Monday 31 October 2022

Warwickshire Avon - Stops and Strombuliforms

The likeminded George was bankside when I got there in the dark. Not the ideal arriving time but with dusk now at 5.00pm or so, I haven't much choice if I want that fishing fix.

I still had barbel on my mind with Dave banking a nice one 24 hours earlier and George losing one, he was back to try to find out what he lost and was hunkered down in the same swim, whilst I decided to tread on Dave's toes.

I went for a natter whilst he was packing up and he gave me a tour of swim which you can see why barbel would like it here. Relatively deep right out in front, with plenty of cover and then as you head towards the middle of the river it starts to get much shallower.

It's a nice swim to be sat as well, a large area to position ones backside whilst still being able to stay relatively back from the waters edge. 

When turning up in the dark organisation is the key but it certainly helps that here you can park behind your peg. So no need to lug all the gear bankside as most of that can be left in the car.

It was a clear sky but still relatively mild and for this session I decided to drop the bait down in to the swim without much disturbance, where I'd fish a large Hinders barbel bomb pellet and then have a PVA bag of mixed pellets as freebies around the hookbait.

Now I rarely fish pellets these days because I've often found drilled pellets more of a hinderance than a help especially when there are greedy chub around. Quite a few times now I'd fished sessions where the chub have plucked and pulled so much, and the pellet start to breakdown the pellet stop often can pull though the bait. Hardened boilies I usually use can just sit there and I have confidence the bait will sill be there even after a good going over by any chub in the swim. 

Now I dug out some really old pellet stops I used to buy many moons ago (sadly only two left) and even with this large pellet there is still plenty of coverage. Can I find any more from the usual sellers ? Errrr no, so any help welcome as there are ideal. No point having a bait out if you are not confident in it being there when you reel in now is there...

Anyway to cut a long story short, I fished two swims well in to dark without even a nibble. I even put on some cheesepaste on in desperation at one point, but nope, very very quiet indeed. George after banking a chub and an eel before dusk didn't fair any better when the bats were out either. Considering the barbel were up for  a feed yesterday, they were not this evening. The fish were certainly suspicious in their absence that's for sure.  

A blank !!

Sunday 30 October 2022

Warwickshire Avon - Tatty Tails and Terotechnology

After the weeks holiday a proper spicy curry was required, the Chinese promised so much but delivered so little with a garlic and chilli prawn offering, so a lamb and prawn combo with a finger in the air concocted sauce really hit the spot.

Now a Sikh mate of mine Barinder who's wedding I attended in Sacramento put me on to raw red onions with overly saucy curries and I've been adding them to mine ever since. 

When we all meet up for a curry like we have done for more than 20 years or so, he also orders raw green chillies with the raw onions where he munches the finger or rocker chilli's like a breadstick. I partake from time to time especially when we finish with a pistachio kulfi.

Anyway now back in the routine after holiday I thought I'd pop down the Warwickshire Avon on one of my syndicates as it looked decent conditions for a barbel. 

Mad isn't it at the end of October at 5.00pm the temperature was 20 degrees according to the car, and to be fair it felt very mild indeed and I was probably overdressed. Anyway to the fishing, I opened the gate and made my way to the river where after a few hundred yards I noticed an angler hunkered down in one of the swims.

It was fellow syndicate member George of Artificial Flight and Float, Flight and Flannel who had the same idea. Anyway it turned out his car was out of action till the box tickers gave the ok so he had got a lift from Dave who was upstream and had already banked an 11lb 8oz barbel as pictured.

George it turned out lost a barbel at the end of the session where we all finished a couple of hours after dusk. He had managed an eel as well so the fish were certainly biting.

After a natter with Dave it turned out he had fed some pellets in a swim with some depth and near some reeds and must have literally dropped the banded pellet on its head as before he had time to position the rod on the rest the tip was pulling round. 

George and Dave have caught barbel in this area that would break my 12lb 14oz PB caught in February 2019. That came on a quarter of tin of spam which is an approach that has banked me some nice barbel in the past, so I just need to continue putting the sessions in. 

Anyway after rolling meat for 20 minute or so in the chosen swim without an interception I fished a small glugged Hot Fish boilie on the hair with a thin layer of matching paste over a bed of freebies.

Dusk came and went with on a few chub pulls but my restless legs got the better of me and I was off on the river in the dark. Two swims with a PVA bag of freebies again some chub pulls, so I decided to return to the first swim and stick it out before I'd need to get back and get the dinner on. 

A determined chub eventually hooked itself but no match for the Barbel rod where I unhooked it in the margins. A 4lb maybe, but not what I was after. Now the clocks have changed as I am typing this so many of my sessions now will need to be in the dark, and with the gear still in the car I might have another session this evening, might as well, the Wife will be watching the forgettable F1. 

Saturday 29 October 2022

Saundersfoot - Dogging Alley and Drapetomania

Some of the mornings for bass fishing looked perfect especially with a seal and some cormorants trying to find the same quarry as I in the boiling mosh pit. 

But cast after cast after cast, nada

Even at Amroth where one of the local anglers said a few had come out in the recent matches the bass fishing was sadly fruitless. 

This is a family holiday after all though so I didn't exactly spend a huge amount of time actual fishing and probably not at the ideal times if I'm honest, but the end of the week there was some better opportunities. 

Now experienced sea anglers tend to regard the various dogfish for sport, and the beginner like me need not worry about specialised tackle and technique and the Angling Direct Advanta RSB Pier  Rod with a budget Shakespeare Reel is perfect for my occasional squid chucking exploits.  

The rod is now half price £17.50 so pick one up as highly recommended from me. 

Now Dogfish forage for food in big shoals and it was clear when I got to the harbour for the first session another anglers was battling to keep two rods in the waters. 

One is fine for me especially when fishing in to dark as I always get in to calamity situations.

When they are there in front of you they can provide fantastic sport or a pest, but there is one thing that they are, and that's often a blank saver. 

What I didn't expect though after the first dog fish I lost a decent fish that nearly took the rod in from the tip banging from the 'shark lookers', that could have well have been a Southbound or Bull Buss. 

I didn't get to see the fish but the line was grating on the harbour wall under the pressure of the fish and the line parted from the hook, Damn !! Anyway the amount of dogfish swimming in front of me was quite incredible, however what I didn't expect was to catch another 11 in around an hour and a half  🤯

To be honest it was fun just to see the rod tip go off on a mad'un when they pulled the circle hook in to their tough mouths from reacting against the stiff rod. 

The rod incidentally easily man enough to lift the dogfish up and over the harbour wall. After a while though, yeah I'd like something different but they were queuing up till ran out of bait. 

After getting some more frozen bait from the shop under the now defunct Beach Barbecue in Saundersfoot I gave it another go the following evening for the same result up at Dogging Alley.

6 more caught in quick succession, this time much smaller ones where thankfully the bites dried up so I could go home. There appears to be a fish greedier than a chub and I didn't think that was at all possible. 

Friday 28 October 2022

Saundersfoot - LRF and Lully Triggers Pt.1

A nightmarish journey in the rain all the way to wet Wales, at least the accommodation Cystanog Fach which is Little Constantine in English apparently, welcomed us with its splendour.

After literally 5 hours of travelling and having to take a couple of detours finally we could chill out, enjoy the views from the 5 story house. There is a basement boot / tackle room then two bedrooms, twin and double, a bunk bedroom, then the main living room them the mezzanine level with kitchen and dining room, which leads on to the master bedroom, with small cabin room.

Ideal for two families basically even though we had it for ourselves, I would quite happily stay with some friends and their kids as plenty room and space without treading on each others toes. 

The change in scenery is quite incredible from bright blue skies to dreary seascapes I wanted more of a chill out for this holiday so this property was ideal. 

We've been to various parts of Pembrokeshire of the years but this area is hard to fault for a weeks holiday because it never really gets that busy, and time it with the Welsh kids being still at school, ideal.

To be honest I didn't really plan to fish everyday but this trip I wanted to mix it up a bit. So LRF, lure fishing for bass and bait fishing. 

With the tide times perfect towards the end of the week to fish off the harbour wall and try and catch something other than a dog fish.

The first couple of mornings whilst the rabble were welded to their duvets I fished the rockpools that are exposed between Saundersfoot and Wisemans Bridge. To be honest I'm very new to this LRF game but I soon realised just how aggressive these pool frequenters are. 

Using a tiny 0.7g jig heads and 20cm scented lures initially I managed plenty of bites from these characterful mini species.

I'm sure if I scaled down even further I'd have caught even more species but to be honest I only fished a couple of hours and often you can get preoccupied when something bigger pops its head out. 

Something I've not done before so I really enjoyed it even if the weather wasn't the best. 

It helped being mild in-fact often I was just in my t-shirt and luckily for us the odd hour of rain here and there, most of the rain came overnight. 

Friday 21 October 2022

Warwickshire Avon - Antidotes and Antidisestablishmentarianism

I did think about maybe planning a trip and unicycling around the world to escape the current landscape where I could return in a couple of years when everything would be all good again !!. 

Sadly that adventure has already been completed by the off his rocker Ed Pratt from Somerset. believe it or not, Good on him I say everyone needs to travel the world and to do it so young, the world really is his oyster. 

Now food can often get me in a better mood but so much promise so little return this The Black Famer - Flavour of the Windrush - Spicy Mutton Curry !!! thankfully it didn't break the bank after seeing it on the local Tesco shelves and bought on a whim, but the red onion addition with coriander and red chilli, basically means you have to add them yourself. Trust me to not look beneath the colourful cover. 

You see the sauce was as colourful as a John Major mushroom soup, and the flavours, well as memorable as Liz Truss's 44 days as Prime Minister without the pictured chilli turmoil.  

Apparently Liz Truss's six week reign as PM also included ten days off for national mourning and two weeks off for the conference season. She worked just twelve days as PM during her reign.

Anyway three chilli's ? yeap, I couldn't find them, so the verdict, Errrrr don't bother !!! There is a reason why I concoct my own world curries when I'm let down with this mediocrity. 

To be fair the mutton was nice and tender but it overwhelmed the flavour so much you couldn't really taste the sauce.

Thankfully Derek Hall with THE ANTIDOTE came to the rescue with some decent repetitive beats and all was good in the world again. 

Now you know me blog readers I love experimenting with baits for chub so when a delivery of ragworm turned up from online baits uk for some sea fishing next week, after a sort out I decided to keep a few back to try and winkle out a chub. 

I've used lamprey, steak, whitebait, unidentifiable Chinese meaty snacks even chunks of mackerel in the past and the last off the wall bait to catch a greedy Chevin on was of all things, Tesco Raspberry mushrooms.

I'm sure there are other obscure baits I can give a go but I suppose bread is my good too bait and cheesepaste or lobworms when the river is coloured up, chance will be a fine thing. 

Now the basic laboratory sea water formula, which is great for general lab use, requires only a 35 parts per thousand (ppt) mixture of household sea salt and tap water. 

More complex sea water formulas also exist, and require the use of more ingredients and distilled water, but are mixed in much the same manner. 

You can use any type of lab-made sea water to do a quick but fun density experiment with eggs some will float, and some won’t!. A shallow container so the worms are not fully submerged my brother uses this method to keep his ragworm fresh in the fridge for a couple of weeks. When I get to the coast though I'll replace the water with the proper stuff to keep them refreshed.

Now chub are a bit like me, they will give anything a go once. 

Ragworms are predominantly marine organisms that may occasionally swim upstream to rivers and even climb to land. They are commonly found in all water depths, foraging in seaweeds, hiding under rocks or burrowing in sand or mud. They are mainly omnivorous but many are active carnivores.

Nereids only breed once before dying and most of them morph into a distinct form to breed. Ragworms are important food sources for a number of shore birds.
Saundersfoot Here We Come !!!
Ragworms such as Hediste diversicolor are commonly used as bait in sea angling. 

They are a popular bait for all types of wrasse and pollock. They are also used as fish feed in aquaculture.

Ragworms, are considered a delicacy in Vietnam where they are used in the dish chả rươi. (sand worm omelette) is a Vietnamese dish made from the polychaete worm tylorrhynchus heterochaetus, it is most popular in Hanoi. 

The dish is prepared from live sand worms, which are put in hot water to remove their tentacles, and then mixed with raw egg. Onions and various spices are added, and the mixture is then fried until it obtains a crispy brown surface. In rice-growing areas of China, these worms are called hé chóng. They are harvested from the rice fields and are often cooked with eggs.

Lovely Chub'bly !!

The ragworm varied in size but once on the hook they really did wriggle, so what chub wouldn't want to try a sea delicacy. What I did find though was that some of them were very fragile indeed where just a light pinch to get them on the hook, the worm would break quite easily.

With the banks to myself AGAIN it was time to get on the rove to try and winkle out a chub. 

Swim after swim though I could see there were no big fish hanging around at all, with only some small bait fish seen milling around in the gin clear water. The recent rain hadn't boosted the levels whatsoever which is odd as we have had lots of it of late. Assume much of it has ended up in the ground judging by ones footfall on route.

Anyway plenty to go at here and this swim has an overhanging tree to the left and a deep trough in the middle. The bigger chub that usually hang around here nowhere to be seen though, still the bottom was dark so not surprising the first drop of the worm within seconds I had a pluck.  

So it didn't take long for the 1 ounce quiver tip to pull round properly and a fish was on. Slightly disappointed with what was on the end as this small chublet had managed to snaffled the ragworm quite easily. Another one of similar stamp decided to join his brethren and that was my lot from that swim. 

Still the best time was half an hour away and with a pva bag of pellets attached to the hook I cast to an overhanging tree to my right.

The bats came first and then the first proper pull. It looked like a liner at first but within a minute or so the tip pull round slowly and stayed there. Usually I wait for the bite to develop further but I decided to strike and was connected to a decent fish.

It gave me the run around at first taking some line with a couple of the lunges but when I got it out in to the main river it decided it wanted to see the inside of my landing net.

Not a bad fish either, going 4lb 4 ounces on the scales. With that retained in the landing net I had another pull with seconds of getting another ragworm out. What I didn't expect though was the chub decided it wanted out and after a couple of attempts it did a Houdini and vanish from the shallow landing net, which wasn't my usual landing net that has a really deep drop. 

And that was my lot !!!!

After realising I'd left my head torch at home I proved that yes they do like ragworm and headed home to get the sea fishing gear sorted. See you in 7 days, my tennis elbow giving me jyp and I need a break from the computer. 

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Warwickshire Avon - Fiscal Holes and Fistuliforms

I'd usually got this stretch to myself however when I got bankside for this short session a van was parked in 'Georges' peg and fellow syndicate member Keith, who I introduced myself to was in situ after Barbel.

Now conditions have been pretty pants for Barbel unless you're like Keith and quite happy to fish throughout the night where they are more likely to bite. 40 odd nights and only 7 of those banking a Barbus. 

After a natter and stories of carp, ghost carp and some decent Barbel to 14lb, it's clear I need to up my game in order to get in and among the PB beating fish that reside here.

There are of course much bigger Barbel to be had on the Warwickshire Avon, 16, 17 and the 18 lber but I prefer the solitude away from the circus. The big hurdle to get over is the restless legs, because I really do struggle sitting behind a motionless rod.

Anyway what a frustrating session this was, I was after chub but after two 'unmissable'  bites I didn't connect to any fish, so I decided to bait a couple of swims with mash and fish them both at dusk.

Whilst they were being primed I fished the Salmo hornet where I lost a decent pike of around 8 or 9 pound, a decent Perch and a jack pike. Think I need to sharpen the hook, then again I've caught so many fish on the same lure, probably as blunt as Jeremy Hunts £40bn fiscal hole.

Anyway after missing a bite in the first prebaited swim it didn't take long for another bite and a fish was on. Only a small'ish chub though, I want one as twice as big.

Still with some pictures coming through in the morning from China of one of the parts I have designed now off tool, which is a large magnesium casting it wasn't a bad day and at least I ended up with a fish. I could have stayed longer especially when the mushroom and cauliflower dahl is Soooooooooo easy to make. 

And probably cost less than a quid per portion, and even less if you ditch the coconut milk. Anyway the fishing fix was sorted I'm just preying for some better conditions to fish in because when you can see the bottom in an 8ft swim you know they won't be crawling up the line. 

I might try for a barbel next time though with some tips from Keith, anyway, on to the next one where next week I'll be impaling some giant ragworm, or I could squeeze in another quicky for Chub, hey I've an idea !!!

Sunday 16 October 2022

Small Brook Fishing Pt.22 - Blennies and Blattnerphones

Now the naturalists' name for this fish is the bullhead. Apparently there are several species of bullhead in the waters of the world but only one is native of the British Isles and many prefer to call it the miller's thumb, a name by which it has been known popularly for at least six centuries.

The curious name arose in days when every village had a miller, and has little point now that milling lacks the personal touch. Yarrell, in his  "History of British Fishes" gave a good account of its origin.

"The miller's ear", he wrote, "is constantly directed to the note made by the running-stone in its circular course over the bedstone, the exact parallelism of their two surfaces, indicated by a particular sound, being a matter of the first consequence, and his hand is constantly placed under the meal-spout, to ascertain by actual contact the character and qualities of the meal produced.

The thumb by a particular movement spreads the sample over the fingers. 

By this incessant action of the miller's thumb, a peculiarity in its form is produced which is said to resemble exactly the shape of the head of the fish constantly found in mill-streams, and has obtained for it the name of Miller's Thumb.

That was written in 1835, at a stage between old-time milling and modern practice. Yarrell added a note. " Although the improved machinery of the present time has diminished the necessity for the miller's skill in the mechanical department, the thumb is still constantly resorted to as the best test for the quality of flour. 

Now the miller's thumb is placed in an Order which includes gurnards and sticklebacks, as in its Family (the Cottidae) there are fish with names like father lasher and long-spined sea scorpion. 

The miller's thumb is no exception to a general rule of spikiness, and if grew to 3ft, instead of 3 inches it would be a really dangerous creature" 

Ok Mick' get on with it !!!

Well there was a reason why I light footed it over to the 'Bullhead Banker" and that was because I wanted to test out a cobbled together LRF rock-pooling set-up for the trip to Pembrokeshire.
You see in my own experience having witnessed this fishes predatory instinct first hand. Could I catch one on this micro lure set-up meant for Blennies and Gobies.

They lie in ambush in or near these retreats and dash out and seize any living creature, including other fish, sufficiently small to be tackled.

Anyway to the fishing, wow we'd never seen the stream like this before, not only was it low but it was gin clear. The 5lb flurocarbon main line would be the first thing to be ditched on the set-up as not only did it coil up with its memory, but it looked thicker than I thought it would be.

When you're fishing tiny 0.75gram jig heads the less resistance the better and it just didn't cut it. 

That will be swapped for 6lb braid which I'm hoping will be much better. Anyway the nibbles started after the third or fourth cast where you could feel something grabbing the end of the lure, but not quite taking it.

Sam and I alternated between the rod duties where the tiny lure looked great in the water and I didn't think it would be long to bank a fish. How wrong was I though, whatever having a go clearly didn't have a mouth big enough to take the lure fully.

Anyway after a wander up and down the stretch we returned to where we started and Sam had a great idea which I put in to practice. Once the nibbles had started the lure was left to hit the deck which would give the fish more of a chance to grab it.

To be fair it took a good while, but eventually after plenty of frustration in the bright sunshine a bullhead was hanging on for dear life and fell off when I lifted it out. 

This probably the smallest bullhead we had managed from this stream but there was certainly method in our madness.

And that was our lot, we had bites in all the swims we fished but none of the bigger fish that live here showed at all. The stream like the local rivers having one of it's off days. We need rain and lots of it, because sadly it was very much out of sorts.

Saturday 15 October 2022

Warwickshire Avon - Salamandroids and Sabbulonariums

When postie Bob revealed the 'bomb hole'  swim a few years ago this swim of note has been on my radar ever since. Now to be honest I've not really fished it that much but with the river clear as Mother Teresa conscience I fancied a double dipping session where I'd fish a chub selective bait, cheesepaste and fish a deadbait for a pike. 

The baitfish shoals hold the predators here and because of that I'd also from time to time throw a lure rod around to try and get a pike to react. 

The bigger chub don't really start moving till dark so the thought was that if they were holding up in the hole. (likely to be less than 16ft for this session) at least it was dark and shady down there where they could find some sanctuary. 

Naturally a Depth Bomb that I designed would be required to hold the cheese paste on and I got a load of them printed a while ago. Cheesepaste when the Warwickshire Avon has that lovely green tinge of colour is a superb bait for chub, but those conditions are a while off, but when the weather turns and the fish need to get fat, if the chub are there, they really are straight on it. 

Anyway what a lovely dawn, well whilst it lasted because 10 minutes in to the session I had a bite on the deadbait but the fight was short lived when the pike after initially taking some line, ended up under a canopy of cover.

I thought I'd managed to get it in to open water at one point but no, after a couple of more lunges the fish was off. I assume the fish let go over the bait as I don't think it was a hook pull, it looked a double as well, bugger !!!

Oddly there was hardly any fish actively where as here usually it's alive with fish topping when the sun starts to rise.

Maybe there is a good reason for that because it's gin clear still and maybe the fish are shoaled up rather than milling about at their leisure. Anyway a quick scan of the deeper you can see how little water is on at the moment because it was a couple of foot short of what it normally is. 

Still with some cheesepaste smack back in the middle of it I didn't think I'd be on for a bite or two, but sadly not even a pull or a nibble in a swim that feels like it should be in a gravel pit. 7ft either side of this 'feature' remember. 

So after getting bored and ordering everything under the sun off of Ebay it was time to get on the move before the bank had blocked my card. There are usually pike hanging around in most swims here so after fishing static in a few deep swims with no interest I tried to induce a take with sink and draw. 

Again nothing doing and with the sun really bright now where in one swim I could see 8ft down no problem I thought oh well, a blank was on the cards.

There was one swim left though and after a tweak of the deadbait to lift it off the bottom after a couple of minutes the float jumped in to life. The fish was straight off with it too, no messing around at all, so after tightening up to the circle hook a nice battle ensued.

After the first powerful run it calmed down a bit and it was soon in the net. Long and lean unlike me and obviously needed some scran bless it. I guessed at 8lb and that was exactly what it weighed.

As I said before it's tough out there at the minute so I was quite happy to land a fish that put a decent bend in the rod. Will I get out later ? Well I'm 50/50 at the minute. Lots to do, people to meet etc, no rest for the wicked. If you're out there fishing like I am, fair play to you, not exactly easy is it !!!.
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