Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Friday 30 June 2023

Warwickshire Avon - Jungles and Juramentums

I'm renowned for breaking rods, leaving stuff bankside, ripping my clothes on barbed wire that sort of thing and yesterday when I out my rucksack down in the swim, the bag was wide open and the camera I recently replaced like for like after dropping it in to the Wye, was no longer there πŸ™ˆ

I retraced my steps twice to no avail and couldn't for the life of me find where I'd dropped it. I even emptied the car of junk where again, it was nowhere to be seen.

It wasn't expensive as it's an old camera but I only bought the replacement in January where it's barely had any use. It was a Sony 63X zoom DSC-H400 and for 80 quid you've a decent bridge camera that is perfect what I need it for. 

Anyway with a couple of hours to kill that dictated the session for me however what I didn't expect was that when I parked my car on the verge when I opened the boot and looked to my left, the camera was literally right there in plain sight. Not just the camera either but the phone mount I use that screws in to the bankstick. That's why the picture yesterday was a bit half arsed.

Result !!!!

That gave me a bit more time to make some more swims as the problem down here at the start of the season is that the bank is like a jungle.

It's that sticky weed stuff that is the issue the stingers fall as easily as Jo Biden on a flat floor. Before I started I fed some groundbait and maggots in to the first swim you come to which has some cover from a tree canopy. 

Two more swims making 4 in total at least there is a few more options now. The water was gin clear where in one of the elevated swims you could see 6 or 7 foot down to the bottom quiet easily. 

On the Warwickshire Avon that can me tough fishing and I wasn't wrong. I fished a small stick float a size 18 hook and 2lb bottom where from the first drift down it was clear that it might take a while because even the minnows didn't have mouths big enough to suck in the maggot(s).

After twenty minutes to be honest I contemplated going home as it started to drizzle but a proper bite when the float went straight under that I missed, at least I knew there were fish worth catching in the swim.

The culprits well it didn't take long after that to find out it was a dace, and then 15 or so followed in about an hour and half. They were also of similar stamp, not the bigger ones that often show up here in winter.

I love catching dace because find a decent shoal they can provide decent sport where other fish are reluctant to feed.

Considering the conditions and how clear it was I was surprised myself but they couldn't resist the maggots the greedy blighters. The rain was starting to get heavier and I didn't want a load of wet maggots again so that was that. The camera found and a few bites, an enjoyable afternoon. 

Warwickshire Avon - Doom Mongers and Dontopedalogy

What can be more satisfying or enjoyable than the rearing of maggots at home?

How about that for a bloody silly question? Having got rid of it, we can get down to the nitty gritty. Or, as we say in the trade, the squirmy wormy. Maggot breeding has a special appeal for anyone who has a yen for the solitary life. (After a little while the neighbours move away. Followed, shortly after, by the wife and kids.)

Materials are few and equipment is simple. First you need a corpse, preferably in an advanced state of decomposition, the choice of which can be determined by the number of maggots you intend to produce.

You could use, depending on quantity, taste and availability, a horse, a sheep, a cat, a politician or the mother-in-law. The choice of the last, apart from removing one of life's major drawbacks, has the added appeal of keeping the whole thing in the family.

All maggots are not equal. This is important to know from the start, if you are not going to breed an inferior product. There are four main kinds. The little squats are the offspring of the common housefly; specials come from a bigger kind of housefly; big liver maggots come from the bluebottle, and pinkies from the greenbottle.

Why a greenbottle should have pinkies is one of the more boring mysteries of modern science. To avoid having the breeding ground populated by squats to the disadvantage of the bigger maggots, some form of selective birth control has to be applied.

Simply standing there and saying, 'Shoo!' has little or no effect. Years of research has shown that simply standing (This has led many eminent scientists to conclude that houseflies are stone deaf.) Nor can the squirting with insecticide of houseflies in labour be recommended: the overkill is such that many breeding bottles cop for it as well.

The overkill disadvantage applies also to the spraying of flies on the wing with instant aerosol starch. Besides which, the noise of the stiff little bodies screaming down out of control and crashing on to the patio can be quite upsetting to anyone with a sensitive nature.

Now sex is another problem. For every female bluebottle, looking for somewhere to drop one of her 20 batches of 130 eggs, there is a male bottle whose only interest is in a free meal. As a corpse conservation measure, every male bottle should be dealt a swift clout before he can get his teeth into the meat.

Sexing bluebottles with any degree of accuracy, however, is very difficult. 

Their size makes a close examination absolutely essential and it is practically impossible to get them to stay still long enough for that. 

More than one breeder, unwise enough to attempt this selective culling, has been carried away suffering from severe eyestrain and the gibbering heebies.

Within two or three days the corpse should be pullulating with infant gentles, happily slurping their way through the golden, innocent days of childhood. 

By listening closely, having first taken your nose between forefinger and thumb, it is possible actually to hear the little chaps wriggling and chomping in an ecstasy of exploration and discovery.

After a week or ten days they are fully grown and ready to face the perils of the outside world. They drop off into the tub of bran, and from here they can be transferred into airholed cans for storage. Whilst in the can they will need further feeding. Otherwise they will eat each other and even in moments of  mental aberration, themselves.

Now talking of mental aberration I needed an escape from the climate countdown clock from hypocrites King Charles and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and anyway, with the world beyond the tipping point in 6 years according to the doom mongers, better get as much fishing in as I can before the world implodes.  

Look on the bright side however, as at least those that will see >6 years time at least they will have plenty of corpses for their maggot breeding, there has to be some plus points in before the impending armageddon. Anyway to the fishing, for this session down at the syndicate stretch, it was a maggot approach initially and then an all out boilie and feeder rod out for something a little bigger in to dusk and beyond. 

I decided to fish a small feeder with groundbait on maggot on the hook to start with and that was a good choice because after some tiny plucks and pulls a proper bite when a fish hooked itself and a nice plump dace was on.

Many of these followed and there were plenty of fish around especially at dusk. A hard fighting chub as well come in to the mix and the size 16 hook perfectly in its top lip. A pike launched itself out of the water right by my feet but thankfully the dace got to see another day. The big rod went out half an hour before dusk because the maggots got wet from my landing net, and oddly that's where the action stopped. 

After one big pluck on the bait I fully expected to catch a fish but not, oddly it was very quiet indeed and by 11.00pm after being attacked by every insect under the sun I decided to make my way home and come back again. (Well I have to because I think I left my camera !!!)

Wednesday 28 June 2023

The Tiny River Alne - Zombies and Zoogyroscopes

Now if you didn't know Shudder is an American over-the-top subscription video on demand service featuring horror, thriller and supernatural fiction titles, owned and operated by AMC Networks. The streaming service offers original films and TV series like Creepshow, inspired by the 1982 movie of the same name directed by George A. Romero.

A zombie movie set in a plastic surgery hospital practically writes itself, and that's supposed to be the charm of "Yummy." What's it about? Just check the poster tagline—"facelifts, boob jobs, and zombies." 

The script, from director Lars Damoiseaux and Eveline Hagenbeek, certainly involves topless zombies, an enlarged penis meeting, an over-the-top doom, and plenty of bodies getting ripped to shreds. 

But “Yummy” has very little to say ever about how people want to change their bodies aside from pointing out that it's a thing, while the other half of its very small brain still wants to leer anyway. 

It can't offer any wit to its tiresome cynicism and horniness, and all of its body parts, zombies, and forgettable characters are treated as wholesale. I mean come on what do you expect movie reviewers, it's a comedy zombie movie. πŸ™ˆπŸ€£ An hour and a half long, brain out entertainment with one of the funniest scenes I've seen in a comedy movie, it was that funny I rewound it and watched again, and laughed just as much.

Anyway talk about brain out entertainment with an a two hour window to go fishing the only viable choice was the river alne a short distance away. Two minutes to get the lure rod and bag sorted, 5 mins in the car jobs a good'un.

When it's low and clear like this a shallow running lure can often get the predatory fish such as trout, perch and chub up for a smash and grab.

The tiny Salmo minnow is perfect for the conditions as it dives a foot or so under the water and you can still see it perfectly in the clear conditions.  

Such a simple method of fishing and these small rivers are perfect to get a few bites even though the fish may not be that big. Over the years a 4lb chub and 2lb trout are about the biggest I've managed but I've lost bigger trout and that's why I keep on coming back, well there is the fact it's so handy and 99 times out of 100 it's just me fishing it.

There are some deeper areas of this river but I like the shallow areas where I can get in to the river and get in to those nooks and crannies' and the darker areas where the fish hold up.

A few trout and a couple of  baby ones succumbed to the lure and then out of the blue a small perch that grabbed the lure literally right by my feet. It's the fact I'm in complete solitude and left to my own devices in a river that defines me as an angler is hard to fault. 

 In the last deeper swim where I'm elevated a couple of flashes where a trout has swiped at the lure out of the blue a bigger one turns up and grabs the lure confidently, realises he's hooked and almost in suspended motion wriggles like a good un, where I try and set the hook, it wriggles again and this time gets free Damn It !!!. 

Not one of the bigger ones that I've also lost here, but probably a 2lber and a fish I certainly like to land, oh well another day. That fishing fix sorted, what's not to like !!!

Sunday 25 June 2023

Sovereigns of the Stony Bottom - Stone Loach Pt.2 (Quest Complete !!)

In warm weather, maggots tend to chrysalise very quickly and it is advisable to keep them unrefrigerated conditions. This has been known to give rise to domestic friction in cases where the female spouse was not wholly in sympathy with the piscatorial ethos. In such cases a little subterfuge is called for.

The simplest method is to label the tin with the name of some innocuous product before placing it in the salad drawer of the refrigerator. Bread Paste or Cheese Paste are quite safe: the Wife knows they are something to do with fishing but are also quite hygienic.

Do not on any account use the name of anything which could conceivably be served up in a meal especially Long Grain Rice. 

This excellent product bears a strong resemblance to maggots in a refrigerated torpor. More than once it has happened that a short-sighted housewife has picked up a tin so labelled and made a curried rice dish for the local babysitting circle. 

There's nothing wrong with it, mind you, but few things are more heartrending the angler than to find that the maggots he went to so much trouble and expense to breed have been wolfed at one go by a bunch of twittering women.

So long as nobody tells them about it, surplus gentles can be served with safety at meetings of the Weight Watcher's Club. They have an extremely high protein content, are low on carbohydrates and served curried and with the appropriate sauce, do not taste bad at all !!!

No pinkies well didn't end for some of them because I left the bait fridge door ajar and the little blighters to escape the sweat pit managed to crawl through the tiny holes in the lid, whoops !!!

Thankfully the wife was at yoga because they were everywhere. Under the washing machine and tumble dryer and also crawling around the general area. So out with the vacuum cleaner and she was none the wiser !!

I had quite a few left thankfully so after clearing away the mess I decided a morning reccy to the Alne to try and catch a stone loach.

Minnow after minnow put a bend in the Tenkara rod and wading from section to section the faster flowing deeper areas were fished to try and stumble upon a stone loach. Some nice shady swims too where the bigger minnow seemed to be laying up.

Then out of the blue a long thin fish surfaced and the quest was complete !! 😁 that didn't take long now did it !!

Probably the smallest in the river mind you, but a stone loach is a stone loach at the end of the day and caught by design which was nice, the pinkie doing the business and the tiny hook. I stuck it out in that swim but again it was minnow after minnow. 

I had the lure rod with me as well and I also managed two small trout in the gin clear water. By this time the sun was beating down and it was getting very hot indeed.

So after fishing two more swims without success on the lure I ventured back to the area where I had the stone loach from and decided to spend the last hour there.

Again minnow after minnow but them 'boom' another stone loach πŸ‘πŸ˜πŸ’ͺ succumbed to the pinkie and size 24 hook.

This one a little darker but again very small like the first one. I thought I'd found the method and location and one or two more would crop up. But that was that, I was getting minnowed out !! 

Another quest done and dusted !!! I need another one now, answers on a postcard 

Saturday 24 June 2023

Warwickshire Avon - Afflictions and Alcoholometers

I was quite amazed how the river had changed in a few days because the levels hadn't dropped that much but the clarity had changed to gin clear from holding a little colour.

Perfect for sight fishing but when the water clarity is like this it can put the fish off somewhat. The chub often go ultra cautious especially the bigger ones and they can be hard to tempt.  

The first swim drifting down pieces of bread eventually I managed to get some chub feeding off the top. They were tucked away under some cover and took some persuasion to come out, but once they did and they started to compete they go from shy to brash.

The problem was they were feeding quite a bit down stream and the only real vantage point was a good distance away. The Angling Direct John Wilson Quiver rod though is perfect for the job as it's a little more cumbersome than my TFG River and Stream so bullying the fish isn't a problem.

I could see some bigger fish milling about but they were not interested whatsoever for some reason, but they age brings wisdom and have seen it all before, and not interested in joining in the rave over a piece of bread.

I love this sort of fishing though because it it so simple and the tackle minimal. When it's this clear it's ideal barbel spotting conditions but swim after swim those elusive barbel were nowhere to be seen. In-fact even the tiny bait fish seemed to be down on numbers but in the middle of the day not entirely unexpected. 

What was unexpected was a huge tree that had fallen in to a swim that has been good to me in the past. When the river is up after some rain and teetering over the banks there is a huge slack here that provides at least one swim on the stretch being actually fishable.

No more though, unless the tree is removed and that would be one hell of a task. There were a couple of chub milling around but they were not interested whatsoever but then it was like looking in to an aquarium. 

The swim just up from this was perfect for a chub to be hiding and a flick of the bread in the shady swim bought an instant reaction where the fish hovered up the bread in a millisecond. 

It didn't fight particularly hard and there was probably a good reason for that because most of its dorsal fin was missing and a rather large wound on it's flanks, but credit dealing with its afflictions. 

Anyway an enjoyable two hours where the bigger fish were just not interested but the smaller fish provided some decent sport in tough conditions. 

Nice to see a healthy river though because there are certainly chub in half decent numbers and hopefully when the conditions are more favourable I'll get in and amongst the bigger fish. I did spot one that was easily 5lb and he followed his mate to the landing net. 

Friday 23 June 2023

Warwickshire Avon - Waders and Water Scrigers

Now Waders !! these thigh-length rubber boots enable the angler to walk into midstream without getting wet, assuming that both the stream and the angler are of normal proportions. Short anglers have much more trouble with waders than tall ones. Apart from the discomfort and possible danger of having tough rubber edges sawing away in the most fright-making places, the short angler is much more likely to get that sudden chill round the whatnots1 which signals 'waders awash'.

When this happens he must not panic, but must turn gently over and float upside down, with his feet sticking out of the water, until he is hooked by an overhanging branch. If there are no overhanging branches, he must try to hold his breath until he passes a lifeboat station.

In common with skin diving suits, plastic macs, PVC trusses and other garments made from smooth, non-porous materials, waders have sexual connotations which are beyond the ken of the average sex maniac. The sight of a man in waders has been known to do the strangest things to the most mature of matrons, and has been responsible for many a disastrous ending to a mixed outing.

As for the sight of a woman in waders-as Lord Justice Longprong said, when delivering judgment in Regina-v-Higginson in 1981:2 

'It may well be thought that 93 years' solitary confinement is a sentence of undue severity for this offence, and that the accused was subjected to provocation above and beyond the endurance of the average individual.

'You have heard independent witnesses testify that the appearance of Miss Ewge-Bristoll in citron-yellow waders with transparent panels behind the knees to reveal what we were told were a particularly attractive set of dimples-a statement which I confirmed on examination in my chambers-was enough to send even the most respectable male citizen, as one witness put it, completely off his tiny nut.

"This said, however-and I have taken it fully into account in mitigation of the sentence-this said, we simply cannot have people berserking round our river banks with tins of black treacle in search of unprotected wading females. A female person wearing a pair of waders is entitled to the same protection under the law as a female person not wearing them.

'I intend to make an example of this man and I can only hope that, in so doing, I am nipping in the bud a nationwide outbreak of treacle pouring and bum pinching.' A healthier manifestation of the appeal of waders is the growing practice of drinking from the waders of the lady of one's choice, much as the stage door Johnnies would drink champagne from the shoe of a Gaiety Girl in the 1890's.

Now because of the volume held by even one leg of a pair of waders, drinking champagne is out of the question. The custom is, instead, to fill the wader with draught bitter or brown and mild. Seasoned drinkers, whose object of adoration is a small woman, have been known to drain one leg in a single breath, notwithstanding the airlock which forms when the level of the ale reaches the knee.

Anglers still Willie mourn, however, Wee Hickinbottom, whose chosen one was Big Bertha ('All Together Now') Heftipeece, a seventeen-stone former principal boy from Stratford-Upon-Avon. It was revealed at the inquest that that Miss Heftipeece's left wader held fourteen gallons of bitter. 

Mr Hickinbottom was unable to raise the full wader to his lips and had to resort to climbing on a table, leaning over, and sucking up the beer through a plastic tube. He had drunk no more than three gallons when he over-balanced and went in head first. His shoulders became jammed and his friends were unable to extricate him in time.

The coroner noted, as a possible source of consolation to Mr Hickinbottom's sorrowing family and friends, that at least he died with a smile on his face.

Anyway back to the fishing if you've not switched off already, The syndicate stretch needed the services of the newly purchased weed whacker and the plan was to try and make a couple of swims before the battery said 'No More'. My waders would come in handy because despite being stung plenty of times in the past I still get that horrible itch. 

Obviously I'd fish as well so I'd bring my chub and waggler rod to see if I could winkle out a fish at dusk. Upstream there had been some unfortunate fish deaths because of, well we still don't know for definite but whatever was the cause there has been considerable fish losses. 

After making one swim I decided that will do !! and got fishing instead. The hedge cutters doing an ok job but a brush cutter is what I needed really it was so thick.

Anyway not much to write home about really after some tiny dace on the waggler eventually a better stamp turned up but not exactly prolific on the bite front. Probably one in ten drifts down on the float I got a bite so hard going but it can be tough here unless you stumble on a shoal. I also managed a chub on bread almost first cast after getting a better vantage point next to some cover.

I stuck with the bread because as soon as the light faded the fish were on it straight away. Only small fish though until almost dark an 'unmissable' bite from a chub I managed to miss, whoops !!. Fish caught though and fish were topping lets hope this area came away relatively unscathed, I'll be back, next time with a different approach I think. Onwards !!!

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Sovereigns of the Stony Bottom - Stone Loach Pt.1

I fancied a new challenge in the new river season, something that could fit in with my limited fishing time and something that I could get my teeth in to.

Something that wouldn't take long to get fishing on a local river venue that could provide that new quest to keep me interested in this fishing lark. I get bored doing the same thing, my ever growing collection of rods are testament to that. 

Now there is nothing new about targeting stone loach by design it appears, you see looking for my next challenge having found a dead stone loach washed up in my local river, I stumbled upon the puny piscatorial pursuits of Peter Baker (see his lure caught fish below) and others who have caught them on metal lures, small flies and tiny imitation worms on small streams an brooks.

Now there are two species of loach, the stone loach (Nemecheilus barbatula), which is by far the commoner, and the spined loach (Cobitis taenia), which is not found in Scotland, Ireland, or Wales, and in England seems to be limited to the Midlands and Wiltshire. 

The spined loach takes its name from the 2 spines situated one on each side of its head. Both species of loach are of a brown, mottled colour and average about 3 ins. in length. 
Around the mouth they have a cluster of six barbels, or feelers, which vary in size between the species, the stone loach having two long and four short, and the spined loach six of equal length. 

Loach may be confused by the inexperienced with gudgeon or with very young barbel, but the number of barbels will readily identify them. 

The loach has six, the barbel four, and the gudgeon only two. An unusual feature of the loach is its scales, which lie flat and do not overlap. Both species make excellent spinning and dead-bait for perch, pike, trout and salmon. Loach fished on leger tackle have also accounted for barbel.
The stone loach may be found in fast-flowing streams and brooks in most parts of the British Isles; it is also found quite frequently in canals and in still water. Its favourite hiding place is among the stones on the bottom. Being 

almost entirely carnivorous, it is always ready to make a meal of any aquatic creature small enough for it to tackle that the current brings near. Spined loach have similar habits. Loach are rarely fished for deliberately except as bait. The best way of catching them is therefore the simplest and quickest, namely, with a net for some 'pond dipping'

A triangular landing-net frame which has been fitted with a fine meshed net (minnow mesh) and attached to a 4 ft handle is ideal. It is best to wade in the stream with the net moving ahead along the bottom. Swift movements of the net around the larger stones should catch plenty of fish.

In years gone by apparently if you have loach bait left over at the end of the day's fishing, you can take them home, sort them into size groups, and preserve them in formalin solution for use later as spinning baits. Incidentally, loach caught in sufficient numbers and cooked soon after catching are reckoned to be a delicacy.

Diminutive fish means a different approach than my cumbersome norm so I cobbled together some pieces of tackle and a couple of purchases too to put the plan in to action.

A good thing is the river where one dead was discovered is 5 mins away by car so short evening sessions in to dusk can be fitted in quite easily in my ever busy schedule. The rod well I decided to repurpose the tenkara rod because if any rod will be bent by a stone loach and also be able to withstand a kamikaze trout it's the tenkara rod.

The end is pin thin so ideal really I don't know why I didn't have a thought about giving it a go sooner. Now baits well, I told Martyn in the tackle shop to bung a few pinkies in with the maggots because being half the size of the maggots they are also perfect for the intended quarry.

I bet some surprises will turn up especially bullheads I'd imagine but hey, got to try and tick another species off caught on rod and line.  

Watch this space !! I bet you cannot wait πŸ˜„

I roped in Sam to explore a small Henley River not far from us to see if that was worth a dabble too. The river was very low indeed despite the recent rain and didn't spot a single fish despite roving up and down quite a bit of it.

There were deeper areas that I'm sure would have held fish but without a rod or a net it was a fruitless task. So the Alne for now and then we might cast the net wider so to speak. 

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