Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Friday 28 August 2015

Warwickshire Avon – Poka-Yoke and the Pestiferous Chub ( With Big Barbel Content)

Poka-Yoke is a familiar term for those like me who work in engineering and the like. Shigeo Shingo from the Toyota group introduced the concept in 1961, in a nutshell it means ‘mistake-proofing’ or ‘fool proofing’. Poka-yokes are mechanisms used to mistake-proof an entire process.

Can the same principle be applied to fishing I wonder….

Why you ask, well I’d been pestered by gluttonous Chub of late whilst evening fishing for Barbel, a couple of those sessions have been frustrating to say the least and I’ve ended the session prematurely. A large bait such as a 1/3 of a tin of garlic spam didn’t put them off the little blighters. There are a few swims I know where I could rock up in the middle of the day, trundle a bait through the swim and bank a splasher, but I wanted to try and target the big Barbel that I know are present here, a larger bait seems to be more selective in fish size in the areas I fish and that was the plan I intended to stick with.

The problem however is a Chub with their Leslie Ash lips can easily strip a lump of meat from a hair in a matter of seconds before it even reaches their pharyngeal teeth. A meat stop helps that situation but only to delay the inevitable, an unwanted Chevin. Either the bait would be removed entirely leaving the rig baitless or a Chub would be hooked. Rebaiting and casting in low-light or well in to dusk is a pain in the proverbials. Supergluing a couple of 8mm pellets on to a hair was probably the most effective method as at least you knew the bait was still likely to be there before the violent Barbel bite eventually came, however still lots of Chub were banked.

So the change I made for this session was to use an overly large fishmeal and liver based pellet made specifically for catfish which was glugged in pungent Salmon oil. Originally it was 30mm diameter and 40mm long, I halved it however which made a more manageable and cost effective bait. What I liked about it was that even though it was relatively easy to cut, it was effectively still a hard pellet and therefore relatively Chub resistant, and would be difficult to strip from the hair. Also being a big bait hopefully a larger Barbel will see it as more manageable mouthful unlike one of the smaller splashers where it would be a potential gobstopper. The pellet was secured on a long hair via a large pellet stop (tabs superglued) and for this session two rods were to used, one rod positioned just under a willow and the other in an area of slack just off the main flow. The plan was to sit back, ignore the rattles and twangs and wait for the rod to properly wrench over, simples. This was a 2 part session; the second would be a bit further downstream.

Would this set-up be as selective and chub-proof as I hoped?

I'd rocked up at 7.00pm added a couple of droppers of hemp and pellet into a very clear river, not as up as I expected either.Both rods went in half hour later and it was a matter of sitting back and waiting. It wasn't till dusk till both rods were getting attention and sure enough the Chub bites started, some of them one and a half footers too, but I knew unlike a 10mm pellet that reduces in size over time dunked in the water I knew the bait would still be there. I had intended to leave at 9.30pm however with clear skies and a full moon my rod without an isotope could still clearly be seen.

One of the rods had a pin fitted and the ratchet acts as a noisy bait runner effectively, the other a fixed spool with the bait runner activated. In my experience the Barbel because of the nature in the way they feed they tend to hook themselves. They are savage bites and there is no mistaking the 3ft twitch. I decided to stay another half an hour or so and sure enough at more or less 10.00pm, the rod violently wrenched over and the bait runner started to scream. It was a powerful fish too and already made some ground on me before I could get it under control, downstream is thick streamer weed and a snag riddled overhanging tree so with the rod bent double it was hold and hope.

I walked up the bank and tightened the drag and eventually felt more in control of it. After a cracking fight and breaking my landing net when the frame broke at the spreader block eventually I had the fish on the bank. I really did feel it would break my PB then again I haven't caught a double figure fish for a while, anyway it weighed 10lb 12oz. still pleased with it but upon resting and returning it and seeing it in the water swim away with my head torch I know for a fact there are bigger ones to be had.

A 10lb 12oz Warwickshire Avon Barbel
I was well pleased with the method and rig, it worked exactly as intended. I prefer fishing a moving bait if I'm honest but the bites Barbel give really are a sight to behold. For situations like this session though where it's clear, and there are Chub in residence and there bigger fish come out to play when it's dusk, it's ideal.

Monday 24 August 2015

Warwickshire Avon - River Carp and Tench in the Trench

It’s not going too well this river carp lark; I’ve fished 5 sessions now so about 20 hours in total. I’ve hooked and lost one, had them fighting over the dog biscuits practically jumping on each other’s backs, fluffed a couple of strikes and witnessed the biggest out of the group a ‘ghostie’ hoover up a large piece of crust that had just parted from my hook in glorious slow motion, previous to that, he had completely ignored it, you couldn’t make it up.

They ain’t stupid these mud sifters…

Conditions need to be right really so it’s taken me a few weeks and a holiday in-between to fish for them again. The problem is unless it’s clear(ish) you wouldn’t spot them, they are amongst the thick lilies and rarely venture out, and I’ve often taken a couple of hours watching through my cocoons just to spot one, there doesn’t appear to be a pattern to them making an appearance either.

They seem to prefer the smaller dog biscuit rather than crust so to try and outwit these crafty carp I swopped the bread for an ET31N enterprise imitation dog biscuit. You secure it with a long hair with a spilt shot that orientates it in such that you can keep the hook out of the water and out of view from wary carp. The biscuit has a raised area that you nip the hook through, very well thought out indeed (not cheap mind). There is a bit of foam coloured matched to the fake bait that fits through the middle of the biscuit, not only is it there for buoyancy but it also can be flavoured if you so wish. I soaked mine in scopex, btw.

I need an edge without resorting to multiple rods and buckets of bait; I was hoping this was it...

This area also looks ideal for Tench, thick with marginal lilies,decent depth with pedestrian pace. I also know one was caught upstream from here in similar surroundings. So to try and kill two birds with one stone so to speak the first half of the session (early morning) I’d float fish for Tench after feeding some chopped worm, red groundbait and a few dead maggots close to the pads within a long trench. I’d fish a red worm and a red maggot of corn on a lift float set-up for a couple of hours or so and then have a sleeper rod out with a few pieces of Rod Hutchinson’s huge corn baits on a hair amongst a carpet of freebies just to see what I could pick up. There are marginal lilypads over a decent length so a bit of the groundbait mix would be added in a few likely spots to try and spot the tell tale micro bubbles that show that the Tench were feeding.

Any one of the target species would be nice.............

So, the above is all very well, but had a bit of a nightmare for the session. The reeds had grown massive since I was there last so lots of the swim I couldn’t see, despite looking long and hard for the carp over the 5 hours session, none were spotted. An angry Swan was in one of the swims I intended to fish and no amount of landing net waving would shift it. The first cast of the float with a worm hookbait was picked up by a Jack Pike that bit and broke the like and the rest of the fish caught were small Perch and Chub, a change to a couple of grains of corn the float remained motionless as did the corn sleeper rod.

So back to the drawing board, I think a Warwick Book is on the cards. At least it was a nice day

Friday 21 August 2015

Warwickshire Avon – The Raft

I know there is a huge Barbel in this area of the Warwickshire Avon, I’ve seen it with my own eyes when I disturbed it in the low and clear water. Sadly my attempts to capture it have been nothing more than a failure. I’d caught a few smaller fish (up to 8lb) sure but as I know their Father is here (I hope he still is) there is always a possibility it would eventually grace my hook. It appears to be elusive though and I’ve not spotted it since. I’m not saying I’m bored of catching the smaller fish, far from it, but this area because of what I witnessed is one of those that will get me returning, time after time till I catch it. Having fished it in ideal chocolate brown flood conditions and in and around the features the area exhibits, such as holes, creases, slacks and streamer weed there was one particular area I hadn’t tried.

It was a rather deep and lengthy raft caused by a fallen tree which appeared to growing in size by the day………

The issue has been for previous sessions that it was way beyond the reach of my amateurish Wallis cast, in these clear conditions bigger fish tuck themselves away so a change of tactics was therefore needed. I nearly always have a plan of action before a session so to carry out this undertaking the centrepin was swapped for a fixed spool so the raft was now reachable. Due to its proximity from the bank I felt a static lead or a trundle through would disturb the swim too much so a large buoyant float would be used for bait delivery which I aimed to just get to skim the perimeter of it.

Bait on the longshank hook was either a lobworm or a chunk of garlic spam, loose feed would be catapulted in to the swim just upstream so to trickle down and hopefully draw the fish out from their overly large security blanket. What is also nice about this swim is once past the raft providing you have a big visible float fitted you can trot a good 30 or 40 yards past it as there is a large area of open water.

The second part of the plan was for the last hour or so in to dusk as the float was fitted to the line with a silicone adaptor I’d remove the float and freeline a gobstopper of garlic spam and wait for that savage rod wrencher that only a Barbel can give.

Best laid plans and all that….

Chub are prevalent here and throughout the session that’s all I caught, every third or fourth trot down with worm or meat a greedy Chevin gobbled down the bait, I’d managed to get the float the majority of times to kiss the raft too, if a Barbel was in residence I’m sure one of the trots down would have tempted it.

Around 8.30pm I swopped to a gobstopper and the tip didn’t stop (1/3 tin of Spam), all Chub though with sharp twangs and taps. Eventually a couple of fish were landed but only small Chub in the scheme of things. It really did switch on big style when the light dropped so I’ve an idea or two to try and make use of that, if that doesn’t work back to the drawing board.

A Tench reccy Saturday morning, I’m expecting a blank…

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Warwickshire Avon – Hit the ground ‘trundling’ Part 2

I’d fished Sunday trotting some maggots and had a fish more or less every chuck, all small dace, roach and Chub though, nothing to write home about, so with an exploratory river Tench reccy planned for Saturday this evenings session at the Avon was trying to search out a Barbel. Conditions are difficult at the minute really low and clear which puts the bigger fish in to hiding. The Avon isn’t awash with Barbel but there are big ones to be had and pockets of fish here and there. In these conditions unless you fish in to dark some cover is a necessity as it gives the fish a bit of security.

I’d only a couple of hours before dusk so visited a stretch that has cover in abundance. There is no real science to the way I fish with a moving bait. Find a swim with cover , cast upstream and allow the bait to trundle through the swim, a slight flick of the rod butt will get the meat moving again, with polarised sunglasses on you can even see the bait half of the time.

Before I put a bait through I loose feed some freebies through the swim to see if I can spot some fish. A couple of swims without even a touch this corner swim had some nice cover and also a ‘hole’ to easily plop in the bait. With the cocoons donned after some bits of meat went through the swim unhindered with only a small Chub visible I has considered moving but then I spotted a silhouette of a Barbel just on the edge of the cover.

The first cast was just right and a with a flick the bait was right under the thick cover, I’d added some more plasticine for this swim as it was very narrow and still pretty pacey, I wanted to position the bait just right and keep it there, but then if I didn’t get a touch another flick would get it moving again and further along the cover. The bait had been positioned for a couple of minutes without a touch but with the bait now 1m further under the cover it was in the darkest and thickest area, sure enough within seconds the rod had wrapped around and a fish was on.

There is something about playing a fish in clear water, a stunning visual treat for the angler who likes to see a fish in its natural environment. It wasn’t a big fish but it gave a great account for itself and I was surprised it only weighed 6lb on the nose as my arm ached afterwards. Not enough to up the bloggers point tally but I’ve earmarked an area where I know there are big Barbel but the conditions need to be right and there needs to be colour in the water. With the fish safely rested and returned an a couple of more swims tried without success I called it a day with a stunning shepherds delight to go and watch another violence and gratuitous nudity filed Banshee episode with the waiting Wife.

Friday 7 August 2015

Warwickshire Avon - Asspigmatism and the Anguilla Anguilla

Walking through the thicket after an evening’s fishing I became aware of a presence, the usual drone of a distant plane, the odd flapping of a bird wings and the background noise of running water was interrupted by something very unusual. To my left and around 30 or 40 foot away in knee high growth something large appeared to be raking and gouging at one of the tall trees, I was stuck in my tracks and was glued to the spot. It was 9.35pm now and just past civil twilight but with light still left from the glowing sky I could clearly make out its silhouette against the light background. I certainly didn’t want to approach this rather large intimidating figure. With my eyes better adjusted to the light it looked pig like, a large rounded back, very front heavy with large chest, shoulders and head, the long skinny legs that were half the length of its body.

But even with the light faded; this didn’t appear to be a domestic pig...

It’s now moved from the tree and it’s routing around the ground and has started to snort and grunt deeply with the low down power of a bandpass subwoofer. It’s on the move, sh*t now I’m worried. The only way back to my car was past this ‘beast’ and I’m still none the wiser on what it is. Now regular readers of this blog know I can just about tolerate fishing in the dark or lowlight but I usually have a mate in tow, I certainly don’t enjoy it like some do.

With my Iphone’s flash as bright as a rather pathetic lit fart I get the Nitecore torch out, 2000 lumens apparently, all I know its f’ing bright...

Illuminating the area, the light has reflected off some surface water from within a tractor track but then the animal eventually comes in to full view and it’s looking straight at me, it appears to be disorientated, its head and legs are moving but there doesn’t appear to be much forward motion. For a second its broadside and I’ve got a full view of its flanks, it’s dark, dirty and long of hair.

Hang on is that a ridge on its back, Jesus it looks like a wild boar

NAH!!!!!!!!!!, it cannot be surely Shirley....F**k me, maybe it is...

It’s now made haste and scurried out of there, sadly I lose sight of it...

Now I’m very proud of my eyesight, I seem to ‘see’ better than anyone I know and 18 mths ago after having a cyst removed from my eye at Warwick Hospital I was told after an eyesight check that I’m up there with the best in Warwickshire. This wank*ing make you blind is clearly a load of bollocks, as a testosterone filled spotty youth and for many, it was a medicinal pastime.I’m certainly not suffering with astigmatism, I know what I saw.

Now a bit of goggling, the Forest of Dean is awash with them but that’s 70 miles away, a bit closer to home an article from the BBC said Warwickshire Police have received reports of sightings in Coughton, Alcester and Wootton Wawen, all some time ago mind.

Map showing approximate locations of alleged wild boar sightings....

Now if only I could justify one of those wildlife cameras....

So anyway enough of the hog, on to the fishing, I was shared some information a couple of weeks ago now and I decided to try and up my Eel PB, apparently there are big Zander here too so come October, November time I'll be giving this more of a go. Simple tactics were employed, Roach heads on a running sleeper rig and also with the rod stuck high, Barbel style. I'd fish for 2 hours that was it. The first hour I'd caught two small Pike, the biggest 7lb 4oz and then with the light fading the main rods tip was beginning to dance and I struck in to something solid, not a long fight but the target species was in the net, encouraging that's for sure.

The Iphone doesn't work too well in low light, Eel PB of 1lb 7oz
Pike, 7lb 4oz

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Warwickshire Avon - Big Dace and the colossal Barbel chase

There is a particular stretch on the Warwickshire Avon I know that is literally chock-full of Roach and half decent Dace, over the bridge, through the woods ,past the weird looking tree, over the stile, in to the wilds, you get my drift some of the local bloggers know where I mean. I’ve not renewed that book for this season having decided to fish for Roach on the diminutive Warwickshire Stour instead, I’m sure there are some monsters to be had and it’s a roving anglers dream, more my thing even though the largely unexplored and uncharted areas upstream of the Roach and Dace stretch looked tempting. Can someone do the honours please, I’d love to know what’s up there...

I’m tempted to renew, as I’ve been told of some whereabouts of BIG Chub on one of the book waters....

Anyway, back to the fishing and an alternative area for Dace. I’d spotted some feeding up in the water in this particular stretch a few weeks back and there were some half decent ones too amongst the rather large shoal so with a pint and a half of maggots and a float initially set to mid-depth I set upon catching them. By feeding a steady trail of grubs upstream I wanted the fish to get competitive and compete for the bait. Hook was a size 16, the float a chunky buoyant waggler. 

I’d also put in a couple of bait droppers of hemp, pellets and some cubed meat at the start of the session as I planned to fish the last hour for Barbel with a glowing isotope and a gobstopper of a lump of spam (1/3 of a 200g tin with the corners taken off) within a deep marginal gully that lead to a ‘tunnel’ feature within the river. When it’s clear like this even with a moving bait they can be wary but when the light drops and the bats come out to play there is a noticeable change in the fish movement, it’s a bit like a carp in a commercial fishery moving to the margins to feed after the pole waver has dumped his bait when he’s finished, there is change in tip action so to speak (not an euphemism btw). The problem is there are plenty of Chub and smallish Barbel here too and they are greedy little blighters, I was hoping a rather large bait would be selective, and tempt a big Barbel. Last week if I’d have stayed a bit longer I’m sure I’d have hooked one, hence why I’m back. I don’t want a 6lber.

With a bait this size a Barbel is likely to mess around with the bait till he takes it properly so I wanted to minimize resistance, a running set-up with a 3ft hook link, large hook and of course the centrepin which tends to feature in more of my fishing these days. A rear rest and a bobbin clipped on the line would allow a Barbel to get confidence in the bait as it could move it a decent amount before feeling any resistance. When the fish bolts the bobbin will hit the butt and the centrepins ratchet will come in to play. Provide resistance on the spool with hand or thumb and the hook will pull out of the meat in to the fish

Well that was the theory..

I usually use a 1.75lb test curve Harrison Torrix for most of my Barbel fishing but I like the idea of a bit more backbone if I hooked a big fish and a stiffer tip to set the hook so the Torrix was replaced with the Fox Duo-Lite with 2.25lb sold top. It’s more cumbersome as a tool but that has its advantages in this set-up. 

I couldn’t believe how many fish were in the swim, bites were instant and constant and over a couple of three hours I lost count on the amount of fish caught, a bite every chuck. Sadly all small fish, maybe I should have brought some bread or sweetcorn as that might have singled out the larger fish. Changed depth didn’t make any difference either, just small fish. Dace, Chub, Roach and Perch.

For the last hour I whacked out the lump of meat and sat back and waited, the first bite came pretty quick to be honest with the bobbin reaching the rod butt,  maybe I was premature on the strike or it was some debris I’m not sure. As the light faded and the isotope was glowing this was prime Barbel time. I spotted a huge one here sometime ago now that I disturbed when I was playing a Chub, it nearly gave me a heart attack as it was a sight to behold, but up to now I have only had them here up to 8lb.

I sat back and waited. Over at the far bank was some scurrying and noise and a black as you like mink came out from some cover and started to patrol the bank. One was spotted a couple of weeks ago further upstream and I know this stretch I fish they have trapped them in the past. Maybe it put a kibosh on the swim because the rod other than the bats hitting the line remained motionless. Damn…

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