Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Saints and Snowflakes

I wonder if a friends ears have been burning, a Siberian weather front was headed our way, ‘The Beast from the East’ about to hit so hard I might even have to wear some thicker socks and maybe even a long sleeve shirt for work such the predicted temperature drop.

I was fully expecting to wake up to 8 inches of snow if I believed the headline makers and scaremongers were to be believed so I cobbled a few bits and pieces together to try for a last gasp Chevin attempt before the apocalypse hit big time and I’d be wondering about the session that never was. A few snowflakes in the air, Mick you must be mad.

To be honest, I'm not disagreeing with that theory....

‘The Beast of La Plagne’ was a nickname given to a female encounter or incidence for some reason he’d rather forget from a snowboarding trip back in the day, one New Year’s Eve on the stroke of midnight, beds broken in the kerfuffle, inhibitions lost, something that unfortunately he couldn’t sweep under the carpet, especially when she turned up when he’d least expect it throughout the remainder of the trip.

He came clean eventually to detail exactly what went on that night whilst Arthttttthhhhur and I were watching the fireworks on the slopes he and ‘she’ were having some of their own. I’ll brush over the sordid details, this is a family blog don’t you know.

With the Avon now at low winters levels with the colour all but dropped out any decent Chub that could be tempted would likely to happen headed in to dusk. I like these quick after work sessions though, just the ticket especially when largely I have the banks to myself the majority of the time. Then again the wind chill was admittedly brass monkeys, so maybe I’m the stupid one.

So two rods, one with the usual cheese paste the other a whitebait that I’d used successfully in the past for Chub maybe it was the edge I needed down this of the woods where come dusk it really does switch on. Chub would eat the grundies of a tramp though such their appetite but for me as an angler I’m intrigued to find out what else I could pick-up using something they’d not likely seen before.

The air temperature was set to drop even further during this week but the water should be sufficient for the Chub to feed before even they might settle in to semi-hibernation and only feed in small spells. Out of all the fish species though they need their fix more than any other, so if there was a chance of catching anything in the coldest of winters a Chub would be a good fish to put your chip on.

Ok maybe I could have abandoned the session altogether but with only a couple of weeks before the season close, I was hoping for one last hurrah before the canals beckoned and another winter gone without the capture of a 5lber to add to the relative mediocre season I’ve had where the two PB’s beaten was for a dace one which to be honest wasn’t a huge target anyway, as I don’t fish for them that often as other species have captured more of my attention.

The other I managed to up my Pike PB to 11lb 8oz, which again, I don’t fish for them that often, more often than not they are picked up when targeting Zander.

With the water temperature now 4.3 degrees, yes really, so a degree drop from Sunday, the day before I was fulling expecting a blank. The first bite came pretty quick though, the left hand rod that was on the inside line next to some cover had some interest. Eventually the tip bent round and continued going, I struck in to the fish and it was on. At first I thought it was a decent chub but then it surfaced and it was a scrappy little jack.

So with the swim messed up a little, back went on a piece of whitebait. The wind was picking up, the air getting colder the wind chill factor up a notch, heck maybe the forecasters are on to something here. Forty-five minutes passed without an indications and then again the whitebait rod starts to go and another fish is on. This time I knew it was a Pike straight away, it gave a good account for itself and was nice to see the fight in clear water on light tackle. Both not managing to get through the 5lb florocarbon.

Quickly landed and returned I swapped both rods to cheesepaste in the next swim down, I'd had strict time keeping requirements for this session and despite giving it another half an hour it was time to head back. The landing net by this time rock solid and stuck to the ground, cold very cold indeed. Bitter was exactly the word for it.

When temperatures on the fall once more I'm expecting the water temperature to fall even further, if I do get out, I haven't a clue what to target, it's a tough one heading in to the closed season that's for sure.As they are cold blooded so food doesn't really have an effect on their body temperatures would go really be doing much if you were not much more than 4 degrees, I doubt very much.

A dry sprinkling of snow overnight without the need to scrape the windscreen apparently we might see more a covering today, we'll see.Maybe the deeper up at the deep bit to find the shoaled up fish is worth a shot, deadbaits over the top to see if anything is lying in wait. Or I might just stay in bed.

Sunday 25 February 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Whims and Wondermongers

After stupidly thinking a recent National Curry Award would equal something a little special than the norm (Millennium Balti btw) myself and curry connoisseur Phippo left disappointed with an ok'ish starter, an overly sweet flavourless curry, sloppy under cooked naan and forgettable mediocrity I needed something to raise the spirits.

To be honest you can usually tell what it's going to be like when 2 completely different main courses ordered that turned up with exactly the same colour. The place was busy the other curry houses we passed dead, you can see why apparently half of curry houses will close in ten years if that's the best Leamington can muster up. Luckily the couple of proper pubs we visited served up a decent pint.

This little brook was calling me to fish over the weekend, I had maggots and lots of them, fresh too, and the little wand rod, a recent purchase, was a joy to use, a revelation to be honest’ I’m surprised I’d not added one to my armoury earlier, and I needed to use it again. But an 8oz dace is unlikely to put a proper bend in the rod, neither would a 3 inch bullhead.

Now, it is a popular fallacy that practical fishing is worth more than all the book learning one may acquire. I find that one learns either by one’s only mistakes or by the mistakes of others. The former is a lengthy process, and it is much better to gain knowledge from the accumulated experience of anglers who have learned their subject the hard way.

But what is successful angling ? For many it is hard to define. Certainly it is sufficient that they enjoy their fishing, but mainly, many believe, it is defined by BIG fish.Where do I stand ? Quite firmly on the fence to be honest, for me, variety in my fishing, different species, different locations, that sort of thing, if a big fish comes of it, so be it. Well apart from Chub and Canal Zander, yeap, I’d like those proper BIG please.

So the little brook will have to wait though because a big spanner in ones works, and I’m not talking about the recent South Wales Fire Service dealing with a man with a delicate situation. I had the predators moving of late down at the small stretch of Warwickshire Avon and I wanted to give the smelt another go before the season end. There was Zander in the swim last time, and I had a double figure Pike here the session before, the last trip out though it was just one of those where nothing was going right.

Bite after bite, missed or didn’t develop fully and sadly the clock watchers called an end to the session half an hour after digital dusk, me thinking what could have been. Now having felt the resistance on the end briefly a few times before the jaws opened and the bait ejected, I’m sure there was a lump among them. So I was back for a second bite of the cherry.

This time though I’d go fully kitted out rather than the cobbled together affair. So out with one of the Zandavan
rollover indicator so I could fish an open bail arm this time and fish one of the rods with a little less resistance.I had considered a float set-up but with the rods already made up it and in the quiver it dictated the approach.

I’m not one to sit behind rods especially when it’s cold and I like to be on the rove, but I had unfinished business. The weather has gone proper cold again, so the thought was with a sulking Zander or Pike with an extra layer on, a smelt to dine one would raise the spirits, raise the body temperature.

The set-up I used last week has caught me many a Zander and I’ve huge confidence in it, mainly because of its simplicity but something wasn’t quite last time, so I’m sure a little less resistance would help no end and good to pit one set-up against another.

I get restless legs quite quickly these days so these type of sessions I don't do very often, usual I needsomething to focus on, sadly the voyeuristic potential down this neck of the woods is very limited indeed, the last unfortunate incident I’m still trying to get it out from the back of my mind, it wasn’t pretty, if I wasn’t blessed with 20/20 vision I’d be none the wiser, that reminds me better iron my work shirts.

So anyway back to the fishing....

With this section of the river all to myself before settling down in the swim that had loads of activity last time I started out at the deep bit, it's 15 or so foot here so despite the river being 5.1 degrees at the bed it should be a little warmer. An hour and a half went by, without even a nudge or a liner. The sky was blue the air temperature around 2 degrees, this winter is probably one of the worse I can remember in recent times, more snow on the way too apparently.

Anyway, I headed down to another swim that has produced Zander and Pike in the past and again after an hour, not even the slightest bit of interest. The colour has almost gone completely now out of the Avon so maybe a roving approach with a lure rod might have been the better option, but hey ho.

So the last and final swim, I'd have preferred to fish this towards dusk again but as a family man I cannot have it on my terms all the time, it's all about a bit of give and take. Now talking of take, the right hand rod that has the roach on had some interest, the indicator rose, the ball bearing activated. But that's all it succumbed to, a dropped take and looking at the deadbait it had some interest too, a cray, quite possibly as the bait was stripped to the bones again. Two and a bit hours, with no more bites forthcoming, time to go home to get that chicken on.

Another blank !!

Thursday 22 February 2018

Warwickshire Avon - After Hours And Zinger Towers

1 million pound a day it’s costing KFC apparently, you see if you haven’t been keeping up with the news they switched their delivery contract from specialists Bidvest to DHL and a ‘failure of its new computer system’ has cocked up KFC’s supply distribution.

A poultry drought, of all things….fowl play ? how knows but it means some junk food consumers have been apparently been phoning the Police to find out when they will likely get their next fix, “no zinger tower meals, oh my f’ing God” “Does that mean I will need to learn how to cook ?”

Now talking of cock’ups Britain’s ‘Ice Queen’ Elise Christie has been falling on her backside like I have with this Zander fishing recently. Sadly her third attempt for an Olympic medal in Pyeongchang came to a familiar tearful end as she was shown the yellow card and sent to the stands after being disqualified. Her participation painful reading to be like the old rhyme about the fate that befell Henry VIII’s wives, only significantly simpler: disqualified, disqualified, disqualified, fell, disqualified, disqualified.

But then too much of a burden on her most probably, not good for anyone,especially seemingly the emotional type where sterner shoulders are required to deal with the situation. You could see it happening before it actually happened if you know what I mean.

That why I like the way I have been fishing recently, variety, no proper targets and no pressure on ones shoulders as such. I enjoy fishing small brooks for bullheads and intrigue and big rivers for anything that will bite. It means I enjoy my fishing more than ever now, because if something half decent turns up that’s a bonus. Ok a few targets are still at the back of my mind, but they are not the be-all and end-all like it is for some.

No Facebook narcissism and skeleton masks to be seen here, just lots of waffle. Will this be another blank session for Zander, most probably but then, I've just seen some patrolling barn owls, enjoying the clear air and ones mind is blank. But then I suppose fishing is what you make it, enjoy what you do and don't worry about anyone else.

With the remainder of the Nadurra Oloroso polished off after packing the car with fishing tackle time mind and body back on track, last episode of Requiem to watch (disappointing). For those that like a dram, well recommended as well and not bad for £50 quid. It's a cask-strength Glenlivet matured in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks. Full-bodied, heavily sherried dram with lots of complexity. Another bottle ordered, such it's suitability to ones palate. One of life's simple pleasures that needs to be enjoyed from time to time.

So anyway back to the fishing, I'm all over the shop....

Convenience, clandestine and cobbled were the words that sprang to mind for this short after work session in to dusk. To be honest I was in two minds whether to fish for a Barbel because the water temperature was on the rise from below 5 to heading up to and maybe past 7 degrees. You see for a big fish like the Barbel that’s a layer off and might stir the loins and get them feeding.

I’ve been waiting for this winter to end but with more cold weather on the way the weekend and beyond, the last week in March maybe have to be the last gasp attempt to bank not only a river carp but an eel too and maybe add a few more points to the Barbus scorecard.

To be honest I rarely fish for Barbel, and let’s be honest, get the conditions and timings right and ticked off for a Barbel session especially the area(s) I fish you can almost guarantee a bite. Water temperature is a factor though and I’d rather not second guess of they were feeding or not. For this session then I decided to have another dabble for Zander, they have been suspicious in their absence recently but as I’ve hardly fished for them come sundown, maybe that was the piece of the jigsaw I was missing.

Upstream from here, a trolley pusher had certainly done ok on the dace front, a proper net full in fact, so my thoughts were, maybe the Zander were laying dormant like they do during the day and then when the bars shutters were down, they’d be on the move to see what dregs they could muster up in this sheltered sanctuary many fish call home.

Like many of my trips they are very short indeed, this was two hours or so, but to be honest, the way fish are like with the dinner bell, particularly the Barbel you can almost expect a bite at the fall of the hand.

My eldest Ben has similar traits because of his Autism, where structure and routine factor in to his day to day living, where he can be often found hovering around the kitchen to see when it’s going to be dished up, he lives by the clock, nothing wrong with that, I have similar traits myself.

Smelt I’ll use again, no question about that, but as the deadbaits will have been sat in my car whilst I was at work, it was out with the familiar, yeap, the roach, a reliable Zander bait if there ever was one. Tough flesh unlike the smelt which can turn to mush rather quickly which when you want to make sure the bait is still on the hook it’s maybe not the best bait to use. I keep on hearing 'fresh' deadbaits are a must, but then having caught hundreds and hundreds of Zander now, I really don't think it matter, in-fact that distinctive smell roach give off when they are a bit manky I'm sure adds to the attraction, it doesn't seem to put them off anyway.

The rivers bed has a satisfying donk in this area, so at least I would know my bait will be sat on a nice surface without the hindrance of any snags which was an issue Monday evening when I fished the weir. So rods already made up two baits out an hour and a half before dusk, one next to some far bank cover the other in-between a couple of overhanging trees.

Within minutes I had a bite on the right hand rod that raised the bobbin considerably and took a little line after pulling on the baitrunner. All went quiet but then it sprung in to life again the bobbin hit the butt and the rod tip was nodding.

I lift the rod and the line is slack, hmmmm.

The bait has had some attention so a fresh one goes on, again within 10 minutes or so of going out, the bobbin springs in to life and goes stationary to fast within a split second it's hit the butt again with line being taken. Again, a strike in to thin air.

So a change of tactics are needed this time I'll allow the bite to develop more, bait goes out, this time half an hour passes and not far off dusk and the bobbin springs in to life, this time I lift the rod, remove the bobbin from the line and feel the line between my fingers. After 30 seconds or so the line starts to go tight between my fingers and the rod is lowering under the pressure and the fish is taking line, some considerable resistance felt so I strike in to the fish. Pressure is instantly felt then I can actually feel through the rod the bait being pulled out of its mouth.

Balls !!!!
What's going on....!!!!

With the club rules dictating the end of the session in 10 minutes I've not much time,so bait back out and fingers and toes crossed for another bite Sure enough, the bite alarm sounds and the bobbin rises, again, lift the rod, allow the fish to take line and again I lift in to the fish, resistance is felt and I can feel the fish on the end, well till it lets go of the bait again.

Then I'm thinking, Zander, has to be a Zander, so many times I've had bait merely nibbled or clamped on without being properly taken, it's the nature of fishing for them sadly, they can be like that from time to time. All very frustrating, but then that's why I like to try and outwit them. I put a half bait on and it goes back at whilst I tidy up but no more bites forthcoming.

I assume sprightly small fish, well I hope so anyway as I return to the car with the tail firmly between my legs. With a cold snap on the way it's decision time but sure enough I'll try and manage another short in to dusk session here next week, this time with some adjustments to the baits and also maybe I might have rod as a float set-up. 

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Canal Zander Deadbait Rig - How to Catch Them

This is the rig I use to catch canal Zander on deadbaits on canals around the Midlands, perfected over quite a few sessions now with various trials and tribulations. The float is fished over depth by adjusting the grippa stop and sits flat or at an angle on the surface.

It's a ridiculously sensitive set-up where bites are easy registered. Float around 10g, Coffin Lead 15g, fluro hooklink 12lb, and at the business end I use a fine wire Sakuma Manta sea hook size 1 with barb crushed. If there is Pike in the area, (there isn't where I fish) then wise to swap the flurocarbon to wire.

Nothing new I know, as I've posted about it before, but it's good to share pictorially...

Bait either a small whole roach, lamprey section and the like...

The rig in action....

Warwickshire Avon – Snags, Snappers and Shysters

I hadn’t fished this weirpool for ages, but with my usual Zander spots seemingly out of sorts and not playing ball, maybe a change of scenery was in order. It’s been quite productive in the past with predators, where live baits under a float usually provoke a reaction within minutes. I’d caught decent Perch here, even decent Chub on the lure.

Then again it’s a weirpool, what fish doesn’t like one….’If Carlsberg did’ and all that

In the summer, the visual effect, far from being a positive gush of water, bears greater resemblance to an ornamental waterfall. The water glides smoothly over the tops of the weir gates and falls gently on the weir apron, which is a wide concrete windowsill laid on the bed of the river immediately below the weir outfall. It is designed to protect the river bed from the gouging action of the falling water, which strikes the flat iron surface, collects and teems for a moment, and then glides swiftly and smoothly forward straight down the centre of the weirpool, a resolute but comparatively gentle mass of water equal in width to the weir from whence it came. 

The water mass, flowing and fluctuating through flood and drought, is the tool that carves and gouges away the river bank immediately below the weir so that a basin is formed – the weirpool. During summer, the weir outfall floes straight down the middle of the weirpool and drags the mass of water found as the sides around in a circling eddy, like a man revolving a park roundabout by pulling at its rim.

From a maggot danglers point of view the movement, speed and the direction of the ever shifting volumes of weirpool water have to be closely analysed in order to make even an intelligent guess at the location and identification of the various species of fish. The movements of Barbel for instance, are reasonably predictable during warm weather when the water is low. They revel in fast water so find the fastest water and that’s where they will likely to be. The area abundantly charged with swirling mass of foam and oxygenated water.

I’d tried here for Barbel but rolling meat or fishing static I remembered just how snaggy the bottom was, I’d love to drain it and see exactly what’s been lost on there. So why I didn’t factor my issues in last time here because after straightening a hook, losing a whole rig, losing a deadbait on the cast, it was a bit of a disastrous session. 

More of that in a bit….

Prior to fishing the weir, that didn’t go well either, but then down here it is out of sorts. In the past I’ve caught and approached migrant workers who frequent this stretch who think nothing of hauling Pike up the bank, bosh it over the head, in to a bin bag, over their shoulder and back to their accommodation. Pike are not exactly had to catch now are they, luckily the club got wind of what was going on and plans were put in place and workers let go to try and educate those that want to fish, the ways and means to do so. The problem now though is the Otter and the Cormorant that are making the fish watch their backs and have seemingly moved them on.

I could fish a couple of three swims in the winter with cheesepaste and could almost guarantee a bite would be forthcoming with 10 minutes, it was that predictable. Ok maybe easy fishing but when the banks are deserted because of the conditions it they provided a lovely bend in the rod. So after three swims fished without even a nibble I settled in to the weir till dusk. I was after a Zander you see and there is no reason they wouldn’t reside here, they are throughout the Avon now and I love catching them. 

So when the left hand rod starts to go and the rod top is nodding with its nitelight glowing I fully expected a Zander to grace the net. They start moving properly come sundown to make full use of their unbelievable eyesight in low light or turbid conditions.

This was no Zander though, it was a small Pike that maybe would have scraped 5lb. The chewed up deadbait retrieved the bait back out for 20 minutes, both rods motionless, time to call it a day.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday, I need a rest….

Then again it was stupidly mild with the water temp nearly 7 degrees, maybe a quick Barbel session Wednesday if I get the chance. They should be used to it by now, and ready to take a layer off.

Monday 19 February 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Premonitions and Pop-Ups

I don’t do spur of the moment, I’m sure it’s my engineering brain at work. Holidays planned methodically, weeks shopping and meals planned out for that Saturday morning delivery, food chosen even before I’ve been handed the menu, that sort of thing. You only have to look at my blog to know that’s how I plan my fishing trips too, in-fact my blog is often three session ahead in draft form, not the other way round and I’m on catch-up.

I’d always had a few Zander session planned before the season end and this was the first of those, even down to baits chosen, and areas to target.

However a spanner was put in the works…. 

I read an interesting article on Zander the other day you see ( Zander and how to Catch Them - Barrie Rickards ) about using Smelt, which for targeting Zeds, was one of his favoured baits, even over coarse fish such as Roach which I exclusively use and have had some good results from. 

You see apparently one feature of them , is that when still fully frozen they float, so they can be fished pop-up style’e for half an hour or so before the bait would eventually sink to the bed where it will remain as a bottom bait. Now after sorting through the bait freezer the other day I came upon some smelt I forgot I had. 

Not only that but after waking up early and trying to get back to sleep, I’d had a half awake, half asleep dream where some of the above was part of it, and guess what, it ended with a big Zander in the net. The so naturally once fully compos mentis after a strong cup of Java Lava that dictated a future session and a plan was hatched. Maybe it was a sign or premonition, I wonder….

As someone susceptible to vivid dreams and also because I’m an identical twin which I’m sure adds to the subconscious going on in my brain, it was something I could relate to. Premonitions are a feeling that something is going to happen - it is foretelling the future. Most people have experienced premonitions to one degree or another. The phone rings and you "know" who it is calling, even though the call was unexpected. Sometimes the premonition isn't as specific, but just as strong or stronger. Perhaps a great, unexplained feeling of sadness has been bothering you all day. It is only later that you learn that a close relative has died.

There are many such instances that we experience now and then, and sometimes (skeptics would say always) they can be attributed to mere coincidence. Others say there's no such thing as coincidence, but that's another topic. 

There are times, however, when a premonition is so strong that the one experiencing it has little doubt that it is going to happen. These powerful premonitions are much rarer but happen often enough that some paranormal researchers believe they are real.

Some people seem to be more sensitive to these types of feelings and may be called "sensitives" or "psychics."

These feelings are also most powerful among close relatives (I’m an identical twin), where the psychic bond seems to be strongest. And if this talk of "psychic bonds" irks you as sounding like New Age gobbledygook, consider that even some mainstream scientists, quantum physicists and psychiatrists alike, understand more and more that all human consciousness is connected.

Premonitions can be as subtle as a gnawing feeling or can be so overwhelming that they jolt you out of your everyday routine and prevent you from thinking of little else. They can be vague, nothing more than a feeling, or they can be so vivid that some experiencers say it is like watching a film. Premonitions can foretell something that happens a minute later... or weeks or even many months later. They can come while you're doing the dishes or they can come in dreams.

So naturally once fully compos mentis after a strong cup of Java Lava that dictated a future session and a plan was hatched, need to get it out of my mind, otherwise I’d be looking at more sleepless nights.

I’ve tried a few times over the past couple of months for Zander, and in my usual ‘reasonably’ productive areas too with little or no success. In-fact thinking about it, the last decent fish I had (7lb 6oz) came to a lure I think, when the lily pads were still around. So for this session I decided to fish a two part session to give me more of a chance of tempting one.

The first part, up at the deep bit I found that I’d lost a good fish and banked a few when a shoal moved in, and the second, in shallower water where it’s more oxygenated where , again I’d caught fish before. The conditions are certainly not favourable for Zander as they would likely still be shivering, tucked away with their winter coats, but hey, put a bait in front of its nose. Hopefully it would be an offer they couldn’t refuse.

With the river season coming to an end, got to keep the motion going even though a blank is most likely to be on the cards. Like many a fish, Zander don’t like winter, they are far easy to catch in the autumn for example.

“Mick, enough of the preamble did you catch anything ?” I hear you cry….

Baits out in the deep bit at dawn, twiddle ones thumbs, watch the nesting cormorants nothing doing.2 hours pass without as much as a bleep, baits changed a couple of three times, Roach on one rod. Time to move down I think. Again baits out, feeling a little bored. Decided to get the cheesepaste out on the Chevin set-up I had. Luckily with minutes the tip is being pulled round and a small Chub takes the bait.

Deadbaits again, are not doing it as all. I gave it an hour and a bit, so again, time to move down. Weirdly this was a place I least expected to get one as a match that took place here over the weekend can out them off. But the left hand rod with a smelt on goes and a fish is on. I thought it was a decent Zander at first the way it was plodding about, but no a Pike, surfaced. Ok not the fish I was after but welcome all the same.

10lb 3oz, so a double but I'd have rather it been a Zander. Oh well. It had a distinctive mouth affliction so easy recognisable if I catch it again. With the season fast coming to an end and hopefully the water starting to warm up a little. Eels and Carp will be on the agenda before the close. With maybe a brook trip and a few Chub trips in-between.

Saturday 17 February 2018

Small Brook Fishing Pt.3 – Small Tips and Big Nips

The last trip down this little Warwickshire Brook, I managed to catch 3 or 4 bullheads on a size 12 Quru QM1 hook which I favour because of ease of unhooking small fish. The bullhead I didn’t even realise it was on till I reeled in, however the subsequent fish I caught, I could notice a tiny tremble on the quiver. After the session finished I discovered my usual 8ft TFG rod was fitted with a 2oz tip, not the 1oz’er I thought I had for the session.

Overgunned to detect bites indeed, and upon sorting through the tackle in the garage the only remaining tip for the rod was a 3oz jobbie. Sadly the finer tip found its way to the bottom of a load of banksticks and bitealarms and was in two pieces.

Maybe a wand type rod would be what I needed to add to my ever growing collection. The Shakespeare Mach 2, Sigma and Agility wands looked ideal but I was after a 9ft rod or shorter and the availability of these seemed to be few and far between. So out of the blue after discussing wand rods with a seat box frequenter he just so had a similar wand for sale, albeit a Browning King F1 8ft wand that came with 0.5oz, 1oz, 1.5oz tips.

A pony changed hands, another rod added to the collection and the Wife none the wiser to the breeding carbon that has been consuming the space in the garage. With the brook hopefully up a nadger because of the recent rain, could I catch a bullhead or even a stone loach by design. The 0.5oz tip fitted, the rig scaled down from the last session. The blank is incredibly thin, the bend all the way down to the butt, a wobble like not other rod in my armory.

A full on maggot attack and hopefully the nip of the bullhead this time would register on the now much finer tip.The bullhead or the millers thumb, is a name by which it has been known popularly for at least 6 centuries.

The curious name apparently arose in days when every village had its miller, and has little point now that milling lacks the personal touch. “The miller’s ear” “is constantly directed to the note made by the running-stone in its circular course over the bedstone, the exact parallelism of their two surfaces, indicated by a particular sound, being a matter of the first con-sequence, and his hand is constantly placed under the meal-spot, to ascertain by actual contact the character and qualities of the meal produced.

The thumb by a particular movement spreads the sample over the fingers. By this incessant action of the miller’s thumb, a peculiarity in its form is produced which is to resemble exactly the shape of the head constantly found in mill-streams, and has obtained for it in the name of Miller’s Thumb”

The miller’s thumb is placed in an order which includes gurnards and sticklebacks; and its family (the Cottidae) there are fish with names like father lasher and long-spinned sea scorpion. The miller’s thumb is no exception to a general rule of spikiness, and if it grew to 3ft. instead of 3inches it would be a really dangerous creature.

The head is obviously the most dominant part of the millers’s thumb, hence the alternative name, bullhead. This is large and flattened, and the widest part of the fish is across the head behind the eyes. The eyes are on the top of the head and close together. The lower jaw projects beyond the upper. Behind the head the scaleless rounded body tapers quickly away to a narrow waist at the junction with the tail fin.

3 inch the humdrum, 3 to 4 inch not uncommon and anything over 4 inches exceptional.

Obviously the main reason why I’m fishing here is for the Dace potential showed promising signs the first time here, sadly not the second, where it was much tougher. These wand rods are for use in commercials though for winter F1’s and Silvers, so even if a trout or such like turned up, then the rod would have as much backbone as required.

Hey maybe there are some stone loaches here too, only one way to find out….

Need to drown those maggots….

With the brook up because of the recent rain I decided to set ones stall out in swim. I'd only 2.5 hours to fish, so roving around probably wasn't the best idea especially when this swim has lots of fish holding features and also it offers a nice transitional route if fish fancy a change of scenery.

Now my deadbaits were soft when I checked them in the bait freezer the other day and stupidly put it up to max so when I got the maggots from the fridge they had frozen solid. So a load of dead lifeless maggots wasn't ideal but eventually I started to get bites. What a lovely like rod, tiny bites registering on the tip nicely and the rod nice to hold.

I was an odd session to be honest, I was hoping fishing the same swim I had the bullheads from I'd manage one again but sadly there were not forthcoming. I had a few roach and dace up to 5.5oz and 23cm's but no trout were showing and bites were hard to come by.

Next time I think I will try white or bronze maggots to see if I could get more bites than red. I'm sure it can vary day by day so much here that it's just a matter of hitting that right time, because compared to the first trip here I found it very tough indeed.

Friday 16 February 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Bonitos and Butt Ringers

Chub take deadbaits, there is no question about that, and in my own experience I’ve had them on sections of lamprey, roach, sprats and most recently using whitebait. Having a tidy up the other day I noticed tucked at the back of the bait freezer some Mackerel tails that I had intended to use for Pike but with the weather as it is, I’d not used them yet.

Well until now that is, so for this quick after work session (sadly it was all I could muster) , it was out with sections of Mackerel to see if anything would take a fancy to it. The skin is nice and tough, the flesh pungent which no doubt would attract the gluttonous Chub. Various publications I’ve obtained over the years refer to the use of Mackerel as bait for big Chub so I might as well give it a try, nothing to lose and all that.

The thought behind ones madness was, any old Chevin would take a whitebait, worm or winkle, so more of a gobstopper might attract something larger that what I’ve been catching, and give a big fish a meal he couldn’t refuse. The problem is you see with my short sessions because of the diary makers got to maximise any bank time I have got, to full effect.

Now in Peter Stone 1980’s book, ‘Fishing for Big Chub’, he praises the use of deadbaits for Chub, he’d successfully used them on still waters to target the bigger fish among the proletarians. Whole fish fished on braided hook links fished in the margins come sundown and bobbins used for bite indication.

Takes often so savage the bobbin bangs the rod butt…

So a similar set-up would be used and put out on a sleeper on a bobbin in the margins just prior to dusk, the other rod, the main one, yeap, you guessed it cheesepaste.

Chub cannot get enough of it, well apart from bread I suppose. I’d choose no other bait to fish for them, they love it. The concoction I use is grated Danish blue, gorgonzola, extra mature cheddar and frozen block pastry, with added garlic and cheese powder and with a small bit of krill. The consistency such that despite the temperature of the water under 5 degrees at the moment it still stays relatively malleable. So more cheese than pastry basically, seems to work well. 

A paste cage on a hair, with the paste moulded in such a way that the hook is free but more or less touches the bend. In recent times rather than tightening the line down to the tip, I’ve let more of a bow in the line, so the Chub which can be right little buggers in ejecting bait on feeling resistant or nibbling at it, but a bow in the line means they get the bait down better before they notice something might be up. 

So anyway, enough of the preamble back to the fishing…. 

I’m still a little puzzled why the banks are largely deserted, ok I know it’s cold at the minute, but the rivers near me anyway for all but a couple of days here and there over winter have been perfectly fishable.

No Dave Harrell to be seen here....

Maybe it’s because many anglers want easy wins these days and couldn’t contemplate a blank session for example, imagine a few back to back like I and the like-minded endure, it’s the nature of the beast, it really is. Am I mad, most probably, but as a seeker of solitude and that 5lb Chub, got to stick with the routine and it's nice the banks are deserted, I like it that way, and I've everything I need to weigh that 5lb Chub myself, ta very much.

So to the session, better get back on track....

Very much groundhog day here, rocked up, cormorant feeding in the 2nd peg, one flying overhead that means I'd have to wait till the isotope was glowing before any action. So there was no rush to get going. A few balls of cheesepaste next to some cover, the rods set-up. There was a nice gap in the nearside bank so I positioned the chunk of mackerel there with bobbin attached. The main flow had a nice pace but it was less so. Water temperature 5.1 degrees, so a little up from last week.

Nothing much happened for an hour, even the cheesepaste rod didn't even have a pluck but in compete dark I had an single bleep on the mackerel , the blue LED registering the interest. I thought it was some debris caught on the line as first, but then after a couple of minutes, the bobbin rose steady and the rod top was nodding.

After setting the hook it was clear with the fight it was a Chub, it initially bolted off downstream but I turned it and probably due to the cold water, he said, rights that's enough. A nice long chub, a bit of a warrior and surprised it only went 4lb 6oz on the scales as it had a bit of a belly on it.

With the swim disturbed no more bites for 15 minutes or so when it was time to head back home. Interestingly not only it goes to show Mackerel is well worth a go for chub but I reckon I might have caught the same Chub here before. The plan of action next week is to try an area that has been far tougher than it has been in the past and maybe fish up to dusk there, as it seems, especially when there are some apex predators around they are probably tucked up playing hide and seek.

The fish there grow big, the average stamp higher than the usual places I fish. Maybe I'm putting a bait in front of a small head of fish here and I'm wasting my time if I want a 5lber, then again having only fished 2 of the swims, maybe it's worth trying another likely looking peg and disturb another families tea.
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