Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Monday 28 November 2016

Canal Zander – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Deep fried crab claws, sesame King prawn toast, spare ribs Peking style, dim sum, chicken wings, spring rolls….

That was one of many plate full’s, crisp duck pancakes in obscene quantities, yuk sung, prawn crackers, beef noodles, chips ,and more bleeding chips….

That sort of gluttonous eating I participated in back in the dark days when the all you can eat establishments were just starting to rear their ugly head. As a youngster with excess testosterone and a metabolic rate to rival Zola Budd’s apart from the huge post food belly the obscene quantity of food didn’t even really show on one’s waistline once the inevitable chocolate hostage was released.

Now however….

….I only have to lick a pork scratching for it to register on the scales, probably not a bad thing to be honest as if I continued eating that quantity of food Mr Creosote would have had his double . Luckily my palate has changed for the better and a visit to one of the places now wouldn’t put the fear of dread in me, to be honest, I just couldn’t do it justice.

Now talking of doubles, I’ve come close to a canal Zander double a few times now and looking back at my previous captures there is one thing they have in common. Not the length as such, but the girth, these larger transient fish really have been feeding well and finding areas of canal where prey fish are prolific is a good start to finding the specimen fish rather than the humdrum.

The last decent one I’ve caught was 8lb 10oz’s but what made up the weight was its huge stomach, it really was fit to burst. If it were a woman it would be searching out for the tummy huggers or body shaping spandex.

Porky thing it was….

These are young fish from this rather productive canal, very good nick and fit as you like, because hook one of them and you really know you’ve got one on the end, they certainly do give a good account for themselves. Don’t fight well? Well they do on my 1.5TC rods that’s for sure….

Now for this session I wanted to use some of the bait I had in the garage so I made a concoction of bait I’d ball in over one of the two rods fitted with my usual over depth float set-up. Meaty ground bait, some maggots, hemp, caster and even some predator plus liquid went on the deadbait for good measure.

The thinking was, attract some bait fish in to the area the Zander might follow.

Always worth tinkering me thinks, even though the set-up I use nearly exclusively works superb I’m sure there are some improvements to be made.

Danny joined me for this session and the more it went on we realised it wasn’t going to be easy. It was unusually clear probably because there are less pleasure boats and also because it’s be cold of late. The clarity is usually weak tea or even chocolate which is one of the reasons why the Zander thrive here, so it really was a change of conditions that was probably putting them off.

The usually banker swim looked dead and the floats remained motionless, again, a stroll to another area that has thrown up specimens in the past and is usually very productive….


Some bank word had been done recently and a barge complete with Timberwolf must have been going up and down the stretch causing quite a disturbance, that certainly didn’t help as it may have pushed the fish out of the area. If you’ve heard a Timberwolf, they are noisy buggers.

Now Danny had an interesting theory that made a lot of sense. Maybe it’s that time where the bait fish are still fairly active and they are feeding themselves on their terms, another month when it’s more difficult and there is less chasing to be done then a deadbait would be difficult to refuse.

Even the lure remained untouched however until a lock was reached and Danny had a Perch from around the paddles, I’ll let him continue the story as it was a bit of an eye opener for me and might even save a blank session for me in the future. He caught as per normal, I blanked.

Always learning, with this fishing lark….

A follow up session will be sometime over Christmas, next time a bit further afield.

Monday 21 November 2016

Warwickshire Avon - A Twitcher is worth a thousand words

Well despite roving in and around some tasty looking Pike swims with two rods with Roach deadbaits, no fish were banked...no bites either, all very weird. Then again the upper reaches of the stretch can often feel very baron indeed.

I've a Panasonic DMC-TZ80 with a 60X zoom and managed this beauty of a picture though.

A Warwickshire Buzzard

Saturday 19 November 2016

Big Roach - Redfinmendation

So apparently this carp water had some rather large Roach turning up fairly regularly so with the rivers out of sorts Dave Roberts and myself decided to make the journey to try and bank one of the specimens.

One of the well known big fish chasers who in October put some nice fish on the bank was here for two days and two nights and blanked the day before we decided to try it, but we were given a few swim tips and set our stall out.

4 rods equipped with maggot feeders, fished helicopter style with Dave using the float from time to time.

The water was very clear indeed which surprised me as this was a carp match lake with nearly 2000 half decent fish swimming amongst it's depths.

Static carp fishing and really for me if I'm honest but I don't fish like this regularly but we shared the same so was good to have a natter.

Anyway, we blanked, not even a single fish banked, 2 sucked maggots and a couple of bleeps and that was it.

The carp were suspicious in their absence too, maybe the drop in temperature over night put them off.

Oh well at least the Robin enjoyed the maggots....

Monday 14 November 2016

Warwickshire Avon – God Mouldy Knows

I was hoping a little rain recently and the fact that the weather had turned cold that the Chub may be feeding. A large handful of the green and furry festering cheese paste was quickly squashed in to a small plastic tub and it was back in the fridge before the Wife could get her hackles up.

Then the memories were starting to come back, the smell all too familiar….

Over a couple of weeks I kept on getting a whiff of something rather unpleasant but couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

The lingering ‘Stinking Bishop’ esk smell seemed to follow me wherever I went and really put a dent in my self confidence. I kept on looking over my shoulder expecting to see a corpse shadowing me.

I even avoided women, who’d have thought it….

Had I caught the same manky foot fungi as a good friend Daz ‘fat lad’ Harrigan….? , as the sleeping bag he borrowed I had to incinerate as the stench of mouldy Stilton was that bad. Nothing would shift the pungent odour, nothing I tell thee.

Then something twigged….

The highly visible movable lump under the skin on my shoulder looked like half a crab apple. I didn’t think much of it and was told by the GP to ‘leave it be’ till it something changed or it went aggressive….. 

However this sebaceous cyst was now painful to the touch, had doubled in size and the ‘smell’ leaking out of oneself turned out was festering puss trying to escape from the now bright red dome which was struggling to contain the pressure.

It had unfortunately turned rogue and something needed to be done.

I booked an appointment with the GP and as soon as he saw the predicament I was in he quickly summoned the nurse and I found myself in lock-down and non urgent appointments cancelled.

“This might hurt a bit” said the nurse with the sizeable lump squished between thumb and forefinger.

The pressure and pain was ever increasing but then I caught the sight of a scalpel and its freshly unpacked blade my pain threshold quickly went up a couple of notches as I knew the inevitable outcome was what was needed.

A sharp pain was felt, contents airborne, nurse covered….

The smell unforgettable, the relief instant.

Now back to my quest for a Warwickshire 5lber….Where are they ? God only knows it’s not like I haven’t given it a good go.

I’ve caught quite a few Chub now not far off my target (4lb 13oz) but thus far I’ve failed in my mission even after catching what seems like hundreds of fish. I had planned to switch rivers to one with crayfish in numbers but it means my usual ten minute drive to get bankside would change to nearly half an hour.

For someone with limited fishing time, it didn’t make sense especially when I know the Avon does contain fish of the target size. So this was the first of many winter sessions to try and complete my mission.

Simple roving tactics, rod with centrepin, waist bag and landing net. Plop and drop, 10 minutes in each swim, no bites, time to move on. Rig was a simple quick change bead and a hooklink fitted with a paste cage tied to a hair which would grip the paste and help retain it. There is nothing worse than wondering if the bait is on or not and questioning ones set-up. Even if the main lump of paste has departed there will still be paste stuck inside the cage.

Now despite the recent rain, the Avon is still pretty clear, a slight tinge of colour but as soon as the sun came out the bottom could be seen in many of the swims. The banks were largely deserted and those anglers I did bump in to were struggling. 

Find trees and snags and you will find Chub. Eventually after about 6 or 7 swims without even a tap I managed a greedy little chublet whose eyes were larger than its belly who was seeking sanctuary under a raft. Hmmm not what I'm after.

For the last half an hour I positioned a bait tight to an upstream snag whose access was made easier as the swim was quite elevated. 

A pluck, a tap and a wham !!! within ten minutes the rod wrapped over and fish was on. With some decent side strain applied and the rod bent to the butt this Chub was determined to get to his intended target and sadly after five or six attempts he managed it. 

Stuck solid in some tree roots, I left it go slack but nothing, the hook had parted and I could see the roots lifting as I try to free the rig. 

Eventually the inevitable happened and the hooklink broke.

The only saving grace was I don't think it was the monster I was after. The Avon really does change for the better when there is more colour, I really am finding it tough going, it doesn't help fishing times of the day where I know it going to be difficult but naturally the family life takes priority.

Monday 7 November 2016

Lower Itchen Fishery – Twaddle and Trollops

My first visit to the Lower Itchen Fisher nearly a year ago was a successful one, well in my eyes anyway as I’m not sure all the accompanying party enjoyed it as much as I did. It was the first chalk stream I’d fished after all and it was all a bit of a novelty.

Countless ‘ladies of the stream’ were caught from one particular swim whilst long trotting sweetcorn cumulating in a 1.8oz PB grayling which really made the trip for me. Thinking back, maybe if I stuck it out, the bigger fish would likely be sat at the tail of the swim, and maybe a specimen 2lber would have been mine, hidden amongst the sheer quantity of fish which really was something I’d not tire of.

There was so much to go out though so I’d only have regretted my decision if I set my stall out so many a swim was explored and some decent fish caught.

Heck I even enjoyed the tussle with the brownies that gave a decent scrap on light tackle, don’t get many of them in the Warwickshire Avon now do you.

Now a friend of mine, an infrequent fluff chucker, really detests the Grayling, seeing it more of a pest, a nuisance, a pain in the proverbials. Even liking them to that unwanted prostitute hanging around on the street corners, all short skirts, proud plumage and easy pickings.

I gave him the Paddington Bear stare…..

I found them great sport personally with plenty of character. But then I’m a coarse fisherman due to my locality and maybe If I was chucking flies around in game rivers maybe I’d come to the same conclusion.

With a friend of mine Simon in tow who like me before the last trip was an Itchen virgin, however for this trip I was in a much better position to fish this lovely river.

So I kinda set out a plan before I went….

 Trotting for grayling and obvious brownies in the morning and early afternoon. The fish are found in the upper reaches of the stretch where there are shallow glides and gravel bottoms. Tactics well, simple trotting of caster or sweetcorn which worked well last time with a little an often amount of feed to hopefully keep the fish interested.

Size 12 Guru QM1

Late afternoon I’d be Roach bound in the mid to lower deeper areas where it changes to deeper pools and bends and coarse fish in residence. Trotting again with hemp and caster as feed and either bread flake or caster on the hook. Now I know Roach and big ones particularly are not that easy to come by here these days, certainly not as prolific as some would make out and possibly the downstream areas beyond Gaters Mill would be the better bet but I was hoping regular feeding and some decent bait something of interest would turn up.

Last but not least ‘we’d’ sit it out with a big bait in the Weir pool for an hour in to dark to see if there was a decent Chub or Barbel hanging around. PVA bag of what was remaining for loose feed.

Simon had no choice but to follow my lead you see….

I had the car keys and access to the camp stove, the pork sausages and buttered baps. His resident host ‘worm’ needs to fed otherwise it can get very nasty indeed.

Unpredictable, uncontainable….it needs to be contained.

So the weather predictors got it wrong, yet again. There was meant to be the odd shower, nothing of note and yet, it pissed down all day.

From 9.30am till 4.00pm it was constant, it became heavier as the day went on so one had to rely again on the Poncho I’ve grown to love. It makes a horrible day bearable.

The middle of the stretch was far clearer than a remembered from last time and in hindsight I should have known it would be tough going.

Still, starting at the top we worked ourselves down trying a few swims and yeap, as expected it didn’t take long to get the first Grayling.

First of the Day

Simon a Grayling landed his first one soon after and sweetcorn seemed the bait of choice. One particular swim was fantastic, a stupidly long trot with the float sinking at the tail end. Grayling after Grayling with the odd Brownie getting in on the act.

It’s full of them this river and fun on light tackle.

My father-in-law an occasional fly fisherman was in horror when I showed him the pics of holding the trout, not a done thing apparently, an unwritten rule for his club anyway. Rainbows, not a problem bosh them over the head.

The quantity of fish in certain swims is staggering and stumble on one of those swims you could probably stick it out all day.

Simon used a closed face reel, me a centrepin and I realise now I should trot the Avon more often particularly in the summer with thick streamer weed and cagey Barbel. It’s a great way to fish.

I managed 1 tangle all day, Simon umpteenth but then he took part in about 3 or 4 conference calls during the day and even two in the car, I think his mind was elsewhere.

Trying to change the world or something….

The middle and lower reaches were tough going, the water levels were rising and the debris and rubbish coming down was making trotting or even ledgering frustrating. So it was back the top to catch more Grayling and Trout.

I must have had >50 Grayling, nearly ten trout and plenty lost too. Nothing of size, trout wise and the best Grayling was a PB equalling 1lb 8oz.

1lb 8oz

There was more fly anglers here than last time, a club meet up I think. I had one cast over my swim when he didn’t realise I was long trotting.

 “what, you can see that far ?” “Wow”

And another fishing about 10 foot away from where I was picking up most of the fish from in the most productive of swims. Sweetcorn under a float was clearly the order of the day as their results from what I witnessed were mediocre indeed. Maybe the rain didn’t help I’m not sure.

The most productive swim.

So back at the car decided to drive down to the weir and fish in to dusk. Again with lots of rubbish coming down I could only keep the rod in for ten minutes before having to retrieve it and remove the thick weed. A few taps and pulls but nothing that developed in to a bite.

Another enjoyable day despite the weather but I think I might somewhere other than the Lower Itchen next year, maybe even a different river altogether.
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