Piscatorial Quagswagging

...the diary of a specialist angler in around the Warwickshire Avon and its tributaries.

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Warwickshire Avon - Big Dace and the colossal Barbel chase

There is a particular stretch on the Warwickshire Avon I know that is literally chock-full of Roach and half decent Dace, over the bridge, through the woods ,past the weird looking tree, over the stile, in to the wilds, you get my drift some of the local bloggers know where I mean. I’ve not renewed that book for this season having decided to fish for Roach on the diminutive Warwickshire Stour instead, I’m sure there are some monsters to be had and it’s a roving anglers dream, more my thing even though the largely unexplored and uncharted areas upstream of the Roach and Dace stretch looked tempting. Can someone do the honours please, I’d love to know what’s up there...

I’m tempted to renew, as I’ve been told of some whereabouts of BIG Chub on one of the book waters....

Anyway, back to the fishing and an alternative area for Dace. I’d spotted some feeding up in the water in this particular stretch a few weeks back and there were some half decent ones too amongst the rather large shoal so with a pint and a half of maggots and a float initially set to mid-depth I set upon catching them. By feeding a steady trail of grubs upstream I wanted the fish to get competitive and compete for the bait. Hook was a size 16, the float a chunky buoyant waggler. 

I’d also put in a couple of bait droppers of hemp, pellets and some cubed meat at the start of the session as I planned to fish the last hour for Barbel with a glowing isotope and a gobstopper of a lump of spam (1/3 of a 200g tin with the corners taken off) within a deep marginal gully that lead to a ‘tunnel’ feature within the river. When it’s clear like this even with a moving bait they can be wary but when the light drops and the bats come out to play there is a noticeable change in the fish movement, it’s a bit like a carp in a commercial fishery moving to the margins to feed after the pole waver has dumped his bait when he’s finished, there is change in tip action so to speak (not an euphemism btw). The problem is there are plenty of Chub and smallish Barbel here too and they are greedy little blighters, I was hoping a rather large bait would be selective, and tempt a big Barbel. Last week if I’d have stayed a bit longer I’m sure I’d have hooked one, hence why I’m back. I don’t want a 6lber.

With a bait this size a Barbel is likely to mess around with the bait till he takes it properly so I wanted to minimize resistance, a running set-up with a 3ft hook link, large hook and of course the centrepin which tends to feature in more of my fishing these days. A rear rest and a bobbin clipped on the line would allow a Barbel to get confidence in the bait as it could move it a decent amount before feeling any resistance. When the fish bolts the bobbin will hit the butt and the centrepins ratchet will come in to play. Provide resistance on the spool with hand or thumb and the hook will pull out of the meat in to the fish

Well that was the theory..

I usually use a 1.75lb test curve Harrison Torrix for most of my Barbel fishing but I like the idea of a bit more backbone if I hooked a big fish and a stiffer tip to set the hook so the Torrix was replaced with the Fox Duo-Lite with 2.25lb sold top. It’s more cumbersome as a tool but that has its advantages in this set-up. 

I couldn’t believe how many fish were in the swim, bites were instant and constant and over a couple of three hours I lost count on the amount of fish caught, a bite every chuck. Sadly all small fish, maybe I should have brought some bread or sweetcorn as that might have singled out the larger fish. Changed depth didn’t make any difference either, just small fish. Dace, Chub, Roach and Perch.

For the last hour I whacked out the lump of meat and sat back and waited, the first bite came pretty quick to be honest with the bobbin reaching the rod butt,  maybe I was premature on the strike or it was some debris I’m not sure. As the light faded and the isotope was glowing this was prime Barbel time. I spotted a huge one here sometime ago now that I disturbed when I was playing a Chub, it nearly gave me a heart attack as it was a sight to behold, but up to now I have only had them here up to 8lb.

I sat back and waited. Over at the far bank was some scurrying and noise and a black as you like mink came out from some cover and started to patrol the bank. One was spotted a couple of weeks ago further upstream and I know this stretch I fish they have trapped them in the past. Maybe it put a kibosh on the swim because the rod other than the bats hitting the line remained motionless. Damn…


  1. When I've managed to get up that far, and I've been as far as possible, what I've caught are good-sized chub. Winter is the only time to go though because it's impenetrable in summertime. Never had a chub of size anywhere below the meadow roach swims. Nor below the weir till you reach the very end of the fishery.

    1. There's a good stamp of roach and dace up there, so I think I'll get my hands in my pockets come winter. Yesterday the dace were all 2oz or so.

  2. Yep, the dace don't run in such large numbers nor get as big anywhere else that I know of on the entire Avon. It's getting a big one though...

    1 in every hundred!

    They feed well after dark you know. The roach switch off at dusk but dace don't.

    1. Dont the ghosts switch on at dusk though! Spooky place down there.

    2. That's the issue Sean... however I fished it last a few times and one particular area I could believe the quality of the Roach and the Dace were all half decent too.

    3. Really enjoyed the trotting so will stick with that, so to single out the larger ones would a folded bread disc be something to try ? what about a static bait ? sweetcorn, meat cube or something, any tips welcome.

  3. To catch big Dace you either wade through the shoals of small ones or tread in something smelly, not all that pleasant and land a big Dace. Unless of course you find a shoal of big girls, good luck on that one, they are impressive creatures when they reach 12oz +

    1. I've seen some of the monsters you have been catching, I'll like some of that. Who needs a commercial fishery, I dread to think the bag full I'd have if I had a keepnet, it really was teeming with fish. Sadly on this occasion only small ones.


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