Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Thursday 28 February 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Smelt and Snot Rockets Pt.10

Who'd have thought it, the end of Feb, the mercury rising to almost 20 degrees in the day,the warmth of the sun, the blueness of the sky, signs of things to come I wonder ? after all, it was a cracking summer last year wasn't it, a proper heatwave.

Who knows, but I was making the most of it....

Some jerk chicken, rice and peas on the go, and to wash it down and to complement the hot sauce and to tickle the taste buds a nice plantation pineapple rum or two, simple pleasures, that's what life's about. Fishing gives me that in abundance, a distraction from the modern world where I feel more and more disconnected from.

Just those couple of hours is all that is needed to get the mind back on the good side and allows me to temporarily put up two fingers up to the ever increasing need for process and conformity, the scrum-half positioned well away from the scrummage.

Luckily for us it's a pastime with unpredictability and reward others cannot hope to match....

Now out of all the mysteries of the oceans, none is perhaps as disgusting as the globster. Throughout history, unidentifiable reeking masses of sea animal flesh have been discovered along seashores around the world, grossing out beach-goers and generally stinking up the joint.

While these blobs of rotting meat are often cited as proof of unknown sea monsters hiding in the inky blank depths, in most cases they turn out to be nothing more than the decomposing remains of whales and other large aquatic animals.

Still, that doesn’t stop globsters from frequently attracting the attention of cryptozoologists and mystery seekers.
These masses of malodorous marine kebab'esk meat are often described as “hairy” due to the way animal collagen breaks down into long strands as it decomposes, and this hairy appearance frequently has led to their misidentification as monsters throughout the years. 

Dead sea creatures, particularly rare ones, are often believed to be omens of impending natural disasters. Dead oarfish, for example, often wash up shortly before earthquakes, and marine biologists still don’t know why.

A massive hairy globster washed up in the Philippines not so long back, piquing the curiosity of onlookers and creating a social media sensation. Of particular note was this globster’s otherworldly smell and that many had said they had never encountered a stench like this one.

Even I knew it was probably just a washed up whale carcass….

However globsters and are not confined to oceans and Coventry’s Jumping Jack’s either, before I got in to this blogging lark I was down at the Warwickshire Avon and discovered an identifiable hairy mass of mush belonging to something of rather large proportioned wedged tight to an overhanging tree.

I assumed it was a cow that got in to difficultly whist trying to quench it thirst, but it after prodding and poking it with one’s landing net pole, the stench hit me as hard as Jerry would do Tom.

The swim quickly vacated, and I never returned….

I still didn’t know till this day what it was, and where it had come from?

Heck it could have been a massive pike disguised by the bloating.

As you know I like the idea of the unknown, what lies beneath and this short afterwork evening session, was one of convenience and also at an area that I’m sure harbors some big things with fins.
With lack of rain recently and overnight frosts, the water is back to clear which isn't ideal for predator fishing with these clear skies, but other ideas I know are more suitable.

It’s deep you see, very deep and also has prey fish for predators to plunder, something large in theory could live out in relative anonymity, well that was the theory.

I’d use lures here in the past down here, but not deadbaits, so was there method in one’s madness? I had used all my smelt up, so for this session it was out with the Roach deads instead. 

2 rods, a couple of hours in to dusk, anything doing ?

The water temperature was a sky high 10 degrees but the water clear, very clear indeed. I fished for 20 minutes or so wobbling a roach in and around the margins in a few of the pegs because usually a pike or two are sat waiting,sadly nothing doing so I got the rods properly set-up an hour before dusk and sat and waited.

I had the first tentative run quite quickly but it never developed sadly so in to dusk I went. The were a couple of big splashes here and there but I assume Chub maybe as they seemed to be feeding off the surface, again, another bobbin raiser with half an hour left it was fingers and toes crossed, but sadly nothing doing.

Now I'd seen the remains of a carp up here, carcass and all, and that had been massacred by an otter, so I hope the bigger fish were just having an off day, because particularly for Zander, I used to have a couple or three fish a session.

Oh well at least it was a nice evening !!!!

Sunday 24 February 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Bung Nippers and Buttock Brokers

What a lovely morning down one of my favourite sections of the Warwickshire Avon. The whole stretch to myself, a rovers delight. It's shallow here in places and with the river now more or less clear, it was time for a bit of sight fishing.

The problem is sometimes a big chub will be among five or six fish holding against the current on a gravel shallow, out of view of all seemingly unobtainable. At other times one stray chub may push it's way through a shoal of smaller fish in a clear, deep glide, but mostly in my experience, the chub is to be found in a secure hold under the bank.

They are shy and cagey, despite the boldness of their bites....

It is a fish of habit, on some rivers given to constant patrolling along with others of its kin, on other rivers a solitary fish to be sought beneath rafts of debris accumulated against trailing brambles, roots or breaks in the bank.

Sometimes an undercut bank will have deeper than average cut that is particularly favoured by a big Chub. Such spots should be kept in mind, remembered well, for the fish missed in that cut one day may well be caught on the next.

There is a temptation to cast a bait close to where the chub is seen, and while this will sometimes bring the fish out of his hold, it more often than not puts the fish on the defence. Intimate stretches of river like this gives the angler an opportunity up close to see the characteristics of this intriguing fish.

Once clear of his shelter, the chub will be fully alert and the angler's changes will start to diminish. I work on the basis that if the chub is in the sedge, that is where the bait should drift, and if it is holding up beneath a raft of debris the bait should go right under the raft.

It can be sometimes be a problem to get the bait to the fish, but bear in mind that the chub feels secure in his retreat and it will often take even an obvious bait in his complacency.I would rather tackle a chub a close range in a snaggy river than attempt to lure them out in to open water where snags present little difficulty in casting and presentation.

Generally, one cannot make rules for fish, there are so many variations on what fish may do that each situation must be handled on its merits, but I do have a rule for chub, on small snaggy stretches like this !!!. As soon as the strikes is made I hold the fish, and hold it hard.

When it makes that first run, and with chub it is invariably this one that causes all the trouble.

With some slack line on the water, the fish may well build up a speed which cannot be effectively checked before the snag has been reached, this is where one discovers whether the faith in ones tackle is justified. A rod with with an action right down to the butt, a strong line and good hook hold, should give the angler the best odds.

Bread flake was the only bait for this short morning session, it was initially cold but the sun soon cleared the mist and it was very pleasant indeed, in-fact it reached 15 degrees later on in the afternoon when I was out with the family, very unseasonal indeed.

I don't mess around when it comes to bait size, a big size 6 hook and a large piece of flake. In many of the swims you can actually see the bait well and when fished on a light link ledger the big piece, wafts enticingly in the flow.

I must have fished 7 or 8 swims maybe with 6 or so banked the biggest going 4lb on the nose which sadly was one of the smaller fish in the group, where the biggest looked 5 or over. But that's chub fishing for you and why I love them as a species. The swim where I caught it from a banker swims of there ever was one, I don't think I've failed to catch.

Roving a small rover, travelling light and fishing for chub, one of my favourite methods of fishing....

I just love it !!!!

Friday 22 February 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Smelt and Snot Rockets Pt.9 (PB Content)

A contrast in quality, a lovely aged steak cooked up, the ring pulled off a tin of guts and eyeballs, but you see, a small window of opportunity had to be seized, the weather unseasonably mild, ones pike fishing, of late, nothing of note. A visit to an area that harbours some big Barbel, Barbel that don’t venture that far. 
I don’t fish for them all that much, but especially with the water low and still a little chilly feeding times are generally a tiny window, but they should feed, and at this time of year, they should be not far off their heaviest too.

Right time, right place and Garlic Spam !!!!

I don’t mess around where Barbel are concerned, I don’t want an annoying Chub, especially when the session was an hour and a bit, so big baits, equals big fish in my book. A tin of discontinued contraband garlic spam divided in to four, jobs a good’un. 

But I was after a predator as well, so under a float would go a smelt, a bit of double dipping, got to hedge ones bets. 

I passed an angler who had been bankside since the morning and not had a tap, but that didn’t put me off, I know from experience the fish venture out when the light goes and that’s when you are likely to get a bite, there are things with claws here, I’ve seen them, most of the time they are tucked up away in hiding. 

Baits out, sun beginning to dip, waiting time….

Now fellow Blogger and WBAS syndicate member Sean from Off the Oche, Down the River is a bait twitcher when it comes to predators, and I’ve cottoned on to his technique. It certainly works because unbeknown to you as an angler under the water a Pike may well be looking at your bait deciding to take it or not. A twitch now and then to pull the bait out of the position they cannot help but act on their predatory instinct. 

It works with Zander as well, and often when static baits are pulled out of position when a lock is opened on the canal for instance, you can often get a bite out of nowhere.
So not long after the smelt had been out in the relatively sheltered swim a quick nudge of the bait I felt a pull like you would get on a lure. Sure enough the float bobbed and it was away. It was doing it best to get away as well and gave a pretty good fight for its size. Soon landed though and was over 5lb. 

I’m sure if I keep plugging away, excuse the pun eventually it will come good and I’ll bank a nice fish.

Anyway back to the session, a barn owl was keeping me company as the light was going and at one point it was gracefully flying a few meters off the ground on the opposite bank in a display we get to enjoy as anglers as we spend so much time near waterways. Sadly I didn’t have a decent zoom camera with me, so the iPhone had to suffice.

The sun now below the horizon, a lovely amber glow…. 

The first bit of interest, a couple of chub rattles, sit tight. 10 minutes later a couple of pulls, then all hell breaks loose, the centrepins ratchet struggling to cope with the sudden onslaught. I grabbed the rod and used my palm on the pin body to prevent it from powering off downstream. It came to the surface almost immediately and the huge wake it left I know this was a big fish.

I felt like I got it under control at one point as it was headed upstream but then it turned and went again, this time I’ve got to allow it to run otherwise a hook pull might have happened under the strain. I lean in to the fish again and turn its head, this time a nice bend of the rod, the carbon doing its thing, one’s arm aching under the strain. 

There were some hacked at cut reeds to my right and I was worried it would get amongst them before netting but leaning the rod out as far as I could I steered the fish round the hazard, a second attempt at getting it in the net, eventually it was contained as my heart was pounding, not ideal for an old duffer.

Rested in the margins, tackle packed up, time to weigh and photograph. 

A good friend of mine, seemingly a repeat capture looking at some picture, luckily with his winter belly on, and now going 12lb 14oz’s on the scales, 8 oz’s now added to my previous PB.

Happy Days !!!!

Double Bubble, you know it makes sense.

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Smelt and Snot Rockets Pt.8

A group of cyclists on a narrow B road over 20 strong, two and three abreast, straying over the white line, a hazard even given a long straight road ahead most drivers would think twice about passing, a Honda Jazz’s worse nightmare. Oblivious to a car behind, holding conversation, these MAMIL’s with minds elsewhere, a danger to themselves.

An opportunity arises, they are all within one lane, a straight, a load of underbonnet horses revel in. woooooooooffffffffftttttttttttttt, bahhhhhhhhhh as I pass.

“Car, CAR !!!!”

Shame you didn’t realise that a mile ago, luckily my blood pressure was unhindered under the provocation. I’d a predator session to go to, but like all my sessions pre-planned, rods made-up.

And it would be a full moon….

Things happen under a full moon you see, things with teeth come out, and I try and fish every single one of them.

The moon has long intrigued humanity. Cultures throughout the world have myths and beliefs concerning the moon, many of which ascribe mystical significance to Earth’s natural satellite. 

Some beliefs hold that the full moon drives individuals to insanity, while other common moon myths contend that the full moon imbues fertility and causes women to give birth. 

While this has last belief long been disregarded as an old wives’ tale the lunar cycle has profound effects on the natural world, including tidal patterns and the migratory patterns of many animals. 

It’s natural then, that we could conclude that humans would be affected as well. Research like this cow study might one day prove just how interconnected we and the celestial bodies truly are. 

Fish affected too, yeap I’m sure of it….

For this session I was down at a section of the Avon where I not only lost a Zander that would have obliterated my river Zander PB, one of those lost fish that I still re-live to this day. 

As an experienced fisherman in all things Zed, I could tell it wasn’t hooked properly, the bend of the carbon not as uniform as a good hook hold should be, it’s second exit out of the water shaking his head dislodged the Sakuma Manta like I’d ever seen it done before.

The fish, gone, the bend no more !!!! 

Since that lost fish I’ve fished the swim a few times without a second coming, but it was a chance conversation with a seat box frequenter that apparently a huge Zed was caught on a halibut pellet by his mate barbel fishing in these hallowed water it’s always been on my radar. Not only is it also home to my river PB, I’ve had some good Pike from it too. 

Anyway both rods smelt, a two hour session, a resting fish , honest Gov’ner past dusk. Two Jacks were caught quite quick which was encouraging, and then after the loss of a Pike around dusk that looked around 7 or 8 pound I was hoping the 2nd half would get the Zander moving when the bigger pike would be more elusive. 

The first tentative take happened, and then a few more, one dropper run, an inspected bait, the tell-tale puncture wounds of a Zander, a small one though. Baits halved, to at least bank one, no more bites, swim dies, returns with tale between ones legs.

The moon waving goodbye, till the next time !!!!

Monday 18 February 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Clod-Poles and Cat-Heads

If one fishes consistently from childhood to maturity, as I have done, one cannot fail to have acquired knowledge born of long experience, to have exposed a few fallacies and discerned a few endurable truths. There are not many of them but they are worth noting.

Success can never be guaranteed, no amount of knowledge about water, fish, techniques, or baits can do that. So aim at achieving some standard of consistency throughout the season and accept some degree of failure as inevitable.

Angling ability is not necessarily related to the amount of time you spend fishing. The angler who fishes perceptively can learn more in one season than the angler who spends a lifetime fishing aimlessly.

Do not think you are a better angler than someone else merely because you have caught a bigger chub, or more chub. The best fish you catch will not necessarily be the biggest; nor will it always require greater skill to catch than chub of lesser weight. 

Understanding of fish and water is far more important than knowledge of methods and baits and far more difficult to acquire. So devote some of your time to learning all you can about the movements and feeding habits of chub in your chosen waters.

Your angling will then improve in proportion to your increasing knowledge of the species….

Do not assume that lack of success means that chub are not feeding. The fault is just as likely to lie in your choice of swim, tackle, bait or in plain bad timing. Learn to mould yourself to the ways of fish, and do not expect that they will always behave as you think they should.

If success does not come quickly and it usually does not do not lose heart. Try again and keep on trying until you do succeed, or at least until you are able to establish why you are failing.
The knowledge and understanding you acquire from per­sonal experience will be invaluable but do not scorn the information you can gain from books, which can be of immense value as the distillation of many years of experience by experts in the art.

Fish always on the assumption that no matter how much you learn there will remain much that you do not know and make up your mind right from the start that you want to catch chub and only chub. The catching of just one chub will then mean more to you in terms of progress than the catching of a hundredweight of other unwanted species. It is better to catch nothing than to catch fish you do not want or had not intended to.

Mention of the part that instinct plays in successful angling is usually greeted with skepticism but after many years of patient perceptive fishing, swim selection, approach, choice of method and bait do all become more or less instinctive. You become sensitive to a river's every mood and in your mind's eye can travel over its every twist, bend and curve in its course, seeing everything as clearly as if you were actually there.

When you have reached that stage and when the other essentials of successful angling have been mastered you can begin to feel that you have 'arrived'. Successful angling for chub, or for any chosen fish, for that matter, could indeed be likened to the bringing together of many different strands of coloured wool, each strand representing a vital factor for success.

Only when these different strands have been fused together can you fish in that confident, almost instinctive way that brings consistent success. It can be a long, even a hard road, but it is well worth treading to reach the goal of the complete angler.

For this short morning sessions I was down at one of my favorite venues, if I wanted a guaranteed bend in the rod from a Chub, it would be here. It’s a roving anglers delight, no chairs to be seen here, feed swims with liquidised bread and then fish the swims with a hunking great lump of cheesepaste. The swims though, I’ve gotten to know over time, it’s not just a random chuck, there is a reason why I place the bait where I do.

It was a good morning as well, the sun up, the air mild. It took a little longer than expected to get the first bite, but eventually after fishing maybe 6 or 7 swims, I managed 5 Chub, 4 over 3lb and the last fish caught from a swim I caught the first fish from went 4lb 2oz’s. With their winter coats on they give a good scrap too, snag bound, rod bent double, what a great way to spend a few hours on the 

One other angler present complete with kitchen sink, was blanking when I left….

Saturday 16 February 2019

The Warwickshire River Dene – Lawful Blankets and Laystalls

The little river Dene, a diminutive tributary of the Warwickshire Avon gave rise to Peter Bolton naming his book about Wellesbourne 1800-1939 - A Society under a Magnifying Glass.

‘The Naples of the Midlands’

It was literally an open sewer 100 years ago and all waste was piped directly into it. The title refers to Naples in Italy, that city had an equally pungent odour.

Now I didn’t know that much about the River Dene until recently where I followed it’s coarse on Google Earth like us anglers do to look for potential fishing spots, and I’d looked over the bridge as Charlecote Park which where the river debouches, but apart from that, I would be fishing blind for this reccy mission.

The internet to the rescue....

The source of the River Dene rises on the western slopes of the Burton Dassett Hills and flows westward towards Kineton. Five miles downstream of Kineton, the river turns abruptly north, flowing through the villages of Walton and Wellesbourne before joining the Avon at Charlecote Park.

To the west of Kineton, the river was followed, and bridged in numerous places, by Britain's more impoverished and least efficient little railways the Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway and here at Kineton, you can be seen the remains of four sets of sluice-gates, possibly used for the washing of sheep.

In May 1760 an agreement was entered into by George Lucy at Charlecote Park and Capability Brown which was to widen the River Avon and lay its banks properly, giving them a natural and easy level, corresponding with the ground on each side of the river. To fill up all the ponds on the north front of the house, to alter the slopes and give the whole a natural, easy and corresponding level with the house on every side.

Now that landscaping, still evident today, and cost Lucy £525 at the time, part of the work involved altering the course of The Dene to allow a cascade into the Avon within sight of the house. I suppose that’s why it looks a little unnatural at that point.

But then there is plenty to go at looking at the windy course it takes. £525 in today’s money would be around £350,000 quid, so you can see how much work went on, it wasn’t completed with a few people with spades in an afternoon.

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown the revered designer, entrepreneur and salesman, apparently his nickname came from his fondness for describing country estates as having great ‘capabilities’ for improvement. The world’s greatest landscape gardener ? most probably, you only have to visit the hundreds of parks he designed that can still be seen to day as a testimony to his work.

Go and visit Charlecote Park when you’re in this neck of the woods, wow what a landscape especially for an angler as apart from the River Dene in its grounds it has the Warwickshire Avon flowing through it as well, I was on first name terms with the head groundsman as I fished it for a couple of years and caught some nice fish from it. Roaming Deer, Jacob sheep, those lovely landscaped gardens, oh and and the manor house, there is plenty for everyone.

Anyway back to the ‘Naples of the Midlands’ as recently as the 1970’s the 16th century built mansion Walton Hall (once owned by Danny La Rue) which has the Dene flowing through its pool had ‘lawfully’released treated sewage in to this small river, till things went wrong one day. 

It received consent of pursuance to discharge treated sewage effluent, up to 200 cubic meters per day of it straight in to the river, now It doesn’t take much to bugger up these forgotten wildlife havens, even after they have been restocked after pollution incidents.

Waterways like this rise and all rapidly with the rainfall but most of the time they hover around the similar low levels. Luckily some of us anglers, dog walkers and ramblers are the eyes and ears to these forgotten streams and rivers, and we can highlight any issues quickly.

The route we planned to take, as Sam was with me for this one, was to follow the meandering river for around a mile or so and then work our way back to where I started. The access looked good with public access as I don’t like to tread on private land on these excursions of mine, but the key thing was despite it looking that there was quite a few trees and overgrown bushes, in places there was access to the water, thumbs up.

We didn’t know what to expect for the session, just catching a fish would be nice, any fish. So ‘any fish’ dictated the bait, We had the ickle 5ft 5" Advanta River Ambush wand quiver rod with us with a SSG link-ledger rig and bait would be maggots which I had to use up and some small wriggly worms.

So did the trip pan out as planned? !!!!

Well we didn't fish that many swims but the fishing was a little tougher than expected, maggot was the order of the day though and after a missed bite and a sucked maggot, we found some roach.

We managed 5 or 6 in the two hour session and at last knockings a surprise Chub that came out the blue he didn't want to handle as it was 'slimy'. Sam enjoyed it immensely though because there was a wooded area to explore and he chose the 'fishy swims' we fished.

We should have fished it maybe the week before because it was much lower than I thought. I'm sure with a bit more water on it would fish better.

Friday 15 February 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Smelt and Snot Rockets Pt.7

Researchers analysing a jar full of white powder removed from 3,200 year-old Egyptian tomb have determined that it’s cheese, the oldest ever found and eating it will kill you now and may have killed people in the past.

What is the curse of this mummified mozzarella?

The tomb of Ptahmes was rediscovered in 2010 and whatever was left by the looters was removed, including broken jars containing a “solidified whitish mass” and a piece of canvas. That mysterious mass eventually ended up in the lab of one Mister Enrico Greco, who dissolved a spoonful, removed the proteins and analysed them with liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry.

The results showed peptides identifying it as a dairy product made from cow, sheep or goat milk. Other indicators plus the presence of a cloth that could be wrapped around a ball eliminated all other possibilities and Greco held up the jar, faced the camera and said, “Cheese!”

Resisting the spirit of Wallace and Grommit to taste the ancient cheese, the researchers continued researching and found that the cheese from the tomb was cursed.

The powder contained the bacteria Brucella melitensis which causes brucellosis, a disease transmitted from animals (cows, sheep and goats are on the list) through unpasteurized dairy products that can cause fever, sweats, malaise, anorexia, headaches, joint and muscle pain, fatigue and depression.

Oh, and it can be fatal.

Now talking about cursed camembert, a bit of a change for this session !!!! A sheltered swim, an undercut bank, some depth away from the turmoil. Upstream their usual hideout, a bubbling nubilous cauldron.

A Pike would feel comfortable here, sit-wait and ambush.

A quick afterwork session, to try and get a float to bob or a quiver tip to go wham !!!!

Despite being under ones blog orders to fish for those slimy snot rockets with teeth during the month of February this was, again a bit of double dipping, after some recent rain, the levels well up, now on the fall, the greeny tinge the water exhibited favoured a Chevin not a Pike.

You see big Chub reside not far away from this swim, and at this moment, likely to be at their winter fullest.

Now the humble Chub have unseen pharyngeal teeth tucked away at the back of their huge mouths which are weapons to rival the pike. They are partial to a deadbait too, in-fact I’ve used lamprey and whitebait successfully on the Avon to specifically target the Chub. Also from time to time I’ve caught them on roach deadbaits when targeting Zander such their lust for blood because they are carnivores after all.

A Roach dead under a float on one rod and a lump of tomb rivaling cheesepaste on the other, again two hours is all I’d have before the dairy makers got involved and the bell was rung.

It couldn’t come soon enough, you see….

....its not been a good time of late, some friends and work colleagues having their contracts kyboshed in these times of instability. An obvious knock of effect to me, my mind and well-being, moral given a kick in the balls, my shoulder on watch. Luckily the jobbing fraternity particularly come together in times like this and the network is notified, and the carrier pigeons let go after pointing in certain directions.

Fishing for me is the much needed avenue to prod and poke and at the potential tides of turn.

A mind of nothing, normality restored for the short term, sanity at a simmer.

Anyway back to the session, a mind blowing 13 degrees C at midday, this was a pleasant time to be out on the bank I must say. The smell of spring round the corner, skies clear on the most part and the sun prominent most of the time, long may the fair weather continue. Out of the sun, still a little chilly in the wind, but wow, was a difference some nice weather does for the mind.

Anyway back to the fishing, I could see from the colour of the water the Pike wouldn't be biting and sure enough the float remained motionless.

The quiver tip though, that was the opposite, a 4lb 2oz Chevin came to the net quite quickly, 2 un-missable bites, which yeap, I missed and then I hooked another fish which was heading towards the snags and the fluorocarbon broke below the loop knot for the hooklink, WTF, not happy about that, felt a good fish as well.

Don't think I've ever had that before. A cormorant was spotted feeding upstream but then that seems part of the course in the local waters. Sadly I had so leave to pick the eldest up from school as I would have banked more fish, I'm sure of it.
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