Piscatorial Quagswagging

...the diary of a specialist angler in around the Warwickshire Avon and its tributaries.

Friday 25 January 2019

‘Not quite’ The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.106 – Mud Larks and Muckworms

Battered chips a ‘Game Changer’ according to someone in work who is a partaker in all things bad. Now the use of 'Game Changer' doesn't usually come without merit attached. Apparently these orange chips are to the Black Country what jellied eels are to London or pasties to Cornwall. These distinctly coloured chips are an authentic style of chip dipped in an orange coloured batter before they are fried.

Believed to have been a delicacy of the war years, they were made to break the monotony of wartime fare.

The fried potatoes are so orange, non locals would be forgiven for thinking that it was the oil that needed changing, sometimes with a hint of paprika for an extra orange glow, these chips are a black country favourite, and to some, considered the best in the world.

But which chippy can stake its claim as the pioneer?

A quick Google, everyone and their granny by the looks of it….

So how come I’ve not come across a chippy’s that serves these artery cloggers, I’ve certainly visited enough of them in my time, they look great.

Then again thankfully I cannot remember the last time I frequented where the coal seam comes to the surface, probably 20 years ago, back then it was like entering a land that time forgot so I can only imagine what it’s like now, then again probably not a bad thing for me as someone who struggles with the pressure of the modern world.

I'm now wondering if the over consumption of these chips are adding to the Oompa Loompa'esk orange 'glow' that many of the females that live in these provenances seem to have. Hmmmmmm I think the secret recipe it out, beta-carotene ?, you know the substance that gives carrots their orange colour. 

Anyway back on track, ta’ra for now !! 

Talking of 'game changers' with a thumbs up bait addition recommendation from Nic from Avon Angling UK as he’s being doing well with predators of late, could this simple addition to ones armoury be the edge I needed ?

….back to that in a moment

As I was typing the title out it dawned on my just how many hours I’ve dedicated to catching a double figure canal Zander. I’m sure if the path I was treading was the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal, which at one time the broadest and deepest in the world, I’d have concluded the quest some time ago. Its sheer scale and impressive engineering give way to a huge volume of water….

….big waters, big fish

You only have to see the stamp of fish coming out of the Lower Severn now, some right old lumps.

But hang on Mick, you’ve had some decent Zander from the canal, in-fact some right old lumps considering most of it you can stand up in, don’t chuck in the towel just yet. Now up at the 'Tefal Head' recently I backtracked quite quickly on the area I largely discounted because of the mediocre results over the last couple of years. It was now back on one’s radar, because a short morning session where in two short feeding periods I couldn’t keep a deadbait in the water long enough, it was run galore.

The fish in my title banner came from this area and a bigger fish a couple of bridges away so maybe the bait fish have returned in numbers and the zeds have followed, who knows but something had changed for sure. I've said before this location sees little or no angling pressure, footfall limited and it's the fact that you feel away from it all, literally here, like you're the whole area to yourself, and I'm sure out finned friends feels that way too, it's one of the places that I've enjoyed solitude on many occasions.

Was there a lump waiting in the wings, only one way to find out…?

So for this afternoon session where I’d hoped the boats had stirred it up a bit to decrease the waters clarity I’d fish two rods like I usually do with, roach on one and smelt on the other, but for something new and the possible game changer, is I’d inject some winterised smelt oil in to the deadbaits for added attraction because of the heads-up from Nic.

As you know if you’ve followed my quest that smelt worked so well for Canal Zander that given the choice of a bait to use exclusively, smelt would be my choice. The fishy cucumber pungency ,who knows but it certainly works well. I fish dirty looking and turbid canals in the main and maybe smellier the better despite the ridiculously good eyesight these fish possess. A winterised oil to leak extra attraction off, surely has to work Shirley ?

So a smelt on smelt combo, any good ?

Well, errrrr no, what a tough session, I've never seen the canal here so clear, in-fact I was in two minds to go home or another canal altogether. I didn't have that long though so best try and make the most of it. No boats either throughout the session and they despite being a pain for some, I've never found them an issue, they stir the bottom up nicely to go about their business with a smoke screen.

So lots of roving, lots of swims fished to try and drop a bait on a Zed's noggin, even in the usual productive oxygenated swim the floats remained motionless. The session wasn't all lost though as I could check out the oil leakage by dropping the bait in the margin, the picture above is not far off a couple of feet as it drops off, so you can see how clear it was, but it seemed that the oil created a nice big scent trail.

So back up to where I started, biteless after a couple of hours I decided to fish one of my banker swims headed in to dusk. A smelt to the left a roach to the right. As the light was starting to go, out of the blue the left hand rods float jumps in to life and within seconds is submerging under the water. It's carted nearly a couple of meters in as long as it's taken me to type this. I lean in to the fish and a Zed is on. I can clearly see its flanks as it's tried to escape, but after a short fight it's in the net.

Not a big fish, but a welcome blank saver and very recognisable with a big chunk out it's back, it's certainly been in the wars, what a tough session....

I fished for another 20 minutes till I could just about see the float but no one bites were forthcoming. I should have gone with what my head was telling me and maybe fish the 'deep bit' a ten minute drive down the road, because experience told me, I'd be lucky to catch anything, the fishing Gods were looking after me today, they must have been. 


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