Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Friday 20 January 2023

The Tiny River Alne - Baskins and Bathythermographs

Small stream fishing and it's likely residents I'm well conversed with now, and more recently I've been playing round with a scaled down helicopter rig. You see when the water is well up or very well coloured and a float cannot be used, (which I prefer) I'd usually use a link ledger set-up or a running feeder set-up, but often missed bites got me looking at rigs to increase my hook-ups.

A helicopter rig isn't new, and when fishing large lakes and gravel pits for specimen roach, the tangle free approach and self-hooking ability often when anglers are sat in their bivi's. Heavy bobbins and bait runners, feeder full of maggots, sit back and get the Ridge Monkey sandwich toaster on.  

Bites on this set-up from 8 ounce dace and roach and and kamikaze trout using a stiffer quivertip then I usually (carbon not glass) use was very encouraging indeed. You see George had been having some lovely specimen roach on the Leam using a similar approach with a 10g feeder.

This Drennan micro jobby is more Tom Daley than Peter Kay when it enters the water and when fishing small rivers like this, less belly flops the better really as not to disturb the swim. 

George Burtons River Leam Big Roach Rig

The problem is the Leam is now home to some 4lb chub and scaling down can certainly have it's disadvantages, where any decent chub would quite easily pull the jumper over your head and provide some unwanted kidney punches and a middle fin when the hook-link parted or the hook-pulled. My set-up I tried successfully on the tiny stream was a halfway house as it uses 5lb mainline and 4lb on the short hook link. 

As I said I prefer to use a float when fishing small rivers but when coloured and especially when its barely above freezing those hands can be places in the chest pockets and only need to be removed when needed. 

Now In years gone by, probably not so much now, some rivers anglers are content just to fish. Others fish only for roach. A few set out deliberately to catch specimens. Sometimes their decision is arrived at after a natural progression from small roach to large ones and then, finally, to specimens. 

Sometimes the change of attitude is brought about by a happy combination of luck and timing which results in the angler catching bigger roach than he ever before thought existed in his river. 
He is often surprised amazed, even. But from that moment on, he is never quite the same again. He will fish with a new awareness, an intenser kind of expectation. He may even, in time, become a dedicated specimen hunter - a man apart; a different breed of river angler altogether.

Roach of specimen size are not caught easily. Many river anglers fish their whole lives through and never catch one. It may be that, in some cases, very few specimen-sized roach are to be found in a particular river. In just a few, there are many such roach. In most rivers nowadays with pollution and predation, they are not common. Any roach over a pound in weight is a good fish, it may even be a specimen for the water in which it was caught. 

Roach over a pound and a half in weight are very good fish, over two pounds, they are specimens in every sense of the word, and over three pounds, they are truly fabulous fish by any standards. Finding and catching roach of this class can be a frustrating business. The very uniformity of the average river and often its lack of truly recognizable swims can be baffling. 

Where can the angler start to look for them? And more important still, if he succeeds in finding them, how can he single out specimens from the lesser fish and catch them? The task is certainly difficult, but not impossible. The easiest and most obvious way is to look for them. 

In rivers that are very clear, location by observation is possible; but it takes time, stealth, keen eyes and a lot of patience. The angler who is habitually noisy in his approach and who always precedes his fishing by bombarding the swim with groundbait will seldom catch big roach. Now prevailing conditions can either hinder or help his efforts. Like many that target specimen fish it is best to fish early and late in the day, and preferably with the sun thinly veiled by cloud. Glare on the water makes fish spotting difficult in clear water without polarised sunglasses.  

Anyway, another rig reccy this so I decided to head down to a stretch of the Alne I'd only fished once before. The word from the fellow bank dwellers that had fished this stretch has said "where the heck are all the bigger fish ?"
But as a seasoned Alne angler those bigger fish don't show as regularly as the Warwickshire Stour for example. In the height of the summer in places this river is a mere dribble but in the winter when the levels are boosted often then the bigger fish can be found. 

Big baits seem to be the key, in-fact I can remember a cracking session on the Alne where lobworms and size 6 hook did the business, with some nice chub and caught. The bigger chub I caught on the Alne over the years >3lb all came to either a Salmo Hornet or matchbox sized pieces of bread. if I recall.  

For this session though it was out with the worms and maggots where I'd drop in to any likely looking fish holding spot(s) to try and get a bite or two. 

The problem was evident on the first drop of the worm and maggot cocktail, yeap minnows and lots of them. The were literally on the bait within seconds and often on the drop. The tell-tale nonstop tapping and knocking of the quiver tip when they hooked themselves.

Some swims looked perfect for a bite, those swims where a much deeper area was quite clearly evident and yet oddly those swims seemed devoid of fish, hmmmmm very indeed. Swim after swim the same outcome when eventually a proper full round a decent fish was on.

Only a small dace and sadly that was about the best of the action and oddly it came from underneath a pretty stiff raft. The Alne in my experience is a very moody river though and often the best sessions I've had have been when its chocolate brown and motoring through. 

Still the rig did the business and that was all that matters I suppose but I'm not likely to come back here any time soon. Well I say that, I'm sure the Salmo hornet might have been the way to go because the water was much clearer than I thought it would be.

It was very pleasant in the sun but as soon as that went behind the trees it was very chilly indeed. The water temperature was only 4 degrees as well, so maybe the fish were sulking because of that.

This stretch has far more footfall than I'm used ( a couple of dog walkers and 3 other anglers) but I'm sure there are some nice fish to be caught here, like the other stretch I fish further downstream, I just need to fish it on a good day. 


  1. Ive just discovered thise Drennan micro feeders andvreally like them.
    6lbline to a size 6 and when I get roachy bites I scale diwn to a 10, still on 6lb line. We don't mess about in Essex 😆


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...