Friday, 9 December 2022

Warwickshire Avon - Frolics and Frontogenesis

Like every other rugged, adventurous outdoor pursuit, angling is beset with perils and dangers that would daunt any ordinary man, but which merely give the angler a further incentive to press home the battle against raging elements and fierce, brute beasts.

The angler is cast in the classic mould. Where would we be, for instance, if it were not for men like Columbus, Raleigh, Drake, Frobisher, Hawkins, da Gama, Arthur, Nelson, Churchill and Hatt? Who but the angler, long inured to danger and pain, could shrug them off with sentiments akin to those expressed by Sherpa Tensing when, on the summit of Everest, Hillary accidentally stuck the flagpole up his nose? 

Alone he braves the elements, clad simply in two string vests, one pair of long johns, an army surplus shirt, three pullovers, one pair of pyjama trousers, one pair of battledress trousers, one pair of water- proof overtrousers, two pairs of socks, one pair of seaboot stockings, a pair of wellington boots, an ankle-length anorak, a bobbly hat and a nose cosy. 

His only other sources of warmth and comfort are a collapsible windbreak, a six-foot umbrella, a camping stool, a foot muff, a hand warmer, two thermos flasks a plastic boxful of cheese and onion butties, a portable-television and a bottle of the hard stuff. He goes out in to the unknown, an epic figure with a sense of his own destiny, knowing only that a man has to do what he has to do. Now and again he does it, Discreetly, And taking care to avoid the nettles.

The perils facing this man are many. It is only by being constantly on his guard that he can return to his loved ones unscathed. What follows, in an attempt to cut down the numbers of anglers who come home scathed, is a review of the most common dangers and ways of dealing with them. As the old proverb puts it. 'Forewarned is enough to put anybody off.'

Now the the vagaries of the British climate are responsible for the queues of the British climate are responsible for the goose-pimpled anglers in doctors' waiting rooms (you'd be lucky) every Monday morning.

Any sport which keeps its participants out of doors throughout the whole of an English summer's day, which its usual mix of hail, rain, sleet, snow, fog, frost, khamseen, mistral, haboob and Scotch mist, is bound to have its martyrs. But chilling is avoidable if the necessary precautions are taken. 
First check your clothing. Never cast a clout. Or anything else. More than one seasoned angler has gone to the great peg draw in the sky because he left Secondly, look after the inner man. Have a good breakfast before you leave home. 

It need be nothing elaborate: eggs, bacon, sausages, fried bread, tomatoes, toasted cheese, potato cakes, liver, onions, beans, cabbage and ribs, fish fingers, black pudding, faggots and bubble and squeak should see you through until you can open your sandwiches.

Do not neglect to have a couple of good mugs of tea, liberally laced with rum or whisky. Better still, a couple of mugs of rum or whisky liberally laced with tea. 

At the water's edge, set out your tackle so that everything can be reached without your having to move from the spot. Put up the windbreak, lash the umbrella to the top of it, lay down the groundsheet, set up your stool, put your feet in the foot muff, cover your knees with a travelling rug, put up the hood of your anorak and make sure your nose cosy fits snugly. 

Every half hour, or as often as is deemed necessary, take a tot of something to keep up the inner glow. At opening time, when the fish will have stopped biting, move into the nearest pub and stay close to the fire. When the fish come on again, which is generally about half an hour after closing time, go back to the water and fish until the evening opening hour. 
This time, because of failing light, pack up your tackle and take it with you. When you leave the pub at the end of the evening, keep in mind the importance of a good warm bed. 

Get into it as soon as you can. Do not bore your beloved with tales of the day's fishing, restore your circulation with some passionate lovemaking, well ok, a nice cup of tea then, then wrap up well for the journey home.

Mick get on with the fishing !!

I'd sorted my late Dad's fishing tackle out yesterday and to be honest there wasn't a huge amount of stuff there. Some gems though, size 20 hooks for chub 🙈 maybe I'm doing something wrong with my size 6's !!

Anyway enough tackle for a starter kit for a budding youngster who could do with a leg up the piscatorial pursuit ladder. 2 rods and reels, a tackle box full of bits and pieces to get started, a nice korum chair, landing net, keepnet etc. 

So after dropping the gear off with Martyn, from Stratford Upon Avon Fishing and Outdoors where Stuart from the local Shipston-on-Stour and District Angling Club would put it all to good use, certainly the Fish n Frolics which gives youngsters a go, anything like this is idea really. Anyway after bidding farewell I was headed to the Avon, now it was a rather quiet affair a few days ago here but when a pike grabbed the lobworms on the retrieve maybe I'm missing a trick in pursuit of a bite or two. 

The river is back to clear again and with the skies clear not exactly ideal conditions for fishing but often a predator be is a chub or a pike laying in wait can often 'snap' when a lure goes over their noggin and they have no choice but to act on their predatory instinct.

Anyway I decided to try out the very top end of the syndicate stretch as well for this session because it rarely gets fished and we all know big predators thrive on neglect. 

Swim after swim I was biteless and the only action was when out of the blue near my feet a decent pike came out of nowhere and decided to snatch at the lure. 

And that was it. Hmmmm disappointing really but with a clear sky and even clearer water which was pretty cold not unexpected really. I thought I'd have at least a pike or something though, oh well, it was just nice to be out in the fresh air and when in the sun very pleasant indeed. 

Thursday, 8 December 2022

Warwickshire Avon - Jack Frosts and Jabberwocks

Christmas comes but once a year (End of Great Thought) but when it comes it does not always brings Good Cheer, especially among fishing families where the Pursuit of the Angle and the odd extra pint can lead to some unfortunate misunderstandings, not to mention the raking up of the all the transgressions over the past twelve months. 

So this time I'd like you to remember that Christmas time is family time. Let's keep it jolly, lets keep it peaceful. And it'll be mainly up to you, you've not got to mess Christmas up again like you did last year. Start your Christmas peace efforts early, and you'll reap the rewards. 

Let's get back to the wife. You've made your peace. You're going to be a good lad from now on, cross your heart and hope to die. And you're going to set the seal on your resolution by buying her a proper present this year. A present she'll like and can use, not the usual litre bottle of Scotch or set of floats.

I've done Dearly Beloved really proud, you see I bought her a mixer, a grinder and a blender for the kitchen. She's always fancied those, and this year I thought what the hell. Last of the big spenders, me. So she'll be able to play with them straightaway on Christmas morning, I've got them all ready, unpacked them from their packaging and tested them out. I must say that all three of them work superbly. 

Should you be thinking of buying the same, I can thoroughly recommend them. The mixer. A couple of minutes with that and you've got some beautifully textured dough bait, with the high protein additives mixed evenly all the way through. 

The grinder. How smoothly it reduces wheat and oats to use as fine groundbait. How quickly it chops down a handful of worms into bite-sized pieces for the fishes' little rosebud mouths. 

And the blender. Warm water, custard powder, any kind of flavouring essence, and in seconds you've got a beaker full of liquid gold to squidge into the groundbait. 

Pardon? No, I've been testing them that's all. I washed them out properly, dried them, and put them back in to the boxes. 

I wouldn't dream of using them regularly for preparing bait. Not until after Christmas anyway, not until things are, how can I put it ? a little more peaceful. 

Which such a busy time at the minute with work being full on as always and the behind the scenes funeral stuff to be sorted (funeral the 12th) I had a short opportunity to visit the syndicate stretch before meeting a mate for a curry at a pub ten minute away.

Pike and chub were the intended target to a smelt on one rod and some bread flake on the other. 

And what a chilly one it was, barely above freezing but thankfully if ones cockles got a little too cold then the sanctuary of the car wasn't far away. 

Nothing much happen for an hour or so and the smelt was moved every 10 minutes or so to try and induce a take from a pike. I decided to change to lobworms on the chub rod but again nothing doing on that. What I didn't expect though was when reeling in the lobworms was that a pike out the blue decided to grab the bait and give me a merry dance. 

There was a bleeding smelt 10 foot to the left 🙈 why not take that. Anyway the 4lber came off at the net sadly and I thought I was on for a blank. 10 minutes after though with the full moon bright in the sky and the sun setting the bread was getting interest and a drop back bite turned in to a full on bent quiver tip and a chub was on.

Not a bad fish either at a nadger under 4lb but with my hands now like ice blocks I got it back quickly rather then spend time taking a picture with me holding it. 

As soon as the sun disappeared from view boy it was cold, thankfully I only had 45 minutes but I was determined to stick it out till I had to leave for a well deserved curry. It was still though and despite the chill it was quite nice to be out. 

The fish had other ideas though because nothing whatsoever in to dusk and beyond, when I left at 5.20pm the landing net was frozen solid and the rods were covered in frost. Still not a blank and with it being cold going forward hopefully the pike rods will get some action. 

Sunday, 4 December 2022

Warwickshire Avon - Warlords and Wallydrags

I'd not ventured down to the bottom end of the syndicate stretch but I thought I'd go for a nose. You couldn't really get any closer to the river either, and thankfully I decided to have a few extra minutes in bed before heading out, as the kingfisher but be living out its dream.

There is more cover down here you see and I suspect the chub in this cold water are not exactly roaming around like they usually do.

The water temperature had dropped a degree in a day which when you're a cold blooded fish unless you're like Derek Chisora and up for a beating because. well you like it, it's best to stay indoors with your feet up and chill.

Because yes, it was very chilly indeed with the ice warning showing up in the car for the first hour and a half of fishing. I fed a few swims with mashed bread and would ledger a gobstopper sized piece over the top of the Warburton's chunky dandruff.  

After an hour though without even a nibble I decided to head back to swims more familiar and again fished similar tactics.

This was worth doing because the first 'good' swim I fished a drop back bite the first fish was on. It felt a nice fish as well with the line singing under the tension of the hard fighting fish. It was soon in the net though and the fish exactly 4lb on the scales was worth removing myself from the two large warm plump pillows. Not an easy task with the gas and electricity prices as they are. 

It was clear though that I had to find the fish so with the Jimny mostly in 4x4 mode I drove up and down the stretch to try and drop the bait on the chub head.

Tougher than I thought after that first fish but I did manage another 3 fish where ones hands were like ice blocks. The cars heater coming to the rescue when driving from swim to swim. The wind chill had certainly kicked in big time, 3 degrees air temperature, felt certainly in the minuses.

Bread the king again, but it often is in these conditions, and for targeting chub not a bait I could do without. It's caught me plenty of chub over the years.

Those fish were caught in an hour from the first bite but I was scratching around for another couple of hours without much return, so I decided to call the session early, pop down the WBAS water just dwon the road for a once over and then head back home in to the warmth. 

Warwickshire Avon - Polymelia and Polyphloisboisterous

Winter has certainly kicked in big time now with the next couple of weeks going to be very cold indeed. I didn't think about a dedicate Pike fishing session but I think I will wait till its getting even colder than it was for today.

Pike floats out, a stove on the go with some bacon sizzling in the cold winter air, something every angler can relate to. 

So yes for this short session in to dusk and beyond chub were the target species and yet again the stretch of convenience was chosen to try and winkle one or two out.

This season though they have deficiently thinned out where this was usually a banker area for me and produced one five pounder to get that monkey off my back and then several more.  

What hasn't helped is that a recent cutting back and removal of some mature trees has meant this diminutive stretch that is feature and cover filled, has now been given a number one but who ? well God only knows.

Now canoeists are not meant to navigate up this stretch and signs are there to warn them that which ever fork they take when heading upstream, they will have to negotiate a weir, and depending on when that is, that can be a dangerous route with extra water on. 

Now I've fished this place probably since the blogs conception and over the years spotted the odd one or two and yet this year, I need an extra hand to count how many I've seen.

The willow that used to provide cover to those chub, no more, the barbel cover, hacked back, and various swims have had branches removed to make navigation easier. The water is back to clear again now (how quick did that happen 🤯) so any cover removed could potentially be a chub sanctuary squandered. 

Roving is the key on this sort of stretch but what I didn't expect was swim after swim after swim not even a nibble.

Even my banker swim where when the light goes the chub can often be found nothing and, those slacks ideal for dropping some cheesepaste in to again biteless. Very odd indeed for this stretch, I suspect the water temperature is going to plummet over the next coming days but still, the chub didn't show whatsoever.

Still it was nice to be out and with Sunday morning an option to try again, albeit somewhere else, I'm sure it won't talk long to catch another chub, heck what else can you rely on in these testing conditions.

I might well switch back to bread though, I was amazed just how little colour is left in the river, and bread just seems to work especially when wafting around suspended off the bottom via a link ledger. 

So a blank, oh well, cannot win all the time !!
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