Friday, 12 October 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Ladybirds, Lobcocks and Lickspittles

In the week, the spinney car park, tackle being unloaded from the car, out the corner of my eye, hmmmmm, a swarm of insects, wonder what they are? Very weird. Then I’m under attack, one lands on my ear, so I flick it off, then another lands on my head, brushes it off, then I notice my trousers are covered. Oh they’re ladybirds, wow, haven’t seen that many before.

Then a bit of Googleing, STD riddled ones apparently, you see these by all accounts are a species called Harmonia Axyridis, otherwise known as Harlequin ladybirds and have been ‘invading British homes in biblical plagues.’

Now these ladybirds which migrated from Asia and North America around 14 years ago, carry a disease called Laboulbeniales which is a form of fungi, and Scientists say the fungus, which is passed on through mating, will infect our native species, which are already under threat from habitat loss. While they don't yet know if the fungus is harmful, they say it is possible that the disease affects the lifespan or the number of eggs a female can produce over her lifespan.

Luckily there is no chance of catching this Coccinellidae chlamydia, however the advice is to leave them alone, because a defence mechanism many ladybird species exude a yellow fluid (called reflex blood) which has an unpleasant acrid smell, and which can stain soft furnishings.

To be fair, much like the kids then !!!!

Also when hungry, harlequin ladybirds will bite humans in their search for something if there is no food available. The bites usually produce a small bump and sting slightly and there are a few documented cases of people having a severe allergic reaction to harlequin ladybirds.

Scientists have dubbed the animal Britain's most invasive species, as it preys on seven native ladybirds, including the common two-spot. Don’t worry though, The Harlequin Ladybird Survey will monitor its spread across Britain and assess its impact on native ladybirds.

Now talking of invasive species….

….for this after work afternoon session in the peeing rain and strong wind (I had the choice of shopping with the Wife or going fishing ) I teased my rubber band equipped car down the perilous potholed path (a little better now) to the upper reaches of the deep bit of a stretch of the Warwickshire Avon I fish, you see I’ve concentrated in and around certain pegs of late further downstream and that’s probably not helping my catch rate, so this was born out of necessity.

These Zander have been rather sluggish of late you see, where have they all gone, that’s the question ?, because I thought I was on to something, I really did. It was out with the lure rod to try and locate a few but as back-up I’d also fish a sleeper rod in and around some marginal cover with my favourite Zander bait of recent times, yeap the smelt.

The colour and clarity isn’t helping for sure, because Zander love turbid water, more colour the better in-fact such their superior eyesight that give them an advantage over their prey. Just look at the canal fish I’ve been catching, I actively look for areas where the water is brown because that’s where the Zander will likely be, it’s not finger in the air type stuff I tell thee.

They love being top dog, feet up, smoking jacket donned with a big fat Cuban, then again who doesn’t….

With the acid house poncho at the ready (bought for an outdoor rave but not used) I decided to brave the conditions. The rain luckily eased up after an hour or so but the wind picked up and got worse throughout the session.

I worked really hard in this session, dropping in and out of swims with the deadbait to try and stumble on to a Zed and using the lure rod in anger. I had two dropped takes on the smelt and not even a nudge on the lure which surprised me as usually there is a jack that is up for it.

So a big fat blank but I'm glad I braved the conditions !!!!

The river felt very low and lifeless though and very clear indeed, so not ideal conditions to target the Zander.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Flap-Dragons and Flaybottomists

Unlike a friend Dave Robert who has just banked his best common carp at 74lb from his 20th trip over to Lac De Curton or Rainbow Lakes in France recently I could never dedicate or even justify the time required angling for a mud sifter.

He and the like-minded think nothing more than spending days and weeks at a time, here and abroad sat behind rods waiting for the buzzers to go off hoping a carp bigger than they’ve caught before has bolted off and hooked itself after sucking up their boilies. Lets not go in to the mirror he's had, all I can say is that it makes the 74lber look small.

Kilos and kilos of bait, enough gear to open a tackle shop, rig making, prebaiting and preparation that is needed to catch fish battling with  buggered BMI's and a bulging bellies. It’s just not my thing, but then I’ve always been an advocate of doing whatever makes you happy not what other people think.

I’m the odd one out though it seems, you see carp fishing participation over the years after all has propped up many a tackle firms from going belly up, and I for one don't want that to happen. It also keeps the interest up for many, which to be honest is a dying pastime.

To be fair maybe one day I might join Dave for a trip is life ever gets on top of me because I can see the appeal as you are away from it all, mind elsewhere, and most of all that much needed peace and solitude I seek.

An angler as experienced as Dave in these matters would make or break the deal for me as it’s the incite from someone that has spent hundreds and hundreds of hours bankside fishing for big carp that I’d happily listen to whilst the bite alarms are silent.

His last account of his latest big fish really showed the dedication and skill to be able to catch fish at this mad venue and the power of these fish must be incredible. Now he has been fishing for carp for many a year however I'm not quite ready to jump on the bandwagon just yet....

....So what the heck am I doing then….?

I’m carp fishing, hmmmm

Ok I’m on a river not within a containment but yes, I want to try and catch another carp from the Avon after seeing one launch itself out of the water recently. It was a big bronzed flanked mirror that unexpectedly showed its location when I was lure fishing for Zander. I’ve not really fished for carp that much on rivers, I had a spell where I fished an area thick with lilies with bread crust and dog biscuits that many carp had as their sanctuary, but apart from that, not much else.

That style of carp fishing suited me, not much gear and also having to be very mobile which was instrumental in the luck I had when during one of the bloggers challenges on the last day of the season. You see I had to catch a decent Zander or a Carp to stay in second place on the river leader board after Sean had banked a massive Pike if memory serves me right.

After motionless deadbait rods in Lucy’s Mill weir pool I ventured upstream and chucked out a sleeper rod with two 15 mm boilies, one a bright pop-up and within a short while the baitrunner was screaming off and a fat and rotund 20lb carp fell for the bait. The bait wasn’t just positioned willy -nilly though it was within a patrol route I’d been told about, so not quite chuck and hope, well only just.

Any leg up the ladder is always welcome when targeting something new and when this carp revealed itself recently I had to at least give it a go. Zander are up here as well though so this was a bit of a double dipping session, a smelt on one rod and a boilie on the other with a PVA bag full of freebies attached to the hook.

It's greater than 12 foot in most places but a clear bottom is quite easy to find an area where the carp in theory should be grubbing round for food.

To try and get ahead of the game when I was here last for Zander, before I left, I deposited a load of 15 mm boilies that I’d been meaning to bin because they were showing their age. This was to at least try and get any carp in the vicinity to return to an area where they’d had a buffet laid out without hindrance and I'll have a trap set.

Put one of my Sunday dinners in front of most people they get stuck in like they've never eaten before, and that's when the guard comes down.

"who want an extra Yorkshire pudding ?"

Everyone puts their hands up despite the implications it may have !!!!

Carp are greedy after all, give them bait, that’s what they want !!!!

Two pegs would be fished and after arriving I'd bait up another spot with hemp, sweetcorn and pellets to try and bring fish in to the area to feed and if they did turn up whilst I was fishing the initial spot they would become confident when I'd lower in my boilie offering.

The Zander well, the plan was to fish a roach deadbait in a deep area just to my right. Now I usually fish the far bank cover which is a bit of a cast, but maybe I was missing a trick, what's up with fishing my bank instead. Got to be worth go me thinks....

I got away later from work as expected and after two sets of temporary traffic lights I did wonder if it was worth bothering or not or just go to the local and have a pint. I battled on though and eventually settled down in to the swim two and a half hours before dusk. It was warm too, so the thick fishing hoodie was to warm so the work shirt would have to do complete with hat. Once the sun went down the temperature would drop considerably.

I deposited the freebies on the upstream swim first and then got the carp rod out with a PVA bag of freebies and the zed rod out in the main swim to fish. A bite came quick on the deadbait but I stupidly didn't let the bite develop and after putting the bait back it didn't seem to be interested.

The carp rod remained silent for the whole session and after popping back and forth the swim I fed without seeing any carp or any signs of them, so I decided to stick to the main swim rather than car the gear and change swims.

Eventually after seeing a decent fish top right by my feet more or less I dropped the deadbait exactly where I saw it and sure enough after fifteen minutes the bobbin starts to become active and fish has decided it would like a bit of roach.

I knew it was a Pike as soon as it was on because of the characteristic fight. A half decent fish as well and it gave a pretty good go of trying to escape the net. Netted it was though and there was no need to unhook it either as it had already dropped out of the net.

I didn't weigh it but it didn't quite like a double but maybe a pound off. With half an hour to go another half roach went out but sadly nothing doing. I thought a bream might have taken a fancy to the boilies at least and where have all the Zander gone.

Only 1 Zed in about 5 sessions now, with a bit of rain on the way though I'm hoping a top up will put a bit of extra colour in the water but this time I will fish an area I know where a big Zed has been caught in the past, it's got form too, as my biggest came from the area, as did the biggest I've lost.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Thornbacks and Thatch-Gallows

The Krispy Kreme doughnut shop which opened in Dublin last week has been forced to close its 24 hour drive-through service at night after noise complaints from neighbours. Krispy Kreme said that it had experienced unprecedented demand since opening its first Irish branch in Blanchardstown last Wednesday.

An hours queue by all accounts, with those with bulging bellies and angry faces just to get their fatty sugary fix, yes you really cannot make it up.

Apparently it made the decision to close the drive-through between the hours of 11.30pm and 6am in response to customers shouting and sounding their horns and annoying the locals while queuing outside the restaurant late at night.

Surely the only doughnut if you really want to get your fix is the freshly fried ones from the fairground not the overly sweet rubbish concoctions this company conjurers up, I’m the odd one out again it seems.

But queue for an hour, come on, unless you nothing better to do of course !!!!

But it doesn't stop there there were some freebies given out on the first day and there were people there hours, yes hours waiting to get their hands on the 12 quid a dozen jobbies.

Now Perch have similar traits, shoaled and queued up like us British do waiting for a tasty treat to swing by before grabbing what they can to get their fix.

I was hoping the rain the day before would add that much needed tinge of colour to the river which for a long time now has been very clear. Perch you see in a few spots I fish for them shy away in those sort of conditions but with a little bit of colour can indeed switch on to feed. There are certainly predators down this neck of the woods, oddly no Zander as far as I know, Pike being the dominate species, and some good’uns too.

I don’t fish for big river Perch that often, 1lb 13oz’s being my biggest on a live bait up to now with my still water PB being 2lb 11oz which was caught at the now shut Warwick Racecourse Reservoir that was one of those waters that would throw up some nice surprises.

The plan for this session was to fish a small live bait under a tiny small Pike bobber and sprinkle a few red maggots over the top to bring in the smaller prey fish in for a look and hopefully for the Perch to hopefully follow.

Before the session started I'd also put in to chopped worm and red maggots in a few likely looking Perch hideouts.

What a lovely morning, one of those Autumn dawns us anglers and early risers get to see. Mist off the water, the sun gradually rising, the Kingfisher on the hunt. The problem was the water was still as clear as it was last time I was here. The skies were blue as well which certainly wouldn't help the fishing.

Small live baits were not that easy to come by, plenty of fish but the dace and roach were on the whole would have been fine for Pike but a bit of a gobstopper for a Perch.

Perch can certainly swallow surprisingly large baits but that would mean I'd have to tackle up if a decent Pike came along. My Perch rod is 1.5TC, fine for small Pike but anything half decent I'd be outgunned.

That said the first fish was a Pike that nearly pulled the rod in because I'd took the eye off my float for a second. It gave a spirited fight and I didn't weigh it but it looked around 6 lb or so. I tried all the baited swims without even an enquiry but then decided to fish a peg I had to plough myself through to get to it. I did mean to bring my shears as it was overgrown last time I was here, but stupidly forgot them. To be fair the stingers are dying off now so it wasn't really a problem.

I cast next to some reeds and within 10 seconds or so the float started to bob and then started to go properly under. I was a little premature on the strike but I felt a fish on. I steered it away from the snags and it came towards me and I saw the flanks of a big Perch, the problem was I could see the fish in it's mouth and then we it saw me in the clear water it let go of it and went back to it's sanctuary.

So another bait went out and with 10 minutes the float did exactly the same, this time though as soon as I struck in to it I realised this was no Perch but a big Pike, it carted to my left and there was nothing at all I could do about it, in-fact after tightening up the clutch as much as I dared it was pulling me along the slippy wooden staging then the hook pulled.

Hmmm might need a re-think....

I thought I was going home with a pretty poor session but then taking a while to catch a small lively again the very same spot within 5 minutes the float was off again, this time it went from left to right and it eventually submerged.

A half decent fight again but I knew it was a Perch this time, it wasn't the monster and was certainly not the fish I had on earlier but a nice proud fish all the same. Not huge fish at 1lb 10oz but an encouraging sign that's for sure.

I'm sure with the rivers like there are maybe the hour heading in to dusk would have been the better option, but hey ho. Got to fish within the time I have available to me, I'll be back soon though, I'm sure there are some lunking lurkers to be caught, I'm sure of it.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Mutton Mongers and Mopsqueezers

I suppose it’s a by-product of getting older, the older wiser females now on one’s radar rather than the young whippersnappers I cannot keep pace with. I tip my toe in from time to time but then I realise yeap, they’re welcome to it. You see these larger fat female Zander I’ve been chasing on the canal over many many sessions I’ve realised just how rare and hard to catch they are.

It’s purely a numbers game, many bars, hangouts and dance floors frequented, eventually one will be forthcoming with her life story. After catching a 7, a couple of 8’s and a couple or three years ago a 9lber on the nose which slipped up, that fish remains my canal PB till today.

As I found over the last couple of closed seasons those bigger females are becoming as becoming as elusive as the ever were so maybe that’s the biggest I’ll ever catch, maybe the heyday is gone.

The thing is Zander are a fish I’ve grown to love, thriving on adversity, if you were said you were going to be rehoused in a dirty canal in the midlands what would you say?

Exactly !!!!

They just gone on with it and to be fair to them, and have made the best of a bad situation. I’m looking forward to getting back fishing for them come mid-March as I’m determined no matter how hard it may be to catch that double.

Pin them down with rubber gloves donned and a full kitchen sink, that’s the best chance you have, needle in the proverbial haystack though, and I’m amazed I’ve stuck to it so long to be honest.

The river in theory should be an easier proposition, more bait fish to eat, more space to spread their wings and to be honest having lost at least one certain double I’m sure one will grace my net soon enough. I don’t fish for river Zander in the same vigour I do for canal fish, I’m not sure why either as they give a good fight most of the time and when a big one of netted it confirms my admiration for the species.

Smelt has been a bit of a revelation for my canal Zander fishing as maybe the distinctive smell has an advantage over a roach for example but as it’s also very soft the hook-ups that can be tricky as times for Zeds, a softer bait pulls through the flesh easier and gives the hooks the best chance it has to catch hold. I’d been using two rods so I’d also fish with a roach for my river Zander sessions as you never because it’s not as coloured they might be a tad more fussy.

Zander attack their prey by stabbing it, thus immobilising it, and then they swallow it tail or head first, seemingly not fussy about it. This said, they do not hunt in packs, at least not in unison, as a team, but they certainly home in and prey on shoal fish such as bream, corner them, and then attack them from all quarters. Bream shoals stir up the bottom and this in turn attracts smaller cyprinids which the Zander can eat in one gulp, so find the bream, find the Zander.

For this quick after work in to dusk session I was up at the deep bit of the Avon that sometime ago now I used the deeper fish finder to search out the good swims with holes, gullies and decent depth to try and give me an advantage. It’s quite wide and pedestrian and as it’s deep the Zander will still feed despite clear skies and sunny weather.

One particular session up here at the deep bit within the space of an hour I had multiple takes, even on the drop where obviously a large head of Zander had moved in and were on a hunting mission, quite a few fish were caught, a biggy lost so it’s an area that has always been on ones radar for a while, not only that but bream are up here as well.

Find the bream, find the Zander, well that’s the theory anyway !!!!

The river is a little lifeless as the minute so when I got bankside I knew I was in for a tough one, the deadbaits could clearly been seen 6 ft down and despite it being deep in places even the Zander are put off by this. The far bank cover is an ideal lair for the fish though and having caught numerous fish there before that's where both baits went.

It took nearly two hours for the first bite which came after I moved to a swim down.It was a tentative dropped run which when I inspected the bait it had the tell tale markings of a small Zed.

Another half an hour went by without an more interest even on the lure from time to time I moved down to the last swim as I headed in to dusk. Now this is home to my biggest river Zander which nearly went 9lb and also home to a fish that I lost that was a certain double and a location where a 12lber has been caught in the past.

Yeap you guessed it not a jot, just a tinge of colour can certainly help and at the minute the Avon is back to being low and clear, for the next session I might have to do a little bit of double dipping. Sean  was upstream of me and fared no better, sadly a couple of blankers for this evening session

I like to keep a record of all my sessions as there is plenty of bad and not so much good, it cannot be all about PB's !!!!
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