Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Warwickshire Avon - Lustration and Lumpenintelligentsia

The explosion of craft beers available on the supermarket shelves has been a bit of an eyeopener. The small scale brewers now having a market they never thought they would have 3 or 4 years ago.

Market demand who knows ? the once Shoreditch stranglehold now mass market.

There has always been a demand for weird and wonderful beers and there also has been a large and well established micro brewery industry for years and years.

But it was very much hearsay and word of mouth, and to sample them yourself in any great variety you had to attend the local CAMRA beer festival and mix with those with beer guts, flat caps and ferrets.

Walk in to Tesco and the like now though, the shelves have changed, the humdrum bottles of Bishops Fingers shoved to one side, the bright orange small cans of Northern Monk Rapscallion Orange Zest now in its place.

You pay a pretty penny for these craft beers too, £3 quid the norm for one can, yes you heard right one measly can.

Lidl has realised this and luckily for those as tight as I can be sometimes there are from time to time some gems to be had at a price the layman is prepared to pay.

There are exceptions though, where I don't mind paying a little more if it raises it's hops above the parapet, you see I stumbled upon a coffee stout which was a collaboration by Brewdog and Evil Twin Brewing.

Now I'm not usually a fan of Brewdog beers in the main from their emergence on the market their growth has been quite staggering, but they seem to put out any old average beer out now just put a red mark in the market share tick box. I need to wade through the humdrum now to find one that suits ones well oiled palate.

The name and can design is utterly ridiculous, but these days when it's all about shelf appeal nothing is out of bounds it seems.

A heavy hitter at 9.0% ABV the imperial coffee stout is brewed with seven different malts, this is an incredibly decadent dark beer and is remarkable smooth. Chocolate, coffee and vanilla rise from the aroma, alongside roasted nutty notes and malt-derived bitterness.

Kettle-hopped with Chinook for an additional offset to the rich, creamy oats and wheat, this is a balanced, complementary beer lifted by the power of Nitro. Their words not mine, it's a good un that's for sure, so much so I cleared the shelves in a selfless act when in the local Tesco. It's like drinking a velvety Black Russian with the kick that goes with it.

I think what helped was the first one I had sank complemented a slow cooked barbecued lamb shoulder marinated in lemon juice, rosemary and copious amount of garlic which was very rich in itself. A fresh Greek side salad and a few oven roasted skin on potatoes cut in to uniform cubes only an engineering eye can deliver.

Life's simple pleasures must be embraced whenever possible in these troubling times to keep ones wellbeing on track without stumbling off the rails.

Now the other day, head down deep in to designing another automotive interior part to add to ones tally I realised I'd not taken a day of to myself since December which the annual trip to the Lower Itchen.

Many on Furlough feet up coffers full without having to work, I thought, what the heck am I doing especially since April I was no longer a long standing freelancer ( 21 years ) and the 12mth fixed contract I decided to take just at the right time gave me the standard permanent benefits.

So a belated Fathers Day present to myself I suppose, yeap I decided to treat myself to a whole days fishing. Some good signs as well, as I was typing this the Coronavirus R rating falling and infections well on the retreat.

Now I did wonder how I could cope with a whole days fishing as 5 hours is about my limit, but the reality is a day at the Lower Itchen for example passes far quicker than the hours dictate. There would be no rushing, no clock watching, fishing as it comes.

A few different approaches and set-ups there could well be less planning than I usually do, and anyone who has suffered my blog for a while, I plan sessions well in advance, sometimes weeks.

One thing I did want to do was try and photograph the Cuckoo's that call this stretch home. They were quite vocal here the last couple of times and I found the tree where they hang out, so that was the only thing really I wanted to tick off the list.

Work can wait 24 hours I'm sure, I've got to think about myself more often, it rarely happens, that needs to change going forward.

A 13lb carp and a 6lb 8oz bream from here the 2nd visit, peaked too soon ?

Boy it was a hot one, being bankside for 6.45am it was lovely, it didn't stay like that though as it reached 24 degrees when I left at 3.00pm. I started off on pellet on one rod with a PVA bag of freebies and then fished a maggot feeder with some caster groundbait.

A float rod for back-up because that worked well when me and Sam came here last time.

Bites were initially quite forthcoming and I managed some small roach, dace, bleak and chub but as soon as the sun was high in the sky the bites dried up completely. With no bites or plucks on the pellet rod I went for a rove with the float rod.

Throughout the session I also allowed some bread to drift down to see if any Chub would take it off the surface but no sadly apart from an annoying swan having a full belly from time to time no fish came up to feed.

One particular swim which has a bush to the right providing some cover it was a bite a chuck, again only small stuff but I could see the maggot well over a metre down, the Avon had gone from being up and a slight tinge of colour to clear and dropping a good foot or so.

Now in my experience when the Avon is like this it can be very tough indeed.

Still when you're in an environment like this it is just nice being out. The wildlife keep me entertained if the fishing didn't. I had to shelter under the umbrella which isn't like me, but the sun was beating down and didn't want to get burnt.

It's going to get hotter too, reaching nearly 30 degrees over the last couple of days.

I tried worms and bread, but it was only the maggots that were doing any good, everything else nothing. Still I had a day to myself which is a rare occurrence these days. It was just nice to chill, and take pleasure in being outdoors.

The banks were alive as well, a mayfly hatch, various insects and caterpillars galore.

A session in to dusk ? might have to be !!!!


  1. Can’t beat a day with no time limits! But the fish here switch off about 9am as well so plenty of time to photograph the local wildlife. I hope you got an open wing shot of that Meadow Brown - I flunked one, since then James has been chasing them around for weeks!

    1. To be honest Brian, it was more the fact I had a WHOLE day to myself was the pleasure, the fishing was secondary. But yeah, very similar here when it's clear, they switch off very quickly indeed.

  2. Another good read - hope you did better in the evening, although after your previous session maybe a little bit of 'Kipling's two imposters' was inevitable.

    Oddly, these days I struggle with sessions longer than about three hours tops. I do think this means I often leave just as the blighters find my ground bait ...

    I'm currently messing up my opportunities to get out, too hot during the day and I'm failing to get up early and had a few things to do in the evenings.

    Craft beers, tbh with exceptions, such as Campden's lagers (which are probably main stream now) I prefer more bog-standard fare such as Tribute, Bath Wild Hare, Whistable Pale Ale Butcombe Original and the like. Fairly standard stuff that is affordable and available from Sainsburys (and our nearest Tesco Express has Dartmoor Jail Ale now and again). Me, dull, never?


    1. I do prefer the standard ales to be honest, Purity's Mad Goose and Bunny Hop my main stay as they are local to me, however I do like a porter from time to time, and this was a gem of a find. Apart from the Itchen every year, a whole days fishing is rare indeed, not sure I could do it frequently

    2. Lidl do the odd cheap ale now too, Heatherwood porter and golden goose ( I think) ain't a bad choice for little money


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