Wednesday 25 July 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Crepusculars and Crapehangers

A proper Psy / Goa from DJ Vassias from Greece had ones noggin nodding such the speed of the repetitive beats, the headphone drivers properly given a work out the huge and cocooning ear pads shielding the low frequencies and pace of the music I'm listening to from my associates. Weird isn't it, CAD machine fired-up, headphones donned, the work gets done despite the distraction of the loud booming music being played, and yet I need to seek solitude angling can offer whenever possible.

A very confusing state of affairs I must admit, considering the amount of electronic music I listen to, the two pastimes couldn't be more different.

But solitude is a must for me as a busy family man, I don't ask for much....

Now solitude gives us time to explore and know ourselves. It is the necessary counterpoint to intimacy and allows us to polish the self to make it worthy of sharing. Solitude gives us a chance to regain our perspective. It allows us to get back into the position of driving our own lives, rather than having them run by schedules and demands that are out of our control.

Talking of solitude, I'm back after Chub and I'm on to the next session without the influence of the diary fillers !!!!

Daylight chub can be wary creatures, but just wait until the dusk begins. Small river chub fishing, according to some, is supposed to be like a small-scale SAS operation. You know what I mean dedicated hunters of specimen chub are expected to crawl around on hands and knees (suitably camouflaged, of course) in order to creep up and ambush the 'enemy'.

But it doesn't have to be that way. On most small rivers you'll catch a darn sight more decent chub just by fishing sensibly at the times your target fish are ready to move out from cover and feed.

On some rivers that will be very early in the morning, but on most the witching hour is from sunset and on into the first hour of darkness. At that time of evening the angler in the right swim can expect to double what his creepy-crawly counterpart has managed to amass through the middle of the day.

The current long-term drought has helped cause this state of affairs, of course. And the water authorities have made the situation worse. There was a time in this once-green, once-pleasant land when the rain had a habit of falling quite a lot. That precipitation unerringly found its way into our streams and rivers, swelling and refreshing them and providing the very element that chub and our other favourite species require in order to thrive.

In those days of plenty there was such a thing as a surfeit of water. Too much of it even resulted in the flooding of the odd meadow from time to time. Our farming forefathers rubbed their hands with glee at such times. They knew that the nutrient-rich silt left behind would give them abundant crops in the subsequent year. But that wasn't good enough for the post-war water engineers. Oh no! What use was a river unless it was contained within the limits they set down?

The occasional flood was damned inconvenient to men who moved mountains of dredged silt in order to harness some would say castrate our natural rivers. There was too much water by far for their liking. The modern farmer, of course, didn't need Mother Nature's natural nutrients anyway. Chemical fertilisers were far better at helping to build a surplus range of grain mountains and were subsidised, to boot. But what the farmer did need was lots of water to irrigate the land that he was rapidly turning into a dustbowl through his actions.

And guess what the water authorities were only too pleased to oblige, by granting abstraction licences willy-nilly. All that water proving so inconvenient in our rivers was pumped out to plump up the cereal crops that nobody wanted. The trouble is, the villains of the piece have been rumbled. Those seemingly bouts of drought that happen time to time have caught out the conspirators who meddled with nature.

Rivers in many parts of the country are now running lower in Winter than they used to do in Summer. Too late it has been discovered that the natural order of things was right all the time, and the water authorities are now delighting headline writers in The Sun by coming up with wacky ways of replacing the water they've literally poured down the drain.

But while the water boffins turn their attentions to towing icebergs down from the North Pole and setting up desalination plants around our coastline, the small river chub angler is left to make the best of a poor job. And that means coping with waters that are, in the main, clear and shallow throughout the season; conditions that see the chub holed up throughout the middle of the day in the cover he so desperately likes. The chub's preference for cover, or rather safe sanctuary, is what sees anglers stalking around and presenting baits under weed rafts, through overhanging branches and below undercut banks. Those are the places where most chub will be when the river is clear and low.

You can catch them there too, right in the middle of the day. But one, or at most two, chub from a raft swim that probably holds a dozen or more is not exactly productive fishing. Yet those same chub are a very different proposition once the sun goes down. That's when they move out from their sanctuary and forage for food. And that's when the angler should be in the right place, ready to reap a rich harvest. As every chub enthusiast knows, his favourite species is a sucker for bread.

A well-presented crust or flake bait is always my number one choice especially when the shoal has been primed up first with free offerings in the shape of bread.

A white loaf soaked in water and mashed into a pulp really will pay dividends, or a few freebies floating on the surface downstream if there is good cloud cover is a brilliant tempter to get the fish interested particularly in the dusk feeding period.

Liberal handfuls of the bait washing downstream will draw the chub out from under their cover to investigate.

So position yourself in a suitable glide or run about 20 yards upstream of a chub sanctuary area and you should be in business as the light starts to fade.

Rather than taking on the chub on their own doorstep, you are enticing them out to play. Your swim does not have to be a snaggy, feature-packed one. Darkness is cover enough for the chub, who will feed freely in open water at such times. Once it’s difficult to see the floating bread drift downstream as the floating method is still how I like to try for them first.

A lump of crust on a size six hook, tied directly to 6 lb line for snaggy swims. The buoyancy of the crust counteracts the ballast of the SSG's to provide a delicately-balanced set-up that will work nine times out of ten. I prefer to have the shot fixed within a couple of inches of the hook, so the crust is presented just off the bottom, but I’ve used crust popped up 6”’s or so.

One day no doubt the rains will return. Perhaps new thinking on the part of the powers-that-be will even allow our rivers to revert back to how nature intended and there will be enough water and colour to again catch chub throughout the day. But, in the meantime, join the night owls and enjoy some fantastic chub action.

Now this was a much tougher session, one of the banker swims that gets the Chub coming out of their cover like homing missiles had a swan in resident and the bloody thing wouldn't shift. Eventually I managed to winkle one out around 3lb by more or less dropping a piece of floating bread where they wee hiding, a quick smash and grab set-up. But the big bird kinda put a kibosh on the evening events.

The other swim where the larger fish seem to reside also was difficult, I hooked a fish quite early on and it was hanging quite low in the swim till I saw it and it saw me and it went off on a last gasp run. I had to put on as much side-strain as I could muster as it wanted to get in to the snags to my right, and yes, the hooked pulled. I'm certain the hook hold wasn't brilliant because once fully home unless the line breaks they ain't coming out with the tough mouths Chub have.

The problem was in this swim some freebies were picked up by fish as I could hear them, but it was out of sight at the tail end of the swim. I left it rest for a while and tried another couple of swims without success. With the noise and disturbance the minnows and bleak make usually it brings them out to investigate, but zilch.

So back to the last swim before heading back and this time eventually I hooked a fish when a piece of bread got caught in the branches of an overhanging tree and after a minute or so a small disturbance on the water a fish was on. A cracking scrap ensued but it was eventually netted, now this fish was a nats nadger under 4lb so the other fish I lost could have been potentially another 5lber or certainly a high 4, as it was a scale above.

Swapping to a bottom bait headed in to dusk, a few plucks and a missed bite from definitely a chub pull I headed home. I need to strike whilst the iron is hot so to speak, because these fish may not hang around much longer, I'm hoping they will because fifty percent of the fish caught here especially the larger ones have hollow bellies that need filling, when they've got their head down feeding there will be some right lunkers here.

Weirdly the fish seem to be more active at dawn / early morning, so I've another session planned over the weekend. 


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