Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Thursday 30 November 2023

Warwickshire Avon - Bribery and Bevipennate

Inevitably those fishing in busy areas has its issues, you know that mob of young thugs, snotty-nosed and out at elbow, who stampede along the bank and dive in a bunch upon your keepnet. They haul it out of the water and bellow in chorus: 'Cor, you ain't doin' so well, are you, mister. My dad/bruvver/uncle caught fahsands bigger 'n these last week. Wotcher bin doin' all day, dozy old git?'

The traditional answer used to be swift clip over the collective earholes. But in these days of child psychology and rapid communication, such an act can bring over the horizon in a matter of minutes the vast and menacing figure of dad/bruvver/uncle or policeman. 

So it is best to resort to a psychological technique long acknowledged for its effectiveness: bribery.

Depending on the size of the mob and how much you are in funds, a distribution of small change on the promise that they will disappear from your life forever should send them scuttling for the nearest ice-cream stall. 

The danger of this technique is that on the way they might meet another pack of delinquents and announce that the silly old git down the bank gave them all that money to clear off. Nothing is more certain to ensure that you will not lack company for long.

An alternative, but anti-social, technique is to tell them that you are fishing in a bad spot, but that a chap about half a mile downstream has caught so many pike, barbel, carp, barracudas and killer whales that the zoo is sending down a special tank to pick them up.

It's anti-social because it means that some other innocent angler will be lumbered with the little monsters. But you can salve your conscience with the thought that you would rather it were his problem than yours. 

To narrow down the possibilities of that happening mind you, just do what I and many do and that's fish in the much quieter places where the only person you are likely to see, is another angler or a dog walker who isn't that bothered that they are trespassing. 

Now talking about anti-social pike were the target down at the Warwickshire Avon where I've caught some nice ones over the years. Those bait fish that reside here keep the predators hanging around especially at this time of year when it's brass monkey weather and often this area is an easy meal for the lazy crocs. 

Probably not ideal conditions if I'm honest but a run or two would be nice. My biggest from here 14lb if I recall !! which is shown above but over the years there has been far bigger pike caught. To be honest I need to cast my net wider and that will be addressed because I'm treading the same path. It's nice to mix things up hence this pike session, but the venues too, I need up a kick up the backside.

Anyway I didn't expect the sport to be prolific but the odd bite would be nice wouldn't it. However I fished around 4 hours without a sniff !!! 🙈 . I fished 3 main areas and twitched the bait, wobbled it on the retrieve but the pike just didn't seem to be feeding, or just not in the area at all.

There was plenty of fish topping which was encouraging, a decent bream and plenty of roach which made me think I should have stopped off for some maggots. I bet a groundbait feeder approach would have worked well today despite the conditions.

The float never moved though, not even a small pull or a dropped take. An hour before my curfew I was tempted to go home in to the warmth because the noise of the planes were doing my head in !!!

Going around and around and around and F'ing Around !!!

They were spoiling what would have been a nice and peaceful session. I can only assume some training flights were going on because not only the planes were doing it but the helicopters too. Against ones better judgement I decided to stay though where at dusk I was praying for a bite, but nope, sadly it didn't happen, so another blank to add to the collection. 

Warwickshire Avon - Otters and Otorhinolaryngology

To be honest I wasn't that eager to get down to the Warwickshire Avon but I wanted to see if one of the Drake Wagglers I got snagged up in some sunken reeds was still there. They don't come up for sale very often and I was gutted when it happened and this was only the first real opportunity I'd have to go and visit the stretch again. I've got a cold brewing which doesn't help but after CAD bashing all day I needed some much needed fresh air. 

Obviously to kill two birds with one stone whilst I was there it was out with the Depth Bomb to try and winkle out a chub before I needed to hotfoot it out of there. Now I knocked up in CATIA (15 minutes 💣) and got these Depth Bombs 3D printed a few years ago now and I cannot believe how well they work, certainly better than the other tackle manufacturers offerings. 

However every initial design needs fettling once parts are received and this was different. So I've knocked a version 2 up on CAD as shown above which addresses some of the previous designs inadequacies. Slightly bigger overall basically and also the line attachment point was beefed up. 

It would be quite easy to adapt to a multi cavity injection moulding too, would just need some uniform thickness and some draft tweaks to suit the movers that would be required. 3D prints haven't got this issue though because can print whatever you like without any DFM (design for manufacturing) problems.

When I go to the swim the float wasn't in the swim, hmmm. The problem was that the river had risen probably a foot or so since I was last there and that meant that the float might well have been still there but I couldn't see it because it was still under water. So if this swim didn't throw up a fish within half an hour or in to dusk then when I headed to the corner primed swim I'd give it a few rakes to see if I could snare it.

So I settled in the swim with the landing net already starting to freeze up, the mist had started to come down already as the light was going and the moisture obviously seeping in. It was just below freezing and yeap, it definitely felt like it was, very cold indeed.

I've never done very well when the river is like this especially with a very full moon that was just starting to rise but the swim rarely doesn't produce a bite, so it was gloves on and fingers crossed. Nothing happened until the light was almost gone and then I noticed a large ripple in the swim where upon lifting my head and leaning over to have a better look, a huge splash and the back of rather large otter revelived itself.

That could well explain the lack of action so with that swim kiboshed I racked the swim and didn't manage to get the float back, so either it wasn't there, or I was raking in the wrong place.

I was off the river an hour after dusk so I had about half an hour in the last swim where I had already primed with some bread mash. The torch required at this point to illuminate the tip despite the rather lovely yellow moon being right behind me.

I expect a quick bite in any swim I've already primed and rested and despite this being a decent sized slack away from the main flow that bite didn't materialise.

So in a desperate attempt to get a bite I ventured down to another swim which has some nice cover to the right where chub usually hang out. The river was up more than I'd like and despite adding another SSG shot to the link ledger the first cast the rather large piece of cheespaste must have rolled in the flow straight in to a snag, bugger...

I wasn't going to set-up again with it being so cold and the fact I needed to be off there anyway, so a catalogue of disasters to conclude the rather lacklustre session. So a blank, not unexpected I must admit because one look of the river I had already come to that conclusion. On to the next one !!

Sunday 26 November 2023

The Tiny River Alne - Moon Halo's and Monochromasy

Considering how many years I have been alive this was the first time I've seen a Moon Halo even though it's not that uncommon apparently. We would have been none the wiser either if it wasn't for a member of our family messaging the Wife to take a look outside. We were in to a movie with a roaring fire and a couple of glasses of wine down so couldn't drive, however our village has hardly any street lights and it was proudly displayed above our neighbours Paul's house with Jupiter putting its thumbs up too.  

We both had seen nothing like it at all, very spooky indeed. Apparently the phenomenon is caused by the refraction of moonlight from ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. According to the Met Office, the halo can suggest rainfall might be approaching, and for once they were right because the horrible drizzy misty rain came and continued in the session down the Alne. 

Apparently before the modern days of donkey riders and miracle workers, the old wise ones told us that it was a portent of Doom. Where the shifting point of sunrise would be still and stop moving. The time of the Winter is coming and we must prepare for it. 

Line your homes with boughs and branches of the evergreen trees, to keep in the warm. Burn old and seasoned Yule logs on your fires, as they don't need tending at night and will give warmth, even without flame. Did I just type that !!!

Anyway the Alne was chosen for this mornings couple of hours fishing. A roving session because well it was very cold again. It was actually slightly above freezing when I left the house at 7.30am however the fields were still covered in frost and compared to yesterday a rather dull and dreary day. 

The water temperature has plummeted to just over 5 degrees so chub were the target because well they don't seem to be that bothered by the drop in temperature as much as other fish species for some reason.

Anyway after priming some swims I missed a bite within 15 minutes or so in the first swim and I thought that might have been my lot because after roving around and fishing maybe 6 or 7 swims, not even a nibble on the cheesepaste.

The river was clearing though and in one swim I could see the cheesepaste on the bottom 1m down so I decided to head back to the deeper swims where the one above produced a bite. I had fed some bread slop half an hour before and it didn't take long before a couple of plucks on the tip for it to carry on going. 

I could see the fish from the elevated swim and it looked like what the heck was going in because I don't think it realised it was hooked at first. When it felt the bend in the rod though it went on a mad run where it was trying to get in to the cover to the left, and then again when I turned it right under my feet.  

It was soon in the net though and blank avoided !!! because that's all the action I had. One missed bite and one 2lb chub. The weather as the morning progressed was getting worse with drizzle which when the air temperature is barely above freezing not exactly pleasant so I called time on the session half an hour early. 

Oh and Oppenheimer, don't bother that's 3 hours of my life I won't get back !!! at least the fire was good !!

Budget: 100 million USD Box office: 950.5 million USD 💥💣 Clearly Christopher Nolan knows more than me but apart from the tense Trinity Test scene which was pretty intense I must admit, the movie I'm sure could have been condensed in to 2 hours. Between the moments of vision are hours of dry, over-dramatised dialogue, if you like courtroom dramas' fill your boots. 

Saturday 25 November 2023

Warwickshire Avon - Snags and Spectroheliokinematographs

One of my most memorable catches was back in February when I landed a lovely chub of 5lb and 10 ounces whilst trotting. It's a great way to search a large area of water and feeding bread mash can bring the fish out from their hiding place. 

With a hard frost to greet me the skies were clear and with the water temperature also dropping (almost 2 degrees since I last checked) I knew it would be tough going. Still you cannot catch a fish lying in bed now can you, so I unfolded myself from a couple of rather large warm plump pillows and headed down to the Warwickshire Avon. 

Now a study of catches of specimen chub reveals that a high proportion are caught by anglers who were not fishing exclusively for chub, which might suggest that the angler who relies upon luck alone is just as likely to catch a specimen as he who seeks them deliberately. 

Such a conclusion would however be false, as for every angler who catches a specimen by luck there are many thousands who fish their whole lives through without catching one, and many others who sometimes hook one, only to lose it through using inadequate tackle. 

In contrast, the angler who deliberately seeks specimens not only finds them more consistently but is also more likely to land them successfully because he is using tackle of appropriate strength. The odds against any angler catching a real monster are very great but it is possible to reduce them by a considered approach to the task. 

The first step is obviously to attempt to locate them by sight but if the colour and depth of the water makes this difficult or impossible it is a good plan to fish all likely swims patiently and methodically, using only those baits that are least attractive to small fish. 

Really big chub can be found in many different types of swim but are seldom far away from a hiding-place. The overgrown snaggy swims that are so often passed by are the kind that big chub favour more than any other.

If chub show signs of wariness to the common baits an unusual one should be tried; either one that can be found in and around the water, such as a small frog or crayfish, or a bait that is completely strange to them such as one of the seed-baits or a meat-bait. This will sometimes bring success when all else has failed.

In those waters where night fishing is allowed the possibility that specimen chub might be caught more easily after dark is worth experiment, especially in rivers that are very clear. There is a definite increase of feeding activity at dusk and the specimen-sized chub are then more likely to be feeding in open water.  

I had the stretch to myself so I had the pick of the swims however I had one in mind and got to the task in hand. Making some bread mash up when the air temperature is still below freezing is not to be taken lightly so the hands took a while to feel comfortable again.

The rod guides were freezing up as well and it took an hour or so to get in to a good rhythm. Trot after trot there wasn't much happening until oddly the sun had come up and was illuminating the river where eventually out of the blue the float buried and I struck in to a solid lump.

That solid lump though headed straight towards the far bank cover and despite my best efforts trying to stop its powerful run, and the 15ft rod softening its lunges, sadly the fish did me over good and proper and we parted company.

You can only imagine the language because I must have known that was the only bite I would get in the 3.5 hour session. I did explore another couple of swims before heading back and when I got snagged up having me to pull for a break and losing my float in the process. And that was that, one bite and one lost fish !! Still at least the weather was nice, just shame about the fishing !!

Warwickshire Avon - Sonars and Somnambulate

Now apart from aquatic plant and animal life already in the water, the fish's supply of natural food consists of animal and vegetable matter, alive and dead, which is blown, washed or dropped into the water. A cater- pillar which trips up on an overhanging bush, unless it's a strong swimmer, finds itself as hors d'oeuvres to a meal of worms, slugs, spiders and flies.

The relationship of this natural food to underwater geography is that it collects in holes, slow eddies behind rocks, and on and around natural snags such as piling, bridge piers, patches of weed, bankside ledges, old prams, sewing machines and bicycle frames.

Thus it follows that where there is food there are fish. And there is also a snag. The trick is to get the fish to take the bait before the bait finds the snag. Statistics show that fishermen are not very good at this.

A plan of the bed of the river is very useful. You can make one by wading across with a Scout's pole and noting the depth every couple of feet or so. If the water goes over the top of the pole, measure the extra depth in handspans. Remember to hold your breath while doing this.

Or maybe just use a deeper sonar like I do from time to time !!!!

Anyway the last visit to the polluted stretch I caught absolutely naff all, nada, nothing, zilch, not a sausage, I blanked 👀 however on a more positive note there were some signs of fish. 

Not only did I miss a sure thing chub bite where the fish felt the hook, but in the swim just above it there was plucks pulls and bangs which meant that there were small fish in the swim, however their mouths were nowhere near enough big enough for the gob-stopping cheesepaste. The only fish showing though despite fishing a good number of swims. 

So feeling undefeated I was back to try and see I could not only get more bites but also if I could manage to bank an actual fish this time. I didn't have that long but I would prime two spots with bread slop and then fish a float with maggots initially and then give the cheesepaste a go when the light was starting to go. Not ideal conditions to be honest as the skies with blue and clear and the air temperature was a cold 7 degrees and the wind biting. 

I headed to the swim where I got bites and the river looked completely different, you see it was back been almost clear again and that lovely light green colour now a rather lacklustre grey. A good half an hour in the swim with maggots nothing but a nibble on the maggots probably from fry.

So I chucked the deeper out in the next swim down and then some further downstream after driving down the track with the same result. A river devoid of fish and it took a while to get the first chirp on the phone and that was a couple of small fish hanging around a snag.

Whatever they were they were not interested in a float going by with a couple of maggots, I don't think I can remember scanning a river with so few indications. Were they tucked away from harm because of the clear skies ?

In the end I decided to prime two swims with some bread slop and would fish them in to dusk for a big fish. The first swim was near a snag and the second a really nice slack away from the main rivers flow.

I fished the first swim for a good 40 minutes or so in to the dusk and then with the moon illuminating the river and also the swim, after nothing was doing there I moved to the next swim and gave that a good 20 minutes or so. 

Not a pluck, pull or an inquiry and this is a stretch that come dusk those big chub would be on the hunt. They just didn't seem to be there whatsoever, such a shame, "been obliterated" (Nic's words not mine). I could have probably stayed there all night (even though the clubs rules say no night fishing) for the same returns.

So a blank sadly and with the deeper telling me what was going on beneath the surface I'm not likely to fish it any time soon. On a positive note the Jimny proved what a good little motor it is off-road. It wasn't phased at all despite tyre deep in mud !!!!

On to the next one !!!

Friday 24 November 2023

The Tiny River Alne - Hunger and Humgruffins

I dread to think how many times I've fished the Tiny River Alne and not once have I fished cheesepaste (I don't think), well until this session that is. You see I had planned to venture to the Avon for a quickie (as per usual) and had the gear in the car, however from eyes and ears on the ground they were reporting it wasn't fishing well at all, so why not give the Alne a go instead !!!

When I have more time I might come back here and try for the dace and gonks again because the Alne, well ain't been fishing brilliantly for me at all really. The fish show up sporadically and there doesn't seem to be a pattern for them and when looking back at my blog archives it only confirms that. 

You can see the state of the banks at the moment just by looking at my jacket, mud, mud and more mud. They really are sodden at the moment and not in a pleasant way. I primed the swim with some bread slop first and it certainly coloured up the rather grey looking water.

I could see at least 3 foot down so the Alne is clearing fast after being in up and down floods for a good 6 weeks or so now. It usually fishes well when it's chocolate brown but I've been finding it tough to be honest and struggled to get any kind of session together.

This is the widest part of the Alne I fish and for a small river it's pretty deep, getting on for 6 foot or so maybe a tad more and the chub seem to like it here because of that. There are also trees to the left and the right and also plenty of escape routes in the margins.

The cheesepaste had only been out for 10 minutes or so when a really sharp pull happened where the tip jumped in to life, moved a good foot and then sprung back to its starting position. The bite didn't develop however at least I knew there were fish in the swim.

Not long after that another couple of pulls on the tip and then a drop back bite. Hmmm, I thought maybe a slack line might help as I was using a stiffer tip than I usually do because I tend to use this set-up in flood conditions. I need not have worried though because within 5 minutes an unmissable powerful bite and I was in to an Alne chub.

For their size they fight really well and within seconds it was headed towards my feet where there is quite a lot of dead reeds. A bit of a calamity (what's' new) trying to net it but eventually it was in the landing net.

They are lovely plump fish in general on the Alne and this was no exception, only a 2lber but most welcome I must admit. I retained it in the landing net and it took another 15 minutes or so when the light was fading to get another bite. 

This time after a few tentative pulls the tip went round confidently and another fish was one. This one was slightly bigger and I decided to weigh it where it went 2lb 10 ounces on the scales. Not the biggest of Alne chub but I could catch these all day to be honest. Like I said pound for pound these are tough old fish, they certainly give a good account for themselves. 

That swim went dead and with a head torch needed I crossed back over the 'bridge of death' and headed to another swim where after 20 minutes or so without an enquiry curfew called time yet again. The fishing fix ticked off with a couple of nice Alne chub and the world was a better place.

The Warwickshire Avon is dropping nicely and with a cold spell on the way with some frosts to go with it I'm hoping the fishing will improve. It usually does doesn't it, the fish get hungry and need to get their winter coats on by eating whatever they can. 

Thursday 23 November 2023

Warwickshire Avon - Zombies and Zoomorphisms

Now after the damp and dreary weather of November, it's quite a relief to get to the rain, fog, frost and snow of December. Whatever the weather in December, it doesn't matter. As is to be expected in the season of goodwill to all men, comfort and joy and the odd spot of ding dong merrily, December is a month devoted to socialising rather than serious fishing. 

The true Brotherhood of the Angle is expressed in friendly matches and club socials; at the Yuletide Ladies' Night where the anglers' wives can swap barmy-husband stories and commiserate with each other; in the cementing of old friendships and suspension of old rivalries around a log fire in a hospitable fishing pub.

Everybody, in other words, gets wellied.

The effect this has on any attempt a serious fishing is evident at the traditional Boxing Day match. Those matchmen who do turn up bear a strong resemblance to zombies on a bad day; shuffling, stumbling, peering blearily about them and not quite sure where they are or what they're supposed to be doing.

There is a high incidence of hooks in ears and terminal rigs in trees; a fair amount of injury sustained by tripping over baskets, sitting on rod rests and falling in the water. 

Neither individual nor team weights qualify for the record books, most of the anglers being fast asleep when the float bobs or the rod tip twitches.

The fish, in fact, do very well out of it, scoffing hundredweights of groundbait liberally laced with secret ingredients such surplus Christmas pudding and high-protein minced parson's noses, and being left to strip the hook baits at their leisure. 

Though the catches might be minimal or non-existent, the work of the stewards, captains and match secretaries is greatly increased during a Boxing Day match. 

A lot of their time is spent fishing the clumsy and incautious out of the drink. And they have the added responsibility of ensuring that those lads still sitting on their baskets after the final whistle are merely sleeping, and have not passed over from the effects of excess or hypothermia.

True to the spirit of angling, such inconveniences as the odd corpse are not allowed to cast a shadow over the proceedings. To rush straight back home with the dear departed would not only mean some of the lads missing their ale, it would not be fair on the deceased's widow, who would still not have cleared up after Christmas Day.

A defunct angler is carried by his mates into the pub and sat down in a quiet corner. (This causes no comment from the landlord: he's used to seeing Boxing Day anglers sitting stock still with their eyes shut.) And if the angler's got the price of a round on him, he may have the posthumous privilege of buying a last pint for his stalwart comrades.

This is not only the true Brotherhood of the Angle. It's as he would have wished...

Anyway back to the task in hand !!!

Nic from Avon Angling was already bankside trotting in a swollen river still boiling and bubbling however his reel was playing up and he was heading back to change his line due to the frustrations. He managed to hook a right old lump that came off and also caught a chublet I believe for the few hours he was there.

The banks are so muddy at the moment so not exactly pleasant wading through the slop and I had literally 2 hours max to try and winkle out a chub. Trotting would be perfect once the river drops a little more and it was starting to clear from the brown it has been for ages to a light green colour.

I didn't fair much better because I missed a couple of bites and also lost a fish in this swim when I cast the bread in to a slack over at the far side, a fish must have picked it up on the drop because as I was putting the rod on the rest, the rod pulled round and the next thing I know I'm snagged up solid. 

I primed a few swims with bread and eventually I had a small chublet to save a blank. I decided to use bread straight on the hook rather than cheesepaste because of the missed bites and maybe these were the

So a bit of a disappointing session to be honest where ones curfew came round far too fast. The conditions are going to settle going forward fingers crossed, there was plenty of signs of fish in some of the swims I fished where I would have imagined that if I fished maggots and small hooks I would have caught more fish.

I was after a decent chub though and the limited time didn't help. If I stayed till dusk I might have faired a little better. Talking of which the teams works do the recently opened F1 arcade in Birmingham my reactions are not that they used to be.

So somewhere down the leaderboard out of 9 of us, however the last race I pulled back some points for the team after getting through the usual starts carnage, I managed to lead the race at spa for most of the laps until the last but one bend where after spinning it I came 2nd.

An enjoyable do actually, not just the whole F1 experience but even the food was decent which is unusual for this type of venue. I'd certainly be up for giving it a go again, maybe I'll need to practice on the PS5 first to increase my skill levels. 

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