Monday, 28 November 2016

Canal Zander – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Deep fried crab claws, sesame King prawn toast, spare ribs Peking style, dim sum, chicken wings, spring rolls….

That was one of many plate full’s, crisp duck pancakes in obscene quantities, yuk sung, prawn crackers, beef noodles, chips ,and more bleeding chips….

That sort of gluttonous eating I participated in back in the dark days when the all you can eat establishments were just starting to rear their ugly head. As a youngster with excess testosterone and a metabolic rate to rival Zola Budd’s apart from the huge post food belly the obscene quantity of food didn’t even really show on one’s waistline once the inevitable chocolate hostage was released.

Now however….

….I only have to lick a pork scratching for it to register on the scales, probably not a bad thing to be honest as if I continued eating that quantity of food Mr Creosote would have had his double . Luckily my palate has changed for the better and a visit to one of the places now wouldn’t put the fear of dread in me, to be honest, I just couldn’t do it justice.

Now talking of doubles, I’ve come close to a canal Zander double a few times now and looking back at my previous captures there is one thing they have in common. Not the length as such, but the girth, these larger transient fish really have been feeding well and finding areas of canal where prey fish are prolific is a good start to finding the specimen fish rather than the humdrum.

The last decent one I’ve caught was 8lb 10oz’s but what made up the weight was its huge stomach, it really was fit to burst. If it were a woman it would be searching out for the tummy huggers or body shaping spandex.

Porky thing it was….

These are young fish from this rather productive canal, very good nick and fit as you like, because hook one of them and you really know you’ve got one on the end, they certainly do give a good account for themselves. Don’t fight well? Well they do on my 1.5TC rods that’s for sure….

Now for this session I wanted to use some of the bait I had in the garage so I made a concoction of bait I’d ball in over one of the two rods fitted with my usual over depth float set-up. Meaty ground bait, some maggots, hemp, caster and even some predator plus liquid went on the deadbait for good measure.

The thinking was, attract some bait fish in to the area the Zander might follow.

Always worth tinkering me thinks, even though the set-up I use nearly exclusively works superb I’m sure there are some improvements to be made.

Danny joined me for this session and the more it went on we realised it wasn’t going to be easy. It was unusually clear probably because there are less pleasure boats and also because it’s be cold of late. The clarity is usually weak tea or even chocolate which is one of the reasons why the Zander thrive here, so it really was a change of conditions that was probably putting them off.

The usually banker swim looked dead and the floats remained motionless, again, a stroll to another area that has thrown up specimens in the past and is usually very productive….


Some bank word had been done recently and a barge complete with Timberwolf must have been going up and down the stretch causing quite a disturbance, that certainly didn’t help as it may have pushed the fish out of the area. If you’ve heard a Timberwolf, they are noisy buggers.

Now Danny had an interesting theory that made a lot of sense. Maybe it’s that time where the bait fish are still fairly active and they are feeding themselves on their terms, another month when it’s more difficult and there is less chasing to be done then a deadbait would be difficult to refuse.

Even the lure remained untouched however until a lock was reached and Danny had a Perch from around the paddles, I’ll let him continue the story as it was a bit of an eye opener for me and might even save a blank session for me in the future. He caught as per normal, I blanked.

Always learning, with this fishing lark….

A follow up session will be sometime over Christmas, next time a bit further afield.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Warwickshire Avon - A Twitcher is worth a thousand words

Well despite roving in and around some tasty looking Pike swims with two rods with Roach deadbaits, no fish were bites either, all very weird. Then again the upper reaches of the stretch can often feel very baron indeed.

I've a Panasonic DMC-TZ80 with a 60X zoom and managed this beauty of a picture though.

A Warwickshire Buzzard

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Big Roach - Redfinmendation

So apparently this carp water had some rather large Roach turning up fairly regularly so with the rivers out of sorts Dave Roberts and myself decided to make the journey to try and bank one of the specimens.

One of the well known big fish chasers who in October put some nice fish on the bank was here for two days and two nights and blanked the day before we decided to try it, but we were given a few swim tips and set our stall out.

4 rods equipped with maggot feeders, fished helicopter style with Dave using the float from time to time.

The water was very clear indeed which surprised me as this was a carp match lake with nearly 2000 half decent fish swimming amongst it's depths.

Static carp fishing and really for me if I'm honest but I don't fish like this regularly but we shared the same so was good to have a natter.

Anyway, we blanked, not even a single fish banked, 2 sucked maggots and a couple of bleeps and that was it.

The carp were suspicious in their absence too, maybe the drop in temperature over night put them off.

Oh well at least the Robin enjoyed the maggots....

Monday, 14 November 2016

Warwickshire Avon – God Mouldy Knows

I was hoping a little rain recently and the fact that the weather had turned cold that the Chub may be feeding. A large handful of the green and furry festering cheese paste was quickly squashed in to a small plastic tub and it was back in the fridge before the Wife could get her hackles up.

Then the memories were starting to come back, the smell all too familiar….

Over a couple of weeks I kept on getting a whiff of something rather unpleasant but couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

The lingering ‘Stinking Bishop’ esk smell seemed to follow me wherever I went and really put a dent in my self confidence. I kept on looking over my shoulder expecting to see a corpse shadowing me.

I even avoided women, who’d have thought it….

Had I caught the same manky foot fungi as a good friend Daz ‘fat lad’ Harrigan….? , as the sleeping bag he borrowed I had to incinerate as the stench of mouldy Stilton was that bad. Nothing would shift the pungent odour, nothing I tell thee.

Then something twigged….

The highly visible movable lump under the skin on my shoulder looked like half a crab apple. I didn’t think much of it and was told by the GP to ‘leave it be’ till it something changed or it went aggressive….. 

However this sebaceous cyst was now painful to the touch, had doubled in size and the ‘smell’ leaking out of oneself turned out was festering puss trying to escape from the now bright red dome which was struggling to contain the pressure.

It had unfortunately turned rogue and something needed to be done.

I booked an appointment with the GP and as soon as he saw the predicament I was in he quickly summoned the nurse and I found myself in lock-down and non urgent appointments cancelled.

“This might hurt a bit” said the nurse with the sizeable lump squished between thumb and forefinger.

The pressure and pain was ever increasing but then I caught the sight of a scalpel and its freshly unpacked blade my pain threshold quickly went up a couple of notches as I knew the inevitable outcome was what was needed.

A sharp pain was felt, contents airborne, nurse covered….

The smell unforgettable, the relief instant.

Now back to my quest for a Warwickshire 5lber….Where are they ? God only knows it’s not like I haven’t given it a good go.

I’ve caught quite a few Chub now not far off my target (4lb 13oz) but thus far I’ve failed in my mission even after catching what seems like hundreds of fish. I had planned to switch rivers to one with crayfish in numbers but it means my usual ten minute drive to get bankside would change to nearly half an hour.

For someone with limited fishing time, it didn’t make sense especially when I know the Avon does contain fish of the target size. So this was the first of many winter sessions to try and complete my mission.

Simple roving tactics, rod with centrepin, waist bag and landing net. Plop and drop, 10 minutes in each swim, no bites, time to move on. Rig was a simple quick change bead and a hooklink fitted with a paste cage tied to a hair which would grip the paste and help retain it. There is nothing worse than wondering if the bait is on or not and questioning ones set-up. Even if the main lump of paste has departed there will still be paste stuck inside the cage.

Now despite the recent rain, the Avon is still pretty clear, a slight tinge of colour but as soon as the sun came out the bottom could be seen in many of the swims. The banks were largely deserted and those anglers I did bump in to were struggling. 

Find trees and snags and you will find Chub. Eventually after about 6 or 7 swims without even a tap I managed a greedy little chublet whose eyes were larger than its belly who was seeking sanctuary under a raft. Hmmm not what I'm after.

For the last half an hour I positioned a bait tight to an upstream snag whose access was made easier as the swim was quite elevated. 

A pluck, a tap and a wham !!! within ten minutes the rod wrapped over and fish was on. With some decent side strain applied and the rod bent to the butt this Chub was determined to get to his intended target and sadly after five or six attempts he managed it. 

Stuck solid in some tree roots, I left it go slack but nothing, the hook had parted and I could see the roots lifting as I try to free the rig. 

Eventually the inevitable happened and the hooklink broke.

The only saving grace was I don't think it was the monster I was after. The Avon really does change for the better when there is more colour, I really am finding it tough going, it doesn't help fishing times of the day where I know it going to be difficult but naturally the family life takes priority.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Lower Itchen Fishery – Twaddle and Trollops

My first visit to the Lower Itchen Fisher nearly a year ago was a successful one, well in my eyes anyway as I’m not sure all the accompanying party enjoyed it as much as I did. It was the first chalk stream I’d fished after all and it was all a bit of a novelty.

Countless ‘ladies of the stream’ were caught from one particular swim whilst long trotting sweetcorn cumulating in a 1.8oz PB grayling which really made the trip for me. Thinking back, maybe if I stuck it out, the bigger fish would likely be sat at the tail of the swim, and maybe a specimen 2lber would have been mine, hidden amongst the sheer quantity of fish which really was something I’d not tire of.

There was so much to go out though so I’d only have regretted my decision if I set my stall out so many a swim was explored and some decent fish caught.

Heck I even enjoyed the tussle with the brownies that gave a decent scrap on light tackle, don’t get many of them in the Warwickshire Avon now do you.

Now a friend of mine, an infrequent fluff chucker, really detests the Grayling, seeing it more of a pest, a nuisance, a pain in the proverbials. Even liking them to that unwanted prostitute hanging around on the street corners, all short skirts, proud plumage and easy pickings.

I gave him the Paddington Bear stare…..

I found them great sport personally with plenty of character. But then I’m a coarse fisherman due to my locality and maybe If I was chucking flies around in game rivers maybe I’d come to the same conclusion.

With a friend of mine Simon in tow who like me before the last trip was an Itchen virgin, however for this trip I was in a much better position to fish this lovely river.

So I kinda set out a plan before I went….

 Trotting for grayling and obvious brownies in the morning and early afternoon. The fish are found in the upper reaches of the stretch where there are shallow glides and gravel bottoms. Tactics well, simple trotting of caster or sweetcorn which worked well last time with a little an often amount of feed to hopefully keep the fish interested.

Size 12 Guru QM1

Late afternoon I’d be Roach bound in the mid to lower deeper areas where it changes to deeper pools and bends and coarse fish in residence. Trotting again with hemp and caster as feed and either bread flake or caster on the hook. Now I know Roach and big ones particularly are not that easy to come by here these days, certainly not as prolific as some would make out and possibly the downstream areas beyond Gaters Mill would be the better bet but I was hoping regular feeding and some decent bait something of interest would turn up.

Last but not least ‘we’d’ sit it out with a big bait in the Weir pool for an hour in to dark to see if there was a decent Chub or Barbel hanging around. PVA bag of what was remaining for loose feed.

Simon had no choice but to follow my lead you see….

I had the car keys and access to the camp stove, the pork sausages and buttered baps. His resident host ‘worm’ needs to fed otherwise it can get very nasty indeed.

Unpredictable, uncontainable….it needs to be contained.

So the weather predictors got it wrong, yet again. There was meant to be the odd shower, nothing of note and yet, it pissed down all day.

From 9.30am till 4.00pm it was constant, it became heavier as the day went on so one had to rely again on the Poncho I’ve grown to love. It makes a horrible day bearable.

The middle of the stretch was far clearer than a remembered from last time and in hindsight I should have known it would be tough going.

Still, starting at the top we worked ourselves down trying a few swims and yeap, as expected it didn’t take long to get the first Grayling.

First of the Day

Simon a Grayling landed his first one soon after and sweetcorn seemed the bait of choice. One particular swim was fantastic, a stupidly long trot with the float sinking at the tail end. Grayling after Grayling with the odd Brownie getting in on the act.

It’s full of them this river and fun on light tackle.

My father-in-law an occasional fly fisherman was in horror when I showed him the pics of holding the trout, not a done thing apparently, an unwritten rule for his club anyway. Rainbows, not a problem bosh them over the head.

The quantity of fish in certain swims is staggering and stumble on one of those swims you could probably stick it out all day.

Simon used a closed face reel, me a centrepin and I realise now I should trot the Avon more often particularly in the summer with thick streamer weed and cagey Barbel. It’s a great way to fish.

I managed 1 tangle all day, Simon umpteenth but then he took part in about 3 or 4 conference calls during the day and even two in the car, I think his mind was elsewhere.

Trying to change the world or something….

The middle and lower reaches were tough going, the water levels were rising and the debris and rubbish coming down was making trotting or even ledgering frustrating. So it was back the top to catch more Grayling and Trout.

I must have had >50 Grayling, nearly ten trout and plenty lost too. Nothing of size, trout wise and the best Grayling was a PB equalling 1lb 8oz.

1lb 8oz

There was more fly anglers here than last time, a club meet up I think. I had one cast over my swim when he didn’t realise I was long trotting.

 “what, you can see that far ?” “Wow”

And another fishing about 10 foot away from where I was picking up most of the fish from in the most productive of swims. Sweetcorn under a float was clearly the order of the day as their results from what I witnessed were mediocre indeed. Maybe the rain didn’t help I’m not sure.

The most productive swim.

So back at the car decided to drive down to the weir and fish in to dusk. Again with lots of rubbish coming down I could only keep the rod in for ten minutes before having to retrieve it and remove the thick weed. A few taps and pulls but nothing that developed in to a bite.

Another enjoyable day despite the weather but I think I might somewhere other than the Lower Itchen next year, maybe even a different river altogether.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Psychoshadmacology

So these Zander, anyone worked them out yet?

As someone who spends a large amount of time fishing for them I’m sure they are on a timed release of a psychoactive drug. The problem is their feeding time and habits vary day by day, and there doesn’t seem a pattern emerging despite the hours I’ve put in.

On the cut where I know there are fish just laying up, all of a sudden something will trigger them off

….and they go the full on Tasmanian.

Maybe one of the pack farts or something, God only knows.

It’s a little like someone I know who despite bad experiences after necking bucket loads of cheap alcohol still enjoys the Gin Craze, she goes from nice to nasty in a click of one’s fingers…

Proper mentalists….

In this area of the Avon I’ve not properly explored I managed to catch a schoolie that had properly nailed the rather large lure meant for Pike, it was veritable gob stopper but despite that it was determined to give it a good going over and manage to ingest both rather large treble hooks.

So after being a bit disheartened trying my best to catch a good Barbel I wanted to explore the upper reaches of the river to see if I could snare a larger specimen. There are some nice hiding areas here you see, so I was hoping drop a lure in the right place might trigger a Tracie Andrews reaction and hook a nice Zander or for some sport, a rod bending Pike.

First swim where I’d caught Zander before, not a jot. Second, same again, the third, bugger all. The fourth, eventually a fish, a small greedy Jack.

The weir had to have some fish in residence and sure enough after some searching out with the lure a half decent Pike shot from the margins but probably saw my ugly mug and went back where he came.

A surface popping lure had a couple of surfacing fish but swopping back to a shallower diver eventually I hooked in to a decent fish. My 7ft Korum snapper jig rod has some decent backbone to it and despite giving the clutch a workout it was landed. 

Not the biggest at 6 or 7lb but welcome all the same.

Now further upstream, three swims later ‘Bang’ something’s properly nailed the shad, fighting harder this one but eventually in the net.

That’s a bit better, 7lb 8oz’s.

3 or 4 swims further up, not a sausage but it weird up there, devoid of any life for some reason. There must be some fish around though, as I’ve had Zander right at the top of the stretch.

So back where I came from, nothing in the weir so decided to go past the bridge to some potential Perch swims I’ve been told about.

I bumped in to Sean who I’d spotted crossing the meadow who had similar ideas and was trying for a Zander or whatever came along.

After a quick natter and two swims without a Perch I walked downstream to an oxygenated area that must hold a few fish. Sure enough a greedy Jack nailed the small shad.

With half an hour left, I fish a peg with a large overhanging tree which gives an area of still water downstream of it.

Didn’t take long either for a fish, another Pike of around 5 or 6 lb.

Not the biggest of fish but considering the conditions not a bad result. This type of session suits me a roving angler too. Small rod, bag and landing net that’s all you need.

Sean this robin took a liking to your car :)

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Daylight Robbery and the Exhibitionist

Post 400, wow, doesn't time fly....

Anyway bye bye British Summer Time

Well not quite, but long now, October the 30th, when we go back to GMT again.

The mornings will be lighter (for now), and the evenings darker.

So the longest day of the year which is in June on the summer solstice, 16 hours and 50 minutes of sunlight. That dwindles to just 7 hours and 40 minutes on the winter solstice in December.

When you look at that one sentence, it really can play havoc with ones fishing sessions, it has to, and there is no getting away from it.

So when will it start to get lighter again ?, well as a seasonal affective disorder (SAD) sufferer it seems like months and months, and it actually is, 1am March the bleeding 26th.

William Willet the British businessman popularised the idea of Daylight Saving Time in the UK in 1907. He thought the clocks should go forward in April, and then September so people got out of bed earlier and saw more of the sun. He popped his clogs before seeing his plans put in place. Weirdly he was the great-great grandfather of the Coldplay singer Chris Martin, maybe explains some of his tracks I suppose.

So negative thoughts and feelings, fatigue, increased irritability. I didn’t mind it when I wasn’t a maggot drowner as when I lived in Birmingham (still got the scars) as the rather attractive neighbour over the road when the light went used to reveal herself and her assets to everyone in the street whilst trying on her extensive and skimpy wardrobe ….

….curtains open, light on, boobs out.

To be honest it got boring after a while, very much groundhog day, even the local taxi firm who serviced the area didn't bat an eyelid, it might have added a few grand to my house sale mind you, and you cannot knock that. Then again, sadly I didn’t get the chance.

At least the fattening up starts to get through the winter, be it Barbel, Chub or oneself…I’m not quite ready for those hearty stews, the port, the brandy, the Stilton cheese, the open fire, but I’m already on the look-out for a new woolly jumper and some thicker socks, anyway I’m 44 in November, heck might even start wearing vests.

Many get the winter blues, but me as a fisherman, ok the sessions tend to get less, but I actually prefer the winter fishing months so the SAD is offset somewhat,….

….the banks are quieter, the fish fatter, what’s not to like…

Now talking of exhibitionists, as the light dropped the fish start moving here, Barbel rolling, Chub topping, they were showing themselves off to a degree I’d not seen before, like they wanted to be seen, weird as it sounds, but I'd like one of those Barbel please.

So these smash and grab session(s) were just that, straight after work rods made up complete with a couple of spicy krill boilies on a long hair, tackle in car, the bare minimum.

Rigs deployed with an hour before dusk to hopefully catch a fish. PVA bag with a few matching crushed boilies.

Wait for sundown....and that unmistakable 'BITE'

1st session, no fish, just some outrageous Chub bites.

2nd session, no fish, no Chub nibbles or pulls.

3rd session, sadly work got in the way so finished later than expected. Met up with Russell Hilton (remember him) who was in the area and targeting Zander on the cut.

4th session, some Chub pulls but no fish banked, however I did spot two hunting barn owls though and the sunset was fantastic.

5th session, hair shortened, 1 small Barbel of 3lb, one small Chub

I might take up knitting....

Monday, 17 October 2016

Canal Zander – Professlowalism

“Are they moving ?”

“Not sure to be honest”

“Oh yes, I think they are”

Careful now, got to line the boat up with ponderous precision, it’s a small opening after all.

“I never knew a barge could go so slowly”

They are eventually in, should have brought my gas stove, could have cooked us up a full English whilst we wait to get the bait out. We’ve no choice but to become gongoozlers.

The Jack Russell’s out complete with life-jacket, the elderly owner with windlass in hand.

He’s surveying his quandary, hmmm, hang on a minute he’s attached it to the paddles.

“We’re getting somewhere”

Easy now, don’t turn it too fast, might put your back out.

“Good, take your time, half a turn then stop, then repeat” “He’s succeeded”

Back, against paddles

“CRACK !!!!!!!”

Whoops, he’s bottomed out the gates, I thought it was his knee for a minute, yeap, he’s tried to close them. Oh I know what, I’ll push them the other way, that should work.

Finally, they are out, and on to the next one in a sloth like manner.

I’d give Hatton flight a miss if I were you....

Luckily it was the last swim Danny and I were to fish. We had planned to fish the Avon for Zander in to dark, but both agreed we probably we wasting our time and the session would likely end fruitless.

So it was an early start on the cut to see if the Zander were biting. As like-minded canal Zander anglers it’s always good to meet up. We’ve a professional and businesslike approach to targeting them and successful because of it.

We both have had some decent fish from the canal now and my biggest of 9lb to date, Danny even bigger and I’m sure a double is there for the taking. The conditions were not ideal though, some horrible rain for the first couple of hours put a dampener on it but still Zander were caught.

Nothing of size but with Zander fishing we both agree, you stumble on a bigger fish the likely hood it won’t be in the same swim again. The bigger specimens are transient so it’s a matter of getting as much banktime as possible.

Danny’s ‘washed’ out looking baits out did my fresher looking roach deadbaits and I’ve said before the condition of them doesn’t really matter that much.

They were in scrapping mood too, not the biggest of fish but the bend in the rod was deceptive the result an average cut schoolie.

Danny alternated between dead and lure, dead and dead. I for the majority of my canal Zander fishing, exclusively floatfished deadbaits.

What I’ve found though, is the colder the better so once the first frosts hit, they will likely be feeding more heavily particular the larger fish. Still, find some pocket of fish and they are decent sport when the river is out of sorts.

Come March when I’ll start my Zander challenge again, I’ll be concentrating one particular canal and plan to fish pastures new and stretches very familiar to me.

I cannot wait….

Friday, 14 October 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Inbreadible

I had the ‘drunchies’ not eating that much didn’t help, but after a few large nosing glasses of Auchentoshan Valinch it was back to raiding the kitchen to see what delights could quell the feeling of an empty stomach and satisfy the munchies. To be fair it’s a feeling I often get after wetting ones palate with a cask strength single malt.

ffff'iing, Dog-hungry…

I was after the giant crumpets Warburton’s do, ok being slathered in Anchors finest isn’t the healthiest of breakfasts, but heck they taste good.

No luck, looks like the kids have had them, bugger…


Wholemeal Roti’s, half a loaf of brown bread past its best, Haribo eggs, drumsticks, Nah….

Hey what’s this though, ¾’s of a loaf of Warburton’s blue and still fresh too after being riddled with calcium propionate.

Hmm not tried bread for a while, with this clear water, probably a good bet to be honest, I couldn’t do any worse than I have been doing.

The frazzles took a battering as did the breakaway’s….

So better sort a fishing trip hadn’t I….

I fancied sitting out this one, I don’t leave my bait nearly long enough me thinks, so two rods were cobbled together

The first a small boilie rigged Barbel rod the other a light link ledger setup with some liquidised bread and some hemp in the small cage feeder.

The reason being was there was some Perch potential here too, so I’d also bring my lure rod equipped with a fake wriggly worm which I’d use from time to time in the neighbouring swims if they were angler less.

Small live baits, only attracted the Jacks last time, maybe something visually completely different would make the difference.

Best laid plans and all that...

Wow, what an incredibly tough session, I should have gone to the pub.

After 4 biteless swims, I settled in one that's has had some major tree surgery. The large cover canopy had gone but it meant a nice pool had been created by removal of the thicket.

As soon as I cast the bread flake something honed on to it straight away.

Hmmm, a small Dace.

And that's the way it continued for more or less the rest of the session. I couldn't get anywhere near a decent fish and after the umpteenth small fish I decided to go back to the Perch swims and stick it out for the last hour and a bit.

Bugger all, my fortunes would have changed at dusk but wow, that was tough going.

Where were the Chub...?

Luckily I have an extended fishing opportunity next weekend, the Zander meet is off due to many on holidays and double booked so I can fish in to dusk for two evenings, I want a decent pull on my rod.

Same story with other anglers, glad it's not just me.

Anyway, Sunday I'm off to the cut.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Bloodless verses the Bogus

This ‘zander’ pack of roach freezer baits looked past their best to be honest, after all they were left over from the Zander challenge back in June and my ‘Quest for a Cut Double”.

Now readers of this blog will know I didn’t quite get that elusive double figure fish, but did bank a few nice Zander accumulating in a fish of smack bang on 9lb which ain’t to be sniffed at considering I’ve caught hundreds and hundreds of the little schoolie buggers that would barely make an amuse-bouche in a posh French restaurant.

I’d grown to like the single minded approach….and I miss fishing the cut, yes really....

I rarely fish lakes and pools these days spending most of my time on running water but I’ve become to love fishing the cut. Probably because I’ve spent so much time there during one’s quest. Now I’m not saying next March cannot come round soon enough but it will be nice to get in a mindset knowing what I’m fishing for my next session.

In my experience, fishing for Zander on the canals I wasn’t too bothered about the condition of these baits, ok fresher the better, but these colourless, pale and pallid small Roach deadbaits would still catch fish. It wasn't an issue, so for this session river Zander were my target and from a couple of swims I’d not fished before.

To hedge my bets and keep myself active I’d also brought my lure rod, if bites were not forthcoming maybe they fancied something different than an obvious deadbait, it’s still clear and tough going after all, and they’ve seen it all these fish, and it's not lured fished much from what I've found out. It’s a bit like those tried and tested chat up lines, you need to work harder than that to get anywhere near the forbidden, something a little out of the ordinary maybe.

This season because of the conditions have been a little haphazard and my results have been mediocre to say the least but maybe for my 400’th post going forward maybe I should start a river Chub challenge, the ‘Quest for a River 5lber” ?

I’m sure I’m missing a trick....Mick, shape up, or ship out, my results have been mediocre up to now.

It was only a short session this but I wanted to try one particular swim that looked deeper than the swims either side of it. Those I could see the bottom in these rain baron times and I thought if a predator was here then it is likely to be lurking here.

The session was a quick one with around 45 minutes in each swim, very quiet indeed but eventually after the third move I received my first bite on the deadbait. I thought it was a decent Zander at first but in the clear water I could see a Pike of around 6 or 7 pound had the bait in its jaws broadside.

I saw him, he saw me so he ejects the baits and plunges back to the depths. Oh well...

The last swim I managed two Jacks, one on the lure the other on a deadbait which it nabbed on the retrieve. Some lovely markings hence the picture.

At least I didn't blank. As soon as the first frost comes I think I will give the Perch a back further downstream.

Martin was out too, fishing downstream and proved that the Barbel will feed in the day. After a quick natter I might mirror his tactics when I get a chance, it certainly seems to work effectively.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Restless Legs and the Pearl Necklace

I thought Barbel were a bit like Kim Kardashian’s bodyguard Pascal Duvier, all brawn and no brains, after all whilst he was out partying with her younger and more attractive sisters his square rigged equipped employer was tied up at gun point by the assailants who were dressed as police officers. They managed get away with millions of pounds worth of her jewels, according to the news anyway….

Did they manage a pearl necklace when they dumped her in the bath, nah, just a ridiculously huge diamond ring and the contents of her jewelry box. I doubt she will be so keen to show it all off next time.

I’m not that up with current affairs and this modern phenomenon of reality TV if I’m honest, apart from her circus freakish backside remind me why she is so famous again?

As I ain't got a clue....

Anyway these thieves made it look easy and made the bodyguard look a right clod hopper but at the moment these battling Barbel are making me look the fool too.

The only success I’ve had is once the light goes, certainly not on my terms as I want a daytime fish you see.

A couple or three attempts during the day have remained fruitless but for this session a change of tactics were in order.

My Willis-Ekbom disease kicks in, restless legs if you will, particularly on a weekend when I cannot just sit there and do nothing, my legs start to ache and I need to get them moving.

At work I’ve no choice but to put up with it but when I can, one is always on one’s feet.

So for this roving session, it was a matter of fishing as many swims as possible and try and put a bait where in this clear water they would likely be seeking sanctuary away from angling pressure.

Overhanging trees, snags, rafts and cover….

I use a centrepin for the majority of my Barbel fishing but to reach certain swims I knew I would have to swap to fixed spool reel. I also rigged up my beefier Fox rod and chose that over my usual 1.75TC Harrison.

Bait was simple flavoured cubes of luncheon meat that were defrosted and refrozen a few times to soak in the coating better to make it more pungent. I find the Sonubaits flavour shakers brilliant for this, particularly the Super Krill, Spicy Sausage and Cheesy Garlic, they are not bad value for money either as they last a long time.

I wanted the bait to behave as naturally as possible so I decided to try and much longer hooklength than I usually use and I’d fish it link ledger style so I could vary the shot to just hold bottom. A lift of the rod on a slack line would carry the meat further downstream to try and put the bait under the nose of a Barbus to try and tempt one like a kid walking past a fairground dougnnut maker that has just removed them from the oil….

Irresistible, well that’s what I was hoping anyway.

If a Barbel wasn't forthcoming then I'd have a quick smash and grab session after work before the clocks go back.

Tough or what, after a good number of swims without even a tap and not even spotting any fish under ones cocoons, an underarm cast got the bait right next to a raft, to the right of it was static water so ideal really as after watching the lump of meat trundle down slowly to the bed it didn't take long for a fish to pick it up.

A big drop back bite and a fish was on. It powered under the raft but was soon under control and sadly I knew it was a greedy Chub, to be fair it was under-gunned but it gave a good account for himself. 3.5lb ish something like that.

On the way back to the car I stopped for a natter with a few other anglers who were finding it tough too, biteless and fish less, not good.

Especially when one chap said he'd been up to the Trent last week and had plenty of barbel and chub on the float. I couldn't believe how difficult it is on the Avon at the minute.

Come dusk, his fortunes would change, no doubt about that.

So the last swim, again, tight to a raft and within ten minutes all hell breaks loose and another fish is on, this one must have hooked himself and felt the resistance and it went a bit mental.

A small Chub again, this one around 3lb.

So looks like back to a plan B, a Tuesday or Wednesday smash and grab.