Monday, 18 February 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Clod-Poles and Cat-Heads

If one fishes consistently from childhood to maturity, as I have done, one cannot fail to have acquired knowledge born of long experience, to have exposed a few fallacies and discerned a few endurable truths. There are not many of them but they are worth noting.

Success can never be guaranteed, no amount of knowledge about water, fish, techniques, or baits can do that. So aim at achieving some standard of consistency throughout the season and accept some degree of failure as inevitable.

Angling ability is not necessarily related to the amount of time you spend fishing. The angler who fishes perceptively can learn more in one season than the angler who spends a lifetime fishing aimlessly.

Do not think you are a better angler than someone else merely because you have caught a bigger chub, or more chub. The best fish you catch will not necessarily be the biggest; nor will it always require greater skill to catch than chub of lesser weight. 

Understanding of fish and water is far more important than knowledge of methods and baits and far more difficult to acquire. So devote some of your time to learning all you can about the movements and feeding habits of chub in your chosen waters.

Your angling will then improve in proportion to your increasing knowledge of the species….

Do not assume that lack of success means that chub are not feeding. The fault is just as likely to lie in your choice of swim, tackle, bait or in plain bad timing. Learn to mould yourself to the ways of fish, and do not expect that they will always behave as you think they should.

If success does not come quickly and it usually does not do not lose heart. Try again and keep on trying until you do succeed, or at least until you are able to establish why you are failing.
The knowledge and understanding you acquire from per­sonal experience will be invaluable but do not scorn the information you can gain from books, which can be of immense value as the distillation of many years of experience by experts in the art.

Fish always on the assumption that no matter how much you learn there will remain much that you do not know and make up your mind right from the start that you want to catch chub and only chub. The catching of just one chub will then mean more to you in terms of progress than the catching of a hundredweight of other unwanted species. It is better to catch nothing than to catch fish you do not want or had not intended to.

Mention of the part that instinct plays in successful angling is usually greeted with skepticism but after many years of patient perceptive fishing, swim selection, approach, choice of method and bait do all become more or less instinctive. You become sensitive to a river's every mood and in your mind's eye can travel over its every twist, bend and curve in its course, seeing everything as clearly as if you were actually there.

When you have reached that stage and when the other essentials of successful angling have been mastered you can begin to feel that you have 'arrived'. Successful angling for chub, or for any chosen fish, for that matter, could indeed be likened to the bringing together of many different strands of coloured wool, each strand representing a vital factor for success.

Only when these different strands have been fused together can you fish in that confident, almost instinctive way that brings consistent success. It can be a long, even a hard road, but it is well worth treading to reach the goal of the complete angler.

For this short morning sessions I was down at one of my favorite venues, if I wanted a guaranteed bend in the rod from a Chub, it would be here. It’s a roving anglers delight, no chairs to be seen here, feed swims with liquidised bread and then fish the swims with a hunking great lump of cheesepaste. The swims though, I’ve gotten to know over time, it’s not just a random chuck, there is a reason why I place the bait where I do.

It was a good morning as well, the sun up, the air mild. It took a little longer than expected to get the first bite, but eventually after fishing maybe 6 or 7 swims, I managed 5 Chub, 4 over 3lb and the last fish caught from a swim I caught the first fish from went 4lb 2oz’s. With their winter coats on they give a good scrap too, snag bound, rod bent double, what a great way to spend a few hours on the 

One other angler present complete with kitchen sink, was blanking when I left….

Saturday, 16 February 2019

The Warwickshire River Dene – Lawful Blankets and Laystalls

The little river Dene, a diminutive tributary of the Warwickshire Avon gave rise to Peter Bolton naming his book about Wellesbourne 1800-1939 - A Society under a Magnifying Glass.

‘The Naples of the Midlands’

It was literally an open sewer 100 years ago and all waste was piped directly into it. The title refers to Naples in Italy, that city had an equally pungent odour.

Now I didn’t know that much about the River Dene until recently where I followed it’s coarse on Google Earth like us anglers do to look for potential fishing spots, and I’d looked over the bridge as Charlecote Park which where the river debouches, but apart from that, I would be fishing blind for this reccy mission.

The internet to the rescue....

The source of the River Dene rises on the western slopes of the Burton Dassett Hills and flows westward towards Kineton. Five miles downstream of Kineton, the river turns abruptly north, flowing through the villages of Walton and Wellesbourne before joining the Avon at Charlecote Park.

To the west of Kineton, the river was followed, and bridged in numerous places, by Britain's more impoverished and least efficient little railways the Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway and here at Kineton, you can be seen the remains of four sets of sluice-gates, possibly used for the washing of sheep.

In May 1760 an agreement was entered into by George Lucy at Charlecote Park and Capability Brown which was to widen the River Avon and lay its banks properly, giving them a natural and easy level, corresponding with the ground on each side of the river. To fill up all the ponds on the north front of the house, to alter the slopes and give the whole a natural, easy and corresponding level with the house on every side.

Now that landscaping, still evident today, and cost Lucy £525 at the time, part of the work involved altering the course of The Dene to allow a cascade into the Avon within sight of the house. I suppose that’s why it looks a little unnatural at that point.

But then there is plenty to go at looking at the windy course it takes. £525 in today’s money would be around £350,000 quid, so you can see how much work went on, it wasn’t completed with a few people with spades in an afternoon.

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown the revered designer, entrepreneur and salesman, apparently his nickname came from his fondness for describing country estates as having great ‘capabilities’ for improvement. The world’s greatest landscape gardener ? most probably, you only have to visit the hundreds of parks he designed that can still be seen to day as a testimony to his work.

Go and visit Charlecote Park when you’re in this neck of the woods, wow what a landscape especially for an angler as apart from the River Dene in its grounds it has the Warwickshire Avon flowing through it as well, I was on first name terms with the head groundsman as I fished it for a couple of years and caught some nice fish from it. Roaming Deer, Jacob sheep, those lovely landscaped gardens, oh and and the manor house, there is plenty for everyone.

Anyway back to the ‘Naples of the Midlands’ as recently as the 1970’s the 16th century built mansion Walton Hall (once owned by Danny La Rue) which has the Dene flowing through its pool had ‘lawfully’released treated sewage in to this small river, till things went wrong one day. 

It received consent of pursuance to discharge treated sewage effluent, up to 200 cubic meters per day of it straight in to the river, now It doesn’t take much to bugger up these forgotten wildlife havens, even after they have been restocked after pollution incidents.

Waterways like this rise and all rapidly with the rainfall but most of the time they hover around the similar low levels. Luckily some of us anglers, dog walkers and ramblers are the eyes and ears to these forgotten streams and rivers, and we can highlight any issues quickly.

The route we planned to take, as Sam was with me for this one, was to follow the meandering river for around a mile or so and then work our way back to where I started. The access looked good with public access as I don’t like to tread on private land on these excursions of mine, but the key thing was despite it looking that there was quite a few trees and overgrown bushes, in places there was access to the water, thumbs up.

We didn’t know what to expect for the session, just catching a fish would be nice, any fish. So ‘any fish’ dictated the bait, We had the ickle 5ft 5" Advanta River Ambush wand quiver rod with us with a SSG link-ledger rig and bait would be maggots which I had to use up and some small wriggly worms.

So did the trip pan out as planned? !!!!

Well we didn't fish that many swims but the fishing was a little tougher than expected, maggot was the order of the day though and after a missed bite and a sucked maggot, we found some roach.

We managed 5 or 6 in the two hour session and at last knockings a surprise Chub that came out the blue he didn't want to handle as it was 'slimy'. Sam enjoyed it immensely though because there was a wooded area to explore and he chose the 'fishy swims' we fished.

We should have fished it maybe the week before because it was much lower than I thought. I'm sure with a bit more water on it would fish better.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Smelt and Snot Rockets Pt.7

Researchers analysing a jar full of white powder removed from 3,200 year-old Egyptian tomb have determined that it’s cheese, the oldest ever found and eating it will kill you now and may have killed people in the past.

What is the curse of this mummified mozzarella?

The tomb of Ptahmes was rediscovered in 2010 and whatever was left by the looters was removed, including broken jars containing a “solidified whitish mass” and a piece of canvas. That mysterious mass eventually ended up in the lab of one Mister Enrico Greco, who dissolved a spoonful, removed the proteins and analysed them with liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry.

The results showed peptides identifying it as a dairy product made from cow, sheep or goat milk. Other indicators plus the presence of a cloth that could be wrapped around a ball eliminated all other possibilities and Greco held up the jar, faced the camera and said, “Cheese!”

Resisting the spirit of Wallace and Grommit to taste the ancient cheese, the researchers continued researching and found that the cheese from the tomb was cursed.

The powder contained the bacteria Brucella melitensis which causes brucellosis, a disease transmitted from animals (cows, sheep and goats are on the list) through unpasteurized dairy products that can cause fever, sweats, malaise, anorexia, headaches, joint and muscle pain, fatigue and depression.

Oh, and it can be fatal.

Now talking about cursed camembert, a bit of a change for this session !!!! A sheltered swim, an undercut bank, some depth away from the turmoil. Upstream their usual hideout, a bubbling nubilous cauldron.

A Pike would feel comfortable here, sit-wait and ambush.

A quick afterwork session, to try and get a float to bob or a quiver tip to go wham !!!!

Despite being under ones blog orders to fish for those slimy snot rockets with teeth during the month of February this was, again a bit of double dipping, after some recent rain, the levels well up, now on the fall, the greeny tinge the water exhibited favoured a Chevin not a Pike.

You see big Chub reside not far away from this swim, and at this moment, likely to be at their winter fullest.

Now the humble Chub have unseen pharyngeal teeth tucked away at the back of their huge mouths which are weapons to rival the pike. They are partial to a deadbait too, in-fact I’ve used lamprey and whitebait successfully on the Avon to specifically target the Chub. Also from time to time I’ve caught them on roach deadbaits when targeting Zander such their lust for blood because they are carnivores after all.

A Roach dead under a float on one rod and a lump of tomb rivaling cheesepaste on the other, again two hours is all I’d have before the dairy makers got involved and the bell was rung.

It couldn’t come soon enough, you see….

....its not been a good time of late, some friends and work colleagues having their contracts kyboshed in these times of instability. An obvious knock of effect to me, my mind and well-being, moral given a kick in the balls, my shoulder on watch. Luckily the jobbing fraternity particularly come together in times like this and the network is notified, and the carrier pigeons let go after pointing in certain directions.

Fishing for me is the much needed avenue to prod and poke and at the potential tides of turn.

A mind of nothing, normality restored for the short term, sanity at a simmer.

Anyway back to the session, a mind blowing 13 degrees C at midday, this was a pleasant time to be out on the bank I must say. The smell of spring round the corner, skies clear on the most part and the sun prominent most of the time, long may the fair weather continue. Out of the sun, still a little chilly in the wind, but wow, was a difference some nice weather does for the mind.

Anyway back to the fishing, I could see from the colour of the water the Pike wouldn't be biting and sure enough the float remained motionless.

The quiver tip though, that was the opposite, a 4lb 2oz Chevin came to the net quite quickly, 2 un-missable bites, which yeap, I missed and then I hooked another fish which was heading towards the snags and the fluorocarbon broke below the loop knot for the hooklink, WTF, not happy about that, felt a good fish as well.

Don't think I've ever had that before. A cormorant was spotted feeding upstream but then that seems part of the course in the local waters. Sadly I had so leave to pick the eldest up from school as I would have banked more fish, I'm sure of it.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Smelt and Snot Rockets Pt.6

A swim of predators, a hook bait of Lamprey, it went off big time….

These freaks of nature that are neither fish, worm nor eel have survived for 360 million years, have long snake-like bodies and a sucker mouth adorned with sharp teeth worthy of any Hollywood sci-fi movie.

Think Alien !!!!

Many of the parasites feed by sucking the blood of fish, attaching to their prey with a suction disk and teeth.

What might also come as a surprise is the high regard in which scientists hold lampreys. Ecologists know that lampreys maintain the health of rivers. Medical researchers study lampreys, which have a remarkable ability to heal themselves even after severe nerve damage, an ability that could offer a way to heal spinal cord injuries.

Evolutionary biologists have discovered that lampreys are crucial in the history of life. Now Lampreys were among the first backboned animals to evolve, so these fish carry important clues about our ultimate origins. Lampreys look a little like eels. They have a long, flexible body with eyes, mouth and gills at one end, and a tail fin at the other.

People can have an almost morbid fascination with them as these blood-sucking parasites, and I can understand why, they really are like no other bait I use to catch fish, on their own I would day.

The blood that omits from a bait so small really is incredible and texture and the slimy fleshy skin like Teflon. I’ve caught Chub, Pike and Zander using it, and if wasn’t so expensive and hard to find sometimes I’d use it more.

Now Martyn from Stratford-Upon-Avon Fishing and Outdoors kindly came to my rescue and intercepted a delivery of maggots from Lanes Baits and managed to secure me another few packs of lamprey where half would be used for this session. Cannot knock the service, as I've said before, support your local tackle shop. It's simple Use or Lose !!!!

I lost what I think was a half decent Zander last time, but then we know they can be tricky buggers to effectively hook-up to, a bit hit and miss.

But then Pike can be like that as well even with a bait loaded with trebles, they can grasp the bait in such a way the hooks don’t get a purchase despite the float submerging like a good’un.

In that mad hour and a bit I must have had 7 or 8 runs, two fished banked and a few lost it was one of those sessions that sadly had to come to an end before I’d liked it to.

Again a short after work session, two rods, two hours !!!!

With the river now on the fall after being up and coloured after lots of rain the weekend the swim sort of dictated the session. The Avon you see had been the highest it had been for a long time, but luckily this swim allows some sanctuary away from the main flow and has for me in the past produced Chub and Barbel. So I decided to fish another rod with a boilie and paste wrap for a bit of double dipping and let the deadbait do it's thing under the watch of a Gardner TLB.

Enough of the small talk, how did I get on ?

Well despite more or less having the whole stretch to myself my chosen swim for the day, the one I fished last week was occupied by someone, damn. I settled in to a swim around 100 yards downstream and got the baits out an hour before dusk.

The lamprey had interest within fifteen minutes or so, the bobbin jumping to attention, I assume it was a chub though because a run didn't develop and also on retrieval of the bait there were no teeth marks.

The water wasn't as high as I thought, a nice colour for Zander and Barbel certainly however not for Pike. Despite the day being mild the water was still freezing, however with the sun was setting it was make or break time, usually here especially where the Barbel are concerned this is the time they go on the feed. A couple of pulls on the rod top, didn't develop in to a fill blown bite, a chub again I assume.

The club rules dictated the close of the session, a walk back to the car, defeated, and another blank to add to the list.

So what to fish for the weekend, well I fancy exploring a Warwickshire Avon tributary with Sam I've not fished before, or the small stream for a big Dace, or a big Chub down the utopia swim, heck maybe even a canal Zander. Decisions, decisions. 

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Smelt and Snot Rockets Pt.5

A few year ago now a monster-sized fish was briefly spotted by two astonished and terrified anglers on the River Nene, in the Fens, Cambridgeshire. One of the fishermen provided BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with an incredible account: “I enjoy going out on my boat.

One day we were on our boat going up towards Whittlesey and the boat suddenly juddered as if there was something large in the water. My friend and myself looked at each other and I looked down to see what we had hit. I saw the most extraordinary thing.”

He continued with the story....

“I saw the biggest fish I have ever seen in my life. I like boating and I like wildlife, but I had never seen a fish like this before. It was absolutely huge – it was over six-foot long. It was swimming alongside us and our boat had struck it and it was as if it was showing us the side of itself where the propeller had hit it and we could see the white flesh. My friend saw it and exclaimed ‘Blimey is that a dolphin?’ It was so big. We’re going to go out again this year and see if we can see it.”

 I love these sort of stories, and we as anglers being closer to waters than the layman because of our pastime are in the best position to stumble upon these abnormalities.  A sturgeon who knows but I have some stories of my own, as I know for a fact there is a huge Pike swimming around in the Avon I aptly named Pike Tyson and a gargantuan Barbel Sam named as Albuttbarbelbutt.  

A pint of maggots for the tangleator, a bait under a Pike float for me, I want to catch Pike Tyson !!!!

I blanked here last time but there were signs, good signs that the Pike were around, one fluffed take, one follow and I know from past trips here because of the availability of bait fish, those with teeth are not far away.

Here like many stretches of the rivers I fish, the predator is now the prey, otters obviously but also the ever increasing numbers of cormorants that appear during winter in these waters that have bait fish in abundance and are easy pickings to satisfy their bellies.

When it’s clear the fish go in to hiding and often it’s only at dusk where they let their guard down and start to look for food.

But as us anglers know, after a bit of rain, a tinge of colour, that net curtain over the window they can go about their business without looking over their shoulder all the time.

Oddly the Zander are nowhere to be seen on this stretch and yet especially upstream the swims look ideal, the deeper sonar ticking the box. I should fish it in to dark more to be honest as I’m sure there are some surprises to be had, maybe I will. There are certainly good Chub here and fish lamprey at dusk I’m sure if a Zander isn’t around, a good Chub will be.

Only a quick morning session this, a break from Fortnite, a break for his mother….

It was Sam’s choice as well, “I want to catch a jack pike Daddy”

So tackle in the car the night before, a quick smash and grab session !!!!

The river was up but and some nice colour but the small fish were hard to come by, after what seemed like an hour Sam caught his first fish, a small roach, then luckily the sport picked up, the wind was cold you see and he was beginning to lose the will to live.

A bit like me and the Pike, the last one pictured right caught a few days ago after quite a baron time of late.

A lamprey eventually was taken my a Jack and a livebait under a float in quite a few swims weirdly went unnoticed. Usually this small section it's a livebait that attracts the Pike, much more than the deadbaits which I've found the opposite on other areas.

So another poor session, the Pike seem to be sulking at the minute. I've another couple of sessions planned soon though, the next one, a short after work session. I'm hoping the carpet bombing approach will eventually throw something nice up.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Smelt and Snot Rockets Pt.4

A woman rang the BBC and said she heard a hurricane on the way and so began the most infamous weather bulletin in British history on the lunchtime news over 30 years ago now.

“Well I can assure people watching,” smirked weather forecaster Michael Fish, “don’t worry, there isn’t.”

Just a few hours following that fateful broadcast in the early hours of October 16, 1987, the south coast of England was battered by the greatest storm witnessed in nearly three centuries. Gales reaching 115mph caused utter devastation across the southern half of the country, leaving 18 people dead, 15 million trees flattened, and a repair bill totalling £2bn.

From Hero to Zero sadly because good old Mr Fish a previously benign national presence in chequered two-piece suits of varying shades of beige, the Great Storm led to him being lampooned in the press.

Not as a harbinger of doom, but rather somebody who failed to see it galloping across the Channel towards us.

Nowadays, the weatherman seems to secretly revel in the notoriety, a clip of the fateful broadcast was, to his great delight, used in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games. But at the same time he is eager to clear his name, and shift the blame.

Now obviously he was only relaying what those further up the chain of command were telling him, and the real villain of piece was the met office computer that got it so wrong.

The Met Office computer on which Fish and his colleagues relied in 1987 made four million calculations a second. Nowadays it is capable of 14,000 trillion calculations a second. Most of these come from satellites which were rarely used 30 years ago.

As a direct result of the Great Storm, deep ocean weather buoys were located around the British Isles to provide hourly weather information and help us to monitor developing weather conditions. Where grid squares of 150km were once used for weather prediction, now the range is 10km.

In order to demonstrate these advances, a couple of years ago the Met Office announced that it had rerun the conditions in 1987 to determine whether its new supercomputer would have made the correct forecast and proudly claimed it spotted the weather system forming up to a week ahead.

What a load of boll*cks

Anyone noticed that the weather since that faithful day is often predicted to be far worse than it actually is and when the weather front passes by like a rather large damp squib they don’t admit that they over egged it.

They cannot seem to predict what the weather will 24 hours before despite all the computer power they are shouting from the rooftops about. Here’s an idea, use my method, seems to work quite well, pop your head out of the window, look up for a few seconds and at the same time put your wetted finger in the air.

Then decide what to wear, works for me….

So anyway for this session and Nic I would be fishing the private stretch to try and winkle out a predator or two. If you looked at the weather throughout the week, and even a few hours before we’d be battling gale force winds and rain to fill empty bird baths, but as expected that didn’t quite happen as predicted.

3.30ish till well in to dark, ideal to try and winkle out a Zander or maybe even a Pike. The water had a nice tinge of colour last time I fished the Avon and the bites came thick and fast, I was hoping this stretch being much further downstream would be on the same timetable.

Two rods for me, lamprey on one, smelt on the other.

So after a lunch with the Wife I headed over to Nic's stretch and he was already there setting up. It was windy but perfectly fishable, the water temperature 7.3 degrees if I recall.

The rain held off till we decided to call it a day, typical, The session was an uneventful one sadly.

Despite all the baits out, a swim that has produced some decent fish, I had a couple of rod tip pulls on Lamprey and Nic had a 10 yard run on a oil injected Roach without hooking up, It was a blank, and we fished well in to dark as well. Hmmmm, not good, one of those session we'd both like to forget. Sadly Nic's lazer cut fabricated Zed monkey climbers didn't get a good outing.

Odd session, very odd !!!!

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Smelt and Snot Rockets Pt.3

The pike is a teleost fish, and therefore, in evolutionary terms less advanced than amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Despite this, having evolved over 200 million years ago it is without doubt a highly successful species. It has survived longer than the dinosaurs. That success has been based on instinct and a limited ability to learn.

We as anglers do not fully understand the extent of that ability to learn, but a pike certainly knows where it is, knows by instinct and its physiology when to breed and the endocrine and nervous system dictates whether or not a pike is hungry or not.

If a pike is hungry its instinctive behaviour and form enables it to satiate that hunger. A complex biological machine, yes, but one we as anglers should have little difficulty in understanding. Unfortunately we live in air while a pike lives in water.

But the more you fish, the more you get to know the likely fish holding areas, and this location was one of them.

All I needed to do was to lay the table, warm the plate and put a Sunday dinner out !!!!

You see away from the main river, a quiet area of relative repose, an area for contemplation, where a big stationary predator could lie in wait, an area to gather their thoughts in these waters of rapprochement.

Dusk is the time to try and engage with the apex hunter with teeth, this is when they go on the prowl, the time that they feed.

I didn’t have long for this quick after work session, but with the rod made-up the trap could be set and in-position well before the sun diminished and the light faded.

Then it’s merely a waiting game, an hour at most, for the float to bob and the line to go tight.

Now ones bait fridge in the garage was working overtime in this cold weather and the freezer compartment wasn’t coping very well, so a little purging and rearranging was required. Wedged at the back under a container of garlic spam, a 4 pack of lamprey, soft as you like. Yeap one of those would do for this session, the bait bisected the, head section selected.

But then I remembered the stepped up Zed gear I’d I recently sorted out for a trip down the private stretch, so a two rod attack was hatched and to mix it up a bit, the ledger rod would be rigged with a winterised oil injected smelt.

Double Bubble, certainly the large swim justified it.

So anyway, a quick post because it was a quick session after all, so how did I get on !!!!

Well it's amazing what a bit of colour in the water does isn't it, I lost a pike and a zander only half an hour in to the session thinking it was one of those days, but a 5 or 6 pound Pike was banked an hour in and then a 4lb Zander soon after. The Lamprey seemed to receive the most attention with a few dropped runs and another fish that dropped off well in to a decent fight.

My offset Sakuma Manta's were ditched recently for a hook a little stouter but I might switch back, it's a hook I've confidence it. Oddly all the simply lipped / light nipped baits resulted in banked fish rather than the fancy threaded baits with hooks in a different configuration.

The clubs rules called time but I'm sure I'd have banked more fish, it was bites galore. 

Monday, 4 February 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Smelt and Snot Rockets Pt.2

The cannibalistic Pike is a true cosmopolitan in his feeding. Fish, flesh, and fowl are alike acceptable to him, animal, mineral, and vegetable his charity embraces them all. Nothing, in short, that he can by any means get into his stomach. Moorhens, ducks, rats even foxes, nothing is safe from this unmistakable scary looking fish beast with rather sharp teeth.

Occasionally however the Pike is himself a victim. The Otter is his worst enemy, and generally comes off victor in those desperate combats with which the watery realms must be too frequently convulsed, could we but see what goes on under their placid surface.

A more exciting spectacle in its way than such a struggle between these two hereditary antagonists it would be difficult to conceive. On the one hand, the Otter, dark, noiseless, and treacherous, writhing with eel-like suppleness to secure a position from which to fix the fatal grip, on the other, the Pike, an impersonation of concentrated ferocity, flashing across the arena, with eyes glaring and jaws distended or even EAGLE AND PIKE.

This time of year though is the time to fish for them, tucked away, watching the world go by with movement minimal to conserve the energy for much needed belly building. For an angler it’s a way to get bankside and get a bite, you see apart from the Chevin what is there to fish for in waters temperatures so low the local cut is frozen.

These Pike are the prefects at the school of hard knocks.

I love predator sessions like this, the bare minimum of tackle, one rod, a big visible cigar to lie on the surface and and a roving approach to try and drop on a fish. Bites usually come quick in the winter as the fish doesn’t want to give its chance up, another fish to get his quota.

 After 15 minutes without a bob it’s time to move on. It’s not rocket science where these fish will likely to be holding up either, the slacks, the mouths of feeder streams, the margins, areas of cover and areas just off the rivers visible crease.

Now this small stretch provided more laughs then seeing buffet lover Gemma Collins (yeah I don’t know who she is either ) taking a tumble recently whilst trying to ‘dance on Ice’. You see whilst fishing a small livebait for Perch a big Pike decided that he’d like it instead and did me over like a kipper, real good and proper, so much so I laughed out loud such the kidney punch and jumper over one’s head rib jabbing.

This time though, as I said in Pt.1 I am now better equipped, it was out with stouter tackle.

It was -5.5 degrees when I left the house, a proper hard frost and with the water temperature 2.9 degrees, clear and cormorants flying around and feeding downstream I knew it would be tough.

The first bite came quick and such was my amazement I didn't really let the bite develop. So after feeling the resistance of a the fish and seeing its flanks It let its grip go of the smelt bait.

That however was the only bite I had of the 4 hour session. I fished quite a few swims as well, tight to cover, in the open water and also in the margins. One fish followed the deadbait back on the retrieval but he saw me as I saw it and it was never to be seen again.

So a blank, not good !!!! at least it was nice to be out.

Now down this neck of the woods livebait certainly produces the bites so when I come back here again I might change my tactics. With some rain on the rain and temperatures rising hopefully there will be some much needed colour in the water to give the fish some confidence to get back out again.
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