Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Sunday 29 September 2019

The Tiny River Alne - Dry Boots and Dog Otters

A scotch bonnet pepper may sound timid, but it is nothing of the sort. It’s one of the spicier peppers (100,000 to 350,000 SHU, same as a habanero) that you may potentially find at a supermarket, especially in geographic areas high in Caribbean residents.

Now as a chilli consumer I should have known better when making a beef and tiger prawn curry the other day, you see I didn't wash my hands nearly enough and after rubbing ones eye within seconds I was in pain from the chilli oil that was now in ones eye. 

I've done stupid things like this before but for some reason after washing my eye with water it took a good while before I could open my eye, a wet wipe in the end seem to do the trick but boy it was painful.  

So Why the Caribbean? Because this is THE pepper of the region. In fact, if you say you want a hot pepper in most of the Caribbean islands, the scotch bonnet pepper is what you are handed. Scotch bonnet is used in all sorts of Caribbean cuisine, including the well-known jerk chicken (or jerk pork).

Now for me it's a hot chilli that I don't have post curry adverse reactions too, in the morning ones regulatory passes without issue, that cannot be said for other varieties of chillis, some just don't sit right in my stomach.

The shape of this famous pepper is what inspired its name. In shape, the pepper with its squashed look appears like a Scotsman’s bonnet (called a Tam o’Shanter hat). Simple as that. Nothing else reminiscent of Scotland about this pepper, but it does have a name that’s hard to forget. It has other names, too, including the Bahama Mama, the Jamaican Hot, the Bahamian, and the Martinique pepper

Scotch bonnets run between 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units . The hottest possible scotch bonnet is potentially 140 times spicier than the mildest jalapeño you may find (around 2,500 SHU). That’s a lot of heat. So despite all its scorch, there is quite a bit of heat above the Bahama Mama.

So for this quick morning session I was on the banks of the river Alne which is a 3 minute drive from my house. The fish may not go big, well the fish I've caught anyway, but there is solitude here in abundance and up till now, I've not seen another angler.

There are some good chub here to be had though and despite their statue they give a good scrap. 

Simple tactics as well, I walk the stretch feed some liquidised bread in some likely looking chub holding spots and then on the return fish the swim using a large piece of bread flake.

Now the river can rise at a ridiculous rate and as I type this the river is likely to be in flood. The amount of rain we had last night enough to make it un-fishable where as when I fished it, in areas you could see the bottom. 

As I was making my way up the stretch having already banked a 3 lber I hear a disturbance just down from me and then something large on the bank opposite. It was a huge otter, easily the biggest I've seen on the waterways I fish.

Its tail was huge and it entered the water and was patrolling the margins causing a huge wake and bubbles in the process. I followed it upstream and managed to get this photo, sadly not of this apex predator itself but just goes to show whats lurking in small rivers like this.

I did mange 5 chub though and this one in-particular gave such a good fight it deserved to have a trophy shot. I fish fairly light for these fish and luckily all the fish I caught were in tip top condition. The larger and slower chub may not avoid the clutches of the otter though, only time will tell I suppose but at least there are some fish still hanging around despite their back watching.

A note for next time, pack your half wellies, the moan grass went to thick quite quickly and my walking boots ended up getting soaked and my socks acting like sponges. My trousers acting like wicks and were soaked through as well, Luckily only a short 2.5 hour session but I won't make the same mistake again. 


Wednesday 25 September 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Gimcracks and Galligaskins

Dave Seaman a DJ I've grown up with has a show on Mixcloud titled Radio Therapy, the working week, head down, work out, with repetitive beats just how I like them, one's mind away from what keeps interfering with one's mindfulness, you know, what we all have to contend with, yeahhhh that thing called Life.

Fishing can give that for sure, in abundance, but then we all know that as fisherman, it's one of the reasons why we spend hours bankside often staring at motionless floats and rattleless quivertips.

A trip bankside can me back on the straight and narrow rather than straying off piste down a red run. Now this session was a quicky after work for Barbel. Not ideal conditions with a river on the rise after recent rain, but a chance maybe especially when the light went at dusk.

A usually productive area was again the chosen stretch and despite not catching a Barbel yet from here this season I'd seen some nice fish when it had been low and clear.

So witrods already set up it was a matter of casting out and enjoying the peace. Now the river was up a tinge of colour and every so often I had to recast as debris had collected around the line, a bit of a pain but to be honest expected.

All was going well until a turkey twizzler eating tearaway appeared in the garden in the house opposite with his mate. After annoying his gym loving mother to such an extent she shouted at him louder than was probably necessary, after reluctantly obeying her commands, he decided to venture to the small pontoon at the end of his garden and start skimming stones not only in to my swim but also hitting the hull of the boat that was moored up.

Now I could have pointed out the error of his ways but unlike me I decided to upsticks altogether and venture right down to the bottom of the stretch and give the Jimny a workout. Some nice dips, ruts and climbs and at the end a rather large area of wet grass.

No problem with the newly acquired toy but it meant it would also provide some shelter if the heavens opened whilst I was bankside. With some smelly baits out with a pva bag of small spicy sausage pellets I thought it gave me a chance of a bite. The debris coming down seemed to increase though here but eventually I managed a unhindered hour in to dusk where sadly the rods remained motionless.

So again since the start of the new season I've yet to catch a Barbel, I wouldn't say back to the drawing board as I'm sure with conditions improving I'll catch one soon enough. If anything the time on the bank with help with the probability.

Whilst that that session couldn't be any more lacklustre, Nic has upload the recent Zander session that couldn't be more different. Bites two at a time, take a look below and check out his other videos.

Sunday 22 September 2019

Warwickshire Avon – Slappers and Snallygasters

A three-mile hike for a 7lb 7oz Thames Chub was the headline of an article I was reading in the Angling Times the other day, a HIKE for heaven’s sake. 

I was fully expecting the captor to be donned in crampons, trekking poles and Kendal mint cake….

The many seat box frequenters, surface slappers and puddle pursuers don’t help I suppose because the hoi polloi who share the same space see anglers cars parked behind pegs, with pies and pasties being eaten and think we are all a lazy bunch, but come on Angling Times, 3 miles isn’t a hike, I and many who share the same passion, this is commonplace, it really is.

For sure I myself often park behind ones peg for short sessions to maximise the fishing time, but on the whole it's the roving approach of fishing I really enjoy. It's decent exercise as well, the canal Zander quest ones 10,000 step indicator often going off when I'm still looking for cover to leapfrog.

Maybe for one edition of the Angling Times, ditch the same old faces the repetitive articles and go and find what’s really going on out there, because there are still many of us, who still don't fish commercials and / or like variety in our pastime. Go and spend a week with James and Brian for starters, just make sure you have decent footwear and consume enough calories for the miles ahead.

Now recently I'd bought from Ebay, Coarse Fishing monthly from January 1982 and the change in content, from present day to back when I was a nipper is clear for all to see. Can you imagine one of the weekly or monthlies having just one of these articles that were featured. 'Breaking the Ice' (for carp), 'Chub on whitebait', 'Canals in Winter' and 'Sub-Zero' a blank session on a river.

But for those publishers trying to hang on to their readership, variety is exactly what many anglers want, proper stories please not the same old articles subconsciously trying to sell the latest bit of kit I must have. Then again thinking about it, no not subconsciously, it's proper product placement rate there in print, probably why I've not a monthly or weekly for a while now.

Back to the old days for me and many please....

Just look what we up to for starters, off to far-flung territories unknown in search of the Warwickshire Avon's chicken eating Snallygaster.

You see someone I bumped in to bankside recently was praising the virtues of chicken skin for banking the biggest Chub out the shoal, apparently with mouths big enough to tackle a toddler such was the selective nature of the fatty derma and as someone with an interest in cryptozoology and a post blue cheese lucid dreamer, it reminded me of the cryptoid.

The Snallygaster was an avian-reptilian miss-creation is said to prey on poultry and carry off children usually after nightfall.

Ok I know early America was a strange place and moonshine was prevalent, but few migrants knew exactly what to expect in such a curious, unfamiliar land and some expectations were higher than others.

For good authority has it that in the Appalachian foothills near South Mountain there exists a belief that the vicinity is plagued by a bloodcurdling, flying creature of vast proportions.At first glance the brute is suggestive of European dragons; the major divergence being the prior is wholly hideous

The grotesque gargantua boasts a beak of iron fitted with teeth of steel, claws like scythes, an eye midway in its forehead, a pair of feathered wings and a dozen, wriggling tentacles to boot.

Is there anything Chub don't eat ?
No I’m not going mad, it in-fact, made a nice bedtime story for Sam before we tackled the beast armed with bottles of salmonellosis culling hand wash, and it meant I didn’t have to talk about Bigfoot and Yeti’s again, which to be honest, was getting a little repetitive.

Just don’t tell him that….

The swim we were off to I’d never fished before but heard about it and seen the pictures, the fallen tree that hinders the rivers flow would provide not only a perch for the Snallygaster but any discarded chicken would be headed the Chubs way, as the structure would also provide the Chevin much needed cover it often seeks.

It's the peg to draw, let's put it like that....

For this session, a lump of skin and to try and avoid a blank if that wasn't doing the business, a proven Chub banker, yes, you guessed it, a large piece of bread pinched on the hook. Talking of hooks a size 6 Drennan Specimen apparently the best Chub Hook Ever !!!! ( Russ Hilton )

Only a quick hour and a bit session this so there was no messing around, make our way to the swim and get fishing. A chublet was caught quite quick on bread but it was chicken skin I wanted to try anc catch with, so as the light was going we decided to leave the bait static for longer and ignore the plucks and knocks and wait till the rod went properly over.

As the bats were surfacing and the Snallygaster starting to stir I was starting to pack up whilst Sam was manning the rod,

"Dad, Dad" "Oh my God this feels massive"

Unbeknown to me he had struck in to a fish and was playing it all on his own. After a spirited fight and watching Sam tacking the 'monster' I got the landing net and did the honours for him.

Now Sam for some reason still isn't up for handling fish when I'm there to get my hands slimy instead, but it was his biggest Warwickshire Avon Chub, only 2 and a bit pound, but a welcome catch when chublets seems to be the norm up till now. Dusk is coming round quick now to my sessions will likely be straight after work, that or I will start fishing the venues I can fish in to dark.

With some rain the weekend and in to next week I'm hoping that the fish now that the temperature is dropping as well will start to get properly on the feed. Heck I might even try for a Barbel again I could do with the points as I've not caught one this season yet.

Saturday 21 September 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Vegans and Vampires

Around 180,000 Thomas Cook holidaymakers could be stuck abroad if the Brit tour operator goes bust. If the firm goes under, it would force the government and the Civil Aviation Authority to launch the biggest peacetime repatriation of British citizens at an estimated cost of £600million.

The 178-year-old company confirmed it was seeking £200m in emergency funding and is in talks with stakeholders to avoid entering administration. Remember those banks us taxpayers kept from going under, well they all seem to have their heads buried in the sand it seems, but I'm sure something will be sorted and the company will get things back on track.

Now talking about repatriation many anglers would like to send those dreaded Zander back from whence they came, the 'killing machines' causing death and destruction wherever they roam within UK waters. It just so happens where they roam, is very much in the heart of the midlands waterways as they have been for many a year now.

So the rivers and canal network are awash with these apparently unwanted apex predators, But they are here to stay, naturalised in the networks, established in the community, curtains are no longer twitching, blinds are no longer moving. The fish that share the same space as these fantastic species no longer hiding.

Like the Perch and Pike that have the same make-up, that's what they do, they predate on other fish, why wouldn't they, what do you expect them to do ? become vegans overnight or something. Exactly that's not going to happen now is it. As someone who has been catching these fish for a while now the biomass seems fine to me. 

I could catch a keepnet full of small dace, bleak and roach by regularly feeding maggots if I really wanted to, it's not like the small fish have all disappeared and 'the Zander have eaten them all", they are just another predator added in to the mix that considering they were relocated here by no fault of their own, why the persecution ? 

Now Nic off a Avon Angling Uk has grown to love this species of fish like I have. You see after giving him advice to catch them on the canal he has enjoyed catching them ever since. For this catch-up session just a bite or two would be nice so with the Avon being low and clear fishing in to dusk and beyond was a must to try and intercept their feeding spell.

Their supreme eyesight in lowlight conditions giving them one up on their prey. Smelt and a roach flapper for me and a similar set-up for Nic. Get sorted before dusk and enjoy the sunset and peace on our terms.

So out with the bobbins I designed and knocked up in CAD and wait for the Zander to move it. Now Zander here down at the private stretch seem to move around in packs and bite when you get one can lead to other bites coming quickly. 

The sun went down and after half an hour of proper dark where the bats were active the stars out it was very quiet indeed but then out of the blue Nic had an indication on one of his rods which eventually pulled the line out of the clip and a fish was taking line.

Nic uses circle hooks which works well it seems and after reeling in the slack and tightening in to the fish a Zander was on.

It gave a good fight as well, a proper bend in the rod and the characteristic thud thud only they give. It was a decent fish as well, in mint condition, 5lb 15oz's. When that fish was rested and returned I was happy that just one fish was caught, but then it was my turn. My right hand bobbin starts to move and a fish is taking line.

Now these bobbins can be a little cumbersome on the line so I might design some drop-off indicators in similar phosphorescent material but despite their 14 gram weight the Zander didn't seem to have trouble with resistance.

You see as I was hooked in to the first first, my other bobbin jumps in to life and another fish is running with the smelt offering. 

A double hook-up !!!!

I've had that on the canal quite a few times not but never on the river. So Nic did the honours and held the rod for me whilst I landed the first fish and took over the second.

A pack of Zander clearly moving through the swim on a feeding spell. The bigger of the two 5lb 8oz clearly not happy being caught, its dorsal fin proudly on display its jaw clamped shut. 

I don't think I'll tire catching Zander, such a fantastic species to catch and plenty of character. The baits went out for another half an hour but no fish were forthcoming so we decided to end the session on a high. With the weather on the change I'm hoping to try and snare that elusive double. I've hooked two and lost two doubles thus far, the biggest probably 12lb+. The loss of that fish will stay with me for life, the violent shaking of the head whilst existing the water enough to rid the hook.

Thursday 19 September 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Hedgehogs and Herring Ponds

A big thumbs up from Sam for his first trip out in Dads new car, however sadly the session would be a short one after dinner and I had strict orders to get him back for eight thirty as he had been tired and a bit of a nightmare trying to get him up for school.

Then again his mother is just the same, who has to hit the snooze button three times, why not set your alarm and get up when it goes off !!!!

She likes her bed, as much as he does, both able to zone out early riser Ben's 'noise', sadly I myself am polar opposite. A recent change of job has meant the spare time I used to have when there were quite periods have been wiped out. Not in a bad way because busy is good especially when it's working on something very interesting.

But ones blog used to go off on a tangent which I used to enjoy but recently it's been all about fishing which probably isn't a bad thing.

So this short session was down to a section of the Avon where I've found depths over 20 feet, it's 10 to 12 ft in the main, but using the deeper fish finder I've found some proper deep areas.

We can drive down here you see and park right next to ones peg, for a quick session it's ideal, and there are some good fish to be had here as well.

We were after Zander and I've had some nice ones here in the past, the biggest heading towards 9lb and I've lost two bigger ones as well, one, certainly a double.

Now the water seemed lifeless when we got bankside, and a quick scan showed a nice bottom and 14ft of depth in-front of us. On a first go through of the deeper where were all the fish. Even the surface which usually has some activity on the surface was dead, hmmmmm not good.

So back in the Jimny and right to about as far as we could drive adjacent to the river and I recast the deeper to try and locate at least something for a chance of bite.

Sure enough eventually we found an area with some life, there was some weed on the bottom and the fish seemed to be in and among them. I cast both rods out with smelt as bait waited for a confident ding when the lead landed on a clean spot and hoped for the best.

The Avon is in dire need of rain and therefore not fishing particularly well at all. Most likely bream but usually where there is bream, there is Zander I've found. They probably are happy frequenting the same areas to be honest.

It's clear and levels are down which for fishing ain't the best, but you cannot catch a fish without a bait in the water.

When the fish are shoaled up here when it's properly cold, that's when things get interesting, you'd be forgiven if you'd wonder why anyone would fish it, such the mediocre fishing in much of the season but stick around you will be surprised, like someone has hit a switch. Oddly the banks are quieter when it gets cold, odd because that's when it gets interesting.

Anyway as the light started to go on the left rod there was a pull of the bait enough to set the bite alarm off and Sam nearly striking, but the bite didn't develop from that.

The water is still very mild indeed and to be honest , in my experience they don't seem particularly interested till the water temp drop s and the fish start to get hungry.

Still, the sun set was lovely and hopefully this will be the first of many trip out with Sam in Dad's new toy. A toy which on a few days in, really is putting smile on my face as someone who works in the industry, cars like this that break the mould really should be celebrated, I'm enjoy driving again.

Yeap, a blank but then fishing isn't just about catching fish now is it !!!!

Hedgehogs spotted this week, 3 

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Scumbags and Scrubbados

You work hard for nice things only for some scumbag wanting to try and get its hands on it. I'm talking about my Mk7 Golf R estate which has now gone. A weeks holiday, the car left on the drive in a quiet area, the patio door forced, the house searched top to toe, the tealeaf leaving empty handed, the keys were in the safe you see. If they were where I usually put them, the car would have gone. Sam a week of sleepless night as he thought the burglar might come back.

I used to enjoy fast cars and driving for that matter, but over the years especially with the family duties and the traffic and state of the roads as they are, I've been looking for something that befits my lifestyle as a frequent angler and would also put a smile on my face albeit at a more sedate pace. 99% of the time it's just me in the car and I rarely venture onto motorways.

The Golf became a hindrance as I couldn't take it where I wanted to either, the ground clearance next to bugger all and rubber bands for tyres for all but the smoothest asphalt. So when the new Suzuki Jimny appeared in the press well over a year ago now I've been keeping an eye on its progress. A limited amount to be sold in the UK and if you wanted a specific colour, 18 months to 2 years waiting list.

It's dinky in statue, with and very credible off-road credentials. Tyre profile and ground clearance to not only soak up what the road has to throw at it, but also can go where most cars would think twice. A proper body on chassis set-up with wheel articulation boarding on the ridiculous.

Also being diminutive in statue you can park on the smallest of verges and the narrowest of  tracks. I thought a Subaru Forester 2.5XT would be the answer to ones prayers but it proved to be a lemon and to be honest wasn't that nice to drive anyway.

Now with the rear seats down the load bay ideal for all ones tackle and the rod quiver fits between the seats no problem. Bags of character, and believe it or not, such the demand for a car that is different from the humdrum, new cars appearing on the secondhand market are fetching a premium.

For a long while after a test drive of the demonstrator I've not had a smile on my face for a while. Enjoyment at a sedate pace and to confirm, yes I'm definitely getting old.

The SZ5 spec has all the modern toy, from Apple CarPlay, LED headlamps with main beam assist, heated seats and cruise control, to safety feature such as lane departure warning, collision avoidance and sign recognition.

The 4X4 tech such as hill hold,hill descent and selectable 2WD, 4WD and 4WD with low ratio are in conjunction with the JB74 platforms excellent ground clearance, approach angle, ramp breakover and departure angles. The stats are up there with some much bigger offroaders, this a very capable bit of kit I tell you, despite looking like a Tonka Toy.

Luckily for me I noticed a local Vauxhall dealer adding Suzuki to their franchise and I was the first customer to put a deposit down. A car every quarter, the current waiting list 13 people. So after picking it up yesterday the first trip out was to put up some WBAS signs up at a newly acquired syndicate stretch of a the Warwickshire Avon, a stretch I had not fished before.

The Golf wouldn't get not further than the gate for fear of grounding, the Jimny a stroll in the park and where it feels at home. A bank fully open to capable cars and also no issues with night fishing, a quick nose at the swims it looks like it might hold some nice fish, the downstream end, seemingly quite deep as well.

I for one am looking forward to putting some miles on it and venture to areas I'd not considered before because of my previous car(s) limitations. The only mod I might do is ditch the current 195x80xR15 tyres and replace them with some beefier looking 215/75 R15 AT tyres, straight out the factory guise they do look a bit weedy, from front on anyway, but I'll see what the OEM factory fitted tyres are like first.

"Mick you're a tool"

"No it's A tool, A TOOL !!!!"

Cut me some slack, there is the fact I fish probably 3 times a week, sometimes more, it is my pastime after all, one that hopefully will mean I can spend more time doing. Heck I can now cope with the rutted track of the Lower Itchen without wondering if I'll make back home in one piece or not.

Saturday 14 September 2019

'Not Quite' The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.142 – Vbucks and Vagaries

The weather kind still, the kettle not quite under its protective cover yet, the relatively lackluster summer still holding on, the sun still shining. The river tough going at the minute, things are on the turn though, that cold autumnal air comes and goes and when it's there noon and night, the fish start to feed. Munching a homemade burger thinking about where to fish, Zander appeared in one's mind again. The bigger Zander seem to show themselves more when the weather changes for the better for us anglers.

Last week you see the canal Zander were on it so to speak, a shoal located, bite after bite, this one particular overhanging bush a haven for these hardy creatures. If I ever fall on hard times I know what I would feed the family on, smoked Zander for breakfast, a Zander salad for lunch and a Zander curry for tea. For someone who has caught hundreds and hundreds of these fascinating creatures I've yet to try one.

They were as rowdy as those 'couldn't organise a pee up in their own brewery' MP's in the House of Commons, they needed ASBO's dishing out for their behaviour and all given a restraining order, especially the speaker of the house who appeared to be auditioning for some naff

American sitcom such his over the top acting and verbal bullying. Luckily for me the Skullcandy Crushers and repetitive beats doing their best to shield me from this utter National Embarrassment.

Anyway back to the fishing when they are on this though, it has to be seen to be believed. Unless you fish for Zander as much as I do, those sessions are few and far between, but when they do happen it is an eyeopener, it really is.

No big'uns from the last session though, ok a 4 pounder would be a waspers delight, but not the scale of fish I am after....

....I'm after a >80 cm fish that I know swims within these turbid waters.

A change of fortune is all you need though....

"Sam what would you do if you won £133,000,000 on the EuroMillions ?"

"I'd buy loads of Vbucks and play Fortnite for a week because Mummy won't buy me any !!!!"

"Errrrrrrrrrrr ok"

And it's a change of fortune I need you see, the search for a double figure Zander continues and I'm no closer to bringing this stupid quest of mine to its conclusion. There are some encouraging signs though, the Zed size and biomass on the increase in this area and the transient bigger fish can appear anytime when you least expect it. Sometimes though it's nice just getting bites, the overdepth float set-ups I use a visual treat when the smelt gets some interest.

Back on track I've got some fishing to do. This was a session of convenience, one where the tyres on the Wife's new car would stay clean, the terrain easily negotiable before my new wagon turn up that will get me anywhere I decide to go. So all change on the car front,I think the neighbours might think we've won the lottery, but then I've cashed some of my hard earned chips in.

What a lovely morning, 5.5 degrees when I got bankside at 7.00am and the sun came up nice and strong. The Zander though were another story, compared to last week bites were hard to come by, in-fact only two runs and one fish banked. The blue-green algae was more prominent this week though so maybe that had some effect on the fishing. For sure the oxygen would be less and that could well labour the fish from feeding.

Monday 9 September 2019

Warwickshire Avon - Jingle Bains and Jockum Cloys

With the Avon low and back to clear again fishing at the minute can be very tough indeed, however there are still fish to be caught if you want to get bankside.

For this session Sam and myself headed down to a section of the Avon where predators are in numbers. Perch and particularly Pike make their presence felt here because the bait fish biomass is very large indeed.

If a trot through of a float using maggot remains unhindered on the first chuck a trickle of maggots every couple of minutes will eventually attract the small fish.

It is then a bite a chuck, dace, chublets, chunky roach and some of the biggest bleak you are ever likely to catch keeps the littles ones happy. If match fishing is your thing I bet with a whip you could amass a decent bag full over the 5 hour period.

After a good hour or so eventually a pike moved in to the swim chasing a bleak on the retrieve but the fish still fed despite the big thing with teeth hanging around to hopefully gatecrash the party.

A move to a large open swim meant Sam could use a Frog popper on the surface whilst I enjoyed the sun. His casting is much improved now and providing there are no trees to get snagged up on on the whole he can be left to his own devices.

His boredom threshold can be tested if he isn't getting bites but as he was giving a good account of himself chucking the lure here and there that didn't seem to factor in to the equation.

Maybe the novelty of being able to skim the lure over the lily pads without getting snagged added to the enjoyment.

After what seemed like a hundred casts and his arm starting to ache a fish grabbed the lure quite close in and his first fish on the popper was on.

He'd seen how good surface fishing can be for predators when we used an insect replicant for summer Chub but I think he was shocked how violent the grab from the Pike can be. Now this jack was taking line on the relatively like lure set-up and apart from having to take over for a split second to steer it away from some reeds he did a cracking job of playing it.

It weighed 4lb 8oz and that was big enough to recall the story to his Mum as soon as he got home.

The final hour we returned to the first swim and fished close to an overhanging tree where a trickle of maggots again meant some small fish were caught but a change of depth and a larger shot on the line to sink the bait a little fast a chunky Perch of just over a pound in weight brought the session to a conclusion.

A really enjoyable morning, lots of fish caught despite the unfavourable conditions.

Saturday 7 September 2019

'Not Quite' The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.141 – Twirlblasts and Throttlebottoms

With the rivers low and clear it gave me a good chance to have a go at the canal Zander to register some bloggers challenge points. Now thinking about it I will still have all of the closed season before the competition end and hopefully where canal Zeds are concerned I'll be collecting those much needed points.

Dan leading the way thus far, but then he is more experienced than me, so not unexpected.

As a dab hand now catching these fascinating fish the banker swim was as good as any. Now this bush overhangs the canal a decent amount and any respecting zed head would know that there would likely be Zander laying up underneath it as it provides a nice canopy over their heads.

The last time I fished it, multiple runs and 11 fish banked. If I ever fall on hard times I know what could fill ones belly.

Smelt has proved a revelation in ones armoury, and this mornings session was no exception, roach never got a look in. 8 fish taken in the banker swim, 2 from another swim. 2 missed runs as well, it was quite a productive morning I must say.

The water temperature is coming down and that I'm sure brings on the Zander to feed. All fish in cracking condition which is encouraging as not far away there are a couple of otters.

The biggest fish went 4lb 4oz. Not massive as I've had fish twice that size but when you have multiple runs like I did today, that sometimes makes up for the lack of stature. Still a waspers delight mind you, deadbaits really do seem to sort the men from the boys.

The towpath was busy, boats three or four. Canals are not my favourite place to frequent but there is a reason why I dedicate so much time in the closed season fishing for these interesting fish. As a species they are nothing like anything that shares these mucky midland waterways. I'm hoping a double will eventually come my way, heck I think I deserve it.

Tough as barbed wire they give a decent scrap this time of year as well. They have a reputation for fighting like a wet lettuce but a couple of them gave me the run around today. Fish I could swear could make five till they surfaced and their statue not what I expected.

With a new car to pick-up next week, a car that will suit my fishing needs like no other and give me a smile on my face like these canal Zander do.

Smelt, try it, you'll be amazed !!!
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