Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Monday 31 October 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Psychoshadmacology

So these Zander, anyone worked them out yet?

As someone who spends a large amount of time fishing for them I’m sure they are on a timed release of a psychoactive drug. The problem is their feeding time and habits vary day by day, and there doesn’t seem a pattern emerging despite the hours I’ve put in.

On the cut where I know there are fish just laying up, all of a sudden something will trigger them off

….and they go the full on Tasmanian.

Maybe one of the pack farts or something, God only knows.

It’s a little like someone I know who despite bad experiences after necking bucket loads of cheap alcohol still enjoys the Gin Craze, she goes from nice to nasty in a click of one’s fingers…

Proper mentalists….

In this area of the Avon I’ve not properly explored I managed to catch a schoolie that had properly nailed the rather large lure meant for Pike, it was veritable gob stopper but despite that it was determined to give it a good going over and manage to ingest both rather large treble hooks.

So after being a bit disheartened trying my best to catch a good Barbel I wanted to explore the upper reaches of the river to see if I could snare a larger specimen. There are some nice hiding areas here you see, so I was hoping drop a lure in the right place might trigger a Tracie Andrews reaction and hook a nice Zander or for some sport, a rod bending Pike.

First swim where I’d caught Zander before, not a jot. Second, same again, the third, bugger all. The fourth, eventually a fish, a small greedy Jack.

The weir had to have some fish in residence and sure enough after some searching out with the lure a half decent Pike shot from the margins but probably saw my ugly mug and went back where he came.

A surface popping lure had a couple of surfacing fish but swopping back to a shallower diver eventually I hooked in to a decent fish. My 7ft Korum snapper jig rod has some decent backbone to it and despite giving the clutch a workout it was landed. 

Not the biggest at 6 or 7lb but welcome all the same.

Now further upstream, three swims later ‘Bang’ something’s properly nailed the shad, fighting harder this one but eventually in the net.

That’s a bit better, 7lb 8oz’s.

3 or 4 swims further up, not a sausage but it weird up there, devoid of any life for some reason. There must be some fish around though, as I’ve had Zander right at the top of the stretch.

So back where I came from, nothing in the weir so decided to go past the bridge to some potential Perch swims I’ve been told about.

I bumped in to Sean who I’d spotted crossing the meadow who had similar ideas and was trying for a Zander or whatever came along.

After a quick natter and two swims without a Perch I walked downstream to an oxygenated area that must hold a few fish. Sure enough a greedy Jack nailed the small shad.

With half an hour left, I fish a peg with a large overhanging tree which gives an area of still water downstream of it.

Didn’t take long either for a fish, another Pike of around 5 or 6 lb.

Not the biggest of fish but considering the conditions not a bad result. This type of session suits me a roving angler too. Small rod, bag and landing net that’s all you need.

Sean this robin took a liking to your car :)

Thursday 27 October 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Daylight Robbery and the Exhibitionist

Post 400, wow, doesn't time fly....

Anyway bye bye British Summer Time

Well not quite, but long now, October the 30th, when we go back to GMT again.

The mornings will be lighter (for now), and the evenings darker.

So the longest day of the year which is in June on the summer solstice, 16 hours and 50 minutes of sunlight. That dwindles to just 7 hours and 40 minutes on the winter solstice in December.

When you look at that one sentence, it really can play havoc with ones fishing sessions, it has to, and there is no getting away from it.

So when will it start to get lighter again ?, well as a seasonal affective disorder (SAD) sufferer it seems like months and months, and it actually is, 1am March the bleeding 26th.

William Willet the British businessman popularised the idea of Daylight Saving Time in the UK in 1907. He thought the clocks should go forward in April, and then September so people got out of bed earlier and saw more of the sun. He popped his clogs before seeing his plans put in place. Weirdly he was the great-great grandfather of the Coldplay singer Chris Martin, maybe explains some of his tracks I suppose.

So negative thoughts and feelings, fatigue, increased irritability. I didn’t mind it when I wasn’t a maggot drowner as when I lived in Birmingham (still got the scars) as the rather attractive neighbour over the road when the light went used to reveal herself and her assets to everyone in the street whilst trying on her extensive and skimpy wardrobe ….

….curtains open, light on, boobs out.

To be honest it got boring after a while, very much groundhog day, even the local taxi firm who serviced the area didn't bat an eyelid, it might have added a few grand to my house sale mind you, and you cannot knock that. Then again, sadly I didn’t get the chance.

At least the fattening up starts to get through the winter, be it Barbel, Chub or oneself…I’m not quite ready for those hearty stews, the port, the brandy, the Stilton cheese, the open fire, but I’m already on the look-out for a new woolly jumper and some thicker socks, anyway I’m 44 in November, heck might even start wearing vests.

Many get the winter blues, but me as a fisherman, ok the sessions tend to get less, but I actually prefer the winter fishing months so the SAD is offset somewhat,….

….the banks are quieter, the fish fatter, what’s not to like…

Now talking of exhibitionists, as the light dropped the fish start moving here, Barbel rolling, Chub topping, they were showing themselves off to a degree I’d not seen before, like they wanted to be seen, weird as it sounds, but I'd like one of those Barbel please.

So these smash and grab session(s) were just that, straight after work rods made up complete with a couple of spicy krill boilies on a long hair, tackle in car, the bare minimum.

Rigs deployed with an hour before dusk to hopefully catch a fish. PVA bag with a few matching crushed boilies.

Wait for sundown....and that unmistakable 'BITE'

1st session, no fish, just some outrageous Chub bites.

2nd session, no fish, no Chub nibbles or pulls.

3rd session, sadly work got in the way so finished later than expected. Met up with Russell Hilton (remember him) who was in the area and targeting Zander on the cut.

4th session, some Chub pulls but no fish banked, however I did spot two hunting barn owls though and the sunset was fantastic.

5th session, hair shortened, 1 small Barbel of 3lb, one small Chub

I might take up knitting....

Monday 17 October 2016

Canal Zander – Professlowalism

“Are they moving ?”

“Not sure to be honest”

“Oh yes, I think they are”

Careful now, got to line the boat up with ponderous precision, it’s a small opening after all.

“I never knew a barge could go so slowly”

They are eventually in, should have brought my gas stove, could have cooked us up a full English whilst we wait to get the bait out. We’ve no choice but to become gongoozlers.

The Jack Russell’s out complete with life-jacket, the elderly owner with windlass in hand.

He’s surveying his quandary, hmmm, hang on a minute he’s attached it to the paddles.

“We’re getting somewhere”

Easy now, don’t turn it too fast, might put your back out.

“Good, take your time, half a turn then stop, then repeat” “He’s succeeded”

Back, against paddles

“CRACK !!!!!!!”

Whoops, he’s bottomed out the gates, I thought it was his knee for a minute, yeap, he’s tried to close them. Oh I know what, I’ll push them the other way, that should work.

Finally, they are out, and on to the next one in a sloth like manner.

I’d give Hatton flight a miss if I were you....

Luckily it was the last swim Danny and I were to fish. We had planned to fish the Avon for Zander in to dark, but both agreed we probably we wasting our time and the session would likely end fruitless.

So it was an early start on the cut to see if the Zander were biting. As like-minded canal Zander anglers it’s always good to meet up. We’ve a professional and businesslike approach to targeting them and successful because of it.

We both have had some decent fish from the canal now and my biggest of 9lb to date, Danny even bigger and I’m sure a double is there for the taking. The conditions were not ideal though, some horrible rain for the first couple of hours put a dampener on it but still Zander were caught.

Nothing of size but with Zander fishing we both agree, you stumble on a bigger fish the likely hood it won’t be in the same swim again. The bigger specimens are transient so it’s a matter of getting as much banktime as possible.

Danny’s ‘washed’ out looking baits out did my fresher looking roach deadbaits and I’ve said before the condition of them doesn’t really matter that much.

They were in scrapping mood too, not the biggest of fish but the bend in the rod was deceptive the result an average cut schoolie.

Danny alternated between dead and lure, dead and dead. I for the majority of my canal Zander fishing, exclusively floatfished deadbaits.

What I’ve found though, is the colder the better so once the first frosts hit, they will likely be feeding more heavily particular the larger fish. Still, find some pocket of fish and they are decent sport when the river is out of sorts.

Come March when I’ll start my Zander challenge again, I’ll be concentrating one particular canal and plan to fish pastures new and stretches very familiar to me.

I cannot wait….

Friday 14 October 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Inbreadible

I had the ‘drunchies’ not eating that much didn’t help, but after a few large nosing glasses of Auchentoshan Valinch it was back to raiding the kitchen to see what delights could quell the feeling of an empty stomach and satisfy the munchies. To be fair it’s a feeling I often get after wetting ones palate with a cask strength single malt.

ffff'iing, Dog-hungry…

I was after the giant crumpets Warburton’s do, ok being slathered in Anchors finest isn’t the healthiest of breakfasts, but heck they taste good.

No luck, looks like the kids have had them, bugger…


Wholemeal Roti’s, half a loaf of brown bread past its best, Haribo eggs, drumsticks, Nah….

Hey what’s this though, ¾’s of a loaf of Warburton’s blue and still fresh too after being riddled with calcium propionate.

Hmm not tried bread for a while, with this clear water, probably a good bet to be honest, I couldn’t do any worse than I have been doing.

The frazzles took a battering as did the breakaway’s….

So better sort a fishing trip hadn’t I….

I fancied sitting out this one, I don’t leave my bait nearly long enough me thinks, so two rods were cobbled together

The first a small boilie rigged Barbel rod the other a light link ledger setup with some liquidised bread and some hemp in the small cage feeder.

The reason being was there was some Perch potential here too, so I’d also bring my lure rod equipped with a fake wriggly worm which I’d use from time to time in the neighbouring swims if they were angler less.

Small live baits, only attracted the Jacks last time, maybe something visually completely different would make the difference.

Best laid plans and all that...

Wow, what an incredibly tough session, I should have gone to the pub.

After 4 biteless swims, I settled in one that's has had some major tree surgery. The large cover canopy had gone but it meant a nice pool had been created by removal of the thicket.

As soon as I cast the bread flake something honed on to it straight away.

Hmmm, a small Dace.

And that's the way it continued for more or less the rest of the session. I couldn't get anywhere near a decent fish and after the umpteenth small fish I decided to go back to the Perch swims and stick it out for the last hour and a bit.

Bugger all, my fortunes would have changed at dusk but wow, that was tough going.

Where were the Chub...?

Luckily I have an extended fishing opportunity next weekend, the Zander meet is off due to many on holidays and double booked so I can fish in to dusk for two evenings, I want a decent pull on my rod.

Same story with other anglers, glad it's not just me.

Anyway, Sunday I'm off to the cut.

Monday 10 October 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Bloodless verses the Bogus

This ‘zander’ pack of roach freezer baits looked past their best to be honest, after all they were left over from the Zander challenge back in June and my ‘Quest for a Cut Double”.

Now readers of this blog will know I didn’t quite get that elusive double figure fish, but did bank a few nice Zander accumulating in a fish of smack bang on 9lb which ain’t to be sniffed at considering I’ve caught hundreds and hundreds of the little schoolie buggers that would barely make an amuse-bouche in a posh French restaurant.

I’d grown to like the single minded approach….and I miss fishing the cut, yes really....

I rarely fish lakes and pools these days spending most of my time on running water but I’ve become to love fishing the cut. Probably because I’ve spent so much time there during one’s quest. Now I’m not saying next March cannot come round soon enough but it will be nice to get in a mindset knowing what I’m fishing for my next session.

In my experience, fishing for Zander on the canals I wasn’t too bothered about the condition of these baits, ok fresher the better, but these colourless, pale and pallid small Roach deadbaits would still catch fish. It wasn't an issue, so for this session river Zander were my target and from a couple of swims I’d not fished before.

To hedge my bets and keep myself active I’d also brought my lure rod, if bites were not forthcoming maybe they fancied something different than an obvious deadbait, it’s still clear and tough going after all, and they’ve seen it all these fish, and it's not lured fished much from what I've found out. It’s a bit like those tried and tested chat up lines, you need to work harder than that to get anywhere near the forbidden, something a little out of the ordinary maybe.

This season because of the conditions have been a little haphazard and my results have been mediocre to say the least but maybe for my 400’th post going forward maybe I should start a river Chub challenge, the ‘Quest for a River 5lber” ?

I’m sure I’m missing a trick....Mick, shape up, or ship out, my results have been mediocre up to now.

It was only a short session this but I wanted to try one particular swim that looked deeper than the swims either side of it. Those I could see the bottom in these rain baron times and I thought if a predator was here then it is likely to be lurking here.

The session was a quick one with around 45 minutes in each swim, very quiet indeed but eventually after the third move I received my first bite on the deadbait. I thought it was a decent Zander at first but in the clear water I could see a Pike of around 6 or 7 pound had the bait in its jaws broadside.

I saw him, he saw me so he ejects the baits and plunges back to the depths. Oh well...

The last swim I managed two Jacks, one on the lure the other on a deadbait which it nabbed on the retrieve. Some lovely markings hence the picture.

At least I didn't blank. As soon as the first frost comes I think I will give the Perch a back further downstream.

Martin was out too, fishing downstream and proved that the Barbel will feed in the day. After a quick natter I might mirror his tactics when I get a chance, it certainly seems to work effectively.

Friday 7 October 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Restless Legs and the Pearl Necklace

I thought Barbel were a bit like Kim Kardashian’s bodyguard Pascal Duvier, all brawn and no brains, after all whilst he was out partying with her younger and more attractive sisters his square rigged equipped employer was tied up at gun point by the assailants who were dressed as police officers. They managed get away with millions of pounds worth of her jewels, according to the news anyway….

Did they manage a pearl necklace when they dumped her in the bath, nah, just a ridiculously huge diamond ring and the contents of her jewelry box. I doubt she will be so keen to show it all off next time.

I’m not that up with current affairs and this modern phenomenon of reality TV if I’m honest, apart from her circus freakish backside remind me why she is so famous again?

As I ain't got a clue....

Anyway these thieves made it look easy and made the bodyguard look a right clod hopper but at the moment these battling Barbel are making me look the fool too.

The only success I’ve had is once the light goes, certainly not on my terms as I want a daytime fish you see.

A couple or three attempts during the day have remained fruitless but for this session a change of tactics were in order.

My Willis-Ekbom disease kicks in, restless legs if you will, particularly on a weekend when I cannot just sit there and do nothing, my legs start to ache and I need to get them moving.

At work I’ve no choice but to put up with it but when I can, one is always on one’s feet.

So for this roving session, it was a matter of fishing as many swims as possible and try and put a bait where in this clear water they would likely be seeking sanctuary away from angling pressure.

Overhanging trees, snags, rafts and cover….

I use a centrepin for the majority of my Barbel fishing but to reach certain swims I knew I would have to swap to fixed spool reel. I also rigged up my beefier Fox rod and chose that over my usual 1.75TC Harrison.

Bait was simple flavoured cubes of luncheon meat that were defrosted and refrozen a few times to soak in the coating better to make it more pungent. I find the Sonubaits flavour shakers brilliant for this, particularly the Super Krill, Spicy Sausage and Cheesy Garlic, they are not bad value for money either as they last a long time.

I wanted the bait to behave as naturally as possible so I decided to try and much longer hooklength than I usually use and I’d fish it link ledger style so I could vary the shot to just hold bottom. A lift of the rod on a slack line would carry the meat further downstream to try and put the bait under the nose of a Barbus to try and tempt one like a kid walking past a fairground dougnnut maker that has just removed them from the oil….

Irresistible, well that’s what I was hoping anyway.

If a Barbel wasn't forthcoming then I'd have a quick smash and grab session after work before the clocks go back.

Tough or what, after a good number of swims without even a tap and not even spotting any fish under ones cocoons, an underarm cast got the bait right next to a raft, to the right of it was static water so ideal really as after watching the lump of meat trundle down slowly to the bed it didn't take long for a fish to pick it up.

A big drop back bite and a fish was on. It powered under the raft but was soon under control and sadly I knew it was a greedy Chub, to be fair it was under-gunned but it gave a good account for himself. 3.5lb ish something like that.

On the way back to the car I stopped for a natter with a few other anglers who were finding it tough too, biteless and fish less, not good.

Especially when one chap said he'd been up to the Trent last week and had plenty of barbel and chub on the float. I couldn't believe how difficult it is on the Avon at the minute.

Come dusk, his fortunes would change, no doubt about that.

So the last swim, again, tight to a raft and within ten minutes all hell breaks loose and another fish is on, this one must have hooked himself and felt the resistance and it went a bit mental.

A small Chub again, this one around 3lb.

So looks like back to a plan B, a Tuesday or Wednesday smash and grab.

Monday 3 October 2016

Warwickshire Avon – Hoi Deploy

The Warwickshire Avon can be funny at times, really really tough going especially when it’s clear but once the light drops and the inhibitions drop the fish can be relatively easy to catch.

Fish all day, naff all….

…but as soon as the bats come out, keep hold of one’s rod as the change really is dramatic.

If you ever fished a commercial where the carp all of a sudden start mooching around in the margins I’m sure it’s the same sort of thing with river fish….

….as soon as the dinner bell is rung, the eating begins.

So I was looking forward to this in to dark session, whilst the proletariat would likely be in a state of bladderation watching some rubbish on TV, dining at the local cliquey Gastro Pub on pan fried lambs liver and bacon or watching some God awful football match, Martin, Sean and I would be after some of those larger nocturnal fish that have proved a blank saver for me in the past.

I wanted a Barbel or a Zander, and those only, so on one of the rods the highly selective Gluttonous Chub – Poka-Yoke rig would be deployed over a bed of hemp and small pellets and then on the other rod fished Barbel style a headless Roach on a light running rig.

I want to catch a Chub on my own terms, I find a Barbel rod is over gunned and even with a decent Chub they will quickly overpower a greedy Chevin and it will be in the net. Part of the fun of fishing is using balanced tackle so you can enjoy the fight from the fish, rather than haul it in with a broom handle.

Now I’d not fished this stretch before so I was going in blind so tactics and baits I know that work made sense as confidence is everything in fishing and especially when it’s dark there is nothing worse than having to mess about re-baiting ones rods after a greedy chub has got in on the act first.

A veritable gobstopper is the only method for me come sundown and its proved its worth in the past….the deadbait, well, could be a Pike, Eel or Zander, I was hoping the latter.

I decided to bring my lure rod prior to setting my stall out as the water is so ridiculously clear I was hoping to catch a predator or two and I was desperate to try a new lure I’d bought.

Martin had set his stall out when I got there and had been enjoying himself with centrepin and maggots and had a Perch on a deabait, he was fishing upstream from Sean who was just setting up his deadbait rod. It had been raining all day and as I drove to the venue I could see some huge black clouds heading our way. Sure enough eventually it was right over us and I had no choice but to shelter under Martins umbrella. I put a deadbait rod out to at least tempt a fish but for an hour or so no bites. 

With a break in the rain I wandered downstream with the lure rod and about the 5th cast a fish was on. It didn't feel particularly big and when it broke surface I think it was a small jack but for some reason it throw the hooks pretty quickly. Maybe it was a Perch, if it was it was a good'un.

After half an hour without any fish I moved up near Sean to put some hemp out before putting my bait over the top. After a good natter both rods went out and it was a matter of waiting. Both Martin and Sean had been catching jacks prior to this but as the light was starting to go we were hopeful for a Zander. 

The rain continued and Sean, who had only planned to fish just in to dark packed leaving me and Martin to sit it out.Weirdly the stretch was devoid of fish, usually coming up in to dusk and beyond is when the fish start moving around, topping and at least the Chub anyway start banging and tapping at the hook-bait. Sadly it was all too quiet for me and for Martin also.

With the annoying rain now quite heavy I donned my Poncho and stood and starred at my motionless rod tips.Especially Zander, I've found if they are there, they will find the bait, so maybe we were just not on them this evening.

 My phone rings "hey, Mick, how you doing"

"pretty quiet here old chap"

"give it another half an hour ?"

"yeah, suits me"

So the session was cut short, a couple or three hours before we intended it to end, but we still managed to fish nearly two hours in to dark so gave it a good go.

Thumbs down for this session, but hopefully better luck next time.
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