Monday, 30 October 2017

Warwickshire Avon – Cockamamies and Crocodiles

Back in 2005 Richard Lacy a bridgekeeper at ‘Sellers Bridge on the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal spurred cryptozoological interest and raised the un-manicured eyebrows of the member of the Centre for Fortean Zoology to conduct a field trip of Lilliput proportions to try and find….

“a fully airborne, caiman-like animal" lunging from the water at a mallard”

A crocodile monitor from the CFR (yes you heard), Andy Stephens, who followed up the sighting, said: "The ecosystem supports more than adequate numbers of food species to keep a single crocodilian, or indeed a small colony, well fed, as long as they could survive the rigours of the English winter." Possible warmer water influxes into the canal are being investigated.

A lovely dawn over Warwickshire 
The conclusion from the CFR was that no crocodilian could, in all likelihood, thrive in a UK climate without there being a source of heat to maintain its body temperature throughout the winter months. However what do the culverts drain, could they be the source of any flow into the river during winter, which might raise water temperature? The ecosystem supports more than adequate numbers of food species to keep a single crocodilian, or indeed a small colony, well fed. Clearly the terrapins manage, demonstrably, they have been here for a number of years.

The Gloucester and Sharpness Canal is a 15 1/2 mile long canal starting a mile north of the city of Gloucester and running south and west until it terminates at Sharpness docks, on the banks of the river Severn, some 1 3/4 miles north of the nuclear power station at Berkeley.

Some other unusual sightings on the national species database. Osprey, seals, dolphins, porpoises and who could forget the Chinese mitten crabs, not just crocs.

Now for the intriguing bit….

The Canal is on average 100 feet wide, 14 feet deep in the middle, tapering to 3 or 4 feet in the margins, and it contains some very bigger Zander hence why as a double figure canal Zed chaser it's appeared on my radar.

Hmmm, I know a stretch of the Warwickshire Avon like that, and it is largely untapped, well with big baits and me anyway.

God knows what’s lurking amongst its depths…

It’s not quite uncharted as I’ve had the deeper out up here, and some rods to be fair, but up till this session results have been a little, how can I put, it…

Well, very patchy….

For a big fish that didn’t want the neighbours to see it naked when it swam from the bathroom to the bedroom, it is an ideal place for sanctuary seeking. In-fact it would be that dark down there a big Zander, Carp or even a Barbel could run around stark bollock naked without even a twitch from the curtains, a peak between a gap in the blinds.

So for this morning session in the gin clear waters of the Warwickshire Avon it was out with two deadbaits rods.

With the deeper out most of the section was between 9 and 12 ft but a couple of swims were notably deeper at 14ft. Now the Avon is low at the minute, very low to 14ft would easily be 15 or 16 or even more when levels are up to winter levels.

All encouraging signs, I must admit....

I cast both rods to some far side cover and the left hand rod within minutes goes off and the bobbin is jumping and the bait runner is going off.

I've found that with Zander I've never really had an issues with drop takes because of resistance, they give the bait a proper doing over most of the time.

So the fish is on, and it's keeping low, it's going to my left and putting quite a considerable bend in the rod. It's a powerful fish and is trying to get in to some marginal snags. I've applied more pressure now and managed to turn the fish. I can now see it in the clear water.

Oh my God !!!

Good be a PB beater, it certainly looks like it.

Net ready....

I never felt fully happy with the fight though, and sure enough if you've caught enough Zander like I have they are tricky customers.

Yeap, the first tail walk and shake of it's head, the fish is off and it goes back to it's lair.

FFS !!!!!!!!

There must have been quite a few Zander now in the swim. A run on the drop, two missed takes eventually I manged to bank a 4lber.

A couple more runs from small fish probably and then a Jack caught it was time to pack up.

Encouraging signs for the winter, oh yes !!!!

The first frost this morning too....


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