Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Friday 30 April 2021

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.197 - Banana Lovers and Bathythermographs

I'm all for sustainability, especially when there is alcohol involved, originally, the purpose of this Caribbean Rum from the Discarded Spirit Company was to impart flavour to prepare empty whisky casks for the final phase of maturation. 

Once the cask is seasoned with the Rum’s flavour, the Whisky replaces the Rum to complete the whisky’s final maturation. The Rum, however is then often sold on or even disposed of. 

An undiscovered treasure, this ‘finishing’ Rum has now been repurposed to form the base of Discarded’s rather fruity-forward offering.

The revealing quality behind this Discarded Rum comes from an unlikely source, Banana Peel. I quite like pineapple flavoured rums for something different and this was the same ilk.

Once extracted, Banana peel provides a fresh toffee note with a fruity balance whilst maintaining the foundation flavour of an iconic Caribbean Rum. 

I'm a neat rum drinker, and oddly whiskey cannot get a look in now, despite enjoying a dram or three over the years. 

I blame a mate of mine Simon where our FLAG (Friday Liquid Appreciation Group 😈) mornings at a client we use to work for in years gone by, the Friday morning whiskey tasting turned in to one of exploring other alternatives and it grew from there. 

Variety is the spice of life it always has been, so anyway back to the fishing before you get bored. For this session down at the new hallowed stretch (Nic's 10lb 12ounce canal Zander) where I'm going to fish from time to time before the rivers can be fished again.

The pike activity in one swim was frankly ridiculous, in that mad hour or two they really were on the rampage and were attacking anything that moved. It was quite incredible to see really especially when the canals I tend to fish closer to home I rarely catch pike. 

It's a shame because at the aforementioned session I lost a clear double figure fish that after the final headshake she'd managed to eject the roach and sadly we'd parted company. 

A double dipping session this, so I'd rove around with the deadbait rod to try and drop on a Zander but also I'd have a Zebco top water Frog lure to try and get a pike to act on its instinct and come up to grab the lure off the top. 

I love fishing for Chub this way because being another predator, they too can really nail a surface lure if they they think a potential meal is getting away from them. 

Now my best canal pike came out of the blue when I was fishing for Zander, a fish that before it surfaced the force it was pulling back for much of the fight I thought this could be the Zander to conclude the quest. 

Sadly it wasn't the case but still, it was a decent fish for the canal though and not to be sniffed at. There is a good reason why in this new stretch predators are in residence and that is because their are food offerings in numbers here, a biomass of small fish I'd not seen before on the canal, a veritable smörgåsbord of tasty silverfish for the hungry top dog to feast on. 

Not only that but it appears to be relatively unfished, but then in my tramping grounds that is not uncommon. These natural venues don't appeal to many for some reason, that I cannot fathom really, but then much of modern angling pursuits are not on my agenda. Not a bad thing really, as it means the solitude I need to seek can be achieved quite easily.  

The short session didn't start very well, I caught a tiny jack pike almost as soon as I got the deadbait in but then the boats started moving in vigour and I counted 15 in around an hour. 

The first Zander came when a boat came through and stirred up the bottom and it took a roach that I had positioned midwater and allowed to drift around the turbulent swim.

A tiny schoolie so not exactly I was after but then soon after chucking the frog lure around without success and roving around and fishing 5 or 6 swims I returned to the hallowed swim. Soon after getting a deadbait out the floats starts to move and a fish is on. If felt decent and then I realised when its tail came out of the water the big pike that spat the bait out last time was now on the end. 

The problem was it did exactly the same and it managed to eject the bait again !!!! wtf !!! Not long after though just as a boat was heading my way again a bite came from a suspended roach and after the float buried straight away I knew there was only one culprit.

The boater came along side and wondered what the heck I had on the end but then I knew exactly what it was. This time though after taking line eventually I turned it and it was heading towards the inadequate landing net. 

The ridiculously long fish oddly ended up resting in the landing net without issue. The circle hook this time holding well in the scissors. Ok not the right double but an impressive canal beast especially when after weighing it in the net returning it and subtracting the landing net after weighing it separately it went 13lb 8 ounces which beats my river PB believe it or not.

It just goes to show what can happen when you're in the right areas, find the silver fish in numbers like Nic did, the predators follow. All went quiet after that so I decided to call it a day and will return the week most likely to fish in to dark. 

Thursday 29 April 2021

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.196 - Snitchers and Snobocracy

An hour in to Netflix's latest offering the 'Stowaway' I'm wondering when the film like the Bojo and Cummings wallpaper-gate saga was going to kick up a gear, the first scene launches us into some action along with three astronauts headed on a two-year mission to Mars. 

Soon after the turbulent take-off, they encounter an unlikely surprise, a stowaway, an engineer who was injured and knocked out during launch prep, now along with them for the ride. Yes really, not an alien this time, but a proper human and all.

Initial shock soon turns to panic as the destruction of an air filtration device means that there is only enough oxygen for three of them to survive.

No Hitchcockian psychological thriller territory here instead it keeps it firmly in the realm of so-called 'hard sci-fi', as the crew is forced to confront the logistics of a devastating dilemma with time not on their side. 

Solutions are believably scarce. Can the biologist find a way to make his algae produce enough oxygen? 

Can the on-the-ground support to find the science to save them? Can the medical researcher convince them that a death-defying mission might be worth the risk?

Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm nodding off at this point then out of the blue my phone jumps in to life just before 10.00pm when for some reason Nic from Avon Angling UK is ringing me. With the Wife now giving me the death stare as she I'd do the same if her phone was ringing in the middle of a movie....
....So after leaving Nic to ring off I thought bugger it, I need to know what's up, what was doing, as naturally I was intrigued so I sent him a message, because there must be a good reason why he's ringing me, he MUST have caught something decent...

"make yourself another drink, I'll just ring Nic back"

I call back but his phone rings out, but then a few minutes later he returns my call...

"Alright mate, I've just caught a monster Zander, it's huge !!!!" A double figure easily, It's massive" I'm still trembling !!!!"

I could hear it in his voice too, like he'd seen a ghost or stared in to the face of death, a proper knee trembler by all accounts, but then I dread to think what I'd be like if ever I'm in the same position. 

After he calmed down and his heart rate had returned to normal he recounted the story and it certainly sounded more eventful than the film.  

He'd been plagued by pike attacking his keep net during a couple of pleasure fishing sessions there and had a smelt out to try and catch it for this session where he'd also managed a nice silver bream. 

Unbeknown to him though after an initial enquiry he'd put the bait out again and a fish had taken the bait almost immediately after the recast.

This was no Pike though it was a Zander, one that after taking line and trying to lose the hook like they do, however after a decent scrap eventually it was just about teased in to the landing net which buckled under the strain.

He sent me a quick picture off his phone resting in the net which I won't post here, but after he got back home after and I'd finished the film and bed bound (don't bother), later on at 1.00am he sent me a grab from the footage off his camera. (still buzzing I'd imagine)

So I woke up to the message and a first proper look at the 10lb 12 ounce spawned out canal monster that he'd managed to catch from the Grand Unions turbid waters. 

Now having given Nic some tips a few years ago now to catch his first canal Zander, he's been hooked on them like I have. Ok he hasn't got the single minded approach I'd taken in the closed season but he's certainly fished for them extensively. 

In the conversation the night before he'd almost felt sorry for catching it, knowing the efforts I've put in over the years, but naturally I was happy for it, why wouldn't I been.

I've always been pragmatic over all things canal Zander, knowing that the needle in the haystack challenge has no real science to it. I just love to know the fish are there to be caught and that there is a hope I'll catch one myself, one day. 

The double figure fish rarely do turn up, but when they do, they can turn up anywhere and to anyone. 

Much of it is luck, being in the right time and in the right place. With my carpet bombing approach will it happen who knows, as if I'd caught a fish like Nic just has, where is there is to go in canal Zander fishing ?, Nic has almost peaked too soon 💪 as my shoes have worn out under the challenge. 
So for this session Nic would return to hallowed ground and I'd follow his footsteps to the area where the fish had been caught. I've spread myself too thinly over the last couple of years and tend to fish familiar spots however a recent discovery after I was put on to a spot did throw up some nice fish.

In one swim 10 Zander caught with 8 of those over 4lb. The biggest was over 6lb so still encouraging signs but again nothing like the >80 cm fish that graced his net. 

With 6 or 7 weeks remaining of the closed season I'm going to concentrate my efforts on just three areas now, three areas where there is every chance a similar stamp of fish is swimming in the electrified waters. 

Only one of those I'd given a good go though, the other two I'd be fishing almost blind. But going forward its clear where I have been fishing isn't producing the goods, even though there was a chance of a double before, 9lb on the nose still my PB. The reality is having caught quite a few 5, 6 and 7'bers, a 8lb 10 fish, and the 9lber, they are still canal specimens so I shouldn't be too hard on myself.

The problem is with these transient lunkers they are rarely caught at the same spot again, they do on the odd occasion for sure, because of know of one such fish (yes I have tried, but failed)  but in the main you'll be wasting your time. At little like this challenge so far then, it would have broken many a man, let me tell you. 

Was this fish once bitten twice shy ? 

Only one way to find out, to the bush forthwith !!!! 

I decided to sit it out with deadbaits whilst Nic was plundering the silver fish stocks catching rudd, skimmers and silver bream close to the reeds and also out in the track.

There had been lots of cold rain the night before so the sport wasn't as prolific as it usually is here apparently and when a tiny jack succumbed to a smelt the evening turned in to pike soup.

Out of the blue on the retrieve a decent pike had come up to grab the bait and for the next two hours or so we had 6 or 7 ravenous pike in a concentrated 50 yard wide area attacking everything that moved.

The keep-net was being attacked, even the float was hit at one point. I'm sure a surface frog lure would have been brilliant such their ferocity.

A slender thing with a rather large open wound on it's back provided a decent bend in the rod and soon after a double figure fish hovered up the smelt that had been dangled in front of it.

After a couple of runs I thought I'd be able to tease it in to the net but with one last head shake with the line under tension the bait comes flying out its mouth and ended up in the bush behind me, damn, would have maybe rivalled the 11lber I caught on the canal not long ago.

With the light going and Nic being biteless for an hour with all the predators in residence he returned to his car and joined me in to dark fishing deadbaits as well.

Not long in to dark his alarm goes and he's in to a pike which took a roach bait close in, a lean 7lber this one, but welcome all the same, as it was Nic's first canal pike believe it or not. 

The Zander didn't show sadly but it's a bit of an eye opener here, I'll be back, the fact is, as it's a very quiet stretch means these evening sessions in to dark are ideal where hopefully a decent Zed will turn up for me if put the hours in. 

Sunday 25 April 2021

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.195 - Footlongs and Futurology

Cover has always held Zander, well why wouldn't it they are predators after all and somewhere to lay in wait ready to pounce on prey will always feature in their makeup. Fine cover and a a deep area like I did a couple of years ago you've got a chance of a decent canal Zed which is anything over 5lb or so, or 60 cm's to the length measurer. 

Cover offers some solitude away from the masses too, so at this time of year when its still cold much of the time they can lay up, expend little energy and stretch their legs and rest their fins.

Certain swims will always hold fish too, this stretch which has been very good to me in the past being home to two of my biggest canal Zeds. Oddly one came from cover, the other in a shallow turning bay where you would question why would a big fish be happy there. It's back probably not far off sticking out of the water.

They don't need much water over their heads though and that's half the problem, swims I'd walk past with my rods in hand will no doubt contain fish.

We've not had rain for ages and the water level on this stretch is a good few inches down and up till the last couple of weeks has been almost clear, in-fact in some swims you could see the bottom the entire width of the canal. 

Luckily the boats are starting to move so as soon as it colours up the Zander are up for a feed. There are no secrets here to be honest, fish as many swims as possible and after ticking the swims off eventually you will be rewarded.  I was surprised to see an angler here because I've largely got to myself but it's someone I've bumped into here quite a few times and he was here for some pleasure fishing and was struggling for bites until some plump roach saved the day.

I on the other hand was getting plenty of bites, all from small fish though, in-fact some of the smallest Zander I've caught in a while. Two of the fish not much bigger than the roach deadbait itself, which I'd usually not think much of it, but bare in mind this stretch has been electro-fished in the past and these fish are the up and coming school year that I'd like the catch when they reach retirement. 

I caught 5 in the end if I recall, plenty of bites where many were fish either dropped off or they let go of the bait or clearly had eyes far bigger than their bellies. 

Still I started out with Zander journey with these fantastic fish and I still love catching them such their character. Shame them are persecuted still and recently the tact changed with their classification so they need to watch their backs even more than they ever did.

I'm going to give the hot-spot a rest for a while so the next handful of sessions will be at an area I have fished but know hardly anything about. Bites can be sparse but if a big'un shows itself it will likely be a good'un. So back to bigger baits again, back to the head turners.

What dreams are made of ? lets hope do, wish me luck !!!!

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.194 - Aberuncators and Ablutomania

I've never been a huge fan of M&S wines mainly because I've drank a fair few over the years and never rushed back in anger to buy another bottle or two. 

I discovered one from their 'found' range which is rather palatable indeed this one from Greece of all places where this is a unique blend of two grapes indigenous to Greece: Xinomavro and Mandilaria
Sourcing this wine from from sustainable vineyards (are there any other ?), the fragrant indigenous grape Xinomavro from the mountainous north of Greece and the sturdy Mandilaria from islands in the Aegean,

This moorish and Elegant but flavoursome red had a little harmless sediment but nothing to what was a very nice bottle of red indeed.

Probably lighter and a little fruiter than I'd normally go for but went really well with a thick cut rib-eye with raspberries, blackberries and fresh herbs to cut through the richness of the meat.

Give it a go if you fancy something different...

Oh yeah £9.50 of your fine English pounds !!!!

Now if you are expecting something different on this page you're sadly mistaken you see, I'm quite a few sessions in to continuing with the ridiculous quest of mine and I'm still counting the sessions off to try and snare that double.

It's not getting any easier though in-fact despite the discover of a hot-spot, even the hot-spot hasn't been to hot of later. The weather has been nice though as I type this 24 hours before I was sat in a beer garden enjoying the power of the suns rays.

The butterflies have made an appearance in numbers and this one allowing me to get inches away before it decided I was some sort of weirdo. The orange-tips back in numbers too which I do love to see as they have plenty of character and very fiesty. 

Sam has been with me more and more of late and this latest mission at the area that has good to me in the past really was tough going. Remember this is the swim where I caught 10 fish where 8 of those fish were over 4lb. 

That is quite incredible really and that swim culminated in one of the fish going over 6lb in a return session. Since then though for me anyway the fish, well the larger one anyway have all but disappeared. A little like Sam enthusiasm at the minute because his lure fishing isn't going particularly brilliantly and his Dad too, not exactly doing that well with the Zander. 

We were only bankside for a couple of hours and just down from us a family of 4 caught 2 bream whilst we were chasing Zander but after getting the baits out and had two bites in the space of 10 minutes but couldn't connect to the fish, I did wonder if it was worth bothering or not. 

I'd had pulled the bait straight out of the fishes mouth and these were small fish who had eyes bigger than their bellies. A familiar story continued at dusk where after persuading Sam to try some sink and draw with a small roach after he'd lost another lure I had a bite as the light was going on the right-hand rod.

Another small fish again though and this time after a few seconds the fish surfaced and it was one of the smallest Zedlets I'd caught my eye on. Thankfully it was lightly hooked and after a flick of the tail it was headed back to his mates who were there to spoil ones party

This time of the year is always tough when they have other matters on their minds, lets hope unlike this quest they can get it done and dusted sooner rather than later.

Friday 23 April 2021

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.193 - Microhylidae and Melanocytes

The Tesco picker should have a word with his or herself (insert any others here) and cast this meagre offering aside, where it belongs. 

You've got to question how a leak so small got that far in the logistical supply chain, where is the quality control, surely the pigs should have been grubbing on this one. 

So what was meant to be shredded savoy cabbage and leaks for our Sunday dinner, became merely cabbage. 

The leak well, the ever increasing worms in their wormey got a belly filler, that's all it was good for the pathetic Allium Ampeloprasum.

Tesco and their supplier need a Gerald Stratford and fast, now he's the Grandad who became a social media sensation has written his own book about gardening. 

Last May he tweeted a picture of himself with some rocket potatoes he had grown, and from there it shot off, his spuds went viral !!!!

He only joined Twitter in February of last year, but has since gained 297,000 followers, with his posts regularly attracting thousands of retweets and likes.

Now, the Milton-under-Wychwood resident has penned his own book, Big Veg, due to be released later this year. The book is not the only adventure Mr Stratford has been on recently, having starred in a photoshoot for Gucci’s sustainable collection.

A corner of his garden is rows and rows of potatoes, French beans, runner beans, lettuces  you name it, he grows it and that’s before the hallowed door of the greenhouse is opened.

You see it quickly becomes clear that this is not just any old vegetable plot. The oil drums are a clue. A line of them stand upright, filled with sand, but with four drainpipes buried deep down inside, each one filled with compost and just one prize-winning parsnip or perhaps a carrot.

These vegetables are, in every sense, showstoppers.

But what makes this former butcher, drayman and barge controller rather unique and that is before mention is made of his status as a British game fishing champion in 1984, that is by the by now he's head deep in to growing vegetables of epic proportions. 

His secrets soon to be given away in his upcoming book, heck maybe I'd pen a Canal Fishing for Big Zander book before its banished to the history books and cast aside in the forgotten archives, I just need to catch that big Zander, not as easy as you think.

I've always had suspicions that the larger Zander really don't like to feel pressure as such, a little like Pike in that respect. They do appear transient so it is almost entirely luck to stumble on a rung above. Two of my biggest canal Zander lived on a stretch that between locks you would need a 2.75 mile walk along the towpath.

That's a staggering amount of water to cover it really is especially when if one is  holding up you're effectively chucking a dart blind in to a football field where there is one water balloon to pop in the containment she calls home. 

There might not even be one on the water to catch, that's another issue, so spread myself too thin that could be detrimental as could spreading myself too wide 😕 Now Sam and I decided to have a quick session in a similar stretch albeit the containment is much smaller, a large pound if you will, just one that would take 5 or 6 minutes to walk from one side to the other.
The fish here are very dark indeed, some of the most fantastic looking Zander you're ever likely to encounter in these mucky waters.

One of the first sessions back trudging the towpaths I'd caught a war-torn 5lber with some stories to tell and he really didn't like to be hooked at all, carting off at a rate of knots with me chasing after it down the towpath. 

A proper good fight that Zander can give time to time, the 9lber I caught fought like a 9lb carp from college pool, and believe you me hook one of them you know about it.

A rather pleasant evening with the sun beating down and the skies clear, there was another frost in the morning though and a quick temperature check the water had dropped a degree from 48 hours before.

Still I'm sure a fish would be up for a feed if we stumbled upon one. The problem was Sam lost interest not long in to the <2 hour session as he found some really quite unique looking frogs.

Frogs that we tried our best to get a picture of but as soon as we got a camera anywhere near them they bolted off under the surface and swam down to the depths probably in the danger zone.

I caught a jack pike here a few sessions ago that not only had a mouthful of frogspawn but also it coughed up what looked like a partly digested frog and I've caught pike on a frog surface lure, they are a food source for sure, no doubt about that. 

The water had coloured up quite considerable since the last time I was here, no doubt the boats moving back in anger which to be honest hasn't been that way on other stretches.

Coloured water means Zander and it didn't take long either because within 15 minutes of having a roach deadbeat out I had the first bite, which sadly was the one and only bite before we called it a day, only a 3lber but when they look as mean as this that didn't matter at all. 

Wednesday 21 April 2021

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.192 - Stunboats and Stultiloquence

Now as welcome as Keir Starmer in a Bath pub and me being back to the grindstone after a chilled week off work, the persecuted Zander haven't the back up of his heavy handed security when they are going about their business unlike the aforementioned abstainer.

They are swimming in these turbid waters with no fault of their own, they are here now in numbers, naturalised and established. 

Its the teeth, the teeth I tell you....

They cannot exactly go on the campaign trail and put leaflets through letterboxes (those ones that end up in the bin) to give them some peace from the stunboats now can they, or they certainly cannot get lost in the bassbins like I can !!!!

It's illegal to put them back apparently so as catch and release anglers it goes against what we are all about. Heck if I catch a non native carp to these shores shall I stove their heads in too ? (graphic description but that's the bones of it) I love catching Zander a character like no other fish swimming in our waters. 

Better get off the subject and or I'll be looking for my soapbox again, so anyway, prior to this short after work session I'd cooked one of my favourite curries, an Ayam Chicken Rendang.

Once the homemade curry paste and coconut milk is reduced somewhat the sauce ends up being very thick indeed. rich you bet'ya, this one a firm favourite in the Newey household especially when a cold glass or two of a decent Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc accompanies it. 

Rendang is the most distinguished dish of the Minang people, and the people of Minang has existed since long before either Indonesia or Malaysia becomes a country. Minang people travelled far and wide, and the rendang that existed today originates from Minang, with slight differences in different regions.

You will hear debates and claims from the two countries that rendang is theirs, but I like to think the Minang will have a chuckle and remind both sides that rendang is theirs, and since there are plenty of Minang descents in both countries, everyone should just shut up and eat their rendang happily.

Heck can we not all just get on ?, does it matter where something originates from at the end of the day ? Clearly it does to some, especially for those that have a few pennies to make especially as it can boost the 'charities' Xmas party coffers which after last years cancelled event this years will no doubt be a full on affair. 

From the Harvester to Heston's I'd imagine....

Better get back on track hadn't it !!!! otherwise I'll be joining the DC wavers and merely papering over the cracks, this is a fishing blog after all. 

A little like this rich curry there is no need to rush, these Zander sessions in-fact I struggle with session more than 3 or 4 hours these days especially on busy canal towpaths where solitude ain't going to happen, it really isn't. 

This session like many of late is two hours max, turn up, roach out, catch Zander, back in the car usually with tail between ones legs. To be fair there has been some eyebrow raisers here and there of late hence why I've been concentrating on one stretch in particular because I've had a few fish over 5lb now and a 6lber (above ) so I'm sure there is a lunker here to be caught.

I just need to be waterside the right time at the right place. Only crossing off the sessions will lower the probability of that double figure fish ending up in the bottom of my landing net. Nearly up to 200 overall now, scary stuff !!!!

On route I bumped in to the Baliff on this stretch who recognised me from this blog and had been following with great interest my River Alne exploits. It's always nice to meet those that read my ramblings as it gives me the motivation in keeping it up. After a decent natter we parted company and I left him to continue catching the silvers and I went in the opposite direction to fish the 'hot spot'

I was amazed at the fish movement when I got in situ, huge boils in the surface that as the evening progressed it turned out they were spawning bream. I thought they might be Zander at first but these were definitely bream as I witnessed quite a few tails breaking the surface and clear of the water, and also with the water being clear I spotted 2 around 3 to 4lb as clear as day.

I got the baits out and had about an hour and a half realistically but there are fishing in numbers here so that wouldn't be an issue. The first bite took longer than expected though, a bite that didn't develop properly in the end which usually means a small fish has picked up the bait and then dropped it.

The bait went back out and within a few minutes a bite comes quick on the same rod, this time a decent bit where the float dives under the surface and I wind down to the fish and the circle hook engages.

Only a tiny fish, a couple of pounds at best and very angry and snappy for some reason. It seemed to be the order of the day as before this >4lb fish turned up at the end of the session I caught some others schoolies who reacted in the same way.

I fished in to dusk and till I couldn't make out the floats but oddly the last half an hour was the least productive. The water here has nearly 2ft of visibility, maybe more so I was surprised at that. Still another session ticked off and I do like these evening sessions especially when it was this mild, as it breaks up the week nicely.

Now whilst I was typing this I had a freedom of information request thrown in to the bin hopefully to be forgotten about no doubt. I can only imagine the response if I told HMRC you cannot see my limited company accounts over the last 5 years as I don't keep records, well only the ones I'd like to share, the rest I'd keep away from prying eyes ta very much...

Watch this space, I've now asked for an internal inquiry. 

I'm not asking for much either but as someone who pays money in good faith to fish club waters for Zander that are not meant to be electrofished I've noticed that the Zander numbers are down, those areas I used to catch plenty, now dribs and drabs, I'd like to know why that's all. 

An answer is required so I can cross it off the scribble list.

Why so coy about it ? 

Sunday 18 April 2021

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.191 - Jabs and Jargonauts

The fire was cranked up during the evenings much of this week, ok it's not that cold during the day but I'd had my DIY hat on and the garage door which leads directly in to the kitchen has been open for a couple of days whilst I'd stripped and glossed the door which was a rushed stained wood job. 

The roller garage door is insulated but its surprising just how well this fire door helped keep the heat in. The overnight temperatures have plummeted though and all but one morning this week we've had a hard frost.  There are signs things are improving on the weather front though, as I type this a T-Shirt wearing 15 degrees. 

Those morning frosts though knocked me and the fish for six and I'd not really had the motivation to go fishing especially as the sun has been high in the sky of late, where the weather was there to be enjoyed without fishing being on ones mind. 

Heck even the BBQ came in to play again with ones tandoori chicken with griddled veg, be rude not to I suppose, good food, good wine, those small things that make you happy need to be enjoyed in these COVID times.

Now when the Double Barrel Shiraz by Jacob’s Creek came out a few years ago it created a bit of a buzz in the wine industry. Indeed, the barrel-finish gimmick is broadly, and commonly, used in the liquor market, as well as in craft beer industry all around the world, but it was virtually unheard of with wine!

Plenty of Whiskey makers finish their fine spirits in Bourbon, Port, Sherry (my favourite), Madeira, Sauternes, or even Chateau Margaux barrels. But wine producers generally stick to maturing their wine in… well, wine barrels. The Double Barrel Shiraz however, after a common ageing in wine barrels, goes through a finish in Scotch barrels!
The wine is full-bodied, which you would expect from an Aussie Shiraz. Generous body, a wealth of smooth velvety tannins. 

It overall feels relatively dry though for the style, no obvious or too dominant sweetness other than the richness provided by the ripeness of the dark berry and touches of dried fruit flavours.

I'm not usually a Shiraz drinker but this caught my eye and as it's a tenner in Tesco at the minute, and it turned out to be not a bad drop at all, and I'd recommend a bottle or tow to enjoy in-front of a movie or a steak dinner....

I had intended to go out the evening before with Sam but after a numb arm after my jab the pull of the sun soaked beer garden was too much, the Blue Monkey Infinity at our adopted local has on tap at the minute.

It's very nice indeed too, in-fact I was disappointed they'd sold out of Landlord but this was right up there with beers I'd recommend to try if you're new to the ale scene, you just need to have it kept as well as the New Inn in Norton Lindsey, it makes a massive difference, it always has done, no matter the beer on offer. 

Talking of monkeys some news this week came from scientists who had injected dozens of human stem cells into developing monkey embryos, and the resulting hybrids survived for up to 20 days in lab dishes.

These human-monkey embryos could someday serve as helpful models for human disease, embryonic development and ageing, 

By zooming in on the interaction of human and animal cells in the embryos, scientists could also learn how to help human cells survive amongst animal cells, potentially advancing the effort to grow human organs in living animal models.

They did say the implantation of human-monkey embryos would be ethically contentious and will need to be discussed by scientists, ethicists and the public before moving forward with such experiments,

And the CRT and EA are worried about a few 'unwanted' non native 'invasive' fish swimming around in the turbid Midland canal network, well ok. 

Check out Nic from Avon Angling UK's recent upload a small section of canal full of fish sharing the same water and shoulder to shoulder with this relentless predator. Eyes open please no need to send them from Coventry or wherever to Billingsgate Market, they are quite happy where they are thanks.

15 hours prior to this session I'd had my Oxford jab and to he honest I should have stayed in bed. Half an hour in to the session with one schoolie caught the chills started and the goosebumps there to see.

I wanted to try out some circle hooks I'd been trying and the 4 fish caught in this session all hook perfectly in the top of the mouth. I'd bumped a couple of fish off in a previous session and wasn't quite happy with the hook arrangement.

This area as reliable as any I know to get a bite or two. 

Two hours in though I just wasn't enjoying it and the fact I wasn't feeling brilliant only amplified that, so once the footfall was increasing at an exponential rate I decided to halt the session early and go back to bed with a paracetamol and a warm duvet. 

Still not feeling 100% as I type this, after a feet up chilled day I've aches and pains and a high temperature, let's just hope its short lived, fingers crossed. 
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