Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Monday 31 August 2020

Warwickshire Avon - Caenogenesis and Candyflipping

I've never known a sky like it, the colour an acid tab dabbler would be praising the source, looking for his next fix.

It disappeared as quickly as it appeared though, I can only assume the suns setting position relative to the cloud and its density caused this oddity. A quick  Google the colour of the sky is determined by the scattering of the sun's light rays as they pass through our atmosphere.

Shorter wavelengths of blue and indigo are easily scattered, but longer wavelengths of orange and red are not so easily scattered and hence pass through to our eyes, meaning the sky often appears red, pink or orange at sunrise and sunset.

The exact colours of a sunrise rely on factors such as dust, pollution, water droplets and cloud formations, and occasionally they appear more purple and pink rather than the more common orange and reds.

This can be in part, the optical illusion of the pink wavelengths lighting up the base of the cloud (due to the low angle of the sun's rays), and these pink clouds superimposed on a dark blue sky.

The combination of pink and dark blue can make the sky appear a deep purple, amazing that it started out like the above.

Now talking of LSD Hollywood rebel Oliver Stone has told how he finally got his up-tight father to unwind by spiking his whisky with LSD.

Now thats not going to happen with me for a while, little Sam has a few years to go yet to become wise to the world, then again with all this fishing I'm far from uptight.

He is turning in to a great little angler though and the first session on the river having returned from holiday, I asked what he wanted to fish for for this short evening session.

"A Gonk Daddy, I want to fish for a Gonk !!! "

Music to my ears, the minimal of tackle, rod already set up, not even a chair.  Simple tactics a quiver rod, centrepin reel, a landing net if something big comes along and a few maggots.

Now this stretch of the Avon is full of them providing you get past the bleak. That is easy enough with a large split shot pinched on the line to get the red grubs to the bottom as soon as possible past the pests.

Now "James and Brian always catch the big'uns cus they live in London and all the big fish live in London don't they Daddy"

"They do yes but it's a case of plundering through the small ones a bigger one, a proper Gonk might turn up"

To be fair it didn't take that long, in-fact after 6 or 7 fish were caught in as as many casts we had a weigher on our hands. 

On super light tackle they give an amplified bite on a 1oz quiver, almost Barbel like in their power, the bites almost unmissable.

Ignore the plucks and taps and just wait for the tip to go 'off on one'.

We had a >1 ounce Gudgeon on our hands, Sam giving me a 'High Five' he was so pleased. 

To be fair it's taken long enough to catch one that size, something twice that and more in British waters we want some of it. They have so much character this little Gudgeon, it can bring a short lived smile in these very odd times where you wonder how its all going to go next.

We only fished till dusk but Sam managed 30 or 40 fish I'd say, the odd tiny dace and tiny perch mixed within the fish caught but predominately they were Gudgeon.  

Chub, insects, slugs and dock-leaves are just a small list of things that grow rather big here, what next I wonder, we want to find out.

PS what can I keep in my fishing bag to treat nettle stings for kids ?

Saturday 29 August 2020

Instow - Weatherphiles and Wondermongers

It's always a lottery holidaying in the UK but to be fair we've always been fairly lucky weather wise.

The journey down to North Devon can also be hit and miss the best of times but to be fair we managed it in less than 5 hours and just over 3 hours back.

My brother lives in this neck of the woods so its always good to catch up with his kids and after his initial purge in all things sea fishing, I'm sure I've spent more time fishing in this area than he has.

We were staying in Instow and despite booking last minute we managed a lovely little property overlooking the characterful Appledore.

The tide times can also make and break a holiday but to be fair the first few days before the storm rolled in was perfect.

The fish just didn't seem up for it though....

Some lure fishing morning and evening I had one rise from a bass that was it. One of the sessions the estuary was like a mill pond and there was some bait fish milling around so I though it would be perfect but no, nothing doing.

The only anglers I saw all week were fishing rag worm over the sand on beachcasters and were picking up the odd schoolie and flattie but they were struggling too.

Sam and I tried at high tide near the harbour wall where I'd seen a couple of mullet appear whilst I was enjoying a pint from the Instow Arms and a steak pasty from Johns.

Some bread mash fed in handfuls brought gulls but no fish so after an hour or two we gave up.

Then then storm hit big time 60 mph winds and a huge tide and swell. The sea going from a lovely clear blue to chocolate brown with a few hours, the estuary  defences taking a battering, the wind whipping up the sand off the beach to leg hurting territory.

That basically put the kibosh on the fishing for the rest of the holiday but during the storm I did get to see the Royal Marines carrying out some exercises.

I've never seen a Landrover Defender wade so deep, the water was literally halfway up the windscreen with a spotter sticking his head out of the window to guide the driver.

Still it was a holiday and change of scenery. Lots of walking, in-fact exceeded 10k steps quite considerably every single day, 3 days were double that and we managed a couple of afternoons on Instow Beach bathed in glorious sunshine.

We love it down here though and it never really feels that busy despite more people coming to this part of the world because of COVID-19

The weather forecasters still cannot seem to predict the weather so a walk to Peppercombe Valley Far away from the crowds, this beautiful valley near Horns Cross is rich in wildlife.

The secluded woodland runs down to an attractive rocky beach backed by striking red sandstone cliffs the perfect place for peaceful picnics, rockpooling, walking and wildlife spotting.

Only accessible by foot, and is a truly magical place to stumble upon. It runs down to an attractive beach backed by striking red cliffs of 280-million-year-old mud and sandstone, found nowhere else locally. 

The combe is a mixture of woods, marsh and grassland, rich in wildlife, including dingy skipper and pearl bordered fritillaries, early purple and southern marsh orchids.

The walk down was horrendous though and oddly we were the only ones to brave the conditions.

The rain was meant to last all day so after managing to get down to the deserted beach we were worried the track already a bit dicey may well get worse.

So a quick whistle-stop we were heading back up the track already to be fair fairly drenched. Almost back at the top the rain stops and the sky changed to some of the bluest we'd seen. 

It stayed like that for the rest of the day too so if we had set out an hour later it would have been prefect and would have spent much longer there. 

To cheer myself up I treated myself to some Oysters and a Crab roll from the Glorious Oyster shack and then later in the day a Lobster and a tempura soft shell crab. 

I forgot just how much I like Oysters, proper fresh they really are something else. Bait fishing may well need to be added to my sea fishing armoury, I cannot do any worse.

Friday 21 August 2020

Warwickshire Avon - Tetbury Portions and Tradesman's Entrances

With a chippy mate 'bananas for fingers' Wardy booked up fitting kitchens for the seeable future the Wife was given a heads up on a local landscaping firm. A 5 star rated tradesman according to their self regulated Facebook page, lots of praise from customers, pictures of completed projects, i'll have a bit of that.

So an answerphone message left and a couple of pictures emailed of ones fence to be replaced. To be fair a quote back received pretty quick to be fair, a price I was happy with all I needed was to pencil in a date, look, please take my money !!!.

"Don't worry, I acknowledge your email and will get back to you as soon as I can, I can also remove the old fencing for £50"

2 and a half weeks pass without an email, a phone call, radio silence, all I need is a date, or if you're busy any idea when you can do it...

Another phone call straight to answerphone, a 'nudge' email to say we are still interested, again nothing another 10 days later.

Unreasonable for me to want better service ?

I think not, I'd quickly be out of work if I operated like that, but it seems the norm in many trades these days, how hard is it to keep a potential customer happy, very difficult it seems. Still money for old rope, hardly a difficult job, even though I'm busy with my own work I might as well do it myself.

Now talking about keeping a customer happy, roving has always been my favourite approach when targeting certain species, Chub for instance I cannot think anything better than a cold and crisp underfoot winters day walking the banks, travelling light and fishing a few swims.

Since the lockdown drawbridge was lifted though I've not done enough if it, not sure why, it's just been the way the trips have panned out.

This short evening session was all change though with simple roving tactics down one of favourite sections of the Warwickshire Avon.  Spam would be mounted directly on the hook and I'd also alternate with some large pieces of breadflake too.

There are good Chub here and the odd Barbel that tuck themselves away in the various cover so almost bumping and trundling large baits through the water can often bring them out from their lair and a quick bite can often happen.

No hooklink for this set-up but a couple of SSG shot pinched directly on the line and also some plasticine could be added if I needed more weight. Here sees the levels rise more than any other other area of the Warwickshire Avon I fish so it a necessity to be able to alter the weight as the swims vary so much.

Only a couple or three hours but enough time to try and winkle out a fish.

The colour is starting to drop out of the Avon and it's near as damn it back to being clear again, still the levels were up and it looked in good nick. A chublet came pretty quick on bread so I thought I would be in for a decent session but it was tougher than I thought.

After 4 swims without anymore knocks I went to a swim where usually if there are chub there they take it off the top. Sure enough within seconds of the bread being out and difting down on the surface a few fish came up to inspect the bread. They need to be confident here so after a good fifteen minutes of feeding I removed the shot pinched on the line and a piece of crust was impaled on the hook.

Sure enough they were confident now and without a care in the world a chub took the whole lot down just like that. A pretty decent fight but the fish wasn't huge, maybe getting on for 4lb but a welcome fish all the same. 2 more chub were banked on bread in a couple of swims downstream, but meat didn't get a look-in.

As dusk approached though and a vivid sunset appeared I went back to a swim I baited with some chunks of meat and fished the last half an hour with a piece nailed to the bottom. I bumped a fish off which was a chub I think but with a busy easy ahead it was time to get moving.

Warwickshire Avon - Bandersnatch and Blateration

Ones home office had become and used as a proper office since the lockdown, the iMac which is used from time to time was moved to the dining table to free-up some space for the works laptop and CAD monitor.

I couldn't just work from a laptop I've parts to design after all, I'm not just sending a few emails or working on power-point presentations I need to be able to use a decent size screen.

I'm back now in the office twice a week for ones own sanity because I certainly couldn't see myself working for home indefinitely, a few months was tough enough, luckily Mixcloud and the Skullcandy Crushers came to the rescue. To be fair if I had an outside detached office overlooking rolling hills or a seascape that just might be dooable.

Now how the wife has coped with the kids hanging from her 24/7 I don't know, however she really has done a sterling job, praise indeed, not sure what I could have done without her, raid the drinks cupboard maybe.

Now it's been quite handy having the iMac relocated because to be fair as Sam has been using it to do his school work and also we've used it for watching some educational programs such as the history of mars exploration and the industrial revolution. 

The most recent program was when we were all enjoying Turkish Adana kebabs cooked over the coals (beef+lamb, parsley, sumac, urfa red pepper flakes)  with all the trimmings  where luckily I found a gap in the weather (raining most of the day yet again ) was all about Maganese nodules.

You see the race is on to mine the deep sea, where some of the biggest deposits of iron, copper, and rare-earth elements are in the middle of the Pacific however they come at a cost. 

To build a fantastic utopian future of gleaming eco-cities, flying cars, robots and spaceships, we're going to need metal. A huge amount of it. Unfortunately, our planet is being mined at such a rapid pace that some of the most important elements face critical shortages in the coming decades

To put the impact of our mining and other activities in perspective, on land, humans are now responsible for moving about ten times as much rock and earth as natural phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides. The UN predicts that on current trends, humanity's annual resource consumption will triple by 2050.

Now closer than the moon, yet less well-mapped than Mars, the Earth’s seafloor is home to otherworldly creatures befitting a science fiction movie. Their remote habitat has caught the attention of humans, who are lining up to begin mining the bottom of the deep blue sea.

As technology and infrastructure drive the demand for minerals, and terrestrial resources grow harder to mine (EV cars anyone ?), the materials in the deep ocean are starting to look increasingly attractive to countries and companies.

Now Polymetallic or Manganese nodules like this one, made of layers of iron and manganese, sit on the deep seabed.

Deep-sea mining companies are hunting for these nodules to use in the technology industry, but scientists are concerned about the damage that could be done to the seabed and its inhabitants during the extraction.

It’s already underway pioneer excavations in Papua New Guinea and Japan have taken advantage of advances in remotely operated vehicles, robotics, and communications technology to pioneer excavations. Companies like Lockheed Martin subsidiary UK Seabed Resources are eager to embark on a new deep-sea bonanza despite at the minute appearing to be a loss making start-up.

Over one million square miles of abyssal plain 12,000 to 18,000 feet deep is peppered with polymetallic nodules, vast fields of lumpy, black, potato-shaped mineral deposits.,Nodules range in size from a pea to a soccer ball and are rich in manganese, iron, copper, nickel, cobalt, and rare-earth elements, though they can take millions of years to grow a few millimetres.

As someone who takes a vested interest in to these emerging markets and companies to add to my pension plan I'll be keeping an eye out for any growth in this area, even though it does seem a lot of effort to start mining these fields.
At the minute it doesn't like like it's a viable option, but who knows if laws and legislation changes over extraction on land, there could well be a rush to get seabed mining.

Anyway back to the fishing, a short session this, Sam was with me this time so the first half was to fish maggot to see what came along and then I'd fish a hardened boilie over a bait dropper layed Smörgåsbord of mixed pellets and hemp to try and get a proper bite at dusk.

The stretch was deserted but I knew exactly what swim I was headed for, it was a swim we'd be doing some deep sea mining ourselves. Despite the river bubbling and flowing quite fast because it was well up after the recent rains here there some sanctuary away from the main flow.

As soon at the maggot feeder hit the deck within a split second a bite was forthcoming and the first fish was a gudgeon. Sam wanted to see how many fish we could catch in 45 minutes so it went in to the landing net and would be weighed at the end.

It really was a bite a chuck, dace the biggest percentage with a smattering of gudgeon, and the odd roach. 2lb 5oz worth in the end, not a bad effort, many bites were missed too, so a float might have been the better bet.

The baitdropper went out, rested for half an hour and as the light was going the boilie went over the top. Now by this time Sam (self-confessed scared of the dark) despite me being there was counting the minutes when we could make our way home.

The first chub wrap came quite quick but no proper bites materialised at dusk and a few minutes after. Still an enjoyable couple of hours throughout, the fish really were up for a feed and the extra water most welcome by all.

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Warwickshire Avon - Boomers and Blowsabella's

The spam keeps on keeping, Google also randomly deletes legitimate comments oddly, apologise if you were one of those.

Anyway I  must have done something in a previous life, you see all three houses visited the weekend for social or other reasons all much bigger than ours, and ours isn't exactly a shoe-box, it's got 4 bedrooms and is detached, these were next level up and then some.

The weather held out for the BBQ luckily the kids enjoying friends newly installed 12 foot above ground pool despite the weather being very much hit and miss. Kids don't care do they, a dip of the toe first and then straight in, no messing.

The biggest we are actually looking after for the whole week whilst the owners are on holiday. It's nice for them to trust us with the house I suppose and helps the kids really enjoying the watering the plants, feeding the animals and making use of the gardens.

Not full on house sitting but not far off. It has a large outdoor heated pool complete with pool house / guest accommodation, a huge greenhouse probably bigger than the whole of our downstairs, a home cinema and 7 acres of land that goes with it.

Ok he earns a bucket-load in the worlds most expensive competitive motor-sport so he needs a house to match his salary I suppose, and boy what a house, it's only a few minute drive away, or 15 minute walk over the fields so we've been making the most of it.

A house where to be honest you wouldn't really need to leave once the gate has shut behind you, well unless you're in a villa in Italy with an infinity pool over-looking Lake Gada.

How the other half live !!!!

Still I'm not complaining, as many free range eggs as we can find and whatever we want from the greenhouse, little cherry tomatoes being the main forage because Ben especially can happily eat them by the bucket load.

Plum, apple and pear trees in the orchard, various vegetables in the vegetable patch, to be honest it wouldn't take much to become full self sufficient.

I can certainly see the appeal of a small holding as such, a change of lifestyle that not only would put some proper home grown food on your table but also a byproduct would naturally be exercise because of all the work it would entail to keep on top of it all.

Now it was good we were on hand because the flash floods we had locally took one of their outside drains by surprise, so much so it caused some minor flooding in the basement but not only that, it also tripped the power and also caused the internet, CCTV and alarm to malfunction.

Some of the local roads were like rivers the Alne up in to nearly flood and back again in a few hours. Still at least the Warwickshire Avon was up nicely but more of that later. Some drivers regretting trying to wade through some of flooded roads after having to abandon their cars.

Henley-in-Arden just down the road was on the news because it has received 60mm of rain in as many minutes. That's not far off a month of rain so no wonder there were issues. Monday wasn't much better to be fair some proper heavy showers for a good couple of hours.

Luckily a couple of huge rugs had soaked up much of the excess water but still one of them two people to lift because of the huge sponge it had become, the largest even Eddie Hall would be calling for back-up.

Imagine the stench if that was to sit there undisturbed for a week. A phone call to the owners to get them off their sun loungers and away from their G&T's it was quickly sorted and all was right again.

It took a couple of hours to sort though with the mop bucket having to be emptied a few times the basement is also the laundry room, plant room, wine cellar and games room so probably 4 basket loads of sodden washing and also beanbags had to be re-located outside to the pool house.

Not exactly a nice welcome after holiday but at least the worst of if was sorted.

So with the Avon with some water on but on the fall it was time to try for a Barbel again. I'd go for convenience for this session evening though, from the car a short hop skip and a jump to get bankside so if thunderstorm did arrive it wouldn't be too much hassle to pack the small amount of gear away.

As I was fishing in to dark, I planned to do an hour up to dusk and an hour after, big pungent baits were the order of the day rather than bait dropping a load of pellets and hemp and fishing over the top of the buffet.

No chair just a landing net and unhooking mat, rods and rod rest. The unhooking mat could be used as a canopy if there was a spattering of rain, a full on downpour I'd be off sharpish, the weather predictors have got it more wrong than right of late, I was talking no chances.

I had to park in the ditch of doom because there were already to syndicate members who were here parked in the other spaces. You cannot blame them to be fair, the river was nicely up had a decent flow and even a tinge of colour.

For a Barbel though on the Warwickshire Avon is very much a waiting game and largely for one bite. My sessions are 2-5 hours max, the former the most frequent, bait goes in an hour before dusk, I'm packing up and hour after.

Dave and the Prof has struggled to catch anything half decent, nothing on big baits but the Prof had managed some bits on the float. After the initial pleasantries and sadly missing the sausage sarnies I got to my swim for the short session.

The same swim I caught a decent double from a couple of months ago ( I think ). Meat on one rod a paste wrapped boilie on the other. Not long after being there Dave had his first proper bite and I could see him landing a fish. A 5+ Warwickshire Avon chub on meat he announced on the syndicate WhatsApp group, I'd like one of them.

The Prof was out with the big feeders ala River Trent and was putting a bed of bait down to try and attract a mouching Barbel by ringing the dinner bell. Dusk came and went and I had a quite a powerful pull which was enough to pull the relatively soft textured meat away from the Enterprise meat stop.

But that's when the action stopped, the odd pull and pluck but no proper bites materialised the hour and a half after dusk. The Prof had landed a near 6lb bream which was an encouraging sign but again, not what he was after.

The resident otter was 10 foot from me at one point, I've seen bigger, oddly down the smallest river I fish the Alne, but it was quite active once the light went.

Still I left with my tail between my legs being the only one to blank. As I left Dave was packing up too and after the decent Chub he had, he had sadly bumped a couple of fish off on meat, chub or maybe eels one would assume. Still nice to be out because another forgettable session, they have been mounting up of late.
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