Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Dishclouts and Dreamholes

Some of the largest darkest shadows I’ve witnessed first-hand exist in these couple or three swims. One fish in-particular was massive, it only came out of the cover of the ‘hole; swim for a split second but such the shock of seeing a Chub of this statue, such a gargantuan frame, it activated ones hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis which resulted in not only an increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure, but ones face turned from my usual bright and agreeable complexion to that of a dirty tea towel, pale and frightening.

I was like a acne riddled, hormone loaded 14 year old spotting the unbuttoned blouse of the pretty supply teacher for the first time….

….and because of that split second where this huge Chub revealed its location, it has been on my radar ever since.

However as we know the Chub can be the most wary of fish. A favourable environment is all-important to the chub and if there is any alteration in that environment he feels comfortable within it will often move on to another more favourable swim. You see unless absolutely necessary Chub are not great wanderers and will often stay in the same swim for a long time. With plenty of rain over the weekend I wanted to try and winkle one of them out before potentially they go off on the wander to somewhere more pertinent.

In their infancy these Chevin are gregarious and move in large shoals composed of fish of similar size and age, but as they mature the shoals contain an increasing number of chub of different sizes. This I suppose maybe due to some extent to uneven growth rates, but also to the infiltration of chub of different age groups. Big Chub are not solitary as it if often supposed but frequently live in company with many other and smaller fish of their own species.

When feeding chub patrol certain familiar routes in the swim and, when sated, retire to their hiding-places, often remaining for long periods. The number of feeding-sessions is variable and closely related to the temperature of the water and the availability of the different food organisms. Chub can abstain from eating for long periods-which partly explains why they are often so difficult to tempt-and unlike barbel, gudgeon and loach are not typical bottom feeders, though much of their food is I suppose taken off the bottom.

Sound is conveyed more rapidly through water than through the air and water at 20 °C will carry more sound four times faster than air at a comparable temperature. Thus noise made on the bank and transmitted by vibration to the water will send those cagey chub in to hiding. Sound in the water is detected through the medium of the chub’s lateral line which is extremely sensitive to minute amounts of water displacement and to underwater vibrations.

In most rivers there are many snaggy places and overgrown swims where chub lurk unseen. Most anglers pass them by but the experienced chub hunter pays them special attention and regards no swim impossible to fish as long as there is a reasonable chance of getting a bait in and the hooked chub out.

A weight dropped in to the swim, or even a smaller fish swimming nearby, will be detected immediately. Experiments have proved that even blind Cyprinids are able accurately to locate objects in the water, though this ability is lost if the lateral line is removed.

The problem is these big chub I’ve witnessed is that they have seen it all and are not stupid, they learn from their mistakes. When the whippersnappers decide to get in on the act first these lurking lunkers return to the cover of their lair never to be seen again. But then that’s the chub for you, however they are some of the bravest and hardest fighting of fish when you eventually do hook a good’un.

Now one of the swims is quite elevated and you have to creep up in to position and feed floating bread for a good amount of time to get them feeding, the small fish that is, the bigger fish are still hugging bottom and watching from afar from with their chasm. Hook a fish too early the swim is dead, but feed for a while and then rather than a large piece of crust, a slowly sinking large piece of flake can often work.

Now another issue is they need to be bullied out from the reeds as the reeds can go through the line like those with hands in my wallets, also the flow is strong here especially with a little water on so the fight from the fish is compounded.

Lobworms or slugs which can be found bankside are fished on the bottom they largely ignored, the problem is, well you can see them for starters, they appear in the swim for literally a few seconds and then return under their cover. A floating insect lure before has worked in the past before, but again, the smaller fish get on the act first.

That’s part of the fun though trying to outwit them….

So for this short after work cobbled together session it was simple roving tactics, a thick sliced loaf and a few lobworms. The lobs would be fished on the bottom headed towards dusk to try and induce a bigger fish to feed as the prime feeding time was reached. You know what I’m like for planning, there are Barbel down here as well you see and I might well drop on one when they went on the mooch if the big skelly’s were not out to play.

Fishing with just a hook is a simple as it gets but the addition of a SSG shot and a backlead makes it in to a basic ledger rig within seconds. First it was just the hook though so first it was out with the bread. The river was up, but a little down than I expected and there was a tinge of colour, after exploring three swims by allowing floating bread to drift down it became obvious quite quick they were not up for feeding like that. I eventually had a rise when I returned to the first swim, but after a succession of bits of bread going down after an hour I was wasting my time.

Even a bottom bait was largely ignored with only small fish interested, maybe they'd moved on because it would have be a chore to maintain station with the pace the water was flowing. So I headed upstream for the last half an hour and positioned  a lobworm on the crease over a bit of gravel. The first bite came quick, but after three or four confident bites without a hook-up I let the line go slack so the Chub (I assume) couldn't feel any resistance, literally a couple of minutes before packing up time a ridiculous bite ensued and I was in to a fish.

At first I thought it might be a small Barbel but the characteristic fight gave away that it was Chub, it gave a good scrap to be fair but was quickly in the net after a couple of runs. Not a huge fish that I know live here but with a blank avoided at least I caught something. So the next session, well hopefully Friday where I'll have another go for the Perch.


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