Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Saturday 26 September 2015

Warwickshire Stour – Going bread-handed with the underachiever

The humble earthworm, has spent millions of years evolving amongst the dirt, dead organisms and fecal material, yet weirdly despite the abundance of them, over that time they didn’t put in a little extra effort required to become a snake. It already has well-developed organs, circulatory and nervous systems neatly packed into a successful tubular body plan. Relatively speaking, how much more DNA mutation is involved to conjure up a simple venom gland and a couple of fangs. This lack of follow-through is perplexing and disappointing, to say the least.

Following this gargantuan evolutionary blunder, the earthworm got itself involved in some pretty weird stuff. As a hermaphrodite earthworms wield male and female reproductive organs, meaning that any given earthworm can, and, unfortunately will, mate with another. This process is well described and probably more off-putting than you might think as it involves the formation of cocoons and the mutual exchange of fapple juice. Because of this epic failure to actualise its full biological potential (opting instead to pursue a lugubrious ecological niche eating rotten organic matter, aerating/enriching soil, and engaging in copious amounts of rogerisation ) there was another, smarter, biding organism by the name of Homo sapiens waiting in the shadows for a chance to profit from the earthworm’s poor self esteem and enticing body parts. Ok, a bit of a simpleton but they do have fantastic anatomy earthworms as they have five hearts (well aortic arches) and the ability to regenerate lost segments of their segmented bodies. These are profound features, for sure, but, again, they go to waste wriggling around in a cesspit.

As an angler though, I love them and they would feature in this session….

After an enjoyable trip to the diminutive Stour last weekend I decided to return. (not to retrace my steps for my camera this time though). The section I prefer is off the beaten track and doubt sees another angler for weeks. It’s not for the lazy you see as it’s is a bit of a trek on foot. I’ve said many a times I’m a roving angler that seeks solitude and if it’s just me and the sheep I’m happy, it’s my kind of river. The fish really are in stunning condition and it’s a river with very few predators, well apart from the feathered or Franek. It’s the potential specimen Roach that gets me coming back, the Chub are nice but grow nothing like the Avon fish, they are scale perfect though, even the chunky ones.

Having fished it a number of times now I’m beginning to think that I’m wasting my time feeding liquidised bread by either hand or feeder. I really don’t think it matters too much as bread appears to be such a magnificent attractant, if there are fish in the swim they will find it. The thought I had was rather than feeding ALL the fish with the blended bread and hemp concoction as it was probably causing a Roach melee, fishing a singular large folded punched bait, the larger fish would bully the plebeians out the way and it would be a bit more size selective.

I was pestered by the minnows last time so as an alternative to the bread I also had a few juicy lobworms that I’d halve. Every fish likes the humble worm as the stimulatory amino acids that leak in to the water get the fish looking for the belly filler. Being large it’s a veritable minnow gobstopper so it’s likely to be a half decent fish when the float was dragged under. Talking of float gear there were a few tasty looking swims on the previous session where a static bait would have been an advantage so for this trip I changed to a light link ledger.

There was a slight ground frost and the sky was clear so I knew it might be a little tough. There were plenty of fish still though, just not big sadly, I had the usual suspects chublets, dace, roach and perch. The bread out-fished the worm, the method, well to be honest I'm sure the float would give much better presentation as the bites were half what I had last week and there was plenty of weed on the bed. The Roach give a cracking pull of the tip though, the small knocks were minnows and them wham, the tip would violently head towards the river. In one particular swim I had 10 to 15 fish in quick succession The river was clear albeit with a slight green tinge so I'm sure it also helps that the bread is very visual because of the differing colour contrast. I'm not ready to fish the Avon for Roach yet but that's where I expect to beat 12oz and also pick up a decent Dace. Downstream there is an area that is much deeper, even when the river is low you can find 10ft of water so maybe that's where I'll try next time.

Now I know Martin has been doing well for the Barbel so I might try and squeeze in an evening session next week, I could do with a proper bend in the rod.

Friday 25 September 2015

Warwickshire Avon - Now that's a Gonk !!!!

A Perch and Zander session yesterday never went well at all but this impressive 6.5" Gudgeon took a liking to a juicy lobworm. It wasn't particularly fat but easily the longest I've caught.

Monday 21 September 2015

Warwickshire Stour – Ruddy Waters and the Lesney Bread Bait Press.

I just happened to stumble upon this object at a tabletop sale at a local fete, at first I thought it looked an ideal alternative to the naughty step but then I read the lettering on the side. A couple of quid handed over to the rather buxom seller and it was mine, now I knew nothing about it but recognised the name on the side, Lensey from when I was an ankle biter and the colours looked very familiar.

So without a box or instructions I did a bit of lunch hour research….

Lesney Products and Co. Ltd was founded in 1947 by as an industrial die-casting company, their order book was very much up and down however a chance order to make some parts for a toy gun their fortunes changed as when there was a downturn in the market requirement and the company was on a go slow they decided to start making die cast model toys, the first being a road roller similar to the industry leader Dinky’s model. Probably their biggest milestone was the switching to a smaller model road roller that fitted within a replica matchbox, this lead to worldwide, mass market success and what they are most famous for the ‘matchbox’ series of toys.

They didn’t just make toys either, so one of their many spin-offs was in 1954 they launched the ‘Lesney Bread Bait Press’ which was sold and distributed exclusively through Milbournes a tackle shop in Holloway in London. It was designed and realised by Jack Odell who worked there, he was a keen angler on the canals and rivers of North London area. After a year with mediocre sales they launched the second version, removed the Milbo from the die and then allowed everyone else to sell it. It sold pretty well after that.

There are 3 parts to the press, the frame, the butterfly screw and the die. The die has two halves with a pin in each to create the hook hole.

Instructions for Use

Peel off the crust from a sliced loaf, leaving three eights of an inch of bread on the crust (9.5mm). Place bread in the Bait Press and screw down. This will give you two pellets of crust ready with a hole for your hook. On entering the water this will quickly swell to the size of a sugar cube. If a larger piece of bait is required fold the length of crust in two before placing in press.
‘Perfect satisfaction every time’ 

So gadget or gimmick….? Now I couldn’t find any pictures about actually using it, I’m not going to give up on the Jeff Hatt off of Idlers Quest my way with bread folded punch disc method just yet, so is it a worthy addition to ones tackle box or a useful thumbscrew and torture device ?

Only one way to find out….

At this time of year ( the end of summer) the diminutive Stour looks ideal as a Rudd habitat, it’s clear, clean and in many places very much overgrown, there are reeds and cabbages in abundance and the thick weed growth providing those that reside within its waters a natural and conveyor belt of food. It’s my kind of river too as much of its length hardly sees an angler and it meanders through picturesque and tranquil Warwickshire countryside. It’s as close to a Fenland drain as me as a Warwickshire worm whisperer is ever likely to see. It’s been really low of late but a recent few days of rain its levels are up a gnats nadger. Despite catching fish off the top in many of the local rivers I’m yet to catch a Rudd, do they exist in the flowing water of Warwickshire ?

I’m sure they do…, but where….?

I’ve only really fished the Stour in the winter months for Roach and Chub so I didn’t really know what to expect for this session. Travelling light features in most of my fishing these days so the rod was my TFG river and stream donned with a centrepin, a small waist bait bag, a small landing net and a loaf of Warburton’s blue for bait. A small piece of Lesney pressed bread on the hook was suspended under a small loaded puddle chucker, I’d fish this either on the surface or a small shot would naturally drop it through the water if I couldn’t find any surface feeding fish. I watched the weather like us Brits do and waited for a warm(ish) day with a clear sky. Another piece of important tackle was my cocoons so I could hopefully spot some fish, the clarity of the Stour can vary so much from day to day but it's an important tool in my armory. Feed was liquidised bread with a few bits of hemp. The glass test showed the bread swelled up nicely and double folding the bread even more so. Hopefully it would stay on the hook as well as the folded disk method.

If Rudd were being elusive (or if they just aint there) I’m sure a Roach or two would do.

For those that haven’t fished the Stour, the fish really are in stunning condition, the Chub especially, even 3lbers haven’t a mark on them, scale perfect and bright silver. Every fishable swim will have fish and this session was no exception, there are plenty of minnows though and they will still drag under a reasonably weighty puddle chucker. I probably fished 7 or 8 swims with Chub from every one, the Roach were there too with most around the 3 to 4oz range however the largest went 12oz’s, again in pristine condition. The biggest Chub went 3lb 4oz and gave a cracking scrap on light tackle. The bread press, was definitely a gimmick though, far too much faff to be honest and it was no better than tearing some bread off, folding it and pinching it together. It didn’t appear to be more minnow resistant either as they would have it off the hook pretty easily. Far too time consuming really for no real benefit.

So my verdict, a GIMMICK !!!

I like the area of the Stour I fish because it’s off the beaten track, so much so went I got home I realised I’d dropped my camera so went back, retraced my steps and found it. I bet it hasn’t seen an angler in weeks. The half decent Roach got me interested in this little river again and I’ll revisit here in the winter. Oh and the Rudd, nowhere to be seen.

Friday 18 September 2015

Warwickshire Avon – Perciform Pursuing and Pondering

The lackluster and lamentable summer we’ve had is coming to an end and as we head in to autumn with its colder mornings and nights and with the rain that comes with the change in season, it inevitably brings some nice colour to the water. With the change in water clarity Perch are starting to get on the hunt to fatten up and to see them through the winter. With the nights now drawing in the regular weekly after work sessions are coming to an end leaving only the weekend to fish, my bank time will become vastly reduced. The British summer time really does suit my lifestyle, the only saving grace is winter is my favourite season, at least I’ve got that to look forward to and I might have the odd Friday afternoon session to keep my vitamin D levels topped up and rickets at bay.

I’m probably a tad premature for this session but I’ve found one particular swim by chance a few years ago where as soon there is a tinge of colour to the water there are usually large Perch in residence. A tree upstream hinders the rivers flow and a reed riddled margin with an undercut bank leaves a lovely slack, it’s a classic Perch swim. If a link ledgered fat juicy lobworm cast in the heart of the swim isn’t taken by a stripey within seconds you know they ain’t there. In my experience though if they are not in the banker swim some roving around casting a bait in to likely looking areas they will eventually reveal themselves and a decent stamp of Perch well over the pound a half mark and beyond can be caught in quick succession. This stretch has chub and chublets on mass and as soon as the tip starts to move you know if it’s a Perch or a Chub just by the movement. I was hoping for the latter.

One problem though, once I’d seen the little terrors for an hour and munched my cheese, swede and carrot topped cottage pie, I would just about manage an hour’s rove around for a decent Sergeant before the bats appear and the Perch disappear so the second part of this trip I’d also brought a phosphorescent lure to cast in and around a large expanse of oxygenated water with peripheral slacks to hopefully tempt a Zander if it were in residence, it’s something I’d not tried before, maybe a gimmick but worth a go I reckon, especially as I was deadbaitless. I’d caught predators here in the past, albeit not a Zander. I will try for one come October, November time (I haven’t caught one on flowing water, just hundreds on the cut), this was more of a cobbled together exploratory session. Talking of Zander as I've mentioned it a few times, I’ve really missed fishing the cut, so much so, in the next closed season I’m planning to target local stretches again, some new, some familiar to try and catch a double figure fish. They are there I’ve not doubt and I’m sure I’d already hooked and lost one, it’s a species I’ve really taken to.

Now a phosphorescent lure needs charging up with a light source. The more UV wavelengths the light contains, the faster it will charge. Sunlight will charge the fastest, requiring only 5 minutes or so of exposure, a workshop type fluorescent lamp a little longer. It’s surprising just how much light is omitted too and once ‘charged’ it will glow for a considerable amount of time. Apparently the Zander has two types of eye cones. The biggest responsible for seeing yellow and orange, and the smaller ones registering green. Any Zander hunter can confirm the effectiveness of these colours and a bright green and yellow lure (firetiger) is the main lure I use. The cones in this predator are especially large and an additional upgrade of the Zander’s eyesight is a reflective guanine layer covering the inside of the eyeball. Thanks to this light passes through the cones twice strengthening the signal sent to the brain. That is why their eyes shine with a silvery glow even by the most delicate light. The eyes of some night-hunting mammals work in a similar way. Thanks to such eye construction, their eyesight is unbelievably sensitive. It can see perfectly when other fish, let alone humans, can’t see anything at all. Why else do you think they thrive in the gloomy and mucky waters of the canal I fish, they have one-upmanship on their fellow residents, easily the cut King as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway enough off the bumph…..

It was a disastrous start to the session, the recent rain had made the banks slippy and upon existing the banker swim where after half an hour all I’d caught were a couple of small chublets, my right foot gave way and I fell forward in comedy fashion, proper arse over tit. It must have looked like trying to keep up with a running machine but failing miserably. The impact area was covered in stinging nettles and I was covered in thick mud, not good. I can still feel them now. Oh and if anyone stumbles upon a black camera lens cover it’s mine. I tried a few more swims with just chub and greedy dace and when a jack pike took a small dace on the retrieve and buggered the swim I moved to the area of turbulent water where I intended to spend the last hour well in to dusk with the glowing lure.

The water was clearer here and a few chucks and retrieves of the lure I could see a couple of jack pike following it and swimming in and around the swim. They didn’t take it though and well in to dark (8.30pm) after countless casts I finally got a hook-up. It felt half decent too and I had to adjust the drag to give it more line. With my head torch on I finally got sight of the fish and yeap, fantastic a Zander and I could clearly see the lure stuck in its mouth, looked half decent too. It then starts to do the characteristic shaking of the head similar to try and lose the hook, and lose the hook it did, just as I was getting the net ready, Damn….. I stayed for another half an hour but sadly no more takers.

On the canals I fish I’ve often found lure fishing can be very much hit and miss with more lost fish than banked, the deadbait with bass hook a different story. Ok, a lost fish but as least I know they are here. Next time I’ll dump the lure rod and fish Barbel style watching the tip with a bass hook on a 15lb trace, on a running set-up. I’ll fish another couple of evenings after work and maybe I’ll wait till there is plenty of colour in the water and also fish an extended day time session. The Perch will have to wait too as it's still far too clear than I'd like. As Schwarzenegger would say, I’ll be back.

Thursday 17 September 2015

Warwickshire Avon - One for the pot

So I wonder what was cooked on here then, strewn Lech cans and fish scales right next to it.

Monday 14 September 2015

Warwickshire Avon – Bet your bottom Doctor

As a busy family man this is the first weekend in a few where I’d actually had some spare time to fish, I’d managed a dusk Barbel session a few days ago and the Chub poka-yoke rig worked well yet again as the swim must have been full of the greedy blighters but the Barbel were suspicious in their absence and that 4ft twitch didn’t materialise in that dark hour after dusk. The Avon is still low and gin clear again so for this extended weekend session I was umming and ahhing on what species to fish for.

Until I stumbled upon a post on social media……

Now I’m not a facebook user personally but I do have a few bookmarks stored in my phone to various pages of local angling clubs and societies and it was whilst having a butchers at one last week I noticed a Tench was caught during a match in a location I’d fished a few times albeit for another species and I knew in the past had some form . So it was decided for me, I thought I’d try and capture one of those rare and elusive Warwickshire Avon river Tench.

I always plan my sessions and make up my rods before I go so it was a two rod approach for this session, a sleeper rod with a helicopter set-up with couple of highly visible fake sweetcorn on a hair, with the block end feeder filled with red bloodworm ground bait, a few red maggots, some hemp and a few kernels of corn and the main Avon rod I’d fish a Drennan bolt feeder with red maggot as feed and three on the hook, one fake and two wrigglers.

It’s surprisingly deep here having fished it before and it can take more than a few seconds for the lead to dink the bottom. The flow is also pedestrian which suits the Tinca and the margins have lilies and cabbages, it’s about as Tenchy as all the places I fish. The Tench reccy session I had recently was further downstream and if they were there they certainly didn’t want to show themselves even though I offered them a slap up Sunday dinner with all the trimmings.

Would I fare any better in my second Tench session………?

Well what a stupid question, of course not. I forgot my groundbait which didn’t help but upon arriving at 6.20am or so I found the peg where the Tench was caught and the one I wanted to fish occupied, bugger. I walked upstream but couldn’t see any pegs that took my fancy so I ended up a couple of pegs down from where the other angler was.

I caught plenty of fish, Perch, Roach and Dace but nothing of size and after I was bitten off by a jack pike and again by a bigger pike that liked the roach I’d caught I called it a day. Incidentally not even a liner on the sleeper rod. I suspect a sizeable net of fish could be caught if that’s your sort of thing. There is some rain this week so the little Tinca’s can wait, hopefully the water will colour up a nadger , I’ve some big fat lobworms in the post and the Perch are calling.

Friday 4 September 2015

The bloggers challenger’s dilemma ………..?

Cast my net wider....?

I’ve been thinking of late whether I should cast my net wider so to speak as I’m sure I’m limiting the size of the fish I catch, I generally fish within a 20 mile drive from my house, in-fact the majority of my fishing is less than 10 minutes by car so more like 5 or 6 miles I suppose. With a young family my available fishing time is precious so to maximise my banktime obviously local venues are beneficial. During my double figure Zander challenge a couple of places I fished were 17 miles away and It felt odd driving that far especially when my PB came from a stretch of the cut less than 10 minutes away. Maybe I’m not as dedicated as some specialist anglers are despite really enjoying my fishing.

A 5lb Chub for example, I know the Avon contain them as I’ve seen them but at the moment it’s the monkey on my back, I’ve literally caught hundreds of the buggers but yet to reach that milestone, hopefully this winter maybe but I’m sure there are easier ways to cross it off my list. I know they are there top be caught, Baz Peck doesn't seem to have an issue and our paths have crossed from time to time. But then I think to myself maybe it’s more of a challenge catching specimens from local waters, Crucians for example, there are limited places in Warwickshire to fish for them but having spent hours and hours fishing for a decent one I eventually caught a 2lber and actually punched the air in jubilation. In the Marsh farm scheme of things a 2lber is a bit pathetic, but then Marsh farm is 120 miles away.

I think what keeps my interest in localised fishing is the angling press and social media, In February this year for example an article cropped up about Mark Mole who had been fishing the River Blythe in Meriden and had Chub to over 5lb. I’d fished the Blythe a few times, albeit not this stretch and it was my sort of venue, small, diminutive and ideal for me as a roving angler. The problem is I tend to fish the same areas and I suspect I need to start visiting new places and to be honest after catching the same Chub 5 or 6 times I’m not sure why I haven’t.

Baz Peck's 5lb 9oz Chub, which has been caught at 6lb 4oz in late winter.
When I started blogging I did reveal probably more than I should about the areas I fish but of late I’ve tended to keep people guessing, why should I do all the hardwork for someone to capitalise on my limited success. The fellow bloggers I’ve met I’ve shared information and they have returned the favour, but I scratch your back, and you scratch mine. I get a least a couple of emails a week from the lazy asking probing questions, I ignore them in the main, just get out there and do what I do.

Mark Moles 5lb 7oz Blythe Chub
Fishing for me is a pastime and a hobby; I’m obviously not cut out as a big fish chaser, more someone who enjoys catching a variety of fish and happy with relative mediocrity, but then I’ve caught double figure Barbel, near 3lb Perch, half decent Canal Zander, so maybe Warwickshire isn’t that bad after all. I’m sure there is a 2lb Roach in the Stour and Jesus what was that I hooked in to and lost, I need to find out. I'm still puzzled why there are so many bloggers in the midlands, maybe it's in the water, who knows, but more the merrier.

After all that and the more I think about it I’m here to stay….here's to mediocrity 

Thursday 3 September 2015

Warwickshire Avon – Poka-Yoke and the Pestiferous Chub – Pt. 2

The Chub avoider rig worked well last week, in fact far better than expected as some of the bites were outrageous and I was convinced one would eventually hook itself or nick the bait from the hair. That never happened though on either of the rods despite being in the water for a considerable about of time, eventually a Barbel found the bait and an 10lb 12oz lump was banked. There are bigger fish here though so for this session I moved downstream to another swim full of feature and where the same tactics would be employed.

So after a couple of bait droppers of hemp and small pellets were deposited on the bed and left to rest, half an hour before dusk a big catfish pellet on a long hair would be positioned on top of the particles. Hands under ones backside and just sit it out watching the tip dance whilst a Chub is trying to work out how he can get a gob-full. Two rods were more of a hindrance than a help during the last session so a solitary isotope would be glowing in the dark Warwickshire backdrop. I had some Lone Angler sausage sizzle glugged squabs in the bag so I dipped the end of the pellet in for a few minutes for extra attraction and then also took the corners off to help keep the bait static on the bed.

The centrepins ratchet effectively acts as a bait runner and an audible bite alarm but having nearly having the rod pulled in on a couple of occasions such is the savagery of a Barbel bite I use a Gardner G-Force snag rest. It’s meant for fishing next to snags and ‘locked’ up when after a mud sifter but its ideal for Barbel fishing as before the lackadaisical ratchet decides to activate, it prevents the rod butt from lifting up and heading riverward during such fast takes. I wonder how many rods have been lost and fish tethered lots I bet… 

After the recent rain the river was up a good couple of feet if not more so I knew leaving a bait for a couple or three hours might be problematic with all the debris flowing downstream. In these situations I pinch a large shot on the line a meter or so before the lead and that seems to help with keeping the hookbait clear of the rubbish. I had a self imposed finish time for this session and with 5 mins to go and having to recast the bait a couple of time I only a handful of chub taps and pulls I started to pack up. Unhooking mat rolled away, scales and weigh sling repacked and just as I was removing the net from the landing net handle the ratchet began to sound and the rod was bent double, fantastic Barbel.

I swopped to a 2.25lb Fox Rod for this session as I knew the extra flow would give a stronger fight if I hooked a fish and I glad I did it powered off downstream so I gave as much jip as possible whilst using my thumb on the pin as the infinitely adjustable drag. I managed to turn it and weirdly it started to swim upstream until it realised it was still hooked, again another lunge to the depths as it made another run for it. The rod was bent double again and after a fantastic arm aching fight I had it under control and eventually netted it. I rested it in the net for a while and it looked half decent maybe even a double. Certainly not as big and long as the fish last week which I’m sure when it’s had it head down feeding would easily beat my PB. Sure enough on the scales it went 9lb 14oz, a quick photo in the weigh sling and as it gave a powerful fight I wanted to get it back in the net and rested as quickly as possible. 

insert pic 

Again the rig worked well but if I’m honest I prefer sight fishing in the day with a moving bait. However there is a far bigger fish(s) here and this method does seem to single out the better fish so I’ll be back for another couple of sessions. With this extra water the Warwickshire Stour will be nice and topped up so I’m planning a Rudd reccy and hopefully catch a few Roach, not sure when I’m going to manage that session though as work and family trip to legoland this weekend is getting in the way and I also want to try again for a Tench.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...