Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Sunday 30 September 2018

Small Brook Fishing Pt.4 – Flat heads and Fartleberries

At least she was attempting to clean up the mess I suppose, in clear view a huge ‘shart’ had tainted her rather hairy and now visibly bedraggled Rough Collie. The predicament she was in, is one of the reasons why I’ve not got a canine friend for the family despite the earache. You see, apart from another mouth to feed, I know for a fact once the novelty had worn off, it would be me walking it, me filling the poo bags, me paying the vet bills,

The easiest thing to do would be to dangle his backside in the cut whilst holding his collar and then using a cupped hand drench his derrière, easier said than done I suppose because this wasn’t a small dog, neither was its excrement of propulsive proportions. Plastic bags, wipes and kitchen wipes littered the towpath where she was stood, ‘please ground can you open up and swallow me whole’. Sam pointing and sniggering did help because I don’t think she expected anyone to around this quiet part of leafy Warwickshire.

“Morning, nice morning isn’t it ?” (Walks through a wall of stench)

“Errrr, yes it isn’t it”

I asked Sam where he wanted to fish the weekend and after going through the venues, “The Brook Brook”, “The Alne Brook” and “The little Brook” he settled on the latter. He remembered that he caught some minnows here just by dangling the float in the margins with a single red maggot, and as long as he is getting bites he doesn’t mind staying a little longer than he normally would if we are struggling for bites.

He gets restless just like I do !!!!

I’d caught some Bullheads when I fished here on my own and it was a species that he wanted to add to his catch list, as well as a Stone Loach and Stickleback which should be here judging by the gravel bottom and clear water. Decent Dace and small trout I’d also caught here which considering it’s a tiny tributary it’s got a surprising amount of fish in residence that happily call it their home.

Now the finned dwellers, lurkers and sprinters of our rivers and streams are as varied and fascinating as any wildlife on dry land in my opinion.

The Bullhead with a gaping mouth and fan-like pectoral fins, the bullhead, or miller’s thumb, lurks beneath stones and is a fearsome predator of a small stream, despite being only a few inches long.

It was the Stone Loach I wanted to cross off my list just like Sam because a report I found online showed that there should be some in this small brook. A small, slender fish, the Stone Loach can be found feeding on the bottom of clear rivers and streams, often burying itself into the gravel or sand. It feeds on small invertebrates, such as mayfly larvae and freshwater shrimps, especially at night when it uses the 'barbels' as whisker-like sensory organs around its mouth to find prey.

Could we catch one on rod and line I wonder !!!!

I've always wondered the British recorded for the species as I assume most are caught with a net and not by design.

Tackle well, Sam had his float rod, I had my little wand rod with a link ledger and small hook. Both with red maggots as bait.

Now I did think the brook would be low but not this low, easily the lowest I've seen it and clear as well, upstream and downstream of the little holding pool you'd be able to walk across it with the gravel clearly visible because it's receded so much. I did think about going somewhere else but we stuck to the plan.

Bites were forthcoming though, mostly from minnows but we managed a couple of brownies. Dace nowhere to be seen and after a Bullhead that was clinging on fell off from hook to hand it was time to call it a day. Even a trip to the 'The Brook Brook' was dismissed by now bored Sam, so a bit of wasted trip as despite getting back quite early, there probably wasn't enough time to get the tackle together to try and go to somewhere else. Even getting bites he wanted something other than minnows to be biting.

That's the problem with these small waters, the window of fishing opportunity can be very small indeed. The Alne I checked this morning it little more than a trickle, Bahhh !!!

Winters on the way though, hopefully the levels will increase to add some colour and the fish can start to move around in confidence again and we can have a go at the specimens and ickle fishes that these small rivers and streams hold.

Saturday 29 September 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Blag-artists and Bletherskates

I’ve always been an advocate of back to basics fishing, the bare minimum of tackle, the simplest of baits, tactics of forgotten years, those minutes and hours of dispositional autonomy. You see deep interest in one’s own thoughts has always been a big part for fishing me, not only because of the solitariness it brings, the provider of the peace I must seek, but it’s the fact that it culminates in, well generally nothingness.

I don’t think about anything when I’m fishing that’s why, not one iota, nothing. It’s odd I suppose, but after a three hour session, rods packed away, engine fired up, not one of life’s ills has manage to enter one’s noggin and it’s only when I’m homeward bound, where the mind starts to get active again that just how therapeutic those hours have just been spent.

If it could only be made in to a drug to be taken, then please take my money !!!!

It’s difficult to explain to a non maggotdrowner or those anglers that would rather join the bankside circus and the noise and hullabaloo that goes with it. Swap acid for angling, maybe I’m on to something, it realigns the neurons, kiboshes the anxiety and suppresses the melancholy.

Dare I say it but maggots are a way to seek mindfulness, you see once they are gone it helps to maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.

Those quiet waters, meandering streams in open fields, bubbling brooks, turbulent tributaries that make up most of my fishing have now increased to an indescribable amount of much need bank trampling. As a fully paid up syndicate member of the WBAS the crossing of paths will be limited to the local likeminded, but not only that, waters so suited to my fishing, for next season I might have to exclusively fish the syndicate waters.

Basically I‘ve left myself to much to go at again !!!!

Want to join the Warwickshire Bloggers Angling Syndicate? Well apart from the strict voting system to get past, you’d have probably already been asked to join by now, it’s a small group and will remain that way.

How about large bulky brown envelopes Mick ?, don’t ask me, ask George Burton the patron, he keeps and maintains the exam papers. Oh and Sean from Off the oche down the river who had been putting lots of effort with little reward, he needs a mention too.

It’s the River Leam and a small section of the Warwickshire Stour I want to get my teeth in to as I’m sure there will be some surprises to be had. The problem is, both need some much needed water such their levels and that hopefully won’t be far off now we are in autumn and headed towards winter where some precipitation will be forthcoming, the colour changing.

So for this session it was down to a section of the Avon where even a smidgen of rain has an effect on the levels. This session would be a little different than of late as I’d have some lobworms with me this time in addition to the bread.

If there is ever a bait that often provides instant reactions it’s the humble lob. It’s natural looking after all which for a cagey Chub but here especially in one particular swim when the levels are up a bit and there is some colour, some decent Perch are usually laid up in their smoking chairs.

A wriggly worm though usually gets them shifted off’fa it and again bites are usually quick, very quick. I’d usually use a link ledger set-up for lobworms, but as I’d use some floating bread from time to time, the simplest way is have a hook straight through and a shot pinched on the line which you can be removed when you want to fish the bread.

The chub have been a little wary of late though down here so get the shotting right, not only would it sink the worm but you can get the bread flake to sink slowly to try and offer a different presentation to the cagey Chevin.

So this morning session this is what I love to do whenever I get he opportunity, no bankside vans, bivi's, books or trolleys to be seen here, back to what fishing is all about in my opinion, yeap the basics.

There was a little bit of frost when I got there at dawn and throughout the session I had the stretch to myself. Lots of roving required as always but the fishing was tough. The river had dropped considerably from the last time and it was very low indeed. Even the Chub in the usual floating bread swims were not playing ball. The swim I had earmarked for the Big Perch is only any good when it's up a little and a tinge of colour. With the clear skies too, it was proper tough, at least the first fish was a nice Roach.

It's nice being out though this time of the year, kingfisher activity, mist coming off the water and a warm rising sun. Eventually the perch started to bite and I had around 20 or so albeit the biggest only went half a pound or so. I decided to sit in one swim for half an hour and eventually a small Chub decided to take a double lobworm bait. The last  swim I headed to was the weir, which again looked out of sorts, after 15 minutes without even a nibble I headed back,

One thing I did notice this morning though, is the cormorants appear to be back, there were 7 in a group and then I spotted 2 others on their home.

Friday 28 September 2018

Warwickshire Avon - Big Barbel, Baboonery and Bass-bins

"Dad, turn the volume up !!!"

Sam nodding his head to a psytrance mix with annoying beats of repetitiveness, the Wife rolling her eyes.

"We'll take my car next time !!!"

A recent trip to Ibiza to Pacha with Sven Väth and Solomun playing loud progressive beats boarding on techno pace confirmed my love of the genre and the sound system in Pacha similar to Twilo in New York, you could get a full body massage just standing a couple of feet from the speaker.

I wonder if little Sam will be in to low frequencies and the volume of air movement that goes with the territory like I was, even though he's only 6 years old he wants me to take him to the White Isle.

The second car I bought when I was a youth was a Storm Gray Metro Gti and it was kitted out with some decent kit, but then looking back it was probably why it ended up being nicked and stripped of it's sound system of ridiculous proportions.

I had money to burn at the time, that was the problem and ICE got addictive, it really did. My brother was the same until a MDF parcel shelf he fashioned-up with two 12" drivers mounted underneath, however when they nearly decapitated him when he had to make an emergency stop and it became dislodged. 

Those quickly went for obviously reasons, and he like me replaced it with something boot mounted that could be easily restrained .It basically matched the booming heart of my system at the time, a homemade and calculated dual bandpass enclosure that housed a 12" Cerwin Vega woofer and in addition I also had 6X9" drivers in the rear quarter panels covered in acoustic cloth for disguise.

The amount of air it shifted literally took your breath away, those mix tapes I used to make and the electronic music I used to fashion up had a medium that showed the frequencies off down to the lower ones you can feel rather than heard. 

I suppose the problem was, ok on a plus point my Mum and Dad knew I was arriving for Sunday dinner a good mile down the road, but being so loud, the local toerags knew despite me hiding everything out of sight it wasn't rocket science that I had something special that they wanted. To be fair I enjoyed it for a good while before that fateful day that still lives with me till this day. 

Yeap, it was nicked !!!!

Not only was the whole system stripped but the car was found abandoned in a school car park in Birmingham after it has been ragged and raced to it's eventual death. No reverse gear, a misfiring engine and despite me driving like I stole it from time to time, exploring it's lift off oversteer moments a little too frequently, I never managed to kill it like they did. With 99k miles on the clock it was still driving as well as it came out of the factory, it was my pride and joy, it really was. 

The amp required to drive something like this was a quarter the price of the car, and obviously the wiring has to be upgraded to deliver the current the system required.

Looking back it was madness, not only the amount of money I spent but also how loud I used to have it. It was a hobby after all though, and be suspicious those that don't have hobbies, because everyone needs an interest of some sort. 

For this short session of my current pastime I was back out with the big hitters. I decided to venture down to the lower reaches of this particular stretch that I know does contain some nice Barbel and I'd not fished for a while. I don't fish for them that often but at least I know they are there. So the plan was to fish this particular area I had earmarked with a big bait. A huge piece of GARLIC spam would be positioned in the swim and I'd sit back and wait. I find it difficult doing this as I'm a roving angler at heart, but sometimes needs must.

I managed to track some down on Ebay and now have 7 tins of the discontinued proven Barbel catcher. Should last me to the end of the season anyway, jobs a good'un. Fishing is all about confidence and I'm as confident using this for Barbel more than any other bait. 

Now like an ample blossomed lady walking through a packed Nanjing Road in Shanghai, a bait this big is a veritable head turner and something a little different than the humdrum, a crowd stopper so to speak and often can get a bite when another bait would be ignored. The large hook is pulled through the meat with a large baiting needle, turned 90 degrees so it grips one side of the meat. Although spam is relatively tough, it's not when you need to get a line and hook through it when a fish picks it up.

The official car-park was full which services the pegs I wanted to fish so I had to drive to a car-park much further away and walk down. It's a decent walk too and after passing quite a few other anglers on-route I thought I was wasting my time. Luckily the area I had earmarked was free so I settled in the downstream peg and got set-up, you know me, I like to plan ahead so if I couldn't fish where I had intend to, then I'd have probably gone home. 

Anyway the sun was beating down and after an hour without a bite it was becoming uncomfortable, so after a wander to the next peg up to try and seek some shade, I decided to move. 

The swim just looked right, I got that feeling that us anglers get when we know, yeap, fish would like it here. There was a much better pace here, downstream is much deeper where the waters have carved out the bottom, but although shallower which probably doesn't suit a big fish, there was a clear visible crease which looked ideal to place the bait. I use a centerpin in the main for my Barbel fishing and casting of any ain't all that, but this was in clear reach of the Wallis cast I use. 

With the bait positioned I sat back to enjoy the peace. I often turn up an hour before dusk for my Barbel sessions so after another 45 minutes went by without a nibble I knew this hour left when the sun starts to go down will be make or break. It was an odd sunset, the sky opposite was a muted orange haze and behind me the broken cloud made it a visual treat. Fish started to top, the rod top now having the odd tremble where small fish start to attack the bait. 

Dusk, or the end of civil twilight according to my app was 19.28 so I needed to be off before 8.00pm, with the long walk back I thought I was on for a blank, but then things got interesting with the fast countdown dusk. The odd tremble turned in to a pull, then another, and another, and an inch pull turned in to a foot, and them, Whammmmmmmmmm !!!!!! the bite is ridiculous the centerpin ratchet caught off guard.

A fish is on !!!!!!!!!

It powered off downstream and was staying low and I knew instantly it was a BIG Barbel, It was hope and hold for the first run that the hook didn't pull as I had to use both hands to try and restrain it, but eventually I felt like I was getting on top of it. I managed to turn the fish and was teasing it upstream without rushing it. It was staying low but then as it got closer it broke the surface and I saw the size of the fish, it was massive. It went on another run that needed abating but then like a lot of big Barbel do it put it's fins up and decided that I was on top.

Turned again and headed towards me it's head comes out the water and I safely netted it. Letting it rest for a while I punched the air in celebration with a big "YES !!!!" A quick look at my watch, 19.25 so down to the wire as I'd be packing up now looking at a blank if I hadn't had this fish. That's fishing for you though, and why we love it.

So after resting it and packing up I've not lifted it out the water, on the mat I'm now looking at the biggest Barbel I've ever seen. I've a dedicated Barbel weigh-sling which fitted like a glove. 

So the scales go 12lb and 6 oz's and I've smashed my PB, "Go on my Son !!!"

Looking back at the photos quite a distinctive fish in a couple of places so hopefully we will meet again when it's got it's winter coat on . Now the front camera on the iPhone has had a software update recently where the screen goes bright white and glows when the photo is taken but I wasn't happy with it, so outcomes the stupidly bright LED portable floodlight that Danny has seen in operation for a better low light shot albeit it makes the sky appear black in most of the shot, still light left if you look at the left of the pic. Problem it's probably a little to bright hence the glow, oh well, hopefully a better pic next time I catch it.

I love it when a plan comes together !!!!

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Jabberwocks and Jawbreakers

With the Wife on overnight dog sitting duties I knew exactly what I was going to cook up for myself, yeap a South Indian Prawn curry. She doesn't like food as spicy as I do, but not only that she doesn't like prawns either, hence why I don't have it very often. To make it, is quite simple to be honest, a paste made from onion, ginger, lots of garlic and fresh tomatoes.

Then simmer with a cinnamon stick, black mustard seeds, cloves, cardamom and turmeric, with coriander, curry leaves and birds eye chilies finishing off the spices. The coconut cream goes in last with the prawns and it's almost ready to go.

A cold bottle of Chilean Riesling with aromas of grapefruit, mandarin and limes, feet up with the big fight on, if only I could live like this every weekend, all on my terms, that is.

Now Garlic, or Allium sativum, has historically been a part of many cuisines around the world. Its medicinal uses are documented in many traditional systems of medicine. 

However, thanks to the sulphur-based compound called allicin, the unpleasant odour of raw garlic puts off many from eating it. Aged garlic extract can provide all the goodness of garlic minus the smell. It is produced by storing fresh garlic in ethanol for a long time, sometimes up to months. This process of ageing retains all the useful compounds found in raw garlic but not allicin.

Garlic has been shown in clinical trials for example that it can help the liver by balancing the amount of blood glucose, HDL-cholesterol, albumin, and haemoglobin. As someone who enjoys a good tipple and loves garlic this can only be a good thing.

Now garlic spam used to be the go to bait for me when fishing for Barbel especially in coloured water conditions, they seemed to love the smell as much as I do. Sadly they have stopped stocking the shelves with it in UK supermarkets which I found surprising, because I used to but enough of it, and I’m sure other anglers did too.

So with some spicy krill and garlic liquid flavouring bought, I had to go about making my own….

I just cannot sit behind rods for any length of time, Willis-Ekbom to blame most likely, a common condition of the nervous system that causes an overwhelming irresistible urge to move the legs. An unpleasant crawling or creeping sensation in ones thighs, after an hour I’m ready to move on. For Barbel fishing where long waits are part of the territory, especially when fishing during the day, is probably why I don’t spend that much time fishing for them.

They are not that hard to catch once located such their desire to fill their bellies….

In an area I fish which sees lots of bait mostly small in size a lunking hunk of meat is not only a head turner for the bottom feeder but it often means a Barbel whose hasn’t reached the hunger pang stages yet, may well be tempted to feed.

For this short evening session little Sam was with me to try and condition him for a proper dark session he has been pestering me about. I don't think he is ready yet as he struggles to go to bed himself without having the landing light on, so this was a session in to dusk to see how he handled it. The last fish I caught here took the centrepins clutch by surprise such the savagery of the bite, but then that is of no surprise to be honest, whenever I’ve used meat before for Barbel, as a general rule, there is no need to strike, the fish will hook itself.

Could I fish for Barbel exclusively, defiantly not, maybe if we had shallow chalk streams in the Midlands that contained them, quite possibly, but for a chuck in a wait approach such as the Warwickshire Avon that single minded approach goes out the window, just not for me.

Looking back the most fun I’ve had fishing for Barbel has been rolling meat under cover or through streamer weed with nothing more than a bait and a hook and often, the fish are seen taking the bait as it rolls through the swim.

Once particular area has seen a hacking down of far bank cover which was perfect for this technique and was home to my PB of 11lb 11oz. I’m hoping it will recover to its former self, fingers and toes crossed.

This stretch though I’ve fished a truncheon float and a half inch square piece of meat in the past with some success but again other species preoccupy me other than a bulging Borris. Maybe with a bit more water on I can get back to a moving bait again, because at the moment, the flow in places is boarding on the pedestrian.

I’m sure if I put my mind to it like I do the closed season Zander challenge I’d have caught one of the better Warwickshire Avon fish which are exceeding 13lb’s in weight now, but I’m no sooner to carrying that out, than I am to bring the Zander quest to a conclusion.

I’ll keep on plugging away from time to time though to try and better my PB, which to be honest for a Warks fish, ain’t all that. But then you know my reading my blog, given the choice, fish a swim for a double figure Barbel, or fish for a big roach or a pound dace on a small tributary, It would be the latter.

Maybe I should give me season fishing for a lump just to register something half decent on one’s spreadsheet….

So we rocked up an hour before dusk in a convenient swim that gave us an easy route back to the car. 2 rods out, a big chunk of meat to the right, boilie and paste to the right. As soon as the right hand rod went out it received a dramatic chub pull within minutes and the meat rod was getting interest from small fish straight away. Sam who was entertaining himself drilling boilies and getting used to his new life jacket was in to full verbal diarrhea mode.

Questions such as "Can a Pike eat itself" and recalling a Tuna fishing show he'd seen in infinite detail down to watch colour t-shirt the skipper was wearing, anyway eventually he settled down to watch the tips like I was. The boilie rod was quiet but then out of the blue, a couple of nods resulted in a full blown Barbel bite with the baitrunner screaming. I steered it out of the reeds and got it under control before allowing Sam to take over. It didn't fight particularly hard compared to the fish last week but then it was smaller, probably not even reaching 5lb.

Both rods went back out after checking the meat was still in place but with 15 minutes to go to dusk from that point onward there was no more bites. When the sun went down Sams hand were starting to get cold it was time to make an exit. I enjoy these short sessions and it helps I'm ten minutes from pulling in to the carpark but I need more banktime which I'm struggling with at the minute. Lots of sessions, however the problem is bait not in the water that long. 

Saturday 22 September 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Prandicles and Piggishness

The combination of very fine tackle and tiny hooks is now widely used on waters with a healthy fish population, and also where the fishing pressure is not so great. The development of this tackle was simply to induce shy fish to accept a bait. Very sensitive forms of bite indicators were then needed to register these bites. The problem now is that many anglers are unable to recognise the difference between the bite from a shy suspicious fish, and the equally delicate but very deliberate bite from a totally unsuspicious fish. The problem is bite detection, not actually attracting bites.

The reaction of many anglers to very delicate bites is to fine down their tackle even further. On flogged, understocked waters, and in very cold conditions when the metabolic rate of the fish is sluggish, they are probably taking the right course of action. But in very many instances they are going to make the problem worse. I do not like making generalisations but I shall now put one forward which more often than not is true.

Of course there will be exceptions, and I have already mentioned two of them. The argument I put forward is that the finer the tackle, the smaller the hook and bait you use, the more delicate and difficult to detect will be the ensuing bite. Please note I have said delicate bite, not hesitant or shy, because there is a world of difference. A delicate bite can be every bit as deliberate as a bite which drags your rod off the rest. All this stems from a fact about fish behaviour, and I stress it is a fact not a theory.

All wild creatures have inbuilt survival in­stincts, without which they would quickly disappear from the face of the earth, without any help from man. One of the prime factors regarding the survival of a creature, is its ability to take advantage of a food supply. Left to their own devices the population of any species is dependent on the food supply. To ensure that only the strongest and healthiest specimens survive a shortage in the food avail­able, most wild creatures have evolved very strong competitive aggression over food.

This instinct is very strong and is retained even when there is an abundance of food, or in the case of some animals, when they have been domesticated for thousands of years.
To give you some idea of what I mean, I will give examples which you could notice in every day life. Sprinkle some breadcrumbs on the lawn together with a few larger pieces of bread, and watch the reaction of the garden birds. A number of things will happen. Squabbles will break out to establish a pecking order between species and individuals.

The im­portant fact, which I will shortly relate to fish­ing, is that all the tiny pieces of bread will be eaten on the spot, whilst any larger pieces will be dragged whey by an individual bird to be eaten out of reach of his competitors. The distance the larger bits of bread are dragged away from the feeding area is related to the physical strength of the species of bird, and the amount of competition for the food. To give another everyday example of this instinct, watch the reaction of your pet dog or cat at feeding times. Most dogs bolt their plate of meaty chunks so fast that they nearly choke. This is simply to get it down before it gets pinched, even though it is now a totally un­necessary reaction.

A large food item such as a juicy bone, will be taken away or dragged under a table to be eaten without disturbance. Cats, although more dainty eaters, will drag any large food items off their plate to some quiet corner to be eaten without interference. I have quoted these examples as something everyone can observe, even if they are not very interested in wildlife, and are not fortunate enough to fish waters where the reactions of fish can be observed. I must make it clear also that my comments on fish reaction to baits do not apply when the fishes' metabolic rate is reduced in very cold weather.

Tackle and methods devised by match anglers to catch fish in heavily fished, often badly stocked waters are now very often used in all types of waters. Nothing wrong with this, providing you do not continually get broken by fish you can't handle. This aggressive feeding instinct is very noticeable with fish, and can be used to great advantage by anglers. Fish picking up a tiny bait can swallow it on the spot without fear of other members of the shoal taking it away from them.

This is why very sensitive methods of bite detection have to be used when fishing with tiny baits and fine lines. Fish do not deliberately pull your float under or straighten your swing tip out. This is the result of the fish moving off with your bait. If you can encourage fish to react more vigorously when picking up your bait, then you get a much better indication on your tackle.

These delicate bites encountered when using fine tackle and small baits are often referred to as shy bites, when in fact they are nothing of the sort. Chub picking up, a legered single caster will not move far, so the quiver tip will only pull round slightly. The same fish picking up a lobworm will run with it, pulling the rod vigorously over. I have often watched the reaction of chub to various baits in clear water. Handfuls of casters will have the chub queuing up to intercept them as they drift past in the current. A large wad of bread creates a completely different reaction from the chub.

The first chub to reach the bread in the rush, grabs it and bolts away from the rest of the fish….

To see if this reaction resulted from the quantity of bait rather than the size of it I have tried different experiments. Single casters flicked at the chub were intercepted gently with no mass reaction from the shoal. A bucketful! of bread was greeted by a near riot as chub swarmed about with the stuff gushing out of their mouths.

I fish a small reservoir which holds large numbers of good roach, perch and crucians. This lake is relatively unfished for some of the year, yet by using fine sensitive tackle I can create the situation where fish give the very slight bites many people class as shy bites. On windless days I can shot a sensitive antenna. float so that only the slightest bit of the tip protrudes above the surface. By setting the depth so that my float only just trips the bottom or is just clear I have an extremely sensitive set up. A single caster or maggot on a tiny hook produces what I call surface tension bites when the fish pick up the bait. The bites are so delicate that the float hardly moves.

Perch are not noted as delicate feeders, yet perch accepting a bait on this rig hardly register a bite on the float. Drop a big lobworm to these fish on much heavier tackle, and the same fish will grab the bait before rushing across the lake.

Carp anglers have come across this situation when using particle baits. Carp will occasionally pick up a grain of sweetcorn and sever the line with their pharyngeal teeth before a bite can be registered. Carp taking a large paste bait usually bolt off across the lake, producing the well-known carp runs.
Any angler encountering delicate bites should assess whether they are produced by shy fish or are from confident fish picking up a small bait.

More often the cause is the latter, and the best course of action is to just increase the size of bait. This will produce a much more vigorous bite. Reducing the size of your hook or bait will not encourage the better bites and will only reduce your chances of landing a big fish. Give it a bit of thought, and although it will not induce more bites it will make it much easier to detect those you do get. I use large baits for chub and barbel simply to avoid small fish, but the bites I get on big baits are terrific. You don't have to fish outsize baits to induce a better bite however; just try two or three maggots instead of one.

For this short morning session it was out with the smelt and roach deads, and also a lure rod from time time and little roving around. The session was tough really tough and oddly the only fish I picked up on a deadbait was a Chub. Usually the deadbaits at least produce a run up at the deep bit, but zilch today per from possible crayfish nibbles. Even the lure which picks up at least a jack or two, didn't even have a nudge or a nibble today.

Hmmm out with the spam again next I think, some big gobstoppers too, I'm sure there is some method in my madness....

Friday 21 September 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Petricores and Ponasks

The walk down to the lair of giant Chub I was greeted with that pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.

There is a word for it to apparently, that being ‘petrichor’

Basically, the scent of rain on dry ground. The word was coined in the 1960s by mineralogists studying the chemical composition of that scent. Petr- is the Greek root for stone, and ichor was the word for the blood-like substance in the veins of the Greek gods. So petrichor would be the divine essence of stone.

Enough of the preamble though, just breathe it all in !!!

For me though it signals the return to fish actually biting and rivers likely to rise above and beyond a trickle. You see the river Alne I really wanted to get stuck in to wouldn’t even feature a rubber duck race at the minute, desperately need of some water, like many of the local rivers. I’m impatient and disgruntled I know, but I’m sure there are some specimens to be had in this new river I’m fishing for this season. It looks very roach’y to me but conditions need to be right for the Roach to show themselves.

A little like following a doddering Honda Jazz driver insistent on taking up the whole road and straying over the white line and whom brakes as someone dares to come the other way, patience is a virtue.

I’m sure there will be opportunities to overtake soon, just bite ones tongue a little harder.

You’ll be bankside soon enough I’m sure Mick. The problem is time waits for no man and there are swims I’m sure hold decent fish, Right Now !!!

So what's will determine good conditions then for a dabble for the Alne Roach, well a dull day, or at least not a clear blue skied one. Anything above a moderate wind is bad, unless it's warm westerly in which case it doesn't matter too much if it's strong, or even gale force.

Afternoon temperatures of 6 degrees or above. Less than 4 degrees hesitate about going. Heavy rain in the proceeding days not an issue, as the extra rain could just have served to colour up what is usually gin clear water. 

Hmmm, not that soon then !!!!

To get my mind off it, I was hoping the recent rain we had would have topped up the levels a little, down this little section of the Avon and spur the fish to feed. I was hoping that I was in their comfort zone as well because this was a rare midday session, having only really fished it morning and evening. My kids have their snack times, and I was sure these fish would be happy that the biscuit time was waving in their faces.

Let’s be honest here, Chub when they feed have the blinkers on and are quite easily caught once they are feeding but it’s that initial confidence boost the chub need to get over their worry’s and anxiety. I’ve seen them happily stay deep with food going over their head, but once one queues up at the buffet table, a few more usually follow.

5lb on the nose has been my best up till now and having seen and lost a bigger fish I need to keep trying for something that I know would be a cracking Warwickshire Fish. A 5lber ain’t a bad’un because it took me long enough to get that monkey off my back, but there are bigger fish here still, I know that for a fact. 

So tactics, well you’ve seen it before, a 11ft rod, centrepin and a large hook, you cannot get much simpler than that.

For this session though a change, an addition to the bread, some cubes of spam. You see a couple of swims are ideal for rolling some meat under some cover and along the clear gravely bottom. Oddly I've not seen Barbel here since the start of the new season, but they are good at hiding themselves, and probably feet from you in places. A moving bait sparks some interest though, a little like a predator with a lure, a chubster reaching for their outside of a kebab shop.

This bit of river rises quite quick with a bit of rain and sure enough when I got bankside it was flowing nicely and with a decent colour. 6 or 7 swims fished and oddly it was the first swim I fished that I returned to that produced the fish.

Floating bread did the trick after it became confident in picking up the bait. Not a huge fish for this stretch as it went 3lb and 7oz's but it gave a decent scrap in the current. Despite the meat rolling in some decent swims it didn't produce any fish and also the floating bread was only taken off the top in one swim. Hmmm, surprised as the conditions looked ideal albeit the wind was quite strong. Ok, only 2 and a bit hours, I'm in two minds what to fish for tomorrow morning Barbel or Zander, I'll have to mull it over with a beer me thinks.

Thursday 20 September 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Pasties and Panchymagogues

You’d have thought the top bods in the NHS should be worrying about the cancer waiting times and the huge amount of cash they are haemorrhaging, but no, the latest load of public purse money wasting come from Jill Venables, managing director of Cornwall Food and head of facilities and contracts at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust. (the worlds largest business card one would think)

Jill you see, wants to change the 500 year old protected recipe which was the all-in-one meal for Cornish tin miner with something apparently healthier.

So the beef, potato and swede, surrounded by a thick layer of pastry crimped at the edges, could potentially be encrusted in filo pastry, yes filo pastry. 

Obviously not a baker then, because the ingredients go in raw and are cooked for an hour or so, that equals, one burnt pasty.

I dread to think the countless hours spent in meetings discussing that one !!!!

It was the advent of Cornish mining in the 19th century that really brought the pasty into its own and made it an important part of the life of so many Cornish families. 

Pasties were taken down the mines by the adults and children who worked there; the shape and size made them ideal for carrying, and they became the staple for the daily ‘crib’ or ‘croust’, Cornish dialect for a bite to eat, usually taken mid-morning.

It is thought that the miners gave the pasty its distinctive D shape too, the crust became a handle, which was discarded to prevent contaminating the food with grubby, possibly arsenic-ridden hands. 

Others will dispute this, arguing that miners ate their pasties wrapped in muslin or paper bags so that they could enjoy every last bit, as we do today.

They’d have been laughed at if they turned up with a thin filo pastry and a likely soggy bottom !!!!

One of the key elements of the protected recipe is of course the fresh, natural ingredients that make up the filling which surely is far healthier surely than other additive-laden heavily processed foods that is rife in the hospital wards. A genuine Cornish pasty is also baked slowly to produce the succulent, distinctive flavour that has become so well loved it’s highly unlikely that an alternative pastry would produce such a satisfactory result.

The last thing I’d worry about whilst lying in a hospital bed or corridor on deaths door or feeling rubbish would be the food that would be entering my gob. If I want a proper Cornish pasty to make me feel better, leave that decision up to me thank you very much.

Ever heard of the term ‘Low-hanging fruit’ Jill ? clearly not !!!!

The obesity crisis ain’t helping I’m sure, so ditch those onsite junk food outlets you have on site by all means for starters, and don’t penalise me and other because of the gluttonous and don’t try and change history. I expect the pork pie to be hit next to appease the overstaying masses in Walsgrave hospital in Coventry.

Talking of food it's back to the hot brekky and lunches, there is that lovely nip in the air that spells my senses need a little more than a cold salad. Porridge topped with fruit, spicy dals with roti's. It's the start of the fishing season I love, this an beyond, well in to winter, is more me, especially when levels will start to settle and waters become less clear.

So this session I need a little peace, a little solitude, and I could think of no other stretch on the Warwickshire Avon I fish that would give me that. I can fish in to dark and beyond If need be and that was the plan for this session. With the rods still in the car from the last session and the fact I’d run out of deadbaits it was out with the boilie with paste set-up I’d used last time.

There are some good chub here to be had, but not only that, Barbel have been caught here in the past so I was hoping to tempt one come dusk. I usually only fish here after work come winter time as it gives me a fishing option because of the rules being a little less restrictive here on the most part.

I'd rocked up a half an hour before dusk and settled down in one swim and got the rods out. The boilie and paste wrap near some cover which sadly featured a dead sheep, the other rod in a crease just off the main flow. I bought some of this Hinder River Rami paste sometime ago and it is so oily and smells so strong that should surely bring in a fish for a butchers.

The river seemed out of sorts though, lifeless in-fact. I'd never really fished this stretch this time of year though, usually it's in winter where it gives me an option for fishing in to dark for the good Chub that reside here. The flow, just a trickle, the distance to the staging massive.

An initial pluck and small pull after 10 minutes I was hopeful, apart from the paste the small PVA bag of pellets are also quite pungent as well but sadly that didn't bring the fish in to feed. Well past dusk now with the glowsticks about all I could see I had some interest. Despite staying a little longer than I anticipated no fish were forthcoming so it was back in the car with the tail between my legs. I'm sure with a bit more water on it would be a different story, I'll be back.
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