Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Saturday 29 June 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Eartha Kitts and Eager-beavers

It’s amazing what you remember when growing up, I lived in South Africa and they used to have these huge drive in outdoor movie theatres. You used to park your car next to a speaker post, unhook the speaker and clip it on your window. The parking spots were angled such that even for a nipper sat in the back you could see the screen no problem. The last film I remember seeing was E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial which had just come out so you can see just how long ago it was.

So that was a time when BMX bikes were all the rage and twin brother Chris and I were part of the ‘scene’. My Dad a precision engineer, made us the most trick ‘trick nuts’ you’d ever seen, the envy of the locals such the quality. The chemical blacking finishing it off, visually they looked superb and lasted the test of time, as did our Diamond Back bikes that took a heck of a pounding.

Now we could do with an outdoor cinema like that around these parts because it would be 31 degrees later, yes you heard right, 31 DEGREES the mercury would rise to those uncomfortable temperatures as we headed in to the afternoon where sod fishing, I’d be lightning the lumpwood and enjoying a rather large glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. It was still 18 degrees when I got bankside though and this session was a bit of a reccy.

I’d not been up this end for a while, a rather deep and pedestrian stretch of the Warwickshire Avon where I’m yet to track down its monsters. It’s a huge body of water and in places the deeper registered over 20 foot of water. I’ve only really tried for Zander and Pike and to be fair had some nice fish but I fancied trying for a carp or tench that apparently reside here as well.

I’m trying to tick the species off the Bloggers Challenge Chart and then when I’ve managed to tick off the majority, get back to fishing how I usually do this time of year. Surface fishing for Chub and fishing the smaller waterways and streams for whatever comes along. It’s gone quite well up to now though and the challenge has only just kicked off.

When I’ve been walking the banks here I’ve certainly seen what looks like tench bubbles, but they are most likely to be bream as I’m sure the tincas are few and far between. This time of year though the margins are littered with lily pads and to be honest, you can understand why they would like it here, it just ‘looks’ right for them.

The carp, well there are here as well, to be honest having not fished for them, I haven’t really tried to find where they hang out but I’ve certainly seen them, in-fact the last time I was here, one launched himself out of the water and it looked a cracking fish.

So with the sun out what a better time to have more of a look. Now in the summer months, I’ve done quite well using lures for the Zander here, so this session would be a bit of double dipping. A lure rod and also my scope rod with a method feeder baited with a small pineapple pop-up. It’s very deep even close in so a very visable bait indeed to try and stop a meandering fish in their tracks. The groundbait moulded around it a mix of sweetcorn, krill, fishmeal, a mixed sized handful of pellets and hemp.

The plan because you know I always have one, was to also bait a swim at the start of the session that I’d return to, to see if there were any feeding fish that had found the bait. Now I’d also have my polarised sunglasses to try and see if I could see any carp on the top as well and have some bread as back-up if I stumbled upon any when I was mooching about.

So enough of the preamble, let’s get fishing !!!!

So straight to the point what a tough session, I managed a couple of small bream from one swim but the carp and zander were nowhere to be seen. I moved around a bit as well and in around the lilies I expected to find at least one, but sadly nothing. Even the predators were not having it, a couple of follows that was it.

It was one of those sessions I'd rather forget, now, need to get on and make a jug of Pimms. There were signs of feeding Tench as well, but bites not forthcoming, maybe a float set-up tight to the lilies might have been the better option.

Next session, down the little Alne with Sam.

Thursday 27 June 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Teratogens and Termagants

Finally the weather is picking up after the recent washout, ironically it’s coincided with the Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of the year, so for us S.A.D. sufferers it’s downhill from here. Now here in the Northern hemisphere it fell on June the 21st. The Summer Solstice basically marks the end of Spring and the start of Summer.

It will end with the Autumn Equinox, which this year falls on the 23rd of September. It took place exactly 15:54pm on Friday 21 June where the UK was treated to 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight.

The sun rose at 4.43am and set in the evening at 9.21pm.

We get the most hours of daylight on this day because of the position of the Earth in relation to the Sun. It occurs when the Earth's geographical pole on either the northern or southern hemisphere becomes most inclined towards the Sun. When the Summer Solstice takes place in the northern hemisphere, the Sun will reach its highest possible point.

As a result, the day on which the summer solstice falls will have the longest period of daylight of the year. Our planet does not spin on a vertical axis, it is titled. Which means the amount of sunlight that reaches different regions of the Earth changes during the year as it orbits the Sun. Around the time of the summer solstice areas of Norway, Finland, Greenland, Alaska and other Polar Regions experience 'midnight sun'.

Now the Summer Solstice is celebrated by thousands of pagans across the world. Many gather at Stonehenge which is believed to have been used as an important religious site by early Britons 4,000 years ago. On the summer solstice, the central Altar stone at Stonehenge aligns with the Heel stone, the Slaughter stone and the rising sun to the North East.

A fascinating place for sure, the thinking of how the stones got there seemingly change year on year and new theories and tales are told about Stonehenge to keep the mystery alive.

Now talking of fascinating areas !!!!

Luckily one hasn't a nagging Wife as I'm back fishing again, so a sheltered stretch, a relatively peaceful place ideal for those seeking sanctuary away from the toil, tussle and turbulence.

I’ve caught a variety of species here, everything from Ruffe, Zander, Pike and Barbel. It seems to be a holding area for all things fishy, so for this short evening session I was planning on some double dipping to see what came along a couple of hours heading up to dusk.

A small roach deadbait on one rod, lobworms on the other. An eel would be nice for some bloggers challenge points but if you think about it, those two baits could pick up a multitude of species. Zander particularly like this area because there are bait fish to pester and plunder.

I’ve caught a couple of barbel from here which is odd, because it doesn’t fit their stereotypical hideout, but eels for sure hence this exploratory session.

Just down from here there is a lovely spot many wouldn’t fish such its location, but I know there are some BIG chub that keep themselves tucked up out of the way but venture out in to the shallows from time to time to pick up anything coming their way.

It was here whilst watching the fish through ones polarised sunglasses that I could see a couple of eels, maybe 1.5lbers hugging the gravel bottom and going about their business.

Those BIG chub that reside here despite fishing for them on a variety of different techniques and methods, have remained elusive thus far.

Usually they are spooked quite easily on the sight of a lump of bread floating or sinking, but also when the chublets get in on the act first and spoil the swim for someone targeting the bigger residents.

They take bread off the top eventually but only after you’ve exhausted nearly a whole packet of Warburton’s Blue and even then, when you think you’ve won their confidence, put a bait down they come up all skittish and often get spooked and go back to where they came from.

Even a freelined lobworm or slug is actively ignored which usually is a tactic that can catch them off-guard.

The best I’d managed out of the swim was 4lb 13oz despite seeing fish that would easily beat ones mediocre PB. It will always stay on my radar though because some of Chub looked massive and a scale above the ones I usually catch from the Warwickshire Avon.

Anyway back to the session in question as I'm going off topic, how did I get on?

I was in no rush to get started so I decided to visit my secret Ruffe swim before settling down for the last couple of hours heading in to dusk. I’d caught Ruffe before you see, and that was my target for the first hour to try and tick the species off for the Bloggers Challenge.

Now to the untrained eye Ruffe could be mistaken for Perch especially when the smaller fish in silhouette and with eyes squinted, look like brothers.

Consider its Latin name of Gymnocephalus Cernuus. That mouthful, decided upon by the great Swedish taxonomist Mr Linnaeus, could easily be misconstrued as some sort of infection that your parents warn you about as a teenager. At first glance, the poor old pope has not got much going for it at all.

They are a different colour though a sandy brown to dark brown colour with blotchy black markings and speckles across the upper body and dorsal fin. They have two dorsal fins which are joined together, the front is generally hard while the rear is soft. They have a short triangular head and large mouth, feeding mainly upon small insects, snails, eggs and fry of other fish. They have a number of spines and like Perch, very spikey indeed.

The British record is 5oz’s apparently, now that is one big Ruffe !!!!

They can be caught using the same tactics as small Perch as well, now a small red worm is hard to beat for a Ruffe but maggot would have to do. I've a small Tenkara rod that packs down in to a small tube which I keep in my quiver, fitted with an off the shelf pole float set-up it's ideal for these ad hoc sessions.

And I couldn't believe it, within seconds the float bobs and then sails under and I fish is on. Now if you haven't seen a Tenkara rod the tip is tiny, not much more than a 1mm and the butt not much bigger at something like 4 or 5mm so you actually get a fight from a tiny fish. And yeap, you guessed it a Ruffe. Amazing how certain swims they feel comfortable in, I think next time I'll bring some worms instead if anyone beats my weight.

Because lets just say it wasn't a big'un registering 0.72 ounces on the scales. Oddly one more bite which I didn't connect then the swim goes dead. So to part 2 of the session, an Eel or a Zander.  One rod a small roach and the other a couple of lobworms with tails chopped off. It didn't take long to get the first interest either, it felt Zander long but dropped off within a few seconds. The lobworm wasn't getting any interest whatsoever but the fish bait was.

Then it all goes a bit mad, where I manage 2 eels quite quickly, the best going 1lb 8oz's. I decided to remove the lobworms and replace with a smelt to try and attract a Zander but the Eels seem to like that as well, the first the smelt coming back with a head and no body and then the next bite I managed another eel the smallest in this session. 

The Zander were suspicious in their absence despite the Avon being up and a nice colour, but I know from experience it fishes better here in the Autumn and Winter months. So I headed back at dusk with two more species ticked off the list and a landing net to hose down. Targets next session, no idea to be fair I need to have a think.

Sunday 23 June 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Gonks and Gingambobs

A late night, hot air balloons, a fairground and fireworks. A midnight bedtime didn't put Sam off waking up early to go down the river, like me he cannot wait for his next trip. So a pint of maggots, a float rod, the simplest of tactics. For a 7 year old bites are what keeps him happy, what keeps him from mischief, what keeps his mind focused.

The verbal diarrhea continues to flow mind you, but the inner working of a 7 year old and their thought process and their off the wall questions is always nice to be a part of. A break from his noisy brother, two anglers talking all things fish.

We hot footed it to an area we know where fishing in the summer is not somewhere for a rest, it's an area where small fry are in numbers, in big quantities and a dangle of the float in most swims brings instant results.

Now we were here for Gudgeon, and one particular 'Gonk' swim they are generally a larger stamp. Fish over the gravel in and around the weeds and lilies they start small when you've located the shoal then they generally they get bigger.

Eventually after wading through fish after fish, getting bite after bite we had everything but gudgeon. We switched swims 3 times before receiving a more confident bite and a gudgeon was on. Strangely they got smaller after this one, not bigger. It going 0.62oz on the dealer scales.

An enjoyable roving session though and the stretch to ourselves. Seven dinky species as pictured caught, gudgeon, dave, chub, minnow, roach, bleak and perch. The best fish a chublet not pictured and quite a few Perch were caught and the biggest went 6oz's. Kingfishers, dragonflies and some of the most vibrant butterflies you've ever seen, a great place to spend a couple of hours.

Saturday 22 June 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Coxcombs and Conny Wabbles

An area where things go big, the dock leaves enough to provide shelter for more than one, the weeds towering above the treetops in places with stems as thick as bamboo. The rubbish more than I'm used to such the footfall. The fish, well who knows because this is only the second time I've fished this area, the first time I did a 'Burton', and blanked.

But that didn't put me off, it just looked right, the flow, the colour, the holding features. It screamed Chub, but us anglers know that fishing can be strange at times, fish when they are having an off day and not feeding, despite their gluttonous nature, nothing that you can do can spur them on to feed.

This morning was a different story, I've never had such a good Chub session. Now usually in these warm and sunny conditions I like to try and get the fish feeding off the top.

But the last chub session on another part of the Avon was tough and I could see them rising up to the bait, but they actively ignored the bread and the desire for a full belly and let the bread float past such they suspicion.

Change of tactics though, a slow sinking large piece of doughy bread which when first cast I had a fish on within seconds I knew I would have a good day.

They were properly on it, four fish within half an hour, the biggest going 4lb 8oz the smallest a pound less.If I had retained them I would have possibly had more but after another two fish, there was a now a good wait for the next bite.

At the end of the session with the last fish caught another 4 pounder I lost count of the Chub I caught, there were some chublets getting in on the act as well. It was certainly over 10, probably heading towards 15. The sun was strong when I left and that certainly put them off, but I can only imagine the size they would get come winter. This area will always remain on my radar now. A memorable session indeed.

Friday 21 June 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Snotties and Snub Devils

There are quite a few places where I know Bream reside, but 2 years ago I fished this one particular area where bites were plentiful so I was back for a second bite of the cherry. I need to register some bream points for the bloggers challenge and this seemed like a no brainer. So an early start and simple tactics. 2 rods, method feeders, short hook-links and a variety of pellets for hookbait, soft and hard.

Bream seems to get a bit of a bad press, but for me when I target them from time to time, I quite like catching them. It's a different kind of fight and are they really that slimy ? When they average 3lb plus like they do down here, they are quite impressive looking creatures as well.

A lovely morning indeed but I knew I had to act fast. The sun was rising and with a relatively clear body of water this can sometimes stop the fish from feeding. The trip here last time the float was more or less redundant and the sleeper rod was getting the most attention. The feeder acting like a dinner bell ? who knows but certainly it was the method that was working on the day.

The rig is more or less self-hooking but you would think you could sit behind the rods and relax but it never really feels like that as when the fish are feeding, the rod tips are banging away all the time from the small fish and eventually those knocks and taps turn in to a proper clanger.

It didn't take long for the first bream to come along either, half an hour in to the session a proper screamer of a run and the fish slab was on. They are a good average size here as well, that was the first fish of 5 or so and I also lost one that wriggled in slow motion, caught its tail on the line and pinged out the barbless hook and swam back from where it came to join the shoal.

Double 5mm soft krill pellets seems to work the best, they do properly stink though but you can go through them quite quickly because once out the water there are too soft to recast as you wouldn't know that the bait was on.

As suspected the bites dried up when the sun was strong but I preserved with the casting and baiting and eventually a different kind of bite developed and initially I thought it was a small chublet but it turned out to be a welcome roach of 12 oz's. Now this took a rather large robin red hard pellet with a corn hair stop. Maybe I'll come back in the winter and give them a proper go.

Cracking condition as well, a dark back and a bulging belly. I end up moving swims as I baited one of the margins when on-route to the first swim but after a failed attempt for a carp after being biteless for a good while, it was time to head off, pop to the tackle shop and also to test drive a potential new car. A car more suitable to my needs.

Thursday 20 June 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Windlestraws and Witticasters

Followers of my ramblings over the years will know more recently I tend to blog about every session, the reason for this is because for one, I can keep track of my pastime and how my trips are increasing but also because it shows sometimes it’s not that easy out there. Yesterday for instance a news report came in and a picture quickly followed of a beast of a fish caught by Sean Dowling. Then Russ Hilton (remember him) followed with a picture of the swim he was fishing, I just had to get out !!!!

I did say I’d have a quiet night in because after all “you never relax” but after sorting the kids out for bed and me pacing up and down the house looking generally restless, “why don’t you go fishing” . “Well I could do I suppose, I’ll just go for an hour, anyway it’s already half past eight” Luckily for me 14 minutes travel time total there and back I can be at the banks of the Warwickshire Avon, not only that one of my favourite haunts.

Unbeknown to the Wife the tackle was already in the car, as was the loaf of bread I bought earlier. I don’t tend to fish this stretch in the summer months, it is winter here I spend most of my time because not only do I have the stretch to myself most of the time, but there are some cracking fish to be had. 

The chub rise here to take bread off the top and knowing the swims intimately, I headed straight to one that usually has fish holding up. 

Sure enough after creeping down in to the swim and with a couple of bits of bread torn off the slice I set them going upstream. Well I say that the swim is only twenty foot max as there is trees and overhangs each side, but that’s why the love it here, very sheltered and secluded. 

Sure enough within seconds of the bait going out the tell-tale rise of the chub and the ‘pop’ on the surface. 

They wise up quickly though these fish and they don’t get big from being stupid. They literally nudge the bait with their noggins and don’t take it first go till they are happy with it. 

Confidence is the key so after a good 15 or 20 minutes of feeding bread I now had 4 or 5 fish taking bread happily off the surface. I can clearly see the fish rising through ones polarised sunglasses and the biggest looked 4lb at least. 

The rig well, simply a hook attached to the line a centrepin reel and my tippy Peregrine rod that has some backbone. So the bait goes out the bread swirling on the surface till it hits the pacier water and then it proceeds downstream, sure enough it was engulfed after a pre-nudge and I felt the fish through the line, sadly for a split second though as somehow it manged to bump itself off, damn !!!! 

The problem with that is, when you catch a fish from the swim it goes dead and you have to move on, but it’s exactly the same for a lost fish, you’ve buggered it. 

With half an hour left I tried to find some more surface feeding fish but sadly the swim I wanted to fish was occupied and the other 6ft high nettles. So only one thing for it, whack on the plasticine and fish a bottom bait. Small baits can be ignored here but put on a huge chunk of bread it’s too much for a gluttonous Chevin to ignore. 

So after settling down in to a swim with an overhanging tree the bait went out. Within ten minutes a couple of plucks and rattles turned in to a proper pull round. Sadly only a chublet but that ended the session, I agreed I’d be back for ‘Wine Wednesday’ and as I headed back to the car and just having seen a kingfisher in close quarters as they are very active down here , the sunset confirmed just how much this sort of fishing does wonders for one’s mind. I’ll be back !!!!

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Warwickshire Avon - His-Nibs and Habdabs

With the Wife out with the kids on Fathers-Day at the In the Night Garden live show in Leamington, I had most of the day to myself. I had planned to go fishing but stayed in bed for a rare lie in. THREE bacon rolls stuffed with ALL the bacon, lathering’s of HP finest and then high quality repetitive beats to make the Wife’s stabbing hand itch and loud enough to make the walls and windows vibrate.

The elderly neighbours checking their pacemakers for malfunction, the air movement from the low frequencies exhibited powerful enough to feel, dust disturbed. 

Till I knackered the subwoofer that is, you see nearly two hours in to a Mixcloud catch-up and trying to create a rave to relive my youth, things go very wrong, very wrong indeed. 

A woof Woof WOOF went to a rattle RATtle RATTLE !!! and there was more distortion from within, than ones muddled brain. A quick driver inspection as the cones are exposed and hidden at the back of the ported enclosure, BOTH speaker cones are now detached from their peripheral foam rings.

The good servant of the years sadly now confined to the care home. Proper broke, never to get awaken from its slumber ever again, kaput, knackered, thankfully the coffin dodgers a stone’s throw away expressing a sigh of relief and could back to enjoying their dunking and elevenses.

Now talking of rattles with the tackle still in the car after Sunday’s fruitless and rattle-less Barbel session I decided to have another go whilst the weather was fair and the evening free. 

So after the family duties were done and dusted, I hot footed it to an area where a bite more likely, an area where often there are numbers of fish. However one big stumbling block, I’ve lost fish here before to hook pulls due to the reeds that litter this relatively shallow area. To the left a deep trough, to the right a gap between the streamer weed.

Tackle to the minimum, an couple of hours before dusk, rods out, sit and wait !!!!

Barbel again you ask? well yes because having a sort through ones bait and tackle, you see other than Zander and small bits, I’ve realised I’m properly out of the mix in catching other species of fish. So the plan to try and fish for Bream the weekend to get some Challenge Points has meant stripping reels of their old line, re-spooling with something more suitable and buying end tackle and bait just to get a session together. 

So I rocked up two hours before dusk to find a deserted car-park, maybe others knew something I didn’t. The river had dropped considerably since Sunday and it looked a great colour as well, for Zander anyway, looked perfect. One rod with spam to my right in some slack water, and on my left rod a paste wrapped krill wafter in a shallow area with a nice flow.

Within minutes the left rod bangs and rattles and then hoops over and a fish is on. I knew it was a Barbel straight away and it carted to the right downstream. 

As it teased it upstream towards me all went solid. Yeap, it went straight in to some submerged reeds, the fish surfaced though and not a huge fish but there was only one ending to this now. After leaving it slack for a while I felt the line go tight but after some strain the hook pulled, damn…!!!! 

Soon after though my right hand rod is getting some interest and eventually a bite develops and a fish is on. A chub this time as it was trying to get under the staging. Now this was a third of a tin of spam this fish took so I was expecting something a little different than a 3lber. A welcome fish all the same though and kicked off the challenge with a score on the door. 

Then, things change. A posh kids party started just downstream which I assume was to mark exams finishing. The babycham was flowing and with the voices of Henry and Henrietta getting louder and louder, the modern music becoming more cringeworthy it was time to move. 

That was a bad mistake because headed in to dusk when usually things happen here and I remained biteless, you live and learn though. Other species will be on the agenda the weekend and Sam hopefully will have his first outing in the new season.

Monday 17 June 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Collar Days and Crusty Beaus

So the 2019/2020 Bloggers' Challenge started to coincide with the rivers opening. For those that don't know the score, essentially fellow bloggers and likeminded participants and that love to catch fish will be scoring points in the disciplines  (river / drain, canal, stillwater).

With 22 species to try and catch and a slightly different scoring system expertly added to the latest worksheet by Sean Dowling for this latest challenge, fingers crossed it will hopefully mix it up a bit and encourage some different tactics.

The link to the 2019/2020 scorecard is in the quick links to the right of this blog and you can also see the results for the 2017/2018 where surprise surprise James Denison was the victor.

My time is limited and I cannot remember the last time I fished a lake or a pool, so my efforts like there were in the 2017/2018 challenge will be limited to the river, streams and tributaries in and around the Warwickshire Avon.

Bullheads to Barbel, Grayling to Gudgeon I cannot wait to get stuck in to it. Littlest son Sam by his own request wanted his own scorecard, and he like me couldn't think anything worse than fishing a ten a penny F1 riddled pool like Tunnel Barn when there is so much fun to be had on our doorstep especially as the venues we fish are vary varied indeed.

Long term readers of my blog know I'm more at home chasing bullheads in the local brook or fishing floating crust for rising Chub on a summers evening, than I am fishing for Barbel. However in complete contrast to last years heatwave, a huge dumping of rain the start of the season the rivers were over their banks in many local waterways, so for this evening session, Barbel were to be my target.

My PB 12lb 14oz caught during winter. 
You know me, there is no messing around when it comes to Barbel, I fish a large boilie or garlic spam bait, an hour or two before dusk, generally the time they often come on the feed. 

I cannot justify much more than that to be honest and as a suffering of restless leg syndrome, I just cannot sit behind rods for any length of time. 

These tactics produced my biggest Barbel to date of 12oz 14oz's back in the winter and and I'm sure there are better one to be had. If I devoted as much time to this fantastic fish as I do to other species, I'm sure I could do better, after all, there are much bigger ones in the Warwickshire Avon to be caught despite the over the shoulder watching they are subjected to.

So anyway back to the session, after a huge Roast Chicken dinner I donned the lucky Fathers-Day docks and went to one of my favourite sections to walk off that extra Yorkshire pudding and to see what the state the river was in after the recent deluge. I travel lighter and lighter these days, only the essentials, tackle to the bare minimum and it enables me to rove if required without the hindrance of a chair and the the kitchen sink.

The banks were deserted bar one angler who was still there when I went by after packing up at dusk. So yeah, straight to the point a blank. It wasn't as high and coloured as I thought however and hopefully by the weekend it will be back to good conditions again. But after finding a swim I could actually fish because the stagings couldn't be seen in any of the swims I walked past. A chunk of garlic spam on one rod and a boilie wrapped paste on the other usually come sun down the bites start.

Sadly they didn't, with even the chub suspicious in their absence. So nice to be back on the river though, the kingfishers as active as ever and the barn own patrolling its patch. So what do fish for next, well I fancy trying for bream and maybe an eel, as they will be active at the moment and maybe try and locate some carp. Lets hope with some better weather on the way I can surface fish for the chub as well.

Decisions Decisions !!!!

Saturday 15 June 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.140 – Lemures and Lagarfljots

In the North-eastern part of England there is a legend from medieval times about a giant worm that terrorized the region. Now a worm might not seem to be a very interesting creature to build a story of terror about until you realise that the old English form of the word worm (or wyrm) refers to a humongous snake or dragon. Though there are slightly different versions of the tale told all around the area, the basic story is as follows:

A rebellious, young man name John Lambton, heir of the Lambton estate in County Durham, decided to go fishing one Sunday morning, though he was warned by a mysterious old man that no good could come of skipping church.

Lambton is unsuccessful in catching anything out of the local river Wear until he pulls in a strange fish.

The eel-like creature has the head of a salamander and nine holes on either side of its skull. Lambton doesn't like the look of it at all and declares he has caught "the devil." 

On the advice of the old man, he decides not to return it to the river, but instead decides to throw it down a convenient well.

The creature apparently thrives in the underground and grows and grows inside the well, eventually poisoning the water. 

When it finally emerges, it has grown to a humongous size and begins terrorizing the land by eating livestock along with the occasional village child. It also approaches Lambton Manor, where John's father manages to placate it on a daily basis by filling a stone trough outside the building with fresh milk for it to drink. In between assaults on the surrounding countryside, the creature relaxes by wrapping itself around the base of a hill.

Various villagers and knights come to slay the monster but find that slicing off sections of the worm is ineffective as the creature seems to be able to reattach lost parts without much permanent damage. Moreover, anyone who comes too close to the worm finds themselves caught in its coils and slowly squeezed to death.

Young John comes home from the Crusades to find his father's land in ruin from the worm. He vows to destroy the creature and seeks the aid of a local witch. The witch first tells John that he is responsible for the worm's existence by his actions as a boy and this increases his determination to rid the land of it.

The witches' advice is to go to the local blacksmith and have his armour covered with razor-sharp spear points. Then he should catch the worm as he lays wrapped around a great rock down by the river and fight him there. She warns Lambton that if he is successful in his quest, he will be required to kill the first living thing he sees after his victory or the Lambton family will be cursed for nine generations and no heir will die peacefully in his bed.

Brave Sir John takes her suggestions to heart and they prove to be the keys he needs to defeat the beast. When the animal gets a hold of him in its coils, it cannot squeeze him to death as the spear points on his armour will be driven into the creature's body. Because he is fighting the worm on the edge of the river Wear, any parts he cuts off the monster fall off into the water and are swept downstream so the beast cannot heal itself by reattaching them.

A lucky escape !!!!
After a titanic battle, John Lambton is victorious. It has been arranged that at his bugle signal one of his hunting hounds will be released. It will run to him and John will slay it to save his family from the curse. As it happens, however, John's father forgets about the signal and runs out himself to greet his son after the victory. John does not have the heart to kill his father and the family is cursed for nine generations.

The Lambton Worm is a fascinating and colourful legend, I love stories like this, because usually there is some truth in the story somewhere.

Now Nick Duffy from the National Anguilla Club committee over the last few years has shared with me some pictures of eels he’d caught from the canal in and around the areas I fish for Zander, and you wouldn’t believe the size of them caught in these turbid waters. 

Show many a picture such as this one to the left you wouldn’t believe something of that size could live in the cut, let alone thrive in it, yes these canals big creatures live.

Talking with Nick seemingly using deadbaits to catch these fish on the canal is usually a waste of time for them as Zander get in the way of these fascinating creatures, lobworms as bait and often night fishing is the way forward as after all, eels seem to be nocturnal feeders in the main and with the silver fish biomass ever changing on the canal system their diets seems to have changed

What has surprised me though that the tables haven’t really been turned. Considering the amount of deadbaits I’ve fished in the canal I have never ever picked up an eel whilst targeting Zander which I find ridiculous really, why not I wonder? but more about that later, I think I know why.

Friends of friends have caught them in the day for sure, but maybe my preference for small intimate canals rather than large open stretches is the reason why. You see the other day when fishing a really wide and deep area I rarely fish at dusk when I removed my lure and swapped over to simply a hook and a small deadbait which I allowed it to sink to the bottom. The tip was used as a bite indicator and a half an hour after the bait being out a couple of proper bangs on the rod tip and whatever was biting then took off away from me at a rate of knots.

I didn’t have much time to think to be honest and when I lifted the rod I initially felt the weight of the fish which felt really heavy and just by the feel through the braid something other than a Zander. With Zander they are progressive takers of bait, this wasn’t, all very odd. A big eel it could well have been and if I eventually catch a double figure canal Zander maybe I’ll seek advice from Nick and maybe meet up with him on the bank to show me the ins and outs of eel fishing.

With the 2019 / 2019 Bloggers Challenge about to start in anger for me a river Eel will need to be targeted, and yes I’m quite looking forward to that despite the hounding they get from those that accidentally catch them when targeting another species. To be honest I'm surprised I'd not picked up any whilst Zander fishing but I do tend to fish the colder months for them, which probably explains it.

So anyway back to this session, this would be the last before I was back on the river again so I decided to visit pastures relatively new again, which could dictate some session in the next close season. An area where is reputed to hold some nice Zander but not really wet a line in anger. You can see why Zander would like it here though because there are plenty of features.

2 deadbait rods, smelt on one, roach on the other, how did I fair ?

Well a huge tree had fallen down since I was here last and was covering so much of the canal a boat would need to squeeze past.

Features are this hold fish and sure enough within minutes I had the first bite. And those bites didn't stop. I managed 6 fish in quick succession till the bites dried up. Not the biggest of fish and a couple of zedlets within the fish caught but certainly enjoyable sport.

I moved up to another area of thick cover and again the bites came quick, 3 more fish banked quite quickly the biggest nearly 4lb. I love it when you stumble on fish like this, unless you've experienced it you wouldn't believe just how active they become when they are on it.

I was fast running out of deadbaits though so had to use the mashed and mangled smelt as best I could.  It still caught fish though and another 2 fish were banked in an area of cover just up from this other hotspot.

Luckily time called this session to a close as I suspect I could probably have caught all day and would have had to drive home to replenish the bait stocks. So 11 Zander caught, not huge fish for sure but I'm an angler who loves getting bites, this was one of the memorable sessions I'll remember for a while.

Thursday 13 June 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.139 – Nephelognosy and Nimgimmers

Described as "a manic pixie dream assassin who's as charming as she is psychopathic" who takes "fulsome pleasure in a murder well performed" Not simply a hired assassin, "taking joy in the pain of others" and having "no moral fetters holding her back"

No it’s not a quote from a F1 catching ex canal match angler describing the ‘Zander, the silent killer’. You know, that non-native species to the UK that now frequents these Midland waterways, and the fish that has ‘decimated’ the Gonk and Miller’s Thumb population, but Villanelle, the rather engaging assassin with bits in the right places, from the series Killing Eve back on out screen this week !!!

To be fair there are similarities, the other day when handling a tiny schoolie, it went all rogue on me, going from visually very alluring and appreciative, to full on psycho in a split second.

Spikey dorsal, the gnashing of teeth, a Tasmanian Devil right there in my landing net !!!!

It’s only when you catch as many of them as I have, that they are a fish species to be celebrated not castigated.

Imagine if you were meant to be frequenting the warmer freshwater and brackish habitats in western Eurasia, and all of a sudden given a backpack, a couple of penny chews and your matching orders, and told to report back when you’ve plundered and pillaged in waters even sheep would think twice about drinking from.

But thrived they have despite the adversity they have faced like the carriers of clap or those that were sent to Coventry.

They also had the fear that one day having to try to extract an Isham Baggs contraption from up their jacksie’s to avoid appearing on display at Billingsgate fish market.

 get on well with Zander though as you know, and the ‘Close Season Quest’ has again made up all of my fishing since the 15th of March when the rivers shut for the ‘breeding’ season.

The best of this years closed season campaign 7lb 8oz
After finally banking a Warwickshire Avon Chub of 5lb and beating my PB Barbel during the season with a 12lb 14oz garlic spam loving lunker, I thought catching a quest concluder would be a mere formality but sadly it seems to be getting tougher and tougher, this being part 139 of the quest for a canal double.

Some nice fish have been banked for sure, but those hotspots no longer hotspots, those banker swims no longer bankers.

You’ll be pleased to know I will be continuing my quest in the next close season (will there be one? ) and I will also fish the canals if the rivers are flooded. And flooded they might be, what an awful week weather-wise, cold, windy and a proper good old dumping of rain, but I needed to get out bankside.

The weather apps all differed, so back to looking at the clouds !!!!

I’ve had to find the fish in a rather haphazard fashion, but then that is the nature of my blog, lots of planning, but results not as expected. There was the odd fish that got reaching for my scales but the best I could muster up since the 15th of June was 2lb and 8oz’s off a well-deserved punch in the air.

Now this session was meant to be with Nic from Avon Angling UK, now Nic had found a nice area of cover I’d not even fished before, but not only that the canal in question seems to be the home to the bigger fish at the minute. For some reason I’d not visited this area for a while but when a good’un turned up for the likeminded ones hackles were given a good shaking again.

As Zander had also got their fangs in to him as well, he wanted to share this location to hopefully help me out on my quest. It’s also nice to have another ear to the ground, or another float tight to cover as it can feel lonely out there sometimes on this needle in a haystack challenge I’ve set myself. Although he’d manged to catch some nice fish, nothing huge up till now, but the transitional route got me interested as further up, there is reputed to be some larger fish in residence.

A session in to dusk, so how did we fair ?

Well sadly Nic couldn't make it having to look after his kids after his Wife was poorly but I decided to plod on and fish this lovely bit of cover. Now as an experienced canal Zander angler when you eventually drop on some fish you will get a bite within minutes, so after covering a good section of cover leapfrogging likely holding spots without a bite I wondered what all the fuss was about,

But then returning to the start of the cover a confident bite developed and a fish was taking the float right under the thicket. I tightened the drag and lent in to the fish and all I felt was a solid lump and then the fish broadsided under the water.

Errrr ok then that's a big fish....

As soon as the fight started though I knew it was a pike, and considering pike are rare where I fish, Zander being the fishy apex predator the was one rare old beast. I've a fluorocarbon leader on so was worried that I would lose it but after a cracking battle with the drag screaming and the rod bent double eventually the pike was in the net.

11lb on the nose and not the double I wanted but welcome all the same....

So with the pike returned it was back after the Zander. Again leapfrogging cover eventually a bite came, only a small schoolie though and after it was swiftly returned I decided to head to the area Nic recommended and sit it out for the last hour. When the light dropped I expected to get a couple of runs but when I could barely see my floats I called it a day. An enjoyable session and a new canal PB but not the species I wanted sadly.

Maybe next time, fingers crossed !!!!
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