Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Monday 29 September 2014


I caught up with a couple of mates on Warwick Saturday night so fresh air was in order to cure a slightly fuzzy head. The Avon ‘brook’ is a great roving venue so that was my port of call. The river at the moment is stupidly clear and the lowest I’ve seen it in a long time so it was no surprise I had the stretch to myself. Simple tactics were in order a running set-up with a large lobworm as bait. At 9.00am it was t-shirt weather, you would believe it was the end of September, very mild indeed.

There is one particular swim that they seem to reside which is a slack haven away from the main flow of the river so I headed there first. There are some decent sized Perch here from time to time as I’ve had them over 2lb. I say time to time because if the first fish you catch is a ickle’un then the rest will be too. A soon as I dropped my lobworm in the swim, something was on it, probably taken on the drop because the tip didn’t settle and the line was tightening. Yeap, a small one, damn.

I tried a few swims and there was a distinct lack of anything big, each and every swim produced fish but only dace or small Perch. I greedy jack Pike took a liking to the worm too but made light work of my 4lb line.

When I arrived at one of the deeper swims not only could I see the bottom but about 6 or 7 moving dark shadows. These were big Chub, two looked potential PB beaters. I could see them so they could see me, so I moved behind some nettle cover, cast the wiggly worm upstream and nursed it in to position within the margins. Now if they weren’t spooked then I shouldn’t take that long for the tip to go round but 15 minutes later a small perch got in the way. Upon rising I could see the Chub had vanished to the thick far bank cover, and that’s where they stayed.

A tree made a good vantage point and with my cocoons what a sight, not only big Chub but a couple of Barbel and also some decent Perch. They were having none of it, circumspect beyond belief. An enjoyable morning though, even if the fish were not playing ball.

Thursday 25 September 2014

An exercise in futility….

I haven’t really given Barbel that much attention so far this season, a few evening session and a couple of days rolling meat but that’s about it. I managed to catch one fish at dusk. The conditions of the river are not helping to be honest as they are in desperate need of a flush through and a good couple of feet of water in them wouldn’t go amiss. The areas I fish for them as soon as the river is ‘up’ and coloured the catch rate increases exponentially, well in relative terms. I’m enjoying fishing for other species in the downtime, I always have done but if I’m honest I’ve missed the bite and fight only a Barbus Barbus can give.

So with the water clearer than an invisible man in the mirror and the night’s drawing in I’m planning the odd short session after work in to civil twilight, civil twilight I here you say, well yes, large terrestrial objects can be seen but no detail can be distinguished. An hour in to dark is about all I can hack these days as I’m becoming less tolerant of the sights and sounds that seem to be heightened when it gets dark. As soon as the bats come out I give it half an hour and then I’m off quicker than a fattie when the buffet opens.

Just so happened I had a session like this yesterday, got there at 6.30pm, put a bed of hemp and small pellets down with a dropper, tried a few swims rolling some meat and then returned to the primed swim and for the last hour fished a large chunk of garlic spam over the top for the last hour and then back home with a whiskey at 9.00pm.

As soon as the isotope was glowing the tip started to dance, mainly from bats that were brushing the line but I also has some chub hit and run knocks that didn’t develop in to a proper bite. I tend to fish with a long hair because a Chub can really mess up a swim when hooked, in my limited bank time I don’t want that.

There is no denying a Barbel bite when fishing static baits, no need to strike, just sit on your hands, wait for the bite to develop and then, wham !!!!, the rod violently wraps over with a fish on. Exactly that happened yesterday, to the letter but sadly not attached to a fish. Damn :(

With no rain forecast, looks like same again next week……lets hope the nettles have died down a bit.

Monday 22 September 2014

A Zander P.B. - They're getting bigger.

I’ve caught a Zander from the banker swim every time I’ve fished it; the biggest was just over 3lb on a headless roach. I’ve kind of exhausted it though, lots of fun with the schoolies but a larger specimen is my target. From what I’ve read the smaller ones feed in packs hence why you can catch a few in the same swim, the loners, the bigger fish, are solitary feeders so the plan was to cover the whole 2 and a ¼ mile stretch on a morning session with a lure cast in to likely fishing holding areas and then to do the same on the return.

Roving is my favourite type of fishing, a rod, a landing net and a bag with the essentials. Today’s tackle was Savage Gear’s Road Runner Gear bag, which despite its size has a decent capacity, a folding mesh net and an 8ft lure rod. Simples…

This particular area of the Grand Union does get a significant amount of boat traffic during the warmer months so I was on the cut by 6.30am. I’ve had quite a bit of success of the fire tiger pattern of the Savage Gear ready to fish shads, I usually use the 7.2cm version but for this session I upped that to 11cm.

You wouldn’t really want to take a bath in the canals I fish, but I think that helps when targeting the Zander, not only can you catch fish any time of the day but even in bright sun shine you can still find feeding fish. Canals are so full of feature and these are the best places to target, there are no hard and fast rules to where I have caught fish but any oxygenated water around the lock gates or cill’s have been particularly productive. The first fish on was from exactly this area, it was a Perch, and a decent one too, sadly after a thrash of its mouth it managed to throw the Barbless hook.

With braided line you can even feel what fish has taken the lure because the take you can feel through the rod couldn’t be more different. A Zander takes it with a proper BANG.. I’ve had quite a few Perch whilst targeting my chosen species but as yet I’ve not had a Pike in the areas I fish.

An hour later I cast the lure 50 yards towards the cut wall and within seconds of starting the retrieve I got a violent take, the fish was moving round in a ponderous fashion hugging bottom and was putting a decent bend in the rod. I was soon in control of it though and once in the net I could see it this was by far the biggest fish I’ve banked. A chance passerby was at hand to photograph the fish and it weighed in a 5lb 4oz and a PB.

Finally they are getting bigger and half decent for a canal fish. Certainly an impressive looking and obviously thriving in its habitat. A couple more schoolies made up for what turned out to be a decent morning, the Zander may have moved up in my favourite fish list. Certainly an intriguing and enigmatic fish and here to stay.

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Zander, got to love them.

We are a bit spoilt in Bards country, such a wide variety of course fishing on offer. Some wide stretches of river, small streams and flowing water that meanders through the lovely English countryside. There are lakes and pools in abundance and miles and miles of canal. The target for my 2 hour evening session was Zander.

The canals and rivers in the Midlands have them in numbers; a non native species first introduced into the Relief Channel by the Great Ouse River Authority back in 1963, their family tree has gradually spread throughout large parts of the country. Not much we can do about it now but to try and capitalise on an interesting and predatory fish.

Zander Distribution - NBN Gateway

With the night’s drawing in I can be at my banker swim within 10 minutes of leaving my house, and it’s handy that there is a car-park yards from the lock gates. I explored the whole 2 mile stretch in one session and managed a few on the lure but the banker swim produced a few in the same session.

There are plenty of ‘schoolies’ however I’ve had them up to 3lb and I’ve lost one that was probably twice that. I’ve not tried for Zander on the stretches of river I fish, but that’s something I’m going to try in the future. The canals are an ideal habitat for this intruding fish very murky and gloomy which gives them confidence in feeding any time of the day.

Tactics for today were my usual, a lure rod to explore the area and a sleeper rod running set-up with a small dead bait, roach or gudgeon. The deadbait is secured with a Jeff Hatt recommended Mustard Ultimate Bass hook tied to a 50lb Korda arma-kord leader. 9 times out of ten if you strike as soon as the bait gets interest you will hook the fish in the scissors, and by crushing the barb on the hook, removal is a piece of cake.

I had a ‘schoolie’ with first cast of the lure and it properly nailed it too, no messing around, just BANG. They do fight quite well despite being small and a bit like a Perch they try and throw the hook by shaking their heads back and forth.

Despite being a short session I managed 6 Zander and 1 Perch, not big’uns but an enjoyable after work session. The last fish came to a lure in the dark and weirdly the deadbait never got a touch when the light was diminishing. Sander lucioperca, got to love them.

Sunday 14 September 2014

A state of quandary...

I hooked a Barbel a few days ago, the first I've hooked in a long time. To be honest with the rivers low and stupidly clear I haven't really targeted them in anger. The bite came at dusk and was a proper rod wrencher, the classic Barbel bite.

I used a bait dropper to leave a carpet of hemp and bait was a caviar pellet covered in a spicy sausage flavored paste. Anyway back to the bite, a fish was on and felt a decent size too but it found a snag mid-water, and it wouldn't budge, so I lost the fish.

As the nights are drawing in, my after work fishing times are being vastly reduced so I can just about manage a couple of hours on the bank that's about it. The bait and wait approach seems to suit the limited sessions as when I'm 'waiting' I chuck a small soft lure out and about to see what's there.

I had a few Perch and a jack so far but nothing of size.  Hopefully I'll get another few trips in before I'll have to call my after work session off. Shame the rivers are so low because with a bit of colour the rivers fish completely different, like chalk and cheese. It really is that simple.

After a night-out in Warwick to hear my mates women problems (groundhog day, sorry Simon :) ), in the morning we ventured to the ressi. With the pool covered in leaves and surface scum I moved over to the opposite side of the lake, away from my favorite peg. A sleeper rod with lobworm and I fished a small pole float next to some overhanging branches. It was an odd day, me and 4 other anglers were catching Perch, Silver Bream, Roach, Skimmers, Gudgeon and Rudd but no Tench or Carp.

Talking of scum and I'm not talking about the person who left a load of little again for me to pick up, over the years the accumulation of fallen leaves has left a thick sludge on the bottom of the reservoir reducing the capacity. It looks like the owners may do something about it, not just dredging it but widening it, fixing the fencing, new platforms,  and even talk of a car-park. It's not a definite yet but could well happen. It's a great little venue that could be made so much better. Could be next month, next year or never we will see. Enough of that back to the fishing..

I did manage a Perch a Gnats nadger under 2lb but the larger ones didn't show. I'm in a bit of a guandary what to do now. I'm a river man at heart but we desperately need some rain as fishing is difficult so the next session I might even just go down the cut for a couple of hours. I've not been to my Zander banker swim in ages, so that might be my next port of call.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Vilamoura - Cruzeiros Da Oura

The third time I've fished with the Cruzeiros Da Oura crew out of Vilamoura and it's always an enjoyable day away from the chaos of the kids. The Wife had a day at a spa, mine is to have a days fishing. 

A quick report but amongst us four anglers and the crew we had conger, scorpion fish, bream, wrasse, mackerel and the Algarves equivalent of the cod. 

Simple tactics, find a reef, two hooks baited with mackerel, prawn or squid and some lead to get down to 40 metres, await for the tip to rattle and job done. Met up with the Wife for a cocktail afterwards everyone's a winner. 

It's cooled down this week but last week it was mid thirties, far too hot for fishing , well for me anyway. Today was 27 or so and just about bearable. If you're ever in the area, check out these guys. September is barbel time for me, cannot wait, in the mean time, teaching my youngest will have to do.

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