Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Saturday 30 March 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.113 – Hop Merchants and Hybrid Harbourers

A couple of days earlier our paths would have crossed and the towpath shared, for the chase of the predator, those sounds of solitude.

The double dipping likeminded, his a session worthy of note, my session poor in comparison, a couple of small Zander and a pike quickly forgotten. This area has always been on ones radar because it’s a stretch that looks like it could well harbour something special.

A lunker, a drag tester !!!!

There is a reason for that, a smaller baitfish biomass unlike in many other places I fish which are usually bream gobstoppers or hybrid harbourers. Now for this early morning trip out I fancied a bit of a change, in-fact a bit of change from just fishing for preds myself.

So a mixture of liquidised bread and groundbait for some feed, a float rod and bread on the hook. The thought being attract the pole dancers the paying clients will come , and maybe I could bank a nice roach in the process….

….and who doesn’t like a nice Roach !!!!

So an unfamiliar float to watch this time but also in one’s eye line under a float fished overdepth, a smelt or a small dead Roach which would be alternated throughout the quick session. A peripheral trap for a Zander or a Pike set well before the killing zone to pick up a fish waiting in the wings, a cheapskate with moths in his wallet.

I usually travel with little more than a couple of rods, a landing net and a recently acquired Ridge Monkey Bait Bucket that contains all my essential bit of tackle and bait required for the session. I like to travel light and rover, it’s the way I fish for Zander, you need to cover as water as possible.

To be fair despite the session being a bit alien to me as for the most part I’d be stuck to one spot, apart from the additional rod, I could fit everything in the bucket, which can also make do a seat to rest ones legs if necessary.

So anyway, back to the short session, how did I do ?

Well it was a very cold start indeed, 2 or 3 degrees with the mist hanging on till the sun properly got hold. I got to the intended swim and after seeing a couple of topping roach I was quite hopeful of a good morning, but it ended up being the opposite.

A very tough session indeed, I bumped a roach off with 10 minutes of putting the float out but no more bites materialised oddly. It looked perfect as well, but just goes to show, when they are not interested not a huge amount you can do. After nearly two hours without much doing I decided to go on the rove to try and find the fish.

Sure enough a banker swim produced a nice dark Zander within ten minutes of the float being out so at least not a blank. Two more swims fished with bread and dead, not a touch.

Then the sun came out, and yet, you guessed it, I wasting my time.

Still, the solitude and scenery was enjoyable even if the fishing was hard going.

Friday 29 March 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.112 – Bum Lifts and Buck Fitch's

A picture stumbled upon, a swim identified, and a big Zander caught by a shad chucker that looked like it had somehow managed to swallow Carol Vorderman whole post procedure. There were lumps and bumps in the right places, others required a second glance.

It's amazing just the small details you pick up on if you walk the towpaths or frequent google earth like I do, miles and miles covered means that anything identifiable, a feature, a landmark a bulging bush, I can often pinpoint where the location is down to the last foot.

Now Zander, especially the big one are transient but, I'm sure there are fish that are a little like Pike where they will call an area home when they feel comfortable....

....but a BIG issue though it was caught on the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, which lets be honest, is a canal like no other. It's a huge volume of water where huge fish can roam, can put their fins up. Now I'm not about to venture to those waters just yet, but it has certainly been nagging me in the back of my mind, maybe I ought to, it could well be the only way I can possible close this quest of mine.

A slight glimmer of hope though, a half decent fish pulled ones string very hard indeed last weekend and ones confidence back no end, my suspicious confirmed.

The problem is nature is anything but predictable. She constantly surprises us with new discoveries, strange anomalies, and baffling enigmas.

We strive to understand her, but just when we think we have her figured out, we are presented with yet another mystery. 

Now one such mystery can be found in the many cases of animals that turn up in places they have no business being in. It is not always completely clear how these animals have become so unexpectedly dislocated from their natural habitats, but one thing that is certain is that these cases are almost always perplexing.

Among the many reports of out of place land animals, one can find others that describe aquatic creatures, some quite large and dangerous, showing up in the strangest of places. The prospect of coming across a creature totally unexpected in the depths of a lake, waterway or river holds a certain peculiar fascination.

In such locales we think we can fish and have an idea of what we’ll catch, that we can swim and be totally safe. We seem to have a sort of false sense of familiarity with such places, so when something totally new rises up from the water, we are truly reminded of how unpredictable nature can be.

A relative visiting Aussie who was shocked to discover that the Pike I was unhooking on the towpath had actually been caught out of “the dirty river” 

Errrr no, "it’s my pet fish Pikey, whose just finishing his exercise". To be fair to the cork swinger most people wouldn’t think much is swimming around in the networks of canals I fish, certainly not fish to that statue.

Anyway in his home country Carbrook Golf Club, in Brisbane is a place that gives the term “water hazard” a whole new dimension. The course boasts beautiful scenery, a full 18 holes of golf, and a lake full of sharks. The small lake, which is located in the centre of the golf course, harbours at least six full grown bull sharks measuring from 8 to 10 feet long, whose dark shapes and fins slicing the surface of the water have become a common sight.

Apparently the sharks are believed to have become stranded in the small lake during flooding in 1996, when the Logan and Albert rivers broke their banks and spilled onto the course. Since then, the sharks have not only survived in their new habitat, but are thriving and are even said to be breeding, giving the lake its new name “Shark Lake.”

Many golfers sit by the side of the lake watching the beasts swim through the water just feet away, and golfers often pause during games in hopes of catching a glimpse of the sharks before continuing on to the next tee.

Now there are no sharks in this stretch of canal that I know of, but there are certainly some big Zander to be caught. For this session I was back up at the deep bit. For this session though which was ridiculously sunny and warm I was planning to fish in to dusk but also put baits where I'd never put them before, you see I've only really fished a short section of it and it's relatively uniform depth through the section.

You might be thinking 1.6 meters that's only 5.3ft, but believe you me, any unusual feature like this on the much shallower waters I fish is worth its wait in gold, those small depth changes make a lot of difference hence why this area has produced already a much bigger stamp of fish than I'm used to. 4 fish now over 5lb, one over 7lb, that's a hotspot right there, let me tell thee. 

Anyway back to it, two deadbaits rods, you know the drill....!!!!

So what an odd session, the float was only out for a 10 minutes or so and the left-hand float started to twitch, bob and move but the bite didn't develop. On inspection of the bait there was a considerable puncture wound, hmmmm, a large fish ? I'm not so sure because Zander don't usually make that much of a mess of the bait. 

The float went out again in the same spot and all was dead. I tried 3 more swims I'd not fished before and managed a couple of small schoolies that we not that happy on being caught, but I could tell just from the way the float slid and got nowhere near the stop, the depth to be found here if you look in plan view is in a fairly narrow band indeed.

I returned to the initial swim and fished in to dusk but despite the bait being out for well over 20 minutes there was no more bites. I wouldn't say a disappointing session as I'm Zander fishing after all. April is spawning time usually, the females stuck on the nests the males guarding in the wings but with another hard frost this morning as I type this, the water is still very cold indeed, so it might well be towards the end of the month when that actually happens.

Now I might have a different session over the weekend, a bit of double dipping maybe for a roach as well. An area I fished last weekend was quite productive for the likeminded and those sized fish caught are certainly an idea size for a big Zed or even a big Pike to be wanting in on it. I'll still rove around mind you, as there are a couple of swims that always house fish.

Sunday 24 March 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.111 – Addle Plots and Athanasian Wenches

A week back, down at the deep bit, an area I only know about, some sections of lamprey and smelt left to do their thing. Pre-baiting if you will, now despite the session itself being mediocre this area had always been on my radar despite not catching anything over 5lb. The stamp of fish has always been pretty good, and a lunker is likely to be here even though I've not got near one yet.

When I left the sky couldn't be bluer. A lovely spring morning, that improved as soon as I got towpath-side. The mist just lifting off the surface, smelt on both rods, floats out. The water clarity is clear than I like for my Zander fishing. But that's not such of a problem when out there in front of me is half decent cover for a Zander to hold up, but not only that, it's over 5 foot deep in places.

So baits out tight to cover, a murmur of the left float within 5 minutes, some interest. A bite doesn't develop though, a small pull to change the baits position, it's now on the move. Going right to left the pull from the fish is confident as I wind down, take up the slack and lean in to the fish.

I can tell quick quickly if the fish is hooked properly or not straight away and this was a good hold. Hang on a minute though, now this feels like a good fish. It surfaces, sees me and then all breaks loose. It's now carted to my left and I'm following the fish down the towpath as the rod tip is heading towards the water. I have to release the clutch a little to give it some line otherwise I might have a hookpull, this are light gauge hooks after all. 

As soon as I think I'm on top of it, it goes on another strong run, this is giving me a fight unlike any other canal Zed I've caught, and believe you me I've caught a few. Eventually though after such a good fight it's tiring and I get it close to me and manage to scoop it in the net.

Now that's a good un !!!! In-fact my best for a while. A proper big belly on it, going 67cm on the tape and 7lb 8oz's on the scales. A good rest in the net and released to see another day. It's only when you catch a decent size Zander you realise what an impressive predator they really are. Shame I didn't get a picture from the front, because quite a wide fish, and in mint condition like most of these canal Zeds are.

Another 8-10 cm's would have been nice, but hey, if I do eventually catch that double figure canal Zander and move on to a another quest, it's a species that I love catching especially when fish like this turn up from time to time, very rewarding indeed, makes all those hours spend in dog poo riddled waterways worthwhile. 

3 fishing trips in so many days, this one only two hours but well worth getting up in the morning to catch these impressive predators. 

Saturday 23 March 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.110 – Porridge Islands and Petticoat Pensioners

This experiment will put your Diet Coke and Mentos time consuming volcanos to shame. Geologists at the University of Buffalo are heating rocks for 4 hours at 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit to see what happens when volcanic lava meets water. What do they expect? Big explosions, of course.

The eruption at Eyjafjallaj√∂kull was more explosive due to the presence of water. Events like that don’t happen often, but there is a threat of a big impact when they do. As geologists, we want to understand the conditions that generate explosions — how much water do you need? How much time?

In the spirit of school science projects, the geologists will pour the molten lava through a 4-foot (1.2 meter) tube to simulate an underground river of lava. They will then pump water into the tube and measure reactions using microphones, thermal cameras and pressure sensors. With a budget far larger than I am prepared to spend on one, the team will be protected from the heat by thermal reflective outfits.

The Geohazards Field Station where the research will be conducted sounds like an amusement park for geologists. Opened in 2012, the first experiment staged there involved detonating dynamite under gravel, ping pong and tennis balls to model how debris flies during a volcanic eruption.

Now the one me and Sam built for his school project wasn't quite to that scale, which is a shame as I'd like to cause a kerfuffle, and to the untrained eye it is one that has been send before. But look a bit closer you can see the battery pack for the red chasing electroluminescent wire...

....yeap, little Sam's model is anything but static, it glow and looks like lava, yeah you heard me it GLOWS !!!!

Now if that don't get get an extra Dojo, I won't bother going the extra mile again, after all the project cost me nearly 40 quid, 40 bleeding quid....

Anyway talk about going the extra mile back on track for this ridiculous quest of mind where you cannot argue I've not given it a good go, for this quick afterwork session I was up at the upper reaches of the sweetbread area.

An area largely unexplored, untapped potential, a lunker lurking. Strangely this area always throws up a pike or two, I cannot really put my finger on why either as it looks like any other stretch of canal I fish, the clarity as turbid in the main with the odd clearer area.

Now as pike are few and far between in my Zander spots I don’t use wire trace, a decent Fluorocarbon more than man enough to land a jack who wants in on the action.

For this session though I swapped to wire because if there was a Pike around that wanted a chomp on the deadbait, I’d rather be able to land it without issue.

The Bering Strait is a long so it’s a matter of leapfrogging areas of likely looking holding spots and then fish either side of the locks to try and locate fish. I’d not fished it in angler but I’d rarely blanked in the past despite it being tougher than the ones well-trodden.

The theory being maybe a larger fish is harbouring up here away from the noise and hustle and bustle from the classroom. Tackle the usual, you know the drill.

1 deadbait rod, 1 lure rod equipped with a Westin CurlTeez

As expected the first swim fished produced a small pike that took a liking to the smelt offering. The bite didn't take long either, maybe 6 or 7 minutes of being in the water. I'm beginning to rely on smelt more and more these days, it's such a reliable bait for pike particularly, but it helps that the Zander like it as well.

So as I leap frogged the long  stretch with the smelt in fish holding looking swims and the lure in as many swims as possible bites were not exactly prolific.

Eventually a small Zander nailed the lure in oddly another one of my banker swims, hmmm. The water is relatively clear up this stretch as I said before but I was suprised just how hard the fishing was. Ok I shouldn't moan because it was a nice morning and nice to be out but a few more bites wouldn't have gone a miss.

The Zander are a lovely dark colour when the water clarity is like this though, I just need to catch his Grandmother.

One thing I don't seem to do enough of is to fish around boats. If you think about it, an ideal place for the fish to seek some solitude and also to hideout waiting for unsuspecting fish to pass. To be fair all the Zander over 5lb I've caught on the canal though have been in open water and also tight to cover.

Maybe I'm missing a trick, but then, maybe I should stick to my favourite stretch, I'm sure eventually it will come good. I like finding new places to fish though, so we'll see.

So where to fish next then, decisions decisions....

Friday 22 March 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.109 – Brothels and Broughtonian’s

Weird isn't I've only been back on the canal for a few session now and the trudging of the towpaths and watching of the largely motionless floats has started to give me trips of the moving towpath kind again.

To be honest I quite enjoy the visual treat, a little like spending to much time on a cruise ship and finding that you've sea-legs when you're back on dry land again it's there to be enjoyed rather than sometime to be scared of, or a post Eclipse in Coventry all-nighter when you're back in the land of the living and feeling compos mentis.

But then the other evening, I felt a presence to the left of me, 50 or so yards down right next to one of those posts used to indicate a powerline, every time I looked a figure was there watching me and then as soon as I caught a glimpse the post was back again, all very odd, a ghostly presence I suppose but not in a bad way.

The canal was eerily quiet, but then to be fair is usually is down at this particular stretch.

Now these Zander that frequent these midland waterways have been sent to Coventry not on their own doing, but after unscrupulous anglers decided that these unruly things with fins, could do with sticking their fingers up to the establishment, and mix thing up a bit.

And mix things up a bit they have, in-fact some would say they have ruined the local cut and they will never get back to where they were before.

The biomass changed for the detriment of the other fish species, look on the bright-side though the EA's Christmas fund never been bigger !!!!

Certainly the stamp of fish in the stretches I fish has changed, decent bream and rod bending hybrids being the mainstay. But then angling has changed, commercial fishery, white vans and F1’s in abundance, canals all but forgotten.

That couldn’t be better for me though, I prefer it that way, miles of canal towpath to myself. Fishing on my terms, fish seeing little pressure.

Now for this morning session I was down at the Laryngeal Prominence, an area home to my PB canal Zander of 9lb. Unlike big Pike though these larger fish are transient in their making, catch it from one swim, it won’t be there again, don’t worry I’ve tried.

Travelling light is the key for these sessions, leapfrog likely holding spots to try and drop in on a fish. Move on after ten or fifteen minutes if you’re biteless, you’re generally wasting your time. Again a smelt and roach mix for this session, keep on plugging away, I’m sure it will come good one day.

This was a different session entirely, well don't get too excited, I caught a few fish though. To be fair there was no boat traffic and the water had a least a foot of visibility which to be honest doesn't bode well for Zander.

They were hungry though and I managed a few fish and even one put a decent bend in the rod. Lots of roving though like a lot of these sessions but as soon as the sun came out it went dead. The water felt a little warmer so I'm sure there will get on the move soon enough and I'll have the odd session using a lure rod as well.

At least the fish are getting slightly bigger, this one going 3lb 7oz's. Quite a rotund thing as well and not happy being caught.

So on the next one then, I'm not sure where I'm going to fish either. Decisions Decisions. Also plans are in action to maybe give a dusk in to dark session a go. Although I might wait till the water warms up and wait till the clocks change.

Wednesday 20 March 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.108 – Bawdy Baskets and Bartholomew Babies

Now Innkeepers Mark and Alison of the Navigation Pub in Lapworth have been awarded the Cask Marque accreditation for serving the perfect pint of cask conditioned ale.

Backed by 50 of the country’s leading brewers and pub companies, Cask Marque accreditation is only awarded to licensees whose ale passes a series of rigorous independent quality audits of both the beer and the cellar standards. By the way they were rated 5*, the highest possible accreditation.

For someone who prides themselves in visiting many of the public houses in the area, they certainly keep a good pint, in-fact for me consistency is the key, and they certainly offer that. Purity Mad Goose for me please, you won’t find one in the area kept better.

Now a little sign in the pub apparently reckons that they have the only Guinness on hand pull in the country! Which I was quite surprised at.

For for someone who doesn’t rate the stuff despite enjoying porters and stouts, in-fact it's very overrated in my opinion, the Carling of the stout world if there ever was one. (Sorry Loz).

Maybe it’s just my palate, who knows, they certainly sell enough of the stuff, maybe I should try one next time I'm down there, maybe a proper hand pull is the edge I need, and yes I have been on the Guinness tour.

Anyway back on track, talking of overrated, the Tefal Head is anything but, an area of form, towpath quiet, cover lots. This area has always been on my radar as it has been home to 2 of my biggest fish, the 9lber and a fish of 8lb 10oz. It’s an area where a bigger fish can live in relative peace with only really boats for disturbance. I rarely bump in to another angler too which is more my sort of location, fishing on my terms, leapfrog without hindrance.

One of the biggest issues on this stretch though is the amount of smaller fish there are, now I’m not talking fish that will take a small lure, I’m talking fish of 2lb and over where if you stumble on a shoal, multiple fish can be caught.

Good sport certainly, but it’s those bigger fish waiting in the wings I’m trying to catch, not the humdrum.

Oddly last closed season the quantity of fish had certainly gone down and I was wondering what the hell could have happened, sessions seemingly getting tougher and tougher, even blank sessions which was unheard of when I started fishing it initially.

A couple or three sessions recently when I wanted a break from the river, showed that not only were the fish back in numbers, but also that the average size of the first were bigger than they were before.

If the lunkers I’d caught are still around, and I manage to catch one again, they would most certainly close chapter and verse this stupid quest of mine to catch a canal double figure Zander. I’ll keep plugging away though.

The session was only short, 2 and a bit hours where a length of cover would be leapfrogged and two main swims would be also be fished. The second swim produced a bite quite quick with the float being dragged all over the shop, but it was a swingable schoolie with eyes bigger than its belly.

My complacency meant it fell off before banking it. Soon after the Roach bait went out again another bite, I could feel the fish wasn't big, but again it let go of the bait.

I scaled down one of the rods for the section of cover but after about 45 minutes leap frogging a nice section I returned to a swim above the fish swim I fished. A banker swim if there ever was one, but oddly nothing doing despite fishing in to dusk.

Hmmm, not sure what's going on, they were certainly off today, in-fact one of the quietest sessions I've had up at the Tefal Head. Cold water for sure, but even the full moon didn't spur them on.

Family duties called time sadly but to be honest I would be wasting my time for sure. 15 minutes in each swim, no bites, move on, that's my experience anyway. So the next session, a couple of days time, in an area I've not fished for a while, I'm looking forward to it as it's one of the areas I know that can also throw up a snot rocket.

I'd also had a job lot of deadbaits waiting for me when I got back which are now separated in to session bags. Nice nice chunky smelts as well which I'd run out of, for me I wouldn't leave it out in ones armoury now, believe you me smelt catches Zander. You would think they might turn their noses up to them, but they have been a revelation and an eye opener in recent time.

A poor session for sure, but to be fair I do well on the most part, I certainly shouldn't be disheartened by it, I know there are lunkers swimming around in this area and are there to be caught.

Sunday 17 March 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.107 – Blue Devils and Bog Landers

If you’ve been following my on-going quest for a Canal double figure Zander you’ve probably wondering “why the heck he is bothering!! “ again and to be fair I’ve had the same thoughts. Until that is, I’d stumbled upon more and more areas that not only contain decent Zander, but an ever increasing stamp of better’uns.

The schoolies sprouting hairs, balls dropping….!!

Now the areas I fish are certainly the Zander make up much of the biomass such their naturalisation in to the Midlands canal network, so much so when you stumble upon a feeding pack like I did back in December, the shoals moving around must be that big come a hard BREXIT if the politicians ever get their backsides in to gear I know what I could feed ones family on if the scaremongers would have us believe.

A veritable conveyor belt of food right on ones doorstep….!!

To be honest they are not particularly hard to catch but if you want to get beyond a waspers delight then you need to be a little more selective in your approach. They become lazy you see and they cannot be bothered to compete with the whippersnappers attending their first gig wanting to be part of the mosh pit. That session back in December mind you, only emphasized that I love fishing for canal Zeds under a float.

The float fished overdepth and sat quietly on its side on the surface all of a sudden springs in to life, a slight knock, a tiny ripple creating bob, a graceful drift or a full on submarine, that visual bite indication only a set-up like this can give, showing you exactly what’s going on under the surface.

I’ve mentioned before, I’ve got the rig spot on now, ridiculously sensitive, a good hook up rate and rarely a lost fish. The inline coffin leads, also help with preventing the float being pulled off line if the water is bouncing off the locks.

For the continuation of the quest though, a few changes, for starters I’m planning on more dusk in to dark sessions, so I’ve some simple chemical light floats sorted which came all the way from

The People’s Republic of China. I fish turbid coloured canals in the main, in-fact if the water is on the clear side, I head on down to where it isn’t, but I’ve had a few in to dark sessions and I would say a little like the river, I’m sure that’s when the bigger fish could possibly get on the move.

Maybe I’ve been missing a trick….?

New areas will also be looked for and explored because it’s a canal network after all, miles and miles of water to go at and like the ’deep bit’ I found late on in the last quest, there are certainly holding hotspots for a bigger stamp off fish.

Having stumbled upon the area by chance that produced a couple of nice Zander much bigger than the humdrum , a veritable Abraham’s bosom, an area where the adults wanting a bit of rest, contentment, and peace could lay up their fins and their sanctuary could remain just that and would unlikely see an Isham Baggs derived anode or two up the jacksie from the CRT or one of their contractors.

My best thus far, a canal 9lber
Now thirdly, on my travels last year the amount of carp I saw was an eye opener, as someone who spends an obscene amount of time trudging the towpath , you realise just how many of these mud sifters are in the dirty local waterways.

They can be out in the open when it’s warm and sunny but they are perfectly happy tucking themselves away out from view and it’s only me and the likeminded that they occasionally reveal their location to.

In order to capitalise on that I’ve invested in a small Nash scope black-ops sawn-off rod that can be packed away in my rucksack and be unpacked when a carp is spotted where I can quickly get a bait out to try and capitalise on the situation.

Double dipping for sure, but what right-minded person doesn’t like a bit of that….?

Well I've not missed this, back to dog poo alley
Bait again a smelt, roach and lamprey mix, you know my opinions of smelt as a Zander bait if you’ve kept up with my blog.

It matches roach for sure and maybe for hook-ups certainly it offer a better percentage ratio. 

The soft flesh allowing the hook to pass through the flesh easier and any hindrance helper is a benefit in canal Zed fishing because initially they can be difficult to hook properly, such the boniness of their mouths, and the way they pincer grab the bait.

So for this first morning session of what is likely be another >30 or so sessions to add to my quest challenge over the next coming weeks, I decided to visit the ‘deep bit’ to see if there were still some decent Zander in-situ.

Now this challenge is effectively the proverbial needle in a haystack,but what’s fishing without targets, if you think about it, there are no many pastimes that offer as much variety that fishing can do and it’s what you make of it, you’re the chieftain and puller of the strings.

Anyway, enough of the ramblings, I need to beat my PB of 9lb and catch that double….!!

How did I get on…?

Well to be honest I knew it would be tough looking at the clarity of the water, the cold water and bright sunshine. I wanted to try out my new floats though that will accept a chemical light. A bite came quickly but it was back to reality as a small schoolie decided it would like the small whole roach. And that is where the action stopped, no more bites sadly despite fishing the usual productive spots.

The schoolie caught was covered in leeches so they are laying up probably before getting on the move when the water warms up and their minds go on to other things.

The floats performed ok, but when debris collected on the line the float went from lying on the surface to upright. That wouldn't happen with the inline set-up, so maybe back to the drawing-board, I'm sure a heavier version of the same float would perform differently.

So back to dog poo riddled towpaths and small Zander, it can only get better, glad to be back on the canal though, I've missed it.

Friday 15 March 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Pot-wabblers and Princods

Storm Gareth hit the UK quite hard over this last week with its strong north-westerly winds and it also dumped a load of rain with it. The little river Alne I fish nearly over its banks and flood levels, the Warwickshire Avon rising faster than I’d seen it for a long time, me thinking would I ever get out to fish again before season close. Thursday afternoon was looking favourable however as the river would have hopefully peaked by then with levels slowly on the drop.

So what to fish for ?

I took an age to mull it over, this being the last day of the river season....!!

Well as it would be coloured Barbel for sure, I’ve had success with Barbel in flood and coloured conditions with meat baits but having already beaten my PB this year with a 12lb 14oz fish I fancied trying for another last minute lunker to round a cracking season where I’d also managed to catch myself a 5lb Chub which had eluded me for a while, in-fact it was the veritable ‘monkey off my back’ that had been clinging on for so long, I was glad to finally get it off.

The water being the way it is, another species popped up in ones radar. yeap, you guessed it Zander, you see I know an area that is sheltered away from the main flow of the river where I’ve caught them before as well as Barbel. So despite the flow when it's tanking it through, here some sanctuary can be found, also a WhatsApp message to the wife during the planning stage, dictated one of the targets, so the venue chose itself.

I did think about visiting the WBAS water but come the new season as that’s where much of my efforts will be concentrated but others would be fishing it and it would be nice to spread the field out a bit to see where is fishing well in these testing conditions. I had a swim in mind you see where I’d lost a decent Perch but I doubt that would be fishable, well not the way I’d like to fish for them anyway.

So back on track and the area in question, the problem for those fish seeking some peace from the turbulence is that is also attracts the predators, sitting duck springs to mind, and with the water being coloured the Zander have one up on the prey fish because of their superior eyesight. They have two types of cones the most responsible for seeing yellow and orange, and smaller ones registering green. Any zander hunter can confirm the effectiveness of these colours.

What’s more, the cones in this predator are especially large. Thanks to this, they have become the subject of research of physiologists interested in the process of seeing, not only in fish. An additional upgrade of the zander’s eyesight is a reflective guanine layer covering the inside of the eyeball. Thanks to this light passes through the cones twice strengthening the signal sent to the brain. That is why zander’s eyes shine with a silvery glow even by the most delicate light.

Thanks to such eye construction, a zander’s eyesight is unbelievably sensitive. It can see perfectly when other fish, let alone humans, can’t see anything at all! Anglers should know then, that in the case of this predator, it is worth it to pay attention to detail on the lure and the most effective combination of colours should be yellow and green.

So an afternoon double dipping session then, with the river up and coloured 2 barbel rods skyward, one rod equipped with a size 6 hook, a couple of lobworms, and a feeder full of chopped worms and a few red maggots I had to use up, and I'd alternate with a chunk of contraband garlic spam. With the 2nd rod I intended to fish a small roach or smelt to try and pick up a Zander.

Pheeewwww !!

Like a military operation ones session planning as you know, rods made up the night before, targets in mind….!!

Let’s go !!!!

Now I cannot remember the last time I brought a chair fishing but I did for this session, I wanted to hunker down in a swim and sit it out. When I got there at 12.30pm Joe Chatterton and Martin Robers were already in situ, Joe banking an eel, Martin biteless, another three there, one snotty. It looked perfect for Barbel, a nice tinge of brown and a decent pace. The river was dropping as well.

I settled upstream and got the gear out, lobworms and meat to start off with....

After a couple of hours without even as much as a nibble I decided to go on the rove and try and drop on some fish downstream, thinking the fish might be sheltering the best they can, they were certainly not interested where I was. After another hour and a half or so finding some nice slacks and undercuts was fruitless I returned to the original swim.

Again nothing doing for a while, so I packed up and went downstream, by this time Joe and 2 of the original anglers had left, with Martin soon after Joe, leaving me and one more angler bankside. He gave up around 5pm and I decided to stick it out till dusk. A smelt out in the margins and I alternated between lobworms and meat. The sun went down, the bats came out and if I was to get a bite, this would be the time, hoping that the Barbel would come out from their hiding place and a short feeding spell.

Best laid plans, because that didn't happen, yeap, a blank even on Garlic Spam, they definitely were not interested in feeding !!!!

Syndicate member Brian was at the bottom of the stretch and yeap, he blanked too. George Burton was catching a few on the Leam and in hindsight, I should have gone home from work first, dumped the boot full of tackle and joined him for some Chub roving instead, more my thing anyway, I hardly ever sit behind rods, oh well...

 ....a disappointing end to what has been a great season, now where are my canal Zander rods !!!!
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