Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Wading Places

I bumped in to a couple of scythe wavers the other evening who were clearing some pegs of weed and reeds prior to a large match that was going to take place on the stretch of the Avon I’m fishing, during a natter they mentioned a peg they had recently cut which would require wading....

....a peg B so to speak.

I’d noticed the bank disturbance during a previous roving session but didn’t realise what it was for. I thought one of the horses might have been chomping on it because of the large heap of manure I stepped in.

So I just had to fish it….

The preferred evening session in to dusk was out so at least I might get a bend in the rod as the anglers I’ve spoken to here are finding it tough going at the minute.

I initially started upstream in one of my favourite pegs where there is no need to wade as you can fish from the bank but there is a lovely channel of water where I’d seen some clonking Chub last time. They were properly tucked out the way though and very cagey so I only managed some small'uns.

I could see them and they could see me….

Simple tactics, a centrepin, a stick float and a banded pellet.

There was a little extra water here though after some recent rain so the levels were up but the water still clear.

I’d drip feed the pellets in and let the float run down to try and intercept any fish coming up in the water. There is some streamer weed here too so I’m sure there would be some Barbel milling around. By switching swims I’d hopefully follow the fish downstream.

The first few runs went through unhindered but then as the float got the end of the swim it sailed under, yeap the first fish.

A small Chub but because there is plenty of cover here and the fish uses the flow to its advantage it’s great sport. A 2 lb Chub feels like a 4lber.

In a couple of hours I’d managed 6 or 7 Chub and after I hooked in to a much larger fish that I lost to a hook pull I donned the waders and I was peg B bound.

From an elevated position the swim only looked 2ft or so deep and after getting in the water it felt even shallower. I’d change tactics a little too as I need to mask the hook, the stream weed was much thicker here to an exposed point would quickly get snagged it.

So I snipped off the bait band and the hard pellet was changed for a squidgy hooker pellet. I also changed the float to a small crystal chubber as it would suit the shallow swim better.

Two channels flow in to one here so the water has some proper pace to it but the float was flowing through nicely and I was quickly in to a small Chub, again a good sporting fight where if fishing static I might be sat behind motionless rods.

The swim went quiet for a while, but I kept on trickling the pellets in hope there were bigger fish in wait. 

One plus point about fishing in the water is this area has some of the most vibrant Kingfishers I’ve ever seen, the tell tale chirping sound giving their location away, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing them in flight, visually stunning.

Anyway, with 20 minutes of the session to go I noticed the flickering golden flanks of a Barbel at the end of the swim.

I decided to keep on drip feeding the pellets for a while and keep the float out of the water to try and give the fish(s) some confidence in feeding.

A couple of MAMIL’s stopped on the bridge to have a nose at the river and give themselves a much needed rest so I’m sure they were delighted to see an angler bent in to a fish.

Because a Barbel was on, a proper powerful lunging take and it started to power-off downstream, I initially couldn’t do much with it but after a couple more lunges the rod was getting on top of the fight. I turned the fish and felt in control of it but then all went solid….


I let the line go slack but nothing doing….

Another couple of pulls, arrrrrrhhhhhhhhh. I’m sure I’ve lost the fish.

With the rod elevated I get back on the bank and walked downstream to track where the line went, sure enough, the culprit.

A submerged log nailed to the bed not only that but what looks like a dumped road sign….I managed to recover the hooklink intact but by now the swim was buggered.

So back in the water, with both snags removed hopefully I’ll do better next time. I don’t think it was a monster Barbel, but hey, any Barbel at the moment would be nice.The walk back to car it seemed I was the only one catching, at least it wasn't a blank.

Luckily the belated weekly Sunday roast made up for the loss....

The Shanghai AC have a match here Friday afternoon, albeit upstream so it will be interesting to see what turns up. I makes a change from a commercial water anyway. I'm going for a fishmeal groundbait feeder approach with worm and caster. There has to be some bream about.

I'm hoping to squeeze a quick dusk session in as it will be the best time to get them off guard.

Sunday 28 August 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Paranormal Fragility

The Wife and I and two other couples sailed the seas of the British Virgin Islands for a couple of weeks on a Lagoon 440 Catamaran. Amongst the islands visited on our journey of discovery was a long sail to mere tree high Anegada where I tucked in to fresh caught Lobster, we got stuck on a one palm tree sand bar opposite Richard Bransons Necker Island and the snorkeling around Dead Chest Island where the first turn of my head beneath the surface I spotted 3 rather large barracuda laying in wait like Pike do.

I even caught a small Tuna off the back of the boat in waters that couldn’t be bluer....

....but it was the Soggy Dollar Bar visit on White Bay on Jost Van Dyke (the merciless Dutch pirate) that stuck in my mind though, because after mooring the catamaran and whizzing over to the white sands on the dingy we got stuck in to the infamous.

‘Pain Killer Cocktail’

The easy drinking concoction of pineapple juice and orange juice, coconut cream and grated nutmeg masked the huge hit of the Navy strength Pussers’s rum. So after a couple or five of these it’s only when one attempted to stand up and having to sit down again I realised the strength of them.

So why oh why did I make a few the night before using some Goslings 151 proof Black Seal Rum, let’s just say I was a little fragile. Its hit cannot be scientifically explained, because as a drinker of all manner of alcoholic beverages this has some paranormal effect on me. Give one a try, they are moorish when you get going with them.

So my planned roving session was out of the question and a more static approach was needed.

Hey, I know what….River Carp

I’ve targeted them the past but it’s mostly been off the surface where I’ve spotted them through ones cocoons under the waters surface, however a surprise PB carp turned up on a bottom bait at the very end of the bloggers challenge that got me thinking about targeting carp from other areas of the Avon I fish where there would likely be a similar patrol route.

The (new to me )area I intended to try for this session is very deep you see so unless they are sunning themselves they would be nigh on impossible to spot. Then again spend the amount of hours I do on the canal for example big carp can turn up in the most unlikely of places but they only tend to reveal themselves when they are off guard. There are thick lilies in abundance here but watch, study and stare long enough you’d end up spotting some no doubt.

I haven’t the time, or the patience….

So plan B it was….

If these large and lengthy marginal nymphaeaceae provide one of their natural patrol routes then leaving a snare, well a boilie and a few freebies via a bolt rig I might be able to intercept one, which is exactly what happened much further downstream when the surprise mud sifter turned up.

I fancied a bit of double dipping though, so a Zander rod was also deployed, again possibly a patrol route, but pedestrian pace, deep and plenty of cover, I’m sure there are some milling about in this area.

Unless you’re a pole and keepnet user, this area is largely uncharted me thinks and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can pick up.

Problem as always though, is so much of the stretch to cover , and not enough time.

I tried 2 swims, 2 hours each without even a nibble on either rod and there didn't appear to be many fish moving or topping either.  Even some freebee floaters remained untouched. It's a big expanse of river though so bit like the canal, there must be areas that are largely devoid of fish. I'm surprised there were not takers of the deadbait though as apparently apart from the Zander there are Pike here too.

I got back to the car after a blank with the fresh air clearing my head and and then I remembered my lure rod was stuck at the bottom of the boot so with a rattling diving lure fitted I decided to have another half hour on the first peg.

The third cast, bang something nailed it....

I thought it was a Perch at first, but nope a small Zander that impaled itself.

Another 40 or 50 casts, nothing....

Thursday 25 August 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Suicidal Pie Avoiders

Luckily I’m an early riser, well, to be fair, It’s not by choice….

….after starting work at 6.00am for many a year, my body clock is beyond knackered and hence I’ve never used an alarm for years.

I’m usually bolt upright before the dawn chorus, the Wife miraculously still in another one of her deep sleeps.

I just cannot stay in bed, I get restless....

....so it’s out of bed I go.

However for fishing early mornings as we do, my buggered body clock is ideal but I’ve noticed the mornings getting darker since returning from holiday and that dusk is also getting closer so the knock on effect is that is my after work sessions are getting shorter.

It’s got its plus point though as my commute to work is a breeze, with the average speed pretty ridiculous, and nearly twice the speed of the return journey.

There are also far less numbers pigeons on the road and the commute to work is more pleasant as I’ve now not got to run the gauntlet with the suicidal pie avoiders.

2.7 millions pairs in the UK apparently, yeap, they are all over the shop and hard to avoid.

Apart from an air hostess from Coventry who I had a brief liaison with back in my youth, Is there a more vacuous bird?, I don’t think so.

To be fair, she was extremely good to look at….I’ll give her that, the Pigeon not so, ten a penny.

Ok, I’ve brushed over their long distance navigating ability, but then again, there isn’t much to hit in the sky is there. Well apart from planes which they do from time to time.

Maybe I’m a little hard on this humble bird, after all, it has a 340 degree field of view and processes the surroundings in 74fps so ‘apparently’ only needs to take avoiding action until absolutely necessary.

So why then after many an interrupted fffff’ing and blinding journeys in to work with slowing and braking heavily for large numbers of these seemingly flying lemmings the first time I decided to keep my toe in prodding and poking the 300 raging horses….

….yeap, you guessed it, I hit the unfortunate short straw picking bird turning it in to....

....a visual explosion of feathers and claret which the result of, marked VW’s not very durable water based paint.

More fool coo….

So the days and nights are drawing in, and my favourite seasons, autumn and winter are on the way.

Sometimes a static five hour session is too much for me these days so a short one like this one is ideal, two to three hours, job’s a good’un.

The Barbel were not playing ball on the last session so I was back on the Zander hunt, this time Martin Roberts fancied trying for one of these intriguing fishes, to try and better his PB of 3.8lb. So before the pub decided to ring the beer bell, prior to dusk, we were river bound.

There is so much to go at here but I decided to concentrate on an area I’d caught Zander before. I’ve caught hundreds of canal Zander but fish from flowing water is still relatively new to me.

I’m still learning the ropes you see….

Luckily certain principals from my experience from the fishing the cut can be transferred to fishing for them in this completely different environment, so despite only fishing a handful of sessions on two entirely different rivers I’d been reasonably successful using some of the lessons learnt and those would be implied here.

There was one significant change in my canal verses river set-up which seems to work brilliantly, but….

….is that the time, better crack on.

One thing I've learnt about my canal jaunts is that cold weather is far better when targeting Zander, there was a notable difference in my catch rate when it warmed up. It was humid and very close for this session and I knew it might be tough.

With the swim chosen I fished to the right, Martin to the left. There is plenty of cover here so even when it's midday with the sun high there are some nice shady spots for predators to hide. The first cast of my float within seconds it went under and with a slightly premature strike and a strike in to thin air I could see the flanks of a small Zander.

And that's how the session continued, plenty of bites particularly for Martin but tricky to hook up, eventually Martin winkled one out at around a couple or three pound, fairly hollow which considering the amount of feed for these fish quite a surprise.

Yeap, a swim full of schoolies which if you've ever discovered a shoal of them on the cut they can be hugely frustrating and often gets you questioning ones rig choice.

The method works fine, but the time must be right....this time conditions were against us.

Monday 22 August 2016

Warwickshire Avon – A spuff patch

With the evening not available to me, this morning session was a roving one to try and find a Barbel. The middle part of the stretch there was a match on so I’d try the swims at the tail end. Not a bad thing mind you as this is where the shallower and pacier swims are.

Tactics are simple for this sort of fishing, a large hook, a chunk of meat and I like to pinch a large jumbo shot on the line where I can mould a lump of plasticine around.

As I thought the banks were deserted because despite the recent rain it’s still very clear and tough going. 

Dusk is far the best time for a static bait 'but' a moving bait can be as effective…

You just need to find the fish and put something in front of them they cannot refuse.

After about 3 hours without a touch in various tasty looking swims I moved to one with heavy cover and sure enough after about the 3rd run through a bite was felt through my fingers.

The bend in the rod and the telltale fight, this was no Barbel or Chub, yeap

A bleeding eel….

There seems to be loads of the around at the moment, ok not a blank, it’s the mess they make I don’t like. Luckily this got himself free from the hook so no need to handle it.

The slime sticks like sh*t to a blanket though, it’s a bugger to get off the net.

Any tips welcome….

The last swim I could see the bottom and despite looking ideal for a Barbel with streamer weed and gravel and the bait going through nicely no fish were spotted and no bites came of it.

The rivers going through a bit of a rough patch at the minute it seems.

So I’ll be after the Zander again midweek, they seem to be on a different rule book.

Thursday 18 August 2016

North Devon - Appledore

Pictures say a thousand words....

.....a dabble in LRF was fruitless.

Luckily the chilling out with my brothers family who have moved down here,the good weather, good food and plenty of drink was a good distraction.

The kids love it in this area, we'll be back.

**update** Fantastic, last day just outside the holiday cottage with the kids and wife rock pooling had a nice bass on a floating frog popper, just the change I needed.

What a way to catch a fish....

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Warwickshire Avon - Out with the Sakuma's

These Sakuma Manta 540 hooks really are the business for improving percentage hook-ups for Zander and after a session last week where I'd lost some fish, I was back down to the same spot with the change I needed. With the Avon needing some rain to get the fish feeding it was back seeking summer predators to try and get a bend in the rod.

Size 1 or 1/0 is about the idea size and they are super sharp even with the barb squashed. Stupidly fine gauge but strong as anything. 

Give them a go....

I was only bankside for a couple of hours and after a couple of scrappy small Perch and a small Jack the Zander eventually began to play ball and 5 were caught in quick succession. 

The biggest went 6lb 2oz which considering I've not targeted them in anger is encouraging.

Also a sleeper rod out for the carp, naff all...

Friday 5 August 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Monsters Inc.

I’d been eyeing up this swim for ages as it looked ideal for big Perch and this quick smash and grab evening session was the first time I’d fished it.

It was really shady you see and even with the river as clear as it is, predators would have a nice canopy over their heads and somewhere to hide and tuck themselves away. The pace is also pedestrian with a few static areas too which I thought would also suit the fish hunters.

The first fish caught was a dinky Pike the smallest I’d ever caught but then weirdly every other fish caught was also a predator in miniature.

It was like I stumbled on a training school for future hunters….

These were predators on L plates….

But then as the light was going and nearing the self-imposed finishing time, I hooked in to the teacher. I knew it was a decent Zander because I saw its flanks but they are tricky hooking the best of times so next time I fish it I’ll be armed with some Sakuma Manta’s easily the best Zander hook I’ve found. 

The more I fish this stretch of river the more I feel at home, there is just so much to go at so this season I’ve more or less written off as a long and drawn out reccy….

Again, I had the stretch to myself, it’s like I’ve got my own private waters.

I’ll be back….

Tuesday 2 August 2016

The Lower Severn – Live baits and long waits

Bank Cottage in Malvern was the destination for a weekends retreat with the family,I saw it on the off chance and booked it up quickly without consulting her indoors.

"You do you know it’s got the River Severn at the bottom of the garden"

"Really” “I never noticed"

"Yeah, yeah, of cause you didn’t"

"Hey, might as well pack the rods then"

"What, I'm surprised you haven't already"

It was located in The Rhydd not far from BAA’s Severn Stoke stretch and the property apart from having an enclosed garden and balcony overlooking the river it also ‘luckily’ had a fishing platform as well as a further 70metres of fishing rights and obviously gave me the luxury of being able to fish in to dark. Bank Cottage used to house the ferrymen that worked on the Rhydd river crossing up to the First World War, it’s been altered over time but still retains some of the 250 year old features that give it the character.

Now I know bugger all about the River Severn, I’d never even wet a line within its waters but I do know the deeper and slower reaches of the ‘Lower Severn’ contains some big Barbel and Zander and they were to be my target.

So a plan of attack was conjured up a few weeks before which was apart from spending time with and entertaining the family for this long weekend I’d fish a couple or three evening sessions well in to dark and then to reconfirm the youngest Sam’s long standing impatience and his ants in pants syndrome I’d also try a maggot feeder for an hour from time to time during the day once we'd been out and about. Maybe another year for a 5 year old will make all the difference. We’ll see, as I’m enjoying the sanctuary at the minute.

So the tactics to be employed, beer, big baits and long waits….

One rod was to be deployed with the Gluttonous Chub Poka-Yoke Rig, a proven barbel banker using an overly large glugged pellet meant for catfish, and on the second rod a Roach deadbait on a free running set-up fished up to a feature or right in the channel.

I wasn’t expecting quick results but having fished in to dusk and an hour beyond this is a prime feeding time for Big Barbel , fishing with big baits particularly when mounted on a long hair you can ignore the taps and rattles from the smaller fish and wait till the rod properly goes off with the unmistakable bite and centrepin ratchet doing over only a Barbel can manage.

If the large pellet wasn’t doing the business I’d had some large lumps of garlic flavoured meat to hopefully tempt a fish in taking something it couldn’t turn down.

I haven’t really targeted river Zander in anger so I’m very much a novice but the many canal sessions I’ve done have given me a head start, the hook pattern for instance. The areas of canal I fish are devoid of Pike so I haven’t an issue with using fluorocarbon having landed plenty of decent sized fish without a break-off, but as there would likely be some here I changed the hooklink to Drennan wire but essentially it was a running set-up and watching the rod tip for bite indication, ‘barbel’ style.

So how did I do….?

Well a mixed bag....

I'd put a bed of hemp and small pellets down when I got there so when the evening came hopefully it would bring some fish in to the area but throughout the sessions which ended at 11.00 / 11.30pm Barbel were suspicious in their absence, I didn't see any rolling fish or signs of them which was odd but hey, it's a big river so they could be very much localised, it could explain it I suppose. The first dead bait I put down in the evening I managed a small Zander of around 3 or 4 lb and then a small Jack pike and then a long and slender slightly bigger version.

What was apparent thought was the abundance of bleak, every so often shoals of Perch would turn up and the surface disturbance was amazing to see. So a bleak gave Sam his first fish caught on rod and line, he was well chuffed and in-fact before the stone throwing and stick bashing started he gave it a good go. Every morning he wanted to go fishing for an hour which was nice. He caught small dace, perch and even a small Rudd.

He now wants his own rod from Father Christmas....Ben, and the way he is, is not interested in the slightest.

So back to the Barbel....

The problem I found with fishing big lumps of meat in the dark was the huge number of eels that seemed to be about, I thought they were chub bites at first but on retrieving another lump of meat that had been stripped to its skin an Eel was lipped hook and ended up being the first of 4 or 5 I caught. It also meant when fishing in to dark with a deadbait flat on the river bed usually an eel got there before the Zander and more often than not the bait came back stripped to the bone.

Fishing a big pellet and a few squabs seemed to deter the eels somewhat and the Chub were not big enough to manage it but again, no Barbel were caught.

After getting back to the cottage on the last day it was hot and humid and the sun was out, not ideal conditions for Zander but within 10 minutes of putting a roach out, I had a run. I find when fishing running style it's best to the lift the rod and feel for the 'nodding' bite a Zander gives because they can tricky customers to hook sometimes, often dropping the bait. Feel the bite though your fingers and only then strike.

Now that's better a 6lb 6oz fish and a PB river fish. Small for the Severn I know but you have to start somewhere. That fish made me think about how I'd fish the evening, I wanted a bigger fish.

So a change of tactics was needed as I didn't want to get pestered by eels again....

I cobbled together a paternoster set-up and would fish a bleak off the bottom which Sam helped me catch, one of many kept in a bucket of water for use in the evening, not my usually method of catching Zander but I need to do something, it worked too with the first Zander caught a nice 7lb 8oz fat fish that took the bait within minutes of it going out. It had some snap tackle hanging out it's mouth that must have caused some damage. All removed it was safely returned.

Then it went a little mad because over 2 hours I managed another 7 or 8 Zander all around the 4 to 5lb mark, River Severn schoolies were certainly ravenous.

The river must me full of them. Incidentally the small area I fished wasn't as deep as a certain section I know. I now need to try the Warwickshire Avon for them.

Sadly no big fish came to the net, but I'm happy with a river PB all the same.

I'd happily stay at bank cottage again but a long term renter has the place now and we were the last people to have a prior booking honoured. He's a fisherman too, judging by all the tackle left around.

Lucky Sod !!!

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