up and carrying a colour more suited for a dunking by Augustus Gloop I'd fish a lump of spam on one rod and a Hot Fish & GLM boilie on the other. Both rods fitted with a large cage feeder filled with pungent chunky fish groundbait and a few small pellets to try and get a fish grubbing around in these turbulent waters.

It's a nice swim this, even when the river is carry a lot of extra water just off the crease of the river there is a relatively large swim that not only has decent depth, but there is an undercut bank that often the fish lay up.

You don't even need a large lead to hold bottom, the swim is static more or less so the rod tops stay motionless with only the wind to contend with.

As I said before, this is swim where often you blank, but if you do get a bite from a Barbel it's a biggy. The theory here is that if there is a fish holding up eventually it will venture out to mop up the layer of goodies it can smell before tucking himself back up for the evening.

The fish has to be there though, and 2 hours in without even a chub pull I scaled down a little a switched one the rods to maggots. There are clonking Gudgeon here so one of those would have been nice to save a blank, but after another hour without even a tap I decided I was wasting my time.

A blank, yes, another blank !!! there is always the next time.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Warwickshire Avon - Kickie-Wickie and Kakorrhaphiophobia

With storm Dennis taking a firm grip later on in the afternoon there was a luckily a relaxing of his clutches before he got properly going. I twiddled ones thumbs for all of five minutes and whilst the storm wasn't at its strongest as he was getting himself sorted after waking from his slumber, there was only one thing for it, yes try for a Barbel again.

The venue a few miles down the road has really got to me after losing a big fish on my bream gear, there was nothing I could do despite having caught decent fish on the set-up it before, this was a lump for sure.

 I could have revisited the same stretch as the session the day before where 3 barbel were banked but it was a big fish I was after not a splasher, despite the encouraging signs for the future a capture inevitably brings.

A slight change for this trip out, a boilie and paste wrap on one of the rods and I'd stick with worm and maggot on the other.

The wind was already picking up, so much so the chair I brought with me was left folded as as soon as ones backside left it, the wind when it did pick up, took the chair over on its side and in one particular strong gust took it towards the river.

Still, with the poncho donned as now the rain was now starting in anger it was quite pleasant to be bankside. It helped that the temperature was mild but wrapped up like I was for this session, if it wasn't for the diary markers involvement with the days events.

I could have stayed for most of the day given the opportunity. The area I fish is a large open bay that even when the river is bombing through like it was for this session only a small amount of lead is needed to hold bottom.

Both rods I fished with large cage feeders so I could pack in a large amount of pungent groundbait. The barbel rods though we being battered left right and centre, but when a barbel bites there is no second guess whether or not it's a bite or not. As the norm, when the swim allows it, one rod a centrepin, the other rod a baitrunner reel.

An hour and a half in to the session out of the blue the left hand rod which had the boilie and paste wrap jumps in to life and as soon as I lifted the rod I knew it was a Barbel. It powered off downstream to where there is some trees and cover so I had to give it some decent side strain to keep it heading to where I wanted it.

In the flow the fish felt decent in-fact I thought it was a proper barbel at first but then a slight disappointment when I first caught a glimpse of the fish, yeap another scrapper, similar size fish to the ones caught during the session 24 hours before.

I love catching Barbel though, whatever the size, but I thought here, in relatively new waters, I'd stumbled upon an area where big lumps reside. This fish put pay to that, but it was welcome all the same. Rested and safely returned I thought there might be others in the swim, but another 45 minutes without a bite and now the rain coming down heavily I decided to leave it as that.

George Burton braving the conditions as well, where he was fishing, a surfboard wouldn't have looked out of place.

With the rain not letting up throughout the day as I type this, the Alne at the highest I've seen it for a while I don't know when I'll get out to get fishing again, then again, I've been wanting to try a swim I've been told about that should just about be fishable, fingers crossed anyway.

Lets just hope we have some fishable days before the season end, I've still some species to tick off, the head of the river leaderboard to maintain, fail in my mission, lets hope not.
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