Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Friday 24 February 2023

Warwickshire Avon - Militants and Millenarianisms

When I was driving home in the dark from the last session along the small country lane back to my gaff, all of a sudden a scene straight out of the Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A huge array of lights with various colours and intensities heading towards me, and at that moment I thought I was about to be teleported up to the mother ship.

Thankfully though, after trying to process what the heck it was, it turned out to be a land train of cyclists (>20 easily), riding out together in a big group where safety in numbers was obviously key to their survival. Not one reflective vest from what I could see, just a boat load of lumens to try and block out my face palm. We've some fair weather though, they often appear out of nowhere in numbers down this neck of the woods, so can we have some rain, pretty please. 

Now looking at the long range weather forecast before the season end it all looked a bit pants to be honest as we could do with some rain . So for giving a late season barbel a go anyway, things didn't look promising but was I missing something ? only one way to find out I suppose. 

Now this new area I've been frequenting on the Warwickshire Avon probably sees more horses than anglers (not seen one yet) so I was back for some barbel blanking punishment, because I ain't done that well thus far in my quest for a PB beater. They are here though I know that for certain, so I've just got to keep plugging away with the short sessions I do, and get lucky. 

Now it's not all bad as I've caught some nice >5 chub here now so one of those would do as well to be fair, so anyway for this session I'd bait drop some hemp, small pellets and maggots coming up to dusk and fish a small Dynamite Baits glugged Hot Fish boilie over the top of the whisker twitching Smörgåsbord.

Now the barbel, Barbus barbus, is the other big long powerful inedible cyprinid of British waters. Its shape is much like a chub's, but it is darker in colour and has a more flattened head, and its tail is curiously asymmetrical, with the lower lobe rounded but the upper lobe pointed. 

It is a bottom feeder, a river-pig, not at all fastidious, the big barbel of the Danube fall to worms taken from the Viennese sewers. Barbel nose into gravel and silt, and feel for food with the four long barbules, two on the chin and two at the angle of the underslung jaw, as well as feeling it they can sample its flavour, with the taste-buds on the barbules, before it enters their mouths. 

Sometimes they take food in midwater, conspicuously, they turn belly-upwards to get at it and the pale underside shows clearly. This turning over presumably lets them feel and taste the floating food, before swallowing it. It is obviously the beard-like barbules that give them their name; for "barb" meant "beard" in English, as it does in French, before it became restricted to pointed bits of metal.

I've witnessed first hand myself that barbel can often be preoccupied with small items of food that they grub up from the bottom, but if offered a small bait on a fine hook either ignore it or, worse, use their great strength to straighten out the hook or break the tackle. 

In the course of a year, more tackle probably gets smashed by barbel than by any other fish, and put up a fight worthy of any game fish. 

Some say that barbel can cut through the line with the thick sharp spine that forms the front of their dorsal fin, but this is probably an excuse, and the true blame should be given to inadequate lines and tackle.

The British rod-caught record is >20lb now and there are some bigger than that, well over thirty pounds in European rivers. The closely related Aral barbel of the lower Volga and points eastwards grows to fifty pounds, and four feet. There are eight other smaller European species; and more in their Asian homeland. The great Indian barbel, the mahseer, is said to reach one hundred and fifty pounds. I don't know what sort of tackle it requires, trigger you got a broom handle I can borrow. 

Now even for English barbel you need a good Avon rod and strong wrists, and no end of groundbait, pellets and hemp, oh and a suitable river. Barbel prefer moderately fast, clean water, the big ones often choose the region of slack water below a rapid run, with abundant cover, or they will lie in thick weed in the middle of a fast stretch. They are only worth fishing for in the summer and autumn, in the cold weather you see, unlike chub they go deep and become very sluggish, and then comes the closed season.  

Damn It !!!

Anyway might as well give it a go I suppose before the water temperature drops again. Before I settled in to the session rather than do some leading here and there to try and find a decent place to bait dropper the bed of bait down, I'd bring the deeper in to play as that would do a better job of finding one than my rather lacklustre approach. (a trough >7ft deep btw) I've a new club book now but before I venture further afield in the new season and better conditions these smash and grab sessions is about all I'm willing to muster up at the minute !!!

Anyway the face says it all !!!

There were certainly fish in the swim when the light went because the boilie which was tight to the hair was being pulled and plucked for an hour and a half at least. Some of the bites were proper chub clangs as well but for some reason they avoided being hooked.

The air temperature had dropped considerably by this time in-fact when I got in the car to head home it was showing 1 degrees. So a bit of a wasted session I suppose as I could have well have caught a chub or two if I had changed my tactics. But that's fishing for you isn't it, cannot have it your own way all of the time, that would be a bit rubbish wouldn't it.  


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...