Sunday, 22 November 2020

Warwickshire Avon - Flogillating and Floccinaucinihilipilification

Tell me honestly, are you, as an angler, satisfied with your lot at Christmas time ? Will you, on that festive morn, open the usual parcels of socks, boxers, horrible scented shaving soap, and embroidered handkerchiefs in garish colours ? 

Will you, with a set smile on your face, thank all and sundry, while mentally reproaching yourself for uncharitably assessing the value in terms of hooks, lures, and fishing lines ? 

It is time that non-angling relatives got their sense of values sorted out. Fair enough, I wear a tie, the same black one, like a strip of damp seaweed, at least twice times a year. 

I like to put a sock on each foot whenever possible, and for special occasions I try to see that they match. I don't like shaving soap, nor do the fish, and a handkerchief makes a rotten hand-towel. It's all a question of priorities. I can go fishing without my socks, but I am stuck unless I have a spool of line.

I have come to the conclusion that I have been a martyr for too long. I am prepared to believe in Santa Claus, but I am certain the old boy never went fishing. 

As far as tackle is concerned, he just hasn't a clue. So this year I am not leaving anything to chance, and I am starting straight away on my personal campaign. 

By now, most of my friends and relatives must have guessed that I do a spot of fishing. You can't keep that sort of thing a secret. It is not difficult, therefore, for me to introduce the subject of fishing tackle casually into everyday conversation. Since I have learned the warning signs that my family make when about to buy presents, I can rely on receiving my cue. 

Thus, when Sam earns five a quid for a chore or two , and asks rye, in the same breath. what sort of rum I'd like for Christmas cus "mummy asked me to ask you", I remark casually that I am giving up drink in order to put that rod on hold I wanted at the corner of the tackle shop. 

When I hear the unmistakeable sound of my Wife rubbing a couple of two pound coins together, I shall ask her if she would mind mending the holes in my landing-net. 

Now For the bigger game, I shall enlist the help of the local tackle-dealer Martyn . When I am out with my wife, I shall suddenly remember that I have to pop in for a pint of maggots. While we are there, he will ask me my opinion on the latest in fixed-spool reels. I shall rate it excellent value at twice the cost, and wish that I could but it, but I shall regret that my old reel will have to last another season. 

He will then sternly remind me that when he last overhauled it it showed serious signs of wear on the anti-flogillating sprocket, which, if it shattered, could have serious consequences. Whereupon I shall shrug, and leave the shop, confident that the reel is in the bag. 

Anyway, enough of that, need to get New Barbel Rod in the equation somewhere, anyway before all that, for this short morning session I was after Chub at one of the most convenient places I fish. I can be there is less than 10 minutes you see, that's actually leaving the house to being bankside so it's ideal.

I had the paste bombs I knocked up  and cheesepaste and that was it. To be honest having not been to the Avon for a while I didn't realise how clear it was till I got there. Lobworm might have been a better bet but with a roving approach and a link-ledger set-up the visible chunk of paste might have looked out of place if it were static but a moving bait hopefully would fair better.

Now this cheespaste I've knocked up appears to be the best I've ever managed to concoct, proper stinky stuff and the constancy is neigh on perfect. 

It took a while for the first bite, well after the sun and risen properly and the sky was blue. It was from a rather turbulent swim with a nice slack close in. The bait was moving around the swim nicely, it was moving slowly 360 degrees under the rod tip and went on repeat a few times till eventually there was an indication there was a chub in the swim.

An initial pluck and then a pull resulted in a confident bite on the rod and a fish was on. It carted off to the left to try and get to some snags but after getting it steered away from there it was trying to bury itself literally under my feet.

It was soon under control though and a nice Chub was in the net. I guessed at 4lb and it was, 4lb 2 ounces on the scales, showing some lovely bronze markings in the bright sun.

 I had the banks to myself so I fished as many swims as I could in the time I had but it was far tougher than I thought because judging by the lack of footprints it's been quiet here for a while.

A much smaller fish around 3.5lb came from a raft but maybe 8 or 9 swims fished it showed there was no point staying in the same spot.

Great to be back though, amazing what fresh air and a bit of sun can do for the soul, it's great to be back, it really is !!!!

Saturday, 21 November 2020

The Tiny River Alne - Scuffers and Scoptophobia

With 14 days of self-isolation thankfully ticked off, we came out the other side relatively unscathed after a positive COVID-19 test within the Newey household.  From fishing locally a few hours everyday in the October half term where our break to Wales was kyboshed due to the two week 'firebreak', ones angling pursuits in the last two weeks went to zilch, bugger all, you're having a laugh !!!!

Finally after the daily drudgery, where I cleaned the oven, (yes really) sorted some junk from the garage ready for a tip run and tidied the garden to an inch of its life, eventually I was allowed back to go fishing without fear of having ones collar being felt, a fine being waved in ones face. 

Thinking about it another big change was to move from my small office space downstairs , moved lock-stock upstairs and commandeered the kids play room. 

If I was going to be working from home for a good while, I at least needed to be as comfortable as I could be and with Captain America, the Hulk, Ironman and Thor watching over me and with our newly created anti-bodies, better times were on their way, heck I even bought a new office chair. 

Now Ben bless him having been back in to his routine again after half-term, hadn't a clue what the heck was going on when his transport turned up to take him to school and he wasn't getting on it. 

Still the Wife was a Godsend with the home schooling during the self-isolation and the working week, luckily went quick where I consumed as much electronic music as I could get away with and bashed the keyboard for the CAD machine and vigorously wiggled the mouse to try and catch that tail that has been chased since I started worked on this interesting EV project.

The escapism EDM offers me really is needed in these rubbish times and anything that kept ones mind in check needed to be grasped with both hands. 

The Wife coming good there too such the need to get any kind of comfort wherever I could, you see at least the lazy lie-ins were a bonus during the isolation, that was something I suppose, and the help from a couple of large squidgy things certainly helped me from straying off that winding track. 

Now talking of escapism, I treated myself to a copy of 'Somewhere Down the Crazy River' the book from Jeremy Wade and Paul Bootle about their fascinating journey in search of giant fish and their story of the rediscovery of the Indian Mahseer and then on to the Goliath Tigerfish of the Congo.

I've been keeping ones eye on a copy for a while but those that do come up for sale are usually a pretty penny but this one was priced very well indeed, so much so, it triggered ones trigger finger without hesitation.

Ok tell a lie, I set an eBay snipe up to do the bidding for me. I set myself a budget, and that budget was the winning bid luckily. It arrived a couple of days later and I've not put it down since.

To be honest looking at the price some of them can go for, especially the hardcover I've managed to get my hands on, I did surprisingly well me thinks. I think it helped that the auction ended at a stupid time which to the unaccustomed, is a no go if you want to get the best price for an item. 

I can only assume it was an oversight because the seller looked very much conversive in the auction house judging by the feedback he'd received before. A quick look on what's available now, I'm £50 quid up on the deal already. 

Still I wasn't complaining, it was a book I wanted to add to my collection for a while and came up at the right time when any kind of lift was required (lots of good rum 👌 ) just to get me through the isolation and confinement the best I could. 

We've had it easy to be honest, I dread to think the effect the lockdown(s) and all the related pandemic pandemonium has had on much of the population.

Anyway I'm bored of it all now, so for this session I could think of no better place to go fishing than the tiny River Alne post the enforced lockdown and the inevitable claustrophobic inducing and wellbeing battering, that being confided to ones abode and effectively four walls does to you. 

Now for me as a solitude seeker this diminutive stretch of river offers in abundance what I've been missing over the last two weeks, and I couldn't wait to be roving its banks again. It was the peace and quiet I missed the most and fishing gives me that in spades, it's a tonic us maggot danglers try and keep to ourselves as we don't want to share one the best kept secrets of our angling pursuits now do we.

When you fish, those thoughts at the back of your mind disappear, well they do for me anyway, you don't think about anything in a nutshell which is a welcome departure from these turbulent times. 

Now I've not used bait down the Alne for a while as I've really gotten in to this lure fishing malarkey, especially the use of small crankbaits. The trout and chub come out of nowhere and it's exciting fishing on the most part, and a by-product is the fact those daily step levels are brought back to where they were before. A more static approach I'll leave till in the week on the Avon, don't worry, I plan to fill ones boots. 

Because the waterway is so small here, 10 or 15 minutes maximum in each fishable swim is all that is needed and if nothing caught it's time to move on. When winter hits properly I might have a bait session because I'm sure there are so surprises to be had. 

It's hardly fished, in-fact I've only ever seen two anglers on the bank on the same day in the all the years I've been fishing it, I've effectively got the banks to myself, it really is a gem of a water, the fish may not be big, but who the heck cares this is utopia on my terms, I'm selfish I'm keeping it a secret. 

It was so nice to be back roving the banks again, the air fresh with that autumn bite. It didn't take long for the first bite either., as suspected a brown trout.  The water wasn't as clear as thought it would be so I was hoping for a chub or two as well, but oddly, nope it was a trout day.

The biggest a bright copper 2lber I'd imagine shed the hooks when it powered upstream and launched itself clear out the water a couple of times in a bid for freedom.

In the 3.5 hours I managed 7 or 8 trout, the biggest maybe a scraper 1lber. I spotted the otter a couple of times though so maybe the bigger fish were nervous in venturing out. Being locked away for two weeks ain't healthy, I felt like I was reborn again, more steps covered in one morning than a weeks worth in isolation. 

So glad to be back out again, long may it continue !!!!

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Warwickshire Avon - Silver Darts and Scaffmasters

My birthday was a bit of a lame affair. Sadly the meal the Wife and I had planned that we really were looking forward to, was no longer going to happen with the announcement of the 2nd lockdown in England. The charts of the impending doom from the brothers grim with their wet fingers in the air there was only ever going to be outcome of the vote in parliament and Friday we were all back behind the ever changing barriers again.

Still with a bottle of one of my favourite wines Amarone della Valpolicella to get ones mind in a better place, I cannot really complain, as there is a lot of people worse off than me right now, I've got to be thankful for that. 

Now Amarone is a wine made with partially dried grapes in Valpolicella, Veneto, North-east Italy. There are three geographical sub zones; Classico, Valpantena and ‘Est’, the extended zone. 

Amarone from Classico tends to be the most elegant and aromatic, versions from the Valpantena are generally lighter and fruitier, while the so-called ‘extended’ zone (beyond Classico and Valpantena, bordering on the Soave) tends to produce richer, more muscular wines with a higher alcohol level.’

This one from Tesco 15.5% with aromas of dried cherries and blueberries, full bodied and almost opulent on the palate. For £18 quid a cracking bottle of wine that compliments a slow roasted beef brisket.

A bottle of rum, a bottle of Barolo, a Korum Transition unhooking mat, a few bits and pieces the boy done well !!!!

The unhooking mat packs down quite small and fold very easy indeed, like many of Korum's products well thought-out indeed and will accompany me when I'm targeting the bigger fish.

Anyway after fishing everyday over the October half term holiday this was first session for nearly a week so I just fancied a few bites. I love dawns on the river in the autumn and winter months, the river was looking glorious when I got there, a surface like glass so I was surprised not to see any topping fish.

It was a maggot only day and after a couple of swims with only a tiny dace and roach to show for it, I was wondering what the heck was going on. The water is back to clear again which is not ideal on the Avon but find the deeper areas and try and find the fish, your fortunes can change dramatically, and that's exactly what happened here. 

One of the lower swims was literally stuffed full of dace, to be fair it took half an hour of feeding maggots but once they arrived they didn't budge for well over an hour.

It really was a bite a chuck, sometimes the feeder not even reaching the bottom before a fish was on. Not huge dace, the biggest 7 ounces or so but most were over four ounces. The above a result of only half an hour with fish retained in the landing net with more missed bites than fish caught.

They really must have been queuing up. A float set-up would have been the way to go, but still, an enjoyable mad feeding spell.

The first sign a pike was around though was when I thought I'd snagged the feeder up, but no it was a Pike that had grabbed the feeder just as it hit bottle. A couple of fish were lucky to escape too this one just getting away from the skin of its teeth.

Shame I hadn't a Pike rod as it looked a half decent fish too. The fish returned after an hour or so after continuing to feed maggots regularly but after catching a few more fish, my time was up.

I enjoyed it so much I'll bring more maggots next time because 2 pints went rather quick such the frequency of the bites but I love catching dace when they are in big shoals. Such a characteristic fight too, almost grayling like the way the 'silver darts' wriggle back and forth on the fight.  

It was 3 degrees when I started fishing but quickly rose to 9 degrees when the sun came out. An enjoyable session and an enjoyable morning, we are lucky we can still go fishing, 

I drove past the deserted golf club down the road from me on the way back, what the heck is all that about, you can share a walk with someone on the course, but not with a ball or club in hand. a revolt on the way me thinks, some of the rules are just ridiculous. 

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Warwickshire Avon - Saagwala and Sanctanimity

After the recent announcement 2020 can do one, really have had enough of it now. So you've good to keep up with those little things that make you happy and gives you the feel good factor. Now my chicken saagwala is a rather lovely indeed, it's a dish that to be honest on a miserable day weather wise but a Chub session to look forward to in the morning, the comfort that it offers can only help the wellbeing at the minute. 

It's easy to knock up too, seal some chicken thighs in a saucepan in a little oil.

Blend to a smooth base sauce some fresh ginger, garlic, chillis, coriander (stalks and all), tomatoes, red onion with a few Indian spices and then simmer for half an hour with a little water, and then stir in a bag of spinach for another ten minutes and then job done.

Very moorish indeed as it packs a flavour punch that becomes very addictive indeed especially as you can tweak the recipe to suit your own palate. I often sprinkle on mine some extra coriander leaves and sliced birds eye chillies as I do like an extra kick to my food, whereas the Wife and kids don't appreciate the scoville scale like I do.

Now whilst it was being reduced Chasing Chevin was a welcome distraction from all the rubbish that is going on at the minute. 

Pictures of Chub I could only dream about catching but having took a while to catch a Warwickshire Avon 5lber and quite a few more since an area I fish has been throwing up some lovely >5lb fish, the latest being this stout 6lber. 

Now given the choice of catching a 14lb Barbel or a 6lb Chevin off the Warwickshire Avon, it would be the Chub every time.

They are up there with my favourite species because I just love their character which can go from being shy and retiring to being as bold as brass. 

I wouldn't usually target Chub till there is a crunch under foot but if there is already some lumps already on this small stretch I want in on it. 

So for this short morning session the Chub rod was sorted and it was out with the cheesepaste, a few lobworms and some liquidised bread. 

I'm sure it's the ammonia and strong smell Chub find so appealing because they really cannot get enough of it, and I've had sessions where breadflake wouldn't get a look-in but some paste wrapped round a cage can often bring that bite you are desperate for.

If they are that big here now, what are they going be like when winter has started to kick in big-time and there are less anglers on the bank. 

Chub in January and February can often forget their cautiousness and jump on a lump of cheesepaste as soon as it hits the deck.

Would they be up for a feed at the very end of October, only one way to find out !!!!

What an odd session when I got there I baited 3 swims with a few pieces of paste and also some liquidised bread and would fish them half an hour each before taking stock. There were fish in the all swims fished but there didn't appear any chevin home.

Dace were whittling away the large pungent paste bait till they actually hooked themselves, maggots would have cleaned up I'd imagine as one swim they were attacking it as soon as it dropped through the water column.

Now a switch to lobworm again didn't attract any chub or perch for that matter but dace again. Nothing big but many a future session I'd trot some maggots as there are some nice swims here to do exactly that.

With half an hour left a positive pluck the tip pulls round and a fish is on. It felt solid when I hooked in to it but then it wasn't fighting like a chub and then I could see its flanks in the relatively clear water, it was a skinny pike with plenty of filling out to do. Not going well this morning, time for the off. I'll be back !!!

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