Thursday, 13 December 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Bombs, Bobbins and Bottle Tops

A perfect Zed bobbin or bite indicator I wonder, is there one out there? Barry Mconnell’s rollover indicator from Zandavan Productions came close as I also used them for Perch and Eels but to be honest as someone who travels as light as they can for their fishing, it became a bit of a faff setting them up if I’m honest, especially come sundown when I’d be using them the most.

A big version of the old skool washing up liquid bottle tops would have been perfect with a chemical light stuck up its jacksie, but no such thing exists as far as I’m aware.

Then again the Enterprise ET46 specialist bobbin, was more what I was after….

The Enterprise offering came with a plastic connector that could be removed and replaced with one of three sizes of stainless steel weights, and two hangers. 

White for daytime and luminous green for night use. A UV torch is used to quick charge the bobbin and it could also accommodate Isotopes or chemical lights inside the tubing. A special clip holds the bobbin when casting, playing fish, or simply when roving from swim to swim. The clip can be either whipped permanently to the rod or fixed with insulating tape.

Still a bit of a faff, especially when using it on a variety of different rods potentially….

‘So Mick design your own then’, so that’s exactly what I did….

A few sketches later and half an hour on CAD whilst multitasking as I was also scoffing a beef, onion and horseradish sandwich, here you go, jobs a good’un !!!!

With some spare neodymium magnets to replace the male and female locking detail of the bottle tops. They were to be printed from Phosphorescent TPU, which would mean not only would they be lightweight, but the whole body would glow in dark after being charged up with light and a decent size which is exactly what I wanted.

Baked in to the design were two additional glow stick fitting locations, one at the top, one at the bottom if additional light source was needed or I’d left them in my car and arrived for fishing in the dark.

The style, well I'm an engineer, so basic, a mini underwater naval mine, was a simple Catia pattern took less than it takes to write this to generate. 

Zander don’t mind a little resistance and these weighed around 20 grams even when assembled with the magnets which is about as heavy as a large Nash slaphead. I purposely made them a decent size as well as they would be easier to see moving under the cover of darkness.

My eyes adjust quite well fishing in the dark but I wanted something bigger and easier to see in ones peripheral vision.

Now if you haven’t used phosphorescent material before they need ‘charging’ by a light source. With infinite variations in both applications and glow materials, each situation can have different charging requirements. A good general rule of thumb is that a full charge can be achieved fairly easily using commonly available light sources, once you understand the basics of recharging.

The three most important things to consider when charging glow materials are: recharging strength or light intensity (LUX), the amount of time the glow materials are exposed to a specific light source, and most importantly, the type of light source itself.

The 'Zed Bomb Bobbin'
Light intensity or LUX is a comparable measurement of the strength of individual light sources. The higher the LUX number, the stronger the light output and therefore, the more effective it will be at charging glow material.

To put this another way, a lower LUX rating would require an increase in charging time and if the LUX number is too low the light source would likely not succeed.

Proper exposure time to the light source will also make a difference in your results. The strongest light sources can recharge in less than five minutes.  Dim light sources will take longer.

The quickest results can be obtained from natural daylight or from black lights. Distance from the light source should also be considered. Attempting to recharge materials using a weak light that is too far away will not be effective.

14grams without magnets - very light for the size.
Now Sunlight offers the quickest and most effective recharging method because sunlight includes a larger and stronger UV wavelength spectrum. This gives glow materials their quickest, most effective charge.

Even partial sunlight (such as the more diffused light of a cloudy day) or before the sun goes down at dusk still provides enough light to adequately charge most photo luminescent materials.

So arrive for a session an hour before dusk this should be sufficient enough charge time.

To give the glow effect a boost, or more of a kick though ‘black light’ is another highly effective method for charging glow materials. Black light lamps are the only known source that can both charge and simultaneously enhance viewing of the glow.

This is because it uniquely emits long wave UV illumination with very little visible bright light interference. Black lights highlight glow colours and have been successfully used to enhance the glow during product performance.

A £5 quid black light / UV torch off of Ebay is all you really need to be honest, nothing complicated, nothing technical.

So I need to try them in service so to speak as they have only just arrived after being printed a couple of weeks ago, with some rain on the way and weather going milder, hopefully have another Zander session with Nic to try and at least catch something this time.

Mk2, who knows but they came out better than I expected them to do....

Warwickshire Avon – Hobgoblins and Hog Grubbers

If you want to guarantee an argument at an average club AGM, two subjects are sure to bring one about, all-in match fishing and night-fishing. There is a considerable body of thought which seems to imagine that night-fishing is unfair, to whom? the fish? or to other club members? or anything that happens at night must be naughty and immoral. This is a delusion shared by numerous nurses' home Sisters, but perhaps with more justification but I digress!

You see the arguments against both these views have been well rehearsed on countless occasions that night-fishing is a skilled branch of the art, requiring a range of new aptitudes anything but unfair except to those who haven't learnt them, that having night-fishermen on the bank amounts to 24-hour bailiffing. The anti-night men feel the way they do because of a gut-reaction. It isn't well reasoned, and therefore they cannot be easily reasoned out of it.

However it’s 2018 and that comes with limitations, even when the club members have been won round, a great many leases from farm owners and landlords have restrictive clauses forbidding night-fishing. And there are often good reasons safety by the waterside and legal responsibility for accident and injury, security of adjacent property, disturbance of residents nearby.

For the sad truth is that the protagonists of freer night-fishing seem to imagine that all potential night-fishermen are as conscientious and courteous as they.

A few rotten apples and dodgy characters will spoil the barrel, and the nocturnal louts can make restrictions be clamped down on the law-abiding majority.

First let's consider the daily rhythm of activity of both men and fish. During the summer, daylight lasts from 3 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. in June. Early-season night-fishing then is about a 4 1/2 hour period out of 24. In December on the other hand we are thinking of daylight from 7 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., so the night lasts for 14 1/2 hours out of 24. By calling them both night-fishing, we are lumping together a very thin slice of cake with a very thick slice.

Human social rhythms are much less flexible. Outdoor occupations, like farm work or gravel extraction, have to follow the hours of daylight in winter but the urban occupations of the majority of us follow a clock "nine to five" or whatever. It follows that fishing after work in winter must be at night for most people. If they can't or won't, they are restricted to weekends for angling in daylight.

Thinking about it logically the daytime summer angler has nearly six hours before work and five after in June. He will disturb the water throughout the daylight hours, though less in the morning before socially-acceptable breakfast time.

Human disturbance is a considerable factor during the nine months of the season which affects fish behaviour particularly in small waters where the fish are always near the bank. Even in a larger water where fish have the option of moving out to the middle, this is still affecting their behaviour, would they have moved out there if they hadn't been disturbed? It is no coincidence that fish move back close in during the quieter night.

Disturbance isn't the only factor affecting fish daily activity it's merely the easiest for the human angler to predict. Other water sports keep an even more inflexible pattern than anglers, boats and water-skiers seldom move before 9 a.m., and there's a happy shortage of nocturnal water-skiers! I wish they'd try it as it might thin their numbers down permanently.

Fish have their own 'circadian' or 24 hour rhythms independent of human disturbance, from anglers or anybody else. Disturbance superimposes an extra pattern of activity on those that are already there.

All animals have circadian rhythms, even humans. Animals kept in total darkness to an approximate 24-hour cycle of sleeping, activity and feeding. Human volunteers living down caves do also. There is an 'internal clock' in all of us that gives an approximate timing, and the actual daylight (or tides) corrects when the 'clock' runs fast or slow. Fish have the same internal clock, and daylight corrects it in the same way.

Fish of course are cold-blooded they will be affected by temperature and its rate of rise or fall. A cool starry night after a hot day may bring the temperature down enough for them to feed so the books say. All I can add is that water has a high specific heat; it cools quite slowly, and a drop of 3°F even in the margins is all one can expect on most nights.

The best nights I've had have been those still muggy summer ones, where the temperature hasn't fallen at all. But temperature change is yet another pattern superimposed upon the basic circadian rhythm. Barbel particularly the big ones, seem to confirm to their timetable like my Ben does to his feeding times.

How can we fish more effectively at night? Firstly we can be comfortable.

Even a summer night, short though it is, can be by cold. The science of staying warm is quite simple.

The insulation is always air, trapped in layers next to the skin so the heat cannot escape. Each human body is effectively a 100 watt heater, and it's your body heat that warms this layer of air.

Trap the air so that it can only get out with difficulty, and you'll stay warm. Hence get warm to start with and stay warm after. In winter, put your clobber on before you leave the house, drive there with the heaters on. In summer, start wrapping up before it gets chilly.

Preparation is the key for me when I fish in to dusk and beyond, the minimum of tackle, rods set-up, baits ready because the last thing you want to do is having to fish with your head torch on all the time. Artificial light to a minimum unless photographing a decent fish, alarms, isotopes or both for bite indication and what can help is the company of others.

Fishing in the dark heightens the senses, a foxes fart amplified to have seemingly come from an animal 100 times bigger.

I didn’t enjoy it at first but could easily do a night fishing session on ones tod because not only has the grim reaper not graced me with his presence but the drunken towpath tredder hasn’t either.

Anyway back on track, talk about disappointing, my usual Zander fishing spots have been more miss than hit recently, and a trip to the syndicate stretch didn’t produce anything either despite the recent rod bending of others. So this session I was invited by Nic from Avon Angling Uk to fish the private stretch he has access to on the Warwickshire Avon where he has been picking up some nice Zander. Night fishing isn’t an issue, the access good so I was looking forward to this short after work session to see what we could pick up. 

Nic often night fishes but has been recently disturbed by trolls with nothing better to do, but less of that said the better, don’t want to give these ogres any air time, back to what we both like doing and that’s catching Zander.

Now the last time me and Nic fished past dusk it was at a busy section of canal where decent Zeds were meant to reside.

Sadly that evening nothing of note was caught, eventually an was otter spotted which didn't help maters, however that sort of called time on the proceedings so I was hoping this session would be more fruitful.

So, how did it go….

I had my usual smelt and roach deadbaits on a simple running rig with light bobbins and alarms as bite indication. The rod tops illuminated with a chemical light just enough to see where they are and what they were doing.

Now I suppose arriving in the dark and fishing in to dark isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but as I said before the minimum of tackle, the rods ready to cast out, I was fishing in less than 10 minutes after parking up.

The weather had got notably colder for this session and the water felt proper cold too, in-fact under 3 degrees air temperature looking at Nic's thermometer and water temp down 2 degrees from when he was here last. The sky was clear and with some of the moon still showing a head torch was only required from time time. There was a nice slack bit of water right on-front of us and a quick dunk of the lead a nice bottom as well, a Zander if it were in the area should spot that pretty easily.

So four deadbait rods out, a social catch-up and wait for those bobbins to rise.....

And they did too, mainly on my rods but nothing that materialised in to a proper bite. One proper bobbin lifter and maybe a dropped take had a stab wound on the smelt, but they were certainly not in a feeding mood. But then they are cold blooded after all, so they probably needed to acclimatise by remembering where they put that extra layer.

So with a frost overnight and toes and fingers getting cold after 2 and a half hours or so we called time to the session, and agreed to give it another go when conditions were more favorable. There doesn't look like there will be that much time to weight either as Friday looks nice and cold but dry, but then Saturday onwards looks like milder conditions with a dumping of rain.

I need to catch some fish and get a bend in ones rod, hey, I know a place....

Monday, 10 December 2018

The Tiny River Alne – Widow’s Weeds and WTF’ables

If only the Alne contained as many fish as the video views on the YouTube channel RyanToysReview .As I’m writing this, the total amount of views since channel conception was 25,950,982,288 views, I'll repeat that 25,950,982,288. Now Ryan an eight year old boy who reviews toys has been revealed in the press this week as YouTube's highest-earning star this, raking in £17.3m quid.

Yes £17.3m quid !!!!

When he was asked by NBC News why kids liked watching his videos, Ryan replied: "Because I'm entertaining and I'm funny." Since the channel was set up by Ryan's parents in March 2015, the videos have had almost 26 billion views and amassed 17 million followers.

I despair for humanity I really do, what kind of world I have brought my kids in to if that puts the food on the table and a mansion to rival the Queens. Don't watch, you ain't missing much.

But, But, BUT !!!! No, not’ why didn’t I think of it’, many have tried to duplicate it, all but the few fail, because there may be an issue, you see, it could all go tits up, the money n'all, just like that.

There was a change to copyright legislation passed by the European Parliament in September which would oblige Google who bought YouTube in 2016 for US$1.65 billion to consider using technical measures to ensure copyright takedown requests are respected, and clips "stay down" as under the legislation they would make the platform liable for copyrighted material, where previously it was the user that had to ensure nothing was used.

Google enjoys special privileges under UGC (user-generated content) provisions not granted to rival music services like Apple and Spotify, which must license music first before distributing it. Copyright groups argue that loophole depresses the market price of music. YouTube pays around 1/20th of the rates Spotify the music streaming site does.

Now I urge you before YouTube disappears for good (sarcastic wink) to have a look a George Burton and Co’s - Big Canal Roach in Winter video which has been up for a few weeks now, there are still some gems among the WTF’ables.

I think I need to find peace away from the modern world, luckily I know just the place !!!!

I’d been watching the levels of the little river Alne for a while now, you see after a few trips down here now where results have been very mediocre indeed, I was hoping a bit of water on would change the conditions for the better.

A half decent spell of rain had topped it up nicely, so not only would more swims become available for me to fish but the nature of the rivers watercourse meant shallow areas would now be passable by bigger fish.

Now when I say medicore, well certainly plenty of fish were caught, but if I recall over the sessions I’ve fished it only a couple or three fish have topped the pound. But there was a good reason for that probably, for one, yes the levels have been low, extremely low, but also I’ve fished it when conditions have been less favourable.

“Yes but Mick, it’s not all about the fishing surely”; “True, but even I like a bend in ones rod from time to time”

And that is very true, most of the waterways I fish thinking about it are off the beaten track, mostly smack bang in the middle of the countryside, away from traffic, largely sheltered from noise , away from the dreaded space evaders. Venues such as this, where sheep and cows share the space, I’m always on the hunt for, they are becoming hard to find these days, certainly in my stomping ground anyway.

It’s fishing on my terms, just how I like it. Although the statue of the fish is probably nothing to write home about, it’s the potential of a big fish from small waters that sparks ones interest. The roach particularly, where according to some forum posts I spotted the river not far from where I'd been fishing had fish bigger than 2lb swimming in its waters.

Could I fish the Alne exclusively, maybe not, but I love these little watercourses that are often overlooked by the masses and the commercial fishery fishing pole slappers, because they offer the much needed solitude I seek. A couple or three hours is all I need to help with one’s mindfulness.

The senses, the smells, the abundance of nature and the immersiveness within the environment fishing provides. It all helps one’s well-being that a PS4 cannot provide in the same way.

Waters such as this restores the balance back to the enjoyable side of the seesaw again and away from the stranglehold, which is about to be unleashed on that doddering old duffer blocking the aisle in the supermarket.

You know the one, the one who is determined to bag the last lot of marked-down sprouts, and couldn’t give two monkeys about anyone else who just wants to get past.

Over 630 odd posts now apparently, you’ve probably worked out I’m not a people person !!!!

So one quiver rod fitted with a 2oz tip, a link ledger set-up, a load of lobworms and a few slices of bread, could I bag something half decent?

Arriving just before dawn the day started overcast, dull and drizzly for the first hour and a half or so I was debating to go home or not, it's only 5 minutes away after all, but after sheltering under a tree for a good half an hour away from the wind and rain it gave me some good thinking time.

So I got in to robot mode and began by baiting up some swims with mashed bread and let them to rest before fishing them on the way back to the car. Whilst the swims were resting I went downstream to fish some rafts with lobworm, despite some pace in many of the swims, a 2SSG link ledger was all that was required.

A tentative pluck turned in to a proper pull that continued a good foot and a half but I was mid coffee so struck at the wrong time and I didn't connect to anything. A couple more swims fished, not a jot.

So heading back upstream to the baited swims I also fished a couple of nice looking slacks with bread flake but again no bites.

Hmmmm this is tough going....

Last gasp efforts then, the pre-baited swims, and luckily it was well worth doing, because all but one of the swims produced Chub. Not the biggest of fish but on light tackle they gave a good account for themselves, the weather had cleared up nicely by now and I could have easily stayed all day, but with my Mum's 80th birthday lunch to go to, 3 and a half hours will have to do.

The more I fish rivers like this, the move I enjoy them, obviously the size of the fish are not likely to be high, but I'm sure there are some gems to be had.

Just look at that little tiny brook me and Sam have been fishing, home to my dace PB, and we've only fished a couple of swims a handful of time. I'm sure there are fish to top, a pound there, I'm sure of it. With the Xmas break around the corner I'll hopefully have another one or two sessions here, lets just hope the levels stay as they are.

There are a couple of nice trotting swims here also with some water on, so I might bring my trotting gear as well and fish and feed maggot maybe.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Cougars and Cunny Thumpers

A mile and a half of flowing virgin water with its unsullied footpaths has always captured ones interest. The potential to fish for undiscovered monsters given far too much sanctuary and freedom to thrive is at the top of the Santa list of any specialist angler.

Some of the WBAS like-minded that had already fished this forgotten and seemingly uncharted waterway had showed some promising results for those fish that possess teeth, and I wanted a piece of the action.
Not only that but being part of a syndicate means bums on seats and I’ve been stood at the back far to long.

The Zander pics in-particular got ones ears pricked up, because to be honest I’ve not really given the river Zeds a proper go, the canals being my bread and butter after all. Despite losing 2 bigger fish in the past my river PB of 8lb 3oz is entirely beatable considering the size and statue of the fish that now frequent the Warwickshire Avon.

So an area that allows the bigger fish to go about their business without fear of becoming dethroned could well be harbouring something special. I just need to fish flowing water in anger for them, well at least have a bait in the water !!!!

Now talking about harbouring special Vegans look away now, then again probably to late. A new local butchers has a beef dry ager now, so after choosing ours for Xmas, the piece on the top right will be ready to pick up Christmas Eve and I cannot wait to try it. Not bad value too considering the look and quality of the meat.

And thats the issue, good things come to those that wait, but I don't wait enough, so it's always good that others share their captures so at least I know there are fish there to be caught.

All very well I suppose but in my limited experience though, river Zander like their mucky water brothers are difficult to work out, just when you think you have they throw in a curve ball and you’re back to square one.

Fishing for them from dusk and beyond gives the best chance but I’ve had multi runs in bright sunshine on one particular session when a pack went through on the hunt, all very eye opening. Livebaits work no doubt about that and as the light goes probably better than using a dead on the bottom.

The problem with livebaits though, especially when used in clear water conditions is that the Jacks can be problematic, which is fine if just want to get a few bites but with time at a premium they can be a pain in the proverbials.

Colour in the water, or lack of it, really does make a difference as it does on the canal where I actively seek turbid water, they know they have an advantage with their superior eyesight and they actively go on the hunt, rather than wait for the infrequent dinner bell.

So ideally fish in to dark or when it’s coloured, errrr so that’s most of the nearby available venues on the Warks Avon out for me, well the ones I’d want to fish anyway, being a solitude seeker. Also out as well, is the majority of the fishing season, as its usually clear, very clear.

During my search for a canal 10 pounder and my ad hoc sessions on the river, lures and live bait would certainly pick up more fish, but the deads are a little more size selective, maybe the larger fish are lazy in their old age, and are happy watching the schoolies act on their predatory instinct and are happy with easy pickings.

Obviously there are big female Cougars around still chasing young whippersnappers to buck the trend, but I’m confident in using methods that I know work for decent sized fish.

I’ve blanked plenty of times on the river to know that conditions really need to be right otherwise it is very hot and miss, sadly my fishing opportunities are short and dictated largely by others. I’ve got to try and maximize catch potential, and that means fishing when I’m likely to catch, not a finger in the air, toes and fingers crossed.

There may well be light at the end of the ever lengthening tunnel however, you see Nic from Avon Angling Uk who I’ve fished with a few times now has seen the predicament I’m in, and has kindly offered me to join him on a private bit of water he has access to where fishing in to dark isn’t an issue. So I’m looking forward to taking him up on that offer as soon as we can work something out and he is back to 100% fit after being knocked for six by pneumonia.

Anyway back to the task in hand,I was in two minds how to approach this session but the decision was made to make it a bit of a reccy mission. Some small roach and smelt deads I had to use up dictated the session to be honest. So a 3 rod quiver equipped with two dead bait rods and a lure rod was bundled in the car and I was all set to go.

The plan, (because I always have one) was to travel light and rove around to try and find some Pike or Zed’s laid up and and around some features and then whilst the deads were doing their thing, the lure would be used from time to time, to not only try and winkle out a least a fish or two, but also to gauge some of the depth in-front of me.

The deeper castable sonar fish finder would have been ideal I suppose to map it out properly and try and find the deeper areas and troughs, but with time at a premium to be honest a lure chucked here and there can be just as effective. By watching the braided line as it enters the water you can tell visually by the bow in the line that stops dead when it touches bottom, but and also by feel, just how much water is in-front of you.

Now the weather was against me a little, very windy indeed and a clear blue sky. After a couple of hours without even a nudge, bite or an enquiry in four or so swims I headed further downstream. This proved worthwhile doing as not only was it deeper but many of the swims had some good features and it didn't take long for the first bite.

A tiny jack decided that it like the look of the lure I was throwing around so at least it wasn't a blank. Not long after putting it back the bobbin on the left hand rod jumped in to life and actually hit the butt of the rod, I let it take some line on the baitrunner and then struck in the fish.

It felt reasonable at first but then I can usually tell with Zander if it's hooked properly or not, and sadly this one wasn't. A few bends of the rod and it was off, hmmmm, not good.

After another 3 swims without a bite they were obviously not in a feeding mood, and if I'm honest it probably wasn't the right time to fish my first trip to this stretch. Not all lost though, fishing it in the morning gave me the opportunity for a proper reccy, and that's exactly what I wanted to get out of the session.

I'll be back....
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