Monday, 23 January 2017

Warwickshire Avon – Fools Cold

One look out of the window would have sent most people back to bed but more often than not I’ve caught fish at dawn and then after an hour or so things would go quiet. As an angler though, you don’t have an option, you need to get out there.

Time and tide wait for no man….

With a much harder frost compared to Fridays muddy and pleasant sunny day this was a different proposition all together. Hard and crunchy underfoot and a biting frost that froze ones exposed pinkies. The light neoprene gloves I’ve been wearing are fantastic, as you can tie a hook without issue but the thumb and forefinger are exposed to the elements.

Let’s just say, it wasn’t particularly pleasant….

Two deadbait rods with running rig set-ups, a headless Roach, Sakuma Mantas and light bobbins.


Now the river had dropped considerably in two days and the cold weather had removed the colour out if it too so I thought it was going to be a difficult session but as the sun rose it started to illuminate the water with its strong amber and red colours I had the first bite.

12 minutes since the rods went out in more or less which is the length of ‘Fools Gold’ by the Stone Roses and lead vocalist Ian Brown. Sometimes when listening to it, it feels a life time, others it’s ended too soon. It was part of my youth after all, the sound of the wah-wah pedal and the volcanic landscape of Lanzarote not forgotten.

As a family we visited the Timanfaya National Park, we didn’t stray on the protected environment like the Stones mind you but the track was always in the back of my mind, awesome stuff.

Now this bite felt quick, certainly not a lifetime I expected in these conditons,the backdrop chalk and cheese, the coffee still hot.

The bobbin jumped in to life, line was being taken from the bait runner and the rod tip was bouncing. Now I’ve caught plenty of Zander to know that was exactly was on the end of the line. It’s a distinctive fight particularly the bigger fish.

They either fight well or they don’t, some just decide to give up early, this one didn’t though and gave a good few powerful plodding runs. The lead could be felt bouncing on the line though which is never a good thing but this time the hook seemed to be stuck firm.

Then the fish surfaced, yeap it’s a good’un…..


It’s an elevated swim here so not exactly an easy landing exercise and when the fish eventually was netted I gave a big sigh of relief.

Not the lunker I was after but still a good fish and great to see in the relatively clear water.

Now I’m sure somewhere a weight / length chart exists for Zander but I might even start to compile my own as I’m sure they don’t follow a pattern especially when they get big because although this wasn’t the longest of fish I’ve caught it was certainly the most portly.

The stomach was huge and a quick squeeze it must have had an early Sunday dinner.

Weigh sling removed from bag, scales attached and then zeroed, the fish went 8lb 3oz….

Just look at the full stomach on this 8lb 3oz Warwickshire Avon Zander
So a PB river Zander, I wouldn’t say I was disappointed as there are bigger fish here, but at least the fish size are increasing.

A jack soon after, the swim went quiet. All before 8.30am too, If I rocked up at 9.00am it would have been a different story I would suspect.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Warwickshire Avon – The Turd in the Punchbowl

As a frequent canal angler I’m really enjoying fishing for Zander that are prevalent in the Midlands water ways but it seems that’s not the case for many anglers as I've heard it from a few anglers now, even my postie. Again the last canal trip out, some stupidly over tyred towpath mountain bike rider (what are they all that about then, more fat burning resistance or something?) stopped for a chat the other day and asked what I was after, when I mentions Zed’s he referred to them as....

....the ‘turd in the punchbowl’, and that they were most unwanted and they have ruined local rivers and in particular canal fishing.


The fact is modern matchman are a generally lazy breed, they love the commercial mud puddles and the F1 filled winter leagues that have cropped up over the years and fishing the cut has fallen out of favour it seems. After all, there are plenty of areas on canals where some decent bags of silvers can be caught if that’s you thing. Have a butchers on the Leamington Anglers Association website for starters, bulging nets, smiley faces.

He went on his way, with a rant off his chest, me hoping there’s not a resurgence. I like the fact it’s just me and the few, it’s like I have the waterway to myself most of the time.

Now Zander really has got me hooked as a species and I didn’t think they would, the pull of a hard fighting Barbel was up there when I got back in to fishing after a long layoff but not so much now. Given the choice, a PB Barbel or a double figure cut Zander, I’d be canal bound as it’s the appeal of catching something so intriguing from something so forgotten.


But one thing I’ve neglected is the river Zander, I’m not sure why either as the river holds the bigger fish.

So this session as was back at the Warwickshire Avon again with a friend and big fish catcher Dave in tow.

Saying that, a big fish would be nice for either of us as we haven’t done very well on these full day fishing trips of ours. A big Perch trip on the lovely lake at Blenheim Palace and a recent specimen Roach search at a carp water, were very disappointing indeed, as the results were as baron as the living conditions of the bark eating residents of Pyongyang.

Talking of baron, I’ve said before but this upper stretch can feel very much like that at times. The autumn with its leaf loss and with the winter’s inevitable bankside changes it hasn’t helped its appearance. It can also seem very much devoid of life, it’s as if the fish cannot be bothered to top or to even show themselves, what’s the point, need to go and sulk somewhere else. Even a maggot match, there were some bored blankers.

There were some signs of life in a short section of it though….

The small pocket of fish myself and like minded had stumbled upon were giving some encouraging results and some fish of merit were banked and a humongous Pike cropped up for deadbait twitching Sean. However despite many rod hours with a few different methods there were no Zander banked approaching the size the Warwickshire Avon is known to hold.


However last weekend’s loss of a big Zander away from the well trodden area confirmed that there are some lunkers to be had that’s for sure, it’s just a matter of putting a bait in the right place and giving them more of a proper go.

“Mick, we’re due a third time lucky”

The little precipitation the waters have received over the last few months has meant the clarity has been very clear indeed. Certainly not conditions that are favourable for catching fish of any species, but in particular the Zander which tend to like water with plenty of colour or sundown to starting mooching about for a belly filler. You can see why they are home in the canals as I mentioned earlier, happy as a pig in poo they are. Even in the brightest of conditions they can be caught, but then the cuts water is generally weak tea to caliginous, it really does make a difference.


They love the cuts mucky waters, and they are thriving on it….

The prolonged low levels had been topped up a little though before this session as some recent wintery weather. With the start of the week being very wet indeed it meant at least there would be some colour in the water which I was hoping would me all the difference.

The sky was clear the air cold and upon arriving at the river the was up considerably and it was coloured as suspected. The first swim visited a greedy jack took my roach deadbait and was swiftly returned. I'd two running set-up, Dave two float set-ups so it was nice to see a contrast in styles.


The swim went dead so we moved downstream to where I've caught Zander in the past. Within half an hour or so with the odd crayfish beep on my deadbaits during a natter, Dave jumped out of his chair to say that his float was on the move.

Sure enough the float sailed under and he leant in to the fish, the plod plod of the rod tip the fish eventually surfaced and it was a decent Zander. Dave not having caught a Zander from running water but from Coombe and the local cut, this was going to be a PB.

It gave a good fight with Dave having the thoughts of my loss firmly in his mind.

It looked a lump too and having netted it for him, we both thought it looked around 7lb. Now once out the net this Zander and on the unhooking mat this Zander had been feeding heavily and sure enough it went 8lb 13oz on the Avon's.

Dave Roberts and a 8lb 13oz Warwickshire Avon Zander
I was well pleased for Dave despite the fact it would have been a river PB for me too. That fish got me thinking as the fish that I lost was a scale above again, so encouraging signs for this part of the Avon.

Dave could sit back happy now but considering we had most of the day left we both settled in a couple more swims downstream and got on with the fishing. A biteless half hour and a lost rig that was caught on a marginal snag I decided to go back up to the first swim we both fished. The river had some pace here but there were areas of slack water just off the main flow. Half an hour later my right hand rod screams in to life and a fish is taking line from the reel and the bait runner doing its thing.

It was a hard fighting Pike. Now I'm fairy new to this river predator lack having only really done a handful of Zander sessions and the odd lure session so any decent Pike would likely challenge my mediocre PB. The bank is steep here so a long landing net is needed but it was netted easy enough after a spirited fight and looked like a fish worth weighing.


10lb 1oz, do a double and sure enough a PB by a few oz's, happy with that. Dave could see me from his swim and rang to see if I needed to take a photo for me. If it were a Zander maybe but I've got these self takes down to a tee now, so no need really.

Dave joined me and I managed another smallish Pike out of swim you wouldn't haven't thought they would like but it's given me a few more learning points to be aid me on my subsequent trips.

We headed back to the swim where Dave's Zander came from but despite fishing till the floats were hard to see there were no more fish.

An enjoyable trip out that not only went quick but 2 PB's were banked.

Cannot ask more than that.

Now, let me see tomorrow, river or canal, decisions decisions. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Warwickshire Avon - Phenomeknockers

The handful of times I’d fished this deep and pedestrian stretch of the Warwickshire Avon I’d had mixed results. I’d managed some Pike nearing double figures and a couple of Zander whose size was nothing to write home. It’s largely untapped, by me anyway and to be fair probably doesn’t see that much foot traffic.

Despite catching some larger Zed’s further downstream just looking at the large expanse of water I’m sure there has to be some specimens lurking. No reason why there wouldn’t to be honest, it looks a perfect habitat for them and I know some decent fish have been caught a little further upstream on a different clubs water.

The larger fish have been elusive though up till now, but the conditions have been far from ideal, being mostly clear for weeks on end, which for Zander fishing can put a kibosh on proceedings.

My captures for this area, as top trumps go, I’d be on to a right old loser, but you can’t keep a good man down, I've got to stick at it.


For this return session it was out with the big guns, the head turners. Considering the size of the river I’d used relatively small lures so I switched to something more befitting the size of fish I'm after and some more visual to stand out in the large expanse of water.

The thinking was a little like some past business trips to Shanghai where I could go a whole week without even a second glance, an about-turn, but then out of the blue, a female managed to get through the Han genetics with an error, a DNA enhancement, well two in fact, causing one to get tunnel vision and end up in to an objectifying gaze.

They will probably be earning a fortune on Instagram such the oddity, then again can you get Instagram in China ? As everything else the internet is useful for seems to be blocked under their Golden Shield Project operated by the Ministry of Public Security.

Even Blogspot is blocked FFS….then again, you get all manner of crap on there don’t you.

‘Holds ones hands up’


There is nothing that I can do about it to be fair, it’s a natural reaction, and it’s how I’m wired. I assume it’s an evolutionary trait and it appears I’m not the only one, as this interplay of objectification, internalisation and perpetuation which permeates society.

Hmmm I wonder if Zander are inflicted and affected as much by visual eye-candy.

You see unless I can tempt a nice Zander I’m looking at pastures new me thinks. I cannot quite put my finger on it but I’m not eager to get fishing at these club waters like I have done in the past with stretches of the Warwickshire Avon. I was so looking forward to get stuck in come the start of the season, now not so.

You only have to look at my Blog and the canal visits I’ve made of late….

It’s regularly matched fished you see, even in the winter as I’ve been finding out and there appears to be the need to fish lighter and lighter as the fish are not stupid, they wise up to anything that stands out. Small hooks, small baits is the way to fish it. I’m not a matchman and therefore cannot really comment on the ins and outs, but Barbel kept in keepnets doesn’t really sit right with me either to be fair and subsequently I’ve not had the enthusiasm to give them a proper go despite knowing there are decent specimens to be caught amongst the apparent large numbers of smaller fish.

Anyway back to the session apart from the lure rod, I’d also have a sleeper rod with me where I’d fish a running set-up with a deadbait to fish a margin or feature to try and increase my odds of picking up a fish or two.


With 5 swims already tried without a bite, it was on to the last swim. It was much shallower here which wasn't a good sign but heck might as well give it a go.The roach deadbait was positioned a couple of rod lengths out in front of a tree and within a few minutes after throwing the lure around the bobbin started to jump and the alarm sound.

A fish had taken the bait. After leaning in to it felt a decent too and with the initial run abated, eventually I got the glimpse of a big Zander. With ones heart now in one's mouth it was out with the landing net to prepare to land the fish.

It gave another run and then within the clear water I could see it hanging station and shaking its head. It eventually surfaced and I could see it in all its glory, and it was huge. Having caught some half decent ones now on the canal, it looked a 'good' double and despite not fishing that often for Zander on the river, this was a fish I didn't want to lose. Yeap, you guessed it....

Sadly that's what exactly happened because one last gasp run and a shake of the head, the fish was off.

Arrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!!!!!!!! Noooooooooooooooooo !!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'd recast aanother bait rang the Wife to say I'm having another hour but despite the odd knock and tap it remained elusive.


Now we all question what happened but with Zander less so, they are difficult to hook at the best of times. My usual canal set-up is a 11ft 1.5 TC rod, but this was a 9ft 2.5 TC rod because you've always got a chance of a big Pike here, don't want to be undergunned so I'm thinking using the thin wire Sakuma Manta's that work so well on the canal with a soft rod might have not been the ideal hook for a much stiffer rod, maybe it was a hook pull when it gave the last powerful run.

Weirdly replaying it in ones head if I'd lost the fish on the canal I'd be more gutted but at least I know there are some good'uns here now and I might well renew my book after all.

I'll be back for it was soon as I can....

Friday, 13 January 2017

Canal Zander – Hunches and Hobo’s

I’d fished a handful of times below the lower reaches of the Laryngeal Prominence without even a nibble, a bite, or even a tiny Perch to show for my efforts so I was in no rush to go back, especially as the weather was going to be rather wild.

But then, hang on a minute...

A photo appeared of a cracking double figure fish which was caught on this particular canal, more or less this time last year, and it’s only when I was looking at a Facebook mail trail screen grab Dave sent to me recently (I’m not on it ) where the picture was posted again, something stood out.

As someone who has trodden the towpath on much of its length you tend to recognise features and landmarks which are stored in ones subconsciousness.I’m sure I’ve been past ‘that’ even though it was pretty well hidden in the background behind some thicket was most prominent in the photo. Sure enough a quick look through the photos on the anglers Facebook page, one of his pictures revealed that he had indeed visited the stretch where I thought it was.


Even the most careful of big fish captures who try and disguise an area the best they can, sometimes slip up and a swim can be recognised. We as anglers spend many a hour on the banks don’t we so it’s just the way it is, not a fat lot you can do about it.

The thing is does revealing a specific swim or area really matter….?

I’ve been finding with this canal Zander lark that you tend to find pockets of schoolie Zander that will always be there but the specimens will be there one day and gone the next. These lunkers appear to be transient after all, nomads and hobo’s if you like.



I can tell you that I’ve fished the same swims where I’d caught my PB of 9lb and the second biggest at 8lb 10oz many a times, and up till now, I’ve not had a sniff of anything like those two fish that graced my landing net again.

However was this fish different? As it appeared that after losing it on a previous session the eventual capture returned to the same swim and managed to bank it.

Now I’m not a big fish chaser usually ,I’d leave that to those well conversed in it, but if this fish is still milling around these waters which is unusually full of prey fish I’d like to catch it as it will be a zed with a capital Z.


It will be a proper’un, a lump….if you Phil.

The large Carp appear to be very different and the more and more time I spend on canals it appears that they tend to settle in one area and stick with it. If I do eventually catch a double figure canal Zander maybe they will become my next target. There are some beasts to be had too judging by the ones I’ve seen when Zed’ing as they don’t seem to mind sharing the same swim from what I’ve discovered.

The bruiser and the cruiser, top and tailing….

Now this Zander was apparently caught on the lure which I was surprised at because in my experience a deadbait has been more selective with 5lb being my biggest lure caught fish. For this session in to dusk it was a Roach chunk out on the sleeper and a lure rod as the main attack. Recently I’ve been enjoying my lure fishing and you can see why it’s become so popular, it can get very addictive with the aggressive Zander and the sense of anticipation.


There are more shiny bits to buy which can only be a good thing, got to spend money on something and enjoy the fruits of ones labour haven't I….

Thinking about it, I did manage a schoolie by the bridge, so might was well give it a bash.

1 rod my usual overdepth float set-up, the other the lure rod. Better get going.


Now swim bound I can spot the 'feature' but hmmm, looks like it, but not quite, looking at the picture again. 90% there, could be, might be, hey maybe it's been altered since the picture was taken, who knows.

So better get on with the fishing. After about 7 or 8 chucks of the lure a small schoolie, grabbed the lure. It isn't hooked well so managed to get free, but at least there is Zander here.

Next was the deadbait rod, three fish caught over the length of the cover. The biggest three pound. Another Zander banked on the lure, a reasonable session but for the last half an hour in to dusk I was hoping for something decent.


Sadly, the float remained motionless, the weather getting worse....

Back to get the fire on....
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