Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Friday 31 December 2021

Warwickshire Avon - Katzenjammers and Kainotophobia

Nic was with me for this dawn session down at the Warwickshire Avon where hopefully we'd get in and amongst the Zander that reside here.

The river is still well up and coloured but here despite the main river motoring through there are always fishable swims here mainly close in where fish are likely to be holding up. Zander really don't mind these coloured conditions where the other species are clutching their fins and twirling their thumbs waiting it to clear.

The river was higher than expected and with Nic settling in to a swim above me I tried and failed to get a bait out in the next swim down.

The water you see was changing from almost static to whirlpool within a minute and despite a decent size egg weight on the float the flow was wiping it out every minute or so. 

Luckily I had a running ledger set-up too and that was on a heavy bobbin as I had a hunch that the conditions might be difficult.

Size 1 Sakuma 440 circle hooks on both set-ups and I was going to fish a whole small roach on one rod and a chunk on the other.

Within fifteen minutes I decided to up-sticks and move to the next peg down again where luckily presentation of the bait would be a lot easier.

It was a deep swim, 10 foot ish close in but a tree was slowing down the flow sufficient enough to be able to keep the float static close in and the running rig went out almost mid-river just off the crease of the river. What I didn't expect was a run within 10 minutes of the getting the float rod out however despite a confident run I didn't manage to hook up.

At least I knew there were fish in the swim and it didn't take long for another run on the float however this time the float buried under the surface within seconds after the first bob.

Circle hooks are my default now for Zander and as soon as I tightened up to the fish I knew it was something half decent. It gave a pretty good fight too and was staying lower than Zander do and not really nodding about so I was surprised when it popped it that it was a Zander.

Not a massive fish around 6lb or so but most welcome when the river is recovering from being in flood. Nic came down for a look and with that fish returned he decided to fish the next swim down from me as he was struggling dealing with the conditions like I was.

The ledger set-up I cast over to a slack on the far bank where I saw some small fish top however even with a heavy bobbin and a big lead the flow would drag it out of position.

The key was to ignore the bobbin and tighten up the baitrunner and any interest would activate the alarm. Nic had a run but didn't hook up and that was after a good 45 minutes or so without an interest whatsoever. It was clear that it was going to be a tough morning but it was good to catch up as always.

Out of the blue a bit came on the ledger rod and it turned out it was a pike a similar size to the Zander with the Zander giving the better fight if I'm honest. After that fish all went quiet and another swim each for Nic and myself there was nothing doing so we called it a day. 
That session had brought my 2021 season to a close and looking back at my blog posts I've done ok again this year, not only have I been out more than ever despite the lockdown year but there has bee some nice fish caught. 

Obviously the stand out fish was the 11lb 8oz canal Zander which brought a 5 year campaign to a close but I'd also caught a cracking canal pike of 17lb and 8 ounces unbelievably from the same hallowed swim.

The closed season will be interesting as I will be giving this 2 mile stretch of canal much of my fishing efforts and it will be interesting to see what will turn up in an area where I've been amazed by and it is largely untapped apart from the likeminded who also fish this stretch for the surprises that just seem to be getting better and better.

Another PB I managed this year was a 8.2 ounce dace caught from a small overlooked stream, and next year I aim to try and find more of these forgotten waters to fish.

I love mixing my fishing up and these offer so much interest to me and finding new waters to fish and what they hold is a big part of my angling adventures. 

I will cast my net wider though that is one of the changes I want to make. 

Not only fishing local waters I'd not fished before, but also travelling further afield to waters where my target species such as river Zander and Barbel are a more likely quarry. A Warwickshire Avon 6lb chub is still a target, but again I think it is a change of waters I may well need to do, if one is to be banked.

Anyway 2021 can do one, let's hope next year is a lot better and tight-lines to the blog readers, say safe and hope you have a good 2022.

Thursday 30 December 2021

Warwickshire Avon - Gadzookery and Galactophagists

With the conditions till favourable for barbel for this dawn 3.5 hour session I decided to fish the syndicate stretch to see if one of the lumps that 'we' are sure live here, or at least transition up and down the river was up for a feed.

Since we have taken on this stretch to be honest it hasn't been prolific, but then where is on the Avon these days. Well certainly the bits I and the other members fish anyway. 

The numbers may not be anything like the Wye or the Severn but there are still some right old lumps still swimming around these largely unfished waters.

The problem is you are having to fish for a bite, not numbers of bites and as someone who struggles to fish more than 5 hours, sitting behind motionless rods really ain't my cup of tea.

It's one of the reasons why I prefer to fish when they are most likely to bite and those conditions are right now. The river was still high but on the fall and the water temperature had risen to over 9 degrees.

A change of tactics for this short trip, meat on one rod and lobworms on the other. The decent barbel that I have caught here have taken a variety of baits and to be honest I don't think it matters to be honest, you just need to be confident in a bait and need fish in-front of you. 

Now what I didn't expect was a decent shoal of roach were in the first swim I tried and were mullering the lobworms, so much so a change of bait was required because I was running out of them thick and fast, and the bites were decent enough to move a 1.75TC barbel rod. 

So I switched to boilie with a paste wrap and stuck to big baits for the remaining of the session but kept a couple back to fish a swim I bait dropped some pellets, meat and chopped worm.

The river looked bob on for a bite but a good hour and a half went by without any interest but then not entirely unexpected here because often blank, after blank can be rewarded with a decent fish.

I've caught double figure barbel, 6lb bream, 14lb carp and decent chub, and it was a decent chub that turned up out of the blue once I changed swims and switched back to lobworm.

I carefully dropped the rig in to an overhanging tree and within minutes of the lobworm settling on the bottom a couple of sharp jabs turned in to a proper bite and a fish was on.

No match for the barbel rod but it felt a good fish and sure enough when it surfaced up this deep bodied chub looked half decent, and it was too at 5lb and 2 ounces, which ain't a bad Avon fish. The barbel, well for me anyway, reamained as elusive as ever. 

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Warwickshire Avon - Nightcrawlers and Nychthemerons

A high river on the drop, low pressure, warming waters the barbel I'm sure would be on the munch. The problem is this had to be a session of convenience and I didn't have long either.

This used to be a very productive stretch for me, and over the years I've had quite a few fish between 8 and 10 pound and a couple of 12 lbers.  The anglers that fish this stretch more recently though have the same thoughts as me, a river in decline where barbel numbers are concerned where bites can be very few and far between.

They are still here though and when the water is coloured like it was today they feel confident venturing out their hidey holes away from the furry fiend which an hour in to the session popped out of the water to say hi.

Big fat lobworms for the first hour or two and then I swapped to a garlic and blue cheese boilie and a matching paste wrap in to dusk. Nothing much happened apart wind being in my face and despite the air temperature being 13 degrees, it wasn't exactly pleasant. 

Two small chub succumbed to the natural bait the biggest probably not even a pound. It was soon after when leaving voice message to Nic from Avon Angling UK out the corner of my eye an otter was messing around downstream of me with not a care in the world.

So it was time for a move because an otter in the swim in my experience the fish are put off for obvious reasons and staying in the swim would be plain stupid. To be honest the wind was becoming a pain and the move was long overdue.

As I was walking to the new swim upstream a WhatsApp meltdown ensued and it turns out a fellow syndicate member fishing another syndicate of his not a millions away was having a fantastic session. He'd beaten his Avon PB with a 12lb 8 ounce fish and then not long after that capture upped that again to 14lb 6 ounces.

What a red letter session he was having and just goes to show how fortunes can change, right time, right place and all that.

The Barbel were on the feed and he was using spam baits which usually are my default bait for them in these chocolate brown conditions.

I settled in to a swim that looked perfect for a bite and it was a swim I used to rarely blank in its hay-day but a chat to a couple of anglers bankside they like me were here for the Barbel, but were still waiting for that tip to wrap around. Still dusk was approaching and if there is any small window where the fish would likely to bite it would be the next half an hour. 

There was quite a bit of debris coming down but I positioned the boilie and paste wrap quite close in where there is a deep gully but a tree harbours the worst of the flow.

I don't fish for Barbel that often, mainly fishing short sessions in to dusk, or when the conditions were favourable. Favourable they were, but you need feeding fish in-front of you to catch one and again, another Barbel blank here to add to quite a few now.

The other anglers were fishless when they left as well, so it wasn't just me wondering where the heck the barbel are on this stretch. With the gear still in the car I fancy another short barbel session but maybe this time in the morning at the syndicate stretch where there could well be some surprises to be had. I may well need to spread my net wider me-thinks, luckily barbel are not on my priority list. 

Monday 27 December 2021

Small Brook Fishing Pt.19 - Jimswingers and Jiggumbobs

One of the great advantages of brook fishing is that the water is seldom out of order for more than a few hours at a time. The short, often steep, courses quickly discharge the flood water into the larger rivers so that by the time the rivers are beginning to feel the cumulative effect of this water the brooks have already run out and are coming into perfect order. 

Even so there will be occasions when the angler arrives at the brook side to find it a swollen mass of swiftly moving colour. 

A casual glance would pronounce it un-fishable but there is hope, even in these extreme conditions. High-water worming, although not the most artistic way of catching trout is certainly not a " chuck and chance it " method, especially on a brook. 

The narrow course confines the water and makes it all the more difficult to find the sheltered bays and back eddies which are so necessary for this kind of fishing. 

When a flood comes, fish seek shelter where they can lie and feed without being in a raging torrent and while the water is really high these are the only places worth fishing. 

The centre stream bores along the fastest so this should be ignored and attention focused mainly within a few inches of the banks. 

It is, at first, an unreal sensation to stand on the bank and use a short line to fish places which were dry stones an hour or so before but this is what you often do. Every boulder has its little pool of calmer water behind, which will hold fish and a constant watch must be kept for these temporary sanctuaries. 

A place which normally holds a single fish may hold three or four when there is a flood. Because of the coloured water it is not so vital to worry about being seen by the fish but it is very necessary to cover each likely place thoroughly before moving on. 

Flood conditions sometimes make it necessary to vary the low-water technique of moving quickly and covering a large amount of water. Fish are much less likely to be disturbed in coloured water and it has been my experience that it pays to spend a little more time exploring the possibilities of a place before moving on. 

Because of the murky water, fish cannot see a bait so easily and it frequently has to pass quite close to them before they will make a definite move. Apart from the colour, the increased volume of water will frequently whip a worm away over a fish before it has had a chance to sample it.

Now this brook was probably a little higher than I'd have liked but still find the slacks, find the fish. I fish with reasonably heavy gear I suppose but these fish are never fished for really when there are easier options down the road when you can catch a ten a penny F1 or three.

Having a wormery is handy because once established you have a decent supply of worms and worms really are the key to get bites. Now I usually fish half a worm and tip with a maggot and its surprising just how pungent a small worm can be, which is why when the river is chocolate brown a pungent bait will always out-fish a visible one.  

I didn't have long to fish and only fished 3 slacks but each and every one of them produced bites. The area of slack water doesn't have to be big either, for instance the last swim I fished produced a tiny trout, a dace and a roach all grouped together in an area around the same size as a cars boot.

An hour and a half in to the session bites were forthcoming luckily but nothing big enough that needed the landing net until out of the blue one small pull turned in to a proper decent bite and something better was on.

To be honest I knew exactly what was on the end the way it was fighting and it only confirmed what it was when it launched itself clear out of the water. Ok I have caught far bigger trout in Warwickshire brooks and streams but on light gear big enough to take some line and activate the drag.

So an enjoyable short session really, I don't do enough of this fishing but with the Avon, Leam and Alne having been over their banks in the last 24 hours at least it gives an option to fish when the options are very limited indeed.

What I love about these small forgotten brooks and streams is the unknown and the fact that its always a lottery and offers much intrigue what is going to be on the end of the hook. Oddly no bullheads which I do tend to get here. I'm sure another 24 hours when the debris washing down is a less of a hinderance I'm sure they would be up for a nibble. 

Friday 24 December 2021

Canal Zander - The Hallowed II Chronicles Pt.2 (PB Content)

A decent aged piece of beef verses a cheapo Christmas supermarket special is like comparing apples with oranges. In similar vein this stretch of the Grand Union Canal is very different than others I fish hence why I have nicknamed it the Hallowed Stretch.

Everything from the ridiculous fish biomass, the sheer size and jaw dropping volume of water in-front of you, and the fact that to only those in the know, harbours some of the biggest predators that any stretch of canal is likely to see. In the Midlands every single stretch of canal is at threat you see from those that love to wave an electric field into the water in order to incapacitate fish.

Zander you see still has a bad rap in certain sectors and that gives the Canal and Rivers Trust almost free reign, doing what they want when they want. Luckily there are some lobbying and vocal anglers that want to protect the fishing they have on their doorstep and certain areas are now classed as 'Low Priority' areas and the fish can swim freely without the fear of being stunned by the teeth tickling taser. 

217 sessions in to my canal zander challenge I banked a huge canal zander that concluded the quest but despite being the furthest stretch of canal I fish it will always remain on my fishing radar.

For this Christmas Eve morning session I arrived at a rather dull and misty canal and hot-footed it to the exact swim I caught the quest concluder from.

The location puts people off I'm sure and that's good because predators thrive on neglect. The colour helps too and the fact that this is probably the busiest stretch of canal I fish where boats are concerned means that fish can feel safe in its murky depths.

Zander fishing with deadbaits doesn't have to be complicated and my method adapted over many sessions is to make the set-up as light as possible. 

That means a small snapper float, a small weight to aid casting and a size 1 circle hook. I usually use 18lb flourocarbon but here there is pike, and some big'ones too, so I change to wire whenever I fish here because the last thing you want is to lose a big pike.

Now usually this banker swim you generally get a run within 10-15 minutes of putting the bait out but an hour in starting to feel the chill I was contemplating a move, but then the left hand float starts to bob and it getting some interest.

A typical Zander bite I thought until I tightened up to the circle hook where I felt something sizeable on the end. At first it was plodding around a bit but then all hell breaks loose and its taking line from the drag which is starting to struggle. The canal was clearer than normal but when it surfaced I realised it was a huge pike.

So huge in-fact I thought it could well go 20lb. I still needed to get it in though and I was rather under-gunned with my Zander set-up. The short rod was bent double and at one stage I was following the fish down the canal.

After an epic battle though I managed to squeeze it in to the net and the canal croc was mine. The fishes girth was ridiculous and her stomach clearly full with food, a proper winter belly to match mine at the moment. It didn't go 20lb, but 17lb and 8 ounces and the biggest pike I've ever caught. Another canal monster banked from the Hallowed, and I'm sure there are even more surprises to be had. 

Merry Christmas to my Blog Readers, hope you have a good one, I've been rewarded with an early Christmas present. 

Thursday 23 December 2021

Warwickshire Stour - Macrophobia and Macrocephalous

Another misty morning down at the Warwickshire Stour however 24 hours previously my landing net was frozen solid after landing the first chub, this time though the air temperature was a rather tropical 7 degrees. 

As per the norm here I had the banks to myself again and this time the plan was to scale down to try and catch a roach as well as also targeting the chub that swim in this river. 

The last time here which must have been a couple or three years ago me and Sam had an encounter with a bull however apart from the odd walker this session was animal free.

One of the dog walkers stopped for a natter though and he said that he'd spotted a couple of otters on this stretch, but then not unexpected, they are on all the stretches of river and canal I fish.

This stretch is match fished from time to time and there is a good reason for that because the swims are convenient for the trolley pushers and pole handlers as many of the swims run at a pedestrian pace. 

Upstream mind you there are quite a few swim that have plenty of character such as the raft shown above but in the main its much slower here than the other sections of the Stour I fish. 

The Stour more often than not unlike the Warwickshire Avon which can run gin clear much of the year, this river always seems have some colour and its that lovely light green colour where you know the fish are going to feed.

Again a roving session this and no harm in that because if you're a CAD jockey like me any opportunity to get out and go fishing needs to grabbed with both hands especially if there is exercise involved. 10k steps can be covered quite easily in a session, and considering most people fishing is for the fat and lazy, fishing can be active it you want it to be.

I scaled down considerably for this session and in a few of the swims just used maggots but again I couldn't find the roach. It was just chub again which, ok, I do love catching chub, especially on small rivers but the fish were nothing like the stamp of fish only a mile or two upstream.

I primed one of the snaggier swims with bread mash and would fish that last but nothing in the weir oddly and a few swims upstream of the weir.

Oddly the first fish caught was the biggest and that came from an overhanging tree swims which screamed chub. The other fish caught were of smaller stamp and the biggest fish hooked was actually a jack pike that grabbed the bread on the retrieve. The inevitable happened but you can see why the pike would like it here as much of it is very sluggish indeed.

To be honest I don't think I will rush back here given the size of the fish and the public footfall but it's still a nice stretch even though it doesn't quite gel with me. I wanted to fish all the stretches available to me over this Xmas break to see if I was missing anything, but this is one of those I won't rush back to.  

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Warwickshire Stour - Ice Blocks and Ichthyolatry

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Jeff Hatt from Idlers Quest quite a few times during his blogging escapades and it was our journey down to the river Itchen 6 years ago 😲where Jeff did most of the talking and I did most of the listening, well I was driving us down to Southampton after all. 

A few months prior to this trip I had posted a review on the Lesney Bread Bait Press which seemed more faff than anything else, especially in the depths of winter where the pinkies can stop functioning. Bread was therefore a topic of conversation, but more of that later. 

Work for Jeff got in the way as did his other other interests and for what was once the go too fishing fix for something different than the mainstream media offerings. It was Jeff and Keith for that matter that got me in to keeping a diary of my fishing, but also Jeff got me in to canal Zander fishing which if you have read my blog for a while, you know how much as a species they captivated me. 

Btw Keith Jobling's new River Anker blog can be found here

Jeff's best canal Zed was around 5lb if I recall which was a decent canal fish, what I didn't expect was that mine would exceed that a number of times, culminating in one >11lb.  Roach were his thing though, more so than canal Zander and Jeff like me liked to fish forgotten streams and brooks with unknown quarries.  Bread was his go to bait for the redfins where he used to target on the local running waters and also canals.

Lobworms certainly featured especially in coloured water but it was his article My Way With Bread   that changed the way I used bread for targeting chub as well as roach. 

Now a room full of Monkey's bashing at their keyboards could provide more accurate and realistic pandemic modelling results than the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, they could certainly learn something from Jeff's article about accuracy and repeatability, no finger in air to be seen in his article, it was tried and tested. 

I used to almost always tear off a large piece of bread, fold it in half and squeeze some of it firmly around the shank of the hook. 

I wasn't confident that the bread was still on half the time and usually after a missed bite a hard compressed piece of bread used to come back on the retrieve, which shows that the method worked to keep the bait on.

I always felt that the presentation was crude still even though chub especially didn't mind the lackadaisical approach, well they are known as gluttonous feeders after all.  

I'd also more often that not dip the bread in water before squeezing it to get the excess water out from it which would help the bait to sink or fall at a desired rate.  That can often mask the hook even more and could well lead to less hook-ups.

Jeff's way seemed to me initially anyway a little cumbersome too because the bread was anchored to the deck with split shot which meant ok, the bait was fluttering nicely off the bottom, but maybe not as naturally as a piece of bread that was unrestrained to do its own thing. 

That meant that not only was the bait often clear of the silt  or debris that had settled on the river bed, but also in strong to medium flows the shot acted as a stop for any leaves or whatnot before whatever it was got near the hookbait. 

It just seemed to work quite well straight from the off and the split shot could be adjusted to present the bait at different levels off the deck.

The colour of the water certainly makes a difference and I've found using the same set-up I'd switch to a worm bait if the water is tea coloured and up, where often the fish can be found resting in the slacks and a wriggly pungent worm can make all the difference. 

Its not a method I use all the time but it certainly has its place in my armoury and certainly when trying to target roach not just chub on small rivers using bread, it means I can reduce the hook size and the hook also pulls through the bread easier and nine times out of ten you know the visual white offering is in the fishes eyeline.

I've got the confidence that the bread stays on as well because more often than not on the retrieve the bread either floats to the surface or comes back with the hook in a fluffy mess. 

I carry a few different punches in my tackle bag but usually 35mm is all I need and the hook baits can obviously be prepared the night before in a warm house and not on a cold river bank.  Obviously if I want a smaller bait than 35mm I can halve it and then fold again, very versatile indeed.  

It was Jeff's method of convenience basically, so fold and squeeze a piece together, insert the hook and jobs a good'un, heck even the Warburtons blue lasted longer as the engineer in me would accurately punch the bread out, where the remaining bread used for the mash or liquidised as crumb for use in a feeder. 

Less wastage is good, as I'd get 9-12 baits quite easily, where as I'd manage 5 or 6 if I was lucky from my usual method. The baits can also be stored in a Tupperware container and can last longer generally because they are out in the air less basically.

Anyway enough of that, I was back down the Warwickshire Stour again, this time though I wanted to do a reccy in an area I'd not fished for ages but with only chub caught the last two visits I fancied trying the more 'roach' like swims this section has to try and catch a few roach.

The Stour roach don't go massive but certainly >1lb fish are up for grabs if anyone puts the effort in as they do turn up in the matches from time to time and I've had some nice ones over the years. This section was shallower but with gullies and holes to be fished these areas could well be holding spots for the specimens. 

Now a hard frost greeted me when I entered the field after driving down the muddy track but I really do love these conditions. In-fact winter is more my thing if I'm honest because it suits my roving style and also the banks are very quiet indeed.

This stretch isn't particularly long but plenty to go at and when the Stour has that lovely green tinge you know there are fish to be caught.

The river is low'ish at the minute but the beauty of this sort of river is that the river can vary so much from fast water, to slow and sluggish slacks and everything in-between. The first swim shown below is almost the first one you come to and it looked perfect for a bite.

I decided to start out with a really small feeder filled with liquidised bread and a 35mm folded disk of bread on the hook. I also fed a little bread in to the swim to try and get some interest from the fish.

What I didn't expect was literally within a minute or so a proper pull round on the 1 ounce tip and a chub was on. Well it was on, because it came off as quickly as it was hooked. But these are greedy chub after all and they often come back for a second go.

It didn't take long for another bite either a couple of tentative pulls before the tip properly pulled towards the water. Only a 2lber that felt like a block of ice and it had clearly been feeding on the flour filled freebies.

I put it downstream but no more fish were forthcoming and after a most welcome drink of tea I went on the rover. It was only a 3 hour session and 5 chub were caught the best shown below that was caught in the third swim. I cannot believe how cold they were, but then with the mesh of the landing net frozen solid after the first fish, it's certainly chilly out there for the fish at the minute.  

Roach didn't show whatsoever even after scaling down to a couple of red maggots in the last two swims. Not unexpected because the Chub are the hardiest of all fish.

A big drop in temperature I'm sure didn't help, a natter with the farmer on the opposite bank who thought I was mad and a dog walker who has fished this stretch over the last few years I've been given a couple of pointers. Anyway, an enjoyable session and let's be honest here, so what if the fish are not particularly big, if you don't get this style of fishing you never will. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...