Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Sunday 30 July 2023

Warwickshire Stour - Skewers and Skiagraphy

The weather has been very mixed indeed, at least we have had some rain to top up the rivers and breaks in-between to have a BBQ or too. Pork Souvlaki is hard to beat especially when you really only need 10 minutes or so of marinade time.

Oregano, lemon zest and juice and paprika as well as a good pinch of salt and home made tzatziki sauce with extra garlic. Souvlaki simply means “meat on skewers.” don't forget to soak the skewers in water if you're using wooden ones as they burn rather quickly if you don't. 


Now coarse fishing has suffered for too long from a cloth cap image. The public at large tends to think of the angler as a rough-looking chap in wellingtons, raincoat and a flat cap, sitting on a canal bank swigging light ale from a bottle. 

This misconception has grown up because the angler generally is a rough-looking chap in wellingtons, raincoat and a flat cap, sitting on a canal bank swigging light ale from a bottle. This image is doing him no good at all, even though he might be anything from a redundant dustman to a captain of industry or a brain surgeon.


It does him no good, for instance, when public money is being handed out. (Government funds, such as they are, for the improvement and maintenance of recreational waters, tend to be given more readily to schemes for making the waters fit for power boats and water skiers than to improving the angling facilities.)

It does him no good in the tarted-up 'fun' pubs of the waterside. While the weekend sailors are handed their halves of bitter and camparis and soda in a flurry of tugged forelocks, the anglers are greeted with the suggestion that they might be more comfortable in the public bar, in the garden, in the shed or in the pub down the road.


So the image must be changed. The angler must join the In Crowd, the Fun People, the trendy, dashing, handsome, young Colour Section swingers who appear in telly commercials going ecstatic over the taste of a fish finger or drooling over the silken sheen of a new toilet roll.

Only then will it be realised that under the angler's drab exterior is an epic hero, a swashbuckler, very bit as dashing as the amateur sailor prancing about in his Mickey Mouse commodore's cap and blue blazer with silver buttons.



With small rivers keeping the juices flowing I ventured over to the river Stour to try and winkle out a few fish. Sam wanted to join me but he went to the Warwick Folk Festival with one of his friends and his parents so at least I was bankside early.

The Stour was lower than I thought it was going to be but here there are the odd deeper swims where the fish are often holding up. I don't fish the Stour in the summer because it can be difficult to get in to the swims because it is very overgrown.


I had the whole stretch to myself though so it was a roving mission to try and find the fish. It didn't take long to get the first bite either when this 3lber decided that it would like the half a lob worm.

In the end I had 3 nice chub and some bits with bread or lobworm as bait and also a pike (I assume) that decided that it would like a worm too and bit me off on the first bend of the rod. I fancy trying for pike in the winter on the Stout because I'm sure there are some nice fish to be picked up. They are not fished for either I'd imagine.


After a few hours the rain started so I thought that would be a nice time to leave because I didn't fancy a soaking. I do love rivers like this because they are hardly fished for starters and it's nice to see what small river like this hold.

Nothing huge for me today, the biggest chub just over 3lb I'd imagine. I've caught them heading towards 5lb in the past but those tend to show themselves in winter, not in the summer but still, a few nice chub I'm not complaining. 

Saturday 29 July 2023

The Tiny River Alne - Otters and Otorhinolaryngology

When the Alne is coloured lobworms seem to do really well so for this short afternoon session I decided to hedge my bets and was hoping for a bite or three. The river is still pretty low to be honest but when there is colour if often brings out the fish to go for a mooch about.

You see despite the Alne being a small river there is still predation from all sides and I saw the otter again today this time pressing stop rather than record on my iPhone where all I captured was one second of his head popping out of the water ๐Ÿ˜€ 


Shame as it was very inquisitive and came across the river to see me where I was no more than 10ft away from it. 

I decent sized one as well and munching and crunching on something, still plenty of swims to fish here so I fished the deeper swims first and then worked my way back upstream. I must admit I do love fishing small rivers even though the quarry isn't all that, the fact I'm in complete solitude is hard to beat. 

I use fairly crude tactics for this sort of fishing, a size 6 hook half a lobworm and straight through to 6lb main line.

The chub don't go massive a 4lber being a specimen from the stretch I fish but it's always a lottery what will turn up because it can vary quite a lot. I even caught an eel today which is the first one I've caught I think and also 5 or so trout eager to get the worms.


I've lost 2 trout over the years that were twice as big as the ones I had today but I'll keep plugging until I've banked one because for a a small river in Warwickshire these fish don't give themselves up easily.

Plenty of bites from perch, dace, chub and trout with the dace escaping the net when I landed the eel as I was keeping it in the net to get a photo as it was quite a nice one. The chub came from the same swim as the otter appeared as there is thick cover there where literally 30 seconds of the bait hitting the bottom I was getting nibbles and plucks. 


I missed a proper pull round so I persevered and stuck it out in the swim for another go as I knew it was a chub because of the missing around with the bait and then the savage pull round of the tip.

So quite a successful short session where the trout outnumbered anything else but still they put up a cracking fight even though the biggest was 2lb or so. 

Short and sweet just how I like it !! 

The Wife hadn't even realised I'd gone fishing when I returned, I should do it more often ๐Ÿ˜

Friday 28 July 2023

Warwickshire Avon - Slabs and Slavocracy

This week Pentagon whistleblowers shared explosive claims of alien technology defying laws of physics and pushback from military leadership against those reporting such sightings in a House Oversight Committee hearing. 

Three witnesses took part in the hearing David Grusch, a former intelligence official and whistleblower who said last month that the US has “intact and partially intact” alien vehicles, David Fravor, an ex-Navy commander who reported seeing an object flying across the sky during a 2004 training mission, and Ryan Graves, a retired Navy pilot who claims he spotted unidentified aerial phenomena off the Atlantic coast “every day for at least a couple years”.


Mr Grusch claimed individuals have been injured while working on reverse engineering UFOs, but he said he couldn’t get into specifics of how that happened, adding that non-human “biologics” were found along with recovered crafts.
 
I actually saw a UFO myself back in 2016 where an unidentified object went from stationary to a ridiculous height within a split seconds. It freaked me out a the time because I really had no explanation for it. 

However I’M SORRY WE HAVE DEAD ALIENS IN OUR POSSESSION! THE ALIENS ARE REAL! WHY ARE YOU NOT ALL FREAKING OUT??!?!??, oh and I'd like to take a look please !!!.

Now talking of aliens my favourite swim on a local club water sadly was harboured by triffid sized nettles until this session that is. 

You see I fancied fishing for one of the bigger chub that often reside here (I've seen chub of >6lb easily in days gone by and caught them >5lb) where two bits of water meet. 

It's shallow in the main but with a little more water on at the moment, the extensive cover and escape routes offer the perfect habitat for often the most cautious of fish.

So it was out with the hedge cutters and I got hacking !!!!


Now the normal behaviour of chub is to disappear or stop feeding immediately they suspect all is not well. Being by nature a shoal fish, one becomes suspicious the others become agitated a clear case of 'follow the leader'. Because of that capture of, say, 50lb of chub at a sitting is considered something of an angling feat. 

While you may take, say, up to a dozen from a swim, by the time the last fish has made its mistake the others, realising something is amiss, disappear !!!. To counteract this, seat box frequenters after catching two or three often rest the swim for a while, fishing another 'line' so as to not disturb the others, an excellent ploy which specimen hunters could well adopt. 


Anyway with the river well up the problem was once the swim was cleared so I could get in to the swim the fallen willow was blocking access. So I went back to the car and got my waders and got in to the swim. The first chuck of the bread the small fish were on to it straight away and some spirited small chub were banked.

The bigger chub were nowhere to be seen but then a proper bite out of the blue a proper fish was on. What I didn't expect though was a lovely looking dark bream that hovered up the bread. I can count on on one hand the amount of bream I have caught here over the years so it was pleasant surprise. 


I stayed in the swim for another half an hour but a small hole in my cheapo waders that worked perfectly down the wye were now taking in water. So I decided to go and fish another couple of the swims. The problem was with 4 other anglers on the stretch the swims were limited however a swim with a slack over at the far side was just about fishable.

After a decent drop back bite after ten minutes I was in to another decent fish and when it surfaced in the decent flow it was another decent bream. What is going on here, like I said they have been few and far between since I started fishing it.


The chub were not playing ball for me, however I don't mind catching bream especially when this one weighed 4lb and 11 ounces. Its mouth easily big enough to hover up a big piece of bread. Dusk wasn't far off now and I stayed until I couldn't see the tip and that was that.

No more bites but one of those strange sessions where I went home with a smile on my face because that's why we all like fishing as it can surprise you when you least expect it. On to the next one !!

Wednesday 26 July 2023

The Tiny River Alne - Timers and Timberheads

It was nice seeing the car I've been working on for over 4 years the Polestar 5 going up the Goodwood Hill, but there is still plenty to do I can tell you, stuff I cannot go in to here. Lets just say there is no let up in the CAD bashing, however it will be good to eventually see it out the door, rubbing my hands as it disappears over the horizon. 

Don't get me wrong it's been a great team where when I started there was only 70 R&D staff in the UK, now it's >500. (Polestar lost 10% staff recently because of some software delays from Volvo effecting the business plan) But cars like this are complicated and considering it was a clean sheet of paper it's nice to see it as real car not in digital. And a production representative car not a Frankenstein mule which the previous prototypes were. 

Ok we are not talking James Webb space telescope levels of complexity but this is the 2nd electric vehicle I've worked on and coming from my first car that had points for ignition, and a car I could fix with some spanners and a big hammer, these beasts are next level. 

I had a patent awarded for an engineering solution that supported the design theme that was a novel kinematic solution that hasn't been seen before. That won't be seen till the cars are given to the press to review but we've had parts off tool for a good while now that are in various durability and climatic tests as we speak, and thankfully nothing major thus far.

That's why getting back to basics is rather nice isn't it, away from the turmoil especially when this part of the world where the only disturbance to the solitude is when a sheep farts in the distance, or a kingfisher sounds his arrival. 

Now Sam fancied joining me for this session where not long in to the session he wanted me to set a timer for 45 minutes and 29 seconds which would call the end of the trip out for chub. The Alne was chocolate brown after dropping a good foot however the bread could be seen a good foot down through the gloom.


There is plenty of cover this time of the year so we fed a few swims with bread mash and would leave them rest a while before fishing a big bait in the pre-baited swim. 

The first bite came quickly where a small chub picked up the bait and after a couple of rattles on the quiver tip it bent properly round and the fish was on. I really small swim this and it tried to get in and amongst some tree roots but I managed to steer it away from there and Sam did the netting honours.

Like any small river it is often a one bite wonder where roving is the key to extract some more fish, so we headed downstream and fishing the likely holding areas and those that we pre-baited. It wasn't going well with the countdown timer in full swing bit the key was to negotiate the bridge of death to fish the deeper swims below.

We were biteless in the banker swim but when I reeled in to move on the break flake must have come off the hook. I'd fed some mash when I got there so decided to try again with another large piece of breadflake where the bait had barely touched the bottom before Sam struck in to an unmissable bite.


It was giving him a merry dance taking line and I had to take over at one point to avoid the inevitable but after that snag was avoided, Sam took control of the rod again and I netted it for him.

Not a bad fish for the Alne, where anything over 2lb is a good'un. We moved to the last swim where it was clear within minutes there was only small fish in the swim. The bread was being attacked from all angles judging by the indications on the 1oz glass tip. The timer sounded the end of the session soon after but an enjoyable short session at this handy water where the often ad-hoc fishing fix is often ticked off.

Sunday 23 July 2023

Warwickshire Avon - Disquieting and Disembrangle

The reports from this neck of the woods after the fish kill on the Warwickshire Avon haven't been good at all . A match won with a couple of ounces, anglers scratching around for a bite.

Oxygen crash during thunder storms apparently, and yet other areas of the Warwickshire Avon I've been fishing haven't had an after affects whatsoever. With such a significant fish loss, it points the finger to something more sinister ?


We will never know that's the problem, swept under the carpet it seems. Anyway with the tackle sorted the night before I headed early doors to an area I planned to trot with the sick float and bread. The banks were deserted and after making my way down the track I was beside a lovely looking part of the Warwickshire Avon.

It's a great way to search for fish this technique and feeding bread mash can get the chub out of their hiding places. Bread floating on the surface can also be productive and when bankside I'd also feed some in a few swims to see if I could locate any Chub up for a feed.


It was overcast for an hour or so and then the skies started to clear, but an hour and half in without a bite I decided to move to the next swim, where again it was a nice trot but this time with some added nearside cover. 

Another hour and nothing to show for it, almost like the river was devoid of fish, even the margins seemed to be lacking fry. I decided to drive to the top of the stretch where last season I fished from the opposite side and had some right clonking chub. 

I drifted down some bread in a few swims hoping to see an indication chub were about but sadly there was nothing showing whatsoever.

Usually this time of year it's perfect to locate them as they cannot resist taking it off the top especially when the water has had a top up of water. With time ticking away I decided to leave the stretch and maybe return and fish a little differently and maybe fish at dusk to see that would fair any better. 

I wanted to finish on a chub though so on the way back I stopped off at another stretch and managed to winkle one out skirting the float past a nice overhanging tree, where after feeding some mashed bread the first drift down of the float it went straight under and a chub was on.

It spooked another couple of chub from their hiding place in to plain view however after landing it that was the only sight I got of them. A one bite wonder sadly and with the sun now nicely illuminating the river I decided to make tracks and head home early than I'd planned. 

Saturday 22 July 2023

Wawickshire Avon - Heat Domes and Harridans

Now the oldest brewery ever discovered by archaeologists, in a cave near Haifa, Israel back in 2018 is an astonishing 13,000 years old. That’s how long the bar has been open for. For context, 13,000 years ago there were still sabre-toothed tigers roaming around Britain and Stonehenge hadn’t been built yet. In fact, it wasn’t going to be built for another 8,000 years.

The chances are that this particular brewery wasn’t even the first one in the world. It’s just the oldest one we’ve found so far. In any event, it means that we have been drinking for longer than we have been farming the invention of which is dated to about 12,000 years ago. For some humans, finding a drink has always taken priority over having a meal.


With all the doom mongering going on at the minute alcohol consumption could well be on the increase as it can provide many that much needed brief psychological off-switch from the great treadmill of life, where the environmentalists preach fire and brimstone about CO2 emissions and the end of the world one minute and then hit the airport lounge the next.

Anyone enough of that, anyone else lacking fishing time of late ? work and family life is getting in the way at the moment so those small opportunities to go fishing needed to be grasped with both hands, like they would be for this short session before I had to do the school run. With the schools breaking up imminently at least the countdown to some time off from work will be in full swing.


We've a week in Looe in Cornwall the middle of August and then a week in Appledore Devon to see my brother and his family means that I can hopefully get some sea fishing in as well. Fingers crossed the weather picks up as it had been a bit pants hasn't it, certainly no red and black weather map and 'heat dome' here. 

Then luckily for me when we get back I've a few days back at work and then I'm off to Spain with a couple of mates where a night in Benidorm ๐Ÿ˜is proceeded with 3 nights chilling at a mates new Villa. I've not been away on holiday since last October so it's been a long time coming I must admit.


For this trip I'd venture to a convenient stretch on the outskirts of Stratford-Upon-Avon to try and winkle out a chub off the top on bread. The river is low at the moment so I also had the polarised sunglasses as often when they are not up for taking off the top a squeeze of the bread and used slow sinking can often outwit a cautious loggerhead. 

Well we need rain and as I type this it is currently bucketing it down because the river was really low and gin clear and what I didn't expect was to lose 2 chub in subsequent casts that did me in the reeds before I could say  'Mission Impossible'  btw go and see Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One ๐Ÿ˜Ž what a movie !!!

I could see both fish and the first one was a proper lump but did me over good and proper. In the end after a rove about I managed to not only bump in to Buffalo Si but also managed to winkle out a chub that came up to the bread and you could almost see the thought in its eyes before it decided to take it.

It was a tough session mind you and as I was on school pick up duties I decided to retrace my steps where those swims that were devoid of fish were still devoid of fish.

With the kids picked up it was off to bowling and for some food where my competitive dad mode kicked in, and after a pretty naff start after 3 strikes in a row and managed to finish off with 3 spares.

Ben somehow turned 14 you see and improving with his issues which is encouraging however he is likely to be able to be live independently and will need support when he becomes an adult, but life is life you just have to get on with it.


It didn't stop him beating Sam not only in the bike arcade game but also on Mario Kart too. ๐Ÿ˜€ we have got it easy with Ben mind you, he is happy all of the time and we haven't the aggressive behaviour that is often born out of frustration from autistic kids and those with development delay.  

So the next session ? well I fancy some trotting so I might head to an area that had a fish kill recently due to a suspected pollution issue. There was good chub there, are there any left ? well there is only one way to find out isn't there. 

Wednesday 19 July 2023

The Tiny River Alne - Cantilupes and Campanology

Now between the river and the village are the earthwork remains of a castle of the Cantilupes. The earthworks lie close to the river and are roughly circular in shape, surrounded by a single ditch where this 12th to 14th Century fortified house or castle alongside the River Alne sat. It had been abandoned by the 15th century.

Lidar imagery clearly shows the castle earthworks. The roughly triangular 'ringwork' still contains remains of buried foundations with in particular the east side appearing to show earthworks of two straight sections of curtain wall meeting at an angle. An irregular bailey exists to the south-east and this and the 'ringwork' are surrounded by a wide ditch, presumably once water filled from the adjacent River Alne.


It feels abandoned now to be honest, an area where solitude is in abundance with no public access on most of it, where it is 99 times out of 100 me and the sheep.

The fishing isn't all that, I must admit but there are some lively trout to be caught, some monsters that have still eluded me and also some nice dace, and chub when they decided to frequent the river that is. It can be unpredictable I must admit but sometimes it's not about catching but having some peace and quiet in some lovely surroundings. 


I grabbed the lure gear and headed down there where I wanted to fish the larger Salmo butcher to try and catch something a little larger than I have been catching.

With the polarised sunglasses the green lure could be seen from the first retrieve the silver lure only when the lure got much closer. I prefer sight fishing for fish down here so with some colour in the water I stuck with the much brighter colour.



I couldn't believe it but in the first swim I had a chub follow the lure initially and then the second catch a trout that came out of nowhere and swiped at it, and then came out for another look on the subsequence cast. 

And that's the way the session went, in quite a few swims the same thing happened and a change of lure didn't make a difference and even on the last resort spinner.


The only fish I manged to catch was a really angry small perch who's afternoon was spoilt judging by his raised dorsal fin and aggressive manner. I was even biteless in the weir pool which said to me the fish were having a chill day and no amount of lure bashing was going to bank me a decent fish. 

The river has now taken on quite a bit of cover in some of the swims so I might give a ledgered worm a go or maybe bread so try and tempt a fish that may be laying up under the darker cover out of harms way.  Still a couple of hours fishing and all is good in the world again, I wasn't complaining and when the church bells sounded at 7.00pm I was off out of there. 

Monday 17 July 2023

River Wye - Trotting and Triboluminescence

Some open heart surgery to the Jimny's subwoofer the green LED showed we were back in business again, but for how long ? the main 10 pin connector is showing signs of abuse from Mixcloud and the volume knob where I'm sure at one stage it must have overheated and tripped the thermal control. At least the hour and 10 minute early morning journey to a different world went without drama.

I’m very much a novice with this big fish trotting malarkey however last season that changed when I managed to catch some cracking chub >5lb feeding bread mash and then trotting a piece of flake under a large buoyant stick float. I was having brilliant fun catching chevin, well until I snapped my 14ft Drennan Acolyte Plus that is, so an upgrade was made to something more befitting the intended quarry.


So now I have a Diawa 15ft Connoisseur Pro Match Power Float Rod with an Abu Garcia 507 MKII Reel and the Acolyte after buying a replacement section was confined to fishing the canal on the lift method. The Acolyte was a joy to use I must admit because it was so light but considering I wanted to up my trotting game to fish for Barbel going forward that rod wouldn’t cut it.

Anyway this latest outing to the Wye was the first proper go on the set-up and to add to that especially I’d be wading as well which I’ve not done a huge amount of, but the conditions looked conducive for it.
Now naturally an Angling Coach to the Stars, I’ll wait for him let to tell you, (press embargo) where good mate Nic from Avon Angling was the ideal companion for this trip because he is a bit of an expert using this approach especially on the river Wye where barbel fear his name.


You see when the river passport office from the Wye and Rivers trust gets in-touch to update any interested parties that swim in the stretch and call it their home, before the list is read out of the names booked in on the stretch that day, there is always a fin or five up asking if Nic Bradley is one of them.

I’ve yet to catch a single barbel on the float but then I tend to fish for barbel locally where that one bite in 10 sessions is a good result, where ledgering and that bait and wait approach and often coma inducing method is the only way to angle for them. The Wye has fish in healthy numbers though not the lone stragglers I’m used to.


My trotting set-up consisted of a 5g Dave Harrell Mega Stick float with a 4g olivette sandwiched between two grippa stops. A size 10 Korum Grappler hook, a 5lb 7 fluorocarbon hook-link and the main line is 8lb (I think).

Before the session had started, I basically knew most of the drill where hemp and pellets are fed into a swim throughout the trotting period where a highly visible chunk of luncheon meat is suspended under the buoyant float and dragged along as close to the bottom as possible.


When I got bankside an hour after Nic at 6.15am what I didn’t expect was to arrive exactly the same time as Nic was playing a nice Barbel. It’s a heck of a walk with all the gear to the top of the stretch, where apart from negotiating heart attack hill you need to lug your gear over 2 styles, a rickety bridge and a gate too.

Nic has additional camera gear with a large tripod and another large tripod to support his bait waiter to lug around as well, cart horse springs to mind. For those that enjoy his videos, it’s not easy making videos like this for your entertainment, but I’ve witnessed it firsthand, his set-up is far from an iPhone on a phone mount, hence why his production is right up there with the best. 


Chalk and most definitely cheese. Anyway, to the fishing the Mordiford gauge was up at around 0.5m when we got there and a decent dumping of rain emanating from the Welsh mountains was heading our way, and it was literally starting to rise as we got there. 

To cut a long story short the river had risen to just shy of 1m when we left where the croy in one of the swims if it were to continue in the same vigour would have soon been underwater, you could almost see the river rise just staring at it.


That meant we had to make hay and get trotting in the best swim where it would be already dangerously teetering over my waders where after a go in the croy swim for a couple of chub I managed to catch my first barbel using Nic’s rod. Backwinding to good effect from a fight from a nice Wye barbel, that didn’t take long now did it.  

I returned to the croy for some more chub but then decided to head down to swim that despite the river now showing some decent colour and heading up, it looked a nice steady pace. Nic turned up for a natter when I had a nice chub in the net, because wow, the fish had really turned on to the feed on the rising river and extra oxygen I'd imagine. 



It was chub after chub after chub and when (Taller !! ) Nic returned to winkle out yet another barbel whilst wading out of the blue the float buried under and I’m in to an unmistakable barbel.

The first run really was quite ridiculous where it took me mid river and beyond where the only coarse of action was to try and keep up with the backwind which was turning at a rate of knots. The power was unbelievable really and I knew it would be a right mission to get it to the net.


I managed it though because after another 2 or 3 powerful runs eventually I had it under control and I was gaining on it. The new rod set-up justifying the purchase price, it was doing a sterling job of resisting the lunges where after 10 minutes or so I teased it into the landing net to a huge relief to myself because my arm felt like it was going to drop off.

So as planned I did manage to christen my rod with a Wye barbel and was so happy to catch it and much of that down to Nic whose tips I’ve picked up on and used to catch myself one of my own.

The pressure was off, so after resting and weighing it, (7lb 8 ounces) I rang up Nic who promptly came down to film it in its natural environment with a fantastic backdrop to boot. Such a great way of catching barbel and credit goes to Nic for showing me the ways and means.

It was a cracking session all-round with Nic and I deciding to leave earlier than planned as we had our quota. To be fair when the river had peaked the bites had slowed up however Nic had managed 3 barbel and circa 20 chub and I had 2 barbel and around the same amount of chub as well.

I did get the ledger rod out to rest my aching arm but in the end went back to trotting as that was the reason why I was there really. What a way to catch barbel and chub for that matter and it got me wanting more now because I enjoyed it so much in good company and great scenery I could only imagine what it would be like if the Wye was the only river you got to fish. 

Was Barford (known as Barbel alley) on the Warwickshire Avon anything like this in it's heyday for barbel and chub ? because that would be as close as I'd get I'd imagine locally, I only wish I had tried this tactic more when I was a member as maybe I'd have picked up more fish from the trottable swims. 

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