Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Wednesday 29 March 2023

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.51 (Canal Carp)

Sam's homework this week couldn't be more apt, you see he could have just gathered the thoughts in my head about these modern times and I'm sure I could get him to put pen to paper and back to a society I'd rather live in. 

Doesn't help I'm not feeling the work vibe at the minute and with the weather being pants as well that combination ain't doing me much good. 

Still, these short and frequent trips to the canal does move the needle back to an utopia, and that fresh air and towpath trudging does help keep me on those often wayward tracks. Those tracks for todays session were to try and catch one of these elusive carp that reside in this section of canal.

Canal carp fishing is often a lonely and dedicated art, with a high percentage of nervous breakdowns and suicides among its practitioners. You might bait up a spot for a few days in advance and, then sit there all night with a damn great ball of breadpaste or boilie on a hair, when just after dawn the whole thing is chomped up by a shoal of bream. (For some double dipping I'd have a zander rod out)

Locate the carp and fish the margins is often a good way of fishing for them and the tried and trusted method of surface fishing with a crust, that will consistently bring results. Late evening-during the night and  morning, are the time to try this method but carp have been taken by it during the day. 

On some waters, the carp love to rove along in the edges, and along the rushes, looking for various forms of food. In well-fished waters, when other anglers have gone home, and all is quiet, they have learned that many an easily come-by meal is to be had by roaming round the edges. Here they find a few crusts the remains of someone's bait, a little farther, a few more crusts-the remains of someone's sandwiches. All this unintentional surface-baiting, and ground-baiting-has helped to educate the fish to form this habit of bank-feeding.

At night, they can be heard like noisy pigs- slop, slop, slop, then quiet. Again the sucking breaks out, a little nearer this time. The anglers heart is pounding as he sees large ripples rolling away, with their centre not far away-then again all is quiet. The expectant angler suddenly half hears, half sees, his line rustling through the rod rings. 

He does not know whether he heard the crust sucked into the fishes mouth or not, as he responds with a fearful strike. A curse may be heard as the rod bends for a second, and then whips the hook straight back past his ear, for it has not taken hold. 

Alternately, a gasp of " Got you, you," as with steady hands, but trembling heart, the angler wonders at the power of this creature, that speeds towards the centre of the lake making the rod bend double and the reel sing, as if they were having no effect at all, "It's only a 10-or12-pounder," he says to his friend, but secretly he is wondering "The way this is fighting it must be a 20-pounder." Margin-fishing at night can be one of the most tensing forms of carp fishing.

The manner in which the crust is fished is exceedingly simple. A rod rest is pushed in the bank, in such a fashion that the rod, resting in it, will project with its tip immediately above the position at which it is wished to fish the crust.

 The hook is threaded into the outside of the crust which is lowered on to the water making sure that no line rests on the water. The bail arm is left open (or centrepin and loose ratchet) and a bobbin or stick placed across the line or a couple of loops of line is pulled off the reel.

The strike should take place almost immediately where "One, two, three, bang. One disadvantage is that it is absolutely essential that the anglers must be as quiet as humanly possible, and not cause any unnecessary vibrations, it is merely the length of the rod that decides how near to him the carp must come to take the bait. 

I arrived at 5.30pm and hot-footed it to the swim where I'd seen the carp and got the zander rod out before sorting out the carp rod.

This section of reeds is a good 20 yards long but there are certain areas where a visible gap is evident so a piece of bread went in there to try and intercept one of the carp. A few freebies and a handful of pellets as well to try and get a reaction.

Plenty of action in the area, such as ducks fully submerging and popping back up again, a Labrador that was enjoying a dip and the surface of the canal trying to replicate a force nine. The rain started just before 8'oclock but it wasn't until dusk had been and gone when the heavens opened. 

Best laid plans and all that because there was literally was no fish activity whatsoever. Those zander didn't turn up as the light went and the carp, well suspicious in their absence. I never thought it would easy to catch one, I just need to keep on ticking the sessions off. 

Monday 27 March 2023

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.50 (Canal Zander)

A cold start this and with rain on and off for the whole of the morning session sitting it out in one swim probably wasn't the best idea, so zander it is then. You only have to look back over my blog that to get in to a rhythm with them these days is getting harder and harder these days and bites seem to be at a premium. 

When I first starting fishing for them may moons ago certainly stretches of canal that had lots of cover multiple fish could be caught in a single session, and often both floats would be going off the same time when you stumbled upon a shoal.

There has been an unbelievable amount of cover removed over the years and it sad to look back at my blog where lovely looking stretches full of interest now baron places. That has definitely made a difference to the bites so much so there are 'hot-spot' stretches I used to fish that I don't bother with now.

Roving is the key to finding them like it always has been and you don't need to stay in one swim for that long because if you happen to stumble on a fish, the float will let you know quite quickly. This session I covered 10k steps easily and expected it was swim after swim after swim, and then, yeap a bite. !!!     

There is plenty of cover on this stretch, in-fact locally anyway it has the most out of any now but oddly it was a swim that used to be a banker in years gone by that produced the bite. There was around 30 metres of thick canopy where the fish used to hold up, now its sparse since the canal and river trusts hacking back. 

Only a small schoolie that took the bait within minutes of it being out. The float burst in to life when the fish picked up the bait and headed towards the tangled mess of branches so I had be quick on tightening up to the circle hook.

It picked up the inch section of roach no problem but another fish came off in similar circumstances an hour later in another swim. That felt even smaller again, tough going this. Still plenty of distractions on the towpath. On being a girl on a blow up paddle board literally turned up, paddled 100 yards, took a few selfies, double backed on herself returned to the car and buggered off. 

Probably an Instagram 'influencer' or something and a pictured needed to appease her fans and followers on the perfect life she has, because of all of the exercise she has been doing in the countryside. 

And that was my lot, a huge amount of walking in the cold and the occasional rain shower with little return. Not for the feint hearted this zander lark. Other areas don't seem to be any different either from the updates I've been getting.

With a frost in the morning as I type this they are probably not moving around that much and most likely laying up sulking waiting for the temperatures to rise and the spawning to kick off in anger. On to the next one !!

Sunday 26 March 2023

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.49

Now an asteroid a bit smaller than a football field will streak harmlessly past Earth at a relatively close distance of 107,500 miles on today, a spectacle that happens about once every 10 years, sky watchers say.

The asteroid designated 2023 DZ2 will pass about halfway between the Earth and the moon's orbit at a speed of about 17,403 mph, astronomers said. It's an estimated 140 to 310 feet in diameter. It's calculated to come closest to Earth at 3:51 p.m.

Now thankfully the asteroid will pass Earth harmlessly this year, but for a while it had a 1-in-38-million chance to hit Earth. Later calculations showed less risk, and on March 21 it was removed from the Sentry Risk Table, which monitors asteroids for possible impact with Earth.

Asteroids travel in space, become meteors when they enter a planet's atmosphere and are known as meteorites after they hit the ground.

For this early morning session I decided to return to the same swim where I picked up those roach yesterday and would sit it out in the one area, but this would also be a double dipping session. You see I lost a carp here towards the end of last year that snaffled the bread meant for bream, and did me over good and proper.

I thought I'd have a 1-in-38 million chance of catching a canal carp because I'd not seen any for ages and despite catching the odd one or two, those areas I used to see them are now baron. Much of the cover has been removed which doesn't help and also I've spotted otters in most canal stretches I fish.

I'd put some freebies in one swim yesterday so I'd top it up and fish a white pop-up suspended just off the bottom to try and intercept a carp.

They do like cover but I've seen them go up and down the stretch looking for food plenty of times in the past when I've been fishing for Zander. A bite alarm AND a centre-pin the ratchet if activated might even wake the Wife from her slumber.

I love early mornings on the canals, not only are they quieter with little boat movement but often the fish are well up for a feed.

So sloppy bread to colour up the green water and a decent size flake on the hook. I like fishing a small float that is fished over depth. The bites unlike the left method are unmissable where the float sails away slowly.

The fish bite came within minutes and as soon as it took off I knew exactly what it was. !!!

A hard fighting hybrid, these for their size give such a good scrap you think the fish would be twice as big until they surface. I could happily catch these all day, but it was the chub, and now roach I was after really. Another hybrid within 10 minutes I was starting to enjoy this.

 Another quick bite and a fish that felt like a roach dropped off, there was plenty of bites forthcoming. The next fish was a surprise chublet, so there is chub here after all, yeay !!!

Ok not exactly the stamp I was after but a chub is a chub, is a chub. I fed some more bread slop and the swim went dead for 20 minutes when out the blue another sail away bite another fish was on.

Another chub !!!

By this time the wind had picked up and the sun was shining right in my face. Another two hybrids in quick succession and a bream, bites galore.

Where were the roach though ? I caught 3 in the same spot yesterday but they didn't show today oddly. Oh well I'm not complaining after all my recent blanks.  

I do miss the zander mind you, so I might have a dabble for them next time. The water still felt cold to the touch but a fellow Zander angler Buffalo Si has been catching them for fun recently.

The again he is bankside in one day more than I manage in a week. Those feeding spells are often one hour in 24 that's the problem. You just need to be there at the right time, that's why fishing for other species is beneficial because at least you often don't blank. 

Friday 24 March 2023

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.48 - (PB Content !!)

The ammonia stench emanating from the garage pointed to only one culprit, yeap the pint and a half of maggots I bought a couple of weeks ago chilling, or so I thought. You see a quick inspection the bait fridge decided to give up the ghost and the maggots had been sweating like a glassblowers backside. 

A quick temperature check 15.5 degrees, positively tropical !!!

So I removed all the contents, pellets, boilies, glugs, liquids  etc, oh and some unfathomable contents within a plastic container where the mould came out in one big clump with ones pincers. As a stilton lover I did contemplate spreading it on one toast but thought twice when I got a whiff, Jesus, it would  certainly comatose the wife if she got in nose shot. 

Answers on a postcard !!!!

After unplugging it with some meddling and vacuuming up the dust and cobwebs from the rear of the fridge I powered it up again and could hear the compressor kick in to life then stop. Hmmm, the thermostat I wonder ? So I removed the assembly and bypassed it by removing two of the terminals and connecting them together as a process of elimination, but nope after leaving it overnight with ones fingers crossed, it made sod all difference. 

Back to the drawing board then !!!!

To be fair it served me well up till now as it's >10 old at least. A quick butchers as ebay etc I could pick up a replacement for a Friday nights trip to the pub, but the problem is could well be a false economy. New ones can be picked up for around £130 quid so might be better to just buy a new'un. Will be an expensive month this, with a new 15ft rod, a replacement rod section, mothers day and now this. Better start looking behind the sofa, me thinks !!!!

Now few anglers associate chub with canals, but they are not as uncommon in these waters as many believe. Chub of over seven pounds in weight have been caught in recent years and the Midlands  such as the Staffs/Worcs Canal does seem to throw up chub over five and six pounds quite readily. Chub of this size could truly be described as exceptional. In canals where chub are common, fish of up to four pounds in weight are sometimes caught. 

Locating them can be the major problem. There are no obvious chub swims in canals like there are in rivers, no flood-hollowed banks or undercuts, very few fast runs, and even the overhangs of willows that are almost synonymous with chub are sparse. The other problem is the comparative scarcity of chub in relation to the more numerous roach and perch, or in waters I fish, bream and hybrids. 

This means that, unless some degree of swim selection and bait preference can be established, the capture of chub will remain more a matter of luck than judgement. The problem is even more complicated in canals in which reed growth is scarce or has been cut back. Where, in all this expanse of featureless water, can one begin to look for chub?

The easiest answer is to continue fishing in traditional canal-style and accept any chub caught as a sort of bonus. Chub are caught like this every season, and they are sometimes landed on the finest of tackle. Occasionally, chub are caught in matches; but the majority of canal anglers fish the whole season through without catching a single one. 

This is not surprising since canal chub are rarely seen, except in the clearest of water. An angler who wishes to catch them must be prepared to dedicate some time and effort to this purpose. I think the first step must be to discard normal canal-fishing methods of angling with maggots for anything that might come along and, instead begin fishing specifically for chub with the kind of tackle that will ensure that any fish hooked is not likely to get away. 

Tactics can be as varied as those used to catch chub in rivers. I have always found it difficult to understand why canal fishing should become a dreary routine of sitting patiently in one spot with a bag of groundbait and a tin of maggots. There is scope for a more enterprising kind of fishing which involves wandering with rod and bait in search of an immediate chance. The fast water below the lock gates and even up in the 'race' itself are ideal places for this style of fishing. 

A hook baited with a lobworm and then cast up into the fast water, without the hindrance of a float or weight, will sometimes result in the capture of a specimen of many species. The method might seem unusual for canal fishing, but these swims are similar to many that can be found in rivers, and there is no logical reason why a method that is so often successful in rivers should not also be successful in canals. The same opportunity for a quick capture is there to be exploited.

Now location them as I mentioned is one of the biggest problems and Martyn from my local tackle shop put me on to an area that has always held them in one area over the years. It didn't take long to catch one either and it went 3lb and 10 ounces on the scales. 

I caught that by trotting a large piece of breadflake in an overflow. The bread fished slightly overdepth so it was almost dragging along the bottom. 

The bite came quick too so rather than bait and wait roving can certainly increase chances of catching one. The same tactics also bagged me a PB roach on the same stretch of canal, and I'm sure because the clarity of water is often coloured up in these neck of the woods, that visual large piece of white bread is certainly a head turner. 

I could keep on fishing that area for a bigger fish, but tramp alley not only sees far too much footfall but that challenge was ticked off I suppose, I fancy trying for one somewhere else. 

Now the last but one session on the canal I bumped in to a lure angler from the Czech republic who was happy to share the fish he'd be catching on the stretch and he'd caught some nice chub, 3-4 lb when he was lure fishing for pike and zander.

We both blanked on that day but still after giving me an idea where he'd caught them from I might as well try and catch one of them. This one of many I suppose to try and track one down, but whist the Zander are having an off day, week, month at least this would be a nice distraction. So a float set-up that I'd fish bread and then I'd also have a salmo hornet crankbait, a veritable chub catcher if there ever was one. 

I've caught some cracking chub over the years using them and especially in this bright green colour which would be ideal for these coloured canals. A link ledger piece of bread in and around the locks and also the cover might we worth a go as well, but for this session I'd keep it to the methods I'd prefer to catch them on. 

Anyway on to the fishing, well what a surprise session this was !!!

You see after fishing the first section without a bite on bread or the crankbait I moved up to the next section where I've fished before and there is some reeds near bank and far bank. It's pretty shallow here but I was fishing a couple of metres out where I couldn't see the bottom.

After feeding some sloppy bread I put a 10 pence piece sized piece of flake on the hook and under armed cast out the small float. What I didn't expect was a bite within a few minutes when the float dragged to the right and went confidently under.

I was in to a fish that didn't feel that big but was giving a good fight and when I landed it I realised it was a lovely roach around the 1lb mark. The float went back out and a few minutes later the same happened and I was in to another fish.

This one felt bigger, much bigger and was giving a very spirited fight indeed !!!

This was even bigger, and with both retained in the landing net this was well worth a weigh. The scales went round to 1lb and 12 ounces which is actually a PB on river and canal. A cracking fish and when roach get this big such a stunning looking creature.

3 boats within half an hour the swim went dead and there was nothing whatsoever on the crankbait  despite fishing a few swims I decided to call the session early.

There was a considerable chop on the water and the float was difficult to see. I did managed a 3rd roach which was 5 or 6 ounces but after 5 blanks I was well happy with the outcome. Canals are not too bad after all. On to the next one !!!

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. 
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