Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Wednesday 30 June 2021

Warwickshire Avon - Billies and Bilocation

This deep and rather pedestrian stretch of the Warwickshire Avon always has looked like there would be Tench in residence. Having looked back at my blog archives I'd fished it a couple of times without anything of note let alone a tinca so Pt.1 and Pt.2 meant I couldn't be bothered with Pt.3, 

Then out of the blue a fellow blogger who also fishes this stretch pointed me to a facebook page where not only did a single Tench >5lb grace the landing net in a recent match, but the 0.000001mm hook length and tiny hook users had lost Tench due to being under gunned for the hooked quarry. 

No smoke without fire and all that so after letting the bait bombardment and their bellies settle I was making my way after work to have a dangle myself. To be honest I think the Wife might be doing a Hancock behind my back as she is actively encouraging me to go fishing whenever I can, but then she knows what it does for ones wellbeing.

I cannot complain I suppose. Now here they are two notable areas that are thick with lilies that are likely holding spots and it was the second area downstream that just screams Tench I'd be fishing. 

So a single main rod approach for this short session, a float fished lift method style on the pin with worm or corn just off the lily pads and a method feeder with corn as a sleeper. 

I don't fish the float nearly enough and its almost like a stillwater here and sometimes, as a roving angler with a long fishing day ahead of me on the Thursday where I'd taken a well deserved day off, a few hours chilling I'd find some peace and solitude here.

The England verses Germany match was on so hopefully the banks were deserted, then again outside of the matches its usually dead anyway, well apart from the middle and lower end of the stretch that sees the early season keen Barbel blankers.

I'm one of those at the minute but hey, its like this year after year for the first 4 to 6 weeks anyway. Worm did the trick for the 3rd place winner that banked the Tench where it looked a tough match looking at the weights, so ones thriving wormery came to the rescue.

Now the winner a small dace over 6lb, that is poor for up here where often most anglers donning their seat-boxes often all catch over 10lb and when you stumble on the bream shoals there are budging keepnets to be had. Some chopped worm, dead maggots and a smattering of groundbait to kick the swim off....

....better get fishing hadn't I....

As expected I had the whole stretch to myself so as I can drive along the river I pre-baited one swim 30 pegs below the starting peg and would fish it for the last hour in to dusk. 

I did have a wander to see if I could see any feeding Tench but nothing was obvious but the two chosen swims looked perfect.

The fish bite cam within minutes and it was a greedy perch that hovered up the worm on the drop. The first swim was 8ft, the last 11ft or so, there is some good depth here even close in, but even fishing on he deck like I did the perch from that one bite keep on coming.

A decent stamp too, not the intended species but at least I was getting a few bites. A switch to sweetcorn the float remained lifeless put a worm on, another perch within seconds. I lost count at the amount of perch I caught in the end having to reuse the worms if I could as I was getting through them at a rate of knots.

So with no Tench showing in this swim without even a single bleep on the method feeder rod I headed to the deeper prebaited swim where upon arrive what looked like some feeding bubbles.

 YES !!!!!

Well NO !!!! actually because the same thing happened, perch after perch as soon as the worm hit the deck or sometimes before. Hmmmm not good, a switch to sweetcorn, nothing, again the sleeper rod fished a little further out, beep-less. 

As the sun was setting and another switch to worm, the umpteenth perch was determined to spoil my plans. So I decided to call it a day half an hour early, I dread to think how many I'd have caught if I fished up in the water and for them properly. A decent net full I'd imagine. 

Sunday 27 June 2021

The Tiny River Alne - Obamabots and Orguggsmics

With some flash flooding locally recently the river Alne has risen quite quickly and had returned to where it whence came. For this session I had planned some roving crankbaits as they work really well here in the summer when the river is low and clear.

The trout and chub can shoot out from their hiding places when using this method but the conditions need to be right. The problem was when I got bankside the river had turned a colour of stewed tea only my late Nan could make.

After fishing 3 or 4 swims without even a nibble it just wasn't a lure day at all. Even the brightest Salmo Hornet in my armoury could only been seen literally an inch or so from the surface.

For sight feeding fish it just wasn't going to happen so there was only one thing for it and that was get back in the car and return with gear more suited for this waterways turbidity. Yeap my stream set-up with a pint of maggots. At the start of the stretch the water is much shallower and not only that but oddly it is clearer too, I would imagine the gravel helping that I'd imagine almost filtering the crud. 

The difference in colour was quite remarkable really but it's much more open here and less bank to disturb and colour up the water. 

Fishing small river like this is all about finding the fish and if you haven't a bite on maggots within 10 or fifteen minutes its time to up-sticks and find another swim to fish. At this time of year the swims can be limited because of the sticky weed and nettles that hinder the access but luckily it didn't take long to find some fish.

Ok not the biggest stamp of fish but they were queuing up in the second swim and it was a bite a chuck. The tap tap of tell-tale minnow bite eventually a decent bite would develop and a small fish would hover up the two red maggots. Even a rare perch for this stretch turned up out of the blue, very nice indeed. 

I to tend to favour half a worm tipped with a red a maggot maggot because it usually brings a better stamp of fish but to be honest it was just nice to get a few bites. The bites dried up eventually but I had a nice variety of fish with chub being the dominate greedy little beggars.

Now it's quite incredible how the depth changes in certain swims here and fish those deeper swims you will often get a surprise or two. Who would have thought one swim you would find bream and you could stack a few cars on top of either other and they would still be hidden from view. 

The next swim you see was much deeper than the rest and without a few seconds of the maggots being dropped in a much more powerful bite from the rest developed. Gobies have a distinctive fight so I knew exactly what it was when the 'jag jag jagging' was felt through the carbon.

Where there is one there is usually a few more and sure enough I managed to winkle out a 6 or 7 before again the bites dried up. I like to retain them in the landing net because they do seem to have the chubs knack of telling their mates to clear off if you return them straight away.

Nothing massive but certainly a few Gonks in and amongst the humdrum and considering how dull the morning was they brightened it up on end as who doesn't love a gudgeon, despite their size they are up there for the most charming of species. They came me a smile or three, that's all I can ask for. 

Warwickshire Avon - Pamphysicisms and Pachyderms

Tackle in and out the car, rods on the roof bars and then taken off to put in the quiver, I was in one of the indecisive modes where I just really know what I was going to fish for.

In the end with a festival happening down the road I decided to have a couple of hours up until dusk to try and winkle out a Barbel. whilst listening to other people having fun. The speakers must have been pretty hefty too judging by the low frequencies the set-up was delivering. 

The problem was when I got the gear out the car I'd realised I'd forgot my rod rest the cows not happy I had to remove a likely looking branch and fashion something together. This ultimately may well have been ones downfall, more of that later.

As I was making my way to the swim I bumped in to a blog reader Sean who congratulated me the recent  capture of the canal double that put the end to the quest.

He'd managed to winkle out a Barbel earlier on meat so I was hopeful for a bite when the sun started to set. Now Sean himself had caught the same double figure canal Zander a few times at an area I'd tried myself over the years without any of the success he'd had.

What wasn't nice to see though was a picture he had on his phone of a rather large Zander that had been seen to by an otter up at Bascote locks. It was there in plain sight without any dignity whatsoever, as usual only a small amount of the flesh eaten and its bloated stomach a result of its demise. As we know Otters are in good numbers now no matter the waterway and before Sean left he came to see how I was doing one had the pomposity to surface in his swim.

Now before Sean bid his goodbye after a few bangs on the rod top I decided to see if the meat was still on as I reeled in an eel was hanging on for dear life and when I saw it and it saw me it released its jaws and went back to where it came from.

I try and avoid chub if I'm fishing for Barbel hence the rather large piece of spam, and its this big meat method that was been good to me in the past having caught two 12 lb barbel despite how cumbersome it looks. With dusk approaching the eels were becoming a pest in-fact the meat was only out for 10 minutes and it came back looking nothing like it went out, it was being mullered. 

I'd imagine using 50p pence size pieces of meat I would have banked a few by now, but not exactly what I after as I might of made a change to ones set-up. With 10 minutes before kicking off time out of the blue a really powerful bite that took the makeshift bendy rod rest by surprise. 

I will never know if it was a barbel or not but without the rod top for the hook to react against the 4 foot twitch turned in to limp and lifeless line and nada on the end, BALLS !!!!

Friday 25 June 2021

Warwickshire Avon - Subordinates and Surexcitation

Chub as you know are one of my favourite river species to catch, however for Barbel anglers for some reason the Chevin is considered a nuisance fish and they are considered lower in rank to the 'River Prince'. For me its the wide variety of baits and techniques that can be used to catch the aforementioned loggerhead and I've always mixed-up my approach for them to keep my interest up. 

Chunks of liver at dusk, Salmo Hornet crankbaits and surface insect replicants, whole whitebait and most recently raspberry mushrooms. There is one method that I always come back to though and that is using chunks of bread on the surface to search out the fish who are often in hiding until something of note appears over their noggins.

The tackle required couldn't be more simple either because all you need is a rod a reel and a hook. There is no real science to either but it can often get you a bite when other methods are actively ignored.
I wasn't going to bother going but having worked from home for almost 16 mths now every available opportunity to get active and bankside and rise from one pit I need to grasp with both hands.

So after exceeding my hours once again an overcast Friday afternoon looked perfect for a couple of hours Chub fishing where hopefully I'd get a bend in the rod. I'd rather fish effectively than spend an obscene amount of time bankside, time that basically I haven't got.  

Now like many I have ups and downs working from home where the workload is concerned but outside of meetings with YouTube fired up on the projector and the CAD machine bashed in similar rhythm to the DJ mixes I have been listening to I would say I am more productive than if I were back in the office fulltime. 

I'm now back in once a week though because we are human after all and unlike the Health Minister, yes the sanctimonious Matt Hancock I'm there to work not to play. 

These short and sweet short sessions break up the week up nicely and not wishing my life away because at the minute for some reason the weeks really do flyby. The car I'm working on had the first prototype build coming up so hopefully all hands on deck. 

Anyway to cut to the chase 3 chub caught after roving around a few swims but boy were they suspicious of the bait. Feeding little and often was the order of the day but even then they inspected every morsel to the nth degree. The tactic worked though, ok nothing big but very satisfying to catch them like this. 

Especially when they have been sunning themselves !!!!

Warwickshire Avon - Sabotagery and Sabbulonariums

Now Bushmills is embarked on a new range of innovative whiskeys back in April with the first in the series, Caribbean Rum Cask Finish. 

The new launch features a blend of the award-winning single malt used in Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey, finished in hand-selected fine oak Caribbean Rum casks to create tropical fruit and dry spice flavours, with its signature triple distilled Irish grain whiskey.

The casks, first used in the Caribbean to hold rich rum for a minimum of seven years, have been carefully selected by local rum makers and transported to Ireland. They are then stored for years in Bushmills’ warehouses, imbuing its single malt with pineapple sweetness, caramelised brown sugar notes, toffee tones and a long, smooth finish.

Whiskey couldn't get a look in over the last couple of years when sipping neat rum took over over my spirit of choice but this easy drinking offering from Bushmills is pleasant enough without the price tags of the cask strength single malts I usually go for. 

Ok not up there with the best, but easy drinking whilst enjoying a movie without the issue whether your legs will work or not and you could potentially disturb the sleeping kids.  

Talking of disturbances crankbaits may not be the first choice for river Zander because I suppose lure fishing has progressed quite considerably over the years where finesse seems to be the order of the day. 

Finesse doesn't really suit my fishing style though and you should know that if you've read my ramblings over the years.

This short and dumpy Savage Gear crankbait has a square bill, with a high arched back, and moves a lot of water on retrieve, great wobbling, wide action, with high buoyancy, moving up in the water when you stop the retrieve. 

It has a loud tubular rattling chamber, that sends out a loud and characteristic sound. The magnetic long cast system, with a sliding iron core, makes far and precise casting super easy where this wide section of the river it is ideal. 

This slow but deep area of the Warwickshire Avon I've caught some nice Zander over the years at the start of the season when things can be a little tough. Much further downstream it can be a little busy sometimes when the drawbridge has been lifted and all and sundry are pellet bashing the barbel.

The lily pads are thick at this time of year and and line the margins where they attract  predators such as the Zander, who hide out of the way among these thick rhizomatous aquatic herbs and are ready to attack anything that swings by their lair. 

Like all predators their make-up means they cannot allow any potential meal to get away and they attack on impulse no matter the size of their quarry. So even though I'd be using a relatively large lure for this session I fully expected small fish to have a grab or two as well.

Now Sam would be joining me and whilst I was chucking the lure around he had is float rod and maggots to see what he could pick up. Sam is happy catching minnows so hopefully something was at least biting to keep him entertained as he would be grasping at my lure rod with both hands I'd imagine. 

When we got to the first swim to our left was a dead Zander around 3 pound or so belly up in the margins covered in flies, hmm not good. The first chuck of the lure in this relatively deep water a fish grabbed it after a few retrieves of the handle.

Bless him probably the smallest pike I've caught on the lure and the first time he's probably been caught. We had to move swims a couple of times before the first bite came on the maggots which happened when Sam was petting one of the Bailiff's dogs and I was having a natter about how the stretch had been doing.

A double figure barbel had come out of the match but at the bottom end of the stretch where is is fast and shallow a >40 barbel were seen spawning. Anyway the float properly buried under and it was a perch. There were quite a few in this one swim so Sam was happy thankfully.

The bites eventually dried up so with Sam sat in the boot of the Jimny we drove along the river as far as were are allowed and fished a couple more swims and lastly the weir. There is one swim on the far side as deep as a gravel pit, well ok, 20ft but still deep for a river, it's a swim I lost a double figure Zander from so it will get some attention come the Autumn. 

Two follows from jack pike and one aborted snatch by a schoolie Zed the lure wasn't exactly doing what I wanted it to do. It can be tough at the start of the season though when its this clear so not unexpected to be honest it was just nice to spend a couple of shared hours beside a lovely looking river. 

Wednesday 23 June 2021

Warwickshire Avon - Clay Ovens and Cadutraments

Ever since I ate some incredible proper homemade Tandoori chicken at a mate Barinder's wedding years ago I've been making it myself ever since.  I managed to commandeer the 'secret' recipe you see under the watchful eye of the eyebrow raisers, where I obviously looked out of place to the main congregation.

Unbeknown to the cooks that provided the food for the wedding though I had been making curries and the like for a good while, and this just added to ones already quite extensive armoury.  It was the heat that was a bit of an eye-opener, the dried and crushed Kashmiri chilies adding a depth of flavour to the chicken that other chillies couldn't match.

The garlic and ginger paste was more garlic than ginger and the concoction of spices (coriander, cumin, paprika, smoked paprika, turmeric, garlic, amchur, sea salt, ajowan, mint, black pepper, ginger, asafoetida, fenugreek leaves, phhhhhhhhhhhhewwwwwwww and relax). it was just next level, the spice mix was added to the yogurt prior with fresh lemon and let overnight to marinade. 

Even breasts are tender when grilled over coals on the Webber.  Ok it cannot match a proper clay oven but it's surprising just how hot it can get from a small amount of lumpwood. Charring, well yeah, you need plenty of that, a taste a gas barbecue cannot have a hope to replicate. 

And luckily for them a little like the 'Hallowed swims ' Where the 11lb 8oz canal Zander was caught and , their secret is safe with me. Now this small syndicate I'm part of a nice double figure Barbel came out here the other day, encouraging signs as it came out during the day where I have struggled in the past on the Avon till the light goes. 

Now Nigel banked that fish with Dave doing the honours, but like me, when I fished it the other day Dave blanked too, but to be honest, 1 Barbel in 10 trips ain't uncommon for me and others I've spoken to.

To be fair. Barbel where I fish on the Warwickshire Avon are certainly down in numbers and one prolific stretch a shadow of its former self but the average stamp of any fish caught seems to be higher than it once was. 

There appears to be a low stock of fish but when one does turn up it's usually a good'un and that's why I was here for this evening session. Before I'd get the Barbel rod out I fancied just fishing a worm tipped with a red maggot to see what came along and then an hour before dusk get some hemp down.

This time however I'd fish a pluck resistant halibut pellet over the top with a PVA bag of elips freebies to try and concentrate any feeding fish on a smaller area. I was a little haphazard last time here despite catching Chub that were determined to hook themselves.

The sun was beating down when I got bankside and I was no rush to get the barbel rods out so for the first hour and a bit I decided to fish a couple of the shady swims with the worm rods to see if anything was home.

The water is clear and a few bounces of the worm and maggot in the first swim close in brought a shoal of perch in to a hunting frenzy. A group of around 20 fish all after the wriggly head turner so it didn't take long to catch a few fish.

Nothing big admittedly but decent sport to be fair especially when the second swim I fished they were taking the worm on the drop. The dace were suspicious in their absence, then again they couldn't get a look in with the perch the way they were. 

When the sun started to set I put the hemp out and chilled for a while nattering to another member who was blanking and decided to leave just when dusk was approaching.

I put the rod out with some freebies on a PVA bag and to cut a long story short apart from a few sharp chub pulls nothing materialised in to a proper bite. I gave it a good hour after dusk and left at 11.30pm but with the skies still clear the moon illuminating the night sky and also the river I knew this outcome was highly likely. It was also a chilly evening dropping to 8 degrees when headed home.

I've never done any good when the moon is like this, I just cannot put my finger on it. There were a couple of good splashes whilst I was there in-fact they all came from the same area so next time I know where my bait will go, this time I'll tackle up for Chub, one of those would be nice if the Barbel are going to be hard to come by. 

Saturday 19 June 2021

The Tiny River Alne - Butt Sections and Beadheads

With a day of rain yesterday the handy River Alne can offer a few bites where other waters can be tough. Part of the appeal is the unknown and often changing quarry and before the season close I lost a decent trout (for a small river) and have been kicking myself ever since. I could fish a couple of small running waters close to me in March and April with dry fly if I really wanted to and if it wasn't for the canal Zander challenge I may well have taken up something different. 

After the lacklustre England performance the Alne can raise serotonin levels luckily. Warwickshire has plenty of small brooks that contain wild brownies and those local to me are not fish at all, why not ? don't ask me as I love fishing them, but maybe I'm the odd one out.

Now March a month of steely grey skies, sweeping rain, and freshly budding trees, ushers in the trout season; and by the time the hawthorns are in full bloom trout can often be seen rising to sip in flies and other insects. In the fastest of water, where the steely ripples cloak its movements, the trout may lie unseen, its presence unsuspected by many who come to seek it with fly, spinner, or worm.

The trout is possibly one of the easiest of fish to recognise. Its back is generally greenish-coloured, but may be a shade of brown, or even almost black. In the clearest of streams it is usually of a pale colour; but trout of the peat-stained mountain streams are usually much darker. All trout have characteristic gold or silver flanks, liberally dotted with red spots.

A small adipose fin, which is not found on coarse fish, makes identification easy. It is a lithe, swift-moving fish that takes bait or fly in a characteristically quick manner, so a keen eye and quick reactions are often needed to hook it. I've used a tenkara rod here in the past for some small'uns but the bigger ones haven't succumbed to the same method. Worms and crankbaits seem to work much better.  

During periods of low water, it often lies where the current is most turbulent. It is easily alarmed by heavy footfalls, or by shadows falling across the water, and once it has been scared it is rarely caught. 

The size attained by the trout of small rivers and streams varies considerably. In the barren mountain stream it is usually very small, but in the richer waters of the lowlands it may attain a weight of 51b or more. 

Trout of even greater weight are sometimes caught, but they are usually fish which have found their way into the stream from a large river or lake. In such waters trout weighing 20lb or more are occasionally caught. There are stories of huge fish on the Alne, roach, carp and trout to specimen levels. 

Now the methods used to catch trout are usually dictated by local regulations and preferences. Many anglers never fish for trout with anything but the artificial fly, and on some waters no other method is permitted and even fly-fishing may be restricted to dry-fly as distinct from the sunken-fly. 

On others, both fly-fishing and spinning are allowed, and there are also waters on which all legitimate methods are permitted. Each angler should acquaint himself with the rules which apply to the water he is fishing, and if the rules stipulate fly only, that rule must be strictly observed. It has not been made without reason, but to give the trout a fair chance of survival. Stocks may be limited, and if all methods were permitted irreversible damage might be done.

Anyway back to the fishing, simple tactics for this short session, half a worm tipped with a red maggot and some roving. I usually use a small Salmo Hornet crankbait in the early season but the rain had added a nice tinge of colour. To be honest bites were not exactly prolific but I caught a few chublets, some nice dace and the intended quarry a couple of brown trout.

They were of a similar size, I didn't weigh them but I'm sure a couple of pounds I'd imagine. On light tackle pound for pound probably a stronger fighter than a Chevin I'd say. With a small 500 reel and a light 8ft quiver rod fantastic sport, in-fact the second fish after taking me all over the river eventually surfaced and I was amazed for a relatively small fish just how hard it fought as I thought it was much bigger.

One swim which had a tree removed recently produced most of the bites and a large bait needed to be fished, as a couple of maggots were mullered by the minnows. The larger chub didn't show at all but that isn't unusual here. 

Winter this little river transforms and catch it right the fishing is incredible really for such a small waterway, bites can come thick and fast even when crudely fishing whole lobworms and large chunks of breadflake. As soon as the sun came out the bites dried up but a satisfying session especially as I have the river to myself. 

Friday 18 June 2021

Warwickshire Avon - Sanctanimity and Sabotagery

With the closed season canal campaign done and dusted one thing I will not miss now the rivers are open is the often busy and muddy towpaths, the wayward boats, the twenty questions from the gongoozler oh, and the dog mess that taints these man made hell holes, sorry largely featureless waterways.

Don't get me wrong I've enjoyed fishing them in the main as it offers something different. These relatively natural venues can show up surprises and despite the attention of Ottermus Prime and his mates over recent years there are still some good fish to be caught.

As solitude seeker however these waterways don't offer what I need to consume in ever increasing quantities and fishing the canals is a means to an end. It is the peace and quiet away from it all I need to keep my wellbeing in check. This small syndicate section of the Warwickshire Avon can offer just that. 

The money payers kept small so that invariably you're the only one fishing the venue which means especially when we can fish in to dark here the sanctimonious fingers pointers are well away from spitting distance.

Often a decent fish can be a bonus and looking back at my blog I've only caught one Barbel from here a decent double to be fair, but it was the Chub that would have gotten most of  attention to be fair as I'm sure there is a 6 lber here with my name on it.
For this session an hour before dusk I'd bait drop in some hemp and pellets close in and then get a glugged boilie bait out over the top with a pva bag of freebies so see what I could winkle out. 

Before that though I'd fish some large pieces of bread flake in the swim to see what I could pick up. You see this area hasn't been fished for a good number of years till the syndicate took it on again and we all know fish hate pressure so here the quarry are very much an unknown quantity.  

I've only caught a handful of Warwickshire Avon carp and I caught one here in those introductory sessions as well as a decent bream just fishing large pieces of bread. 

Bread can often pick up bonus fish and by fishing a light set-up the bread can almost drag along the bottom with the flow and its a good way of exploring a new water for a bonus fish when apart from bites from small fish the larger fish are often not willing to participate until the light goes. 

A rather pleasant evening greeted me and the first chuck of the bread flake I was getting indications as soon as it hit the bottom, seem decent pulls too but despite  striking at some of the more violent plunks no fish materialised. There are some decent dace here and I expect it was those determined to remove all the bait off the hook.

After I got the hemp out I left the swim for half an hour or so and tried a raft downstream to see if a chub was home but sadly it wasn't, again some knocks and pulls on the tip but nothing that developed in to a proper bite.

I gave myself an hour in to dark and then I'd be on my way, I had a few initial pulls when the bait went down initially but it took a good half an hour before the first proper pull, chub had finally turned up.

I've said before I don't mind catching chub on Barbel gear if they are determined to get themselves hooked but I prefer to catch them by design on barbel gear. The mistake I had made for this session was I usually use air dried boilies and for half an hour I was fishing without a bait on the hair as the glugged boilie was removed on one of the pulls.😭

I rebaited and within 5 minutes half an hour after dusk I managed a small chub around 2lb, then 10 minutes before packing up time another decent bite and this time a better chub after wrapping the bait in paste, but a chub that dropped off a few seconds in to the fight.

Like much of the Avon bites from Barbel are at a premium these days so it's a matter of plugging away and these short sessions are ideal especially as its so handy.

Barbel are not hard to catch but they need to be in-front of you that's half the problem. Here there is potential of a big'un, I've no doubt about that and I'm looking forward to giving it another go when conditions are more favourable, I put some more bait down before I left as I'm sure that will hopefully keep fish in the area. 
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