Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Thursday 31 March 2022

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt. 6

The reality of living on a canal towpath means that effectively your mooring next to a public footpath and the niceties that come with that. 

You know, those that don't share your way of thinking which no doubt can often lead to conflict. Dogs running riot outside of your safe space and sharing a well timed chocolate hostage just as you're about to eat. 

It works both ways of cause and I saw some of that yesterday when the length of canal I was fishing, picture this a lone moored boat, a group of women retirees playing cards and then another boat decides to moor right next to it and proceeds to crank up their ageing Honda generator badly needing a service. 

Anyway a short session this at the stretch of canal I could walk to if I wanted, an area that had been kind to me over the years and two nice Zander of 9lb and 8lb 10lb had graced my net.

When the weather is still on the chilly side in the early closed season there is no point just chucking out the deadbait and hoping for the best.

You may well be lucky of cause but the reality is you need to drop on the fish and bites like I experience today can come very quick indeed.

Now I'd passed a narrowboat dweller walking his three dogs (yes really) and when he returned after going to the shops for provisions he asked if I'd caught ought.

"Well as it happens, yes I've just caught a couple of Zander, here take a look !!!"

It turned out he'd been moored up for a few days a stones throw away and had been fishing off his boat for almost three days without a run and was questioning his tactics and whether there was actually any fish in this very turbid canal. 

After the biteless thumb twirling he'd negotiated the nearby lock and after mooring up decided to fish for Zander and yeap, again probably still waiting for a bite as I type this. 

But I'm an experienced canal Zander angler and especially when the water is the colour of hot chocolate roving is the key and you need to drop on the fish.

I was lucky because the first swim I lost a fish within 5 minutes of putting the baits out in a shallow swim. The fish felt decent actually, certainly not a 30cm schoolie that often can be tricky to hook if you use larger baits like I was today. 

But Zander can be tricky to hook, even for me where my rigs have been adapted over time to increase hook ups after many many lost fish and missed bites. It goes with the Zander fishing territory, that's why I love them as a species as you are always learning.

Anyway after the first fish I lost no more bites were forthcoming in that swim but two more swims later a lock mouth produced three fish in quick succession. They are so aggressive and all teeth and fins when you land them at this time of year when they are gearing up for spawning. 

All was going well till the saga boat came through and then the bites dried up completely. Sometimes it can work the other way and the Zander go on the hunt when the bottom has been stirred up but when the canal is as shallow as this one is, would you stay if constantly having to watch your noggin.

My hands were pretty cold by now so less than two hours I was heading back to the car feeling much better in myself and the nightmare IT problems at work forgotten for a short while at least, ok nothing big, the biggest probably a scraper 3lber, but a few fish at least. With a frost overnight the fishing may well get tougher yet, but it just goes to show, find the fish as they often won't find you. Water Temperature ? well it would help if I could find my thermometer !!! 

Tuesday 29 March 2022

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt. 5

As anglers we hate losing big fish don't we and the last session here up at dog poo alley something gave me the middle finger and waved the hook goodbye with a huge boil on the canals turbid surface. 

What that fish was who knows, but a couple of blog readers came to the rescue and put the suspicion and likely suspect as an eel, and a good'un at that.

Now considering the hundreds of time I've fished deadbaits on the canal under a float to my knowledge I've never banked an eel let alone one take make my bait, but the characteristic bite I received it maybe well have been.

You see the float bobbed violently a couple of times before disappearing from view and that had happened before when targeting Zander on the river using a similar overdepth float set-up when the culprit has been an eel. 

This is the largest landing let I own and I do remember a session where I lost a decent one at the net on the river where I tried and failed a couple of times to scoop it in to the waiting net. 

One last powerful wriggle the hook pulled and the snake was off leaving me with a slime tainted mesh that till this day is still visible despite the a good going over by the aging Kärcher. 
So anyway I was back for this post work session and this time I would fish in to dusk and slightly beyond. 

A short wire running set-up with a bunch of worms on a quick stop and a size 6 barbless hook and bite indication from an alarm and a roll-over.

These work very well indeed and provide almost resistance free indication when the ball bearing within the main arm moves when a bite is received. 

When it moves along the arm and then cantilevers about the pivot point it lifts the line stop vertically, which then means that the line is free to run from the spool and the quarry unaware of any extra baggage than the bait itself.

The other rod was my standard overdepth Zander float rod and that would be fished with a whole small roach bait, barely 3 inches in length.

The problem became evident an hour in to the session. 

You need fish around to catch and no bites on either rod, and they were suspicious in their absence. The crud on the surface didn't help matters either as there was lots of recasting to do as the bouncing between locks meant that the debris was collecting on the line going back and fore.  

Dusk came and went and even the Zander were not interested having moved the bait all around the swim. The worms as well you would have though any small fish or bream would be up for a nibble, but a couple of liners and that was it.

So I left when the headtorch was required with a dry net !!!

Heading towards the tail-end of this week we have a couple of frosts so I suspect the fishing ain't going to improve significantly. 

Anyway how long till the rivers are back open again ?, bit bored of this already, might have to dust off my dry fly Tenkara gear and go and hit those local streams for those brook trout. They should be looking skywards for those mayflies I'm sure. 

Saturday 26 March 2022

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt. 4

I don't usually look for the maggot box and what dregs of groundbait I've got left in the bait fridge, but I did exactly that for this short session down the canal.

You see I fancied a bite whilst the Zander sleeper rod was doing its thing and often the start to the closed season when its still cold you often have to leave the bait longer out doing its thing, or be lucky and drop a bait on a Zeds head.

The area I decided to target has some nice bream and hybrids in-fact much like the canal in these quarters where you'd be lucky to catch anything else. 

Still there are some bites to be had though but I've found that you need to arrive early before the boats start moving, as if you can get the fish to feed those rewards will soon be lost when the bottom is churned up and the water changes to Taylors Lava Java 

It didn't take long for a few bites either, all from bream caught on red maggot fished on the bottom. 

The hybrids didn't make an appearance but still a bend in the light float rod. It was a chilly start at 3 degrees but as soon at the sun made an appearance it was very pleasant indeed. 

Out of the blue after the deadbait rod had been out for a good hour a run developed and something happened that has never happened like that before. You see when I tightened up to the circle hook whatever it was on the end felt the hook and bolted to my right in a ridiculous violent manner.

It must have moved 4 or 5 metres in a second or so and before the drag could wake up from its slumber the hook pulled and the fish was off leaving me with a decent boil in the surface and wondered what the heck just happened. 

I've had Zander do quick runs like that but nothing as intense as this one. A carp ? quite possibly, a pike, not likely as I rarely catch them here, but sadly I didn't get to see the fish so I will never know.

The first boat came through and the bites dried up big time so I decided to up-sticks and venture to a stretch 5 mins away and try for a Zander. 

I used a whole small roach this time, maybe not even 3 inches long and the bait had only been out in the swim for 10 minutes before a bite came. I knew it was a small fish straight away but it was a Zander and one that for its size gave a pretty decent account for itself.

And that was that, one missed bite on the maggot rod that was a small roach that dropped off and no more runs on the deadbait even after moving a few times. Still a nice morning and some bites so I'm not complaining. 

Tuesday 22 March 2022

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt. 3

The historic coastal region of Mangalore is known for its deliciously complex curries. Dishes are often made with favourited local ingredients such as coconut, tamarind, deep red Mangalorean chillies and a wide range of spices.

Layers of flavour are achieved by individually roasting the spices, chillies and even the coconut, so the flavours are unique and rich. 

The toasty sweetness and light creaminess of the coconut helps all the flavours blend harmoniously together.

Now this prawn version I concocted has just about the right amount of heat as the two different types of red chillies used were on different ends of the Scoville scale. The birds eye was the hottest, around 100,000, enough heat to put the Wife off mind you which meant I had it all to myself, then again she doesn't like prawns anyway.

Caring is sharing I suppose, but not in this case because it really was one of those curries where every mouthful just got better and better.
....recipe ?

All in my head my friends !!! I probably couldn't repeat it again even if I tried. 

With ones fishing opportunities this week very much lacking, this small window of opportunity needed to be grasped with both hands. Again, convenience was key for this session so with the main road to my right under the watchful eye of the temporary traffic lights I turned left and decided to head to an area that was 'once' home to my biggest canal Zander of 9lb.

That remained my biggest canal Zander for over 6 years and to be honest that fish is one of those that will be up there with my most favourite captures. Who would have thought a fish of that statue could live in such a shallow canal. An 8lb 10oz fish was caught not long after and this stretch will always remain on ones radar. 

The plan well, as you know I always have one was to walk to some cover just down from the laryngeal prominence and work myself down the stretch where the turning bay where I caught the 9lber from would be the last swim I fished.

Only a couple of hours fishing but hopefully a few bites. Another cold'un overnight the fish are unlikely to be thinking about spawning just yet. But with warmer days and nights forthcoming I'm sure the fish will start to change their tact and get on the nests where lure fishing really can come into their own.

I don't lure fish nearly enough because when I do, especially when I catch something you can see why it has taken off bigtime in recent years. As a roving angler at heart it suits my style doesn't it, and who says fishing is for the lazy. Not for many anglers these days it isn't.

Anyway, better get fishing hasn't I....

So the first Zander lure session for a while and naturally I'd have a sleeper deadbait rod out too. 

A small lure is often good for searching out water and can often bring more bites from the smaller stamp of fish that can often stay hidden if using the larger 12cm lures I usually use. 

Anyway best laid plans and all that, because wow, a canal certainly out of sorts, not only was most of the surface littered with what looked like post strimming / hacking / bankside butchering that the lure couldn't really be used. 

The water level seemed much lower as well and bare in mind this canal is knee deep at the best of times. 

I was there for 2 hours and didn't see one single fish top even when dusk was approaching. I fished three areas of usually decent cover but only one remained and even that has been seen to with the clippers set to number 1.

Now I fished those swims that I could with the lure and nothing doing whatsoever. The turning bay thankfully was the only bit of canal that wasn't covered in surface crud and in desperation I switched the lure to a circle hook and a deadbait and fished it quivertip style using ones bag to hold it upright. 

Dusk came and went and nothing was interested in having a nibble at all. The most action was when the bats arrived when they kept on banging in to the braid on the lure rod which was high out of the water.

Sunday 20 March 2022

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt. 2

As an experienced canal zander targetter those fish holding spots always remain in ones memory and Steve's Bush is one of those that will always stay with me to the grave.

You see this nondescript piece of thicket I'd have walked by if it wasn't for the likeminded putting me on to this exact spot and the rest is history. 

I remember one session where I managed to catch 8 fish from the tangled mess of Steve's Bush and even when Manscaped got hold of it, the bites never let up and it was one of those banker swims where if you want the float to bob, a run to develop, Steve's Bush was a no brainer.

The problem is like any hotspot if you overfish it like I did, the fish wise up and decided to up fins and relocate to somewhere a little more peaceful. I hadn't fished it for a good while though so for this morning session I was back to see if the Zander had returned to their comfortable sofa and the overly plump pouffe's.

A lure angler had beaten me to the stretch and it looked like he was making his way up the canal so I assume he had dropped the lure in Steve Bush before I got there.

Smelt on one rod and a chunk of roach on the other but 40 minutes in with the deadbaits tight to the cover nothing materialised and sadly I had to go on the rove.

I took myself to an area of thick cover where I've also caught pike hence why for this session I was fishing wire. The frost had cleared by this time but it was still pretty nippy as I was sheltered from the sun. Zander bites some quick usually when you drop in on fish but 4 or 5 bits of cover nothing doing at all.

I returned to the first swim and gave it another 20 minutes but again biteless. It's clear here so I might have faired better at dusk or when the canal had been churned up a little by the boats.

So I decided to move stretches completely and was back to turbid canal that sees plenty of boat traffic. One missed run where I assume a schoolie had eyes bigger than its mouth and I pulled the bait out of its gob. Another 5 swims fished, 12k steps covered, tough going indeed and I ended the session on a blank. The sun was lovely though, that's something !!!! I need a rethink

Friday 18 March 2022

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt. 1

You would have thought having managed to bring my 6 year quest to catch a canal double figure Zander to its conclusion rather abruptly on the 13th of June 2021, where the capture of that special 11lb 8 ounce fish would take me on to something else to get ones teeth, tackle and tenacity in to. 

The problem is I like catching Zander especially when for this first session of the 2022 closed season I would be venturing to a stretch almost a stones throw from ones house. 

With the fuel prices as they are the reality is I have Zander literally on my doorstep whereas the Hallowed stretch where I caught the big'un is a good amount of fossil fuel burning away.

This stretch of convenience though ain't a bad stretch of water when I fished it in anger, and in-fact is home to the second and third biggest canal Zander I have caught. 

A fish of 9lb on the nose and also one of 8lb 10 ounces. 

Those Zander got big from no fault of their own, you see before I stumbled upon them the stretch was electro-fished and the Zander removed and to appease the person who held the fishing rights at the time (now a friend and tackle shop owner) 20,000 silver fish were introduced to compensate for the fish removal.

Electro-fishing just to remove the Zander is a fruitless exercise, it always has been, no matter where it takes place. Zander can boost the Christmas party coffers of the anode wavers and that's where the contention will always be. 

As a non-native albeit naturalised fish in the waters I fish, Zander will forever fear that potential prod up their jacksie.

Anyway better get off ones soapbox and get back to the fishing. A tad over a mile door to door (aren't I lucky) the first towpath trudging opportunity is so handy its hard not to ignore. The problem it is nothing like its heyday but hey, I'm not bothered by that. I can relax now the big'un has been caught and just enjoy the fact that I haven't any pressure whatsoever.

A by-product of fishing for canal Zander is that not only is it good exercise walking the various dog pool allies but also standing around waiting for a bite with the way I target them (overdepth float fished deadbaits) means when leapfrogging you cover lots of water, and often those crafty well hidden carp reveal themselves by accident.

So although Zander are the main target for these next few months, carp as well may well feature if I do actually stumble upon them. I've seen carp around the 20lb mark in the past and they would certainly be a nice fish to target and I really do hope I find out where there are some holding up.

The daytime temperatures are starting to rise so I'm sure they will be removing their onesies and start stretching their fins. 

For this short session though there I woke up to a rather misty morning and that quickly lifted to clear blue skies and the sun high in the sky, not ideal Zander catching conditions, but so what, no pressure my friends, no pressure. 

Anyway back to reality with a bang, the dog poo, yeap plenty of that, the great unwashed, yeap those too but at least the fish were biting.

This fish was actually was the biggest caught and it wasn't happy at all, all fins and fury and when they extend their gills like that you know you have upset them. It took a chunk of roach from the chocolate coloured canal literally 10 mins fishing the first bit of cover. 

Still 3 further fish caught, 10k steps ticked off and at one stage I was just in my t-shirt. The spring sunshine was nice and warm, nothing big but then if I wanted big fish that would be a tenner away. Did I enjoy it, errrrrr not particularly !!! 

Tuesday 15 March 2022

Warwickshire Avon - Belly Fillers and Belemnoids

 A rare day off work I decided to have a chill in the sun...

....a lovely setting at dawn and it got better when the sun rose and stayed there

plenty of bites from small stuff....

....the pike sadly on an off day, lives and deads

....a few cups of tea and a belly filler 

.... a change of stretch

Plenty of chub on the float till I ran out of bread....

....on to the canals it is, well after ploughing through my days worth of emails  !!!!

Sunday 13 March 2022

Operation Brazzers Breech - Kernels and Field Marshals

Not a bad little dram this from Jura, I'm a neat rum drinking fan and not a peaty / smoky whiskey drinker so this ticks both boxes really. 

Rum cask finishes are nothing new in whisky though they have become more common in recent years. Perhaps more than most spirits, Rum has a long and bloody history and it doesn’t always make for the most pleasant of reading.

I think it is important, however, to acknowledge this when writing about the spirit. It originated in the West Indies with the earliest records dating from around 1650. Back then, it was known as kill-devil or rumbullion. 

When Britain captured the island of Jamaica in 1655 the availability of Rum led to an association with the Royal Navy. 

It had suddenly become cheaper and more available than beer or brandy and was soon being used in their daily rations. 

By 1687 it had become the official ration of the Royal Navy. With such regular usage in the Navy, it seems likely that a few empty casks found their way to Scotland where distillers would have been only too happy to put them to good use. 

Anyway I’m a sucker for a big arrival from the cask strength whisky I usually buy but this dram rather sneaks onto the palate with a bit of a whimper much like many of my fishing trips, but it does develop in fairness and there’s a burst of flavour in the middle of the tongue. 

Decent length on the finish too and at £30 for 1 litre (Tesco Clubcard Offer) it offers someone who is a little wined out at the minute a nice weekend tipple without breaking the bank. 
Anyway back to the fishing the last session here really was quite a successful one with a 1lb 7oz Grayling caught slap bang in the middle of Warwickshire where a group of largely unknown and forgotten fish have established themselves. 

I didn't think anything like that size would exist here so it really was a shock when a fish I thought was a chub at first actually was a half decent Grayling. Who would have thought from someone that lives in Bards country that I had the lady of the stream literally on my doorstep.

It got me thinking about the fish I lost on the third session he may well have been an even bigger Grayling rather than at 3lb Chevin  or a trout I initially thought it was. 

Bites to be honest were hard to come by so for this early morning short session behind enemy lines I'd up the ante with something a little more visual. 

The maggots would again be the main stay but this time I'd trot sweetcorn as something more likely to be picked out in the slightly murky waters. The clarity wasn't brilliant here last time and I'd imagine the bait would need to have been more or less dropped right in front of the fishes noggin.  

Now this is a stretch where ones footfall will become from this session forward infrequent and sporadic because I suppose the quest has already been concluded but the fact still remains that, it will always stay on my radar because of exactly what I managed to catch, a species that was never thought to exist from those apparently in the know. But it just goes to show there is no smoke without fire sometimes and it's not always cut and dry, there is definitely some middle ground.

So the next quest ? well there is rumours of a catfish in some lock pounds near me, that would be an interesting challenge if it wasn't for the footfall from the question askers, the dog walkers and the whistleblowers. I did think about trying to catch a Stoneloach on rod and line, but that would be having to fish a small stream in to dark to try and catch these tiny nocturnal feeders, to be honest I think even I would question ones sanity, but then what's new ?

Anyway better get back to the session hadn’t  !!!

Well you didn't miss much, some rain overnight I thought the river would be up, but far from it as it seemed shallower and less pace on it than last time I fished it. The sun didn't help either, but boy it was a tough session. I fished from 6.30am to 10.00am in three swims and alternated between sweetcorn and maggots, and for my efforts all I managed was two bites and two bumped off fish.

One of those fish was on for a few seconds but the hook pulled on the first proper bend of the rod. I assume it was a grayling as their boney mouths need a proper hook hold and sadly, the hook clearly didn't do its job from my lacklustre strike. So there you go after a 11 chub haul yesterday it was back to reality. Fishing ain't all sunshine and rainbows now is it. 

Saturday 12 March 2022

Warwickshire Avon - Snafflers and Slangwhangs

Fishing can often surprise you when you least expect it and this session was one of those. The river had dropped nicely and had that lovely tinge of green that the Warwickshire Stour has most of the year.

It was clearing fast and the bread bait could be seen quite a couple or three feet down so chub which were a target for this early morning session where I'd a trotting set-up and a ledger set-up to try and get a few bites.

I've found moving baits work for even the most cautious chub and bread is a wonderful bait that is always in ones armoury. Half the loaf of bread went to making the bread discs and then the rest was turned in to mash.

The chub seem to respond differently from day to day in their response to feed so you need to judge it on the day.

The wind was pretty chilly but with the sun out for most of the session it was very pleasant indeed. 

Spring is here thankfully and you can tell that with the increase in bird song and its a shame the river close season is nearly upon us as conditions for many fishing the rivers couldn't be better. 

Anyway what a session the first swim produced 3 fish with the biggest going 4lb and they came from the tail end of a pacey swim so on light tackle a fantastic battle ensued for each and every fish.

The size 6 hooks though once they are in rarely come out and the way the float disappeared from view they really were confident in feeding.

Only a ping pong ball size of mash was needed but its surprising just how quickly you get through it when the fish are in a feeding mood.

When the bites dried up it was time to move on and having the stretch to myself for most of the session that was easy enough to do. 

I fished 3 swims and every single swim produced fish. No real chublets either the smallest was around 2lb with the two biggest in to the fours. 

The best was yet to come though and that was from the last swim where the bread hardly had been in the water when it buried under the surface and another hard fighting chevin was on.

I thought it was bigger when I first saw it but it went 5lb 8 ounces on the scales. It just goes to show weights can be deceptive but I suppose the fish wasn't as long as I initially thought.

So 3.5 hours, 11 chub and one of those memorable sessions we all have from time to time. It will be interesting to see how the matches end up on the local rivers this weekend as I'm sure having bang on conditions will certainly help the weights I'd imagine. 

A 6lber has still eluded me thus far but the Avon chub are certainly getting bigger year on year so it certainly is a realistic target.  

I returned home a very happy man indeed and coaxed Sam off Rocket League to come and join me on a bike ride to enjoy the fresh air.

The roads surprisingly quiet to get to the Stratford Greenway but there were a couple of roads closed that actually helped rather than hindered us, my luck was certainly in today, will it continue tomorrow ?

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