Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Sunday 14 July 2024

Warwickshire Avon - The Untrodden Pt.4

Sam was disappointed when I got home after the fishing the Arrow on my tod as he really wanted to tag along as well. He woke up at 7.00am all ready to go to find an empty bed !!! So two fishing sessions in one day as after dinner we decided to pay a visit to the new stretch where hopefully some chub were up for biting...

This turned out to be one of those sessions we would rather forget however !!!! πŸ™ˆ

In chronological order
  1. The first cast of the bread no takers but the weight wasn't holding bottom however on the retrieve the rig got snagged up in a bush sadly leading to a break.
  2. Then out of the blue after feeding some surface bread we got a big chub feeding off the top in the pool swim, the swans turned up so we had to wait until they went before getting the bread out.
  3. As Sam was chilling waiting for them to go, he squashed the bread to almost a pancake.
  4. The first cast of the bread a decent chub took it straight away causing a huge wake and I was in to a decent fish, after a few seconds Sam wanted the rod, where despite his best efforts the chub did him over by swimming in to some thick cover to our left. He really was gutted !!!
  5. The hooked pulled and we were now hooked up to the bush instead, where trying to untangle it using the landing net handle led to a failure of the threaded connection, where it just snapped and remained in the net. (To be fair I'd already araldite'd it once before due to its naff design) 
  6. With that swim scuppered we had no way to land anymore fish as the swim was far too elevated, so we had to fish the peg I created the other day where we must have disturbed an ants nest that were trying to get in to every orifice !! Luckily the chublets were queuing up the river was alive with fish. 
  7. The dry grass was long and Sam's wellies were getting full of bits and pieces that was annoying the hell out of him, so he had to take them off every 15 minutes to clean them out, his socks cleary showing the aftermath. 

In the end we both agreed to end the session early, and to be honest we laughed about it, because it was a catalogue of errors I must admit. So another landing net handle destined for the bin, I'll have to stick with my NGT offering, to be honest seem more robust that any I'd had over the years πŸ‘€

Sam hated the bits in his wellies so much he won't be returning apparently πŸ˜†, I sure will though I'm sure there are some gems to be had. 

Good to see the river alive with fish though, the bread getting mullered before it even hit the bottom. A maggot approach I'm sure you'd build up a nice bag of fish I'd imagine, I might even try it sometime. Unlike Sam I like it here though, especially when you enter the field and head down to the water the road noise is minimal.

So one of the trips out I'm sure we will recall again during the forthcoming sessions, 'the evening when everything went wrong' 

Saturday 13 July 2024

The River Arrow - Interlopers and Infundibuliforms

I wouldn't say I sneaked out the house, but I felt a bit guilty when I closed the door at just gone 6.00am to head down to the river Arrow. There was no way Sam would get up at that time, but he was up for going again and was a little peed off when I came in to our bedroom to see I wasn't there.

I could have twiddled my thumbs for an hour I suppose but last time here Sam did most of the fishing and I hardly got a look in !!!

Armed with some lobworms I fancied to see if they would tempt anything other than Chub that we've been catching using our standard breadflake approach. Perch being the obvious culprit to take the humble worm, but maybe even a long extinct barbel if there was one still lurking on this stretch.

The river was low and gin clear in places but small rivers like this often have deeper areas and obviously lots of cover where the fish can get some sanctuary. 

I started at the downstream pegs and worked my way up where I'd finish up in one of the deeper swims above the weir that is much wider and slower. The lobworm was getting interest straight away in most swims but the bites were just coming from the chub.

Not the bigger ones that reside on this stretch but a next year or two group down. 2-3 lbers but in lovely condition like most of the chub are on this stretch. I thought I'd have a perch or two, but they were suspicions in their absence even though I'd spotted a decent fish here the other day that was almost by my feet. 

I caught a 3lb 6oz trout here back in March and I was always wondering since that capture if there were still some milling about. But no it was chub all the way for this short session, I'm sure when there is a little more colour in the water that would help, or maybe I'll try an evening in to dusk instead.

I do love catching chub though and I finished off on 7 of them so plenty of bites. Even the weir didn't produce a bite on the lobworm which I was surprised about. 

For the part of the session I gave a swim above the weir a go but not even a bite up there when downstream I was getting little indications on the tip there was small fish nibbling at the worm. I'm a rather impatient angler though as I'm sure if I move the bait around the swims a bit I'd have managed to get a bite.

I got home to Sam having a moan 😝 but then he had a right to do so. I promised to take him later anyway, unless he changes his mind that is. !!! So a little disappointed with this trip but I'm sure the conditions didn't help. There is a match on here tomorrow so hopefully they will fair better than I did.  

Friday 12 July 2024

Warwickshire Avon - Ghosts and Ghawazees

JHR Bazeley was a keen fisherman who wrote several books about his favourite sport and though they are all out of print and largely forgotten now they include an account of a most strange day's grayling fishing high up in the Yorkshire Dales. Bazeley left Leeds early one morning in December and by the time he arrived at his favourite stream it was just getting light. Snow still lay on the ground and he relished the crisp, clean air after the fog of Leeds.

Having eaten a hearty breakfast in the local hotel, he walked the few miles to his favourite spot and began fishing. Within an hour he had nearly a dozen good grayling in his basket. And so it continued throughout the day. It seemed as if he could do no wrong.

With just a few days to go before Christmas he was lucky to get a room back at the hotel, but the fishing had been so prolific he could not bear to return to Leeds, which had originally been his plan. We

Next morning he set off for the river again and fished down the first pool.

Immediately he was overtaken by a curious feeling, a feeling that someone else had just fished the same spot, yet he knew this was highly unlikely as he'd reached the riverbank just as the sun came up.

A few moments later Bazeley landed a nice fish and decided to move further down the river. As he turned the next bend, where the stream rattled over golden pebbles, he saw a dark figure a few hundred yards ahead of him, kitted out in waders, rod over his shoulder and just leaving the pool to move downstream. 

Bazeley followed and fished the stream the old man had left. He did extremely well and caught several excellent grayling, but this was odd since the previous angler must have disturbed the water and in the general run of things he'd have been lucky to catch anything arriving so soon after someone else had left.

As Bazeley moved down to the next pitch, his bag already groaning under the weight of several fat grayling, he once again saw the old chap in front make a move. It was as if the old man, knowing the instant Bazeley made the decision to move, would each time make way for him.

This continued throughout the day but, judging by the superb sport Bazeley enjoyed the old man's presence was, if anything, having a beneficial effect on the water. However, it was decidedly odd because, try as he might to vary the amount of time he spent on each pool, Bazeley always seemed to be the same distance behind the old man when he moved.

Dusk came on and Bazeley decided enough was enough. He packed up and walked slowly along the twisting, overgrown lane towards the hotel. To his delight he saw the old man from the river walking in the same direction. Perhaps, concluded Bazeley he is staying in the same hotel and we will be able to talk fishing this evening. Bazeley hurried to catch up with the distant figure but failed. Then he saw the old man turn in at the door of the hotel and thought, 'Aha, I have him now!"

Moments later Bazeley was taking his boots off in the rod room. 'Where's the old man who's just come in?' he asked the landlord. 'Which one, sir?' came the reply.

"The old gentleman who just came in wearing thigh boots and carrying his tackle bags,' said Bazeley.

Bazeley was astonished at what came next.

'You must be mistaken, sir. You are the first fisherman we've had staying for more than three months.'

'But I saw him come in the door just a few minutes before me!' came Bazeley's astonished reply. He then gave a lengthy and detailed description of the fisherman whose steps he had dogged throughout the day.

The riverkeeper who had been standing nearby throughout the conversation spoke. 'Can you spare a moment?' he asked indicating that Bazeley and he should retire to a quiet corner of the dark sitting room.

When they'd settled down on an old sofa by the fire the keeper spoke.

'The old chap you saw. I think you did see him right enough. He used to come and fish here for grayling every winter and he was just about the only one mad enough to fish every day whatever the conditions. 

We could never stop him even in the worst snow and frost. He had many narrow escapes over the years, but they never slowed him down. 

Then one day he failed to come back. He'd slipped into that pool by the willows. It was weather very much as it is now and Christmas was just as nearly upon us. 

Deep snow made the going difficult and no other angler would have been crazy enough to go out, so there was no one around to try to save him. 

We found him a few days later tangled up in the roots of an old willow and now every Christmas Eve he is seen fishing his favourite pools again."

Anyway talking of pools, on to the fishing !!!

I wasn't feeling 100% for this short after work in to dusk session so fancied a bit of chill out sat behind a rod, after a quick dabble for chub off the top obviously. 

I was here the other day struggling to catch fish mainly because it was really shallow and gin clear and the fish were as cagey as anything. 

I did see a couple of barbel in one swim though so with the river slightly up and hopefully carrying a little more colour, I'd fish in to dusk where hopefully the odds were more in my favour.

For the first hour and a bit I roved around to try and catch a chub and the 3rd swim came up trumps with a small fish nailing the bread a good 30 yards down the run.

There was plenty of reeds in the swim and it must have tried to get in to every single one of them so I had to be a bit of a bully to get it out from them and getting itself snagged up.

There was a couple of anglers on this stretch and a natter with both of them and we actually arrived back at the cars the same time post dusk. One of them managed 6 chub and 1 barbel all from the same swim. I well not much to write home about because after the initial chub pulls and bangs eventually one hooked itself that was only around 2lb or so. Sadly no barbel for me, at least I know they are here though, so I'll give them  another go soon me thinks. 

Wednesday 10 July 2024

The River Severn - Scooters and Scoptophobia

Trotting for Barbel didn't go that well on the Wye recently, they just didn't seem to be in a feeding mood. They could have well been in their smoking jackets with a big fat cigar post spawning, not ready to engage in some fishing frivolities, which is a shame as despite catching plenty of chub on the float, it was a barbel I was after. Even Nic struggled on that day, where usually he is baggin up as usual. 
Blog reader Jon Pinold who makes these cracking floats with glowing tips messaged me after reading the post and said, get yourself down this bit of the Severn, where "the further you walk, the better the fishing gets."

The Wye only takes me an hour and fifteen minutes but this bit of the Severn is even closer and much less miles too, so I could get to the parking spot in not much more than an hour.

A good mile walk to the fishing mind you, which to be honest, isn't a problem. I fancied wading if I could so thankfully the Diawa waders I have are relatively light and they do seem breathable rather than sweating a one-legged man at an arse kicking contest,which to be honest was the issue with the last cheap pair. 

Waders were the right choice because the grass was wet and it was often up to my waist. Google maps told me it was 2 miles to the very end of the stretch and it certainly felt like that. There were shallower areas of the river I passed to get to the first swim but one I earmarked looked a nice comfortable swim to fish. 

The river looked to be carrying a tinge of colour and as expected as I made my way downstream you could see it's rarely fished compared to the first meadow that looked well trodden. I dropped in to swims for a nose on this new stretch of river to me and actually bumped in to an angler who was trotting 'the hot peg'

He had already caught a few chub but "doubt it will be that good today, was probably hammered the weekend" That was decent walk as well to be fair, but a hot peg would always get more attention to be fair. You could see it was a well fished peg as well because it looked like Charlie Dimmock had been looking after it.

To walk to the end of section 4 took an hour thankfully I travelled light, but to be fair you could possibly do it in 45 minutes or so if you didn't drop in to swims like I did.

I actually covered 21k steps during the trip so not for the fainthearted when loaded up with gear and with waders donned, To be fair I could have got away with just wearing wellies and waterproofs in hindsight but my wellies are Muckboot Artic Sports so rather overkill in the mild weather and also rather heavy too.
Maybe Nash can bring out an electric scooter geared for the roving angler in mind !!! (Jon you should have taken out a patent on it !!)

Anyway to the fishing, I settled in to the first trotting swim that looked ideal with fast water over at the far side and a nice crease as well. 

It was relatively shallow but the float was going through nicely indeed and it was a decent long trot where you could alter the line to alter the speed of the bait trundling down. 

As I was preparing to cast something big launched out of the water upstream of me and it looked like a barbel from the short glimpse of it I had, it was certainly a decent fish thats for sure. 

What I didn't expect a few runs down of the large 4.8gm stick it shot under and I struck into a solid lump on the 15ft Diawa Connoisseur.  That was quick !!!

It was nodding its head so I knew it was a chub where I teased it up out of the fast water to thankfully water with less pace because it was giving a good account for itself. A decent size chub as well and worth weighing when it was gracing the landing net. 

It went 4lb and 14 ounces and the hook quite far down its cavernous mouth where it must have nailed the piece of meat. Wow what a great start, but then as the session played out I peaked too soon.

The fishing was patchy to say the least and numbers of fish were just not showing for me. I caught maybe 6 or 7 from this swim but there was a good wait between bites and I gave it a good 4 hours with a small rest in-between before trying some more swims.

Again patchy sport where these chub seem to be getting smaller and often snatchy at the bait where at one point I came back with a decent sized scale, which I assume was a decent chub again. 

I dropped in to the 'hot peg' to see it vacated by the angler who I spoke to when I first got there. Maybe he wasn't having a brilliant day either. To be fair it looked a cracking peg and I did manage to catch a few chub and lost one, but the barbel just were not showing for me sadly, so much so I ended up calling it a day with around 8 hours of fishing, with around 16 or so chub. 

On the way back to the car there was swim after swim now occupied and all sat behind their feeder rods, where a couple of swims had two anglers sharing the same peg. Maybe I was missing a trick for the barbel ? I'm not likely to rush back mind you, so despite the scenery, the relative solitude if you're prepared for a long walk, I couldn't quite put my finger on why it could well fall off my radar. 

The journey there only a hour, the journey back where I clearly left at the wrong time, 1 hour and 15, and it's only 36 miles. Nic from Avon Angling had messaged when I just got back to see if I wanted to share the swim with him because he was bagging up on chub on one of the noted pegs, and fancied a rest 😫

I was tired though, all day trotting and all that walking with gear I was done in. So in less time to drive to Quatford and the walking to get fishing Nic had caught more fish than me, 18 if I recall from 3lb to 5lb, and it's just down the road for me 😁, the Avon isn't so bad after all.

Tuesday 9 July 2024

The River Arrow - Brushcutters and Bronchoscopes

Sam and I bumped in to the swim creator on the river Arrow and boy did he have his work cut out. The upstream pegs of the weir couldn't be more different than those below it, a canalised section of around 6 pegs that is around 8 foot deep in places and harbours some fish well worth catching.

Bream, big chub and even barbel...!!  

I might well give the area a go to see what I can winkle out. The problem is the opposite bank is a more heavily fish club where the stretch of convenience means, they can actually park behind their peg. When we went for a nose every peg was taken as I did fancy having a go for the chub, but you could literally lip read what the other angler was saying to his mate that came for a chat, errr, I'll leave it for another time.

So we went downstream for a rover to try and catch some chub using simple link ledger tactics and gob stopping pieces of bread. 

It came from 'Dead Man's Hole' or something like that according to the brushcutter swim creator (nice fella) because it was a swim I discovered myself fishing it for the first time where the SSG took a while to settle, it must be a good >8 foot deep hole, when even with a clear river, it's dark and dingy here. 

A good fifteen minutes without a bite once the bread had settled I did think about moving when a pull on the quiver tip I got a big drop back bite and a chub was on. An epic scrap on my prefered chub rod (TFG River and Stream) it was taking line and certainly didn't want to see the insides of ones landing net. 

They are in superb condition these Arrow chub, probably because the once resident otter that tapped its clawed paw on the shoulder of every barbel that once called this place home, probably upsticks and went to pastures new. 

Fingers crossed they make a come back but for now the chub are there to provide a bend in the rod. To be honest I've not made it a secret chub are in my league table above the barbel, but then maybe if I was closer to a water that has them in numbers those positions could switch.

Anyway usually in small rivers like this once a fish has caused swim carnage (weighed 4lb 9oz) that's your lot for a bit so as Sam gets restless like I do, it was on to the next swim.

This was towards the end of the stretch as I wanted to prime the banker swim with some mash before returning to it. A swim nicely cleared for a match that is on the weekend it's a snag fest here. The problem was despite carrying a tinge of colour because of the recent rain it was still pretty shallow and you could see the bottom in much of it.

We gave it a go though, Sam manning the rod because I'd caught a fish and he hadn't, and naturally it was his turn. I mentioned in another post, he his such a good angler know, he what to do when that chub heads for the snags. 

Which he played out rather well indeed because after trying a couple more swims without success, we headed to the banker swim where literally two casts two cracking chub. There is a fallen tree over at the far side and also a tree to the right where the chub tend to hang out, because they have plenty of escape routes, and they seem to be there all the time. 

Sam actually missed another two unmissable bites that for some reason didn't connect, so with those chub returned there must have been quite a few of them down there.

For such a small river the average size of chub is on the high side, and on return to the car we dropped in to the weir where I managed a nice one that after a huge drop back bite realised it had made a mistake and shot to my right a good ten yards in what seems like a couple of seconds. I thought I'd missed my chance but reeled in a load of slack and the fish was still there.

Another short but enjoyable session on the river Arrow where we both caught 2 chub each and all a high stamp. There was a 6lber caught here recently apparently and no reason to doubt that, so I'm looking forward to giving this stretch a go in the depths of winter.

Saturday 6 July 2024

Warwickshire Avon - Rolling and Roentgenography

Usually in the early season bites from the bigger fish can certainly be tough when the river is clear and the levels low. 

Catching chub off the top is one of my favorite methods in these conditions because they often let their guard down, and under the polarised sunglasses you can often see the fish coming out from the cover they are hiding under to intercept the bread.

Now rolling meat is an underused method in my angling armory mainly because the local stretches of river I fish are not really conducive for it, mainly because they are big and wide, often deep and also because the barbel numbers are low.

However a couple of local stretches I do fish though, in the early season often has barbel in residence so before I had get on with some errands post work there was a small window of opportunity to try and winkle out a fish in one of them. 

I and others have spotted some as well which helps because at least I'd know it would increase the probability of catching one. There was rain on the way as well so the session dictated itself really as the following day would limit the sight fishing, 2 hours max to catch a fish. Not ideal is it really, but that was my lot sadly !!

When I got to the first swim I spotted some chub tucked away sheltering away from the main flow and they tentatively came out from time to time for a nose. A couple of them looked decent too but they really were not interested whatsoever even when the bait went straight past their noses. 

The meat was going through nicely teasing its way past the sunken reeds and streamer weed. I'm sure the fish could see me that was part of the problem because the chub were definitely cagey. Anyway I got on the rove to do the same in each and every likely looking swim.

It helps that is was shallow and most swims elevated but I was running out of time !! There was one swim with a long section of cover over at the far side and I got the meat to roll right under the cover time after time but nought doing. I even saw a chub go from the main river to shelter in the cover but even that fish ignored the meat.

I was running out of time fast !!!

I returned to the first swim where on approach I finally spotted a couple of barbel πŸ‘€ I watched for a while and they were only small fish. Maybe 4lb or 5lb at a push, worth catching though but I managed to get the meat to roll nicely up to them but again they ignored it completely. Damn it !!!

These are intimate swims, you can see the fish, the fish can see you and that I'm sure won't help. Excuses at the ready.

But one swim to go that looked a nightmare to fish but over at the far side a section of deeper water with cover over the top and it was much darker...

A perfect first cast and within seconds of the meat going through the swim !BANG! it was grabbed by a fish. I had to bully the fish and thankfully it didn't make inroads into any of the thick escape routes. A chub not the intended barbel but a rather nice chub going 4lb and 9 ounces on the scales. 

And that was my lot !!!

Curfew was us sadly but at least I managed a nice fish in the end. I love this sort of sight fishing and rolling meat but to be honest I need to do more of it, and be more stealthy to boot, as I'm sure that didn't help my cause. Anyway I'll give the swim a go where I spotted the barbel one evening next week hopefully, where I'm hoping once the light levels go they will let their guard do.

Oh and I forgot to mention, I put some pellets down in one of the swims and let it rest for a good 45 minutes or so, but only a solitary chub was feeding, only a small'un too. Anyway on to the next one !!!

Friday 5 July 2024

Warwickshire Avon - The Untrodden Pt.3

I reckon an out of town disgruntled vocal vegan complained to the council, because when I noticed the artwork on the local Bulls Head Pub in Wootton Wawen when it was initially done, I thought it was rather befitting on this rather unassuming pub, where many people think it's a residential property. The staff are great and we've eaten plenty of times in there since it's been taken over. Not just proper Thai food but the usual pub fair too, and the Thai BBQ's they have from time to time are πŸ‘Œ. 

The Moo Ping especially with the spicy dipping sauce, distinctively flavoured sausage, and the chicken satay is some of the best I've ever had, oh and how can I forget the yellow curry, keep on doing what you are doing to keep those bums on seats, well maybe a better choice of proper beer wouldn't go amiss !! πŸ˜‰

Anyway those lovely people at Stratford-Upon-Avon District Council have told them to paint over the Herefordshire Bull (£1200) mural on the Grade II listed 17th Century pub, or they will be threatened with legal action because it breaches planning rules for listed properties.

Since I've lived in the area it was also once Anderson's Steakhouse, which was absolutely superb with again some excellent staff, but after a few years they decided to concentrate on their Birmingham business, and it changed hands again. Times are hard for the trade these days with many having to cut their spending due to the cost of living, so give them a break I say, especially when there is great support from the locals for this establishment.

Anyway a trip to the untrodden post work and dinner was in order make a couple more swims accessible because the rampant nettles are hindering access. Luckily they are not that thick so my rather undergunned hedge trimmers didn't actually do that bad. 

The problem is often you cut the nettles down to find out the access is restricted by a huge length of reeds !!! so maybe a drone is needed to find the better areas to concentrate on. Still a bit of exercise is always welcome especially when I had to retrace my steps to get the tackle.

Anyway to the fishing, well after catching a near 5lb chub here on literally the first cast of the floating bread I decided to feed some freebies in a few swims to see if I could get some fish feeding. Sadly after a good while it was obviously a fruitless exercise, so I set the rod up to try some static fishing.

A pva bag of pellets and a paste wrapped boilie to try and get some scent in the water. I'd earmarked the first swim I made as the one I'd fish in to dark so tried another area upstream first with no success. On the final swim to fish It didn't take long to get some bites.

Only chublets that were determined to get the bait despite the long hair, but they were all in pristine condition so I wasn't complaining. Anyway I must have caught 6 or so before the swim went dead. The sun was setting by now so I was hoping that the bigger fish would now venture out because the water was gin clear. 

The swim had a willow to my left, cover over at the far side, reeds in the middle and to my right so a swim with plenty of features, and it carried some decent depth as well just off a crease caused by the reeds. After a clang after ten minutes I thought I would be on for some action.

But the sun set with a rather vibrant sky and then dusk came and went and I was looking at a motionless rod. Hmmmmmm....

To be fair I didn't expect to catch a big barbel which James seems to do rather regularly on his 40 rivers challenge (give it a watch, shows the dedication involved), but I did think the chub would at least show. 

Still not all about the fishing is it !!!

Because it's just nice being out sometimes isn't it rather than being sat behind a TV or stuck inside like many would be nodding in agreement to their social media echo chamber !! The sky just got better and better, this scene lasting only 10 minutes but wow, very impressive indeed.

I could have stayed longer but I had a niggling achy pain in my back which wasn't helping so I decided to call it a day when the head torch was just about needed. 

A little disappointed I must admit, but got to look at the positives, I'm going to have this area of river to myself most of the time, and considering this area was likely to have been affected by the pollution incident, there is signs already there could be some nice fish to be had.

Whether there are any barbel here, I don't know but this area wasn't renowned for numbers, much like the rest of the Warwickshire Avon to be honest, but manage to catch one, it's likely to be a good'un.  

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