Piscatorial Quagswagging

...the diary of a specialist angler in around the Warwickshire Avon and its tributaries.

Thursday 31 July 2014

A wise tail...

I caught the same Chub three times yesterday evening, the distinctive tail pattern was easy to spot but
weirdly around an hour apart for each capture and on three different baits. 1st a maggot medusa , 2nd a couple of superglued pellets and thirdly a big Barbel hybrid bait from Bait-tech. 

The long hair seemed to put off the majority of the Chub but not this one, it seemed determined to get caught. So Mr Chub can you have a word with your friends and family and get them to teach you the why’s and wares to avoiding getting caught, and whilst you’re doing that can you also have a word with Mr Barbel and let him know that when it’s dusk you are allowed to feed.

Not ideal conditions for Barbel I know but apart from exploring a new section of river the second rod was a maggot feeder which luckily provided much evening entertainment.  Can we have some rain please.

Saturday 26 July 2014

The quest for a specimen Gonk

A chance capture of a ‘clonker’of a Gudgeon last year has always stayed at the back of my mind; pleasure can be had from catching even the smallest of fish it's not all about the biggest. So after a couple of average midweek sessions on the Avon, I fancied a bit of a change. The capture brought back memories as a kid where some of the first fish I caught were Gudgeon, they seemed to be in far greater numbers back then, who knows. I even bought a Tenkara rod with a tiny pole float to try for them whenever I fished the canal, the pursuit of ickle fishes never really got off the ground though.Why ?, well  It didn’t help that the non native Zander are widespread in my local canals so Gudgeon are few and far between, they have either buggered off or been eaten. I did catch a few but upon returning to the same spot they were nowhere to be found.

The ‘clonker’ I caught wasn’t from the cut however; it came from a stretch of the Warwickshire Stour when I was fishing for Roach. It took a liking to a piece of worm, in the same session I also caught a Ruffe, a fish I’d never caught before. So for the Gonk session it was a no brainer I decided to fish a familiar area just outside Stratford-Upon-Avon, a lovely peaceful stretch of the river where in places you can jump from one side to the other. In the summer months they can be scattered up and down the river in the shallows, in autumn however, when the weeds begin to die back, and the weather colder, then they group together, and are often found in the deeper parts of the river.

The problem with a specimen Gudgeon >30g’s is how do you weigh them, that’s where some pocket scales come in, ideal for weighing even the smallest of fish. Accuracy of electronic scales ? well that can be questioned but it’s only a bit of fun isn’t it, well unless I catch a British record that is. A good £2 coin weighs 12.00 grams or 0.42oz’s, that’s a good starter for ten. The record as it stands is 5oz and was caught in 1990, that’s one heck of a lunker. Talking of records and lunkers I remember reading this post from fellow blogger Danny Everitt who caught a huge 7” Gudgeon, didn’t realise the significance and chucked it back, a new record who knows. I wonder how many anglers have done something similar.

Gudgeon are bottom dwellers so my setup was simple an 8ft TFG quiver rod rigged up with a small cage feeder filled with dark groundbait, a light hooklink , size 16 hook with maggot or bits of worm as bait. It's only a small fish but it's surprising just how much bend they can put in to a quiver tip, they give proper bites too, a 4ft twitch in miniature, a scaled down Barbel in both looks and character.

The river was alive with fish, a bite every chuck and from each and every swim. I'd say at least 60 or 70 Gudgeon, with small chub, roach, minnows and even a micro pike taking a liking to the worm. Biggest Gudgeon went 31.5 grams, which is just over 1 oz.  Not the biggest but certainly an enjoyable day.

Friday 18 July 2014

Fecal Matters

With my mate Simon in tow we went to Hopyards on the Warwickshire Avon for a few hours of evening fishing. He didn’t want to venture too far and it’s less than 10 minutes for me and a minute for Simon. It was the first time I fished it, it’s predominately a match venue, slow and deep. Where I was fishing it was 9 or 10ft. In hindsight I should have brought my float gear because it was slow, snail’s pace in-fact.

Just upstream of where I was fishing, Seven Trent have a canal boat sized outlet direct from their sewage works for final effluent release in to the river, there was a definite smell too it, sweet with a hint of chemicals. No doubt the water quality is strictly monitored but I was surprised just how much was being released, the fish didn’t seem to mind it as the area was alive with topping fish and the river like a bubble bath.

To my right was a nice margin swim with lilies and a nice overhanging tree so there I placed a link ledgered lobworm over the top of a few pellets and chopped worm. My other rod I cast mid river with my Barbel set-up, a feeder with pellets and meaty groundbait with 2 superglued pellets on the hair. I missed a few proper pulls on the margin rod which turned out to be a small perch, and the next 3 fish were also pesky small Perch.

Two kingfishers on the far bank kept me entertained for half an hour or so but without any indications on the cavier pellets I decided to have a bit of a reccy further upstream. With rod, landing net and a few lobworms I found a great little swim, peg 10 I think. An overhead bush that was draped in the water and what looked like a big hole. Within seconds I had a Perch about ½ a pound and then with the hook re-baited after a few minutes I was getting a few weird indications on the tip before it finally pulled round. It was ickle jack Pike over around 1 ft long, it was that small I didn’t bother to get the landing net but as I was lifting it out of the water it broke the line.

When I returned to the swim Simon had swapped to a float and lost a couple of small fish, I tried the margin swim again and had a small Chub. A few more Perch we called it a day, Simon blanked but it’s a nice stretch of water that deserves another look.

It looked ideal for Bream, so maybe lots of bait is required next time. The pace looked ideal for trotting a deadbait for Pike or even a static deadbait for Zander or even an eel. Lots to have a go out that’s for sure.

With some rain on the way and the rivers due a refresh, Barbel are on my mind again.

Sunday 13 July 2014

Make Hay...

Short and sweet this one as I've a stupidly busy weekend. I had a cracking morning down the Avon, only a quick session with pellets and lobworms as bait but 10 or so Chub and some decent Perch too biggest 1lb 7oz. Low and gin clear so in some swims you could spot the fish but the bigger Chub came from a swim that was deeper and a bit more secluded.

The biggest Chub went 3lb 14oz, long, lean and hollow so come winter time I'd have said easily a 5lber.

The amount of small fish in some of the swims was staggering, as soon as the feeder entered the water and scattered it's contents, the huge shoal went in to a feeding frenzy. A pike also took a liking to the pellets on the retrieve but dropped the bait went it felt resistance. A nice start to the season as their are plenty of fish to be had. Also some of the Chub bites were Barbel like, savage and powerful. I'm really enjoying my fishing at the minute. I left around 11.00am as the sun was beating down

Friday 11 July 2014


My swim for the evening was over 6ft deep and I could see the bottom, the clearest I’ve seen it for a long time. For roving around and spotting the fish its ideal, in-fact prior to settling in the swim I went for a butchers at few fish holding spots and there were plenty of fish to be had, some big Chub too. I was after an early season Barbel though and when it’s clear they can be elusive.

I remember when I was exploring this part of the Warwickshire Avon in similar gin clear conditions where upon feeding some pellets around some thick far bank cover I saw Barbel leaving their sanctuary hover up the freebies and quickly return to their lair. It would have been a suicidal swim to fish but a nice spectacle to watch all the same, such a majestic fish to watch.

I started off supergluing a couple of nail filed flattened 12mm Lone Angler Cavier pellets to a hair and rather than use the bait dropper for today’s session the swim was fed with Bait Tech meaty groundbait with small pellets and hemp. Hooklength was 2 ½ feet of coated braid with a few tungsten line sinkers to pin it down to the bed as much as possible. I’ve given up on fluorocarbon especially for longer hook lengths, too much memory and knot reliability; maybe I’m doing it wrong but I’ve far more confidence using a braid. 

Rod is a Mark Tunley built 11ft Harrison with a 1.75lb test curve, fitted with my trusty Okuma Centrepin. I love using the centrepin, ok not ideal for long casting but the control I have over the fish verses a conventional reel adds to the pleasure of catching the fish. The ratchet is the bite alarm, so cast out, sit back and wait for all hell to break loose. There is nothing like a Barbel bite, and needs to be experienced by every fisherman.

For the first couple of hours or so not much happened, a few small chub knocks but certainly nothing strikable, at least I was providing a bed of bait in the swim though. I decided to downsize the glued pellets, this time using a couple of 8mm’s. The bait had settled for 15 minutes or so and after a few 1ft foot pulls the rod properly wrenched over, line was being taken in yards and the ratchet was screaming. It was trying to head to the far bank cover so after turning the fish in to the main flow of the river I caught sight of its golden flanks, yeah a Barbel. Not the big one I was after but Barbel never give up, that’s why we fish for them. After an arm aching fight I allowed it to rest in the net before weighing it. For a 5lb 12oz fish it certainly fought hard, in stunning condition too, a lovely looking fish that was safely returned.

With the swim disturbed it took another half hour or so before fish returned to the swim, this time a 3lb Chub took a liking to the pellets. I left at 10.00pm when the bats came out, an enjoyable session. Barbel, don’t you just love them.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

No choice but to slug it out....

After arriving at one of the deeper swims on the Avon Brook to try and bag myself an early season Barbel it quickly dawned on me I left my bait in the garage, I was pellet-less. Not only that but somewhere between parking my car and the swim, I'd managed to lose my bankstick complete with rod rest too. What a tw*t :). I could have returned home and be back in the swim within half an hour but as it was a short session I needed as much bank-time as possible.Luckily I had about 40 or 50 lobworms and if I used those up there were some big fat black slugs that I spotted on-route.

To be honest if I had to choose one bait to fish for the remaining of my angling days it would be the humble lobworm. A natural bait that every fish seems to love, they have caught me some good fish too, even Barbel. I had to alter my rig to a running set-up but within 10 minutes I was up and fishing. The first chuck and the next 30 after I had Perch, nothing of size but they were in a ravaging feeding mood even taking the worm on the drop. My Perch banker swim further upstream seems to hold the bigger ones that must bully the smaller Perch out the way because I've rarely caught one less than a pound. Here they were certainly here in numbers but they hardly put a bend in the rod.

The last remaining lobworm went on the hook and this time I placed in the margin, that didn't settle long either because the rod properly hooped over and the centrepins ratchet sprung in to life. It was a Chub, nearly 3lb and gave a good account of itself, it had some belly damage but didn't appear to be affected by it.

With the bait tub now baron I retraced my steps and managed to collect half a dozen or so black slugs, for the remaining hour, they would have to do. There were not as fat as I hoped to I put two on the hook and this time placed them under a willow tight against the margin. The rod tip was chattering within 10 mins or so before I received a violent take. A fish was on, it managed to get out in the main flow but was quickly under control despite it's best efforts. Not a huge Chub by Brook standards, a nadger under 4lbs. The last forty minutes another two Chub were banked, only small ones this time, both around 2lb. I left at bat o'clock and unlike the Brazilians and the bad start I really enjoyed the evening.

Monday 7 July 2014

A funny looking Carp...

Nearly a year to the day I returned to the carp haven on the Warwickshire Avon, this time of year the Nymphaeaceae are thick and the fish that live amongst the lilies love the security it gives. This area doesn’t see many anglers because apart from 4 gates that need to be negotiated it’s also a decent trek from the car park. I caught a near double figure fish here last year and at the time it was one of the smallest fish out of the group. I caught that fish off the top, so again for this session I brought a floater set-up with bread as bait and I’d also have a sleeper rod out with a big halibut pellet surrounded by free offerings.

It took an age to spot the first carp, two hours in-fact, hmmm this is going to be difficult. It was 10 degrees overnight so maybe that was the issue because as soon as I felt some warmth on my back the fish started moving. There were a couple of smaller carp and a lovely big golden mirror that was gliding in around the swim, fantastic to see, and that’s the one I planned to target.

The lilies didn’t seem as thick as last year, so the suicidal swim was just about fishable. If the fish was hooked though, no time to mess around, it needed to be netted. The free offerings that were drifted down the swim were ignored, they just didn’t seem interested. As I was mulling over the best was to approach the remaining couple of hours my sleeper rod bolted off and I was in to a fish, the way it took off I thought it was a carp, but no, it was a bream, a half decent one too. I’d seen a couple rolling in the swim when I got here so I knew they were there. 6lb 6oz, a nice fish but not what I was after.

The remaining session was frustrating to say the least,the big’un even mouthed the bait before ejecting it. There are other areas of the Avon that I know are also home to carp and as they are also new stretches of water to me I’ll leave this area for another year I think. Hopefully next time they will be back in numbers and I’ll land a giant.

Thursday 3 July 2014

Flipping Feeding Frustration….

I arrived at the swim at 7.00pm, the river was clear and I could see the bottom before it dropped of 10ft or so from the bank. I was planning to fish just off the main flow on the edge of some thick green streamer weed. I put in two medium Seymo bait droppers of hemp, a mixture of small pellets and some chopped up squabs.

With my cocoon 'Mr Magoo' polarised sunglasses I could look beneath the surface to spot fish. Within 20 minutes or so I had 6 or 7 decent sized Chub milling around the swim and happily feeding on the free offering. A couple were >5lb I’d say. Now we all know there isn’t much a Chub doesn’t like, I've caught them on the lure, bread, maggots, slugs, cheese, pellets, lobworms and boilies. They are probably the greediest fish in the river and they don’t usually take much time to find the hook bait. Could I catch one this evening, no chance.

I started off with a glugged sausage sizzle squab cast downstream and quietly dropped it in to the swim. It didn’t seem to disturb the fish because they were still resident in the swim. For an hour or so I had a couple of rattles on the tip but no proper bites. The bait was attached to a short hair and I’ve never had a problem in the past catching Chub so maybe a hookbait change was in order. Maybe the stonze was the issue against the silt bottom so as I was fishing out of the main flow I removed the stonze, tied the swivel directly to the main line, moulded some tungsten putty around it and swapped the squab for a couple of small pellets, the same size as some of the free offerings.

The Chub were still there but now they were joined by a Barbel, not a big one but a welcome sight all the same. Again, for an hour, a couple of knocks but that was it. All very frustrating, I left at 10.00pm with one of my first blanks in a long time. That’s fishing for you, it shouldn’t be easy, I’d lose interest quickly if it was.

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