Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Thursday 25 October 2018

Warwickshire Avon - Shankers and Soss-Brangles

What a cheek, hand-cut chips my backside, I’d had better from McCain’s finest, those OCD levels of uniformity and mushy mediocrity you served up were straight from the freezer,  in to the fryer.

Pull the wool over the customers’ eyes at your peril, people vote with their feet round these parts. How hard is it to serve up a proper chip these days, not rocket science is it, or maybe it is, maybe the basics have gone out the window because things like cooking in water baths and placing chips in small baskets are in vogue now remember, obviously ain’t got time to peel and cut, yes you heard ‘peel’, a few potatoes.

“Here, take these back to the kitchen please !!!!”

I’m sure there is a franchise chain to be created just serving up what made up the staple diet when I was a kid. The beef dripping you be reused over and over again and ended up making the chips tastier and tastier after every fry.

Ok ones cholesterol levels could take a battering, but it’s not as if I’m eating them everyday is it M'lud.

Now leaving the French and the Belgians to argue among themselves but the first chips fried in the UK apparently were on the site of Oldham’s Tommyfield Market in 1860. 
 A blue plaque in Oldham marks the origin of the fish and chip shop and fast food industries in Britain. 

In Scotland, chips were first sold in Dundee, in the 1870s, that glory of British gastronomy – the chip – was first sold by Belgian immigrant Edward De Gernier in the city’s Greenmarket. It's a staple food that needs to produced properly, not half arsed that seems to be the norm these days.

Maybe I’m getting stubborn in my old age, but I like what I like and that’s decent proper food, a savoy cabbage needs to look like one for example, not something that has been pulled out of the ground way to early from a far off land, and still has loads of growing to do.

Supermarkets take note, they are just as bad as some of these plastic pubs….

Luckily in the area there are plenty of farm shops selling local produce where I can still buy a carrot that looks like a man’s bits, tomatoes that looks like a woman’s and some various sized markies or maris pipers still with actual mud on, mud, MUD !!!!!! yes really.

For this cobbled together short session I was down at a convenient area that usual has a barbus mooching around at dusk for a belly buster. Rather than the garlic canned cooked meat concoction where the greedy chub nicked it time after time last time here till I reduced the bait size. So for this session the processed pork was out, and it was replaced with only the finest of ingredients, (the packaging says so) contained within the finest of boilies and the pungent of paste.

The beauty of fishing a bait like this is that the chub can do their level best to strip, pull and pluck the bait off the hair but it’s only when the rod properly goes over there is any need to strike, re-bait the or recast. For short sessions like this it’s ideal as the minimum of tackle is needed, rods already baited, a tub of paste, an hooking mat and scales and that’s about it.

Preparation is the key, as is fishing at the right time. In-fact thinking about it, all the Barbel I’ve caught this season have always been on short sessions prior to dusk.

No long 5 hour session sat on ones backside to be seen here. I seem to be traveling lighter and lighter these days when I rove around, suits my style and such, I cannot remember the last time I’ve brought my seat along.

Now talking of traveling light, I used to carry a portable LED floodlight as the iPhone is pretty rubbish in low light even after the software change where when the front camera is used, the screen illuminates white with the strongest of contrast prior to the picture being taken.

The floodlight for was ditched for a lightweight clip on light that I wanted to try out in service so to speak. Can be used for either the front or rear camera and when mounted on the front hopefully the selfie pics will be much better.

I hate messing around when I’m taking fish pictures and I was hoping this was exactly what I needed, the LED light was a bit of a faff, because it was maybe too bright, leaving to overexposure and reflections from the fish.

So the preamble was a waste of time, an hour and a half before dusk the rods went out, it was low and very clear too and with barbel particularly being on the body clock, in these conditions it was when the sun went down things should start to happen. Things did happen but it the savage chub that gone in on the act. The left hand rods top moved around a foot in a split section on a few occasions but didn't materialise in to a fish sadly.

If the clubs restrictions were not in place I'm sure eventfully a fish would have turned up but sadly the light remained in it's bag.

A big fat blank, but then you cannot win them all !!!!

Sunday 21 October 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Tantadlin Tarts and Tufted Tit-Tyrants

Now these small tit-tyrants are a family of eight species of flycatcher native to the Andes Mountains and the westernmost rainforests of South America. One of the species, the ash-breasted tit-tyrant, is one of the world’s most endangered birds with fewer than 1000 individuals left in a handful of remote, high-altitude sites in Peru and Bolivia….

….and what a fantastic looking bird it is.

‘Plain, grey and white tyrannulet. Dark grey above, inconspicuously streaked blackish on mantle. Long and narrow, black bifurcated crest, exposing white in crown. Dark wings with two bold white wing-bars and edgings. Long black tail with white outer rectrices. Ashy-grey below, with centre of belly yellowish-white in nominate, white in bolivianus’

Looks like a great little bird doesn’t it, shame it’s likely to be wiped out with its habitat and diminishing numbers.

In complete contrast to the cormorant where the European population in 2015 was estimated at 401,000-512,000 pairs, which equates to 803,000-1,020,000. 

Now the cormorant couldn’t look more different either, visually dark and sinister, it looks like it’s up to no good when they arrive here for the winter.

The bird species with its hoodie donned revelling in receiving an ASBO….

They are certainly on the increase, I’ve seen it with my own eyes and the last couple or three years seemingly an explosion of them, and over the last month or two I’ve noticed that they are back and seemingly more and more of them again for this year, judging by the larger flocks I’ve seen flying overhead.

Now this small section of the Warwickshire Avon was badly effected by them and the fishing went off completely. In the darkest depths of winter over a few years I could winkle out 4 or 5 Chub over 3 or 4lb over a short session without an issue, but then that turned in to one or two, much smaller in statue and also eventually blanking for me and others became the norm.

Not good at all !!!

When I caught a small chub with a large open flesh wound and began seeing more and more cormorants on the hunt, you could see why the fish had run scared because they were constantly watching their backs. 

Not a nice position to be in !!!!

The Barbel loved it here, even the infamous and elusive Albuttbarbelbutt had been spotted, and he don't slum it I tell you, but then now they have all disappeared. Luckily the bigger Chub seem to have returned over this summer and at the moment anyway, are quite happy to call this place home.

That’s why I was here, after a bit of rain you, like the good dumping we had the weekend, the levels rise faster than any other bit of the Warwickshire Avon I fish, and sometimes that spurs up the Chub and gets them out from their hiding places as they have more water over their heads to play in.

It’s a roving anglers stretch of river and that’s the only way to fish it to he honest, so for this session it was out with the doorstop bread and a few lobworms to try and catch one of the lunkers that lurk among its snaggy waters. One particular swim went it’s up has some big stripeys usually hence the lobworms but I find when there is extra flow, oxygen and pace the Chub can let their guard down, become less cagey and can be dare I say it, easier to catch.

Dusk is approaching far quicker than I'd like so got to try and grab every fishing opportunity I can at the minute.  It was a really misty morning and the fishing was tough, I''m sure I disturbed an Otter at first light after it surfaced in the margin in the first swim.

After trying a few swims I managed to get a few Chub feeding off the top in one downstream swim around 50 or 60 foot away, but after trying to get their confidence as soon as I got near to the swim, once the bait dropped in it, one chub came up for a look, literally nosed the bait but it sensed something was wrong, and they all did a disappearing act.

They really are cagey at the minute....!!!!

Some small Perch were obliging but then after a Jack took a liking to the lobworm as well and someone hogging both swims in the Chub banker swim, it was time to call it a day.

The local rivers are a bit poo at the moment, clear, low and badly in need of another dumping of rain.

Friday 19 October 2018

Warwickshire Avon - Ensign Bearers, Epic Fails and Elbow Shakers

There was always a chance of a Pike down this neck of the woods, but the 1.5TC rod I was using for Perch was so under-gunned I dread to think what was on the end. A pike certainly, but how big, who knows, but I’d only ever felt the power of a big fish like that when I hooked one in similar circumstance when targeting Zander in a weir pool.

‘You're gonna need a bigger boat.'

I wasn’t quite ready to don the fighting harness just yet or ease myself in to a fighting chair, but having tightening the drag up and applying as much pressure I could possibly apply the fish was dragging me along the damp wooden platform, yes really !!!!

As Sam Newey acted out, for all intents and purposes it was an epic fail and added to the lost big fish list, which to be fair ain’t that big, but then I suppose mediocrity and me go together, these situations don’t come up that often.

A dream pike Mick ? quite possibly but I’d never know will I stupid.

The Pike is ‘A life subdued to its instrument’, they cannot change, their evolved predatory instincts and instruments for biting dictate their existence.

Conversely fishermen’s tools have evolved in response to the specific needs of their environment, they can develop technologies, in this case the rod, that increase their capacity for predation, they can adapt without a biophysical change.

Now the pikes killer-instinct implicitly maps onto the UK’s own modes of survival, the submarines it has developed to defend itself which, like the animals drives may remain hidden for sustained time periods only to emerge with destructive consequences.

That's why I love them as a species, the assassin out of Killing Eve, there is just something about them, I'm sure you know what I mean.  Jodie Comer who plays Villanelle, ever so alluring, till she goes in for the kill with a smile on her face.

Before I switched to deadbaits for Pike and lobworms for Perch, as the bait fish are still pretty active and easy to catch for this return session a live bait would be used again but this time the 1.5TC rod was ditched for something more suitable, a heavy lure rod. 

There was a nice of colour to the water as well so despite fishing a short afternoon session, I’m sure the predators would be up for a dust up. With the Perch I eventually caught coming from the same peg, the swim where I lost the big pike for the first time would be the first port of call.

I kept the baits in my landing net last time but this session but it was a bit of hassle moving to and fro swims and keep them happy so accompanying me for this session was my live bait aerator bucket.

It’s a great bit of kit as well, even the delicate bleak seem quite happy in their own jacuzzi because unlike if they were kept in a net they have a good chance of survival.

I don’t fish for big Perch that often and I’m not sure why to be honest, such a great looking fish when they are big, the frame, the fins, the colour and their markings, and they give a good fight usually and that’s where the dreaded quandary starts to rear its ugly head. You see I love using balanced tackle when I’m targeting a specific species but Pike like what Perch like, and vice versa. I certainly don’t want to catch my PB perch on a 3lb TC broom handle.

A little like these big Roach being caught on carp gear, yeah great for that Instagram photo but not the way I’d like to catch one. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to catch a 3lb Roach but for me it is the whole package, not just the capture.

I’m rabbiting on now, anyway, so this quick after work afternoon session, how did it go ?

There was plenty of bait fish up for a feed and I was soon in to catching a few perch,  not the biggest of fish but it's always nice to see the float go under isn't it. To be fair it wasn't ideal conditions with clear skies and clear water but in an among the swims in the shade there were predators milling around.

The first pike came soon after the Perch and I had another 3 I think, not the biggest of fish but always nice to catch them.

The biggest maybe 5lb or so and all to small live baits. The problem with my fishing is that I have to fit within the time dictated by the diary makers so I'm sure if I fish in to dusk that the Perch would be more forthcoming. The water needs some colour as well, that would certainly help matters I'm sure.

The rod today was a heavyish lure rod and to be fair it was suited for both captures, I suppose it helps that the tip is quite springy but certainly I'll give this venue a go again when there is a bit more colour in it. I'm sure, well I know there are some much bigger fish to be had.

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Dishclouts and Dreamholes

Some of the largest darkest shadows I’ve witnessed first-hand exist in these couple or three swims. One fish in-particular was massive, it only came out of the cover of the ‘hole; swim for a split second but such the shock of seeing a Chub of this statue, such a gargantuan frame, it activated ones hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis which resulted in not only an increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure, but ones face turned from my usual bright and agreeable complexion to that of a dirty tea towel, pale and frightening.

I was like a acne riddled, hormone loaded 14 year old spotting the unbuttoned blouse of the pretty supply teacher for the first time….

….and because of that split second where this huge Chub revealed its location, it has been on my radar ever since.

However as we know the Chub can be the most wary of fish. A favourable environment is all-important to the chub and if there is any alteration in that environment he feels comfortable within it will often move on to another more favourable swim. You see unless absolutely necessary Chub are not great wanderers and will often stay in the same swim for a long time. With plenty of rain over the weekend I wanted to try and winkle one of them out before potentially they go off on the wander to somewhere more pertinent.

In their infancy these Chevin are gregarious and move in large shoals composed of fish of similar size and age, but as they mature the shoals contain an increasing number of chub of different sizes. This I suppose maybe due to some extent to uneven growth rates, but also to the infiltration of chub of different age groups. Big Chub are not solitary as it if often supposed but frequently live in company with many other and smaller fish of their own species.

When feeding chub patrol certain familiar routes in the swim and, when sated, retire to their hiding-places, often remaining for long periods. The number of feeding-sessions is variable and closely related to the temperature of the water and the availability of the different food organisms. Chub can abstain from eating for long periods-which partly explains why they are often so difficult to tempt-and unlike barbel, gudgeon and loach are not typical bottom feeders, though much of their food is I suppose taken off the bottom.

Sound is conveyed more rapidly through water than through the air and water at 20 °C will carry more sound four times faster than air at a comparable temperature. Thus noise made on the bank and transmitted by vibration to the water will send those cagey chub in to hiding. Sound in the water is detected through the medium of the chub’s lateral line which is extremely sensitive to minute amounts of water displacement and to underwater vibrations.

In most rivers there are many snaggy places and overgrown swims where chub lurk unseen. Most anglers pass them by but the experienced chub hunter pays them special attention and regards no swim impossible to fish as long as there is a reasonable chance of getting a bait in and the hooked chub out.

A weight dropped in to the swim, or even a smaller fish swimming nearby, will be detected immediately. Experiments have proved that even blind Cyprinids are able accurately to locate objects in the water, though this ability is lost if the lateral line is removed.

The problem is these big chub I’ve witnessed is that they have seen it all and are not stupid, they learn from their mistakes. When the whippersnappers decide to get in on the act first these lurking lunkers return to the cover of their lair never to be seen again. But then that’s the chub for you, however they are some of the bravest and hardest fighting of fish when you eventually do hook a good’un.

Now one of the swims is quite elevated and you have to creep up in to position and feed floating bread for a good amount of time to get them feeding, the small fish that is, the bigger fish are still hugging bottom and watching from afar from with their chasm. Hook a fish too early the swim is dead, but feed for a while and then rather than a large piece of crust, a slowly sinking large piece of flake can often work.

Now another issue is they need to be bullied out from the reeds as the reeds can go through the line like those with hands in my wallets, also the flow is strong here especially with a little water on so the fight from the fish is compounded.

Lobworms or slugs which can be found bankside are fished on the bottom they largely ignored, the problem is, well you can see them for starters, they appear in the swim for literally a few seconds and then return under their cover. A floating insect lure before has worked in the past before, but again, the smaller fish get on the act first.

That’s part of the fun though trying to outwit them….

So for this short after work cobbled together session it was simple roving tactics, a thick sliced loaf and a few lobworms. The lobs would be fished on the bottom headed towards dusk to try and induce a bigger fish to feed as the prime feeding time was reached. You know what I’m like for planning, there are Barbel down here as well you see and I might well drop on one when they went on the mooch if the big skelly’s were not out to play.

Fishing with just a hook is a simple as it gets but the addition of a SSG shot and a backlead makes it in to a basic ledger rig within seconds. First it was just the hook though so first it was out with the bread. The river was up, but a little down than I expected and there was a tinge of colour, after exploring three swims by allowing floating bread to drift down it became obvious quite quick they were not up for feeding like that. I eventually had a rise when I returned to the first swim, but after a succession of bits of bread going down after an hour I was wasting my time.

Even a bottom bait was largely ignored with only small fish interested, maybe they'd moved on because it would have be a chore to maintain station with the pace the water was flowing. So I headed upstream for the last half an hour and positioned  a lobworm on the crease over a bit of gravel. The first bite came quick, but after three or four confident bites without a hook-up I let the line go slack so the Chub (I assume) couldn't feel any resistance, literally a couple of minutes before packing up time a ridiculous bite ensued and I was in to a fish.

At first I thought it might be a small Barbel but the characteristic fight gave away that it was Chub, it gave a good scrap to be fair but was quickly in the net after a couple of runs. Not a huge fish that I know live here but with a blank avoided at least I caught something. So the next session, well hopefully Friday where I'll have another go for the Perch.

Friday 12 October 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Ladybirds, Lobcocks and Lickspittles

In the week, the spinney car park, tackle being unloaded from the car, out the corner of my eye, hmmmmm, a swarm of insects, wonder what they are? Very weird. Then I’m under attack, one lands on my ear, so I flick it off, then another lands on my head, brushes it off, then I notice my trousers are covered. Oh they’re ladybirds, wow, haven’t seen that many before.

Then a bit of Googleing, STD riddled ones apparently, you see these by all accounts are a species called Harmonia Axyridis, otherwise known as Harlequin ladybirds and have been ‘invading British homes in biblical plagues.’

Now these ladybirds which migrated from Asia and North America around 14 years ago, carry a disease called Laboulbeniales which is a form of fungi, and Scientists say the fungus, which is passed on through mating, will infect our native species, which are already under threat from habitat loss. While they don't yet know if the fungus is harmful, they say it is possible that the disease affects the lifespan or the number of eggs a female can produce over her lifespan.

Luckily there is no chance of catching this Coccinellidae chlamydia, however the advice is to leave them alone, because a defence mechanism many ladybird species exude a yellow fluid (called reflex blood) which has an unpleasant acrid smell, and which can stain soft furnishings.

To be fair, much like the kids then !!!!

Also when hungry, harlequin ladybirds will bite humans in their search for something if there is no food available. The bites usually produce a small bump and sting slightly and there are a few documented cases of people having a severe allergic reaction to harlequin ladybirds.

Scientists have dubbed the animal Britain's most invasive species, as it preys on seven native ladybirds, including the common two-spot. Don’t worry though, The Harlequin Ladybird Survey will monitor its spread across Britain and assess its impact on native ladybirds.

Now talking of invasive species….

….for this after work afternoon session in the peeing rain and strong wind (I had the choice of shopping with the Wife or going fishing ) I teased my rubber band equipped car down the perilous potholed path (a little better now) to the upper reaches of the deep bit of a stretch of the Warwickshire Avon I fish, you see I’ve concentrated in and around certain pegs of late further downstream and that’s probably not helping my catch rate, so this was born out of necessity.

These Zander have been rather sluggish of late you see, where have they all gone, that’s the question ?, because I thought I was on to something, I really did. It was out with the lure rod to try and locate a few but as back-up I’d also fish a sleeper rod in and around some marginal cover with my favourite Zander bait of recent times, yeap the smelt.

The colour and clarity isn’t helping for sure, because Zander love turbid water, more colour the better in-fact such their superior eyesight that give them an advantage over their prey. Just look at the canal fish I’ve been catching, I actively look for areas where the water is brown because that’s where the Zander will likely be, it’s not finger in the air type stuff I tell thee.

They love being top dog, feet up, smoking jacket donned with a big fat Cuban, then again who doesn’t….

With the acid house poncho at the ready (bought for an outdoor rave but not used) I decided to brave the conditions. The rain luckily eased up after an hour or so but the wind picked up and got worse throughout the session.

I worked really hard in this session, dropping in and out of swims with the deadbait to try and stumble on to a Zed and using the lure rod in anger. I had two dropped takes on the smelt and not even a nudge on the lure which surprised me as usually there is a jack that is up for it.

So a big fat blank but I'm glad I braved the conditions !!!!

The river felt very low and lifeless though and very clear indeed, so not ideal conditions to target the Zander.

Wednesday 10 October 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Flap-Dragons and Flaybottomists

Unlike a friend Dave Robert who has just banked his best common carp at 74lb from his 20th trip over to Lac De Curton or Rainbow Lakes in France recently I could never dedicate or even justify the time required angling for a mud sifter.

He and the like-minded think nothing more than spending days and weeks at a time, here and abroad sat behind rods waiting for the buzzers to go off hoping a carp bigger than they’ve caught before has bolted off and hooked itself after sucking up their boilies. Lets not go in to the mirror he's had, all I can say is that it makes the 74lber look small.

Kilos and kilos of bait, enough gear to open a tackle shop, rig making, prebaiting and preparation that is needed to catch fish battling with  buggered BMI's and a bulging bellies. It’s just not my thing, but then I’ve always been an advocate of doing whatever makes you happy not what other people think.

I’m the odd one out though it seems, you see carp fishing participation over the years after all has propped up many a tackle firms from going belly up, and I for one don't want that to happen. It also keeps the interest up for many, which to be honest is a dying pastime.

To be fair maybe one day I might join Dave for a trip is life ever gets on top of me because I can see the appeal as you are away from it all, mind elsewhere, and most of all that much needed peace and solitude I seek.

An angler as experienced as Dave in these matters would make or break the deal for me as it’s the incite from someone that has spent hundreds and hundreds of hours bankside fishing for big carp that I’d happily listen to whilst the bite alarms are silent.

His last account of his latest big fish really showed the dedication and skill to be able to catch fish at this mad venue and the power of these fish must be incredible. Now he has been fishing for carp for many a year however I'm not quite ready to jump on the bandwagon just yet....

....So what the heck am I doing then….?

I’m carp fishing, hmmmm

Ok I’m on a river not within a containment but yes, I want to try and catch another carp from the Avon after seeing one launch itself out of the water recently. It was a big bronzed flanked mirror that unexpectedly showed its location when I was lure fishing for Zander. I’ve not really fished for carp that much on rivers, I had a spell where I fished an area thick with lilies with bread crust and dog biscuits that many carp had as their sanctuary, but apart from that, not much else.

That style of carp fishing suited me, not much gear and also having to be very mobile which was instrumental in the luck I had when during one of the bloggers challenges on the last day of the season. You see I had to catch a decent Zander or a Carp to stay in second place on the river leader board after Sean had banked a massive Pike if memory serves me right.

After motionless deadbait rods in Lucy’s Mill weir pool I ventured upstream and chucked out a sleeper rod with two 15 mm boilies, one a bright pop-up and within a short while the baitrunner was screaming off and a fat and rotund 20lb carp fell for the bait. The bait wasn’t just positioned willy -nilly though it was within a patrol route I’d been told about, so not quite chuck and hope, well only just.

Any leg up the ladder is always welcome when targeting something new and when this carp revealed itself recently I had to at least give it a go. Zander are up here as well though so this was a bit of a double dipping session, a smelt on one rod and a boilie on the other with a PVA bag full of freebies attached to the hook.

It's greater than 12 foot in most places but a clear bottom is quite easy to find an area where the carp in theory should be grubbing round for food.

To try and get ahead of the game when I was here last for Zander, before I left, I deposited a load of 15 mm boilies that I’d been meaning to bin because they were showing their age. This was to at least try and get any carp in the vicinity to return to an area where they’d had a buffet laid out without hindrance and I'll have a trap set.

Put one of my Sunday dinners in front of most people they get stuck in like they've never eaten before, and that's when the guard comes down.

"who want an extra Yorkshire pudding ?"

Everyone puts their hands up despite the implications it may have !!!!

Carp are greedy after all, give them bait, that’s what they want !!!!

Two pegs would be fished and after arriving I'd bait up another spot with hemp, sweetcorn and pellets to try and bring fish in to the area to feed and if they did turn up whilst I was fishing the initial spot they would become confident when I'd lower in my boilie offering.

The Zander well, the plan was to fish a roach deadbait in a deep area just to my right. Now I usually fish the far bank cover which is a bit of a cast, but maybe I was missing a trick, what's up with fishing my bank instead. Got to be worth go me thinks....

I got away later from work as expected and after two sets of temporary traffic lights I did wonder if it was worth bothering or not or just go to the local and have a pint. I battled on though and eventually settled down in to the swim two and a half hours before dusk. It was warm too, so the thick fishing hoodie was to warm so the work shirt would have to do complete with hat. Once the sun went down the temperature would drop considerably.

I deposited the freebies on the upstream swim first and then got the carp rod out with a PVA bag of freebies and the zed rod out in the main swim to fish. A bite came quick on the deadbait but I stupidly didn't let the bite develop and after putting the bait back it didn't seem to be interested.

The carp rod remained silent for the whole session and after popping back and forth the swim I fed without seeing any carp or any signs of them, so I decided to stick to the main swim rather than car the gear and change swims.

Eventually after seeing a decent fish top right by my feet more or less I dropped the deadbait exactly where I saw it and sure enough after fifteen minutes the bobbin starts to become active and fish has decided it would like a bit of roach.

I knew it was a Pike as soon as it was on because of the characteristic fight. A half decent fish as well and it gave a pretty good go of trying to escape the net. Netted it was though and there was no need to unhook it either as it had already dropped out of the net.

I didn't weigh it but it didn't quite like a double but maybe a pound off. With half an hour to go another half roach went out but sadly nothing doing. I thought a bream might have taken a fancy to the boilies at least and where have all the Zander gone.

Only 1 Zed in about 5 sessions now, with a bit of rain on the way though I'm hoping a top up will put a bit of extra colour in the water but this time I will fish an area I know where a big Zed has been caught in the past, it's got form too, as my biggest came from the area, as did the biggest I've lost.

Sunday 7 October 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Thornbacks and Thatch-Gallows

The Krispy Kreme doughnut shop which opened in Dublin last week has been forced to close its 24 hour drive-through service at night after noise complaints from neighbours. Krispy Kreme said that it had experienced unprecedented demand since opening its first Irish branch in Blanchardstown last Wednesday.

An hours queue by all accounts, with those with bulging bellies and angry faces just to get their fatty sugary fix, yes you really cannot make it up.

Apparently it made the decision to close the drive-through between the hours of 11.30pm and 6am in response to customers shouting and sounding their horns and annoying the locals while queuing outside the restaurant late at night.

Surely the only doughnut if you really want to get your fix is the freshly fried ones from the fairground not the overly sweet rubbish concoctions this company conjurers up, I’m the odd one out again it seems.

But queue for an hour, come on, unless you nothing better to do of course !!!!

But it doesn't stop there there were some freebies given out on the first day and there were people there hours, yes hours waiting to get their hands on the 12 quid a dozen jobbies.

Now Perch have similar traits, shoaled and queued up like us British do waiting for a tasty treat to swing by before grabbing what they can to get their fix.

I was hoping the rain the day before would add that much needed tinge of colour to the river which for a long time now has been very clear. Perch you see in a few spots I fish for them shy away in those sort of conditions but with a little bit of colour can indeed switch on to feed. There are certainly predators down this neck of the woods, oddly no Zander as far as I know, Pike being the dominate species, and some good’uns too.

I don’t fish for big river Perch that often, 1lb 13oz’s being my biggest on a live bait up to now with my still water PB being 2lb 11oz which was caught at the now shut Warwick Racecourse Reservoir that was one of those waters that would throw up some nice surprises.

The plan for this session was to fish a small live bait under a tiny small Pike bobber and sprinkle a few red maggots over the top to bring in the smaller prey fish in for a look and hopefully for the Perch to hopefully follow.

Before the session started I'd also put in to chopped worm and red maggots in a few likely looking Perch hideouts.

What a lovely morning, one of those Autumn dawns us anglers and early risers get to see. Mist off the water, the sun gradually rising, the Kingfisher on the hunt. The problem was the water was still as clear as it was last time I was here. The skies were blue as well which certainly wouldn't help the fishing.

Small live baits were not that easy to come by, plenty of fish but the dace and roach were on the whole would have been fine for Pike but a bit of a gobstopper for a Perch.

Perch can certainly swallow surprisingly large baits but that would mean I'd have to tackle up if a decent Pike came along. My Perch rod is 1.5TC, fine for small Pike but anything half decent I'd be outgunned.

That said the first fish was a Pike that nearly pulled the rod in because I'd took the eye off my float for a second. It gave a spirited fight and I didn't weigh it but it looked around 6 lb or so. I tried all the baited swims without even an enquiry but then decided to fish a peg I had to plough myself through to get to it. I did mean to bring my shears as it was overgrown last time I was here, but stupidly forgot them. To be fair the stingers are dying off now so it wasn't really a problem.

I cast next to some reeds and within 10 seconds or so the float started to bob and then started to go properly under. I was a little premature on the strike but I felt a fish on. I steered it away from the snags and it came towards me and I saw the flanks of a big Perch, the problem was I could see the fish in it's mouth and then we it saw me in the clear water it let go of it and went back to it's sanctuary.

So another bait went out and with 10 minutes the float did exactly the same, this time though as soon as I struck in to it I realised this was no Perch but a big Pike, it carted to my left and there was nothing at all I could do about it, in-fact after tightening up the clutch as much as I dared it was pulling me along the slippy wooden staging then the hook pulled.

Hmmm might need a re-think....

I thought I was going home with a pretty poor session but then taking a while to catch a small lively again the very same spot within 5 minutes the float was off again, this time it went from left to right and it eventually submerged.

A half decent fight again but I knew it was a Perch this time, it wasn't the monster and was certainly not the fish I had on earlier but a nice proud fish all the same. Not huge fish at 1lb 10oz but an encouraging sign that's for sure.

I'm sure with the rivers like there are maybe the hour heading in to dusk would have been the better option, but hey ho. Got to fish within the time I have available to me, I'll be back soon though, I'm sure there are some lunking lurkers to be caught, I'm sure of it.

Wednesday 3 October 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Mutton Mongers and Mopsqueezers

I suppose it’s a by-product of getting older, the older wiser females now on one’s radar rather than the young whippersnappers I cannot keep pace with. I tip my toe in from time to time but then I realise yeap, they’re welcome to it. You see these larger fat female Zander I’ve been chasing on the canal over many many sessions I’ve realised just how rare and hard to catch they are.

It’s purely a numbers game, many bars, hangouts and dance floors frequented, eventually one will be forthcoming with her life story. After catching a 7, a couple of 8’s and a couple or three years ago a 9lber on the nose which slipped up, that fish remains my canal PB till today.

As I found over the last couple of closed seasons those bigger females are becoming as becoming as elusive as the ever were so maybe that’s the biggest I’ll ever catch, maybe the heyday is gone.

The thing is Zander are a fish I’ve grown to love, thriving on adversity, if you were said you were going to be rehoused in a dirty canal in the midlands what would you say?

Exactly !!!!

They just gone on with it and to be fair to them, and have made the best of a bad situation. I’m looking forward to getting back fishing for them come mid-March as I’m determined no matter how hard it may be to catch that double.

Pin them down with rubber gloves donned and a full kitchen sink, that’s the best chance you have, needle in the proverbial haystack though, and I’m amazed I’ve stuck to it so long to be honest.

The river in theory should be an easier proposition, more bait fish to eat, more space to spread their wings and to be honest having lost at least one certain double I’m sure one will grace my net soon enough. I don’t fish for river Zander in the same vigour I do for canal fish, I’m not sure why either as they give a good fight most of the time and when a big one of netted it confirms my admiration for the species.

Smelt has been a bit of a revelation for my canal Zander fishing as maybe the distinctive smell has an advantage over a roach for example but as it’s also very soft the hook-ups that can be tricky as times for Zeds, a softer bait pulls through the flesh easier and gives the hooks the best chance it has to catch hold. I’d been using two rods so I’d also fish with a roach for my river Zander sessions as you never because it’s not as coloured they might be a tad more fussy.

Zander attack their prey by stabbing it, thus immobilising it, and then they swallow it tail or head first, seemingly not fussy about it. This said, they do not hunt in packs, at least not in unison, as a team, but they certainly home in and prey on shoal fish such as bream, corner them, and then attack them from all quarters. Bream shoals stir up the bottom and this in turn attracts smaller cyprinids which the Zander can eat in one gulp, so find the bream, find the Zander.

For this quick after work in to dusk session I was up at the deep bit of the Avon that sometime ago now I used the deeper fish finder to search out the good swims with holes, gullies and decent depth to try and give me an advantage. It’s quite wide and pedestrian and as it’s deep the Zander will still feed despite clear skies and sunny weather.

One particular session up here at the deep bit within the space of an hour I had multiple takes, even on the drop where obviously a large head of Zander had moved in and were on a hunting mission, quite a few fish were caught, a biggy lost so it’s an area that has always been on ones radar for a while, not only that but bream are up here as well.

Find the bream, find the Zander, well that’s the theory anyway !!!!

The river is a little lifeless as the minute so when I got bankside I knew I was in for a tough one, the deadbaits could clearly been seen 6 ft down and despite it being deep in places even the Zander are put off by this. The far bank cover is an ideal lair for the fish though and having caught numerous fish there before that's where both baits went.

It took nearly two hours for the first bite which came after I moved to a swim down.It was a tentative dropped run which when I inspected the bait it had the tell tale markings of a small Zed.

Another half an hour went by without an more interest even on the lure from time to time I moved down to the last swim as I headed in to dusk. Now this is home to my biggest river Zander which nearly went 9lb and also home to a fish that I lost that was a certain double and a location where a 12lber has been caught in the past.

Yeap you guessed it not a jot, just a tinge of colour can certainly help and at the minute the Avon is back to being low and clear, for the next session I might have to do a little bit of double dipping. Sean  was upstream of me and fared no better, sadly a couple of blankers for this evening session

I like to keep a record of all my sessions as there is plenty of bad and not so much good, it cannot be all about PB's !!!!
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