Monday, 29 February 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Unfinished Monkey Business

Was the title of the 1998 debut solo album by Ian Brown since the break-up of the Stone Roses a couple of years earlier. Unfinished Monkey Business because the press used to refer to him as ‘simian lead singer’ , his arms were too long for his body, all very Monkey like and one of his nicknames. Now Ian Brown is unlike many in the music industry and he can actually play some instruments, yes really he can….

Amongst others, guitar (acoustic and bass), keyboard, drums and harmonica.

Now If I only had an ounce of his talent because I really need to get this Monkey off my Back.

Despite catching hundreds of the buggers, I’ve yet to bank a 5lb Chub. I wasn’t far off in October but so near and yet so far and all that. I’d like one from Warwickshire too as that’s my patch and would mean much more to me that travelling to rivers where they are more prevalent. Over the past few years I’ve tended to stick to the same venues and I’m sure that’s not helping in reaching my goal, so for the new river season it’s out with the old books and in with the new.

Fishing needs to be a challenge, imagine as a shy spotty youth ‘on the pull’ walking in to a bar full of sticky finger potential and within minutes you’d find yourself leaving with your hands down her pants on route to the local Abrakebabra. Life is about challenges, fishing for me, needs to be exactly that….

It shouldn’t be easy….

The winter has been very much a wash out so I’ve struggled to even get bankside let alone target a specimen Leslie Ash. Now this location has been good to me in the past, over the relatively short stretch it’s loaded with feature and especially in the summer I love fishing here, it’s full of character. When it’s clear and the rivers are low it provides such great visual sport and I’ve spent many an hour trundling bits of meat under the thick cover which provides the sanctuary for the Barbel and Chub.

Now one of the swims in particular really was an eye opener, one summers day I approached the swim from a different direction than usual and what I saw really did take my breath away. There were two double figure Barbel mid river holding station and moving up and down vertically amongst the thick streamer weed waiting for any food particles to come their way.

Hold on a minute though I thought this was about Chub, and before you ask it wasn’t the visual spectacle of the feeding Barbel it was the Chub that outnumbered them five to one, these Chub looked not far off the size of the Barbel, they were colossal, they really were. Now I’ve caught plenty of Chub and I guessed the biggest of these were getting on for 7lb or possibly bigger, the width across their black backs was something to behold. I was in awe so I watched them for a good half an hour or so under my polarised cocoons, to see fish acting so naturally in their environment was like my youngest Sam would say ‘utterly awesome’

Don’t get that from a commercial mud puddle do you….

Upstream of the streamer weed was really thick far bank cover which spanned a good third of the width of the river. Despite me trying to be as hidden and stealthy as possible, as soon as they got a sniff of possible danger they all buggered off and tucked themselves away. After an hour or so trundling a lobworm under their comfort blanket I managed to winkle out one of the smaller Chub within the shoal and that went 4lb 9oz but after the swim wrecking carnage it went dead.

Sadly the cover has been cut back now so the fish have gone elsewhere but luckily this stretch has other similar swims to go at.

Now for Chub fishing in winter where there is usually some colour to the water cheese paste is hard to beat, if there is a Chevin in the swim they will home on to it very quickly, they are the greediest of species.

My recipe is simple, equal measures of shortcrust pastry, grated mature cheddar and grated frozen Danish blue. I also add a little whatever I find in my bait fridge, krill groundbait, shrimp liquid that sort of thing, you can never make it too stinky, the more pungent and potential Wife moaning the better. Simple link ledger tactics work as good as any and I secure the paste with either a paste cage or use a cork ball secured on a bayonet.

I like using balanced tactics too especially with a river that’s fining down with a manageable pace, a centre pin and a light Avon rod with a 3oz quiver feels just about right, a Barbel rod doesn’t, even for a big Chub its overkill. Even when the fish is snag bound it’s great to properly lean in to the fish with the rod bent double, it’s a sport after all, so the fight needs to be enjoyed and not mere routine.

When I got to the river I could see the Chub were going to feed, it had that lovely winter looks about it, a greeny blue tinge, just about the right amount of clarity and over the past week it had dropped a considerable amount so lots of the swims would be fishable with the light link-ledger set-up. Sure enough I didn't have to wait that long for the first bite. The size 10 barbless Guru QM1 hook giving good retention and eventually after a good dirty scrap the fish was banked. It had properly been on the feed too with a large thick belly.

The dial went 4lb 12oz's, an oz short of my PB and 4oz short of the magic (for me anyway) 5lb.


The next swim I needed to fight through the bone dry thicket and found myself in a classic Chub swim, again within 10 minutes, another chunky Chub of 4lb 8oz. I ended up with 6 fish with all comfortably over 4lb, a cracking session but sadly time caught up to me and I had to leave. Incidentally the Pike rod remained untouched.

That 5lber, so near and yet so far.

Martin Roberts was having a better session than me not far away and he ended up with 3 Barbel, 2 of those double figures, the biggest a well deserved PB.

Martin Roberts and his PB Warwickshire Avon Barbel - 13lb 9oz


  1. Nice bit of chubbing Mick. Would love a session like that.

    1. Certainly enjoyable Sean, I've missed fishing for chub. You're second place in the river leader board :) going to be down to the final couple of weekends

    2. Yes that 30 point boost was very unexpected, but welcome. Could all change yet though, but only for minor honours. The impressive leader is clear by a furlong! I'm hoping to sneak a few more points out of chub (which shouldn't be hard given my current effort) or a bonus barbel (Martin - well done on the pb).

    3. I need a decent Pike, Roach and Dace :) It's the mediocre weights that has let me down.

      Now a decent Zander would be nice too

    4. Thanks Sean. She was a beauty, in great nick.

  2. I don't know what kind of bars you frequented in your youth!!

  3. Great catches for both of you Mick.

    You won't want the season to end!

    1. Nope, couple of weekends left though George, need to make hay and all that.


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