Sunday 24 January 2021

Warwickshire Avon - Virgin Coverings and Valetudinarians

A warm bed and a couple of large plump pillows didn't deter me from from mission, now that mission was catch a Chub in the snow, not any old Chevin blog readers, but a 6lber. The Alne was out so I would be hopefully plundering the fish at a stretch that had been very good in the past. It's one of those convenient stretches that is just too handy, especially in these COVID times where a vibrant sunrise is worth the effort to get out of bed from the daily drudgery. 

Chub love it here because there is cover aplenty and the swims can vary so much in such a short stretch it holds specimen fish of other guises too. It can be hot and miss though the colour makes a massive difference, tea like it was today, tough going, a green colour, likely to fill your winter boots.

Now the basic essentials of successful club angling are not difficult to define. They are a sound understanding of the nature and habits of the fish, an intimate knowledge of the river, an ability to select the most effective bait and knowing those times when the various possible combinations of bait and method are most likely to produce results. 

The technical skills are relatively easy to acquire. Within a comparatively short time even a novice can be taught how to present a bait reasonably well on float or leper tackle. The bait is usually a maggot, and the style of fishing such that it is no more likely to produce chub than any other fish. 

This style of fishing is popular because it sometimes produces large mixed catches of fish and usually more quickly than any other method and bait. It is not, however, angling in the fullest sense of the word, since it can be done and quite often is without any real knowledge of the water and the habits of the fish and with no specific quarry in mind. 

Many anglers develop great technical skills, but comparatively few acquire that deep understanding of fish and water that enables them to catch one particular species consistently. Such knowledge takes time, study and much thoughtful angling to acquire but is the foundation upon which all good angling is built. Without it consistent success is impossible because the angler who does not understand chub cannot hope to become very successful at catching them. 

He might, with luck, occasionally catch large quantities of them or even the odd specimen fish, but to the end of his days he will still believe that he can only catch them when the water is 'right', conditions are favourable, the chub are 'on' and he is in luck. The specialist chub angler has a different approach. Luck plays little part in his success which is based upon the practice of certain simple but essential principles which can now be listed in order of importance. 

Location Understanding of the habits of the species apart, the ability to locate chub accurately is possibly the most important of all the chub angler's assets. All fish intermingle to a certain extent but in most rivers there are swims in which chub are more numerous. These swims might be deep swirling holes beneath overhanging trees and bushes, hidden undercuts in high clay banks, or other hiding-places beneath tree-roots, mats of debris, or beds of weed. 

Where the river is featureless chub can be located by observation, exploration and by choosing a selective method and bait. In the early stages it is helpful to map each stretch of river, marking the place in each swim where chub have been seen or caught and noting carefully the prevailing weather conditions and water height.

If this is done methodically over a long period the angler will gradually learn where chub are most likely to be in the different conditions and where they are most likely to feed. Chub are influenced by many different factors, the height and colour of the water, the amount of light penetration, their need for oxygen and the availability of the foods upon which they feed. 

During the summer, when the water is often low and clear, they generally prefer the fast-flowing swims but are seldom far away from a convenient hiding-place. Any rise in the height of the water results in their gradual movement away from the fast currents, but as soon as the water begins to fall the chub drift back to their normal positions. 

During the winter they generally prefer the deeper water and are seldom seen in fast runs at the head of a swim although it is sometimes possible to catch them from fast-flowing shallow swims when the river is above normal height and, when the water is low, in the evenings when light penetration is negligible. Each river has its own different characteristics and the keen angler must be prepared to study each one as a separate and different environment. The formation and contours of the river bed should be studied, too, as they provide important clues to accurate location

Some swims have their deepest part in the centre of the river, others are deeper under one bank, while a few are of even depth throughout. Obviously, any rise in the height of the water will have a different effect on the chub in each of these different types of swim. 

Chub in those swims that are deepest under one bank will tend to move over towards the shallower side, while those in swims that are deeper in the centre of the river will move in towards the shallower marginal water on both sides of the river. Only in swims of uniform depth will these movements be slight  and unless all these various movements are clearly understood much valuable time will be wasted fishing places that are not likely to hold chub. 

Now I know this stretch intermittently and when I got bankside I knew there would only be a handful of fishable swims. One swim in-particular holds fish 90% of the time I've fished it and catch a fish there you'd catch fish in the other swims too. A large lump of cheespaste went out in the turbid water in a nice inside slack just off the cover of a rather large half submerged tree.

Usually a bite will come quick, but not for this session, a couple or three sharp taps and that was my lot. I gave it far longer than I usually do because of the limited swims I had at ones disposal, luckily a nice brew kept my mind on the task it hand. So on for rove it was with the snow coming down thick and fast. With the right winter gear on I was rather toasty and obviously roving from swim to swim gets the blood pumping, ones hands in the thin neoprene gloves more than comfortable.

Another 2 swims down and biteless there was only one left before I'd have to leave and go snowman making, sledge pushing and Sunday roast conjuring. This swim I rarely fish because it's not that productive but here there is think cover to the left with more than enough shelter for fish to keep out of harms way. Right out in-front of the thick bushes is a large slack where with the level as it was today, it was around 4 deep.

I moulded an extra lump of cheesepaste around the paste holder and dropped it in underarm to the heart of the swim. I got an indication there was a fish in the swim really quite quick but it took a good twenty minutes before a bite developed. A drop back bite came initially and then after letting out some slack to give the fish confidence all hell breaks loose.

The problem was I'd let too much slack out so before I could get on top of the fish it had already made inroads to the cover to the left and with both hands on the rod to try and bully it away from his escape route within seconds he's done me over good and proper. 

Damn !!!!, it felt a good fish too, the fish must have pulled away from the hook once it was snagged because I couldn't feel a fish on. I could see the bush move up and down though when I was trying to free the gear, but it snagged me so bad, I had to settle for a break. 

Now I could have set up again and fished another half an hour, but instead to take the Jimny out in snow for a bit of a play instead. Light, skinny tyres and switchable 4x4 negotiating the virgin snow covered roads was really rather quite pleasant, it was nice and quiet out there too. 

After lunch the snow theme continued like it did for many that also woke up to snow today, a decent amount too. It's melting though as all that will end up in the rivers, I suspect it will be tough for a while, then again, I've caught nothing of note in quite a few sessions now, still it was nice to be out.


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