Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Monday 30 November 2015

Warwickshire Avon – Pike Tyson, Pt.1

A few weeks ago whilst targeting Perch I was beaten up by a fish in such a big way, it reminded me of an 18 year old Iron Mike Tyson and his rise to boxing stardom. It made me look stupid, the hood was pulled over my head, I was given a few kidney blows then for good measure,a undercut to finish me off. A big Pike (I assume) snatched a livebait on the retrieve and it put pressure and a bend in to the fairly stiff rod I’d never experienced before, the violent and powerful kicking only lasted a few seconds before the inevitable happened and left me thinking...

W H A T        T H E         F * * K        W A S         T H A T

It was fish skulduggery....

I couldn't do anything about it,the power,the velocity and the fact the clutch was taken by surprise that shocked me, I’ve no doubt this was a BIG fish and despite catching Pike and Zander on this set-up previously without an issue I needed a rethink if I was to ever experience its power again.

With the weather favorable it was well worth a return visit, I’d caught the odd Jack from this stretch in the past, even the same easily identifiable one twice, weeks apart, but as far as I’m aware it’s never had big Pike form. Apart from those that like them for the pot I don’t think I’d ever seen a Piker. It appears the apex predator doesn’t wander that far once they feel comfortable with an area hence so multiple captures are very much possible and pastures new are eventually required unless you want to start naming the fish and start preparing the paperwork ready for adoption.

That could be the only problem, I might need to get through the Jacks to find the Giant.I needed those magic beans….


Now I've never seriously targeted Pike in anger however having caught quite a few now and being comfortable handling and unhooking them, I can see what all the fuss is about. So for this session and as the water clarity allowed it I decided to revisit the scene of this battle but this time I came prepared with a beefier set-up that hopefully would give me a much better chance of landing it if I ever hooked it again. The 10ft Pro Logic 1.5lb TC MP specialist rod which happily landed Zander and Pike up to 9lb in the past and still had much more to give was ditched and replaced with a 2.5lb TC carp rod.

On the business end a strong multi-strand trace leader with a large Raptor single hook with a small de-barbed stinger treble to help retain the deadbait. A Fox high visibility dart float complemented the set-up. If it wasn't home I had to go searching, now there is some oxygenated water here in one particular swim from an upstream weir run off and often it looks like someone has tipped in a pint of Matey Matey, the dart is therefore ideal for the job as the dart type flight sticks above the foamy suds and still remains visible.

With the roach dead bait tantalisingly suspended under the fairly hefty float the plan was to cast out the rig, leave and retrieve, leave and retrieve, leave and re…....then cast over and over again to try and provoke a reaction from this monster to try and relive its savagery.

Sort of a wobble and bobble...

I'd likened it to a buxom wench on the pole parading her Elmer Fudds and bouncing Buddhas, it would certainly get my attention.

For a bit of an alternative to the bait I also fitted a large Savage Gear Alien Eel lure to my sturdy lure rod. I'd used it a few times many moons ago at Wasperton without any success but maybe this was the ideal opportunity, big Pike, like big lures and this is one big lure, that's for sure.

It was one of those mornings when I knew it would be difficult. There was certain enough clarity in the water for Pike, that wasn’t a problem but the swim where I hooked it previously it was up so much so the slack area was no longer a slack, well apart from a yard square….

I did manage to position the float a few times, and with the rod elevated it held station, the problem was the wobbling was out of the question. After an hour or so without any interest and half an hour of throwing the lure here and there I moved swims.

I tried a few more swims, even tried some long trotting, but zilch, not even a Jack.

After being fed up by being battered by the wind at this point so I cut the session sort, the walk back to the car I decided to give it half an hour in another area of slack water, the float was positioned then it disappeared…

I stuck, felt this fish and was instantly disappointed, what was this…certainly no Pike.

I was a bleeding pesky Perch.

Half an hour without any more fish, it was time to get back to get the roast lamb on, I should have bought the Chub gear. 

With more rain on the way, Pike Tyson will have to wait.

To be continued….

Monday 23 November 2015

Zedvember 2015 - Cold Hands and Cystoscopies

A cracking turnout from the bloggers for Zedvember and Jeff Hatt's Birthday which is the 24th. I knew it was going to be difficult as conditions were not favorable as the fish hadn't had time to adjust to the sudden drop in temperatures and the water clarity was also very clear. Sure enough there were hardly any fish banked despite the amount of rods in the water. I've caught plenty of Zander so I see these events more of a social and a catch up with fellow bloggers (or fellow weirdos says the Wife)

Jeff Hatt - Idlers Quest
Russell Hilton - Tales From The Towpath
James Denison - James' Angling Adventures
Brian Roberts - Pike Blog
Ben Hennessy - Ben Hennessy's Blog
Danny Everitt - The Lure of Angling
Keith Jobling - Warwickshire Avon
Lee Fletcher - This Angling Life
George Burton & Son - Float, Flight and Flannel

The rod was out more than in, (I'm not recalling those that were party to the cock hole story btw), I meant my fishing rod. Sadly my float with a deadbait under remained motionless. I even ventured on my own to the Coventry part of the cut without even a crayfish nudge.

Was good to meet those I hadn't before and enjoyed the usual banter. Russell had a PB, Brian had a nice double figure pike on the lure and James his first cut Zander.

After a pint at the Greyhound's Inn smoking shelter (It was rammed) I returned home to this cockle warming fire, it was a cold day, it really was.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Center Parcs, Elveden - The Big Perch Search

The main lake isn’t the clearest, it’s a nice tinge of green with a foot of clarity, it’s operational after all used for various water sports such as kayaking, paddle boarding, cable skiing and the like.Even Santa makes a visit on his motorboat during the fantastic fireworks display.Unlike the rank and file I wasn’t targeting the scum suckers but the big Perch that are resident here. The biggest I’d caught which bizarrely I had on sweetcorn was over 3lb I reckon , I was weighing scale less though so had to return it to from where it came kicking myself in the process.

Two subsequent trips I was more single-minded and caught plenty over 2lb and lost one that would have beaten my 2lb 11oz PB sadly the deadbait and hook were dislodged when after existing the water for the third time its aggressive head shaking finally paid off.

I’d come properly prepared again, for bait, some bleak deadbait, lobworms and krill and shrimp glugged king prawns. It’s a big lake so I made some groundbait to try and attract the bait fish and to get them more concentrated (It worked last time). The chum concoction consisted of natural worm extract, some bloodworm and fishmeal ground bait, chopped worm and dead maggots. A friend of mine Dave doesn't fish for specimen Perch till the first frost, for the week here it's stupidly mild. There are carp here and because its mild they well may feature, the greedy gits.

I’d never use a soft bait or spinner here before so to accompany my float and running set-up from time to time I’d throw out a lure here and there. As I'm here with the family, the mornings are the only real option as I'd like to have fished in to dusk.I never had a problem previously so I was hoping for the same.

Luckily it all fitted in the car amongst the holiday related luggage and paraphernalia…

Day 1
Sam helped me bait up a couple of swims, a float fished bleak and occasionally a lobworm in a few swims and didn't even bring a bite. Sam has the attention span of a gnat, so maybe he isn't quite ready yet. They have added more feature to the water sports since we were here last so another pontoon has appeared, meaning the swim that produced in the past, was out of bounds. I used the Mepps in and around it though and after an hour, not even a tap.

Day 2
I fished the pre-baited swim for a couple of hours and managed a few decent Roach just over a pound and a couple of carp. The deadbait would usually have some attention by now, but two hours later I was Perch less. I moved towards the corner of the lake to a swim between two large bushes.Eventually after an hour in the swim and some chopped worm every now and then the float was dragged under and something had taken the bleak.

Stupidly I struck prematurely, I initially felt resistance but then everything went slack and the float popped out. The Perch must have had the fish in its mouth, felt resistance and then let go. At least there was a sign some fish were around.

Day 3  
I started the morning in the swim that I left, when I left I added some chopped prawns and worms so it was ready for the morning. Well best laid plans and all that because not even a touch on the deadbait and lobworm only attracted the carp and some tiny Perch. The carp also liked the prawns so much so the next swim I tried I had a few in quick succession so I decided to fish exclusively the bleak, the biggest carp went about 8 or 9lb, it's a big old lake so it's a matter of finding the fish. 

The weather has been a bit hit and miss so with Wednesday the only real option as it is a family holiday after all,  it will be more of a roving session. A bleak under a float and also a Mepps lure, the bottom end of the lake has a large floating platform, so that's where I'd start. Weirdly since I've been here I'd only spotted a handful of anglers, the carp were still there off the jetty on the beach, only small ones mind, I wonder if they have removed the bigger ones.

Day 4
Well no surprise and not worth writing about, a few small Perch and even a carp liked the bleak, probably the mildest morning as well. The sky was clear too, nearby RAF Lakenheath had their F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing out patrolling the skies, at least that was entertaining. There is cold weather on the way next week, damn. I bet in two weeks time it will fish completely differently. With family stuff planned for the next few days, this was the last session.

All very disappointing, especially considering the potential, oh well, I'm sure there will be another trip. Sam had the right response, all very mehhhhh...

Saturday 14 November 2015

Warwickshire Avon – Ham Bush, Pt.2

Pork 70%, Water, Salt, Modified Starch, Stabilisers: Diphosphates, Triphosphates, Polyphosphates, Processed Eucheuma Seaweed, Dried Garlic, Allspice, Bay Leaf, White Pepper 0.05%, Preservative: Sodium Nitrite…. ….garlic spam alternative Gulasz by Pamapol certainly did the trick a month ago on an inaugural session at a new swim on the Warwickshire Avon.

Its list of ingredients are very spam’ish however upon opening the can it’s a completely different texture, it’s hard to describe in detail but it’s very fatty and clumpy indeed. Even more so than the Hormel variety which after being introduced in 1937 and because of the shelf life properties was used extensively on the front line during the Second World War. Hormel used quality pork shoulder to make their product, rather than the lips, tongues, and snouts of the alternative manufacturers at the time. Shelf life you see. I even remember having spam fritters as a kid, but then I loved tripe and onions, times were hard I tell thee...tasty mind.

Now Jackson had his acorns
And Grant his precious rye
Teddy had his poisoned beef
Worse you couldn’t buy
The doughboy had his hardtack
Without the navy’s jam
But armies on their stomachs move
And this one moves on Spam

Anonymous World War II poem

Apparently the Eight-billionth can of the ‘proper’ Hormel Spam® was produced in 2012…, just think of that for a second……, the ten billionth can cannot be that far off. This Pamapol though, it literally looks like blended pig, hoofs and all like there was a power cut mid-production such are the size of the 'bits', it doesn’t look particularly appetising.   Give it a go though, some recipes here…, I'll let you be the guinea pigs.


It’s soft, with more or less the texture of dog food and the fish seem to love it. A chub PB and a near double figure Barbel was certainly most welcome and a couple more tins were duly purchased. To toughen up this Polish delicacy a nadger, for this second trip, I gave it a dose of electromagnetic radiation, (btw it bleeding stinks so make sure the Wife is out, sorry Dear). I didn’t want to alter the texture that much but it was often guess work whether the bait was still attached to the hair so nuking it for 30 seconds seemed just about right to improve the hair-ability but not to the detriment of its consistency as I still wanted the bait to create a scent trail.  

On the other side of the buzz bars I had a similar running set-up but I swapped the Barbel hooklink for a woven wire and I swapped the meat for a dead roach. Was there Zander here?. Before I start fishing the tried and tested local areas in anger I’m planning some double bubbling. There was a nice slack here you see with plenty of cover and the mature trees gave the swim a notable dark area, you never know a half decent Pike might be lurking if a Zander wasn't.

Before I left I checked the weather and it said the odd spot of rain, and yet this session it peed down for the majority of it, I didn't have an umbrella so not exactly a pleasant. Within 20 minutes I had a 3lb 13oz chub and then ten minutes later a jack to a liking to the meat too. Taking of pike this swim is quite elevated and I could see dace feeding up in the water a tiny pike no more than 6"s long was doing the same, a lovely sight indeed.

The session went bad to worse, the wind was getting stronger, the rain heavier and the bank was getting slippy. What surprised me was that river is back to clear again, maybe pike was the better option. Two small chub later and with me getting wetter I cut short the session. I've a couple of perch trips planned and also a canal zander trip hopefully next weekend, doesn't time fly.

A chunky Warwickshire Avon Chub....

Thursday 12 November 2015

On my bucket list - Fraser River Sturgeon

Danny Everitt put me on to Kanalgratis.se who have a channel on YouTube, they make some fantastic videos, with plenty of Pike, Zander and the like, a week however, they posted this...

It's whetted my appetite again... 

As on my bucket list I want to fish the Frazer River and I've been pricing up a trip such as this  THIS that I may well try and do in 2017. I better get saving....

If you haven't see any of their videos, they are well worth a look.

Monday 9 November 2015

Warwickshire Avon - The Flesh Eater

With some colour in the water I wanted to fish the weir pool slacks for Zander, I should have checked the EA levels though as it was like a raging torrent with the weir not even visible under the white water.Half an hour spent with a fire tiger lure produced sweet Fanny Adams. I had contemplated going back home to get my Barbel gear but with limited time I decided to move downstream to a swim that luckily whatever the pace of the river it’s always pedestrian.

I positioned a roach deadbait in and amongst the swim and within a few minutes I was getting little taps on the rod…nothing to strike at but then when I retrieved the bait half of the roach was missing and it’s flesh stripped.This happened for the rest of the session till I left with one’s tail firmly between one’s legs..

I can only assume crayfish…, there isn’t any other explanation, or is there..?

Monday 2 November 2015

River Wye – Symonds Yat

Erwarton cottage within Symonds Yat West was the destination for a weekends fishing with a good mate of mine Simon ‘Feed the Worm’ Champion. It had a separate river-front garden a stones throw away from the cottage (10m) which had its own canoe launch / fishing spot direct on to the river. We didn’t have much planned just a bit of a chill out away from the energy draining whippersnappers and hopefully he would get to land his first river barbel to see what all the fuss is about. The Wye had been clear of late but a smidgen of rain during the week I was hoping there was a tinge of colour to it.

If you haven’t been to Symonds Yat it is right in the centre of an area of outstanding natural beauty. One of the country’s most unique river landscapes, the river and the land either side of it – forest, farmland, gorges, cliffs and rock faces, pretty villages and border towns. It’s centrally positioned on the river between the towns of Monmouth and Ross, and one of the most beautiful stretches of river in Britain…?

Near Erwarton, the cliffs rise up to Yat Rock, site of one of the most iconic views in the Wye Valley. Here, Peregrine Falcons breed between May and July. The trail named after these birds, The Peregrine Path, runs along the route of the old Ross-on-Wye to Monmouth railway. At the nearby 'King Arthur's cave' on the Great Doward, there have been many important archaeological discoveries including the remains of a hyena family, Sabre-toothed tigers and even a mammoth. I’d visited this area with the family and ate at the Saracens head a few times, but sadly never wet a line.

You bored yet..? , anyway back to the fishing…..

From looking at the photos the canoe launch was long concrete steps so prior to the weekend to make sure at least we could support a rod or two I’d cobbled together some Heath Robinson esk bankstick holders which were made from left over oak sleepers from the garden and some cheapo stage stands off Ebay. To hedge my bets my tackle for the long weekend consisted of a barbel, trotting, feeder and a lure rod. I’d never fished the Wye before but there are perch, pike and maybe even Salmon present so I was hoping I’d pick up a predator or two as well as one of the famous Wye barbs.

The barbel set-up was my trusty 1.75lb TC l rod and I’d fish a large feeder running style with Sonubaits spicy meaty method mix blanketing some of their spicy sausage halibut pellets. A Gardner size 8 Talon Tip Hook and Gardner trickster hooklength that I won in a competition finished the business end. Bait on the hair was a pungent spicy boilie or pellet with an accompanying paste wrap. A scent trail that would surely be difficult for a barbel to resist, well that’s what I was hoping anyway.

Maggot, lobworms and garlic spam were also in my armory and would be used from time to time through the weekend; I’m sure there were good dace and roach to be had and maybe even a shy barbel. I know the Wye is also famous for its Pike and I had planned to bring the associated gear but sharing a car there would be far too much stuff so a small stiff lure rod and a handful of lures and spinner would have to do.

Friday was a non-starter so having got there at 4.00ish and checked out where we would be fishing, the Ye Old Ferrie Inn (YOFI) was the second port of call to talk tactics for the rest of the weekend,it was ideal, staggering distance back to the cottage, various ales on tap and a proper fire. The 'peg' we would be fishing was far better than I thought so the make shift sleeper rod stands we not needed, a long rod rest went in just past the concrete steps no problem.

After a quick deliberation over a nice steak in the pub, we planned to fish Saturday all-day and in to dark and then Sunday similar but a pit-stop slap up Sunday lunch over the other side of the river at the Saracens Head and then return to fish in to dark and beyond again. The Rugby World cup final was on the Saturday afternoon but as England didn't even qualify for the final rounds we'd listen too it instead,it was prime Barbel feeding time after all and we were here mainly for the fishing.

Monday morning could well have been a right off, it was hangover dependent. If the fishing was poor on the Saturday we had a few options to go at but first port of call in the morning after a full English was fishing from the canoe launch that accompanied the cottage, it was what we paid for after all. We’d brought a load of junk food for this trip, beer, pasties, pies, sausages, crisps, Bovril and plenty of brass monkey warming alcoholic drink, one of them the infamous Godfather (3 measures of Whisky and 1 measure of Amaretto Di Sarronno).

We’d not starve or feel cold, put it that way….

Now Simon is a freak of nature I’m sure he is harboring a tapeworm of gargantuan proportions, he has arms like knots in cotton and legs to match however his appetite is something of English folklore and legends. He’s fifty next year and probably weighs the same as it did when he was 15. I only have to have a mere sniff of a KFC or a Burger King and it will be with me for life, and yet the Champion has been known to have a whole bargain bucket to his self without any obvious adverse effects. I’m sure his genes could be used by those looking in to society’s obesity problems. I’ve always thought he was a fat bloke waiting to happen…..

.…I’m still waiting.

When we got to the river I couldn't believe how clear it was, I'd have expected a little colour if I'm honest, I should have bought the proper Pike gear. Another couple of issues too, the water was cold because of the recent Welsh rain and despite not colouring the river it was bring down a load of weed and debris and I knew the fishing would be difficult, it was also predicted to have clear skies for doesn't help when your Barbel fishing....

Anyway in the morning at 7.00am I put out a Barbel rod and fished the maggot feeder, and found that the river really is full of fish, it was a bit a chuck with half decent dace (6oz), small chub, gudgeon and bleak desperate to get at the maggots, a feeder wasn't really needed it was chock full.

The first half decent fish was taken broadside by a Pike which was hugging bottom, when it saw me it let go but then it had another snatch when It nearing the margins, Simon got soaked. The Chub was returned but had a lucky escape and had the war wounds to proudly show off.

Simon was holding out for the bigger fish and was trotting a lump of meat and also fished a small pellet or boilie. The results were disappointing but not ideal conditions at all. Around 4.30pm with the light starting to fade I caught a small bleak, removed the Barbel hooklink and made up a strong flourocarbon leader and a used a strong size 6 hook. Within 10 minutes to so the live bait was getting interest and sure enough the rod tip registered a bite and a half decent fish was on. After a reasonable fight and an audience over at the pub and the canoe hire firm, a nice fat Pike was banked.

You can see why the Wye has some big Pike, the amount of food they have to eat is obscene.

It weighed 9lb 1oz and was a stunningly marked fish. Simon did the honours. I've only just started to target Pike, they have always been a caught when I've been targeting another species. I'm starting to get the bug now.

Heading in to dusk and still mild we both planned to fish a couple of hours in to dark and try for a Barbel...

Not even a bite, no Chub either, all very weird...We retired to YOFI where another group of anglers were also struggling, not Barbel between 8 rods and only a handful of mediocre Chub..

I had considered a move but we decided to stick it out.

Sunday was a strange one, the water had risen a few inches over night and the Wye valley was covered in a thick layer of mist. After getting bored with the maggot feeder I kept a few live baits to try and tempt a Pike again. The debris had also cleared so I tried the lure rod too switching between a large 6" jointed Rapala, a spinner bait, a Mepps and also a few softbaits.

Not a touch on either lure or bleak...

Around 9am a huge diesel type slick appeared and it lasted for nearly two hours until it eventually cleared. For lunch we got the hand ferry over to the Saracens Head and had a roast beef dinner a nice bottle of wine and a load of cheese, all very sophisticated.

All boarding on 'Broke back Mountain' if you're my mate Deano, then again he hasn't kids and the need for batteries to be recharged once in a while.

Upon returning I went all out Pike hunting as the bleak were being scattered in waves within the margins and mid river, but sadly all I could tempt was a small Jack. I'm surprised the Perch or decent Chub didn't feature either, the conditions looked perfect.

Come dusk when the canoes had all buggered off I'd switched to the Barbel set-up this time my fail safe a big lump of Garlic spam, Simon fished a pellet and paste wrap...

.....Not even a rattle or a nudge

At 8.00pm we packed up and retired to the YOFI and bumped in to the same group of anglers again, the same story as us, not fishing well at all.We had a good time though, nice and chilled and probably >20 hours of fishing, good wine and food and we are already planning the next trip. I'd book the cottage again if I came back here, just maybe a month or 6 weeks earlier. It's old and draughty, and I like my comfort these days.

Oh and apparently, Simon has put on a few pound, get that man another Beer, well done to New Zealand too, sounded a good match and thanks to the peregrine falcons they put on a good show for us.By the way, anyone tell me anything about big the red and white house behind the Saracens Head ?
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