Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Thursday 8 February 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Bloodied Chickens and Hairy Crabs

It’s always a bit of guess what the hell you’re eating when you’re asked to try some of the latest bush tucker bought over from China. When I’ve been over there for work, it’s the same, but at least when you’re being entertained by a client for example, you can ask “so, what's this then?.”

“yes, more rice thank you” "oh and the vegetables"

Bullfrogs, ducks tongues as well as their necks, livers, stomachs and feet, tortoises, bull frogs, Spitting Image looking anemic and bloodied chickens. Fish filleted at the table with flesh seemingly still pulsating and the tiny seasonal Shanghai hairy crabs are some of the delights that have whetted my palate.

The saving grace, at least plenty of rice wine was plentiful.

I’m one for trying new foods though, ok many of the foods I’m left wondering, “why the hell would you want to eat that”, but I appreciate the use of all the animal, not just the best bits and then left wondering what to do with the rest.

Proper Chinese food, and nothing like the stuff they serve up here, but then there is probably a good reason for that.

“I’m not selling it to you am I”

So this week’s delight from Alex one of the exterior designers was some spicy fish strips, quite tough in texture, with that really fishy smell the Wife hates and with a proper chilli kick at the end. I’ve a google translate App on my phone so you can hover the camera over the text and it will translate for you in real time.

Still none the wiser to be honest, but I hazard a guess at herring or mackerel fry.

“I bet you could catch some fish on that, Mick” said Captain Paul, “I bet they will want to jump in your landing net, wanting you to get the spicy food out their mouths and gasping for a drink”

“They really have got a chilli kick that’s for sure, might give them a bash”

On a second inspection, I bet mounted on a hair, kebab style’y they would certainly catch Chub, there isn’t much they wouldn’t have a bash at and having had some success on whitebait recently, only one way to find out.

What I was worried about was the texture, and the resistant to pulls and plucks they are famous for. They seemed ideal as you could mount 4 or 5 pieces and even the most determined of fish would eventually get themselves hooked if you gave them a chance.

So back down to an area where I know there are some nice Chub to be had. To hedge my bets a little especially with the water temperature being very cold indeed, I’d also have a rod with some cheesepaste on.

Last time here on chunks of steak, I had some ridiculous bites which I struggled to connect with. Eventually a fish was hooked but it carted to me left, straight in to a snag and stuck his fins up at me.

Many don’t like using hair rigs for Chub, but I’m the opposite, especially when using big bits of paste, the hook being just that little bit freer seems to give me better hook up’s. I’m not quite ready to try bolt rigging for Chub, because I’m usually pretty confident in the tactics I use, but the last session here, I was puzzled, proper puzzled.

The large chunks of steak were stretched out more or less, like a pair of pliers had been at them. Maybe the issue was the bait was overly large, messing up with the mechanics of the rig, or maybe I’m just over thinking it.

Chub though, for a least the first hour past dusk, when the air cools and the sun drops, feed by foraging near the bottom so unlike when the sun is up, static baits have the edge. Dormant lifeless baits have an advantage if they smell. I have no doubt about this and believe that the reason a Chub takes cheesepaste rather than ordinary paste is because the smell or taint of it attracts him to it when other baits might remain unnoticed their presence unadvertised.

Their diet sheet seems to exceed that of any other fish, however he does not necessarily feel in the mood to take anything that is offered to him at any time. I’ve heard about all manner of baits used to catch them, from whitebait and big slugs that I’ve used successfully, to frogs, chicken skin and even chunks of liver.

During the summer and its clear conditions one method that I’ve used a few times is a floating lure that looks like an insect. Cast upstream just before sundown and let the rivers flow take the lure downstream.

They take the bait off the surfaces so confidently that you don’t even need to strike, they properly nail it. A fantastic way to fish, and I don’t do enough of it.

That why I’ve grown to love them as a species, despite the other fish switching off because of the ridiculously cold weather, and because they are not shy round the buffet and need to quell their appetite.

For those anglers that need to get out on the bank, when the fair weather anglers are cleaning their rods and washing out their maggot tubs, you can always rely on them for a bite or two.

So a quick session this, an hour before dusk, and an hour past, it's been not much above freezing now for a few days so to be honest even though being wrapped up warm my resolve can be tested, especially if the bites were not forthcoming. The wind was relatively light, so that would help the testing conditions. You cannot catch fish without a bait in the water can you.

Hairs were pre-baited prior to the session as they were messy things to handle and as I use quick change beads, the hook link could be swapped easily and quick if necessary, and that needed to be done as dark, I didn't want to be messing around.

The river was down to 4.7 degrees and to be honest I had thought about just going home especially after looking at the clarity and the patrolling cormorants, but you cannot catch without a bait in the water. Nothing much happened before dusk apart from a pull on the cheese paste, another 'mad' angler turned up and after a quick natter he settled in a swim downstream of me.

So in to dusk I thought it would be one of those sessions again, because I was getting some decent bites on both rods and was striking in to thin air. I felt the weight of the fish on on of the rods so decided to stay a little more. Sure enough the right hand rod that has the spicy fish chunks on arches over and continues on its path towards the river and a fish is on.

It gave a spirited fight but eventually it's in the net. A decent fish too, long, very long with a distinctive mark on his flanks and a goggle eye. Not the best looker but gave me a few more bloggers points as it registered 4lb 10oz on the scales.

Still not the 5lber I'm after, but encouraging signs that's for sure, especially when the more I fish here, the more the fish become active at dusk and quick sessions work well, which suits me down to the ground.


  1. Getting very close Mick!

    Nice work and good to see you getting some reward down there.

  2. Good stamp of chub Sean that’s for sure. I’ll try the zander suspicions in the deep bit in the new season I think, so I will be renewing my membership


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