Saturday 13 February 2021

Warwickshire Avon - Cyprinidaes and Cryopreservation

Now Staffordshire Oatcakes are, quite possibly, the best regional speciality you’ve never heard of. In fact, that is much more of a generalisation than you may realise, because they’re specifically regional to North Staffordshire, centering on the region around Stoke-on-Trent.

It’s historic origins are mixed, with some anecdotes suggesting they originated from soldiers returning from India and trying to reproduce the chapatis they had eaten, with local produce. 

Really, not sure about that myself....

They can be eaten hot from the pan, but as with other griddle bakes such as muffins, crumpets and pikelets, they can be made in batches, and then toasted as required, making, if anything, an even speedier snack. 

I discovered them a while back and have been eating them ever since, a savoury pancake basically, what's not to like. Heck you can can fill them with whatever you like, bacon and cheese works well or I like bacon, mushroom and HP sauce.

For this cockle warmer down at the syndicate stretch it would be bacon and cheese. Now a good thing about this stretch is there are no rules as such, so no sanctimonious finger pointers from fellow club members. 

As a small group of likeminded bunch means we hardly bump in to each other anyway, especially in these travel restricted times. 

I'm the closest member by far, I've got this place to myself effectively, well if I could get waterside that is, it's been very much unfishable over the last few weeks.  Anyway with 2 pints of wriggly red maggots chilling in the garage needing a purpose in life, apart from the bacon and camping stove they also accompanied me here to free them from their predicament. 
I wasn't in their good books you see because soon after their rehousing the bait fridge was set a little too cold and after making sure they were getting on ok, after lifting the lid they appeared to be lifeless. 

I was hoping although in almost a state of cryopreservation, in an attempt to preserve enough brain information to permit the future revival of these cryopreserved maggots. 

I was correct in my assumption because after a gradual defrosting after removing them from their grave to the relative warmth of garage, the odd one started to come back from the brink, back from staring at that long white tunnel. 

Thank God for that !!!!

Now the local rivers had been all over the shop but the Avon had dropped considerably and it was looking like it could offer a bite or two. This syndicate section the dace shoals can provide a dip of the float or a bend of the quiver when those bites in the winter can be hard to come by. 

Now the dace is one of Cyprinidae and like most the species of this great family. is gregarious. It is occasionally found in the still waters of lakes and ponds, but is essentially a stream fish much preferring the swifter currents, particularly the  shallow waters that flow over a clean gravel bed.

A shoal of spritely dace in clear streamy water is a most pleasing sight when they are seen, as they can be seen in the summer, darting swifty here and there, first leaping at the flies on the surface and then diving to the bottom for some tasty tit-bit. On the deeper Warwickshire Avon in certain swims in certain weather conditions the surface feeding dace when they break the surface is a sight to behold. 

A dace is not only swift in its movements, it is equally quick in detecting danger. The fish's lateral line is extremely sensitive, and by this it can sense vibrations. All anglers realise the need for keeping out of sight. The slightest movement of the angler, a shadow upon the water, or a sudden clump of a Wellie may transmit a warning in the dace and send the whole shoal dashing from cover to cover for a long distance down-stream.  

The river was still high after being in the fields much of the last couple of weeks so before I'd try for a last gasp winter barbel or maybe even a pike at least some angling sport could be provided by these small bold biters. They can take a while to show but when they do the shoal must be ridiculously big, here despite the height of the river there are some nice glides that can be achieved with a float.  

Now apart from another stretch I know, here the dace out number the roach so much that you'd be lucky to catch one roach out of a 100 dace. They are generally sight feeders though however having caught them recently in proper turbid conditions on the local brook they will still feed in a colour better suited to Augustus Gloop. Once one fish finds the falling maggots it calls on his mates and the gluttony can commence. 

It had been proper cold during the week where WFH is becoming monotonous beyond ones control, but at least the fridge is full, the tea still on the table. The Avon had been proper turbid but usually with a cold spell and the river dropping the clarity starts to clear nicely. As well as the dace I'd have a Pike rod with me just in-case one showed up after the fingers and toes crossed bait ball. 

Now the session didn't start well, I wanted a cup of tea when I got bankside but with the tackle stored in the car overnight and it got down to -4 or -5 the gas bottle was like a block of ice and wouldn't work basically, a trickle of gas it ended up fizzling out altogether. A school boy error and after trying to warm it up a few different ways I had to go back to the car luckily only a hop skip and a jump to warm it up on the air vents.

I got the oatcakes out of the way whilst drip feeding maggots in to the swim. Usually here as I said before you need to feed regularly to get the fish if there to home in on the bait.

With the fool polished off it was out with the trotting gear whilst the pike rod with a smelt under it was positioned just to my left where I'd caught a Pike before. I managed nearly an hour of trotting without a bite and not only that but the line was freezing to the rod itself as well as the eyes getting clogged up with ice from time to time. The dace were just not around so with the trotting set-up ditched I'd fish the Pike rod in a few swims to try and find a rod bender.

The cormorant activity could well have been the reason why the dace didn't show, they were everywhere not just perched in the tree but overhead too and also feeding in the middle of the river upstream from me.

After a few swims down without a nibble or a bobble the last forty minutes or so the bait was positioned next to some thick cover. A few twitches here and there eventually the float starts to move and the fish was taking the bait straight under it. I had to strike a little earlier than I'd like and after a few seconds with the fish on and having managed to turn it I pulled the smelt right out of his gob.

Damn !!! I thought it would be back for a second go, but no, another winter blank to add to the growing list. 


  1. Good work warmning that gas canister

    1. schoolboy error but amazing once I got it going how quick it fizzled out, very cold indeed


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