Sunday, 18 November 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Tickle Pitchers and Tub Thumpers

As a lover of food what a great belated birthday all-dayer with her indoors. A lunchtime dirty burger up Shaws Passage courtesy of the original patty men, the ‘Patty Pimps and Purveyors of Filth’, their words not mine. A visit to the 4DX cinema to watch the new Fantastic Beasts movie - The Crimes of Grindelwald, 5 or 6 pubs in-between for some thirst quenching.

Then after hot-footing it back to civiliation before the great unwashed, things with horns and the gene meddlers surfaced, it was seated and wined and fine dined at the award winning Cheal’s of Henley-In-Arden before finishing off the day with some port and cheese, the food of the Gods....

....Phhhheewwwwwww !!!! Come on it was my birthday, I'm allowed to be treated once in a while.

The 12 hours of liquid and food gastronomic gluttony had taken its toll though, as the morning’s planned fishing session before picking the kids up was ditched and I had a nice lie-in instead battling with some overly warm shirt saboteurs.

I had to get out the weekend somehow however though, to try and target some monsters of my own. So after the youngest expressed an interest after we’d picked them up. Sam the tangelator was with me for this post bladderation session, now Sam loves fishing as long as he is getting bites and isn’t cold. The weather was reasonably mild for this short morning trip, and this part of the Warwickshire Avon is usually full of small fish so therefore ticks all the boxes.

We had planned to venture to the huge Chub ‘Snallygaster’ swim, but with a busy weekend being quite a distance away, to walk that is, that would have to be shelved to another time, when we had more time at our disposal.

Whilst he was fishing the float and maggot I planned to use a lure rod and also to fish a small live bait from time to time. I wanted to catch a decent Perch that I know reside here, so a small pike bob, a wire trace and a big hook, with a livebait aerator to retain them in.

As well as the Perch you see there are some good Pike here that like to get in on the action and a wire trace is a must. The Pike outnumber the big Perch considerably, so it’s a necessity, but to be fair the stripey’s don’t seem to mind the wire such their predatory reactions.

It didn't start well, as soon as we got swim-side a huge cormorant was disturbed, exited the water and went upstream. The mercury said 5 degrees but it felt much colder than that, and after an hour without a bite on maggot Sam's hands and toes were getting cold despite being wrapped up well.

The fish eventually turned up after catipulting maggots regularly for a while and eventually bleak and small dace turned up. By this time though and after trying to distract him with the use of a surface frog lure, Sam had enough and was suffering in the biting wind. A bleak went on the live bait rod whilst I was packing up but that bobbed around and remained biteless without any interested.

So a session caught short, shame as the day turned out nice in the end, at least I was back early to get started on the cheesepaste, this batch a slight change to my usual concoction. I might try and squeeze in a quick after work session next week, as I want to try the cheesepaste in an area I don't fish static baits and also I fancy a try with the garlic spam again in a swim I've earmarked as I spotted a decent Barbel there.

The change today, well, it definitely had a winter feel about it, conditions I love for my fishing.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Shabbaroons and Shag-bags

I was 14 years old when Go Fishing started in 1986 and often it was a rare family gathering in the Newey household, to watch John Wilson with that famous laugh and infectious enthusiasm.

He hosted that fishing show that carried on for 30 odd years and 90 odd episodes such its popularity and paved the way for books and further TV work. Back then, pre-satellite and only 4 channels to choose from it really did stand out at the time, and was enjoyed by anglers and non-anglers alike.

He made me want to go fishing, and probably turned me in to the roving angler I am today. The salt water episodes and his travels abroad which I didn’t think I’d enjoy, but in the end I did, and that was due to John and his love for angling and a shared passion. He wasn’t just all about fishing, but also the love of the outdoors, and flora and fauna, heck, I suppose thinking about it, it turned me in to a bit of a forager, just look at this rosemary I picked on-route, ready for those roast potatoes.

The beauty of the post internet era with the various media platform options and the various ways to watch fishing these days, is that his programs can still be watched, but not only that, it highlights just how good he was at presenting, showing non-anglers why we do it and also why he stood out from today’s humdrum and those have to appease the sponsors at every opportunity. 

Back to basics fishing, what it all should be about, for me anyway.

Can we have some of them digitally remastered please, RIP John Wilson MBE.

Incidentally whilst tucking in to a homemade fish curry I put on one of my favorite episodes weir-pool magic and reminded me just how good they are to watch. Variety is the spice of life and with fishing, and we are lucky it can give us that, there are not many hobbies and pastimes like it if you think about it.

Now these quick after work dark sessions nicely break up the weeks heads down drudgery. A necessity I suppose to keep those wheels turning, and a short fishing session like this, can maintain ones sanity. It’s the part of life I’ve most control over, the fishing that is, it restores the work life balance in my favour and if gives me the solitude I seek.

I didn’t particularly enjoy fishing in the dark, far from it, but having done it numerous times now, it really is something different than the usual daylight sessions that sometime can become a little monotonous.

The senses are heightened obviously which can be difficult to get used to at first, but it’s the anticipation of something half decent turning up, because with many a predator on the prowl, often fish put their guard down come dusk and beyond, as they feel safe to do so.

I’d usually target the Chub here but despite the Pike dominance I’m sure there could well be a good Zander milling around that could well show themselves, when they are back being the apex predator. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m becoming to love Pike as a species but the Zander really are up there with my favourite species of all the fish I fish for, and the chance to do a bit of double dipping is a welcome change. 

Preparation is the key for these sessions as when arriving at dark, rods made up, leads, and chemical lights to hand, the minimum of tackle, so all you have to do is to bait the hooks.  The chub are bold biters here so soft meat is out as I like to know the bait is still on the hair once cast, so, it’s out with the pungent boilies and a paste wrap. 

The other rod, a ickle roach deadbait, but having caught plenty of Chub on small deadbaits in the past, it could well pick up a decent Chevin as well. Nothing wrong with hedging ones bets, especially come sundown, when the bigger fish start to move from their stations.

Now the baits went out at dusk and within minutes the bobbin was rising and in-fact the fish was taking line from the bait runner all within a split second. When I hooked in to the fish I realised it wasn't anything to right home about and I knew it was a small pike. Now this one was skinny, no weight to it and for some reason was slimier than the usual fish I catch here. Hmmmm, not exactly what I was after and I knew from experience, that could well be the only fish I catch hence the grumpy face.

I was right, after two and a half hours in to dark nothing else was forthcoming. Now I've concentrated on one particular area for these sessions but I need to try upstream where I discovered with the deeper it has decent depth. If there is any Zander here they could well be up there. I'm sure there are none though judging by the amount of lures and deadbaits that have been chucked here.

I was quite surprised the Chub didn't show though, because they are usually on the bait come dusk, maybe like sometimes happens, they are having an off day. The weather is turning cold though next week, so they could well switch on. 

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Faggots and Fool Finders

Could I track down any caul membrane in time, fat chance, most people haven’t even heard of it. Now caul fat is the netting that surrounds an animal’s internal organs and what encases those faggots and sausages we all know and love. Well you say that, apart from local butchers who are keeping up with traditions, why has the humble faggot loved by us Midlanders and others been removed from the supermarket shelves I wonder?

Even the well-known mass produced Brains with its poorly executed brown mush impersonation which was one of the staple foods of many my age, is difficult to find these days. You’d be hard pushed to find any down the freezer aisle, let alone any fresh faggots made on the deli counter.

Luckily a pub the Kings Head in Aston Cantlow just down the road from me make their own on the premises where they serve it the traditional way with mash, onion gravy and peas so if I need to get the fix, which I do occasionally, I’ve got an option to quell ones pangs. They also do a proper freshly cooked and piping hot scotch egg which to be fair is hard to beat, it’s can be a difficult decision I tell thee, as is what ale to have.

Now the ones I make I ditch the heart and other offal and I use pork shoulder, liver, bacon and belly with mace, allspice, sage, parsley and a gnats nadger of chilli as seasoning. Streaky bacon makes a pretty good caul substitute and to be fair makes it look a little more appetising than its simpler washed out anaemic looking neighbour.

For this plate full of heaven to accompany the homemade faggots, peas and onion gravy I’d a side of skinny chips, I prefer some crunch for texture you see, rather than sat on some potato mash.

Balls Mick !!!!, BALLS, err yes I know tinned meatballs are available, but hardly a substitute for a proper faggot and at least making them myself I’ve got an idea what goes in to making it, yeap I’m assume you’ve not got a clue what maltodextrin is either, apparently it’s to add texture, really, oh ok, I’ll take your word for it. To be fair you have to do your research on tinned mushy peas these days, some contain a right load of unthathamables.

Now with the colder weather kicking in, sometimes comfort food and a proper blow out is nice once in a while, not only to get the body temperature back functioning properly again, but to also kick ones mood up the jacksie.

These cold blooded fish haven’t really that option, they have to deal with the temperature changes and fluctuations and adapt and to the ever changing environment. The weather had been quite fair during the week and with some warmer rain might give some much needed colour. So what and where to fish for was the question ?

Barbel obviously I suppose sprang to mind but I fancied trying for a Chub or decent Perch, so the session was down to my favourite part of the Avon to try and winkle out something to put a bend in one’s rod.

I wanted to try a new lure, a Salmo tiny wobbler, the beauty of this lure is that it floats on the surface so you get let it drift down the river like you would a piece of bread, but then you can retrieve it and the paddle nose means it will also dive under the water.

It was quite a tough session, lots of roving and different swims but a few Perch were caught and a couple of chublets but then, eventually a 3lb 7oz Chub turned up to put a decent bend in the rod.The river despite being up a little was still pretty clear which I don't think help things, but the lure worked quite well, the fish were getting used to floating bread I'm sure of it.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Frig Pigs and Fusty Luggs

I thought my usual commute which is distance of 17 miles and takes 20 minutes was under threat last week. You see after getting back off holiday we discovered the patio door was forced open, the lock barrel snapped, kitchen cupboards and draws left open as was the door to the garage. Sadly we had a visit from a scumbag who decided that he wanted my car off the drive.

Luckily I’m smarter than the average bear and I could get to work on the Monday without issue, with the gene meddler having to go back to his hovel to plan his next misdemeanour.

With Sam visibly scared and thinking “is the robber coming back tonight Daddy”, my current car situation needs a rethink, and it could well be the last car thieving gits want to have, as maybe I need one to suit my lifestyle, not one with 310hp, rubber bands for tyres and a dressed up body waiting to be stripped naked by the undesirables.

Now my regular commute isn't a bad average speed I suppose, but then with one’s body clock up the swanny, starting earlier has its advantages. To be fair even when having to contend with traffic in more busier times, it rarely takes half an hour, certainly not a moan to add to the ever growing list. One motorway junction, an A road and lots of B’s.

Waiting in traffic is not for me, and to be honest, if I had to contend with it every day, I’d quickly go off ones rocker. I hate waiting around twiddling thumbs, watching the world go by, as there are far better things I could be doing.

Sometimes though, it’s nice especially when in fishing to wait for things to happen, enjoy the wildlife, enjoy the peace and take the session as snail’s pace, rather than roving around like a blue arsed fly or a marrowed up Jack Russell.

Now with a nice south-westerly wind proceeding a cool period, and with the barometer rising after a bit of rain, I fancied a go for a river Zander. With a little extra spring in their step and the rain proving a nadger of colour the condition were certainly favourable. 

I hadn’t used the deeper for a while but I’d been reviewing my maps online and remembered an area I found that was over 20ft deep. So it was back out with the deeper and some deadbaits to see if I could find that hotspot, but also to try and locate any shoaling fish to carefully position an easy picking cheese and pineapple stick in front of a big fishes noggin.

Given the choice fishing in to dark and beyond would be my preference for catching Zander but I still have caught and lost some decent fish when the sun has been up, so I’ve got some confidence that I’m not wasting my time.

I’ve tried three or four times of late though, and nothing of note has turned up and blanked on two of those sessions if I recall, but as us fisherman know, a change in conditions really can switch the fish on to feeding.

This session was 12.30pm in to dusk, and such the shortness of the day was probably only 4 hours or so once I'd got myself sorted.

I'd a lure rod with a real eel for the occasional chuck and two deadbait rods with roach one one rod and smelt on the other.

Now before the deep bit I'd given the weir a go with a small nudge on the smelt and that was it, so to the intended swim to sit tight till dusk. A small jack came to the lure around my feet and then a small jack again on the smelt in the deep bit, hmmmm, where are the Zander then.

A 5lb Pike lost at the net, what the !!!!

Now I'd caught Zander here before, over 6lb the biggest and also lost a decent fish, so I was hoping headed in to dusk a Zed would be forthcoming.

There was quite a lot of small fish activity too. Now Dave Roberts was downstream and was bagging up on Barbel, 6 in the end if I recall, with 2 lost and also some Chub caught, the biggest Barbel not far off a double, he was having a cracking day, the fish were up for feeding that's for sure.

It was quite a cloudy day and with dusk approaching it was fingers and toes crossed, with the club waters imposed finishing time on the countdown, after an hour or so with motionless bobbins and the light almost gone the left hand rod springs in to life with the rod tip nodding, the bobbin active.

A fish is on, it felt half decent as well, but I know how Zander fight having caught hundreds of them and as it surfaced, I guessed right, yeap another Pike, this one maybe the fish I lost at the net earlier.

So that was it, no more time left, Hmmmm, back to the drawing board me thinks !!!!
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