Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Monday 31 December 2018

The River Leam – Cut-Shots and Cobble Colters

Not far off the percentage of a bottle of ruby port this Italian Amarone was paired with the dry aged beef we had for Christmas Day, and wow it really packed a decent a punch. A Rich and intense nose, plum, baked dark fruit, dried herbs, rich cherry, and cocoa aromas

But then like a lot of decent quality wines the intensity gets even more prevalent as it followed in ones mouth, with concentrated plum, chocolate, with an exciting amount of acidity.

As the wine opened it developed more savouriness on the nose and the plum flavours evolved on ones already alcohol laced palate.

Luckily for me as it’s aged on oak barrels the Wife wasn’t keen, so yeap, I polished the lot off.

The beef we had was probably 35 or 40 days old and what a lump of meat it was, it needed a heavy hitter to go with it.

Now within the butcher’s ager Simmonds of Henley-in-Arden the moisture evaporates from the meat and the exterior forms a crust of enzymes that tenderises and increases the need for trimming.

This loss of moisture does not mean your finished product is dry, instead the aging and drying intensified the ‘meatiness’ of the cut and allowed the marbling or fat to really pack a punch for flavour.

Basically the loss of moisture concentrates the meat flavour, the longer the ageing, a little like reducing a sauce I suppose, the more concentrated it becomes. What it also does give you though, is some of the loveliest tasting beef fat you are ever likely to eat.

In-fact the Wife an avid meat water and purveyor of good things, said it was probably the "best bit of beef" she'd ever had the pleasure of eating, and believe you me, those sort of comments are not to be taken lightly she's a hard women to please, then again, ain't they all.

Ok this sort of food is probably not ideal for one’s waistline but come on give me a little slack, dry January will sort that out I’m sure, sweet, great texture and yeap, meaty, very meaty.

The problem with food and drink this rich is it can leave you feeling a little lethargic as the body is wondering what the heck is going on as it tries to deal with a massive roast dinner with all the trimmings and then followed by a salted caramel pudding that was laced with thick brandy cream. Port, stilton, pork pie you name it.

Fit to burst basically, the sofa couldn’t come soon enough….

Now talking about fit to burst the big Chevin and Roach reputed to be in residence of this stretch of the small  River Leam has been written about in all manner of media.

Ok, most from years gone by, but a friend who lives down this neck of the woods despite not being a fisherman, has told me about the big fish he spots down here in the same area during the summer.

So having given permission to fish it, well to try it out basically by the farmer, before possibly adding it to the syndicate waters that George Burton has been instrumental in setting up, could WE winkle anything out of note, you see George was fishing this morning as well. There was an issue though, the permission would end the 31st of December and up and till recently, and there ain’t been much water in it.

Lack of rain, extraction, who knows but feedback from the like-minded that had frequented the stretch it was largely unfishable for much of the window we had for scoping it out.

So some much needed fresh air and some roving to try and gets ones digestive system back on the straight and narrow again sounded just the ticket. Simple tactics, my ever faithful TFG River and Stream quiver rod, liquidised bread as feed and fish the likely looking Chub swims. Hookbait was lobworm and bread flake and zilch else.

I love this small water fishing, especially in venues new, however I had fished the Leam a few times before, maybe 4 or 5 sessions, but the results had been poor to mediocre so I wasn’t expecting much to be fair, just a bend in the rod would do.

So the session, how did it go ?

Well to be fait, not a bad reccy, I didn't stay in swims that long having wanted to cover the whole stretch and also I only had a few hours to which didn't help.A Chub the first cast was encouraging and in-fact that swim produced another 3 chub before the session end, not huge fish, the biggest around 3lb but for such a small waterway with clear conditions and shallow I was happy.

I made my way downstream and fish pegs on the way alternating between bread and worm and to be fair most swims produced some knocks and bangs and also some small perch.

I gave the last swim on the stretch a good while without a bite so headed back downstream where I had a chat with George who was settled in a tasty looking swim.

As we were talking about the stretch and that it would make a nice winter venue he had a cracking bite on his new rod. The fish carted here and there and when it surfaces it turned out to be a Dace, a good stamp too, possibly a PB, now this is getting even more encouraging. He added a few more and also a couple of chublets if I recall so we both thought if the deal was there on the table it will be a nice water to have.

So so much character and the type of water I prefer to fish, I'm not that interested in record breakers but more where I fish these days, peace, solitude and on my terms.

Anyway Happy New Year to the blog readers !!!! the most I've ever fished this year, long may it continue, as I'm enjoying it more than ever and my wellbeing is improved because of it.

Saturday 29 December 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Kumquats and Knowledge Boxes

I was amazed when perusing through a book of old I’d stumbled in a picture of what was buried at the back of a Chevins big gob. The size of the pharyngeal teeth a chub processes. I’d heard about them for sure, but seeing them in black and white so to speak, I now understand why a bit of sour fruit dropped from a tree in to the river wouldn’t satisfy a fish with this make-up.

They certainly ain’t Vegan that’s put it that way….

One of the most read post on my blog is this one, where I’d used whitebait quite successfully to catch Chub and having caught quite a few chub on big deadbaits over the course of this blog, basically I’ve come to the conclusions, they are greedy b’stards and the fishy equivalent of a insinkerator (other makes also available).

Let’s just say a kumquat won’t quite cut it !!!!

Now Pharyngeal teeth are teeth in the pharyngeal arch of the throat of cyprinids, suckers, and a number of other fish species otherwise lacking teeth.

Many popular aquarium fish such as goldfish and loaches have these structures, and clown loaches which I’ve a couple in my tank at home are known to make distinctive clicking sounds when they grind their pharyngeal teeth.

So when you’re next removing the hook from a big chevin, please remember what’s down there, It will certainly make me think twice using ones hand for a hook that’s gone down a bit deeper than the norm.

Lets just say don't do a Keith Jobling !!!!

What I didn’t think twice about though was for this morning’s Chub and Zander session down at a new section of the Warwickshire Avon I’d not fished before was, was what bait to use.

Cheesepaste for the Chub and a Roach deadbait for the Zeds…..

It’s a little deeper here than the norm you see, so the pungent paste is a little easier for the fish to find. I like using half decent sized baits as well for extra visual attraction, but not only that they’ve big mouth. I’ve invariably found by looking at my blog that if there is a Chub around, they are usually forthcoming in putting a bend in the quiver for this hookbait than others such as breadflake or lobworms when fished on the same session, they’ve a palate for mould, that’s for sure.

Zander well, smelt and roach are my usual approach, but with slightly larger roach baits in ones freezer that I could do with using, the decision was made for me.

Now I wanted to explore this section for both species because I don’t think any of the syndicate had ventured down this far, it’s quite a trek for starters but it just looked a feature laden stretch on Google earth and by chance I realised I’d fished more or less opposite it. I know for a fact decent Chub and rod bending Zander were in the area, so maybe some larger fish that were enjoying their relative security and sanctuary were holding up waiting for a meal to come their way.

To travel light and leapfrog likely looking holding swims was the order of the day, the approach that I seem to do more and more these days, because as someone who as I’ve said before I get off on solitude to keep me sane and I need to maintain a half decent level of activity to keep my sciatica in check.

Chub are not stupid though, they are the most cautious of fish and they use their brain more than most other fish I find, but for some reason cheesepaste gets through their defences like a newly opened bottle of port does mine. They seemingly lose their inhibitions readily which when you’ve only a few hours to fish, it’s one of those baits that surely must be in every Chevin fishers bait fridge.

I use a bait cage on a short hair in the main because if Mr rubber-lips manages to strip the main bit of paste off, at least you know there is still some contained within the cage itself.

Now this would be one of two sessions I had planned down this area for this Christmas break and I was hoping it would give me an indication on how to approach the subsequent one.

So forget the pre-written preamble, how did it go….?

Well to be honest, very tough indeed. There was a metre of clarity for a start which for Zander certainly isn't ideal conditions but I persevered by leap frogging some swims that I'd prebaited with a few bits of cheesepaste when I went by. I had one dropped take on the deadbait a couple of hours in to the session but there wasn't much doing down at this forgotten area of the Avon. The swims bedraggled, the bare trees plenty of character.

I was looking at a blank on the cards till I spotted a nice oxygenated bit of water in a relatively pedestrian stretch and decided to swap to a float and suspend a deadbait under it. Within minutes I had the first run which for a relatively novice pike angler gets the adrenaline running like a Zander float starting to move does. The float went straight under and carried on its way, I applied resistance and the single hook took hold.

It gave a spirited fight but was soon in the net. Pike are funny things, a deadbait could have sat there all day probably dangle something enticingly under their face they've no choice but to take it. Not a huge fish but a blank saver for sure. Another roach on it didn't take long for another bite, this slightly smaller with an old wound on it's flanks. So a blank on the cards to two pike quite quick I was starting to enjoy it now. Again another bait out, the float drifting from right to left and again the float goes under.

This time though I was a little premature and the fish despite being on for a while, managed to lose the hook or  it dropped the bait.

To be fair it felt smaller than the other two. Sadly it was no time to go but certainly for a Pike, a nice hotspot it seems and just goes to show what a change in presentation can do. Chub oddly didn't show at all, certainly an area that justifies spending more time at, I'm sure there are some superb fish to be had.

Another session planned for tomorrow, that's 4 in as many days !!!!

Friday 28 December 2018

The Tiny River Alne - Bunbury's and Bassheads

These Skullcandy Crusher headphones the Wife bought me for Christmas are utterly ridiculous for anyone but the low frequency lover. Now as someone who has been party to a few patents thumbs up to their offering, you see their patented crusher technology features powerful bass drivers in each ear cup and these custom drivers deliver vibrations in response to low end frequencies from your audio.

Basically the drivers creates an immersive experience that lets you not only hear your content, but actually feel it.

Yeah yeah yeah, but My God for the basshead like me, they need to be heard to be appreciated. Even I a past tinnitus sufferer because of my mad clubbing days was back reliving some of my great memories of days gone by, watching some great DJ's.

These are certainly not for the audiophile but they are not marketed for that market, they are meant for those like me that get off on the 'feel' of the music and the haptic feedback of these are just incredible.

Even I cannot have the adjuster slider dial up to max, three-quarters is just fine, and believe you me it's like being stood back on the speakers at Baker's with Scott Bond back on the decks.

Weird isn't it, I seek solitude whenever possible and yet can also zone out with loud repetitive beats.

Now talk about repetitive, I was back down the Alne again, I had a small window of opportunity to fish again and this stretch of the river is the closest to me more or less.

In around 5 minutes I can be bankside so gives me more time to have a bait in the water. The last session was a blank, a river on the rise and not far to being over its banks I couldn't believe after looking at the online river levels just how much it had dropped in a couple of days, back to being a shallow river in the main.

It's a feature laden bit of river though, perfect for roving which is how I approached this session. Travel light walk to the end of the stretch whilst baiting a few swims with liquidised bread on the way.

I really want a decent Roach from here but it seems dominated by Chub and more chub. Nothing wrong with that as I love catching a chunky chevin like many anglers do, but I'm sure there are some big red fins in the stretch I'm sure of it.

Hookbait was breadflake and because the fish are not pressured 5lb main line straight through to a size 12 hook, with a float stop and simple running bead to hold a link with a single SSG.

You'd have thought the fish would get a little peed off with the habitat changing like it can do, but no there are still some decent fish to be had.

And wow, what a great session, nearly a fish from every swim, a 9 fish tally with the best fish going 3lb or a little more. Ok not massive fish for sure but for me it's about the location as well, not just potential to catch a personal best.

I only had 3 hours but with these small rivers if you haven't a bite in around 10 minutes from a swim I've found it is best to move on. The average stamp seems to be around a pound and a bit to two pounds so enough to give a good snag hunting scrap for a decent bend in the rod.

Shame no Roach were caught but I'm sure I just need to stumble on some in the right conditions, I might give it a rest for a while now and fish it in colder conditions that should be a little more favourable.

Certainly an enjoyable session though and after the Zander session yesterday, can it get any better ? next session if all goes to plan is a Chub and Zander session down at the lower reaches of the WBAS stretch. On a roll ? could well be, really enjoying the roving though, the much needed exercise an office worker seeks but it's nice sometimes just to catch a few fish.

Thursday 27 December 2018

‘Not quite the’ Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.103 – Bum-Bailiffs and Braggarts

Ones purple patch in 2016 where 4 fish over 7lb were caught in a short window feels like a distance memory. It culminated in a fish which remains my canal PB of 9lb exactly which went 74cm on the tape if I recall. I used to weigh and measure them you see to create a length to weight chart which is my second most read post. To be honest I really cannot wait for the closed season again, hence this short session this morning.

I’ve not only grown to love the Zander as a species but I also want to continue on the quest for a cut double. There is one particular area that deserves some more time than I gave it in the last closed season and that was the stretch I refer to as the Laryngeal Prominence and Tefal Head.

The numbers are down for sure, the bites not as prolific, but if there is a big Zander to be caught in the areas I fish it will be here. There is another area that someone that put me on to that I’ve not fished yet, but again, you can see why there could well be big fish to be caught such its locality.

I was a little downhearted at the conclusion of session 99, as the lair of the giant Zander was discovered and having caught nothing of note for many many sessions to stumble on a deep area by chance that got me catching fish over 5lb again.

The double didn’t materialise though, the slight glimmer of hope kyboshed once more….

No need to hold this one out to the camera Mick, another canal proper'un !!!!
I felt I was back to square one and questioned the whole quest altogether, I was ready to start a new challenge and close the chapter on this one as a failure and never revisit the book again. 

But then looking back at some old pictures the other day like this one to the right.

I’d caught some half decent fish and not far off three years ago since they graced ones net, and I’ve wondered if they are still milling around in these turbid waters, just how big they would be now.

Yeap, you’ll be pleased to know I’m sticking at it….

Now this session then was up at the Tefal head which produced a right little fatty as pictured in my blogs header which went 8lb 10oz’s on the scales. A really proud fish that came just as I least expected it, but it put this area on the map as a hotspot and I’ve fished it ever since. And that’s the issue, catch it in one swim you could camp out day and night and probably wouldn’t catch it again.

But there are certainly holding areas that do deserve more time dedicated to them, but in one particular quite recognisable area where a double was caught a couple of times and received social media publicity from more than one source, the area hasn’t been the same since.

Many want quick success these days you see and the area has been fished, fished even more, and fished again.

The issue is the Facebook, YouTube and Instagram stranglehold and the ever increasing need to please. Luckily I’ve managed to stay away from it all and I’m not likely to jump on the bandwagon anytime soon, ok, tell a lie I’ve fished it a few times in the past without much to write about.

My blog is a diary, that’s it, no pressure, no trolls and as Dan mentioned on our recent trip down to Southampton you've 100% control over it unlike many of the other platforms where there appears a need for confrontation and a need for bickering, no bailiffs on my back, I just like to get on with it,

Now I could easily get someone in work to Photoshop not only my grey hairs and one’s beer belly out, but to also turn a 4lb Zander in to a 10lber to bring to the quest to a conclusion. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself however so I’ll keep sticking at it and I’m sure it will eventually turn up.

So for Pt.103 away from the masses up at the Tefal Head it was out with the two deadbait rods and I planned to leapfrog swims, which is how I approach canal Zed sessions these days. 

Usually if there is fish holding up they can be tempted if you put a bait on their noggin and if you’re biteless in fifteen or twenty minutes it’s time to move on. I fish turbid water in the main so fishing in to dusk and beyond isn’t really required, but then maybe I am missing a trick, something I intend to do more of in the closed season, why not, nothing to lose I suppose.

So the session, wow !!! they were properly on it. I only had a couple of hours and got their at first light, I could hardly see the floats but within 5 or 10 minutes I had the first run and couldn't keep the baits in the water long enough. Six fish caught all from the same swim with a few lost, I even had 3 fish in the net as once, such was the feeding spell.

When they are on the feed like that, it really is something else, and needs to be seen to be believed.

Then the swim went dead so I headed down to a section of cover that usually produces fish but after leapfrogging a stretch of about 200 yards and the clock on the countdown I headed up to a stretch maybe 60 or 70 yards from the first and within 10 minutes again, the fist run came, this from a fish that took the float under completely.

Again multiple runs with another 4 fish banked quite quickly, so ten altogether in less than half an hour of swim time.

I upped the bait size to a whole roach to try and attract something bigger, but again runs came but the fish were not the biggest so they were on and then they were off, then my alarm went off mid run and I had to head home for a family visit, yeap the stranglehold of the diary makers, and luckily they were punctual as usual not, I could have had another hours, damn !!!!

Not the biggest of fish granted, the biggest a scraper 4lber but I love when you stumble on a feeding shoal, something to behold.

What is encouraging though is that the average schoolie stamp is starting to get bigger, and I'd largely discounted this area because I was having quite a few blank sessions to leave me thinking if they'd be electrofished again or moved on to find food.

I'm looking forward to the closed season now, I've missed fishing for Zander. 

Wednesday 26 December 2018

Small Brook Fishing Pt.5 – Silver Darts and Schism Shops

The last trip out down this vital vein of a small Warwickshire tributary, little Sam perfected his aptly named ‘bottom bite’ technique. You see, feeling the cold as he does, he discovered that he could sit on the butt of the rod, keep his longers and lingers in his pockets and ‘feel’ the bite develop through his derriere.

Now Santa wanted Sam to have his own quiver rod so under the Christmas tree Sam had discovered that despite post brandy and mince pie consumption, he’d left not only a Rhino Fire Nerf gun he desperately wanted, but unassuming and tucked out the way , a 5ft 5” Advanta Discovery RVS River Ambush Rod. This little rod with its matt finish on a stupidly thin 30T carbon blank was fitted with a soft and sensitive hi-viz tip.

Ideal for close quarter fishing in side streams and little eddies, and looked just the ticket to tackle the little brook we’d discovered on our travels.

I might even buy one for myself, what a cracking little rod….

So with a bit of mild weather enough for Sam to be comfortable, we’d headed out to the little stream for the inaugural outing of the rod and to hopefully try and catch one of the good dace that reside here.

What amazed me about this location was not only was the dace of a good size but bites were plentiful despite only really concentrating on one particular holding area.

Dace and Roach often thrive on neglected waterways and this little ditch is ideal to hold a few big fish in its small waters.

Stick it out in the main river, or find some sanctuary and solitude away from the madding crowd, the plundering cormorant the rumbustious otter, I know where I would choose. To me the next generation of anglers should be brought up on this sort of water, it gives a good grounding for starters, but not only that, waters like this is where it all started for me.

Ok, I could take him to tunnel barn to catch a ten a penny lipless F1 for a guaranteed bite, but how is that exciting ? wading through overgrown pastures, battling through fallen trees to a stream you can more or less jump over that just so happens to contain wild spotties, bullheads, roach and some overly big dace.

Heck I bet there are even more surprises to be had and the rewards are there for the novice that no commercial pole slapping water could ever hope of matching.

The rod was fitted with a simple link ledger, a little liquidised bread as feed with a fine wire hook capable to accept a couple of red maggots or a small bit of flake.

So with ‘bottom bite’ enabled, was there a tremble or an earthquake….?

Well to be honest it was a quick session because he wanted to get back and play with his drone Santa kindly put in his stocking, but we did indeed get some bites, dace mainly and a bold biting roach that some reason he didn't hook up to, but Sam had his first bullhead which he was amazed at and and also a tiny trout.

Considering it was resembling a dirty ditch which I suppose it really is, he caught some fish. 

The little rod worked well also and the slightest tremble on the tip could be seen for the most welcome millers thumb.

What he also wanted to try though was his new trapper hat the hot hands pocket warmers which, ok wasn't cold out, well for me anyway, it kept him from moaning like he does, because even when wearing gloves he struggles with the cold.

His verdict, "wohoooahhhhhh these are lovely"

Monday 24 December 2018

The Tiny River Alne – Gold Droppers and Gormagunts

This monster is larger than an Elephant, of a very uncommon shape, having three heads, eight Legs, three fundaments, two male members, and one female pudendum on the Rump. It is of various colours, very beautiful, and makes a noise like the conjunction of two or three Voices. It is held unlawful to kill it, and is said to live to a great Age.

The Canadians could not give it a Name, ‘till a very old Indian Sachem said, He remembered to have seen one when he was a boy, and his Father called it a “GORMAGUNT.”

Ok there may not be any Gormagunts in residence here but all I know is, with water with this clarity, there could be anything lurking within its depths, you see, ok the summer months in some of the shallower stretches you could spot fish, but there are swims especially downstream that have depths unknown.

In-fact one particular swim when fishing with Sam the tangleator I gave up moving the float up to get dead depth, it really was far deeper than I’d imagine it would be for such a small river.

So for this morning session I planned to fish some of the lower reaches of the club waters to try and winkle out something from the deeper pegs that exist here.

There is cover aplenty as well, so Chub were my first thought, but then I’d caught a nice conditioned roach in a swim with a nice glide that to be honest deserved a float rather than a link ledger. Not only that but at first light I'd seen them topping as well.

The trotting swims are few and far between though such the meandering of the waterway, and as I like to travel as light as I can I didn’t really want to take a float rod as well as the light quiver set-up.

Roach and Dace were my target for this session and not having targeted them properly for a long time, I fancied some further swim searching to try and locate them. The river ain’t that big, jumpable in places and my concern was if I ditched the light link ledger and I trotted instead that on the retrieve of the float after a run through it may well scare the fish off, if there were any there.

Errrrrr but then thrown in to the mix was the recent trip to the Lower Itchen where I’d spotted some huge Roach keeping themselves out of harm’s way. Footfall, head torches, talking, farting you name it, even a trout swim bugger’upperer the Roach were still there to be seen with their fins sticking up at me.

Yeap, despite changing to a more lighter set-up, none of these wonderful fish graced my net. To be honest unlike the shy as anything Chevin I don’t this these big Roach were that bothered about the disturbance, well I know there weren’t.

This river apart from the odd maggot dangling knock-up it’s relatively lightly fished, so maybe rather than fish like I would for Chub, a superglued pound coin on the deck to try and attract a headturner. So to cover as much water as I could, trotting a float would be the better option. The fish may well be localised such the biosmass so unless I put a bait on their heads I’d been scratching one’s head again.

Bait, well I had thought about maggots as first, but then I’d a session planned down at the little brook with Sam with those, so bread was the obvious choice.

What fish doesn’t like bread? So at least if the roach were not forthcoming, maybe a dace or chub would be. If you think about it, these fish are used to picking up whatever comes there way rather than a finger buffet being left on the table. The only problem is the pace of the water can vary quite a bit from shallow fast riffles to long glides and slacks over a short distance, so for some situations maybe a light link ledger bouncing around the swim was the best way to go.

But Mick, that's how you've tackled it before for mediocre results, so stick with the float set-up and overthinking things !!!!

Only one way to find out if there was method on ones madness !!!!

Now my 14ft Acolyte was probably overkill and cumbersome so I dug out my Korum 12ft float rod, as I’d damaged it in the past, it was now more like 11ft but still had a nice tippy top despite the decapitation. So a small piece of flake on the hook, a little liquidised bread as feed and rather than just a trot or two down, I’d spend a little more time in each likely looking swim rather giving up the ghost and leaving not long after I'd turned up if I remained biteless.

Lots to experiment with as well, holding back, laying on and the first half I'd bulk the shot quite a way up the line and fish a slow sinking bit of flake.

Then best laid plans and all that because errrrrrr the river had risen overnight to almost over it's bank levels, not sure where all that had come from either as there wasn't that much rain.

So I had to resort to plan B, use the quiver rod to try and find some slacks. I had some lobworms though which when the river is in flood is one of the best baits to use.

If you think about it, apart from the fish trying to avoid being knocked on the bonce with some debris washing down at least they will likely have a disturbed lob or two coming their way.

So I found some slacks and fished each one for a good 15 or 20 minutes, the odd nibble here and there and a sharp twang in one swim, but nothing that materialised in to a proper bite.

The amount of rubbish piling down was a sight to behold, but at least it would have given the river a bit of a flush through. So a blank session then, but enjoyable all the same, the weather was kind if the fishing wasn't.

The following day looked by far the better option as it dropped like a stone overnight, but then that's small river fishing for you, it goes with the territory. Will I get out here again, before the year end, probably not to be honest as I've a plenty of other fishing sessions planned to keep one occupied.
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