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. 
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