Sunday, 18 November 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Tickle Pitchers and Tub Thumpers

As a lover of food what a great belated birthday all-dayer with her indoors. A lunchtime dirty burger up Shaws Passage courtesy of the original patty men, the ‘Patty Pimps and Purveyors of Filth’, their words not mine. A visit to the 4DX cinema to watch the new Fantastic Beasts movie - The Crimes of Grindelwald, 5 or 6 pubs in-between for some thirst quenching.

Then after hot-footing it back to civiliation before the great unwashed, things with horns and the gene meddlers surfaced, it was seated and wined and fine dined at the award winning Cheal’s of Henley-In-Arden before finishing off the day with some port and cheese, the food of the Gods....

....Phhhheewwwwwww !!!! Come on it was my birthday, I'm allowed to be treated once in a while.

The 12 hours of liquid and food gastronomic gluttony had taken its toll though, as the morning’s planned fishing session before picking the kids up was ditched and I had a nice lie-in instead battling with some overly warm shirt saboteurs.

I had to get out the weekend somehow however though, to try and target some monsters of my own. So after the youngest expressed an interest after we’d picked them up. Sam the tangelator was with me for this post bladderation session, now Sam loves fishing as long as he is getting bites and isn’t cold. The weather was reasonably mild for this short morning trip, and this part of the Warwickshire Avon is usually full of small fish so therefore ticks all the boxes.

We had planned to venture to the huge Chub ‘Snallygaster’ swim, but with a busy weekend being quite a distance away, to walk that is, that would have to be shelved to another time, when we had more time at our disposal.

Whilst he was fishing the float and maggot I planned to use a lure rod and also to fish a small live bait from time to time. I wanted to catch a decent Perch that I know reside here, so a small pike bob, a wire trace and a big hook, with a livebait aerator to retain them in.

As well as the Perch you see there are some good Pike here that like to get in on the action and a wire trace is a must. The Pike outnumber the big Perch considerably, so it’s a necessity, but to be fair the stripey’s don’t seem to mind the wire such their predatory reactions.

It didn't start well, as soon as we got swim-side a huge cormorant was disturbed, exited the water and went upstream. The mercury said 5 degrees but it felt much colder than that, and after an hour without a bite on maggot Sam's hands and toes were getting cold despite being wrapped up well.

The fish eventually turned up after catipulting maggots regularly for a while and eventually bleak and small dace turned up. By this time though and after trying to distract him with the use of a surface frog lure, Sam had enough and was suffering in the biting wind. A bleak went on the live bait rod whilst I was packing up but that bobbed around and remained biteless without any interested.

So a session caught short, shame as the day turned out nice in the end, at least I was back early to get started on the cheesepaste, this batch a slight change to my usual concoction. I might try and squeeze in a quick after work session next week, as I want to try the cheesepaste in an area I don't fish static baits and also I fancy a try with the garlic spam again in a swim I've earmarked as I spotted a decent Barbel there.

The change today, well, it definitely had a winter feel about it, conditions I love for my fishing.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Shabbaroons and Shag-bags

I was 14 years old when Go Fishing started in 1986 and often it was a rare family gathering in the Newey household, to watch John Wilson with that famous laugh and infectious enthusiasm.

He hosted that fishing show that carried on for 30 odd years and 90 odd episodes such its popularity and paved the way for books and further TV work. Back then, pre-satellite and only 4 channels to choose from it really did stand out at the time, and was enjoyed by anglers and non-anglers alike.

He made me want to go fishing, and probably turned me in to the roving angler I am today. The salt water episodes and his travels abroad which I didn’t think I’d enjoy, but in the end I did, and that was due to John and his love for angling and a shared passion. He wasn’t just all about fishing, but also the love of the outdoors, and flora and fauna, heck, I suppose thinking about it, it turned me in to a bit of a forager, just look at this rosemary I picked on-route, ready for those roast potatoes.

The beauty of the post internet era with the various media platform options and the various ways to watch fishing these days, is that his programs can still be watched, but not only that, it highlights just how good he was at presenting, showing non-anglers why we do it and also why he stood out from today’s humdrum and those have to appease the sponsors at every opportunity. 

Back to basics fishing, what it all should be about, for me anyway.

Can we have some of them digitally remastered please, RIP John Wilson MBE.

Incidentally whilst tucking in to a homemade fish curry I put on one of my favorite episodes weir-pool magic and reminded me just how good they are to watch. Variety is the spice of life and with fishing, and we are lucky it can give us that, there are not many hobbies and pastimes like it if you think about it.

Now these quick after work dark sessions nicely break up the weeks heads down drudgery. A necessity I suppose to keep those wheels turning, and a short fishing session like this, can maintain ones sanity. It’s the part of life I’ve most control over, the fishing that is, it restores the work life balance in my favour and if gives me the solitude I seek.

I didn’t particularly enjoy fishing in the dark, far from it, but having done it numerous times now, it really is something different than the usual daylight sessions that sometime can become a little monotonous.

The senses are heightened obviously which can be difficult to get used to at first, but it’s the anticipation of something half decent turning up, because with many a predator on the prowl, often fish put their guard down come dusk and beyond, as they feel safe to do so.

I’d usually target the Chub here but despite the Pike dominance I’m sure there could well be a good Zander milling around that could well show themselves, when they are back being the apex predator. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m becoming to love Pike as a species but the Zander really are up there with my favourite species of all the fish I fish for, and the chance to do a bit of double dipping is a welcome change. 

Preparation is the key for these sessions as when arriving at dark, rods made up, leads, and chemical lights to hand, the minimum of tackle, so all you have to do is to bait the hooks.  The chub are bold biters here so soft meat is out as I like to know the bait is still on the hair once cast, so, it’s out with the pungent boilies and a paste wrap. 

The other rod, a ickle roach deadbait, but having caught plenty of Chub on small deadbaits in the past, it could well pick up a decent Chevin as well. Nothing wrong with hedging ones bets, especially come sundown, when the bigger fish start to move from their stations.

Now the baits went out at dusk and within minutes the bobbin was rising and in-fact the fish was taking line from the bait runner all within a split second. When I hooked in to the fish I realised it wasn't anything to right home about and I knew it was a small pike. Now this one was skinny, no weight to it and for some reason was slimier than the usual fish I catch here. Hmmmm, not exactly what I was after and I knew from experience, that could well be the only fish I catch hence the grumpy face.

I was right, after two and a half hours in to dark nothing else was forthcoming. Now I've concentrated on one particular area for these sessions but I need to try upstream where I discovered with the deeper it has decent depth. If there is any Zander here they could well be up there. I'm sure there are none though judging by the amount of lures and deadbaits that have been chucked here.

I was quite surprised the Chub didn't show though, because they are usually on the bait come dusk, maybe like sometimes happens, they are having an off day. The weather is turning cold though next week, so they could well switch on. 

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Faggots and Fool Finders

Could I track down any caul membrane in time, fat chance, most people haven’t even heard of it. Now caul fat is the netting that surrounds an animal’s internal organs and what encases those faggots and sausages we all know and love. Well you say that, apart from local butchers who are keeping up with traditions, why has the humble faggot loved by us Midlanders and others been removed from the supermarket shelves I wonder?

Even the well-known mass produced Brains with its poorly executed brown mush impersonation which was one of the staple foods of many my age, is difficult to find these days. You’d be hard pushed to find any down the freezer aisle, let alone any fresh faggots made on the deli counter.

Luckily a pub the Kings Head in Aston Cantlow just down the road from me make their own on the premises where they serve it the traditional way with mash, onion gravy and peas so if I need to get the fix, which I do occasionally, I’ve got an option to quell ones pangs. They also do a proper freshly cooked and piping hot scotch egg which to be fair is hard to beat, it’s can be a difficult decision I tell thee, as is what ale to have.

Now the ones I make I ditch the heart and other offal and I use pork shoulder, liver, bacon and belly with mace, allspice, sage, parsley and a gnats nadger of chilli as seasoning. Streaky bacon makes a pretty good caul substitute and to be fair makes it look a little more appetising than its simpler washed out anaemic looking neighbour.

For this plate full of heaven to accompany the homemade faggots, peas and onion gravy I’d a side of skinny chips, I prefer some crunch for texture you see, rather than sat on some potato mash.

Balls Mick !!!!, BALLS, err yes I know tinned meatballs are available, but hardly a substitute for a proper faggot and at least making them myself I’ve got an idea what goes in to making it, yeap I’m assume you’ve not got a clue what maltodextrin is either, apparently it’s to add texture, really, oh ok, I’ll take your word for it. To be fair you have to do your research on tinned mushy peas these days, some contain a right load of unthathamables.

Now with the colder weather kicking in, sometimes comfort food and a proper blow out is nice once in a while, not only to get the body temperature back functioning properly again, but to also kick ones mood up the jacksie.

These cold blooded fish haven’t really that option, they have to deal with the temperature changes and fluctuations and adapt and to the ever changing environment. The weather had been quite fair during the week and with some warmer rain might give some much needed colour. So what and where to fish for was the question ?

Barbel obviously I suppose sprang to mind but I fancied trying for a Chub or decent Perch, so the session was down to my favourite part of the Avon to try and winkle out something to put a bend in one’s rod.

I wanted to try a new lure, a Salmo tiny wobbler, the beauty of this lure is that it floats on the surface so you get let it drift down the river like you would a piece of bread, but then you can retrieve it and the paddle nose means it will also dive under the water.

It was quite a tough session, lots of roving and different swims but a few Perch were caught and a couple of chublets but then, eventually a 3lb 7oz Chub turned up to put a decent bend in the rod.The river despite being up a little was still pretty clear which I don't think help things, but the lure worked quite well, the fish were getting used to floating bread I'm sure of it.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Frig Pigs and Fusty Luggs

I thought my usual commute which is distance of 17 miles and takes 20 minutes was under threat last week. You see after getting back off holiday we discovered the patio door was forced open, the lock barrel snapped, kitchen cupboards and draws left open as was the door to the garage. Sadly we had a visit from a scumbag who decided that he wanted my car off the drive.

Luckily I’m smarter than the average bear and I could get to work on the Monday without issue, with the gene meddler having to go back to his hovel to plan his next misdemeanour.

With Sam visibly scared and thinking “is the robber coming back tonight Daddy”, my current car situation needs a rethink, and it could well be the last car thieving gits want to have, as maybe I need one to suit my lifestyle, not one with 310hp, rubber bands for tyres and a dressed up body waiting to be stripped naked by the undesirables.

Now my regular commute isn't a bad average speed I suppose, but then with one’s body clock up the swanny, starting earlier has its advantages. To be fair even when having to contend with traffic in more busier times, it rarely takes half an hour, certainly not a moan to add to the ever growing list. One motorway junction, an A road and lots of B’s.

Waiting in traffic is not for me, and to be honest, if I had to contend with it every day, I’d quickly go off ones rocker. I hate waiting around twiddling thumbs, watching the world go by, as there are far better things I could be doing.

Sometimes though, it’s nice especially when in fishing to wait for things to happen, enjoy the wildlife, enjoy the peace and take the session as snail’s pace, rather than roving around like a blue arsed fly or a marrowed up Jack Russell.

Now with a nice south-westerly wind proceeding a cool period, and with the barometer rising after a bit of rain, I fancied a go for a river Zander. With a little extra spring in their step and the rain proving a nadger of colour the condition were certainly favourable. 

I hadn’t used the deeper for a while but I’d been reviewing my maps online and remembered an area I found that was over 20ft deep. So it was back out with the deeper and some deadbaits to see if I could find that hotspot, but also to try and locate any shoaling fish to carefully position an easy picking cheese and pineapple stick in front of a big fishes noggin.

Given the choice fishing in to dark and beyond would be my preference for catching Zander but I still have caught and lost some decent fish when the sun has been up, so I’ve got some confidence that I’m not wasting my time.

I’ve tried three or four times of late though, and nothing of note has turned up and blanked on two of those sessions if I recall, but as us fisherman know, a change in conditions really can switch the fish on to feeding.

This session was 12.30pm in to dusk, and such the shortness of the day was probably only 4 hours or so once I'd got myself sorted.

I'd a lure rod with a real eel for the occasional chuck and two deadbait rods with roach one one rod and smelt on the other.

Now before the deep bit I'd given the weir a go with a small nudge on the smelt and that was it, so to the intended swim to sit tight till dusk. A small jack came to the lure around my feet and then a small jack again on the smelt in the deep bit, hmmmm, where are the Zander then.

A 5lb Pike lost at the net, what the !!!!

Now I'd caught Zander here before, over 6lb the biggest and also lost a decent fish, so I was hoping headed in to dusk a Zed would be forthcoming.

There was quite a lot of small fish activity too. Now Dave Roberts was downstream and was bagging up on Barbel, 6 in the end if I recall, with 2 lost and also some Chub caught, the biggest Barbel not far off a double, he was having a cracking day, the fish were up for feeding that's for sure.

It was quite a cloudy day and with dusk approaching it was fingers and toes crossed, with the club waters imposed finishing time on the countdown, after an hour or so with motionless bobbins and the light almost gone the left hand rod springs in to life with the rod tip nodding, the bobbin active.

A fish is on, it felt half decent as well, but I know how Zander fight having caught hundreds of them and as it surfaced, I guessed right, yeap another Pike, this one maybe the fish I lost at the net earlier.

So that was it, no more time left, Hmmmm, back to the drawing board me thinks !!!!

Monday, 5 November 2018

‘Not quite the’ Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.100 – Pickthanks and Piscinarians

With Dan flying high after his 3rd place at the recent CRT international friendly we arranged to meet up on a local towpath to fish for some predators and for him to share his experiences and knowledge gained from that event.

We both enjoy treading these dog poo riddled waterways, because for starters there are some good fish to be had for the specimen hunter and for those that dare to subject themselves to the often dull drudgery, which for me certainly, can be testing at times.

The lure throwing length talliers can highlight some areas to target because despite the size of the fish caught, sometimes they do throw up fish worthy of a trophy shot. For me that’s a canal Zander over 5lb, that’s around 58 to 60cm, if I look at my weight to length chart of Warwickshire caught Zander. 

My canal Zander PB of 9lb exactly was caught two and a half years ago on Pt.28 of the quest, which is the challenge I set myself, which is to try and catch a cut double….

It is seemingly getting harder and harder. 7’bers, and 8’s have also been caught but the 9lber was a fat’un and came out the blue. I was on a roll and I thought I’d catch one sooner than later and yet, 72 sessions after than 9lber, I’m still going at it when I can, and I’m sure one day that fish will turn up when least expecting it.

These larger fish on the whole are transient travellers because all the fish over 6lb I’ve caught fishing the same swims once revealing themselves. The swim I caught the PB, I don’t think I’ve had a fish over 2lb since that capture, having fished it on many occasions since. I assume they are loners, or maybe pack followers, because let’s face it, Zander need bait fish to dine on, they go where the food is. 

When we got bankside the colour of the canal looked ideal for a predator or two, it was that inviting light green colour with a couple of inches of visibility that suits the Zander which has ridiculously good eyesight in the canals mucky waters.

The problem is with miles and miles of the canal network to go at is where do you start?, what do you look for ?, where do you target, well, to be honest in my experience, having a bait or lure in the water is a good start, because bank time is the key to success. Ok there is luck in fishing, but on the most part effort equals reward if you want to try and bank a decent canal Zander. 

Now I actively look for areas of little or no clarity, because this where they thrive after all, this is where they are top dog, where they have an advantage, and if I can give any advice for the novice fancy trying for them, that would be it.

For this session, Dan would be targeting the edge to maximise his time in the water with different sized lures on the dropshot and with a deadbait sleeper rod for hopefully a bigger fish, and I’ll be doing what I usually do, and that’s fish two over depth inline float set-ups, and for this session, one smelt, the other a roach. 

As seasoned Zed heads, we know when it’s time to move, especially when fishing deadbaits so it was a bit of a surprise when my right hand float had some interest within the first swim, and a fish was on. 

I thought it was a smallish Zander at first, but when it popped up, it was a surprise Pike, which considering the swims I’ve fish with deadbaits over this quest, they rarely turn up, due to the clarity of the water I usually fish. Dan had a small Zander drop off just up from me and we both thought, we are in to a winner here, but then, yeap, the swim goes dead. 

We moved quite a few times during the session and targeted the likely looking holding spots but the fish was tough considering the conditions looked ideal for a bite. Dan scaled down his lure and managed a Zed ‘30’ and also caught some decent score making Perch if he was in competition mode. I had another bite on the left hand rod this time, in a tasty looking swim tight against some cover, but it never developed properly, back to reality with a bang.

Having fished the rivers exclusively since the open day though, it was nice to be back in an environment I’m comfortable in, and to be honest, I cannot wait to get back in to the quest again.

I will catch that elusive double, I’m sure of it, I’m going to give it a bloody good go, I know that for sure.

Watch this space, well in March next year anyway, I’ve some river Zander to catch !!!!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Hampshire Avon – Hedge Whores and Hatchet Faces

One’s itchy finger was hovering over the confirm payment trigger, let’s just say I didn’t hesitate for too long, you see Undercastle Cottage near Fordingbridge had been under my radar for a while, I’d stumbled upon it by chance as I was perusing Google Maps after initially looking to book Sandy Balls Holiday Village but the horrendous reviews put me off. It looked such a unique property that I’d found from looking at the aerial satellite image that I needed to book it up if at all possible.

It didn’t take long to find a website that allowed me to book it, the problem was it was already blocked booked up for the next 12 months, so I kept my eye on the dates available and it was becoming booked up extremely quickly so I had to act fast and book it well in advance.

As soon at the Warwickshire Schools 2018/2019 term dates became available I was right on it, luckily Warwickshire had their October half term break later than lots of the country so it sort of all fell in to place really as it was much cheaper to book, not only that but it was available.

A Times travel article had named it as one of the “50th best cottages in Britain” and more recently it featured in the last episode of the BBC2 programme Mortimer and Whitehouse : Gone Fishing.

If you haven’t seen the series it’s well worth a look. It’s about “two old blokes going fishing” and at times as funny account of how to cope with those years when their bodies begin to fail and they had to accommodate some grim personal realities.

Paul had to have stents fitted and Bob had open heart surgery. Between them they were responsible
for a defining chunk of what has been funny on British television for the past 30 years and certainly I grew up with them in my youth. Obviously Paul Whitehouse best known for The Fast Show, and Bob Mortimer for the various incarnations of his on-screen relationship with Vic Reeves, but made up a big part of my life when I was a youngster.

All very apt, it certainly appealed to non-fisherman and showed just how many of us have it as our pastime. It had more viewers than they expected so they have been given another series apparently, so good on them, even my Wife enjoyed it and her eyes glaze over when I talk about fishing.

Anyway better get on track, the thatched cottage is found at the bottom of a wooded track in the heart of the New Forest and stands on the banks of the famous Hampshire Avon. There is immediate access into the woods and open heathland and nearly half a mile of private fishing.

Now I was sold on Fordingbridge looking at its location, a traditional Hampshire town on the banks of the river, and offers a good mix of shops, pubs and restaurants, a small museum of local history and a display of original work by the artist Augustus John, who lived here for many years. Talking of history the medieval Great Bridge, with seven graceful arches, is a major feature of the town and is conveniently situated for the magnificent cathedral city of Salisbury to the north, and the super seaside resort of Bournemouth to the south. 

We'd not ventured down to this neck of the woods that often., so a few trips put were planned as this wasn't all about the fishing, still plenty to occupy the diary makers with.

So anyway Undercastle Cottage came with two detached out-houses close to the main cottage providing additional sleeping accommodation, the Fishing Lodge (yes really) and The Hayloft (If I was in the bad books) and within the cottage bumph and blurb the comment, ‘the river is famous for large Barbel and also Chub, Pike, Trout and Roach’, so what’s not to like….? Oh yeah the family.

“Hey Sarah, have a look as this”

“Yeah that looks lovely, but you do know it hasn’t got any Wifi !!!!”

“Errr yeah, but there is 4G if need be and we can hotspot the kids ipads if we have to, the kids will love it as there is lots to explore, Sam will love the fishing”

“Oh and that’s another thing, I don’t like the fact there is direct access to the river”

“It will be fine, don’t worry !!!!, oh and anyway, I’ve already booked it”

"Errrrrrrrr, ok", “I thought we were having less holidays next year ?” (This being our fourth and my fifth)

“Yes I did say that didn’t I, we are only here for a visit I suppose, I’ll worry about the money later, it’s more than a year off away anyway”

“Oh and it’s not far from Bournemouth you know” “See it’s sounding better already isn’t it ?”

“Yeah, if you say so !!!!”

This was a family holiday after all however there would be plenty of fishing opportunities despite having to forget it's not all about me, but then I'm quite happy to work within the family routine. Not knowing that much about the Hampshire Avon I did a bit of digging and came to the conclusion that Roach, Chub and Barbel would be my main target, the Roach in particular got my interest up because of the size that inhabit this river.

I'd heard about and seen videos about before about the Avon Roach Project before but I did a bit more reading about it and what a fantastic project by some dedicated anglers and conservationists. The scale of the operation is massive and respect to those involved in it and I was hoping to benefit from the good work and catch something half decent.

'We all have our memories of roach, be it the first fish we caught as children, the sight of red fins and silver flanks in a clear stream, the catching, or not, of the whopper, or the stories told on leaned gates and bridges.

The common thread is that the roach is loved by all and remains the country’s favourite coarse fish species. The roach is welcome in any swim, and while the chub may be a nuisance to the barbel angler, and the carp to the tench man, the roach never is.

The roach has something that no other fish species has, but no man will be able to tell you exactly what that is. It isn’t the great size the roach grows to, or its power, nor is it the enormous distances it travels to breed, or the spines, the stripes, the spots, the teeth, or its speed. It is simply humble and modest, gentle and pleasing, but the absolute quintessence and personification of coarse fish'

I did think about just targeting the Roach altogether and maybe a decent Chub would slip up but then I saw some pictures of the Barbel that had been caught in the area, and that just wouldn't do especially when I could fish well in to dark if required.

I'm sure I could manage at least 1 PB....!!!!

So 4 rods (for me) in the end should do just fine for the week where I’d try and capture a decent specimen and maybe even a PB beater. So in the holdall went a 14ft trotting Drennan Acolyte Plus set-up that I’ve used on the Lower Itchen, 2 11ft 1.75TC Barbel rods and also a light(er) quiver set-up, my trusty 1.25 TC TFG river and stream rod with 3oz tip. All rods were fitted with centerpin reels as they seemed to suit the location and methods I’d be using.

Bait well the usual really, maggots, bread,casters, boilies, paste and a few small pellet and meat, errr yeah, the kitchen sink more or less.

The (meticulous) plan was, because you know I always have them, was to fish the ledger rods come dawn, dusk or dark and then trot light during the day with either maggot, caster or maybe breadflake.

The quiver rod I’d fish a small cage feeder with liquidised bread filled with a small amount of hemp and aniseed flavour .

Hookbait well I’d fish breadflake to try and tempt a big redfin from their streamer weed sanctuary or hopefully one of the greedy clonking chevin that swims within these meandering mesmerising waters.

The slim faced Barbel, how will I target them ?, well hardly a secret, my tried and tested method of a big chunk of garlic spam on the big hook and a PVA bag of freebies or a dropper of bait before fishing.

From time to time I’d swap the hooklink to one equipped with a drilled pellet or a boilie with paste.

The tangleator Sam would be fishing with me from time to time, so I’d have his well used little float rod with the gear, as well as the little F1 wand that would have a light link ledger set-up on.

The problem with these sort of the trips is the amount of gear that you need to take knowing that the family and clothes and bags for the week would be needed to be packed first before the tackle went in. So I had to be quite ruthless, slim the gear down and take really only what was needed. That’s easier said than done, however I found it easier by writing it down beforehand and cross off the essential items of the list one by one when I came to pack.

So the longest preamble I’ve ever written I think, how did I, sorry, how did ‘we’ get on ?

Well the weather decided to change quite a bit for the week we were going to be there, a considerable dip in temperatures could well put the fish off, fingers crossed it would be fine. So there were a couple of tweaks here and there to my approach, but largely the plan was unchanged.

A years wait since booking it all came down to this week, a week I'd been looking forward to, for such a long time.

What a setting, the river, the wildlife, birds the gardens....

As expected the river was tap water clear and after a quick nosey up and down the stretch I realised hmmm, this could possibly be a tough one, and boy it was. You can take the boat over to the otherwise which is what I did for one sunny afternoon and not one fish other than minnows were spotted, now we are talking nearly a mile and half, or something like that.

Cormorants active like they usually are at this time of year, so maybe they had driven the shoaled up fish off. There were plenty of minnows that occupied Sam, and he also managed a Salmon Parr, but for me trying every trick in the book, the fish were not having it.

Rolling meat, trotting maggot, bread, caster and lobworm, zilch. Even well in to dark with boilie and paste the fish were nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be spotted. I didn't fish during the day, well the odd time, mainly concentrating on dawn and dusk, but literally nothing topping, even with a load of floating bread going down.

The problem with static fishing at night was the debris floating down, which sometimes bordered on the ridiculous.

Eventually after appeasing the fishing God's an old warrior of a Chub of about 3lb's turned up out of the blue when I was trotting bread and that probably felt sorry for me. At least it was a blank avoided.

Luckily the weather was kind despite the hard frosts on most mornings, so we had a visit to Hurst Castle by ferry, a trip to Sandbanks and Bournemouth, Lymington and Mudeford. The cottage as well lovely and despite only being 18 years old which I didn't know, was built with plenty of character and warmth because of modern underfloor heating.

So I was expecting more a write-up with the fish caught, but sadly not, a disappointing trip to this magnificent river, maybe the Warwickshire Avon ain't so bad after all. The only saving grace of the trip, well I managed to get a cracking couple of picture of a Kingfisher that shared lots of bank time with me.

The fishing was all a bit horse sh*t (loads down here), so much so, I'm thinking of taking up knitting....

With a pin board in the cottage showing big Chub and a Barbel of 14lb, I'm sure there are so crackers to be had here, I'm sure the rain due next week and milder weather, the fishing would have picked up. Oh well, the holiday itself was really enjoyable, plenty of pubs, good food and decent weather, and the journey down to the new Forest was 2hours 15 minutes door to door, I'm already looking at the next trip down.

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