Friday, 10 August 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Bolt-ons and Bamsticks

We'd stumbled upon the Red Lion in Cranford more or less a year ago to the day, we had some lovely steaks there and vowed to return. Very good quality beef and the staff were very friendly indeed and the ales were kept proper which doesn't appear to the norm these days, anyway we popped back last Sunday and the food was great quality and good value yet again.

I had a starter which was the size of a main in rural Warwickshire of mussels in a creamy chorizo sauce and then a dressed crab with warm sun-dried tomato bread and a samphire salad. The wasps were becoming a pain if I'm honest but overall another enjoyable experience, sometimes in life the most simplest of food is one of life's pleasures.

I polished off the food pretty quick but the quantity was such I didn't eat later on, a proper swelly belly. Now the rotund and greedy Chevin down this neck of the woods haven't the will power I showed last week such their gluttonous personalities, however they can disappear quicker than Katie Price’s £42,000,000 that she apparently once had. Like her shop bought assets, there has been some overly large lumps here over the years, however there was a problem.

The winter just gone you see, big chub captures so baron I was wondering whether that was it, the area that they once loved to reside, was no more and one of my favourite places to fish, the stretch proper kaput !!!! . Chublets caught with red raw chunks out of them, Otters about and many many cormorants spotted, even the barbel were suspicious in their absence I thought, damn, that was it.

Caught on a freelined slug !!!!

BUT But but….!!!!

Of late in the baking heat we are having, some fighting fit big’uns were back and a 5lber was eventually caught to ditch that monkey that was firmly clinging on to ones back. That fell and others to floating bread tactics and over a few sessions, using either bread or a floating insect lure a few half decent fish were banked. A decent dumping of rain had the river rise a foot or so and that I was hoping would spur them on even further to feed because of the increased oxygen levels despite. That didn’t happen though and the fish caught, ok were nice but were not the statue to make any dents on my new PB.

I’m sure they started to work me out you see, and the confidence they once took the bread started to wavier and the number of fish caught per session was starting to reduce.

Even after feeding for 15 minutes or so knowing that the Chub were in hiding they rarely ventured out from their cover, if they did venture out they ignored it. There was a good high vantage point downstream where they couldn’t see me but I could see them, and after following the bread down I could see their silhouettes hugging bottom and rarely coming up from it, if they did, they went back as soon as they came up….

….they were just not interested.

Oddly a method that did eventually work was to rest the swim post feeding and leave it a good while whilst fishing another swim, and then putting out a larger than the norm, allowing it to slowly meander down the swim not quite in the strongest of flow, so that the highly visible food canopy drew their attention that the smaller morsel would.

Now a cheapo Ebay purchase made last week turned up a couple of days ago ‘The complete specimen hunter’ by Tony Miles. It's been a good read up till now, and one of the chub rigs he detailed caught me eye, it was the sub-surface drifting flake rig which made a whole load of sense and wondered why I’d not thought of it myself.

In much the same was with natural bait fishing, once a fish or two had been taken from a swim on floating crust, the rest of the shoal would become very agitated. That is when the start coming short of the crust or swirling to knock bits off, which I’ve seen happen, as this enables them to eat the bits at their leisure.

A tackle modification he suggested was to fish a combination of crust and flake so that a small piece of flake is drifting down an inch or two under the surface, below a normal crust offering and about the size of a 10 pence piece.

A double hook was fiddly and probably not ideal so he suggested the crust held in place by a tie of grass and the hook below it a piece of squeezed flake, but it was worth a try when as I’ve found they have been actively cautious and maybe even frightened of a floating crust offering. 

So this session I’d give it a go, the double-bait ploy may well have a limited life as the crust I’ve found does but before switching to a slow sinking bait or even a static bait to continue catching this was defiantly worth a go.

So anyway the session, how did it go ?

Well the first swim after feeding some freebies every now and then for a good while and watching the swim pretty active I put on the bait, initially a crust at first but after twice having to retrieve the hook after a chub came up to feed the swim went dead. I decided to give the sub surface rig a go but after a couple of trots through without any interest I decided to move to the next swim.

This time no freebies and a big chunk of crust, this swim is small and confined you see so after about 5 or 6 seconds you cannot even see your bait. A Chub came up straight away to have a look but I'm sure he saw me and I saw it and again the swim went dead.

There were a few slugs around so after freelining one under a raft eventually I had a couple of pulls and a fish was on, it gave a good scrap as well but not the biggest of fish. I didn't bother weighing or photographing it but looked around a scraper 3lb'er. So just goes to show thinking outside the box a little and the use of natural baits can buy a bite.

The next swim a familiar face was in one of the two swims and he had some plucks and pulls on bottom baits but hadn't banked any chub yet. The swim I ended up in is my favorite and after sheltering from the rain which came out of nowhere I was back up and running. After feeding some bread for 15 minutes or so there were Chub coming up to feed at the tail end of the swim, the problem here is that there are a couple of overhanging trees and no matter how careful you are when the crust ends up in the area where the fish are, the line gets caught.

After a couple of snag ups eventually I hooked up to a fish, this quickly carted to my right was was trying to get in to some marginal reeds but moving away from my hiding spots in the open and giving it some decent side strain I managed to get control of the fish and steered it away from potential freedom. In the clear water it looked a decent fish as well and after landing it successfully I thought judging by it's girth I had another five.

On unhooking though, it didn't have the length unlike the norm for Warwickshire Avon fish, still it went 4lb 9oz's on the scales and looked an impressive specimen. If it's still around in the winter, with a proper full belly, that will be a certain 5lb'er and maybe if it's got its head down to feed properly maybe even a 6.

Encouraging signs once again and I love catching Chub in the summer, the colours with their dark backs and bronzed flanks are fantastic ....


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