Saturday, 22 September 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Prandicles and Piggishness

The combination of very fine tackle and tiny hooks is now widely used on waters with a healthy fish population, and also where the fishing pressure is not so great. The development of this tackle was simply to induce shy fish to accept a bait. Very sensitive forms of bite indicators were then needed to register these bites. The problem now is that many anglers are unable to recognise the difference between the bite from a shy suspicious fish, and the equally delicate but very deliberate bite from a totally unsuspicious fish. The problem is bite detection, not actually attracting bites.

The reaction of many anglers to very delicate bites is to fine down their tackle even further. On flogged, understocked waters, and in very cold conditions when the metabolic rate of the fish is sluggish, they are probably taking the right course of action. But in very many instances they are going to make the problem worse. I do not like making generalisations but I shall now put one forward which more often than not is true.

Of course there will be exceptions, and I have already mentioned two of them. The argument I put forward is that the finer the tackle, the smaller the hook and bait you use, the more delicate and difficult to detect will be the ensuing bite. Please note I have said delicate bite, not hesitant or shy, because there is a world of difference. A delicate bite can be every bit as deliberate as a bite which drags your rod off the rest. All this stems from a fact about fish behaviour, and I stress it is a fact not a theory.

All wild creatures have inbuilt survival in­stincts, without which they would quickly disappear from the face of the earth, without any help from man. One of the prime factors regarding the survival of a creature, is its ability to take advantage of a food supply. Left to their own devices the population of any species is dependent on the food supply. To ensure that only the strongest and healthiest specimens survive a shortage in the food avail­able, most wild creatures have evolved very strong competitive aggression over food.

This instinct is very strong and is retained even when there is an abundance of food, or in the case of some animals, when they have been domesticated for thousands of years.
To give you some idea of what I mean, I will give examples which you could notice in every day life. Sprinkle some breadcrumbs on the lawn together with a few larger pieces of bread, and watch the reaction of the garden birds. A number of things will happen. Squabbles will break out to establish a pecking order between species and individuals.

The im­portant fact, which I will shortly relate to fish­ing, is that all the tiny pieces of bread will be eaten on the spot, whilst any larger pieces will be dragged whey by an individual bird to be eaten out of reach of his competitors. The distance the larger bits of bread are dragged away from the feeding area is related to the physical strength of the species of bird, and the amount of competition for the food. To give another everyday example of this instinct, watch the reaction of your pet dog or cat at feeding times. Most dogs bolt their plate of meaty chunks so fast that they nearly choke. This is simply to get it down before it gets pinched, even though it is now a totally un­necessary reaction.

A large food item such as a juicy bone, will be taken away or dragged under a table to be eaten without disturbance. Cats, although more dainty eaters, will drag any large food items off their plate to some quiet corner to be eaten without interference. I have quoted these examples as something everyone can observe, even if they are not very interested in wildlife, and are not fortunate enough to fish waters where the reactions of fish can be observed. I must make it clear also that my comments on fish reaction to baits do not apply when the fishes' metabolic rate is reduced in very cold weather.

Tackle and methods devised by match anglers to catch fish in heavily fished, often badly stocked waters are now very often used in all types of waters. Nothing wrong with this, providing you do not continually get broken by fish you can't handle. This aggressive feeding instinct is very noticeable with fish, and can be used to great advantage by anglers. Fish picking up a tiny bait can swallow it on the spot without fear of other members of the shoal taking it away from them.

This is why very sensitive methods of bite detection have to be used when fishing with tiny baits and fine lines. Fish do not deliberately pull your float under or straighten your swing tip out. This is the result of the fish moving off with your bait. If you can encourage fish to react more vigorously when picking up your bait, then you get a much better indication on your tackle.

These delicate bites encountered when using fine tackle and small baits are often referred to as shy bites, when in fact they are nothing of the sort. Chub picking up, a legered single caster will not move far, so the quiver tip will only pull round slightly. The same fish picking up a lobworm will run with it, pulling the rod vigorously over. I have often watched the reaction of chub to various baits in clear water. Handfuls of casters will have the chub queuing up to intercept them as they drift past in the current. A large wad of bread creates a completely different reaction from the chub.

The first chub to reach the bread in the rush, grabs it and bolts away from the rest of the fish….

To see if this reaction resulted from the quantity of bait rather than the size of it I have tried different experiments. Single casters flicked at the chub were intercepted gently with no mass reaction from the shoal. A bucketful! of bread was greeted by a near riot as chub swarmed about with the stuff gushing out of their mouths.

I fish a small reservoir which holds large numbers of good roach, perch and crucians. This lake is relatively unfished for some of the year, yet by using fine sensitive tackle I can create the situation where fish give the very slight bites many people class as shy bites. On windless days I can shot a sensitive antenna. float so that only the slightest bit of the tip protrudes above the surface. By setting the depth so that my float only just trips the bottom or is just clear I have an extremely sensitive set up. A single caster or maggot on a tiny hook produces what I call surface tension bites when the fish pick up the bait. The bites are so delicate that the float hardly moves.

Perch are not noted as delicate feeders, yet perch accepting a bait on this rig hardly register a bite on the float. Drop a big lobworm to these fish on much heavier tackle, and the same fish will grab the bait before rushing across the lake.

Carp anglers have come across this situation when using particle baits. Carp will occasionally pick up a grain of sweetcorn and sever the line with their pharyngeal teeth before a bite can be registered. Carp taking a large paste bait usually bolt off across the lake, producing the well-known carp runs.
Any angler encountering delicate bites should assess whether they are produced by shy fish or are from confident fish picking up a small bait.

More often the cause is the latter, and the best course of action is to just increase the size of bait. This will produce a much more vigorous bite. Reducing the size of your hook or bait will not encourage the better bites and will only reduce your chances of landing a big fish. Give it a bit of thought, and although it will not induce more bites it will make it much easier to detect those you do get. I use large baits for chub and barbel simply to avoid small fish, but the bites I get on big baits are terrific. You don't have to fish outsize baits to induce a better bite however; just try two or three maggots instead of one.

For this short morning session it was out with the smelt and roach deads, and also a lure rod from time time and little roving around. The session was tough really tough and oddly the only fish I picked up on a deadbait was a Chub. Usually the deadbaits at least produce a run up at the deep bit, but zilch today per from possible crayfish nibbles. Even the lure which picks up at least a jack or two, didn't even have a nudge or a nibble today.

Hmmm out with the spam again next I think, some big gobstoppers too, I'm sure there is some method in my madness....

Friday, 21 September 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Petricores and Ponasks

The walk down to the lair of giant Chub I was greeted with that pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.

There is a word for it to apparently, that being ‘petrichor’

Basically, the scent of rain on dry ground. The word was coined in the 1960s by mineralogists studying the chemical composition of that scent. Petr- is the Greek root for stone, and ichor was the word for the blood-like substance in the veins of the Greek gods. So petrichor would be the divine essence of stone.

Enough of the preamble though, just breathe it all in !!!

For me though it signals the return to fish actually biting and rivers likely to rise above and beyond a trickle. You see the river Alne I really wanted to get stuck in to wouldn’t even feature a rubber duck race at the minute, desperately need of some water, like many of the local rivers. I’m impatient and disgruntled I know, but I’m sure there are some specimens to be had in this new river I’m fishing for this season. It looks very roach’y to me but conditions need to be right for the Roach to show themselves.

A little like following a doddering Honda Jazz driver insistent on taking up the whole road and straying over the white line and whom brakes as someone dares to come the other way, patience is a virtue.

I’m sure there will be opportunities to overtake soon, just bite ones tongue a little harder.

You’ll be bankside soon enough I’m sure Mick. The problem is time waits for no man and there are swims I’m sure hold decent fish, Right Now !!!

So what's will determine good conditions then for a dabble for the Alne Roach, well a dull day, or at least not a clear blue skied one. Anything above a moderate wind is bad, unless it's warm westerly in which case it doesn't matter too much if it's strong, or even gale force.

Afternoon temperatures of 6 degrees or above. Less than 4 degrees hesitate about going. Heavy rain in the proceeding days not an issue, as the extra rain could just have served to colour up what is usually gin clear water. 

Hmmm, not that soon then !!!!

To get my mind off it, I was hoping the recent rain we had would have topped up the levels a little, down this little section of the Avon and spur the fish to feed. I was hoping that I was in their comfort zone as well because this was a rare midday session, having only really fished it morning and evening. My kids have their snack times, and I was sure these fish would be happy that the biscuit time was waving in their faces.

Let’s be honest here, Chub when they feed have the blinkers on and are quite easily caught once they are feeding but it’s that initial confidence boost the chub need to get over their worry’s and anxiety. I’ve seen them happily stay deep with food going over their head, but once one queues up at the buffet table, a few more usually follow.

5lb on the nose has been my best up till now and having seen and lost a bigger fish I need to keep trying for something that I know would be a cracking Warwickshire Fish. A 5lber ain’t a bad’un because it took me long enough to get that monkey off my back, but there are bigger fish here still, I know that for a fact. 

So tactics, well you’ve seen it before, a 11ft rod, centrepin and a large hook, you cannot get much simpler than that.

For this session though a change, an addition to the bread, some cubes of spam. You see a couple of swims are ideal for rolling some meat under some cover and along the clear gravely bottom. Oddly I've not seen Barbel here since the start of the new season, but they are good at hiding themselves, and probably feet from you in places. A moving bait sparks some interest though, a little like a predator with a lure, a chubster reaching for their outside of a kebab shop.

This bit of river rises quite quick with a bit of rain and sure enough when I got bankside it was flowing nicely and with a decent colour. 6 or 7 swims fished and oddly it was the first swim I fished that I returned to that produced the fish.

Floating bread did the trick after it became confident in picking up the bait. Not a huge fish for this stretch as it went 3lb and 7oz's but it gave a decent scrap in the current. Despite the meat rolling in some decent swims it didn't produce any fish and also the floating bread was only taken off the top in one swim. Hmmm, surprised as the conditions looked ideal albeit the wind was quite strong. Ok, only 2 and a bit hours, I'm in two minds what to fish for tomorrow morning Barbel or Zander, I'll have to mull it over with a beer me thinks.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Pasties and Panchymagogues

You’d have thought the top bods in the NHS should be worrying about the cancer waiting times and the huge amount of cash they are haemorrhaging, but no, the latest load of public purse money wasting come from Jill Venables, managing director of Cornwall Food and head of facilities and contracts at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust. (the worlds largest business card one would think)

Jill you see, wants to change the 500 year old protected recipe which was the all-in-one meal for Cornish tin miner with something apparently healthier.

So the beef, potato and swede, surrounded by a thick layer of pastry crimped at the edges, could potentially be encrusted in filo pastry, yes filo pastry. 

Obviously not a baker then, because the ingredients go in raw and are cooked for an hour or so, that equals, one burnt pasty.

I dread to think the countless hours spent in meetings discussing that one !!!!

It was the advent of Cornish mining in the 19th century that really brought the pasty into its own and made it an important part of the life of so many Cornish families. 

Pasties were taken down the mines by the adults and children who worked there; the shape and size made them ideal for carrying, and they became the staple for the daily ‘crib’ or ‘croust’, Cornish dialect for a bite to eat, usually taken mid-morning.

It is thought that the miners gave the pasty its distinctive D shape too, the crust became a handle, which was discarded to prevent contaminating the food with grubby, possibly arsenic-ridden hands. 

Others will dispute this, arguing that miners ate their pasties wrapped in muslin or paper bags so that they could enjoy every last bit, as we do today.

They’d have been laughed at if they turned up with a thin filo pastry and a likely soggy bottom !!!!

One of the key elements of the protected recipe is of course the fresh, natural ingredients that make up the filling which surely is far healthier surely than other additive-laden heavily processed foods that is rife in the hospital wards. A genuine Cornish pasty is also baked slowly to produce the succulent, distinctive flavour that has become so well loved it’s highly unlikely that an alternative pastry would produce such a satisfactory result.

The last thing I’d worry about whilst lying in a hospital bed or corridor on deaths door or feeling rubbish would be the food that would be entering my gob. If I want a proper Cornish pasty to make me feel better, leave that decision up to me thank you very much.

Ever heard of the term ‘Low-hanging fruit’ Jill ? clearly not !!!!

The obesity crisis ain’t helping I’m sure, so ditch those onsite junk food outlets you have on site by all means for starters, and don’t penalise me and other because of the gluttonous and don’t try and change history. I expect the pork pie to be hit next to appease the overstaying masses in Walsgrave hospital in Coventry.

Talking of food it's back to the hot brekky and lunches, there is that lovely nip in the air that spells my senses need a little more than a cold salad. Porridge topped with fruit, spicy dals with roti's. It's the start of the fishing season I love, this an beyond, well in to winter, is more me, especially when levels will start to settle and waters become less clear.

So this session I need a little peace, a little solitude, and I could think of no other stretch on the Warwickshire Avon I fish that would give me that. I can fish in to dark and beyond If need be and that was the plan for this session. With the rods still in the car from the last session and the fact I’d run out of deadbaits it was out with the boilie with paste set-up I’d used last time.

There are some good chub here to be had, but not only that, Barbel have been caught here in the past so I was hoping to tempt one come dusk. I usually only fish here after work come winter time as it gives me a fishing option because of the rules being a little less restrictive here on the most part.

I'd rocked up a half an hour before dusk and settled down in one swim and got the rods out. The boilie and paste wrap near some cover which sadly featured a dead sheep, the other rod in a crease just off the main flow. I bought some of this Hinder River Rami paste sometime ago and it is so oily and smells so strong that should surely bring in a fish for a butchers.

The river seemed out of sorts though, lifeless in-fact. I'd never really fished this stretch this time of year though, usually it's in winter where it gives me an option for fishing in to dark for the good Chub that reside here. The flow, just a trickle, the distance to the staging massive.

An initial pluck and small pull after 10 minutes I was hopeful, apart from the paste the small PVA bag of pellets are also quite pungent as well but sadly that didn't bring the fish in to feed. Well past dusk now with the glowsticks about all I could see I had some interest. Despite staying a little longer than I anticipated no fish were forthcoming so it was back in the car with the tail between my legs. I'm sure with a bit more water on it would be a different story, I'll be back.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Flections and Flosculations

Few animals lend themselves more readily to anthropomorphism than the hedgehog, and so it is hardly surprising that Mrs Tiggy-Winkles should long have been a staple of children’s stories.

Hedgehogs, however, do not merely pander to our sentimentality. Perhaps more than any other animal, they enable us to get up close to the wild. They can be met in suburbs, in gardens, in parks. There is no need to be a seasoned naturalist to glimpse them snuffling busily after beetles, worms and slugs. Hedgehogs live alongside us, but not as livestock, not as pets. They are our surest, our most familiar gateway to a fascination with the natural world.

The view from Brockweir bridge....
Now a recent’ish study conducted to look in to hedgehog populations showed that entire swaths of the countryside have become hedgehog-free. Of 261 sites surveyed, traces of hedgehogs were found in a mere 20%. Shockingly, none was found in the south-west. An animal once ubiquitous in our fields and lanes is facing extinction.

It is no coincidence that the decline in their numbers should have begun in the 1950s, when hedgerows began to be grubbed up, fields soused in pesticides, and agriculture expanded on an industrial scale. Nor is it any coincidence that the rate of decline should have accelerated since the 1970s, as the road network was expanded, and the volume of traffic increased.

Hedgehogs cannot survive without the large numbers of invertebrates that are sustained by a healthy countryside. Nor can their populations flourish if their habitats are sliced and diced by ever more gashes of tarmac. 

Stranded on what in effect are islands, surrounded by hungry and predatory badgers, and poisoned by insecticides, it is little wonder that hedgehogs face a struggle to survive. 

Badgers are certainly on the increase, one even decided that it liked the front of my car a few  years ago, and they’ve had the blame for a liking of little baby hogs to supplement their diet. Oddly of late though, I’ve seen more hedgehogs out and about on my travels than badgers, I suppose it helps that I’m often out of the house, at dawn and dusk. 

There seems to be more slugs about this year, whether or not that has got to do with anything I’m not sure. The thing is, us anglers get to see wildlife that others don’t, even Sam saw his first hedgehog the other day, which again is encouraging, as he could put a face to a name, and only ever seen pictures of them in books.

Now talking of wildlife we attended the Brockwier annual soapbox again the weekend just gone and a wildlife trust volunteer I got talking to hadn’t seen an Otter in the wild in the UK, which I found bizarre, considering the amount I see these days.

He was amazed I’d seen them in the daylight hours, errrrr because they are so used to humans now, again us anglers are in a prime position to see things others wouldn’t, the nations waterways have always been a hotbed of activity, were are lucky as anglers I tell thee.

Anyway back to the session, I’d earmarked this swim for a while now, situated on a bend it was also a holding pool as such as upstream it was shallow and thick with streamer weed, downstream, sluggish and much deeper.

Close in it is quite deep with a nice glide, the far bank, like a mill pond just beyond the crease. The plan was, because as you know I always have them, was upstream to fish a boilie with a paste wrap and a PVA bag of freebies, and downstream, just off the main flow fish a lump of spam again.

The rather large overhanging tree had been trimmed back by some hapless hackers but there was still enough of it left to provide some cover for any large fish that decided to reside there. Now this would be another short after work session to try and winkle out a Barbel as dusk, because they are like a switch down here, cutlery banging on the table like my eldest son Ben, they are in a routine.

That’s the good thing about fishing for them, forgot the spending countless hours behind motionless rods, fish at the right time, you can save yourself a load of thumb twiddling time. For those that have diary makers like me it’s ideal as you can cram more sessions in without fear of upsetting the heirs and assigns.

Within half an hour or so the boilie rod received some attention and it didn't let up for the whole session. Plucks, bangs and pull which were obviously inquisitive chub, however a 6" pull of the rod tip continued and I received my first proper bite.

At first I thought it was a chublet but on closer inspection it was an ickle Barbel. I'd had one a little bigger than this when fishing the fast shallower water when float fishing a chunk of meat, sadly it dropped off before I could net it but certainly encouraging considering a small fish down here is a 5lber.

Now I set my hairs up long like the pubes in urinals at work belonging to those far flung, so headed in to dusk the bite response was ridiculous. So much so I was worried about the meat bait still being attached so I ditched it for another boilie with paste. With 20 minutes left a determined Chub eventually snared itself and no more bites materialised.

I'm sure if I scaled down the gear, put the bait tight to the hook I'd have landed quite a few Chub, but I hate using Barbel gear for Chub, I'd rather not catch them and if I do, on my terms. So on to the next session, later on in fact, this time and hour in to dark hopefully at a section on the Avon that I can so that without breaking the rules.

With a little rain on the way I'm hoping that there might be a little pace in the water as I fancy trying some rolling meat as some of the swims are ideal for it. A moving bait is often need for success rather than failure and having using the technique before a few times, it's well worth a try me thinks. 

Friday, 14 September 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Koftas and Kainotophobias

In years gone by the preventative hangover cure for a night on the sauce used to be a visit to the local basic hygiene avoider for a kebab of epic proportions. The size of a small child it cured every hangover ever, even future ones and gave me the athletic physique I maintain to this day.

So a chilli naan bread, in which was crammed with shish kebab meat, 1 skewer of chicken and one of lamb,then a heavily spiced lamb kofta and for good measure layers of unidentifiable doner meat in draft excluding quantities. Then over which went pickled red cabbage, raw white cabbage, sliced tomato with raw carrot and lettuce thrown in.

The sauce well, copious amounts of their secret homemade chilli sauce, which to be honest I’d not had better since, a mere smattering of mint sauce complimented the hot sauce and spicy meat and then, when folded completed the life time of memories, the morning stools of brontosaurus proportions.

To be honest, I’m sure as someone with cast iron guts, the above contributed to them almost exclusively, it must be. 

As I cannot remember when the last time I’ve had food poisoning or a dodgy tummy, I’m sure one’s digestive system must have reveled in the weekly overload, like a body builder does lifting iron, a jogger doing the miles.

Heck, ones gastrointestinal tract so resilient it's nearly getting to that stage that I could even book a cheapo holiday to Egypt if needs dictate….

Even 2 plastic bags were required not just the one for transporting the lunker, you see, anything smaller or anything that didn’t compare just wouldn’t do.

A bag of chips and a battered sausage wouldn’t cut it, a KFC bargain bucket ridiculously expensive, a Pizza PPppfffffffftttttttt !!!!! too sloppy, too hit and miss.

It, for me anyway, was the perfect end to the night, well unless the lucky lady, whenever there was one, put her hand out with a side plate, there was a compromise to be had somewhere, I’ve always been one to share.

Now flash a huge piece of meat in front of a Barbel that’s used to pellets, boilies and particles is enough at least for a double take. Even in clear summer conditions it's worth putting out a huge lump of meat because they find it difficult to turn down. I’ve used big baits for big Barbel in the past having had to fish huge hard pellets meant for catfish and long hairs to avoid the Chub that had a habit of causing swim carnage on the short sessions I fish. A Poka-Yoke rig was devised with some success however eventually the Chub would eventually hang themselves such the persistence.

For this short in to dusk session the swim would easy accommodate two rods, so it was a boilie and a paste wrap on one rod with a PVA bag of freebies, and the other, a quarter of a tin of Spam.

There are Barbel here in numbers usually, but with limited time I’d rather try and catch a bigger fish than a splasher and I was hoping the gobstopper would be a bit more selective.

The beauty of the Poka-Yoke rig was that the Chub couldn’t pull the bait from the hair which is a little easier to do with a soft bit of meat, hence the boilie bait on the other rod. When the light goes I hate messing with rigs, less messing the better, so sit back, ignore the knocks and bangs and wait for the rod to go properly over.

So the session, well I wasn’t expecting much as the early morning journey in to work a bong sounded on the car and it was a low temperature warning, yeap 4 degrees !!!!,so a big drop in temperature could well have put the fish off, particularly the Barbel that sulk for a while before they get used to it.

It usually takes me 10 minutes to pull in to the clubs car park, but an issue on the local roads and a short cut down the back roads was scuppered by some gas works that would take 3 months to sort, so I had to take a big detour, but eventually I was swimward. I had an hour before official dusk and had a walk along the bank to pick a swim. The swim I chose had a lovely channel to my left and one to my right, both boarded with streamer weed. There was a reasonable depth too, especially the right swim.

So both baits went out and it was settle down time. Half an hour in with the chunk of meat on the left rod, a few tentative pulls eventually turned in to pull that continued towards the water, yeap a Barbel had taken the spam. I don't fish for Barbel that often and not sure why not because this fish was giving me a bit of a run around. I thought it was stuck solid in some streamer weed at one point but luckily it came free.

A powerful run indeed and I've forgotten just how well they pull. Eventually landed it was a lovely mint condition fish. Despite the fight it gave it didn't take long to recover in the landing net either, it was clearly ready to go quite quick which was encouraging. With the fish put back, I recast both rods with another PVA bag attached to the boilie rod.

So 15 minutes past official dusk it was time to go, oddly no real knocks or bangs on the boilie rod for the whole session, but just goes to show, right time, right place with a bait you've confidence in, is all you need to catch a Barbel. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Glassbacks and Glory Holes

Seventy-five years ago, in April 1943, the research chemist Albert Hofmann did something distinctly out of scientific character. Impelled by what he later called a “peculiar presentiment”, he resolved to take a second look at the 25th in a series of molecules derived from the ergot fungus, a drug he had discovered some years earlier and dismissed as of no scientific interest.

As he synthesised it for the second time, it made contact with his skin, giving rise to an unprecedented experience: a “stream of fantastic pictures and extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colours”.

Five days later, on 19 April, he decided to test the chemical on himself under controlled conditions, thus becoming the first person in history knowingly to embark on an acid trip.

Now talking of temporary altered state of consciousness which after all an acid trip is, there is no need for drugs, because after some serious amount of Tryptophan ingested because of the byproduct of consuming large amounts of heart attack inducing stilton cheese, I was having another one of those lucid dreams I experience from time to time. This dream featured a Barbel of gargantuan proportions which was hiding in a out of sight hole only reachable via a tube slide portal which ultimately dictated this fishing session.

You see after suffering a bad back of late due to my ridiculous notion that I could still do the things I used to do when I was a lot younger, port and cheese is one of those comfort foods that gets one mind off it. Not only that but on holiday I stupidly wore flipflops when barbecuing and some embers from the coals spat out and blistered a couple of toes on my right food, as I type this the wound is still open and not yet dried out as it keeps on being rubbed by my shoe. So another annoyance and slight hindrance to go with my bad back. 

As a roving angler I needed to get my back in-particular sorted pretty quick and having suffered sciatica quite bad for a good 6 mths, I needed to get things moving pretty sharpish. Exercise and keeping on the move is the key I found.

So before I’d venture to an area I can fish in to dark, this was double dipping session down an area I’ve grown to love, not only was I after Chevin, I’d also try for a Barbel at last knockings.  

Now the infamous Albuttbarbelbutt was spotted down here by someone likeminded and despite him trying to catch it over a few sessions he went home with this tail between his legs. Although Barbel are relatively easy to catch the big’uns don’t reach that size for a reason, they are generally a little wiser than the plebeians. 

I’ve certainly found in my experience dusk and an hour beyond is the best time for big barbel. I don’t fish for them that often, but when I do, my time must count.

I’d rather not sit behind motionless rods, but rock up for a session when times and conditions bites should in theory be more forthcoming. 

As you know by reading this blog of mine that I plan sessions meticulously usually. So the plan, bait 3 swims with hemp, dead maggots, a few pellets and broken boilies via a dropper, leave it to rest for a while then eventually return and drop in a hook bait for 20 minutes before moving on to the next swim.

The first swim has a large undercut with a nice flow, the second, a wide sweeping bend over gravel, and the third, a deep swim with a hole opposite some stupidly thick cover. The third swim I’d add a little more bait as I’d fish that last before heading home at dusk.

Whilst the swims were resting it was out with the lure rod rigged with a Duo Realis Shinmushi to fish some of the swims that have been producing some nice Chub of late. The problem is you see maybe they’ve worked me out, as they are certainly more difficult to catch on floating bread over the last couple of sessions.

“Oh look it’s him again, ignore the bread for a while chaps”

The floating lure has produced some nice fish in the past and offers something a little different to fish that have become cagey, after not only being caught by swallowing a load of dough, but by their friends telling them to stay off the mighty white before the all clear is given. Fishing is all about confidence and the bread isn’t quite doing it as the minute, so some thinking outside the box a little can get captures back on track.

The beauty of the floating lure I’ve found is that unlike the bread in which the majority of the times you need to feed some freebies to get them feeding confidently, with the lure just one or two drifts down gets the inquisitive Chub coming not for a nudging session but a nailing. They usually give it to the lure properly like Chub evidently do when they feed confidently, they are proper Jekyll and Hyde species remember.

The bi-polar sufferer of the cyprinidaes….

Barbel on the other hand when they get their heads down feeding nothing is going to get them off snaffling the hemp. That’s when they are easy to catch, present a bait over the top of the Smörgåsbord invariably you’d get a take pretty quick. So with the buffet down I’d stealthily drop a ASP Wafter on a long hooklink to try and induce a take from at least one of the three of the baited swims.

The problem with this area is that I’ve not seen hide nor hair of a Barbus since I’ve been fishing it in the new season. Usually I’d spot one or two in the shallows, but none so far which is worrying. I’m sure they are still here, but there are so many nooks and crannies here, that they might well be tucked up out the way without you knowing despite being feet from them. Also the lack of sightings could well mean the likelihood of a lunking lurker.

As per usual I had the stretch to myself, so the feed went in via the dropper in the three swims to target then I fished a few swims with the lure rod. It was very quite indeed with no interest in the lure at all, well until a return back up the stretch to start fishing the baited swims I saw a fish top in a swim shaded by a big willow.

After a few drifts and retrieves down of the lure eventually a Chub came up for an inquiry. This happened a few times till it got bored and the swim went quite. They don't mess around Chevin if they really want something, as the lure has enough hooks on it to hold if it did. Hmmmm, not good.

So the lure rod went away and it was back to the baited swims, a small Chublet took the wafter hookbait quite quickly in the first swim which then went dead. Not even a knock in the second swim and the third, despite fishing in to dusk and half an hour after, no proper bites were forthcoming. So a disappointing session to be honest. The river is still horrendously low but the next session in a couple of days I might venture to a stretch where I know Barbel usually are in residence.

The water temperature is ideal so they should be biting, but as I suspect well in to dark is probably the best chance of a big'un so I might next week venture over to an area I can do just that.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Warwickshire Avon - Otters and Orgiophants

Mick it's 2018, get with the program, there are ‘model’s' earning tons of money that have their backsides in different postcodes, with generation Z’ers that would sell a kidney to look like them. YouTube millionaires making videos of themselves having Nerf gun wars and other such rubbish, full time Instagram users, you what ?, you’re not even on Facebook FFS. It’s the sign of the times. Little 7 year old Sam for example when we touch downed at Birmingham airport after the recent holiday said, “Yeay !!!, we’ll get decent Wifi now”.

Then again I’m a blogger, I’ve my toe in the water I suppose.

One thing I’m not about to compromise and be influenced by though is food, good food on one’s table has been a requirement of mine for some time now. You only have to look at the rubbish the supermarkets put out for those that would rather go down the ‘ping’ route and have someone ‘prepare’ the food for you. Ok to be fair some supermarkets are better than others, but on the whole the market appears to be pretty mediocre.

The problem for me is why would they add sugar to almost everything they stock the shelves with, the nation’s sweet tooth? I’m not convinced, they certainly didn’t ask me.

Obscene amounts of saturated fats, ridiculous amounts of salt and additives and preservatives you have trouble trying to pronounce let alone try to spell. I like cooking though and that might well be the reason why I’d rather make my own than buy a ready meal knowing that I’d only be disappointed.

Zander however they really don’t give two hoots, I did think reading about their feeding habits and rituals before fishing for them that I’d need a fresh supply of bait for each session, but that just hasn’t been the case. I’ve used Roach defrosted and frozen multiple times with that distinctive ‘past their best’ smell about them and smelt which has been a revelation for my canal Zander fishing captures.

To be honest, they would eat anything based on my experience….

Same with resistance, Zander hate it apparently, and yet I’ve never found it an issue. Zander are similar to perch in many ways and are perhaps even more prone to their fellow shoal-mates pinching their prey. If you have ever watched seagulls picking up dead fish from the water surface you will realise why those gulls fly away so quickly. A Zander with its prey caught by the tail must get away quickly to swallow its prey, much the same as the gull.

Zander I’ve found can give storming runs when using a livebait. They may put a greater distance between themselves and their fellows when dealing with a live fish simply because it takes time to swallow. Dropped runs are also a feature of zander fishing. Resistance caused by a lead or a float can be a problem, but in my experience 90 per cent of dropped zander runs are due the fish being really small.

One reason for using for not using large baits for zander fishing is that they tend to be over ambitious when it comes to picking up baits which are on the big side. While it is true that zander can eat fairly large prey fish, when they are attached to hooks, the longer it takes for them to get the bait into their mouth, the greater the chance of a dropped run.

For this session I was up at the deep bit, I was in two minds what to fish for, but with the bait fridge needing to be defrosted I decided to use up the smelt that had seen better days. I’d also have a lure rod that I’d use from time to time. 

The first port of call was the weir, it looked well down, but then to be honest we haven’t had much rain have we. After having the deadbaits out for 20 minutes a load of bubbles came up close in to my right and moved from right to left. I’d seen a Pike do something like this down at the River Severn so I reeled in the left-hand rod so it was in the vicinity of the bubbles to try and get a take. 

Within seconds a head popped out the water and looked straight at me, yeap an Otter, and a big’un too, it didn’t hang around long before popping its head back under. I’d seen Otters before down here and also some tell-tale signs that they were here and yeap, they are around. I decided to move up to the deepest area I found on the deeper and put the smelt back out.

Within half an hour after the baits being out and distracted and fascinated by a slug orgy, the left hand bobbin starts to jump and a fish is showing interest. I picked up the rod, took the bail arm off and allowed the fish to take some line. 

When I struck in to the fish I thought, this is defiantly a Zander and a good one at that, it felt a decent fish and it was taking line from the relatively tight clutch. When it surfaced though it was much smaller than I thought it would be, not disappointed because it’s a Zander, a species I’ve grown to love but I expecting something bigger, It went 4lb 13oz on the scales.

I also managed a few small jack pike on the lure but the river despite the fish caught looked lifeless without any fish topping and the flow was well down. I went back to the weir for a while without any interest and dropped in to an area of dead water I’d caught Zander before which appeared about a metre down, zilch.

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