Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Monday 27 June 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Rub a Dub Grub

With the available water I could fish limited and my weekend beyond busy it gave me a good opportunity to explore the upper reaches of the clubs waters and walk its near mile long stretch.

Pedestrian pace, lily pads in the margins, plenty of cover and deep, in-fact very deep in places.

With my polarised sunglasses I’m surprised I didn’t spot any carp but my roving grub set-up meant I could learn more about what was in front of me.

What I quickly learnt was that it’s a huge expanse of water and despite fishing in plenty of tasty looking swims the tactics employed were not likely to bag many fish.

Setting ones stall out would have been the better option, still plenty of small fish took a liking to the waxworms particularly the greedy perch.

A groundbait feeder with a couple of pellets for the bream, swap the hook links on the barbel rods and fish a dead roach for Zander, a carpet of hemp and boilies for the carp, a lure rod for the Pike.

Decisions, decisions….

The road noise was a little off putting as was the relative lack of fish milling around but if I’m in the same situation again I’d probably sit it out behind ones rods.

Now bream, I can give or take, carp too especially when I know of a certain swim I can catch them off the top, and another area where potentially sticking a bait on the deck on the carp’s patrol route the day ticket stretch could throw up a 30lber.

So Zander or Pike it is then….

Given the choice I’d like a double figure Zander, it’s a species I’ve grown to know and love but having only fished a handful of river sessions for them the results have been as expected.

Still, short and sweet, It certainly wasn’t time wasted.

I'll be back....

Friday 24 June 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Plop & Drop

A flowing river, narrowed by overgrowth

Perched upstream, colours of azure, of bittersweet

Territorial, it watches, in wait

Lightning quick, reading the contours, kissing the surface

Eyes closed, it dives, beak open

It succeeds, the minnow aloft, it returns

It strikes, prey limp, head-first, it’s gone

I’ve encountered pairs of Kingfishers in all the river stretches I fish in Warwickshire but here they seem to be used to the angler, like they are part of the territory, the norm. When the rods are motionless they really are a joy to watch, their breakneck speed is something to behold, and it’s a privilege to witness.

I need a better camera.

For this short evening session I’d stick it out in one swim after adding a couple of baitdroppers of hemp and broken boilies. It was busy when I got there so I couldn’t fish one of the swims I’d liked but still plenty to choose from. So 3 droppers under an overhanging tree and one downstream amongst some reeds just off a crease.

I’d leave the swim for a good while whilst rigging up. A couple of boilies on the upstream rod on a long hooklink and downstream a chunk of garlic meat.

Talking of garlic meat Tesco sell a garlic sausage from the maker Morliny, it comes with a tough as old boots skin so when mounted on a hair even using a small boilie stop the bait stays on remarkably well, ok a chub will eventually hook-itself but it’s surprising just how many pulls and tugs it can have and still stay intact.

You can see why fish like it….

Pork (57%), Water, Pork Fat, Pork Rind, Potato Flour, Salt, Soya Protein, Stabilisers (E451, E452, E261, E326, E508), Pork Collagen Protein, Sugar, Flavour Enhancer (E621), Antioxidant (E316), Garlic Powder (0.5%), Gelling Agent (E407), Glucose, Thickener (E425), Vegetable Extracts, Spice Extracts, Hydrolysed Maize Protein, Flavouring, Smoke Flavouring, Dried Yeast, Yeast Extract, Preservative (E250), Filled into inedible casing

With baits plopped in and positioned not a fat lot happened for half an hour or so but an hour from dusk when the fish become more active I started to get indications. The first Chub gave the downstream rod a right going over and a mint one it was too, only 3lb or so but nice all the same.

Then the switched was pressed….

With 20 minutes or so before the end of civil twilight I’ve never see a river come so alive, fish topping everywhere, small and large.

3 more chub were banked, all of a similar size. Shame I had to leave as I was starting to enjoy myself, I’d have loved to have been watching the isotope as I’m sure a Barbel would have graced my net.

I think for the next evening session I’m going to have a static rod with the centrepin’s ratchet as a bite alarm and trot a bait, the fish were really coming up in the water, Barbel too which is encouraging.

Monday 20 June 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Double, Double, Toil and Trundle

I’ve never been mad about fishing for Barbel, I’m not sure why, I’ve caught quite a few doubles now and am still amazed at the strength of them and how much of a scrap they give, the violent wrap over of the rod when fishing static is also something to behold too, no other coarse fish gives a bite like that.

Could I target them exclusively, errrr No….

Well I say that, I’d caught a few doubles from this one particular small section of the Avon when one morning I was playing a Chub when a Barbel that must have been disturbed came out from an overhanging tree towards some thick streamer weed where it must have been laying in wait….

…..and it was colossal, bold as brass and seemingly without a care in the world, a Warwickshire Avon record? Quite possibly, it would have smashed my PB of 11lb 11oz right out of the water.

No I won’t tell you where I saw it….

I tried in vain to catch it, even devising the Gluttenous Chub Poka-Yoke Rig to improve my probability of it banking it. Some nice fish were caught, but not, ‘The One’

I like challenges in fishing and something to keep the interest up, weight isn’t necessarily the bee-all and end-all as I do love sight fishing for Barbel in low rivers for example where any size of fish is most welcome but certain fish I’m up for spending time to target.

It’s a little like my womanising days of bladderation, playing the field with monotonous rogerisation situations after a while you get bored of the mediocrity, the easy, and fancy something that….

turns heads, gets the lads talking, the curtains twitching....

It was usually a long drawn out process but eventually the mission was accomplished.

On these pastures new, just a double won’t do….I want a big-un….A >14 pounder must be such an impressive creature in the flesh,and I want to see one.

It’s the wrong time of the year though, they ain’t at their biggest so again this session was more of a look-see at the swims on offer and to give me an idea of the contours, holes and features available to me for future reference and a Chub or two would be nice.

My head was nursing a rum punch, a self-inflicted hang-over but got to battle on haven't I.

Now the last trip out the river was on the rise but not as coloured as I thought, so for this session I'd fish too different styles, on the upstream rod I'd fish a sausage sizzle squab (with extra glug) and then use the other rod downstream with smelly garlic spam. from time to time I'd remove the lead and fish trundle style and move and bump the lump of meat around the swim to try an intercept a waiting fish.

The fishing was tough,and other anglers I spoke too on the walk back to my car had the same story. I gave it an hour and a half in 3 swims with a few rattles and plucks and that was it, a switch to lobworm I had a small chublet. The last swim was shallow and there was a nice gravel bar 20 yards out in-between some stream weed. The bait was bouncing nicely through the swim and I could feel every bump of the lump of meat when after the 20th cast or so a decent Barbel intercepted it, it powered upstream with the drag being tested and then I managed to turn the fish, and then after another powerful lunge the fish was off, the hook had pulled. Damn....

Not my day but I'm exploring more and more of the swims on offer and I've barely scratched the surface. The clarity was improving no end so I'm hoping I can start doing some sight fishing. Sitting behind rods, isn't my thing. I'm a roving angler at heart. It's always tough for me at the start of the season, I just need to stick with it.

Friday 17 June 2016

Warwickshire Avon - Black Jacks, Flumps and Space Dust

Having walked these pastures new with a couple of like minded anglers in the closed season I felt like the chubby kid in the sweet shop.

Black Jacks, Flumps and Space Dust please….

I really couldn’t wait to get stuck in, chomping at the bit. I feel more at home on running water, canals are just a temporary distraction. However I’m a newbie here, a novice, a mere neophyte so bear with me.

I’m not expecting instant results….

There is lots to go at along this long stretch of the Warwickshire Avon, it’s got everything, and this inaugural session was the first time I’d wet a line in its waters. There are big fish here, I’ve seen them with my own eyes whilst field testing my new huge polarised sunglasses, and that’s why it’s out with the old and in with the new as this is the only book I will hold for this season that has flowing water on its club waters.

Targets for this season, well if I can get the biggest monkey off my back, a 5lb Chub, that would be nice, a decent Zander (hopefully won’t be difficult) and a 11lb 11oz PB beating Barbel which I’d target specifically a bit later on in the season. I also fancy seeing if there are some big Perch lurking, decisions decisions.

Now where do I start?

With the fish very active in the oxygenated and warm waters for the first few sessions I wanted to trot a large loaded speci waggler with a chunk of meat or lobworm underneath, just to start exploring some of the swims on offer and maybe even catch a couple of fish.

To ‘hopefully’ bring the fish up and out from their lairs and actively searching for food from time to time I’d loose feed some small Sonubaits 4mm stinky spicy sausage pellets and let them trickle through the swim.

I’ve used this type of float before and they may look big and cumbersome but they are ideal for trotting big’ish baits as the super buoyant float will only usually go under when there’s a fish on the end, they are highly visible too so you can trot quite a distance before you’re doing a Mr Magoo.

I attach the float to the main line via a Drennan clip bead which is sandwiched between some adjustable grippa stops .You can easily change to a longer version of the float for instance if it’s is more suited to the conditions and the depth of the water. I’ve also added a small tungsten stinker to the line which can be adjusted to suit how you want to bait to behave and fall through the water.

I like a bit of tinkering….

Another plus point of the rig is that you can remove the float and mould some plasticine around the bead and grippa stops and ‘roll’ or ‘bounce’ some meat under a swim with thick cover for example, when it’s gin clear I’ve caught lots of fish using this method and as the fighting fish are usual visible too it adds the back to basic approach that has given me some memorable summer sessions.

I’d not been to the river since the recent rain, I know it was ‘up’ but I was unsure of the colours,so to hedge my bets for this short evening session I’d also bring a simple semi-fixed rig where I could fish a an area of slack water. Some crushed boilies and small pellets in a PVA bag would make up the freebies, if I could use a bait dropper I would, but then I wouldn’t know that until I settled in a swim….

So enough of the preamble, how did it go?

Predictably bad....for the glorious 16th, I wouldn't expect anything less.

It was clearer than expected but the rain didn't let up for the whole time I was there, in-fact at one stage I'd never seen rain so heavy, sadly it meant I was stuck in one swim for the most of the session. A nice looking swim to be fair with a nice long trot down to where I'd seen a rolling Barbel when we were on the reccy and also a nice stretch of overhanging trees where I'd positioned a static bait with some freebies...

After only a few knocks and pulls to show for it and a lost float rig when it must have caught up in a snag, a let up in the rain I moved to another swim downstream. Again a tasty looking swim. This time a static bait only but I'd leave it for an hour.

I was overlooking a large field and it was nice to see a patrolling barn own in flight and at one stage when it did full circle it was heading towards me in a bombing exercise and at the last minute changed direction when it got sight of my ugly mug.

A swan wanted to make friends I think because it wouldn't budge from my swim, again a few taps, a few pulls but nothing strike-able. Then with fifteen minutes left before I'd leave a huge boil on the surface a huge otter pops his head out of the water, looks at me and then dives under the surface again.

Yeap, I called it a day....

With the river on the rise when I left, I'm changing tactics for the extended Sunday session. Out with the smelly stuff.

Martin on another stretch fared much better, 4 Chub, 2 Bream, one Eel and two women in swimsuits...

Monday 13 June 2016

Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.45 – Schoolied Out

I got bit to buggery the other day, and I’m not sure where either but despite applying all manner of treatments they are still itchy as hell. My shoe was rubbing on one of the bites when I went to fish some thick cover I’d not fished before and it was very unpleasant indeed. It’s a good mile walk too but I was hoping a good fish would be lurking here, maybe even a double.

It was notably colder than the most recent sessions and for me anyway the fish have not been interested in the slightest, I was hoping the weather change would get them feeding again.

The thick cover was a good 300 yards long so the plan was use my usual two deadbait approach and leapfrog one rod then the other until the whole length of the cover was done.

It rained for more or less the whole session but talk about a feeding frenzy, often both rods were off at the same time. The problem for me was this stretch was full of small schoolies. I upped the bait size to a whole 3” roach which meant lots of runs but limited hook-ups. 

I eventually managed to get in to one or two reasonable fish but the biggest probably not even 4lb. Easily the most I’ve ever caught in one session, 15 or so I would say, madness, they were properly on it for the 4 and a half hours I was there.

Any enjoyable session but the quest for a cut double will need to start all over again in 2017.

I’ve learnt a lot mind….

Deadbait is King.

A 20lb fluorocarbon hooklengh works a treat, wire, less productive. I’ve not been broken off yet even with a rare Pike.

They love thick cover, the closer the better.

Sakuma Manta 540 hooks in size 1 are prefect. Super sharp, wide gape and very thin wire. I’ve not used an ultimate bass for ages. (barb flattened)

Fish 6 inches or more overdepth, with a drilled bullet to anchor the rig to the deck. Even with a large tow the rig stands its ground. 

Before you retrieve the rig, give it a quick nudge and leave for a few seconds. It’s surprising just how many fish I’ve caught that have been acting on their predatory instinct. 

I personally didn’t have any success in the dark, daylight isn’t an issue.

The dirtier the water, the better.

Big canal Zander are rare indeed, they feed when it’s cold and are transient.

Bank-time and pure luck is the key.

I’m not over with this malarkey yet, I want a double.

Saturday 11 June 2016

Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.44 – The Quest or The Temptress

The lure bag over ones shoulder felt a little alien to begin with, I’d not thrown a lure in anger you see but for this session the 2 rod deadbait approach for canal Zander was dumped and it was back to roving the towpath with a lure rod in hand and a net in the other.

This long stretch is very much off the beaten track, but with accessibility somewhat limited, the foot traffic is very little.

Strangely of late because the floats have remained very static for hours on end on the most part I’m back listening to repetitive beats, without it, the amount of mediocre sessions I’ve had recently it would certainly test my resolve. For this session the bluetooth headphones were donned and one of Nick Warren Soundgarden DJ mixes was rattling my eardrums.

After an hour without a nibble in numerous swims without a take, I need a change. In half or mile or so beyond a bend there is a large turning bay….

Surely I’d do better there….

My eyes focusing on the straight towpath, a recent and unusual mow having cleared a nice path through the thick weeds, the tall grass and what looks like giant hogweed.

To my left a thick wooded area, to the right towering and still uncut, the canals waters barely visible.

It was a sunless but a warm and oppressive evening, gnats active, bats at the ready.

Then, in to view a silhouette.

My eye adjust, then gradually focus, a female walking her dog headed my way.

She’s spotted me now, hmmmm she’s stopped dead in her tracks I continue walking, her contours gradually emerging.

She’s wearing a black vest top, shorts small, marl in colour, sun kissed.

Athletic but curves clearly visible. Her Dog one of those awkward looking Borzoi hairy wolfhound things, they share the same golden bronze hair colour.

I’m 50 metres away, mid to late twenties I’d say, she then looks at me and turns to retrace her steps, I continue on at walking pace without hindrance.

I’ve eventually rounded the corner, she’s in full view, stationary again but this time facing away from me, the dogs head turned away from his hourglass chaperone, its eyes focused on me, tail between its scrawny legs.

Walking pace I continue on in my quest for Zander, headphones now stored around my neck….

She, about-face, our eyes meet, I’ve now caught up, but then she’s off on her way again with the dog leading the way, lead under tension, her cheeks barely contained.

Not much further now, I can just see the far reaches of the turning bay, her figure a pleasant distraction from the needle in a haystack challenge I’ve got myself into.

But hey, got to keep my mind on the matter in hand haven’t I….

Not quite there but I need to catch that double....
She stopped again, I’m getting much closer now, very captivating, even mesmeric, she then faces me, waits till I’m in pole fishing distance, smiles and then with a 45 degree pirouette she leaves the towpath and she’s wood bound, the with dog no choice but to follow her. She’s clearly confident.

“come, on, follow me”

I can see here move further in to the wood, her shapely side profile sometimes visible.

I’m now adjacent, I look through the weald and our eyes meet again, she smiles, bends over and retrieves the lead she must have dropped.

My eyes are fixated….

“come, on” “this way”, she flicks her hair as she goes further away from the towpath, out of sight.


The Wife suddenly appears as an apparition on my shoulder with a death stare, tut tut.

The large turning bay is a stone’s throw away now so I get my mind back on track.

Bag and net down, I start casting a cannibal shad searching the shallow bay for any Zander up for a challenge.

10 minutes pass, one bang and a little grab, my mind still very active, my imagination kicking in….

I hear the faint sound of dry trodden ground, it’s gradually becoming louder, I look to my left, and she’s back.

The dog emerges, then she does, luckily for me cleavage led.

“Hiya” “lovely evening isn’t it” “Thank God you’re a fisherman”

“I didn’t know if you had a dog or not, I’ve not got my glasses , Sorry about that” “Bet you thought I was a weirdo or something”

“He’s really really nervous around other dogs so I’ve got to be careful where I take him” “You’re the first person I’ve seen along here in ages”


“Anyway, hope you catch something, enjoy the rest of your evening”

“Oh I will, don’t worry”

So back to the quest it was…..my conscience intact but my pipe dream in tatters.

One small schoolie at the death....this is hard work.

One session left of my 2016 Zander Quest, I've certainly made some big leaps, but I'm not quite there yet....the fishing has been painfully hard of late but at least these sessions are giving me some good memories.

Now where's that deadbait...!!!

Monday 6 June 2016

Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.43 – The Wall

I seem to have hit a wall, it’s tough going at the moment and has been for a number of weeks. This 5 hours session was at some of my known Zander hot spots and yet despite a small schoolie right at the end that took my float at such pace I thought it was a Pike attached to it, the fish were just not interested.

I’m sure the temperature has something to do with it as I’ve always done far better when it’s been much colder. To be honest I’m glad the river season is nearly here as I’m losing my resolve to continue on the quest especially as the carp have been very active in the some of the areas I’ve been fishing.

I’m losing interest, hence the short post….

A 9lber, one at 8lb 10oz and one at 7lb 6oz are still cracking fish though but having caught what seems like hundreds and hundreds of canal Zander the bigger beasts are very rare indeed. They don’t hang around either so it’s clear to me they are indeed transient and they could crop up anywhere.

Now for the remaining sessions because the Zander seem to be far fitter and more active when they eventually take the static deadbait I’m dumping one of the rods and going back to a lure rod again. 

Maybe that’s what they want, some competition….One thing I do know though is I will catch a double figure fish one day, I’m not beaten yet.

Saturday 4 June 2016

Wisemans Bridge - The Land That Time Forgot

A slight departure from the canal in Warwickshire as I've just come back from a weeks holiday at cottage overlooking Wisemans Bridge situated along the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline. I've not been to this part of the world since I was a kid and it doesn't seen to have changed at all....

The Land That Time Forgot, I could tell I was in Wales, lets leave it at that....

Wiseman's Bridge is a fine pebble banked storm beach, and at low tide a superb expanse of golden sand stretching some 3 miles or so from Amroth to Saundersfoot.

A full scale mock landing for D Day took place here in 1943, with landing craft, barges, guns and soldiers scattered along the sea-lashed beach from Pendine to Saundersfoot. Eisenhower, Churchill and Montgomery were on site to supervise, Churchill being properly entertained by the Wiseman's Bridge Inn ! (the same menu and beer exists today it seems)

An earlier army found similar use when in 1153 the sands and cliffs echoed to the march of the royal army of the sons of the Prince of West Wales, en route to surprise and destroy the Norman garrison at Tenby. The present costal path along the cliff top was once the main country road from Saundersfoot to Amroth, but the collapse of the iron ore workings in the cliffs below made the road impractical.

I'd brought my light lure gear to maybe grab a couple or three hours but weirdly unlike fresh water I wasn't eager to get a line wet. It was walkable to Wisemans Bridge so with one day to go I had a nice stroll at 5.30 in the morning to a deserted beach at high tide. There was some nice rock formations just down and up from the inn but despite trying a multitude of lures not a jot. The harbour and Tenby or Saundersfoot was probably the better bet. I'm already eying up a beach casting setup, as I'm back in North Devon in August.

A great holiday though with the family, the weather was fantastic with blue skies for the whole week and around 20/21 degrees.

Great sun sets, uncrowded beaches, fish and chips on the beach and quality time with the Wife and kids.

The Zander quest still firmly in my mind though, in-fact rods in the boot ready for a session in the morning.

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