Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Sunday 31 December 2017

Canal Zander – Bights and Buddha-Bellies

Picture the scene, pre kids, money to burn, post big meal, fancy marina abroad full of luxury cruisers and yachts , elevated outdoor bar with comfy sofa’s, Wife next to me sipping a cocktail, I’ve a big Hennessey XO, enjoying the remaining vitamin D, watching the world go by....

Big fat Cuban in hand trying to look cool, eye-candy aplenty, most dressed to impress….

“Mick, Mick, MICK !!!!”

“What’s up”

“Errrr you might want to button your shirt up, I can see your Buddha-Belly”

“You What !!!”

“Your shirt buttons are undone !!!!

Looks down, she’s right, unbeknown to me the fitted shirt has finally succumbed to the overindulgence by exponentially expanding ones waistline to a point of no return, the button holes have done a runner.

My hairy belly and naval lint out there for all to see, the Wife in hysterics.

No wonder I’d be getting funny looks,heck so what, I’m no like I’d see these people again, one needs room to expand, to feel comfortable.

I was here to chill out God damn it, if I cannot do it here, where can I do….?

Holds empty glass up, “another one please”

I’d been waiting for this newly created waterway to open up, you see it was another big sofa for the Zander to be comfortable in, for the big’uns to put their feet up. You see, imagine a tiny two up two with barely enough room to swing a cat then overnight finding oneself sat in the drawing room in Windsor Castle, smoking jacket donned, all the space you would ever need.

The view large enough to intercept the butler on the way past for another nibble off his tray.

It’s where my PB Zander came from, well a similar abode, and that was a rotund 9’lber and a little like me at the minute, with it's winter belly proudly on show.

So for this session it was out with the roach deadbaits, the food of choice for a Zander wanting to expand his winter waistline to see if there was method in my madness and Sam would be manning the lure rod.

I've caught Zander in the area before so on the way back we'd fish another holding area to avoid a blank. The footpath was ridiculously muddy and in hindsight should have donned our wellies but eventually we got the potential hotspot.

So 2 deadbait rods out and Sam doing his best to tempt one on the lure, as well as trying out his new seat which which came with his 'BIG tackle box" and "Rucksack" we gave it a good go. Not a jot for a couple and a half it was time to try and at least catch something, so back from where we came it was back out with the deadbaits and this time swapped to a crayfish lure.

With ten minutes or so the left had float rod goes from right to left against the surface tow which was the left to right, sadly leant in to the bite without any resistance.

2 more similar bites without hook-ups this was getting like the old days where I was doubting my rig and hooks. So I cut the whole small Roach in half and not long after another bite.

This time it was more confident and it actually went under such was the speed of the bite which in my experience can only mean one thing.

Yeah a tiny schoolie....time to call an end to the session.

Tuesday 26 December 2017

Warwickshire Avon - Slacks and Sunrises

The short morning session was uneventful, the river well up and on the rise and with it being chocolate brown and a load of debris bombing down I knew it would be tough. True to form despite fishing the few available slacks with cheese paste to try and christen my new rod sadly no Chub were obliging.

The weather is on the turn also with possibly snow overnight, if that doesn't materialise then the rain will, and there looks like we well have a proper good amount too.

So looks like Canal Zander might be on the cards towards the end of the week, we'll see. There is an area I'd like to try that has become recently available that I reckon would make a nice sanctuary for a Big Zander.

Sometimes it's just nice being out though, the sunrise was cracking....

Sunday 24 December 2017

Warwickshire Avon - Chuff’s and Chimneys

A miser, penurious, stingy a niggardly, they are certainly not words to describe me this time of the year, apart from a few social and family events, catering for the welcoming receivers and fork clutchers, Bob the postie gets a bottle of wine, the bin men a token tot and a tip and the teachers a couple of stocking fillers.

Now Sam was on his best behaviour this week as after this Christmas Eve session in to dusk if he hadn’t Santa would bypass our chimney and move on to the next leaving him with nought, ok, maybe a bag of pork scratching and some tripe and onions.

Top of his Santa list for this year a “MASSIVE Nerf Gun” and second on the list, “A BIG Tackle Box”

The weather had picked up a little of late with temperatures during the day in to double figures and overnight also relatively mild so I didn’t have to scrape the windscreen and annoy the neighbours. So this session which was Sam’s first in to dusk trip out, well apart from the River Ise where as soon as the bats came out he legged it back to the comfort of his Mum’s rather comforting bosom. To be fair to him I’d have joined him if it wasn’t for the shoal of big Roach I’d spotted under an overhanging tree.

They don’t understand do they, non fisherman that is….

He wanted to feel the power of a Barbel so I hatched a plan “the best time Son is headed in to dusk”. Luckily here, we cannot stay much beyond that and to be fair in my experience as soon as the light goes the rod usually wraps over in celebration.

“Then Yeti’s start to come out Dad”

And we’d have to leave quick sharpish….

The water temperature is still pretty low but I've caught Barbel here in winter before so I'm sure they would be ready to dine and up for feeding. So two rods out prior to sun down, both running rigs, pva bags of freebies and a hair rigged big glugged Complex-T boilies. Simple and effective, sit back, avoid the Chub bangs and plucks and wait for the rod to properly go over. Best laid plans and all that.

Things didn't go to well to be honest....

To hedge my bets we had an hour in the weir and it proved to be a good decision, well to avoid a blank anyway as the small whole deadbait was picked up by a small Chub half hour in the session. The lure rod remained untouched.

So the move down to the Barbel area proved fruitless, not even a nibble come dusk and it was plainly obvious they were not feeding as usually it's like a switch down here come sun down.

Oh well at least it wasn't a blank.....

Merry Christmas to the fellow bloggers and readers !!!

Saturday 23 December 2017

Warwickshire Avon – Lobs and Loggerheads

The more I ingest tryptamine I enjoy its effects, maybe I’m more susceptible to it being a light sleeper. You see eating cheese before bed actually helps many people fall asleep. This is due to the relatively high tryptophan content in cheese, an amino acid involved in the production of melatonin which plays an important role in our sleep-wake cycle. As someone who administers it to the eldest who has it at bedtime because he doesn’t produce it, if you’re lacking in it, you will struggle to get off to sleep.

You see I had one of those lucid dreams again I really enjoy….

Yes I was back on the stilton again this time it provided a topping for a pork pie not a sliver of Paxton and Whitfield's finest sat on a cracker. It was washed down with some stupidly moreish Plantations pineapple rum and some dark salted caramel chocolate and it finished off a nice day out with the Wife before Christmas got in to full swing and the kid carnage ensued.

Food of the Gods I tell thee….

For this off the wall dream, one of those proper out of body experience jobbies.... I was living off-the-grid in a passive solar earth house in the middle of the Amazonian rain forest. Self-sufficient, water via a well, solar and wind power and all that jazz. I was living amongst nature, canoe for transport. A real step back from life in my own primitive time capsule which would transform one’s perspective on the world.

I was a fishing guide though once in a while, and for some reason I could get 4G so could communicate with the rest of the world when absolutely necessary.

Just how I'd like it....

Drifting down river, deep in the Amazon rainforest, as a guide, surrounded by a spectacular rainforest. Macaws squawking overhead, Toucans calling to each other from the treetops, rivers filled with rocks and boulders with ancient Indian petro-glyphic markings, roaring white water over cascades and waterfalls, sandy beaches, slow stretches with deep holes and shallow, inlets and streams, primary and secondary jungle with tall fruiting trees and with such an abundance of wildlife all around.

Rod bent with vampire fish, giant black piranha , freshwater sharks and cats, oh and the big Cats, they were huge.

I was loving it, till I woke....

January and 'reigning' it in cannot can some enough however, I've definitely got my winter coat on at the minute which to be honest always seems to happen in December when the excesses seem to start earlier and earlier each year. I only have to look at cheese these days to put on weight and shifting it seems to take longer too, a proverbial pain in the backside.

So anyway, back to the fishing....

It was tough going this time last week, the snow melt causing the river to rise significantly at the tail end of a cold snap was enough to put off even the most hardy of fish from feeding. I managed a nice Chub right at the end of a three hour session on cheese paste where bites were certainly at a premium at a usually very productive area for Chevin.

They were just not up for it….

The river was fining down nicely for this early dawn session though so in theory the fish should be feeling more comfortable being out in the open water as clarity would have improved for starters but also there was less of a chance being taken out by some disturbed debris headed downstream.

So a diet of rice and beans for them last week, it was out with the bush tucker….

I’d some lobworms and chunks of steak with me and would more or less cover the same ground as last week. So the intention was to fish the features, the creases the likely fish holding spots in a roving travel light fashion. I’d changed the tip to a 2oz jobbie for this session and also simplified the rig somewhat. Going from bottom to top at the business end, size 6 hook, float stop, link ledger and that’s it.

As someone yet to register any points on the bloggers scoreboard for Perch despite catching said species I was hoping maybe a decent Perch would be up for feeding too.

Steak I’d only be using for Chub the last couple of years and I’ve had some good results with it, you know it’s still on the hook for starters unlike breadflake but even in clear conditions put a big piece of steak in-front of old rubber lips. Usually the reaction is some of the most powerful Chub bites you’d ever see, they give it no mercy, they really are not shy round the meat buffet, and you’ll know about it.

I was confident in the chosen canapés however, in my back pocket some cheese paste if I was struggling, the after eights if you will.

The river had dropped considerably over the last week when I got bankside, most of the colour had dropped out of it too, so many of the swims I could see the bottom, no problem.

One of the swims I decided to put in some chopped worm before leaving it for half an hour or so before heading back and fishing a lobworm over it.

I caught pretty much straight away after switching to lobworms after the steak was ignored from two swims.

4 Chub landed over the session the biggest going 3lb 3oz's, not the biggest of chub from this stretch but I nice stamp of fish and they give a good pull and relatively light tackle.

Back the swim where I put some chopped work down within seconds of the bait reaching the bottom the 2oz tips was getting interest and eventually went round properly.

A welcome Perch for the blogger challenge board, a fish of 1lb 11oz.

The last swim I fished a lump of paste for twenty minutes under a raft with no interest whatsoever. Lobworms were doing it today, an enjoyable morning session especially with the friendly Robin keeping me company whilst he had a couple of worms to fill his stomach.

Monday 18 December 2017

Warwickshire Avon – Muffs and Monkeys

Ones extremities used to get cold very cold, despite trying all manner of clothing and footwear to try and help with managing the uncomfortable. Various, hats and ear muffs, socks and snow boots, gloves and base layers. I’ve probably got it sorted now though, my toes seemed to be the worst affected, but the Muck Boot, Arctic sports seemed to sort that problem out, so now I can stand in the snow or icey water without an issue

Highly recommended for those that suffer the same cold toes like I do. They have a fleece lining with a 5mm neoprene inner boot for ultimate warmth in harsh cold conditions. Stretch-fit top-line binding keeps the boots snug to your legs to keep cold air out and warm air in. EVA moulded sole for supreme comfort and also a 2mm thermal foam underlay for extra warmth.

Now talking of neoprene, invented by DuPont scientists in the 1930’s it’s main application is for demanding applications such as gaskets, hoses and weather strips where it resists degradation more than natural or synthetic rubber. It’s a cracking insulator though and another good purchase is some relatively thin neoprene gloves that once the body heat is in there, it doesn’t escape.

The hat, well when it’s below freezing, it’s out with the Trapper Hat, and I’ve a few now that I use, the Trakker jobbie being the warmest.

I was after a Chub for this session, you see I want to get the monkey off my back which is a Warwickshire Avon 5lber. I’ve caught countless 4 pounders now, probably in the hundreds I’d say, with one memorable session 5 4’s with two going 4lb 13oz’s. I need to cast my net wider that is the issue I would say and one particular area that is on my radar throws them up in some regularity.

I’m not ready to fish there yet though but I intend to over the Christmas break. You see to save a another blank I decided to fish a stretch that is very productive and an area that I’ve seen big Chub and caught them to near 5lb.

It’s feature filled you see and it is a matter of roving around with simple tactics and fish those swims that look chubby. Overhangs, undercuts, rafts, slacks that sort of thing.

Chub are about the only species that seems to feed whatever the conditions are and that’s one of the reasons why they are up there with my favourite fish to catch.

I love this time of year, crisp under foot, the reddest of sunrises, the plump friendly robins. The snow melt however had turned the water in to a turbid horrible looking dark green colour and the previous session banged right home just how off putting it was for the fish.

So simple tactics, my 1.2oz TFG River and Stream rod, a link ledger set-up with paste cage and some pungent cheese paste I made 4 years ago I keep on dibbing in to.

After 3 or 4 swims which are usually quite productive without even a nibble or any interest I decided to pre-bait a couple of swims with balls of paste let them settle for a little while and give half an hour in each before heading back to the diary makers.

So the last swim and 6th I’d tried I was looking at another blank but then with the bait positioned in an area of slack next to a crease the first bite in 3 hours came. The tip pulled round then sprung back and like many of the Chub bites sit tight and they will eventually pull it right round and picture perfect it did exactly that.

It felt a decent fish and with balanced tackle with the fish right in the flow, these fat winter Chub can give a really good fight. It looked a good fish when it surfaced to and not having caught one half decent for a long time I thought it could be heading to PB territory.

It was landed though and looked like it had properly been on the feed however it didn’t have the frame of a Warwickshire Avon Chub it was quite short so despite a big belly it weighed 4lb and 4oz.

A nice fish admittedly and having to handle it to weigh it, it felt like a block of ice. The water temperature when I measured it last week was 5 degrees, it would certainly be less than that for this session, maybe a degree less maybe.

That Monkey firmly clinging on, I need it off, I really do….

Saturday 16 December 2017

Warwickshire Avon – Terrorists and Troglodytes

“We went every Sunday to visit Shakespeare’s house," "I was not impressed and I saw that they were a society different from ours and that they were a morally loose society.” “I got the impression that they were a loose people, and my age didn’t allow me to form a complete picture of life there.”

That’s just one extract from a load of documents released by the CIA recently to come from the nutter and riled by the West, 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden.

So apparently Stratford-Upon-Avon could have influenced his view of the world and led him to commit his life to jihad.

He found it “Decadent” apparently.

Decadent, Decadent !!!

My backside….

As someone that has lived in the area for some time now, can someone please point me to the dancing girls (Kaz bar excused), the gin palaces and the seedy massage parlours.

Fine a hostelry after midnight, you'll be lucky....

Heck, maybe it’s now time to give Stratford Uponavon a makeover, forget 400 years of Shakespeare and all what goes with it, I and many are a little bored of all that now, let’s have a town built on debauchery and Dirty Black Russians, that’s Vodka, coffee liqueur and coke for those that want to make one.

So here is an idea, apart from turning the butterfly museum in to a cannabis factory. Clear the area around the Bancroft Basin of its painted human statues, magicians and wiggly worm sellers and have a One o’clock Gun similar to Edinburgh castle.

Forgot the firing of a boggo canon though, we need more of a show. Maybe re-instate one the trebuchets at Stratford Armouries, build a huge replica of Bin Ladens head (spitting image stylee) stuck on a plinth of bottled moonshine and take some inspiration from David Cronenberg’s film Scanners and give his head a proper good curtain faller via a flaming canon ball.

BOOM !!!!

A little like the chillies used in this curry I made myself last night....

For this session post snowpocalypse which is about the most excitement Stratford has had in years, 6” inches of the white stuff at my gaff, a proper dumping like we have not seen before, so much came down we even managed to build a snow man, yes really, I was off to an area home to hermits. You see, here, despite the river being well up is an area of solitude, an area that even when the river is turbid and turbulent, sanctuary can be found.

I’ve caught all manner of fish in this area so it was a case of double dipping, so deadbaits for Pike and Zander and then on the other rod meat.

When I got to the river I couldn't believe how high it was, the colour too, more coloured than I thought. It was up and over the banks, the staging under water but yeah, cannot catch anything without a bait in the water.

2 hours with only a few pings and small pulls on the meat rod and nothing on the deadbait I decided to move to an area that has also been good to me in the past. This time after two hours though there was even less interest, hmmm not good, the influx of rain and salty slow melt must have put them off.

A big fat blank....

I'm having to unleash the cheese paste I made 4 years ago....needs must.

Saturday 9 December 2017

Warwickshire Avon – Bloodbaths’ and Borborology

Sadly I was the instigator and the main protagonist in a morning of mass murder, a hundred or so lobworms executed in timely fashion were put to good use. With a canapé of pre sacrificed krilled maggots and an amuse-bouche of predator liquid, this offering to the Perch Gods was for them to hopefully hand over a couple of old’uns for ultimate salvation of the remaining party.

With the river clear as it is though this butchered and maimed limb concoction can switch a baron swim in to a fish filled one. I didn’t have much time for this session either before having to return to the family shackles, so it was a matter of getting a few swims prepped with a dropper full, leaving for a while then laying a bait over the crime scene awaiting the forensics to turn up to cordoned off the swim with their yellow tape.

I needed a decent Perch for the bloggers challenge you see, and despite catching quite a few stripy’s up till now, none were worthy of note and to be honest would look a little out of place on the scoreboard where some decent specimens are being banked.

This area of the Warwickshire Avon is very much untapped for me, for others not so, which for predators in particular it can throw up some cracking fish.

The problem is livebaits are more choice for catching Perch but here the pike are in such numbers so suspend a bleak under a big float the schoolboy Jacks would bully the smaller species out the way so I felt a lobworm would be a little more selective.

I also wanted to give the deeper a go down here just to see what depth was around and to also see if I could find any holes or features where Zander could be hiding out where I’ve suspicions that if there were any here they could be good’uns and another in to dark session was in order to try and bank one.

As a fellow no longer blogging but one time blogger said to me once,

“There are some F’ing massive Perch to be had there mate”

For a profanity like that to be used, I can confirm they were big, I'd seen the pictures.

So for this few hour'er a simple link ledger set-up with a big lob over the slaughterhouse, what could go wrong.

Well to be honest, quite a bit....

It was cold, very cold for starters with the water temperature 5 degrees and clear skies, that can certainly put the fish off, so 4 swims fed, no bites from either it was the matter of searching around with the deeper for future sessions.

I found one area around 100ft wide which was a lot deeper than the rest, in-fact around the depth I usually find some decent Zander, 12ft and more seems to be the sweet spot and this was bang on the money. An hour here with a deadbait I got a few tentative enquires but nothing properly took it.

I'd maybe try and fish a live bait here but again the small fish were suspicious in their absence.

Not a wasted trip by all means, but a big fat blank....

Saturday 2 December 2017

Lower Itchen Fishery – Flimflam and Floozy’s

The Monday at work my mind was elsewhere, you see the working week was to be cut short and at the end of the week, I’d be fishing one of England’s premier chalk streams available on a day ticket.

Post concept alias surfaces I needed to get a lengthy report out for a client so the headphones were donned and some Psybient mixes stacked up, Luciano Vizentin’s Dance with the Wolves really gave the ear drums a work out as did the more laid back BLOND:ISH mix from the 2017 Burning Man Festival , the low frequencies particularly pleasing, the correct number of BPM's too. Heck I even stuck it out for a whole mix from Solomun from The Old Port in Ibiza.

Dance music really does concentrate one’s mind to keep it on track, the tinnitus just about averted. Memories flooding back to the end of my 10 years of partying, the canal club in Wolverhampton and Code in Brum, dancing on speakers, away with fairies, beats just how I like them.

The hours pass quickly, the crosses ticked….well, the feasibility boxes filled mostly amber and red.

The end in sight….

My last trip down to the Lower Itchen Fishery in Southampton I felt a little cheated, not only did I fail to beat my Grayling PB but I didn’t really catch anything of note. Ok, the fishing was as prolific as ever with huge quantities of fish that reside in some of the swims a sight to behold, but it just didn’t stir one’s loins like the first trip down did.

Certainly no Harry and Markle sparkle that’s for sure….

One of the feeder streams
It didn’t help I suppose that Simon’s life is often dictated by work, even when he is meant to be on holiday, so fishing related chat, down and back was often broken up with the Champion partaking in a conference call from afar with all the flimflam terminology and acronyms that goes with the business consulting territory that apparently he specialises in.

Waffle to the layman and heathen like me….

Luckily Danny was with me for this trip down and like me he had plans that he had intended to stick to, for me it was before lunch fish the the upper part of the stretch and concentrate on a couple of swims that have Grayling in abundance and then after some much needed sustenance of fried onion and Lashfords Pork finest, more salmonidae and anything that would come along.

Main bait for catching the manic wriggler, well a couple or three tins of Green Giant and a pint of red maggots. Now sweetcorn passes through a Grayling like it does me and thee, I assume it's a bait that is mistaken for salmon eggs maybe, but it certainly did the trick when I've been to the Itchen before, as it seemed to land the better stamp of fish over the maggot.

A worthless foodstuff maybe, but boy, does it work....

Eventually or if I got bored, with a couple or so hours before dusk, I'd head down to the deeper lower swims with glides and holes and fish a little differently.

So it was down with the sweetcorn and it was out with the Warburtons Blue.

The bread would be fished liquidised in a feeder with a nice folded piece of punched piece on the hook to try and attempt something special that this fishery holds. Roach, Dace, Chub, yeap, any of those would be most welcome as any caught of size could well rival or better my mediocre PB’s.

A sight tip was fitted as I planned to finish off in the weir pool in to dusk to end the session and retire to the pub for a bit of fodder and a post Itchen catch-up. Rod, well the ever faithful, TFG 1.2TC River and Stream that is probably my favourite rod out of my ever increasing arsenal.

I felt that I went on the rove far too early when I was really enjoying myself in a couple of the swims bagging up on Grayling. If I had stuck it out in those the bigger fish would eventually turn up and a PB beater would have been mine. I’d managed an best equaling 1lb 8oz fish which was nice but still quite a bit away from the fish that are said to frequent this picturesque chalk stream. I needed to give them a proper go this time and fish through the plebeians.

My trotting set-up couldn’t be simpler, rod, a 14ft Drennan Acolyte plus, centre-pin (JW Young Aerodex 2900) loaded with 4lb line, a large Righyni float (Grayling Society ) a couple of BB’s to get the bait down quick to hopefully the bigger fish and a Guru QM1 hook which I found to be brilliant for hook-ups and ease of removal.It's such a light set-up that despite chucking the float out countless times and letting the rod tip do the work it never feels tiresome.

They are bold biters these Grayling and I found the self cocking and weighted float to be ideal as the fish would often hook themselves without needing a strike.

Corn on the hook with caster nearing red maggots and corn as feed, little and often worked well last time….

Much planning I’m sure you’d agree….but it’s how I go about my sessions.

Well, enough of that, how did it go....?

Well a bit of a mixed big really, it was cold very cold and only 3 of us on the whole stretch, still plenty of fish were banked, grayling, trout and more trout, the biggest grayling went 1.6oz so the big ones didn't show for me despite giving them a good go. Enjoyable trotting through especially with the flow making a small fish in to a bigger one.

After lunch I decided to head down the coarse stretch but despite fishing bread only game fish were caught, I wouldn't say I was tired of trout as they give a good scrap but a decent chub, roach and dace would have been nice.

Danny who had been feeder fishing most of the day had a lovely fat chub at last knockings to end an overall and enjoyable day. Door to door in less that 2 hours so not a bad drive either.

The Salmon seemed a lot more active for this trip too, a couple of big'uns spotted in the margins and lots of existing from the water in many swims.
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