Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Thursday 30 April 2020

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.*** - Codicology and Columbariums

Head down, work out, music consumed in even greater quantities, with the Skullcandy Crushers yet again doing the business. The working week from home seemingly going faster than the previous week, that can only be a good thing.

Now amongst the usual repetitive beats of Psybient, Goa and Progressive, something very different an hourlong tapestry of electronic & live music, as told by Islandman & his friends from around the world. A chilled out sound of nature with an electronic vibe with instruments accompany the 0's and 1's.

Now talking about chilled out sounds of nature, we ventured a few miles away for a long walk along the towpath. I've not fished this area for a while but I know from having been there before moored boats are a rarity.

Also it gets much less footfall, in-fact during these lockdown walks of ours, it was spookily quiet. The sun was out for much of the hour and a half and over that time we spotted some cracking shoals of roach, one small group, the biggest easily a 1lb and 8 ounces.

A worrying sign though, in one area the water very low indeed, in-fact I'd be surprised if a boat could actually navigate through it at the moment. Lack of rain and the lack of cut traffic taken its toll.

Now us anglers are the eyes and ears of the countryside, we get to police waterways like no other group, without question. We get sight of issues and problems earlier on, and can often be a Godsend to keeping animals and birds alive, the waters pollution free and the poachers and fish nickers as bay.

Over the years I've done my bit for sure. The last a sorrowful rescue of an injured kingfisher that I found in much distress at the banks of the Warwickshire Avon.

This kingfisher and others have kept me visually entertained on this particular stretch over the years and it was horrible to see.

It was calm and chilled in the box we used to transport him to the wildlife hospital

Still I tried to do my bit, sadly it didn't work out as we all wanted, but at least it was given pain relief before the X-Ray and was put to rest soon afterwards after the extent of its injuries were discovered.

I bet for non anglers this unsung byproduct of our pastime has never entered their thoughts. Still keep doing what we do, keep nature as intended and bugger wanting recognition.

It's just what we do as anglers. I can only hope that we all can get back to fishing as waterways need us to police them, they really do.

Now back to the fishing, I've gone all OCD with the tackle shed to get my fishing fix, rods and reels giving a good servicing. The quivers, towels and bags all whacked in the washing machine behind Mr's Newey back when she popped to the supermarket run for her bit of 'me time'.

"This washing machine smells really funny, hey one of your fishing weights is in here for some reason"

"Really, ta, I was looking for that"

The tackle shed (garage )a bit of a sanctuary away from the minatory this has all become, when I move house next it might be first on the tick list. Still I've managed a few water fixes, the Zander swim has been fed every couple of three days so I dread to think how big it is now, if there is one laying up mind you.

They again if my own fish tank is to go by, these fish can be lazy for sure. So if there is a fish I'm feeding fattening up, I may well be making myself a double by design, and let's be honest, it's what carp anglers have been doing for years.

In my book collection I've quite a few relating to Zander now, all but one from recent times though. Those books sharing the good times with Zander fishing over the years, dare I say it the glory years.

Now I've certainly seen a decline in numbers in many of the canal stretches I fish, the food still there for sure, because I've seen the food they have to eat with my own eyes.

Still they are here to stay, and at the moment I will still loving catching and returning them.

A previous capture shown below, not a huge fish, a couple of pound off my PB, but the smile on my face says it all. These are wonderful creatures they really are, they don't deserve the castigation.

A swim that I called the 'deep bit' (sadly cover all hacked back now) that I discovered on the local cut with the use of the deeper sonar.

Fishing withdrawal symptoms ?

"yeah, what a stupid question"

It's nice to relive captures sometimes, a memorable session is good for the mind.

Now this was a swim after catching a couple or three five pounders this one turned up and give me a right good run around.

Those that say they don't fight well, what a load of bull !!

Monday 27 April 2020

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.*** - Swingers and Swipples

There is no denying that a bubbling brook and the 'sounds' of nature are wonderfully therapeutic and work wonders for the mind.

These diminutive waterways have something to offer which no other kind of fishing is able to reproduced.

Perhaps it is the variety of scenery and endlessly changing character of the water, or the fact they can provide almost very problem an angler is likely to come across. The reason why these forgotten brooks are largely uncommercialised is undoubtedly, that much off it is off the beaten track and it is in these places that we get some of the our best sport.   

The kids first sighting of a snake in the wild 
Ok the size of the fish rarely compares with that of the larger rivers and there is no doubt that many brooks could be greatly improved as fisheries. Lets be hush hush about it though because it would be a sorry day for brook lovers like me if great improvement ever begins.

Gone will be the wonderful feeling you are the privileged visitor in an excitingly unspoilt and natural little world, a feeling which means so much to the people that fish there.

The fascination of the brooks is a very difficult thing to try and describe but it is always there and waiting to soothe or excite you, in whichever mood you happen to be in.

Men who did their first fishing as children in these tiny waters and have later experienced the bigger fish from the bigger rivers, return to the brooks and still find pleasure in their untouched freshness and vitality.

Canals don't offer the same appeal for me, however the Zander Quest in the closed season allows me to do something I wouldn't ordinarily do. Not a bad thing, fishing for me would become boring quite quickly if I didn't mix it up a bit.

Now this lockdown has given the opportunity to search some of these hidden gems to see where the next Warwickshire trout will come from. To be fair when I started fishing them with Sam in two just an odd bite would have been most welcome, but there has been some surprises to be had.

Countless trout, decent dace, roach, perch and some of the biggest bullheads all succumbing to rod and line in the various stretches we have been fishing over the last few years.

Why more people don't fish them is beyond me, solitude in abundance and fishing on your terms. Roving is a must as it travelling light, a short rod of 8ft or so, preferable over one a little more cumbersome, you've low branches to navigate and you need to manoeuvre around the tree chicanes.

Bullheads are quite aggressive little biters when they get on the feed, a 1oz quiver should suffice to register a pulled maggot on the tip.   

Its the ever changing landscape that deserves some respect, you're properly in the thick of it, and it changes with every trip. Bird song is amplified in these environments and there is always a wildlife highlight with every fishing session.

Obviously you need to be confident that you can fish the watercourse but be discrete about it, I tend to find stretches near to public rights of way.

Generally the access is better for starters and you don't stand out because of that.

So a new stretch discovered, a new stretch that hopefully I can give a go in the new season.

I am struggling with not able to fish, mixing with the great unwashed in the supermarket is fine if you want to buy that 'essential' but fishing a local canal away from anybody else ain't.

Still a roast Sunday dinner which has been a staple in the Newey household all is good again. A water fix is needed though, and with the weather like it has been it'e been nice just to get out in and amongst it.

Oh forgot to add, nothing complicated for these streams and brooks. Worm, bread or maggots, small hooks and light lines.

A small landing net for sure because some fish definitely ain't swingers, they deserve more respect than that.

Still when there are some fascinating creatures like this to be caught, you;ll give these brooks more respect I'm sure.

One particular memorable session Sam and I stumbled on a shoal of bullheads that were in a shallow swim under a bridge.

They were so aggressive trying to compete for the maggot they were literally lumping clear out of the water.

What a sight that was, as surreal as these week we've all been contained, confined and confused.

Saturday 25 April 2020

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.*** - Paedotrophy and Pathognomics

Solitude is not the same as loneliness. Lonely people feel the need for company, while solitary types seek to escape it. Another difference between the two groups is that hermits, anglers, Trappist monks and Romantic poets choose to be alone, whereas nobody chooses to feel abandoned and bereft.

Calling yourself “self-partnering”, meaning that you sit in the cinema (should they be open) holding your own hand, may be either a genuine desire for solitude or a way of rationalising the stigma of isolation.

The greatest difference of all, however, is that solitude has rarely killed anyone, whereas loneliness can drive you to the grave. As the coronavirus rampages, some of us might now face a choice between physical infection and mental breakdown.

My ramblings over the years you know that fishing gives me the solitude that I need to function effectively after all modern life can be very challenging indeed, there needs to be an escape for me.

Now Sam has been coming fishing with me since he was 4 years old, he's showed an interest, but not only that, he has embraced my style of fishing where I'd rather fish a small river and stream than a bigger river despite the fish nothing to write home about.

Who would go out to target bullheads, not many anglers I would imagine, we do.

The location is everything, solitude and fishing on my terms a must. So my solitude has gone, now a kid with verbal diarrhoea to appease, still I love taking him and will continue to do so.

What to do then ? well increase my fishing sessions, it's that simple and you only have to look at my blog to see that, 3 or 4 times a week now the norm. It's killing me not being able to go, 5 weeks in, that's probably 20 sessions I'd have had chasing the elusive canal 10lb Zander.

Still in these testing times of social distancing, fishing and golf will probably be the first pastimes to be phased in.

Anyway this week has been nice hasn't it, so we've had some nice walks out, one to collect some eggs left for us by one of my Wife's friends, luckily walking distance from our house. Her house an ideal house to be under lock-down, 7 acres, a swimming pool, feral animals and the biggest greenhouse I've ever seen.

The Webber has been used in anger too, a slow cooked beef brisket with homemade BBQ sauce, some tandoori chicken and adana kebabs being the main highlight.

Life's simple pleasures, which can get that mind back to a good place again.

Even the visual distraction of smoke well received.

A slug or two of a good rum, one or two Mad Goose's and Miss Monique on the decks on the bluetooth speaker, life is good.

Sadly as you would expect domestic violence is on the increase and I'd imagine many are suffering and struggling with their mental health.

One of our favourite pubs to visit in good weather the doors shut, the car-park empty, the table and chairs overturned very surreal indeed. Will they and many come out of this unscathed ? well let's hope so, because we need them all back stronger than ever.

The first pint, the first meal out, never to be taken for granted again. I bet the fish have wondered what the hell is going on as well with hardly any boat traffic and bait going in.

Well maybe not in the swim I've still been feeding, hopefully a big Zander with a belly to burst harbouring there still loving the free lunches, and sadly more to come for the foreseeable future.

The water seemingly quieter this week, no carp spotted, roach shoals sparse, the highlight some spawning bream ( I think )

A busy WFH week next week, a complicated cabin bed to build for Sam's 9th birthday 🤯 also a canvas print I've been hiding ready for his newly painted wall.

Sam's hero, Jeremy Wade, sadly not me !!!

Tuesday 21 April 2020

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.*** - Fractals and Fringilliforms

I for one cannot wait for the first bite, the first bob of the float, the first ripple on the surface, that bend in the rod.

Recently the monotony has been broken up with a walk out to see some trains go by (yes really) , trying to spot the 60 strong Space X satellite train in ones dressing gown. Some Goldcrest and Tit twitching and yeap, you guessed it to add some more pre-bait to the Zander swim I'm priming.

Another tidy up of the garage ( if that was at all possible ) I stumbled upon the VR headset I thought I'd lost. Now if you've not seen these before, its a relatively cheap bit of kit that uses a couple of magnifying lenses and your phone for the display.

Various platforms can be used to view media, YouTube, BT sports etc and many are in 360 degrees too, so you can look left and right, look up and down and even behind you and the image will follow your head. With the BT sport app can watch a match from the goal and look over your shoulder to see the crowd.

Depending on the source the screen splits in to two on the phone, the lenses giving a very immersive experience even though the tech is pretty basic.

Ben is an adrenaline junkie which is odd because of his sensory issues but he loves roller-coasters and fast ones too. This headset can be used to get close to the experience without all the rough and tumble which cannot be achieved in lock-down.

For me fractals such as this , psychedelic colours and landscapes can be viewed in conjunction with the Skullcandy crusher headphones.

Haptic bass feedback that needs to be heard to be believed. It's like being stood on those 20 hertz woofers again, enough air moved by the cones to lift skirts. The good thing is, an out of body experience without disturbing the family.

Now Benoit Mandelbrot first coined the term ‘fractal’ in 1975, discovering that simple mathematic rules apply to a vast array of things that looked visually complex or chaotic.

As he proved, fractal patterns were often found in nature’s roughness in clouds, coastlines, plant leaves, ocean waves, the rise and fall of the Nile River, and in the clustering of galaxies.

To understand fractal patterns at different scales, picture a trunk of a tree and a branch, they might contain the same angles as that same branch and a smaller branch, as well as the converging veins of the leaf on that branch. 

And so on. You can have fractals creating what looks like chaos.

To find out if that dimension induced a particular mental state, EEG has been used to measure people’s brain waves while viewing geometric fractal images. 

They discovered that in that same dimensional magic zone, the subjects’ frontal lobes easily produced the feel-good alpha brainwaves of a wakefully relaxed state. This occurred even when people looked at the images for only one minute.

Your visual system is in some way hardwired to understand fractals. The stress-reduction is triggered by a physiological resonance that occurs when the fractal structure of the eye matches that of the fractal image being viewed.

If a scene is too complicated, we can’t easily take it all in, and that in turn leads to some discomfort, even if subconsciously. It makes sense that our visual cortex would feel most at home among the most common natural features we evolved alongside. So perhaps part of our comfort in nature derives from fluent visual processing.

Fractals engage the parahippocampus ,which is involved with regulating emotions and is also highly active while listening to music. Looking at an ocean might have a similar effect on us emotionally as listening to Brahms.

The sort of emotions us anglers get in abundance when the float dips, the bite alarm sings, or when a fish hits in to a lure hard and it's felt through the braid and the subsequent bend in the carbon.

Keeping sane is required at this time, keep that mind in a good place in any way you can under these current restrictions. 

The RC car given the once over, Ni-Cad's charged, that oven cleaned, yes you heard me the oven cleaned. Heck even a slow roasted pork shoulder on the BBQ, as distraction, the smoke, smells and satire sat in the garden the time passes.

That homemade sauce another hour down. We'll all be back sooner than later hopefully, that hurdle nearly there to be negotiated.  I've a 10lb canal Zander to catch, I cannot do that sat at home now can I. Still in these uncertain times of pensions plummeting and pasta plundering not being able to go fishing is the least of worries for me and for many.

Stay Safe !!!!

Saturday 18 April 2020

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.*** - Galvanotaxis and Gallimaufry

I've never seen it so clear down this stretch, the polarised sunglasses donned to be able to see beneath these clearing waters. Not only are the shoals of fish clear to see but also just how shallow the canal is in places. In-fact it may well change the way I fish for canal Zander for ever, yes really.

The turbidity (thanks George) has changed so dramatically here because the lack of boat traffic. Some of the far bank features I have been fishing with ones deadbaits positioned are probably only 6 inches or so deep

No decent sized Zed would be able to hide itself there now will it, its back would be out the water.

The change of depth so dramatic another foot further back I'm sure that will lead to more bites, it has to, fish able to go about their business without having to show themselves, give the game away.

Now in these times we cannot fish I'm gradually turning myself in to a fat appreciator or chubby chaser, it's a 'thing' apparently, but let's not go in to that here, I'm eating my breakfast for starters, that wouldn't be a good thing.

Ok I'm not quite ready to start feeding a Zander through a funnel but this swim I've been feeding and I will continue to do so, I'm hoping a Zander is holding up appreciating ones efforts to expand her waist line and will be a willing participant when eventually I can get that after-eight in front of her mush.

To be honest is there any need ? the shoals of fish here is incredible, an eye opener really. The clearing water revealing just how alive much of this canal is. Not only are there some of the biggest minnows I've ever seen on a canal, but also the roach shoals have been awesome to see.

The larger roach >8 ounces have been tightly packed together is smaller groups, but the Zander fodder have been in the hundreds and hundreds seemingly abiding to their own social distancing measures.

If only the CRT would remove their rose tinted specs to see what is exactly going on here in these 'troubled' waters they wouldn't need to press that 'deadmans switch' on the anode pole ever again.

I'm not talking just in one area either, over the 2 miles stretch, they are everywhere. The biomass of the canal enough for even a match angler to be interested, you would think.

But no, the canals are a patch of their former selves apparently, and I for one agree with them, nothing to be seen here.

The carp as well are here in numbers, Sam feeding them some bread where they always have been since I've been fishing it. They are well hidden unless you spend time waterside like I do, the state of canals nothing like what I read in the press, but then highlighting what exactly is going on won't help with the Billingsgate Market Christmas party fund now will it.

So lets hope those padlocks are unlocked the chains untangled because with the weather kind we all could do with some fishing to lift moods, help with the well-being. 

The bike is helping though, the return journey the hill no longer a gradient to be feared, it's surprising just how quick the legs recover and how easier it becomes on every trip. So the fitness is improving which has to be a good thing.

Talking about a good thing, YouTube has been awash with lockdown DJ mixes, ones need of repetitive beats in my life consumed in even greater quantities. Some decent money has been raised as well. When will it al get back to normal I wonder, a social distancing rave won't quite work now will it.

Now where can I find out how to clean my rods like a pro, oh I know, HERE

Wednesday 15 April 2020

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.*** - Swoopstake, Swullocking and SAVETHEZEDS

Another bike ride to the cut, this time to deposit some freebies in one particular swim to see if there is method in ones madness. The thing is, I've fished for canal Zander for a while now and am always after an edge.

Ok I've caught 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 lbers now on my quest for a canal double, but thus far one hasn't graced my net, so maybe I was missing a trick.

Like humans fish can become lazy you see, especially the big'uns. Certain species of fish particularly don't want to expend energy for their food, if its there on a plate, happy days, fins up.

A pre-baiting campaign on a river for carp for example is certainly a good way to catch the chosen species because the lumbering sluggard likes it easy, if it can have it's food on the table for it, there is no need to pootle off to the shop now is there.

I'm not going to put in a lot, what you see in this picture basically every three or fours days, a smidgen of smelt, a couple of roach, that's it. When the lockdown is relaxed and we can get out on the bank again a primed swim may well lead to a quick bite, and I could do with a bend in the rod right now, the sooner the better for my well-being.

Now the bigger Zander tend to be solitary fish in my experience, likely to hang around in one area till their cover is blown or the party going zedlets gatecrash without an invite and disturbing the peace.

Some areas will always hold fish though, the carp pictured above in an area fellow zedhead Danny Everitt put me on to when we fished for canal Zander.

They are always there, year after year, it's an area that luckily up till now has been forgotten about by the overactive CRT shear chucking jobbers,.They feel safe there, that's why the bigg'uns are now joined by their offspring, encouraging signs for sure, so, so nice to see in relative gloomy turbidity .

Now talking about being safe this fat bluetit chilling in the bird feeder in my garden used to fear the resident grey squirrel that use to bully his way in, made himself top dog, the bouncer to the nightclub. It broke the bird feeder twice, and got my back up with his blatant disrespect for property.

So after trapping it, branding it with some pink spray paint for ridicule by his mates and relocating it a couple of miles down the road, olde nibbles returned the nut nicker.

So the bird feeder was upgraded, now squirrel proof, the birds are left to their own devices, they've moved on to annoy someone else now.

Anyway talking about leaving fish to their own devices the canals surface and upper layers was alive with fry, small roach and some of the biggest minnows I'd ever seen. In-fact there was so much food available for Zander in the two miles stretch I cycled I was amazed.

Still their persecution goes on by the CRT despite electrofishing being as effective as an ejection seat on a helicopter. In-fact this stretch has been done quite a few times over the years and yet they are still here, in numbers too if you drop on a shoal bite after bite.

Cormorants, Otters, farm slurry all seen in this area, and a fear of a electrode up the jacksie, they haven't got it easy fish in these 'troubled' waters.

Leave them be, commercial fisheries have taken over for the match angler, gone are the days where the canals were filled with fisherman, that hasn't happened for years not because of this 'invasive species'. Thumbs up for the 100lb bag of F1's in overstocked fisheries, suits me, it really does.

I rarely see another angler on my canal jaunts, that's why I like it. Gudgeon you cry ? yeah plenty of them to be caught, in-fact one swim I know not a million miles from here, they are in numbers believe you me.

Now a nice walk with the family recently, an area just a little further than we'd walked before. A lovely lake I'd not set my eyes on before despite knowing it was there. A field with cattle grids both sides, lambs running wild it was very nice indeed.

A lake where Big Eel fanatic Nicky Duffy who reads my blog, I'm sure would like to chuck out a dyson rig, chuck out a roach head, it looked eel'y and it's feed from a stream me and Sam fish for bullheads and trout, it must be well oxygenated with a good source of food.

Much bigger than I thought it was too, got to be something special in it, it's privately owned though, maybe a letter through the postbox is in order.

As much as I trying to get my water fix over these surreal times, it's no substitute to wetting a line.

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