Sunday, 25 June 2017

Warwickshire Stour – Ruffe and Tumble

I love the Warwickshire Stour, this diminutive little river meanders through some lovely countryside and eventually ends up at the Avon around Stratford Racecourse.

They fish don’t grow big, a good Chub 2lb, a good roach 1lb, a good Perch 10 oz’s but there are small fish in numbers and the smaller species were my target.
The Stour can rise very quickly after rain but times of little rain it can be very low indeed. That’s good for me though as calamity and accident prone 6 year old Sam would be joining me for this session, but not only that, holes which the Stour seems to have in numbers, can easily be seen.

I was specifically targeting the Ruffe (yes you heard right)

....and they appear to prefer spending their days hiding in deeper water, then moving to the shallows to feed at night on aquatic insects, crustaceans, small fish, bottom dwelling organisms, and occasionally the eggs of other fish.

The Ruffe you see is a shy little fish and these holes the Stour has in abundance are great places for the ‘Pope’ to seek some sanctuary. 

They rely on their well-developed sensory system to allow them to feed with confidence in the knowledge that they can detect their predators as well as being well camouflaged against them and having large eyes to spot movement: demonstrating very successful adaptation for a variety of habitats.

Apparently few things appear to feed on Ruffe, largely likely to their camouflage and nocturnal feeding habits, with predatory fish only feeding on them in numbers if other food becomes scarce. They maintain a well developed system of hollow bone canals within their heads that contain sensory organs called ‘neuromasts’. These are also found in the young of Perch, but they tend to solidify as they become adults, but in adult Ruffe they are still present: so providing them with very good sensory organs that detect water vibrations given off by both predators and prey and of course heavy footed anglers like pie eating me !!!!

In terms of body shape they resemble Perch, a close relative, but they are shorter and stouter and their two dorsal fins are joined. They are pale brown and covered with numerous black speckles that decrease in size the closer they get to its white belly, the head is large with a down turned mouth and the eyes quite large, appearing lilac in colour. The two dorsal fins (both spotted) are joined, the front one having a serious array of spines, as do the pectoral and anal fins, the gill covers are also spiky – a generally awkward individual !

Now talking of Perch they do seems to like swallowing the bait properly from the few that I've caught, so barbless hooks are a must, as is a disgorger.

Sams rod, the first outing of his Christmas present was fitted with a light float set-up and the red line he chose himself, and mine was my favourite TFG river and stream rod fitted with a 1oz Drennan Quiver-tip.

Now, knowing the patience of the dear youngest Son of mine this would likely be a short’un so no messing around, straight out the car, through the gate and get fishing.

Bait, well red maggots obviously, but then, from time to time a dendrobaena tail.

So enough of the bunkum…

Did we catch one ?

We didn't get off to a good start, after a late night of moderate bladderation after a family Chinese meal I was hoping for a lie in, but Sam, despite going to bed a couple of hours later than normal came in an hour earlier then when he usually does the weekend.

Quite frankly, I needed more kip. It didn't help either that, when I opened the bait fridge there was some more escapees, this time my efforts to try and give some air to breath for some bagged up maggots they must have sweated like Mr Rotavator with a new attractive guest arrival. They were everywhere to be honest, so only one thing for it, out with her prized possession

the Dyson handheld....

The little device really has some grunt, so after emptying the bait fridge and sliding it out it didn't take long for the red maggots to be re-homed in better suited accommodation.

Well, when we got to the river it was low, very low indeed and after concentrating our efforts on swims that were safe for Sam on the most part and swims that looked fishy we ended up Ruffe'less.

Plenty of fish though with minnows, dace, chublets and roach, but despite the slack and shady water where I thought I'd find them, they were nowhere to be see.

The issue was I didn't really have time to fish myself, luckily only a float lost and a couple of hook changes. What was nice was not only did he thank me for taking him fishing but he genuinely seemed interested and listened to everything I said. If he is ever asked about coarse fish, he would be the top of the class.

Now luckily a conversation with Martyn the tackle shop owner in Stratford has put me on to a couple of leads to catch some on the Avon. The thing with the Stour was that looking back at my blog, even though I've caught Ruffe before from there, they certainly haven't been the biggest.

Conversations with Sam, ranged from

"what are crickets made from", "Imagine if the German's were behind that hill sat in their bunkers" to "Why has Mummy got bigger boobies than Mrs Smith" and "When are you taking me to a dance studio with a DJ"

I love the mind and thoughts of a 6 year old, all very engaging.

Every weekend, no chance, well not just yet anyway, I value me time too.

He was a little restless come bored after a few hours but then after me talking him round to try the 'tip' out he was back to being interested again and back to me thinking, we ought to do this again.

Double dipping and upping the tackle is the way to go me thinks if I'm to catch a Ruffe, even a small'un would do....


  1. After a thoroughly poor effort in week 1, my highlight was catching a ruffe! All 1.35oz of it! Avon not Stour though. My mate had one also. Subtle hint - use the key you bought last year.

    1. Hmm interesting, I'm up there Thursday will Dan so might bring the maggot rod too then

    2. I should add that it fell to a delicate set up. 4 maggots on a size 12 to 4lb line! Absolutely a fluke, but like perch, I think they are greedy devils when in the mood.


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