Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.47

As anglers we all hate losing fish don't we, you see a few days ago you see a zander gave me the middle fin and went back to whatever it was doing probably not even realising I had the net ready, so sadly another to add to the extensive selection. Circle hooks are my main attack these days, they have been for a while for Zander, and you usually know when you have a decent hook hold quite quickly when you first tighten up to the fish once that bite is received.

Zander have always been tricky to hook properly they just have those sort of bony mouths and unlike pike can nibble at the bait rather take the job lot. I felt this fish on for a few seconds but then when it realised it was hooked the first bend of the rod it must have let go of the bait and it was off.

It felt half decent for that split second though and it left a significant wake in the surface only culpable only by a half decent fish. Now I use Sakuma 440's in size 1 and after trial and much error they have certainly improved my hook-ups. Still you still lose fish from time to time though and sadly I never got to see it which is a shame considering how tough I've been finding it.

With spawning on the horizon my theory is those feeding spells will be short and the fish as the water is still cold'sih, are most likely not that eager to get moving so are most likely laying up to keep themselves fit for the upcoming revelries. Always an excuse isn't there, still Soooooo quiet, and so little action but Nic from Avon Angling had been messaging me throughout his session and his outcome for canal zander on two different stretches was very similar indeed. 

So I was back for another go along the same area, this a short session after work in to dusk and a a little beyond to hopefully cross paths with it again. I'm running out of past their best deadbaits so will need to get some more sorted, especially in a couple or three weeks when the water has warmed up a bit and fish are moving more when they do start biting, it's surprising just how fast you can get through them.

 After arriving at the parking area the rain was hammering it down and I did think about sacking it off altogether and head home instead (5 mins) but within 5 minutes it has stopped to almost nothing, so it was out with the rods and out with the wellies. 

The water had coloured up considerably since the last session here so I was hopeful for a bite. 4 swims down and also the lock covered without an indication whatsoever this wasn't looking good again

I decided to stick it out for the last hour in the swim I lost a fish 3 sessions ago and as dusk approached I was watching the right hand float when after half an hour, out of the blue it sharply bobbed and the buried right under the surface in a split second and before I had time to pick up the rod it popped up again a metre closer towards me. 

Certainly not a Zander, an Eel quite possibly, but at least some action. I scaled down that bait to a single whole 3 inch roach and got the float back out. Soon after this a pull on the left hand rod turned in to a proper bite where the float was moving left to right and then stopped and it was headed towards the cover over at the far side. 

I wound in to the fish and felt some tiny resistance and assume pulled the bait out of its mouth. A small schoolie most likely which fits as a friend of a friend had caught some here recently.

A pull on the right hand float again didn't develop in to a bite, however with all this action I thought I was on for a fish and a blank avoider. But with the torch now illuminating the floats and the rain started up again the swim went dead, proper dead.

So after 10 minutes past curfew time I left the damp quagmire with ones tail between my legs again. So 4 sessions, 4 blanks, I'm starting to lose the will !!!!

On to the next one !!!!

Sunday, 19 March 2023

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.46

A nippy start to the morning with 2 degrees showing in the car when I left at a couple of pieces of toast past 6.30am. I must be mad because looking back at my blog over the years fishing the canals can often be tough going when the water temperatures are still pretty low.  

Still you cannot catch a fish if you haven't a bait in the water and with 13,5k steps covered in this 4.5 hour session it boosts the wellbeing no end, when most of the week I'm sat behind a computer screen. 

The Wife is very busy during the week so she actively encourages me to go fishing because it means she can have her well deserved lie in and she can get to watch those TV programs in bed that she knows I wouldn't watch. 

Anyway to the fishing it's a quiet stretch this and sees little foot traffic even in summer and there is a good reason for that, the catchment area is rural with sporadic houses and a small village. Boat traffic is more in the summer and holiday season and I've only seen one narrowboat in three days thus far, the one being today. 

There are pike here as well, in-fact about the only stretch I fish I switch to wire on the lure rod and also the deadbait rods. It's clearer you see and that means this place is home to to some lovely dark coloured zander when they are biting.

So it was out with the lure rod for this session and also a deadbait rod to try and find the fish. There are plenty of locks and features here and the first swim I fished I rarely blank. 

Well I say that, recently it had failed to give up any fish and it was the same for this session. I gave the deadbait a good 40 minutes in the swim and also the lure a good thrashing but nothing doing so it was time for a rove.

I bumped in to an angler from the Czech Republic who works in one of the local racehorse stables and had a nice half an hour natter all things fishing related. He was lure fishing and like me had been struggling recently but he'd caught some nice chub in the past here so it put me on to an area I'm going to try out with bait and also maybe a Salmo Hornet. 

We went our separate ways and got on with the fishing. Same old story again sadly, swim after swim after swim, nothing. Not bites on the deadbait tight to cover and also in and around the lock mouths. The water clarity was a little bit less than a foot and ideal for the lure I thought, but not this morning.

The area that throws up some nice zander that I usually fish for bream was unusually quiet and I gave the bait rod much longer that I usually would do. 

One swim I managed a hit on the lure, but sadly it was a PB chain that certainly tested the tackle to it's limits. 

Talk about a tough few sessions, one lost fish and that was the only bite I've had in almost 12 hours of fishing I reckon. The blog archives show that it's not unusual as I mentioned before but some of the swims I fished looked perfect for a fish to be holding up in it.

 I'll keep at it though, I think I might try in to dusk next time for the zander though, maybe if they are on short feeding spells because of the conditions, maybe the lower light levels will pay dividends.

Despite being cold a lovely morning overall and when the sun came out it was very pleasant indeed. 

So another blank to add the growing collection, might dust off my golf clubs !!!

Saturday, 18 March 2023

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.45

Buffalo Si put me on to the exact swim yesterday he caught some zeds by leaving me a sign in the mud, a sign I actually walked past without even noticing, it was only when he appeared out of the blue that he pointed it out.

"OH, YEAH, didn't see that, 🙈, whoops !!!!"

To be fair I knew where it was just from the picture he sent me though and it didn't take me long to find it as it knew it was between two quite distinct landmarks. 

So I was back for some more blanking !!!!

You see the fish I lost yesterday felt half decent till we parted company so I might as well give it another got hadn't I. Canals can be so frustrating though as they are such a huge body of water they could be in one area one day and then gone the next.  

This area does hold fish though, it always has done in-fact up until the double figure fish I caught this stretch was home to my next two biggest canal zander, one of 9lb on the nose and another 8lb 10 ounces. 

The Zander fishing has certainly tailed off over the years though where bites are not at a premium.

This would be a double dipping session though as I'd fish a deadbait on one rod and fish a float lift method style, with some groundbait and bread on the hook. In more recent times I've caught some nice rod bending bream here and also some hard fighting hybrids.

I hotfooted it to the swim for around 7.00am and was looking forward to some peace and quiet up at turd tagging alley ® Bureboyblog  and bagging up.

Errrrr, best laid plans and all that, 3, yes 3 canoes within the first half an hour, 2 were tandems and the first one that went through was shouting to her mate who was literally less than a metre away sat in the front. 

I bet the moored boat loved that, probably woke them up from their slumber. No boats for this session which was odd.

Still at least the float fishing would be easier without all the palaver they can cause. Anyway with the dead bait out some Sonubaits supercrush green and a few pellets and maggots went in to the swim and the float settled nicely ready for a bite from a bream or a hybrid. 

I waited, and waited and waited.....

Rebaited, fed a little again, and...

I waited, and waited and waited.....

There was nothing doing whatsoever, not just in that swim, but a few others that I tried. I gave them a good go as well but experience tells me you need to move to find the fish. Not helping I get bored without getting bites and especially for Zander you need to find where there are holding up, as bites will come quick when they are in the swim.

In the end disappointed that even the bread on the float rod didn't get a nibble from a fish I sacked that off and went for a rove to an area a mile and a half away where in the past it was one of my banker areas not just for Zander but for other species too.
Not an easy task when the towpath is a mud bath at the minute but needs must and all that. But again a few swims down those deadbaits were untouched. The water temp was 8.9 degrees so still a way off spawning time, but I was amazed how little action I got, and didn't see any signs of fish either, all very odd.

Maybe they were on strike like the council bin collectors. 

Back to the canals with a bang, Mick stick at it, things will come good soon enough I'm sure. 

Friday, 17 March 2023

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.44

For the real back-to-nature angler, there's nothing to beat Worzel Gummidge's scruffier brother, of whom it is often said that he keeps coming back like a pong. This is for the knowledgeable angler who once read somewhere that fish are allergic to the taste or smell of soap. So at weekends you take very good care not to use it. 

Superstitious and a great believer in tradition, you refuse to have anything done to render your fishing outfit habitable by a normal human being. 

Your lucky socks were those in which you won the club individual trophy in 1996, and you have never had them tubbed since. The lucky long johns took you to a victory in the needle match of 1997, and since then never have they felt the action of an enzyme. 

Your jumper, alas now severely holed by the depredation of moth and continual scratching through years on the bank, saw you only just miss the top weight in '98. Or was it '99? And your Irish tweed thornproof trousers are held together at the flies by a series of safety pins. 

So what? Where can you buy a pair of trousers like that these days? And who makes zips strong enough to so attired, you make the odd bob or two on the way to the water from old ladies and well-meaning clergymen who press some small coin of the realm into your grubby mitt and implore you not to spend it on the Demon Drink. If nothing else it will cover your fare on the bus (dread the thought !!), on which you seldom have trouble getting a seat or several seats to yourself.

At the water, you indulge in a few odd habits, such as the old matchfisher's trick of keeping maggots warm under your tongue on cold days. Keeps 'em lively, you see. The fact that they turn comatose as soon as they hit the ice-cold water is neither here nor there. Instead of packing a conventional lunch, you nibble happily at whatever bits of old cheese are lurking about among the fluff and unknown rubbish in your pockets. 

Animals on the bank show no fear of you, in fact are strangely attracted, perhaps because you do not smell like the dreaded enemy, Man, but more like a heap of maturing compost, the bilges of a dredger or a sewage farm clearance sale. It is annoying to conventional anglers that, in spite of an aura that could bring a rhino to its knees at ten yards, you still manage to catch fish. It would be a very suspicious fish indeed which associated the flavour of a skunk on heat with any threat to its wellbeing.

Anyway, "wellbeing you say", back on the canals it is then !!! Not for everybody I must admit because you are now back sharing the banks with the great unwashed, wayward dogs and and novice tiller twirlers and that is never good, but look at the positives Mick, plenty of exercise you just have to avoid the ever growing amount of landmines.

Talking of which an item that has been in my armoury for a couple of years now is some marker paint to point out the to toxic toxocariasis turds that blight our towpaths. Over the years I'd stood in it, put my rod in it, hand in it, bag in it you name it, it's all been tainted by this wanton disregard for our shared spaces. If I can warn a potential citizen of impending doom , why not ?

Anyway to the fishing !!!

I am lucky that I have Zander on my doorstep so for this short after work session, I dusted off the rods, sorted out my canal bag and headed to a stretch literally 5 minutes away. To be honest since the canal and rivers trust have been overly active with their shears and chainsaws the Zander fishing has become harder and harder. That cover where they used to hide up in removed in huge quantities and they did the fishing no good whatsoever.

There are dribs and drabs though and those are the areas I would be targeting with my light over depth float set-ups. Manky past their best roach deadbaits that have been out the freezer more times than I'd like to admit, but I'm targeting Zander they are more than happy with a turkey twizzler and a can of tramp juice, they really are not that fussy.

I spotted a fellow Zed anglers car when I got to the parking spot and after a WhatsApp message he had already managed a couple of fish in the area I was going to target, so I started off there and leapfrogged a few spots but there was nothing doing for me, so I retraced my steps and set about the next section of cover to leapfrog.

Again nothing doing for an hour and a half in a few swims so I retraced my steps AGAIN and decided to stick it out in one swim before curfew time as the Wife was heading to yoga.

Not long after I had the baits out Buffalo Si from River Masters appeared from down the towpath and stopped for a good natter. Now he fishes probably more in a week than I do in a month or two, but always good to catch-up as he fishes the same waters.

An hour in eventually a bite on the left rod which after a confident run I tightened up to the circle hook and felt the nodding of a good fish, sadly though after the first proper bend of the carbon the fish came off leaving a decent boil in the surface. 

And that was that, no more bites and back to the canals with a rather damp squib, oh well on the positive note, at least I know the fish are still here, got to look on the bright side. 

All zander anglers suffer with poor hook-ups and circles are good, but you still lose fish like I did this afternoon. Si gave me a hook to try from his fully kitted out tackle box, as about the best he'd come across recently. Anyway on to the next one !!!

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

River Wye - Middle Ballingham

Best laid plans and all that, because prior to this last session of the season Nic from Avon Angling and I were up for a bit of trotting off the croy where hopefully the chub were up for a feed. 

Now a croy is a natural or man-made protrusion or jetty projecting on a river and used to manage river fisheries, providing an obstacle to slow down current, a shelter for fish, a funnel to net them, and a platform to cast from. 

The problem was that the croy with the recent snow melt and rain was going to be 3 metres underwater, yes 3 metres. The levels just kept on going up and up and up, so there was only one thing to fish for and that was a barbel.

I purchased recently a Korum Big River Rod which is 12ft and 2.75TC which hopefully would be man enough in these testing conditions. The problem was my feeders were inadequate so a quick stop off at Angling Direct in Coventry after work for some 5 ounces feeders and leads, and some Dynamite Shrimp and Krill groundbait I was good to go. 

Nic messaged me when I was on-route to say the river was fishable which was a relief and when I arrived 15 minutes later better get fishing hadn't we. It had broken it's banks in places but thankfully the 60 mile drive wasn't a waste of time. 

A walk down the cardiac testing hill, not so bad down if a little slippy and precarious but getting back to the car is a fitness tester, as for those less mobile it would be a challenge. The Wye and Usk Foundation should be more transparent about the access, it's not brilliant lets put it that way especially when you have to lug all the gear down there.  

Nic knows this stretch very well so those swims you think you could just drop a bait in close you'd actually be fishing on a bramble hedge. Finger in the air to actually guess where the river bed actually starts. 

The wind was baltic, proper cold and through out the day the wind was some of the worst I'd experienced when fishing. Not so much the intensity but the wind chill, which despite wearing four layers of clothing, I could have easily put on a fifth. 

After a walk up and down the stretch to case some of the swims a dunk of the thermometer showed that it was 8.1 degrees, certainly fine for barbel to feed but with the river still rising for much of the day with loads of debris coming down (including whole trees) I knew it would a tough and testing session.

Still worlds away from Gary Lineker's twitter echo chamber and life in general whatever the outcome these whole days fishing, which I find hard to do remember, would be most welcome.

We both went out separate ways and there is only one option for this type of fishing and that is travel light and rove from swim to swim try and find any fish that were feeding.

The stretch is a half a mile long and we both covered that and more, having to negotiate a style and a bridge and a gate in pursuit of our quarry. (I covered 15k steps) 

I lost 2 lots of gear in the process but with Nic's guidance managed to find a couple of nice swims which gave a satisfying dunk of the lead to at least you knew the bait was presented ok.

A longer cast with the 5 ounce feeder in to the mosh pit had the feeder pulled out of position easily even when using a bow in the line to try and ease the tension on the line. It was fishable though and it was just a matter of waiting for that rod to jump in to life. 

A good few hours in without a nibble though this wasn't looking good. The debris coming down was relentless and frequent casting was required to prevent the build-up.

We were both using the same baits with paste wrapped glugged Dynamite Baits Hot-Fish Boilies. Chub on the Wye do seem to love meat and I alternated between the two as hook baits even adding a few maggots on my size 10 hook to at least try and get a bite. 

Not even any chub pulls though so as the session was panning out this could well be a one bait affair. Around lunchtime Nic came for a natter and he was currently biteless like I was. He was in the swim we both said looked the best and 10 minutes after he returned, he had some great news. 

He managed to get a bite and a 6 or 7 pound Barbel decided he wanted to get in one one of Nic's YouTube videos to show off its recent scrape with an otter. 😀

And that was that really, I fished until I had enough which was still around 10 hours of fishing and had literally nothing to show for it apart from a weathered face and a couple of lost feeders. 

Some cold rain was due half an hour after I left and boy did it tank it down when I was driving back. Nic stuck it out to his credit but no more fish for him. 

So not the end to the session I wanted but good company and another Wye stretch ticked off the list. So  2 rods, twenty hours of a bait being presented and only one fish to show for it, as expected slim pickings. 

The river was on the drop and as I type this over one meter down 24 hours later, I bet those barbel are switched on already bet get on it, then again we cannot can we, unless my last name was James and my first name is Bob. 

Back to the canals it is then, I'll be back on the Wye, soon enough, what a place !!!!

Sunday, 12 March 2023

The River Arrow - Loafs and Logocentrisms

I checked the river levels the evening before and the Arrow a ten minute drive away looked like it would be fishable so in the morning it was out with the John Wilson rod, liquidised bread with garlic and cheese flavouring and bread on the hook.

The river was turbid when I fought through the waterlogged country lanes and I did think if some worms or maggots might have been the better option, but then a bite came quick in this swim which sadly I missed put pay to that theory. 

Bread for chub is such a wonderful bait and they seem to love the stuff whether it's fished hard on the bottom, suspended off it or when floating on the top.

In these strong tea coloured conditions bread is about as visible as a bait can get so small rivers like this where roving from swim to swim bites can often come very quick indeed. Roving is the key to success this isn't a river to chose your peg and set-up station in it.  

So travelling light is the key and move from swim to swim to try and winkle out a fish or two. The water temperature was 6.4 degrees which wasn't as cold as I thought but it's a fair shallow river in the main and I think that helps.

The first chub was a feisty 2 pounder but as the session panned out it was clear the bigger chub that reside here were not up for feeding. This section of the Arrow seems to have a good head of chub and that was also one of the reasons why I headed here because it often is a decent stretch to get a bend in the rod.   

One out of three swims produced bites and like I said bites can come quick when you stumble upon fish in the swim. 

In one of those with a tree to my left and a slightly deeper trough produced two chub within subsequent casts so overall it was a pretty decent session. I reckon 7 or so chub were caught with the biggest just under 3 pound as a guestimate. An enjoyable morning and with only 2 more days of the river season left I'm hoping to cram another couple of sessions in. 

I'm unlikely to renew this ticket for next season even though it's a convenient stretch because I do like to mix my options up year on year.

I do like the Arrow though so I might look in to other stretches where those Arrow barbel could well be hiding. I have caught barbel on the Arrow in the past and although their numbers are dwindling I'm sure there are some big'uns still lurking about I'm sure of it.  
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