Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Sunday 31 January 2021

Small Brook Fishing Pt.15 - Sherry Butts and Silver Foxes

I had grand plans for this short morning session down at the cut, you see the local rivers were unfishable and it was about the only venue I'd be able to wet a line. Even the Alne was over its banks and in the road, the Avon, well, yeah bombing thorough and I doubt I'll be able to get anywhere near it anytime soon.

Now Dry January ended rather abruptly, well with a few days to go because, well I'd beginning to feel all a bit crap all of a sudden, I cannot quite put ones finger on it, but with a movie to watch with the Wife, some good food and a roaring fire, I thought what the heck, so it was out with the Kingsbarn's finest.

A decent hitter too, 46% and matured in American Oak Sherry Butts, it's a nice dram I must admit, hence I made a decent dent in it when there was the need to climb the wooden hills.

I'd switched to rum you see over the last few years but after 28 days without a drop whatsoever it went down rather well indeed, it complimented the rich Beef Massaman Curry and was one of the smoothest single malts I'd have for a while.

Now the plan for the canal session was to fish a float for whatever came along and then a Zander rod out as a sleeper to see if I could pick up a Zed that was laying up in this brass monkey weather.

It didn't get off to a good start as the intended swim was frozen solid which meant the bream bay was out of bounds but the journey to get there was rather eventful as the side roads were lethal, the roads not gritted and sheet ice in lots of places meant I had to go the long way round.

An hour or two in without a bit a bit further up the canal where it was perfectly fishable I was getting itchy feet. Shame as it looked good for a bite. I'd also had my light quiver rod with me as well as my Zander and conventional float set-up, so I decided to end the session early and head to a small brook I've fish quite a few times now with some success.

It's only a stones throw away luckily and the decision to bring 3 rods paid off big time. The diversion meant I didn't get to see how high it was but as I passed it, it was well within the banks....

....Get In !!!!

I hot-footed it bankside with the minimum and tackle, the minimum of bait but knew if I could find a slack or two I'd get a bite or two, I've fished these diminutive waterways enough now to know even with very turbid water like it was for this session fish would be up for a feed.

And a bite within the first cast, just confirmed that, I had made the right decision....

Simple tactics here just how I like it, so a light quiver rod with a 0.25oz tip and a couple of grubs on a size 18 hook.

They are not tackle shy and I bet they see literally no pressure whatsoever, in-fact where the tangleator and I have fished, I bet we are the only anglers stupid enough to fish it....

...."a dirty stream, errrrr why ?"

"Well proof of the pudding !!!"

A nice roach and trout caught in subsequent casts, "What did you say again ?"

Ok they may not be the biggest of fish but they are providing some sport where my allegiances lie. That's flowing water, as much as I enjoy the canal Zander Quest, I rarely fish stillwaters because I love rivers, streams and brooks more. much more.

Over a 100 metre stretch here there was maybe only two fishable swims and all the fish for this short session all came from one swim not much bigger than a dinning room table wide.

I had to cast over the turbulent shallow water and almost fish Barbel in flood style with the rod tip high so that the flow didn't dislodge the rig from out of its static position.

It worked rather well and by drip feeding maggots there was plenty of bites. What I really wanted was a decent Dace though, in-fact my PB of 8 ounces exactly came from here. Eventually after 3 trout and some roach the first dace succumbed to the red maggots. 

I didn't have any worms with me and that was a shame as it tends to bring out the bigger stamp of fish. Still out of the blue a bite that nearly took the rod in and a fish had hooked itself I'd imagine.

I knew it was a silver dart straight away and it powered off downstream I thought I'd lost it, but no I teased it upstream in the heavy flow and it was in the net. I needed the scales for this fish and I was amazed when it upped my PB by 0.2 of an ounce !!!!

A proper big fat belly on it, a lovely fish indeed !!!!

Now I've a well deserved day of work tomorrow and this short session gave much such a wellbeing boost I may well head here again tomorrow where I'll have not only more fishable swims, but also I'll have some worms at my disposal too which does bring out the better stamp of fish.

The dedicated small stream rod at the ready as well, lets hope the decent dace are biting again, I really did enjoy that. 

Wednesday 27 January 2021

The Korda Maggot Winter Toasting Table

Ever found yourself in that winter predicament where your lifeless maggots need reviving from their cold slumber, and you're contemplating whether or not it is a good idea to put a handful of the wrigglers in your mouth ?

Well STOP look no further, and no it's not April the 1st there will be a new product to the market soon which will be a solution to your problem. 

Now after extensive infield testing (half an hour down the river Alne) where an off the shelf heated coaster all the way from sunny China was repackaged to something more angling friendly, the Maggot Winter Toasting Table could well be an answer to your prayers.

Designed by a well respected Automotive Design Engineer Mick Newey (An hours CAD) whilst his Wife Sarah was watching the Crown, the revolutionary  toasting table with it's built in rechargeable USB powerbank can offer those maggots a sanctuary from that cold pint tub where they can now relax in 40°C splendour.

Have no fear that after finding their dancing feet they may escape either, because once placed in the warming vessel the aerodynamically designed (finger in the air ) unclimbable wall, means they have the same probability of escape as a criminally insane resident of Broadmoor has when faced with their three-storey perimeter walls. 

It ain't going to happen....

Now you can see in the drawing above it's a rather compact design that defies the punch it packs. After some feasibility issues with the initial design was corrected, the part can now go to tooling, so watch this space. 

Coming to a tackle shop near you post COVID-19 obviously !!!! 

Anyway register your interest here if you want to jump the queue and get your hands on one before anyone else. 

Think I need a break....

Sunday 24 January 2021

Warwickshire Avon - Virgin Coverings and Valetudinarians

A warm bed and a couple of large plump pillows didn't deter me from from mission, now that mission was catch a Chub in the snow, not any old Chevin blog readers, but a 6lber. The Alne was out so I would be hopefully plundering the fish at a stretch that had been very good in the past. It's one of those convenient stretches that is just too handy, especially in these COVID times where a vibrant sunrise is worth the effort to get out of bed from the daily drudgery. 

Chub love it here because there is cover aplenty and the swims can vary so much in such a short stretch it holds specimen fish of other guises too. It can be hot and miss though the colour makes a massive difference, tea like it was today, tough going, a green colour, likely to fill your winter boots.

Now the basic essentials of successful club angling are not difficult to define. They are a sound understanding of the nature and habits of the fish, an intimate knowledge of the river, an ability to select the most effective bait and knowing those times when the various possible combinations of bait and method are most likely to produce results. 

The technical skills are relatively easy to acquire. Within a comparatively short time even a novice can be taught how to present a bait reasonably well on float or leper tackle. The bait is usually a maggot, and the style of fishing such that it is no more likely to produce chub than any other fish. 

This style of fishing is popular because it sometimes produces large mixed catches of fish and usually more quickly than any other method and bait. It is not, however, angling in the fullest sense of the word, since it can be done and quite often is without any real knowledge of the water and the habits of the fish and with no specific quarry in mind. 

Many anglers develop great technical skills, but comparatively few acquire that deep understanding of fish and water that enables them to catch one particular species consistently. Such knowledge takes time, study and much thoughtful angling to acquire but is the foundation upon which all good angling is built. Without it consistent success is impossible because the angler who does not understand chub cannot hope to become very successful at catching them. 

He might, with luck, occasionally catch large quantities of them or even the odd specimen fish, but to the end of his days he will still believe that he can only catch them when the water is 'right', conditions are favourable, the chub are 'on' and he is in luck. The specialist chub angler has a different approach. Luck plays little part in his success which is based upon the practice of certain simple but essential principles which can now be listed in order of importance. 

Location Understanding of the habits of the species apart, the ability to locate chub accurately is possibly the most important of all the chub angler's assets. All fish intermingle to a certain extent but in most rivers there are swims in which chub are more numerous. These swims might be deep swirling holes beneath overhanging trees and bushes, hidden undercuts in high clay banks, or other hiding-places beneath tree-roots, mats of debris, or beds of weed. 

Where the river is featureless chub can be located by observation, exploration and by choosing a selective method and bait. In the early stages it is helpful to map each stretch of river, marking the place in each swim where chub have been seen or caught and noting carefully the prevailing weather conditions and water height.

If this is done methodically over a long period the angler will gradually learn where chub are most likely to be in the different conditions and where they are most likely to feed. Chub are influenced by many different factors, the height and colour of the water, the amount of light penetration, their need for oxygen and the availability of the foods upon which they feed. 

During the summer, when the water is often low and clear, they generally prefer the fast-flowing swims but are seldom far away from a convenient hiding-place. Any rise in the height of the water results in their gradual movement away from the fast currents, but as soon as the water begins to fall the chub drift back to their normal positions. 

During the winter they generally prefer the deeper water and are seldom seen in fast runs at the head of a swim although it is sometimes possible to catch them from fast-flowing shallow swims when the river is above normal height and, when the water is low, in the evenings when light penetration is negligible. Each river has its own different characteristics and the keen angler must be prepared to study each one as a separate and different environment. The formation and contours of the river bed should be studied, too, as they provide important clues to accurate location

Some swims have their deepest part in the centre of the river, others are deeper under one bank, while a few are of even depth throughout. Obviously, any rise in the height of the water will have a different effect on the chub in each of these different types of swim. 

Chub in those swims that are deepest under one bank will tend to move over towards the shallower side, while those in swims that are deeper in the centre of the river will move in towards the shallower marginal water on both sides of the river. Only in swims of uniform depth will these movements be slight  and unless all these various movements are clearly understood much valuable time will be wasted fishing places that are not likely to hold chub. 

Now I know this stretch intermittently and when I got bankside I knew there would only be a handful of fishable swims. One swim in-particular holds fish 90% of the time I've fished it and catch a fish there you'd catch fish in the other swims too. A large lump of cheespaste went out in the turbid water in a nice inside slack just off the cover of a rather large half submerged tree.

Usually a bite will come quick, but not for this session, a couple or three sharp taps and that was my lot. I gave it far longer than I usually do because of the limited swims I had at ones disposal, luckily a nice brew kept my mind on the task it hand. So on for rove it was with the snow coming down thick and fast. With the right winter gear on I was rather toasty and obviously roving from swim to swim gets the blood pumping, ones hands in the thin neoprene gloves more than comfortable.

Another 2 swims down and biteless there was only one left before I'd have to leave and go snowman making, sledge pushing and Sunday roast conjuring. This swim I rarely fish because it's not that productive but here there is think cover to the left with more than enough shelter for fish to keep out of harms way. Right out in-front of the thick bushes is a large slack where with the level as it was today, it was around 4 deep.

I moulded an extra lump of cheesepaste around the paste holder and dropped it in underarm to the heart of the swim. I got an indication there was a fish in the swim really quite quick but it took a good twenty minutes before a bite developed. A drop back bite came initially and then after letting out some slack to give the fish confidence all hell breaks loose.

The problem was I'd let too much slack out so before I could get on top of the fish it had already made inroads to the cover to the left and with both hands on the rod to try and bully it away from his escape route within seconds he's done me over good and proper. 

Damn !!!!, it felt a good fish too, the fish must have pulled away from the hook once it was snagged because I couldn't feel a fish on. I could see the bush move up and down though when I was trying to free the gear, but it snagged me so bad, I had to settle for a break. 

Now I could have set up again and fished another half an hour, but instead to take the Jimny out in snow for a bit of a play instead. Light, skinny tyres and switchable 4x4 negotiating the virgin snow covered roads was really rather quite pleasant, it was nice and quiet out there too. 

After lunch the snow theme continued like it did for many that also woke up to snow today, a decent amount too. It's melting though as all that will end up in the rivers, I suspect it will be tough for a while, then again, I've caught nothing of note in quite a few sessions now, still it was nice to be out.

Saturday 23 January 2021

The Tiny River Alne - Red Breasts and Rigmaroles

To be honest I did wonder what the heck I was doing when I left a lovely warm bed to a completely frozen combination lock on the entrance to the fishery. Hmmm, I did think about parking up and hoofing ones gear over the gate which is strewn in barbed wire, but no the flask of Yorskhire's finest came to the rescue.

There was a hard frost overnight and the mercury wouldn't rise above freezing throughout this short morning session.

Simple tactics again, my little 9ft quiver rod with a 0.25 tip and I'd fish worm and maggot and occasionally bread to try and get a fish to bite. 

The water was still chocolate brown so in my experience here the chub are difficult to temp but I'd pre-bait a couple of areas at the end of the club water and try and winkle a fish out. The beam of battlement was negotiated tentatively and the swims primed with liquidised bread and some roach black coriander flavoured groundbait.  

Half an hour in to the sessions the minnows were certainly biting and the tip sensitive enough to amplify the bites from this tiny feeders that certainly have eyes bigger than their bellies.

The rod eyes kept on freezing up though, so just to try and cast was becoming a pain the backside. 

The hook look massive doesn't it, but that's a size 14 hook I can assure you. To be fair this was the smallest out of the jam jar full amount that I caught whilst I was bankside. 

I tried bread a few times without any joy so moved swims a couple of times to the same outcome. The maggot were as lethargic as the bigger fish, the water temperature couldn't have been more than 4 degrees or so, so who could blame them.

Each and every one had to be revived with ones warm breath, lucky from appearing dead within a couple of minutes or so, wriggling like a wide eyed dancer in in Ibiza. 

After appearing to catch every minnow in the stretch I'd had enough of this and decided to up sticks and go downstream to where I'd primed some swims.

When the water is clear or green I don't think I've ever blanked here for Chub, but when it's turbid like this, it can be tough going. 

I tried bread first to try and get a quick bite but after 15 minutes without even a nibble, it was back to worm and maggot again. After 5 or 6 minutes the first proper bite came and I struck in to a fish, sadly the overly sensitive tip masking what really was biting.

Hmmmmmm, not going well is it, in-fact after catching a few more small fish, where I doubt the biggest would register an ounce on the Class A weighing Salters. 

It didn't get an better either because the minnows were following me, the rod tip frozen again. Still the sun rose nicely and two robins were rather active and were welcome to feed on the wriggleless maggots, the fishless flake.

The last forty five minutes or so I decided to change the hook for a size 10 and put on half a chunky lobworm to try and tempt something worthy enough to put a decent bend in the rod.

Sadly it appeared for this session the fish were just not up for a feed. The Alne rarely does me over on me, but it did today, the water is clearing though, I'll be back.

Friday 22 January 2021

The Tiny River Alne - Exaggerators and Eleutheromania

Now I've taken Sam fishing with me since he was 4 years old. 5 years later his passion shows itself from time to time and he often recalls some of those memorable sessions we have had, and those shared experiences bankside.

The roach bream hybrid he caught at Center Parcs that is still bigger than anything I've caught, the bullhead bridge swim where a group of bullheads were literally jumping out the water to get to the maggots, oh and the time we fished a bleak livebait that was snaffled up by a perch and then a pike broadsided the perch and all 3 were landed. 

He's certainly got a much better memory than me for sure, why do you think I keep this blog of mine (nearly 1000 posts now), it's because I do like to look back over my sessions from time to time, it's a pictorial diary I suppose. 

I didn't think I would keep it as regularly updated as I do, but to be honest, I'm in to a habit with it now, so it's not as hard as I thought it would be.

When I first started taking Sam it was often frustrating at times, the biteless boredom getting to him, tangle after tangle after tangle and that lost fish because of his heavy-handedness. Now though it's more of a relaxed affair, we never fish with two rods, only one and the sessions are short, a couple of hours max. It helps he can now fish independently well apart from un-hooking those 'slimy' fish 

Even those biteless sessions are not an issue because he enjoys the outdoors and wildlife as much as I do. We've thankfully not visited a commercial fishery in pursuit of fish, because not only are they not for me, but they would give him false hope on how relatively easy is it to catch fish. 

Now talking about relatively easy to catch fish I bumped in to a matchman here last weekend and he recounted some of the session he's had on the Alne and also the River Severn where he rents a stretch, huge carp, a handful of 2lb roach among a huge netful of roach and even Barbel on the Alne over the years.

However it was the talk of 27 Barbel in 2.5 hours on the Severn got ones eyebrows raised, such the biomass of the river apparently. "Spod a load of bait in, leave for a day and they will be queuing up "

Luckily there is nowhere to hide with this blog of mine, what you see is what you get. What is does show is that rivers up in this neck of the woods are not easy. But then why would you want fishing easy ? well unless you hand over your coffers to Tunnel Barn on a regular basis.

For this session before we got fishing and to get him out from under his home schooling mothers hair to watch the Crown, I wanted to get the deeper sonar out in one particular area, yes really, because the matchman said one particular swim was 18 foot deep 😮. 

Now I knew this swim was deep in places, but 18 foot ? extraction for the railway that once went through here ? only one way to find out, could this be an area where a specimen of some kind is holding up ?

Apart from that, the plan was to try and find a slack away from the turbulent water because the river had been over it's bank again after Storm Christoph had been and gone.  

The Alne unlike the Avon drops like a stone though, in 24 hours in can be drop from covering the roads to being well within the banks again. Simple tactics a light quiver with sensitive tip and red maggots,2 hours we were done and dusted.

The river was chocolate brown as expected and I hot footed it to the swim with the deeper whilst Sam wanted to play around in puddles and breaking the ice with his wellies and picking up as big a piece of sheet ice he could. 

Not only that but he was so slow eating his lunch the Wife packed it up in his lunchbox and sent him on his way, otherwise we'd never had gotten out.

The deeper showed the slack water over the far side of this swim just off some cover was indeed deep for a small river, this section being 2 or 3 times the width of the river upstream though.

There were fish there too, the problem was I couldn't get a bait to settle there because the main river was still bombing through and despite changing a link ledger to a small bomb it wouldn't hold bottom.

So downstream it was where I knew we could easily get a bait to settle and settle it did. What didn't settle though was little Sam, because unbeknown to me he had got his water in his wellies because of his puddle chucking and his thick socks were ringing wet.

To be fair his verbal diarrhea slowed up somewhat, I should have known something was wrong. 

"Daddy was does frostbite feel like because I think I have it"

Sadly after revealing his predicament we really didn't have much choice really we had to cut the session short, so after a long drawn out hour with Sam trying to grin and bear and me trying some diversionary tactics we decided to go. To be fair we all we had to show for it was a sucked maggot and a couple of proper rattles on the quiver tip the, the fish were not exactly crawling up the line.

I didn't want to go back home though as the Wife was having some well earned peace so we took a detour so I could have a look at another stretch of the Alne which looks promising. 

De-socked Sam on the other hand was enjoying the warmth of the Jimny's heater with the blowers fan cranked up to max and the all the air directed on to his tootsies.

Thursday 21 January 2021

(Not Quite) The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.172 - Death-traps and Deipnosophy

Now friend and ex colleague Andy Plumb was the designer of the MK3 Robin Reliant. His labour of love , 'Tipping Point - Designing a Great British Underdog' finally went to print recently and a copy ended up through ones letterbox this week with Postie Bob cursing the weight of the thing. 

Still could be worse if Jeff Hatt's chronicles ever sees the light of day he could well be nursing a hernia before it drops on ones past the best doormat. Luckily Andy's book will be available on Amazon soon so those seasoned delivery drivers can take the pain.

We all need a passion and an interest don't we and apart from painstakingly putting together a 260 page book all about the 3 wheeler and British institution , Andy also had the time to fully restore his own death-trap, sorry MK3 Reliant Robin when he got a spare half an hour. I've seen it in all it's glory, and to be honest, I can see the appeal, after-all I haven't got a Suzuki Jimny for it's on-road driving ability. 

It's got character in abundance which is sadly lacking in cars these days.

The synopsis is all about the design and the trials and tribulations of the Robin Reliant from it's conception to eventually the company's demise

Now the final version was launched boasting the biggest changes since the original launch, with completely new panels and Vauxhall Corsa front lamps. 

It was the first Robin to be designed with the use of a computer and Andy, who was the chief designer at the time, was fully involved in the design and also the builds which you rarely get to do these days, where some graduate engineers are afraid to wield a hammer, yes really. 

Now I get a mention in the book as myself and another automotive engineer helped out on one particular chapter where modern CAD and CFD software was used to create an Aerodynamic model. 

I modelled up using CATIA V5 the underbody and some of the componentry to enable Nick Sabrazat an aerodynamics expert to work his magic to show how the car managed its airflow and ultimately to produce figures for coefficient of lift and drag. Much work involved for sure, but the chapter was one of those that stood out in the book. 

Now talking about labour of loves, this Zander quest of mine is just that, it really has consumed rather a lot of my fishing time over the past few years, and to be honest I'm no longer closer to ticking that completed box than when I started. 

Still some good fish and canal specimens have been caught though and ok, I've been stuck on 9lb for a good while now, but I'm sure there are still fish around to be caught that will better ones PB and hopefully the next special Zed caught, could well exceed the 10lb barrier.

Decent fish are as rare as rocking horse poo though, especially in the water I fish so in the forthcoming closed season I will be fishing waters new, and not only that but I intend to fish some of those session in the dark to see if I'm missing a trick. I've had a dabble in to dark here and there but do be honest it doesn't seem to make a fat lot of difference from what I've found.

The good thing about this Zander lark of mine is that I'm so close to stretches of canal that have been good to me, so despite the lockdown and having to get my fix locally I can with the drop of hat get towpath-side rather quickly.

So with rods made up and smelt quickly defrosted I managed to get bankside for a couple of hours after work where one of those hours would be in the dark. This 100 metre stretch is home to my 2nd biggest canal Zander of 8lb and 10oz's which was caught when there was a hard overnight frost.

Fishing in the cold doesn't put me off for Zander to be fair, the problem is they tend to hold up and don't move around much so the problem is you need to find them.

What you won't fail to find on the canal is dog poo, this double bagger in plain sight just of the main footfall and it seems to be on the increase. As does dogs that the owners have no control of whatsoever.

I didn't have long but an hour in the first section which is usually a banker swim failed to produce even a nibble. The odd pull of the bait to lift it from off the bottom to try and induce a take, proved fruitless.

Still with a sunset like this it was a nice change from being sat behind ones CAD screen WFH. The last swim was the exact section of cover that the 8lber came from and I've had countless schoolies over the numerous quest sessions but again, with a focussing torch illuminating the floats, there was nothing doing at all.

9 times out of 10 if there is Zander in the swim anywhere near the deadbait they will take it, for this short session, I assume they were not there, don't worry I'll keep plugging away, excuse the pun.

What could possibly help one get through these rather groundhog day sessions, is one, fish a lure to replace one of the deadbait rods and two, fishing these novelty bite activated inline floats that arrived from China. Even when focussing on a float illuminated by torchlight, ones eyes get tired and I often think I've got a bite and I haven't.

"Fish a bitealarm then Mick", yes, but I travel lighter and light these days and anything over and above what I've slimmed the tackle down will just be overkill and I'll only regret lugging the extra load

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