Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Sunday 28 February 2021

The Tiny River Alne - Snow Moons and Sphygmomanometers

An hour in to this morning session down at the local river Alne I was left wondering if I should have had played out groundhog day. 

You see with the snow moon illuminating the winter sky, the fields covered in a hard frost may sitting it out for Pike again might have been the better option. The banker swim produced well diddly squat and that's a sign things would be off for this session.

Small rivers like this can have off days and the more I fish this little handy waterway I learn more about it.The river is low, the colour dropping out but usually find the deeper areas you'll find some fish. 

Fishing is certainly exercise though because this 4 hour session toing and froing I covered 10k steps quite easily. 7 days earlier the fishing couldn't have been any different, the fish were literally jumping up the line the last time here, this morning I was scratching around for a bite. 

The swim above there was a cormorant in here last time, probably the widest bit of river over the whole mile stretch I fish.

You'd probably have thought they wouldn't bother with small river like this but having stumbled upon a swim full chublets and dace last time, you could probably see even here is not safe from these hungry predators, there are fish here to fill bellies that's for sure. 
I stuck it out in one swim which is 4 or 5 foot deep and fed red maggots for a qood while and thought I'd try and attract any fish downstream to home in on the free offerings.

A good half an hour passed without even a knock on double maggot and I was getting ready to move again but a couple of tentative pulls I had my first bite.

I thought it was a dace at first the way it was fighting but no it was a small chublet that had been tucking in to the freebies looking at the mashed maggots he stuffed in to his big gob.

I really thought, right that's it, I will start getting bites now, but no after retaining it in the edge in the landing net, a sprinkling of maggots, the quivertip remained as lifeless as the river.

I had the lure rod with me though and the weir wasn't far away so a hop step and jump I was wading the clear water to hopefully catch a chub or even a trout.

Chuck after chuck, cast after cast, not a sausage and usually at least a brownie or two succumbs to the rattling hornet.

I changed the lures a couple of times too, the smaller cockchaffer and wobbleart's more discrete bullhead, again, no interest whatsoever.

I'm a roving angler at heart though so I up-sticks and went to the middle of the stretch where the bigger chub I find usually reside.

I switched to bread and a larger hook and dropped the lump of bread in to swim after swim and nothing doing at all. In waters like this you will get a reaction pretty quick if there is a fish up for feeding there.

If you're not getting bites you need to move it's as simple as that. I'd not been up this area for a while and with the sun strong in the clear sky I've forgot just how nice this part of the rivers looks. It really was lovely to be out, solitude, sun and ok the fishing was off, but I'm not complaining, a stunning morning again.

The bread had no interest whatsoever so I switched to maggot again and this time I'd try and fish closer to cover to see if the fish were tightly packed together out of harms way.

One swim looked ideal and after a few maggots fed just upstream I cast the link ledger under the raft. A flask of coffee the sun on my back eventually a bite came.

It's quite an elevated swim and I could see it was a small chublet again but this one didn't fight like chub do. I think it was caught off guard and didn't realise his mistake till it was safely in the landing net.

I don't know who was grumpier me or the chub, miserable so and so...

After his solitary confinement with no more of his mates to join him, I retraced my steps and ended up back where I had started.

In some respects the weather made the session, the fish rubbish but you cannot write the script in angling now can you. 

I chucked the lure a little more, fed fruitless maggots and fished bread again to try and get a bonus fish, nada, nothing. This session really couldn't be more different and in hindsight lazy pike with stomachs to appease probably was the better option. 

If only there was a switch you could press to get the fish to feed, that would be nice wouldn't it, but that would be too easy wouldn't it. Heck with this easy fishing talk Tunnel Barn might lay out their red carpet.

The river season is coming to a close though so it was a bit of wasted session I suppose my heart rate not raised clearly enough. The good weather was a nice sidetrack though, a trip out to the local park before a slap up Sunday with slow cooked beef brisket and good wine to look forward to, its wasn't all bad. 

Saturday 27 February 2021

Warwickshire Avon - Neptune and Nigroglobulate

Now Neptune was the Roman God of water and the sea, and very similar to the Ancient Greek God Poseidon. He had two brothers: Jupiter, the god of the sky and chief of the Roman Gods, and Pluto, the Roman God of the dead 

Neptune was often shown carrying a trident, a three-pronged spear used for catching fish. He rode in a chariot pulled by sea creatures or by horses, which were his favoured animals and luckily for him in more modern times had his face stuck on a rather tasty bottle of rum. Decent value too and despite a couple or three large ones the evening before a Pike fishing session, ones head was as clear as the sky was.

The Pike could truly be called the leviathan of the stream. It is by far the largest of all the fish that inhabit these small waters and is a true predator, the greater part of its diet consisting of other fish. Even the young of its own species are not immune. 

The majority of pike caught range from small jacks to fish of around I0lb, but individual specimens weighing over 20lb are occasionally landed. Much depends upon the amount of food available and the nature of the water. Some streams do not contain pike at all, while in others they are quite common. Its size and appearance make the pike easy to recognise. 

A long, lean fish, with an aggressive-looking bony head, its colouring is dappled green and yellow a combination that merges well with the weeds in which it often lies in ambush, awaiting the passing of any unwary roach, rudd, dace or perch.

It is capable of a quick burst of speed and its forward-looking eyes enable it to hunt by sight although, like all fish, it can also detect its prey by scent. Pike are greatly attracted by movement a fact which the angler can turn to his benefit when seeking them. 

The sheer size of the pike suggests that it should be easy to locate within the narrow waters of a stream for example, but this is not always so. True, when it is actively hunting down its prey it can easily be found, either by the signs of alarm exhibited by the hunted fish, or by the disturbance it creates as it moves through the water, but when it is not hunting it can be as difficult to locate as other species sometimes are.

In the summer, when the streams and rivers are thickly overgrown with dense beds of weed, the pike often lies unseen beneath them, almost unapproachable in its weedy lair. It also lies under debris, the overhanging branches of trees, and under tree roots. 

It is rarely found in fast, shallow water unless it is hunting minnows and favours the deeper water of the pools where it is able to conceal itself. So well is it camouflaged that when motionless it is extremely difficult to see, and it is remarkable how such a large fish can often remain undetected in a small stream. yet it can, and does. 

The pike is not a shoal fish. Like most predators, it hunts alone, and may even have its own little domain from which it will drive out any intruder. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not as destructive of fish life as it is often reputed to be, for pike have periods when they eat little or nothing, and other fish are well aware of this. 

I have often seen pike lying quietly in a swim, with other fish upon which it normally preys, in close attendance, and yet the pike has not exhibited the slightest sign of interest. In some way the other fish sense that the pike is not in a feeding mood, and hunter and hunted then share the same little domain in apparent harmony. 

Yet when the pike is actively hunting it quickly generates alarm, and other fish rapidly make off to a safe hiding place. These different moods must obviously affect the angler's chances of success. When the pike is lying dormant and not feeding, it can be more difficult to entice than any other fish, but when it is actively seeking food it can often be caught quite easily, and can even become a nuisance to the seeker of other, smaller fish. 

There will be occasions when a pike will remain completely indifferent to the most carefully presented bait or spinner and others when it will pursue them with almost suicidal zest, rudely dispersing all other fish in the vicinity. 

Now each fish has its season, and for me there is no better time to seek the pike than during the dark winter months.  

So thats why I was here down at this lovely part of the Warwickshire Avon fishing on a really bright sunny day. I love it down here though and to br fair the Pike rod was out as a sleeper and I'd also fish a helicopter feeder setup for the roach shoals that frequent this quite stretch.

Over the years I've been a member from time to time I bump in the like minded and it's always nice to have a natter, share stories and hopefully land a pike for them when bankside. 

I'm not sure the big Pike still frequent this area anymore but it's a reliable stretch to catch them and that's why I was here.

I fancied a proper bend in the rod for this session though and knowing that the sun would rise bright I got here for dawn. The sunrise incredible like it always is here and the roach too, the first chuck of the feeder after balling in some maggot laced coriander and hemp tainted groundbait the fish were grabbing the maggot on the drop.

A float would have probably been better but there are decent bream here as well and I fancied one of those as well. Still plenty of small roach landed and for a good hour and a half the tip wasn't still. The greedy redins hanging themselves on the set-up I chose for the intended quarry.

A Pike was landed quite early on as the sun was just rising in-front of me so sadly the picture wasn't brilliant as it was nicely marked. It took a smelt just a rod length out and gave a good account for itself. Another run an hour later sadly didn't connect and once the sun was bright the roach disappeared in numbers and then a managed a couple of small gudgeon. 

The change in bites was so dramatic I packed up earlier than I had anticipated but I cannot complain it almost went as the plan intended. 

Friday 26 February 2021

Warwickshire Avon - Galactophagists and Gobiomaniacs

Sam hadn't fished with me for a while mainly because he doesn't deal with the cold weather that well, and to be honest his abstinence probably wasn't a bad thing as he still had the passion from the fishing chats we'd had.

Every time I'd come home from a fishing trip he'd always ask what I caught and would always reply with "Nice !!!" if anything of note had turned up.

For this session the nearest stretch of the Warwickshire Avon was the venue of choice and gudgeon chosen species to try and track down.

Over the years we'd caught some nice gonks here and certain swims seem to hold them year and year however the last couple of times we'd fished for them here the results were to be it bluntly, rubbish !!!!. 

The temperature really had dropped overnight, the skies clear and the moon full.  Still the sun was beating down and it really did feel like spring had sprung despite the frost having to be scraped from the windscreen in the morning. 

Gudgeon have really captivated Sam like they have his Dad because lets face it, they have character in abundance and for their size such bold biters.  

We usually fish the small quiver rod but Sam wanted to fish the float so the 8ft TFG all-rounder was the set-up of choice. 

This section of the Warwickshire Avon is small and winding so a shorted rod is a perfect tool for the job for an 8 year old. I'd have the quiver rod as back-up though as sometimes I've found unless the bait is nailed to the deck the gonks are often not interested. 

It was clear though after being biteless in the banker swim that the fish seemed off. The small fish from roach, bleak and the gudgeon hang out in this deepish 4 to 5 foot swim as there is cover a plenty and they have decent escape room.

Trot after trot though the float didn't dip and even the static bait went unhindered which I was surprised at.

We are rovers though so no point fishing in a biteless swim. The next swim was well worth the move as the first drop in of the float it buried under within seconds.

It is much shallower here but there is a small pool with a crease just off it where the river has a decent lick to it. For a fish waiting for any food morsels to come it's way it's ideal. After about 10 of these down and with no gudgeon showing, again it was time for a move.

The next fish Sam caught in the fourth swim after blanking in the third was a tiny perch but smaller.

This wasn't going well was it....

....there was no target species showing at all and after two more swims with not so much as a minnow or a sucked maggot we ended the session early and vowed to come back again. One of those sessions that promised so much and delivered so little.

The saving grace for Sam I had his favourite snack stashed away on the glovebox for him. 

More biscuit's than bites, probably not a bad thing !!!!

The Tiny River Alne - Tyrannize and Tangoreceptors

Fishing needs to be varied for me, that could be the intended quarry, from fishing a  a tiny stream for bullheads or battling the bruiser barbel on a flooded river. 

The methods too, from surface fishing for Chub, float fishing for dace, angling is a pursuit than can offer so much variety, this pastime of ours head and shoulders above others for being able to mix it up.

For this hour and a half evening session the rods was strapped to the car and I was taking the short drive to this rather lovely waterway. 

It seems that since early 2020, millions of Brits have reached the logical conclusion that regular social contact outside the home has become quaint at best and dangerous at worst. Apologies for the crude expression, but the rule makers have forced this. 

With wellbeing for many affected bigtime, any smaller win in your armoury whilst still operating within the 'rules' needs to be grasped when you can.

Anyway back to the fishing the stretch I have at my disposal is just over a mile long and offers to much variety it's incredible really. From the upstream shallows where you could take your shoes and socks off and wade across, the deep 14 foot hole, the sluggish downstream swims, the bubbling weir.

I've the banks to myself here, the other syndicate members paths crossed rarely, in-fact there has only been two days where I've seen an angler or two, most of the time it's me and the wildlife. It feels a world apart from the daily WFH drudgery where some much needed solitude is most welcome after the full on day I've just had.

With the river clearing I fancied throwing some crankbaits about. The chub particularly don't grow massive here but the larger fish do seem to like the chase of the lure, to show the other residents of this small waterway who is boss.

In the summer when the river is very low and gin clear a seemingly fishless river can turn in to one of eyebrow raising surprise, when out of nowhere a chub darts out from it's sanctuary and snatches at the Salmo Hornet.

Small crankbaits work so well here as when the river is in spate the debris that can litter the bottom would be a hinderance to a conventional softbait, but a shallow diver means it's well up in the water column to avoid any potential snaggy lure losers.

The trout are here in good numbers too and some days I'd catch a mixture of chub and trout, where other sessions it's one or the other.

What has surprised me though is where the heck are the perch ?

Even bait fishing with worms and maggots I don't think I've had a perch yet.

Some of the swims are perfect for perch to hide out, but no, rather suspicious in their absence. 

This session didn't start well the first take was from a trout literally right by my feet and it went mad like they do and managed to throw the hooks.

The lure went straight back out and again another grab, but again it came off, hmmmm. Once bitten twice shy and all that.

So would it be third time lucky ? well it was actually because the lure went out yet again and sure enough a second or two in the water the fish was one. This time it hit the lure proper hard in the relatively pacey water so that probably helped as the crankbait was fighting against the current and was taught against the braided line.  

I've hooked and lost two trout over the years that were around 3lb but most are small brook trout like you'd expect, still they are cracking sport on very light tackle. The rod thinner than a Bic biro, every lunge and jump felt through the blank.

I fished 5 or 6 swims where two swims produced all the fish. I finished with 6 red spotted brownies this time so no chub which I was surprised because the last swim I fished I did well for the chublets on lobworm the weekend before.

With the season coming to a close where my Canal Zander Quest will kick in again I trying to tick as many sessions off as I can.

I'm limited on venues because of the travel restrictions but with the previous session here showing the big dace potential I might pop back this weekend and fish bait again, this time though not a size 6 and a lobworm I might scale down and hit more of those bites I missed.  

Wednesday 24 February 2021

Warwickshire Avon - Portuguese Tarts and Presbyophrenia

Fishing for me especially the short sessions I do is all about the preparation. You see if I were to get bankside and have to start making up the rods that is valuable bait in the water time potential fish biting time.

Heck just look at this Mexican soup I do topped with cheesy tortilla triangles, no messing all the ingredients mashed, chopped and weighed so the cooking goes swimmingly.  

Anyway it would be rude not to wouldn't it ? what ? well go fishing again stupid. 

With water so close why the heck not....

The weather was about to turn colder overnight you see and the Barbel potentially would be less likely to feed again and might be looking for that winter jacket they'd thought they wouldn't need in this mild spell.

It helps that I'm in the good books at home after I fixed the washing machine over the weekend where the every faithful 8 year old direct drive jobbie threw a wobbler and the door actuator and sensor after playing up for a while, decided to give up the ghost altogether. 

The Wife had the trigger finger on its replacement before I could get ones tools out but came to her senses when....

...."there was no need to fork out £400 as I'll have a go at fixing it".

A replacement part was sourced quick enough however the pile of washing would amount to the size of the National Debt if it wasn't sorted quickly. Luckily 2 days later the part turns up and after a hard weeks CAD bashing I replaced it quickly enough with only scraped knuckles and a cut finger to show for it.

The £7.95 part hopefully will give the washing machine a new lease of life and the money saved will come good to fill the rather empty under stairs booze cupboard that has been plundered over lockdown. 

To be honest we might as well leave it unlocked, no preteens  drinking gin and rum to be seen here !!!!

Anyway at midday after shoving down some beans on toast I put the tackle back in the car from the session the evening before and a quick temperature check the Jimny showed it was a very mild 15 degrees, the same as Ibiza apparently, so cannot be bad. 

It was still windy mind you but this session would be a short one like it was 24 hours before. This stretch though I'm under a club control so I'd have to be off half an hour after dusk at the latest, still hopefully a Barbel would bite.

I did think about a Zander session but I might leave that till the weekend where I'd have a little more time bankside. I'm quite lucky in that I can get here in less than 10 minutes so ideal in these COVID penalty times. 

This stretch used to be so good to me, when I first joined a number of years ago now (maybe 5 not sure) when the conditions were good without fail you could turn up an hour before dusk on this stretch where 9 times out of 10 you'd bank a barbel or three. 

It was quite prolific in the past too judging by the nickname it had at one time, I think I joined in its decline. 

To be fair there are encouraging signs though as the smaller Barbel seem to be appearing which is nice to see. It's all very well having 7lbers and over but you have to think about the future populous not just 'today'. 

Anyway no messing when I got bankside having battled myself through the strong wind the pellets went out the boilie already on the hair all I needed to do was wrap it in paste. The Avon had dropped considerably over 24 hours and almost clear I would say.

Certainly if we don't get anymore rain by the weekend it will be clear I'm sure. Heck might even trying surface feeding for Chub such the turbidity and water temperature.

Anyway an hour without a nibble a quick natter to the bailiff doing his rounds the best time for a barbel to bite was 20 minutes away.

A few minutes later out of nowhere a bouncing rod top and after lifting in to the bite a fish was on. I thought it was a good fish at first as it was hugging bottom but then I felt the weight of the fish after the first run and knew instantly it was a chub. Obviously no match for the Barbel rod so it was quickly netted. 

It was certainly determined he was going to have the bait that's for sure as it hooked itself I expect. Anyway a quick photo and returned downstream the bait went out again and I fully expected another bite. 

Sadly that didn't happen though before club rules called the end of the session as it felt right for a Barbel. Still not a blank and to eb fair the best Chub I've caught in a while although sadly not by design.

Warwickshire Avon - Sandpipers and Sacramentarianism

Now at the start of the week the PM Boris Johnson announced the government’s roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions in England.

So schools back in two weeks initially, see how that goes first and the other businesses softly, softly, catchee monkey. Heck might even be able to have my first beer garden pint in April, pennies at the ready !! 

Now unlike Bojo this area sees little pressure, and in these travel restricted times even less so, in-fact it's only me that has been fishing it. There are Barbel here though and above and below it too so that's why I was here. Not only that but I can fish in to dusk and beyond so no need to watch my back, to feel the eagle eyes of the sanctimonious finger pointers. 

Now all the Barbel caught on this stretch (errrr ok, only 3 fish thus far best 12lb 10oz to Colin 😳 ) from the other syndicate members were near double or actual doubles so wanderers rather than grouped together splashers further upstream, but that's not a bad thing if I want to bank a potential PB beater, there could be one here.

There are some good chub too, I've had a couple of 5 pounders now but like the Barbel they are either there or not. More blanks than anything but when the stars align the cogs engage bites can come thick and fast.

There is little doubt about it though when the water is clear or almost clear the big fish don't venture out, to be fair though that is very much like the Warwickshire Avon as a whole, well the bits I fish anyway, they are predator wary. 

That's why unless the water is chocolate brown I rarely fish for Barbel during the day. There is one area in the summer though that has thick far bank cover and I've caught Barbel rolling meat where as it's shallow in the main where you can almost sight fish for them. They do tuck themselves out of the way though but a highly visible bait naturally rolling past will get them leaving their sanctuary. 

This session was a bait and wait approach though like much of my short sessions. A couple or three bait droppers of pungent pellets and then a piece of meat placed downstream and chub resistant wafter fished over the top of the buffet come dusk and beyond. 

With fingers and toes crossed hopefully the rod tip would wallop over, if it didn't the 20 mph gusts of wind would certainly come to ones rescue. 

A concentration of baits seems to do the trick where a more haphazard approach seems to bring less results. Still this was a planned session like most of mine seem to be the days, sometimes the detailed agenda goes to pot though and a more suitable attack conjured up when I was bankside....

Anyway the light started to go quick but the river seemed rather lifeless, a little drab too, with spring on the way hopefully we will see some much needed colour. 

Anyway enough of the preamble how do I get on ?

Well errrrrrr, a blankety blank but then this is a blog after all, if I blank somehow I manage to post about it. The wind was very strong indeed so the rod tip wouldn't settle so it was difficult to register bites but about half an hour past dusk the first chub pull came.

Then every five or ten minutes or so the same happened, a couple of sharp jabs of the tip and then it sprung back to it's normal position. If there are proper Chevin in the swim here in a feeding mood they give proper bites till their persistence means they hook themselves.

I stayed well past dusk but the Barbus were as elusive as ever, so to be honest not unexpected, the weather is turning cold overnight again for a few days, the water temperature was 8.8 for this session, with the season on the countdown I might have missed the opportunity for a winter Barbel. 

Would one have turned up deep in to the night, who knows, 2 hours stationary behind rods is enough for me.

A highlight of the session though the first Snipe I've seen down here, when I got bankside I disturbed it and it flew off like a mad'un so sadly all I got was a library pic. On to the next one. 

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