Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Saturday 23 June 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Gobbies and Guzzle-guts

As someone who now only has to look at a packet of pork scratching to put on weight I’m always on the lookout for the perfect snackette to accompany a pint of ale. Now I like nothing more than a hairy crispy and soft fatty scratching for one of life's simple pleasures, but out of the blue whilst in one of the local shops on one end of the aisle were some packets of Mr Porky Crispy Strips with some bumph on the front about a ‘lighter pork snack’

Many moons ago I used to make my own you see, which looking back maybe wasn’t a good thing as I was nearly a stone and half more than what I weigh now and probably heading for heart attack. My favourite way to make scratchings was to salt some freshly butchered pork shin, roast at a high heat and then toss the crackled pieces of rind in a roasted pounded spice mix of paprika, cumin and fennel seeds.

The spices used to stick gloriously well and the paprika gave the scratchings a rusty glow. Cooled and wrapped in greaseproof paper I used to make a job lot that used to last ages and was enjoyed by others too.

Now I enjoy eating out like most people but I don’t partake nearly as much as I used to having tried to reign in my guzzle-gut to get back down to my fighting weight.

So with a new found snack to try it was over the road for a pint of Goats Milk and to be honest for the relatively low fat content for a scratching, so similar to a packet of crisps, I was pleasantly surprised.

The problem was, they were so nice and moorish with a nice beer, I bought another 3 packets, which somehow disappeared over the weekend whilst watching the playacting in the footy world cup.

Hmmmm maybe not a good idea after all, but then damage limitation I suppose because they are somewhat low in calories….

Talking of simple pleasures, gratification can be had from catching even the smallest of fish it's not all about the biggest in my book, you just need to tackle up appropriately for your quarry. For this morning session Sam would be tagging along and we would be targeting a couple or three swims on the Warwickshire Avon where gudgeon usually reside. Gudgeon are not hard to catch once you find them, however that appears to be the biggest issue because they are not widespread in the areas I fish.

They appear very localised indeed but once found they can provide good sport, especially for a 7 year old with a limited attention span.

Sam was manning the float rod with maggot as bait, and I'd be fishing a lobworm to try and tempt something a little bigger. We'd fish a few swims to see if we could tempt a gonk or two. Now the Cocoon polarised sunglasses would be worn for this session because with the rivers low it’s a great place to fish spot this place. This stretch is probably up there with one of my favourite bits of river despite the predation problem that seemed to affect it last season.

The cormorants were here in numbers sadly as were otters who were bold as brass and didn’t mind the presence of a hairy human sharing their waters. The big chub and barbel that used to reside here however were suspicious in their absence, the fishing was proper tough in this usually productive area but eventually I did manage to catch the odd fish with sheer persistence over a number of sessions, but it was nothing like what it used to be.

One of the first Chub to be caught had a fresh war wound to show off and a tale to tell his kids about his escape from the jaw and clutches of an apex predator.

The wise older fish seemed to have jumped ship to areas where their sanctuary wouldn’t be under threat. In its heyday the specimen chub that used to reside here were plentiful and in the winter with the waters cold and crisp underfoot, you could almost always guarantee that a 4lber would grace the net and maybe even 4 or 5 fish that size in a short morning session.

So back to the Gobi Gobi, did we manage to catch any ?

Well the river is low, very low indeed and I knew the fishing would be tough, now it didn't help that the first gudgeon banker swim wasn't fishable, you see a huge tree had fallen it to the water during the closed season.

A damn shame too as the fish always produced some nice Chub. The next swim down was pacey so the float was out, but a few perch were forthcoming albeit small ones.

The bleak swim, produced just that, bleak so it was on to another swim where I know gonks reside. Fish close in over some gravel and they are usually there. They were as well, but only after catching a few chublets, roach and so more Perch.

Eventually after one dropped off we found some and managed to land five or six with Sam revelling in the amount of species we'd managed in a short morning session. It's not all about the bigun's.

Considering he go bored quickly on the cut, for this session he was we behaved and he enjoyed in immensely.

Like me the river is more his thing.

What was encouraging was not only did we see plenty of Chub on the shallows and also a few nervous ones among streamer weed, no cormorants were spotted and some small juvenile fish is always nice to see. 

Friday 22 June 2018

The Tiny River Alne – Redfins and Rigmaroles

There are hundreds of miles of waterways neglected by the average angler. You see he often seeks grand waters of reputation, and often those featured in the declining monthly’s, believing that only in these will he find the fish he wants. In the course of his travels and pursuits, he passes and disregards many streams and rivers which can provide fishing of a very high standard. You see I’m one of those small breed that gets extreme pleasure in fishing an overgrown disregarded widdle, those forgotten waters, and those small rivers with potential unknown.

For me crossing a field, peering over those high stingers, trying to spot fish in the shallowest of streams and the most overgrown of rivers, in waters I know nothing about, defines me as an angler and what I love about my fishing.

Targets obviously exist, a 5lb Chub for example or a 10lb canal Zander, but I get immense pleasure in with the minimum of tackle just finding out what’s tugging ones maggots in a small dirty ditch.

The rigmaroles of partaking in modern carp fishing for example, yeap poles apart, back to basics fishing, just how I like it….

What species thrive in this environment? What size do they attain? Its potential confined within the bounds of my gumption to exploit it as best I can. As new waters are explored, information is gathered of fish and environment, the character of the water becomes clearer , the swims are named of my own choice as small areas remind be of the moments of success and triumph.

I’m hoping to explore this small water and add to one’s growing list of specific areas and swims such as the ‘Tefal Head’, ‘Mick’s Bush’ the ‘Laryngeal Prominence’ ,the ‘J√∂rmungandr’

We’d crossed this bridge many a times before but it was only when we were looking at a house in the area that sadly had sold before we could view it, I got the Wife to stop the car. I spotted a sign nailed to a tree you see and I knew instantly what it was. Sure enough over the weekend when an email was responded to I’d signed up to a small syndicate water, a river that after exploring the whole length last weekend, I wondered why I’d not thought about trying to fish it before, the sign was just that a sign, I’m sure of it.

Are there gems to be had here….?

What species of fish can one expect to find in the streams which lace their way across the countryside? As David Carl Forbes had said in one of his books, predominantly, as one might expect, the fish will be roach, but unfortunately these will invariably be fish of small average size. 

I’d happened upon some information though, which, ok was from a number of years ago now, but the information shared from a witness of capture of a specimen, mentioned that he saw a couple of 2lb’ers been caught in the area.

Now last time, I probably over gunned it a little with the tackle, so for this session, I’d travel even lighter with a smaller landing net this time, also another change, the small 8ft wand rod in my armoury which is rated at 2lb-4lb with a ridiculously sensitive tip would replace the 1.2TC TFG River and Stream rod. Lobworms were ditched in favour of the humble maggot and then as the sun was going down, I’d switch to some breadflake. Just one small reccy highlighted some swims with potential and one in particular was singled out for the last swim to be fished.

Maggots you see take no prisoners, it’s just one of those baits that work for nearly all species of fish so apart from being an excellent bait to at least get a bite or two, you can find out exactly what species are lurking within the water. Once those species are mapped, then it’s a little easier to start to target the specimens with the humdrum by using specific baits and methods to try and single fish out. 

If you think the ickle wand rod will be tested with a big fish on the end, it won’t let me tell you, in-fact the bend it can be subjected to, is beyond ridiculous as well as the backbone it has, that may have to kick in, you can get as much pleasure catching a 8oz Dace like you can a 4lb Chub. Even a half decent carp could be subdued even on a light line, such the action of the rod.

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

I literally had a little under two hours something like that, the first swim which had around a foot of depth, gin clear and some pace produced minnows and not much else, in-fact they became an issue through the short session, far, far to many of them to he honest. I suppose that's why a big lobworm is a little more selective. Anyway I persevered and eventually had a few small trout that gave the 0.5oz tip a proper doing over, not the little taps and pulls the minnows were giving.

With not much time left I hot footed it to an area where I'd caught a Chub last time I was here and again, minnows were an issue until a little chublet was caught and then soon after a gudgeon or two succumbed to the maggot. Now in my rush to get out the house the bread roll I was going to use for bait was drier than a stupidly dry thing, in-fact it was unusable, rock hard in-fact. Probably better lobbing to knock someone out, rather than trying to get some flake out of it.

So I had to stick with maggot, with the sun going down and more minnows being caught, I called time to the session, wondering what could have been. To be honest I plan to wait now till the levels are up because I'm sure it will fish completely differently, at the moment it's ridiculously shallow in lots of areas which won't help the transition of fish. The colour won't help for roach either, so I need to wait till my prospects are higher. An enjoyable session again mind you, two patrolling barn owls and some jumping deer, it's just nice being out sometimes.

So on to the next session, tangle master Sam will be in attendance next time.

Wednesday 20 June 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Fractals and Fruitcakes

I’m not a football fan, I never really have been to be fair, but I’ve been watching the odd world cup match just to see how prevalent the play acting is these days and why I don’t enjoy watching it. Now to try and watch some of the England match in peace without Sam firing his bushcraft party, crafted bow and arrow at me and to kerb his verbal diarrhoea ,I’d downloaded the BBC Sport VR app and gave him the VR headset to use.

“Dad, why is that man not getting up, he’s only been hit by a ball “ “ I get straight up when I get hit in school like that”

“Because he’s a cheat, that’s why !!”

To be fair the app ain’t that bad, as you can watch the action live and direct from the stadium in a fully immersive environment - as if you were actually watching from inside the stadium in your own hospitality box. It’s a 360 degree too, so turn around and you can see the commentary box as if you were actually there.

Like Sam, I quickly got bored mind you and the second half of the England verses Tunisia match I’d nicked the VR headset off him as he was trying to walk around the house with them on, much to the annoyance of his mother.

So the footy was ditched and I immersed myself in to some 360° VR + 180° stereoscopic 3D Fractal Animations made by Schizo for YouTube.

He is just one of many who have similar uploads that are appreciated by people like me that can properly get out of body experiences from visuals and audio, and the use of a VR headset compounds that.

A fractal landscape is a surface generated using a stochastic algorithm designed to produce fractal behaviour that mimics the appearance of natural terrain.

In other words, the result of the procedure is not a deterministic fractal surface, but rather a random surface that exhibits fractal behaviour. The visuals are just like the way my brain works, hence why I get so much out of them.

Give it a go, it works wonders for my mind and it may well do yours….

So anyway back to the fishing, I think I’ve overstretched myself again for this season, you see apart from the usual 3 club books for the Avon and bits of the Stour and now part of a small syndicate on the river Alne. I’m now also a member of another small syndicate whom now have access to bits of the river Leam but also a mile or so of a prime previously forgotten stretch of the Warwickshire Avon which also includes a mile or so of one of its tributaries. I dread to think how many miles of river that gives me access to, well I know the answer to be honest, it’s far too much.

Fishing new waters if all very exciting though so I’m looking forward to plunging ones maggots in to those new waters in the not so near future to see what I can muster up.

For now though, back to the familiar, I spent quite a bit of time down this little stretch of the Avon last season chasing that elusive 5lb chub I’ve been trying to snare for a while now. I nearly managed it as well, with a couple of fish not far off the magic number being banked well in to dusk with water temperatures near freezing. I like it down here you see, it’s off the beaten track, hidden from view and with a small membership. It also gives me not only the solitude I seek, but an option to fish well in dark if I want to and an area that could well get that monkey off my back.

Not far from here is another one of my club stretches, that for the first couple of months sees banks busy on most days so that will be largely off my radar till it quietens down a little. This small area is ideal to be honest and I’m sure there are some decent fish to be had in its varied waters. I’d only fished a couple or three swims and always managed a decent Chub or two and they were all half decent fish, not little greedy chublets.

For this session I decided to give the floating lure a go again as the bigger fish start to move at dusk here and start topping, but not only that, I’d prime a swim when I got there with some hemp and small pellets and fish a bait over the top for the last half hour or so before heading off home hopefully after landing a fish or two.

I’m a planner, I always have been for my fishing sessions, it’s just the way I like to fish, I just like it that way. I do get bored sat behind rods especially in the warmer months, so this roving and style is more me especially when fishing a different technique, it keeps my interest up. It’s not rocket science this surface lure fishing for Chub, well the way I do it anyway.

I like a swim with half decent pace and it’s just a matter of casting the lure upstream and letting it drift down under its own steam, then give the lure a flick now and then to mimic a dying insect just about to peg it. Often a rise can happen as soon at the lure hits the water but it’s usually out of the blue when the fish nails it. And nail it, it does, they give it a proper doing over so much so, the fish usually hook themselves.

Well best laid plans and all that, the evening was bright the water really clear and the big fish were not showing, plenty of fish topping mind you, maybe bleak judging by the activity and the odd silver flash. Mayfly in abundance as were the insects who were determined to bite me. Now the Duo Realis Shinmushi is such a lovely surface lure to use as it looks fantastic in the water for starters, but on a slow retrieve it's wings act like paddles and they make a disturbance on the surface.

I use a quite heavy flurocarbon leader but sadly despite landing many a Zander on the same hook link and the odd Pike up to 8 or so pound one came out of the blue and within a split second had bitten through all and sundry leaving me without a lure and £12 down. Hmmm I won't make that mistake next time. So I tried a few more swims and even heading in to dusk there were no decent Chub showing. So the last 45 minutes I was sat behind the Chub rod which was over the baited area next to an overhanging tree.

There was some interest straight away but it took the isotope to be glowing before a decent bite materialised. All tentative pulls mind you, after the 3rd unstrikeable bite I let some line out so there was less resistance from the rod top and sure enough 15 minutes past dusk and with me overstaying a proper bite developed and a fish was on.

I knew it was a half decent Chub straight away but when netted I knew it wasn't my target, then again it never is. I didn't weigh it but it was around 4lb I reckon, certainly not unwelcome, don't get me wrong because at least it wasn't a blank, but again another fish caught which was the black sheep off the family, yeap, another fish with a facial deformity.

Maybe the fishing Gods are trying to tell me something, who knows, but I'm getting a little tired with the munters I've been catching....

Monday 18 June 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Wings and Worrywarts

The other day I had some massive fried chicken wings with the ‘Butchers Social’ signature topping of salted caramel, honeycomb and bacon. Now probably like you, as I was initially I wouldn’t have thought the combination would work but boy they did. Comfort food indeed and was someone with not a huge sweet tooth, they really did work and I really did worry if I’d made the wrong decision as I’d happily eaten any of the other flavours.

The fried chicken skin really went with it well and with the meat falling off the bone, it added to some of the best finger food I’d ever eaten.

Trying new things is good in my book so for this session I was down at a local club water to try and winkle out a Chub or two on a surface lure. I also wanted to have a look as the upper stretch as well just to see what it looked like for a future session and I’m glad I did, because a swim was noted down where I’d saw a rather large bronze carp exiting the water. I’d not seen that before up here to be honest so at least I know where one is now, it’s Zander territory too, so I might do a little double dipping.

The banks were busy, very busy indeed like they always are at the start of the season and usually for the first couple of months of mediocrity many go back to the commercial fisheries, just to get a bend in the rod. To be honest this is the time I like to fish various methods and waters for a bit of variety rather than sit behind motionless barbel rods for hours on end. 

I didn’t have a huge amount of time so after an hour or so reccy it was back down to an area of fast water where there is always Chub picking up what comes their way and not fishing surfaces lure here before, I wanted to see if the method worked. The water is very low at the minute and it was easily walkable from one side to the other, but with the Cocoons donned, I spotted a few dark shadows. After the fourth or fifth cast a chub nailed the lure and a fish was on. 

It’s full of streamer weed but didn’t really hinder the retrieve and it was quickly in the landing net. 

I’ve a habit of catching the runt of the litter and this Chub was no exception, a deformed mouth and also a wound or two, I didn’t help adding to its misery. I managed to hook another two but both managed to shed the hook after a brief play through the fast water. 

An enjoyable short session mind you and I’ll use the method in the week up at a stretch where I know some half decent ones reside. I might fish till dusk as well and fish a boilie over a bad of bait to see if anything of note will turn up when the sun goes down.

Saturday 16 June 2018

The Tiny River Alne – Widdles, Wigs and Wamblecropts

Did I miss something in the week, during Presidents Trumps and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un ‘historic’ meeting. Trump made a huge concession the suspension of military exercises with South Korea. That’s on top of the broader concession of the summit meeting itself, security guarantees he gave North Korea and the legitimacy that the summit provides his counterpart, Kim Jong-un.

As far I could tell nothing about North Korea freezing plutonium and uranium programs, nothing about destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles, bugger all about allowing inspectors to return to nuclear sites, nothing about North Korea making a full declaration of its nuclear program, nothing about a timetable, nothing about verification, not even any clear pledge to permanently halt testing of nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.

Maybe the staring of each other hair styles Kim eventually came up Top Trumps, hoodwinked springs to mind, so not top dog after all….

Now talking of top dogs, I wasn’t after a Zander or even a Barbel, but anything that would to be honest as this venue was little more than a stream. 

As I suspected for this first session of the new season, the mile and bit stretch of this diminutive river Alne I’ve got access to for this season was a little more than a widdle. 

I’d fished this small tributary of the River Arrow before, albeit upstream where I managed a few tiddlers on lobworm if I recall. It certainly wasn’t anything to write home about and I vowed never to return, but for me and the way I like to fish, this new stretch is very much my thing.

A jumpable river, off the beaten track, any bite on the quiver tip, any dip of the float, all very intriguing, all very new….

You see I love fishing small waters just to see what is hiding in them, ‘potential giants from tiny waters’ which David Carl Forbes my favourite author and illustrator was an advocate of. 

There is just something special for me fishing this sort of waterway. 

Back to basics, tackle to a minimum, a wriggly worm, a slice of bread. Fishing how it used to be before big business got hold and told us how we should be fishing, and what new item we need to be buying to keep up with the lady eating Desmond’s and the monotonous Charman’s.

Bollocks to that, I’ll fish how I want to fish, ta very much….

Unlike the closed canal zander quest I’d stupidly got myself involved with, fishing with no targets in mind can be more satisfying, more relaxing, and eventually when something of note turns up, even more rewarding too. In the winter just gone the capture of a rare Bard’s area trout and some half decent dace from nothing more than a dirty ditch was up there with the most memorable fishing trips I’d had, and believe you me having nearly reached 600 rambling blog posts, there has been enough of them.

Now having seemingly eaten my way through a whole cow the day before having being treated by the Wife for a nice meal out, this sort of venue is ideal to get ones digestive system back to normality and to keep the indigestion at bay. Roving from swim to swim with cocoons donned to try and find where the fish will likely to holding up. Be it, deeper areas, areas of cover, natural pools and snags that sort of thing, features where fish would feel comfortable residing.

It’s surprising just how much water is covered and when exploring any new venue, areas to target as quickly established.

The water level of the Alne can rise quickly after an afternoon of rain, and a day of it, you’d likely see it over its banks. So it can go from being fishable to no so in a day, but then when it is fishable, that can often open out new swims to fish, and that’s where fishing these sort of waters holds appeal for me. It’s different every session, oh and I could bike it more or less, as it’s just down the road, very handy indeed.

So enough of the guff, we’re back fishing running water again, yippeeeee !!!!

So simple tactics for this inaugural session, a light link ledger setup with a short hooklink and size 12 Kamasan B983, lobworm top or tail and my trust TFG River and Stream rod fitted with a 2oz quiver tip. Centrepin the usual bronze garish jobbie fitted with 4lb line. I wonder what I could pick up if anything. A river like this is open to predation which may well be an issue, but only one way to find out, I’d a few worm to drown.

I walked nearly the whole stretch and certainly lots of character. Shallow riffs, snagged filled deeper pool and areas full of lily pads. I've no doubt it will fish much better with some water on it, but I did catch a couple. A small Chub and a tiny trout, which for this part of Warwickshire areas like this are few and far between. An enjoyable trip mind you and such a quiet area with literally no road noise at all, it's a great place for solitude, and sometimes that's all I'm after.

I'll wait for some rain to top it up a little and then I'll give it another bash.

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