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. 


  1. Well done to both of you. About time you bagged a double!

    1. Was a good trip out that's for sure. I stuck with the tried and trusted Sukuma Mantas too and no issues.


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