Saturday, 14 July 2018

The Tiny River Alne – Tiny Tiddlers and Titanic Tits

An insulated garage door, the relentless sun a space like a sauna. The result a usually well cared for batch of lobworms somehow forgotten turned in to a rather smelly ball of yuck. Their cries of help unnoticed whilst chilling at the White Isle. 80 died due to my neglect, and I put ones hand up for the monumental massacre that occurred under my watch.

It could have been avoided, the expense and mental turmoil ever strong in the back of one’s mind, there was blood on my hands, don’t let me forget it.

What a tit !!!!

I've another four holidays planned before this year end, here and abroad so need to get on top of my bait management quick sharpish.

Maybe a sort through the bait fridge and be ruthless with chucking stuff away is the first thing to get sorted.

To be fair you only have to look at the grass to see it's been stupidly hot and no rain in what seems like weeks and weeks.

I'm sure although it could have been avoided, I'm not entirely to blame. A local fete had seemingly raised flags in honour to mourn the victims, such the public outcry.

So bait remaining, well, hmmm a few small worms and half pint of pinkies.

“Hey Sam, fancy trying to catch a sticklebacks, maybe a bullhead or two, oh and even maybe a stone loach to add to your species tally !!!”

“Dad, what’s a stickleback look like”
(Shows Library Pic)

“Whoooooooooaaaaaaaaaaa, they look cool, like a dinosaur fish”

Now a few species of sticklebacks inhabit British waters after a quick peruse of archive of fishing books .

They are the three-spined stickleback, the ten spined stickleback and the fifteen-spined stickleback. The last-named is a marine species living in shallow coastal waters and rock pool and is therefore not qualified for further mention.

Size 22 Hook with a pinkie
The names of the sticklebacks are self-explanatory, and the three-spined has thee spines in front of the rayed dorsal fin. The rear spine is smaller the other two. Sticklebacks with four spines are not uncommon. On rare occasions specimens with only two spines have been recorded, but these are varieties of the three-spined, not a different species apparently.

Their armament is not confined to the upper deck. A pair of formidable spines are set just in front of the single-rayed ventral fin and there is a short sharp spike immediately forward of the anal fin.

Frequenters of still and running water, preferring the shallows of ponds and quiet reaches of the river to fast currents and turbulent waters. They are the haunters of side-streams, backwaters and drainage ditches, where they live upon the countless animaculate such water afford and the smaller insects, molluscs and fish fry.

Fish spawn is also a favourite dish, they are hardy too, being tolerant of salt and brackish waters. They are also revel in and partake in the digestive dunking in low oxygen level waters which we are experiencing as anglers and fish during this ridiculous heat wave we are having.

No thumbs down to be seen here !!!!

The plan was to pay a visit to the Alne again, to search for some big fish from small waters, the brook visit was bit of an eye opener with some decent dace caught, as well as trout and even some bullheads, but the stingers would be huge, and Sam is like a magnet to them, so the Alne was probably the better choice for a couple or three swims.

I bet like the brook, there are so nice fish to be had here. The alne was also pastures new to him and with a chance of a small trout, a fish he’d not seen before as well let alone caught, it was a no brainer.

Our countryside streams and small rivers are not quick to yield their better fish that easily, and a season or two is required to at least get familiar with the water to ascertain what it can produce. It calls for a specialised form of fishing, and a very cautious approach to the water. By comparison with larger waters, the inherent shyness of the fish will be greatly magnified, and while the discerning angler may enjoy good sports with caution and concealment, the clumsy angler may find it an unrewarding pastime.

A disturbance in the confines of a small stream can finish the fishing for several hours along a length of two or three hundred yards. I've experienced that a few times myself, being a little heavy handed and lead footed. How one agitated fish can convey fear to another fish I don't know, I only know it does happen. Those that fish for chub know what I mean.

So one should start small stream fishing by exploring every foot of the available water, and no area should be disregarded and classed as 'fishless' until it has been thoroughly studied. There are definite holding points which, provided they are fished cautiously and wisely, will always produce fish, but catches can always be made in the most unlikely looking spots and it will take the angler a few trips, even seasons to find and memorise all the holding spots.

Enough of the David Carl Forbes preamble Mick, back to the fishing....

So two small light rods, one quiver one float. Lines lights and small hooks, as would be the bait for this session….

Now at one time I had perfect 20/20 vision, in-fact when having a cyst removed from ones eye around 5 years ago, when I had my eyes tested I was up there with some of the best eyesight the tester had ever seen with someone of my ageing years.

I'll be 46 this year though and despite weighing less than I did when I got married 10 years ago, unlike my waistline my eyesight isn't going down the same path. My left eye for proper close up stuff is a little more blurry than it used to be and to be honest tying a small hook was a little more difficult than I imagined.

Guru size 22 F1 eyed hooks are the smallest I'd got in my armoury and not having tied hooks that small recently having used hooks to nylon in the main, it was a pain in the proverbial's to be honest. So I need to seek some more suited to the task in hand.

Now with the river really low as expected the fishing was tough, plenty of minnows, in-fact they were on the pain in the backside but to occupy a 7 year old old, with a small attention span ideal.

Roach succumbed as usual, but no stickebacks or bullheads. Some of the minnows were of proper quiver bending size, so I might bring my scales next time, proper fatties.

Trout, trout, more trout...

We caught quite a few and one nearly gave us a proper doing over. I thought it was a chub at first the way it powered off but it was quite clear to see what it was when it came up stream.

Not a bad session but where were the species we were after ?

There is plenty to explore down here, with some water in it, I bet there are some nice fish to have. I'm sure there are decent Roach and Dace here, I'm sure of it. I might venture down to the deeper swims next time. More feature and areas where trout less likely and coarse fish prevalent.

On to the next one...

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Wrigglers and Wristlets

The fitbit secured loosely on ones wrist was telling me to reach the goal I’d set myself, I needed to get ones legs and feet moving. Luckily for me the only real opportunity to go fishing to seek the solitude I seek, had to be this evening otherwise I’d not get out till the weekend. So nothing to exciting, some maggots and some trotting at a swim I know contains a shoal of dace eager to get feeding on the grubs coming their way. 

I’d bought it to monitor my sleep, which frankly is pretty naff, it always has been, but it maps out the shuteye I have, or lack of it and gives me an indication how I could improve it and if there is a pattern emerging.

I chose the furthest carp park away from the location and hot footed it there for a couple of hours. The river despite the lack of rain, looked in good nick, and the levels certainly not as low as I thought it would be. The temperatures are dropping overnight and water felt cool not warm like it has done. 

Some rain on the way though, and boy do we need it, the grass is a dry as a teetotallers booze cupboard.

The water has a nice pace on it and a few maggots ever cast quickly had the fish feeding. Not the biggest Dace mind you but sometimes it’s not about the fish size but about being out in the countryside with a foxes fart the only disturbance from the detachment fishing can give. After an hour or so with quite a few fish caught some chublets moved in, again not the biggest fish but welcome all the same. 

I’ve said before, I don’t trot enough, because when I do, I love it as a technique especially when the larger fish nail the float and something worthy of a bend in the rod come along.

I need to do more of it….

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Firkins and Fussocks

Ones eyebrows were raised the other day as apparently across Europe, breweries are slowing or even stopping production because there isn’t enough carbon dioxide to go around, which you obviously need to produce some of the nations favorite tipple.

It looked as though the CO2 drought was over as three of the UK’s six suppliers went back into production – only for one of them, at Ince in Cheshire, to stop again after a fire caused a power cut. The problem has been caused by a perfect storm in the CO2 production sector. The gas is a by-product in ammonia and ethanol plants but summer is the quietest period in the calendar, so they tend to shut down for vital maintenance work.

Producers of ammonia, the critical element in fertilisers, are busiest in the winter, preparing to see farmers through the spring growing season. However this year, the summer shutdown coincided with a spike in demand from the food and, particularly, drinks industry. Meat packaging, used in the production of crumpets, to stun animals in abattoirs and dry ice for the supermarket delivery vans

Unfortunately, there is so little CO2 in the air we breathe (about 0.04%), that capturing it doesn’t make financial sense. It takes so much energy that the cost of a metric ton of C02 reclaimed from the air is almost £400 – double the cost of the same gas made other ways.

I hope they find a solution because talk about first world problems, as a pub frequenter and beer garden dweller, I need my beer fix and this heat wave is can only be enjoyed and appreciated fully with ones right are raised with a pint in hand.

Talking of beer luckily luckily I'm a real ale advocate and many of the pubs I frequent have local beer. Purity Brewery Company being one of them, quite a success story it is too, based in Great Alne just down the road from me their mission was simple: brew great beer without prejudice, with a conscience and with a consistency and an attention to detail, which is second to none.

Real ale you see is drawn from casks, usually using handpumps or sometimes direct by gravity, it is replaced by air – no other gas is applied to real ale. The shelf life of real ale, once on dispense, is limited to a few days. This is because of the ingress of air (specifically oxygen) into casks and the gradual loss of carbon dioxide from the beer.

Over time the oxygen makes the beer start to taste stale and vinegary because of oxidation, and the loss of carbon dioxide makes the beer taste flat. No Carling to be seen here. To be fair, just looking at the beers they’ve produced such as Pure Gold, UBU, Mad Goose, Bunny Hop, Longhorn and Saddle Black I don’t think there is a mediocre one among them.

Mad Goose probably my favourite tipple of the ones they do, especially with this hot weather we’re having. Purity do a 5 litre mini cask which is around 9 pints, and less than a couple of quid a pint hard which ain’t bad, the problem is, it disappears rather quickly such it’s suitability to ones palate.

Just the other evening I’d discovered DJ Susha on Soundcloud with repetitive beats from his decks in Israel that kept me glued to the garden except for a refill and to sort my tackle out.

Susha's mix from ShwayaFest 2017 gave me an hour to set-up the rods for the morning session down at the deep bit. I’d spotted a carp here you see not so long back, and a decent one at that, bronze in colour and it exited the water to reveal its size and location.

So some oily floaters to try and get some fish feeding and a tin loaf if found one to try and tempt. Sam wanted some casting practice so we'd have a lure rod as well to try and get something to bite.

It isn't brilliant conditions to be honest at the moment, with what seems like weeks and weeks without any rain everything just appears and seems lethargic,low oxygen levels and the overly humid and hot weather we are having, ain't conducive for good fishing. I had planned to take Sam to catch his first trout, but the levels that desperate on the Alne, it could end up drying up like the bits of the Teme have.

So please, can we have some rain  !!!!!

Despite a huge expanse of lily pads the fish were nowhere to be seen, I thought we'd at least spot a few among them, but hmmm after 7 or 8 swims without even a rise I could tell it wouldn't be our morning. Surface lures and a conventional shad was used, but again, not even a nibble or a hit. The weir is usually reliable for a bite or two but after an hour after Sam trying his best, there literally was nothing doing.

The weir was in the shade which was nice because as soon as we ventured out in to the full dun, it was beating down and dare I say it, unpleasant. Maybe next time I'd fish some bottom baits with some PVA freebies as there are definitely fish here to be had, I've seen them.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Uppers and Underboobs

Ibiza was a good as ever again this year, and as usual for my umpteenth trip we crammed in lots and lots in 3 nights and two days. Apart from the usual Mambo’s to watch the sunset, Ocean beach for an afternoon chill we managed a wide variety of music, Techno with Sven Väth and Solomun at a cocoon night at Pacha with it’s amazing sound system with low frequencies you can feel.

Groove Armada and Purple Disco Machine in the old Space venue with Glitterbox for a something a little less pace.

Then an unexpected and rather awesome BBC Radio 2 gig Children of the 80s night at the hard rock hotel in Playa de Bossa hosted by Gary Davies really did make the annual pilgrimage and expense worthwhile. Live performances from Tony Hadley, Carol Decker, Bucks Fizz and Bonnie Tyler as well as break-dancers and a trio of DJ’s mixing 80’s classics made us realise it ain’t just about repetitive beats this Island and people of all ages are up for a good time.

We managed Ibiza old town for a huge Paella, decent wine, and a chill out, You certainly cannot knock Ibiza, variety in abundance and something for everyone and there are family orientated resorts on the island such as St Eulalia, where you wouldn't even know the delights that Ibiza has to offer for the like-minded.

Now what isn’t for all is the fads that seems to come and go as quickly as they come in, for this season in Ibiza it for the follow the crowd youngsters seemed to be the underboob.

I thought WTF that's all about at first but it was clear it was a ‘thing’, but apparently after some extensive research celebs can’t get enough of upside-down cleavage, so forget boobs spilling from the top of your bra, it’s the opposite.

Where you do you look ? how does one lift ones arm to scratch the back of your head, as you’d be done for a public decency offence.

On seconds thoughts not sure why I’m moaning, but it was just one of the dilemmas I faced just to confirm, yeap God I’m getting old. Leave the youngsters just get on with it.

There are still a load of old duffers like me that visit the island every year, no need to hang ones dancing shoes up yet Mick, keep doing what you enjoy doing and forget the rest. Now talking about variety, as you know I like it in my fishing, and say, only fishing for Barbel for instance, really would get more bored rather quickly. Ok you’ve got me with the canal Zander quest, but as I’m not really a still water advocate myself, it’s sort of forced upon me.

Barbel though, really are one of those fish I love to fish for because of the powerful and unrelenting fight they give. I don’t fish for them that often though, hence why a PB of 11lb 11oz is entirely beatable giving the size of the fish that do frequent the Warwickshire Avon these days.

This session was back to an area where my PB came from, it’s not an area renowned for lots of fish unlike an area that was unavailable for the evening, but there is fish here that’s for sure and some nice Chub too and that was the reason why I was here, there are some nice Chevins to be had. Now with the river gin clear and very low, the fishing is tough here and the bigger fish go in to hiding.

They are there though and just need tempting by trying to get a bait under some cover where they are likely stationed up. Or try and persuade them to venture out and feed on a huge Smörgåsbord of food that they would be stupid to refuse.

Unlike many areas of the Avon this area has some pace to it, for a couple of geographical and feature  reasons and therefore the oxygen levels should be about the best I was going to get. To be fair it was similar conditions when I caught my PB and that fish went back fighting fit. As per the usual when caught give it a rest and get water moving over it's gills it's returned as good as when it was caught.

So a quick session this, so I’d fish for some small fish initially over the gravel bottom and then bait drop a combination of casters, maggot, hemp, broken boilies and small pellets an hour before dusk and then fish a bait over the top. Usually if there is a Chub feeding it’s just a matter of time before the tentative pulls and tugs develop in to a proper fight.

It was an odd session to be honest, lots of gonks were caught from one particular swim but after a rove around to try and find some fish after the bait droppers had gone down, not even a nibble.

The last hour was spent fishing in to dusk where I'd expect at least a chub to start giving the baits a nudge and pull, but zilch. If I stayed properly in to dark like many areas of the Avon in these conditions maybe it would have been a different story but I had a bed to go to.
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