Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Thursday 27 June 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Teratogens and Termagants

Finally the weather is picking up after the recent washout, ironically it’s coincided with the Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of the year, so for us S.A.D. sufferers it’s downhill from here. Now here in the Northern hemisphere it fell on June the 21st. The Summer Solstice basically marks the end of Spring and the start of Summer.

It will end with the Autumn Equinox, which this year falls on the 23rd of September. It took place exactly 15:54pm on Friday 21 June where the UK was treated to 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight.

The sun rose at 4.43am and set in the evening at 9.21pm.

We get the most hours of daylight on this day because of the position of the Earth in relation to the Sun. It occurs when the Earth's geographical pole on either the northern or southern hemisphere becomes most inclined towards the Sun. When the Summer Solstice takes place in the northern hemisphere, the Sun will reach its highest possible point.

As a result, the day on which the summer solstice falls will have the longest period of daylight of the year. Our planet does not spin on a vertical axis, it is titled. Which means the amount of sunlight that reaches different regions of the Earth changes during the year as it orbits the Sun. Around the time of the summer solstice areas of Norway, Finland, Greenland, Alaska and other Polar Regions experience 'midnight sun'.

Now the Summer Solstice is celebrated by thousands of pagans across the world. Many gather at Stonehenge which is believed to have been used as an important religious site by early Britons 4,000 years ago. On the summer solstice, the central Altar stone at Stonehenge aligns with the Heel stone, the Slaughter stone and the rising sun to the North East.

A fascinating place for sure, the thinking of how the stones got there seemingly change year on year and new theories and tales are told about Stonehenge to keep the mystery alive.

Now talking of fascinating areas !!!!

Luckily one hasn't a nagging Wife as I'm back fishing again, so a sheltered stretch, a relatively peaceful place ideal for those seeking sanctuary away from the toil, tussle and turbulence.

I’ve caught a variety of species here, everything from Ruffe, Zander, Pike and Barbel. It seems to be a holding area for all things fishy, so for this short evening session I was planning on some double dipping to see what came along a couple of hours heading up to dusk.

A small roach deadbait on one rod, lobworms on the other. An eel would be nice for some bloggers challenge points but if you think about it, those two baits could pick up a multitude of species. Zander particularly like this area because there are bait fish to pester and plunder.

I’ve caught a couple of barbel from here which is odd, because it doesn’t fit their stereotypical hideout, but eels for sure hence this exploratory session.

Just down from here there is a lovely spot many wouldn’t fish such its location, but I know there are some BIG chub that keep themselves tucked up out of the way but venture out in to the shallows from time to time to pick up anything coming their way.

It was here whilst watching the fish through ones polarised sunglasses that I could see a couple of eels, maybe 1.5lbers hugging the gravel bottom and going about their business.

Those BIG chub that reside here despite fishing for them on a variety of different techniques and methods, have remained elusive thus far.

Usually they are spooked quite easily on the sight of a lump of bread floating or sinking, but also when the chublets get in on the act first and spoil the swim for someone targeting the bigger residents.

They take bread off the top eventually but only after you’ve exhausted nearly a whole packet of Warburton’s Blue and even then, when you think you’ve won their confidence, put a bait down they come up all skittish and often get spooked and go back to where they came from.

Even a freelined lobworm or slug is actively ignored which usually is a tactic that can catch them off-guard.

The best I’d managed out of the swim was 4lb 13oz despite seeing fish that would easily beat ones mediocre PB. It will always stay on my radar though because some of Chub looked massive and a scale above the ones I usually catch from the Warwickshire Avon.

Anyway back to the session in question as I'm going off topic, how did I get on?

I was in no rush to get started so I decided to visit my secret Ruffe swim before settling down for the last couple of hours heading in to dusk. I’d caught Ruffe before you see, and that was my target for the first hour to try and tick the species off for the Bloggers Challenge.

Now to the untrained eye Ruffe could be mistaken for Perch especially when the smaller fish in silhouette and with eyes squinted, look like brothers.

Consider its Latin name of Gymnocephalus Cernuus. That mouthful, decided upon by the great Swedish taxonomist Mr Linnaeus, could easily be misconstrued as some sort of infection that your parents warn you about as a teenager. At first glance, the poor old pope has not got much going for it at all.

They are a different colour though a sandy brown to dark brown colour with blotchy black markings and speckles across the upper body and dorsal fin. They have two dorsal fins which are joined together, the front is generally hard while the rear is soft. They have a short triangular head and large mouth, feeding mainly upon small insects, snails, eggs and fry of other fish. They have a number of spines and like Perch, very spikey indeed.

The British record is 5oz’s apparently, now that is one big Ruffe !!!!

They can be caught using the same tactics as small Perch as well, now a small red worm is hard to beat for a Ruffe but maggot would have to do. I've a small Tenkara rod that packs down in to a small tube which I keep in my quiver, fitted with an off the shelf pole float set-up it's ideal for these ad hoc sessions.

And I couldn't believe it, within seconds the float bobs and then sails under and I fish is on. Now if you haven't seen a Tenkara rod the tip is tiny, not much more than a 1mm and the butt not much bigger at something like 4 or 5mm so you actually get a fight from a tiny fish. And yeap, you guessed it a Ruffe. Amazing how certain swims they feel comfortable in, I think next time I'll bring some worms instead if anyone beats my weight.

Because lets just say it wasn't a big'un registering 0.72 ounces on the scales. Oddly one more bite which I didn't connect then the swim goes dead. So to part 2 of the session, an Eel or a Zander.  One rod a small roach and the other a couple of lobworms with tails chopped off. It didn't take long to get the first interest either, it felt Zander long but dropped off within a few seconds. The lobworm wasn't getting any interest whatsoever but the fish bait was.

Then it all goes a bit mad, where I manage 2 eels quite quickly, the best going 1lb 8oz's. I decided to remove the lobworms and replace with a smelt to try and attract a Zander but the Eels seem to like that as well, the first the smelt coming back with a head and no body and then the next bite I managed another eel the smallest in this session. 

The Zander were suspicious in their absence despite the Avon being up and a nice colour, but I know from experience it fishes better here in the Autumn and Winter months. So I headed back at dusk with two more species ticked off the list and a landing net to hose down. Targets next session, no idea to be fair I need to have a think.


  1. Nice one. I find ruffe fascinating, probably because I’ve only ever caught two - but I found a shoal of them on the Thames last year while lure fishing - think I need to track them down again...

  2. They could well be in the area Brian, I can count on one hand the ones I've caught myself :)


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