Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Friday 31 May 2024

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.114 (Canal Zander and Bream)

The bank holiday weekend was over in a blink of an eye and back to the daily drudgery where the final countdown is on to the car I've been working on for 5 years is in full swing, and those latest prototypes rolling off the production line are almost saleable vehicles such the quality at the moment.

A long time coming I must admit but from a sketch to a production car especially one of this specification not uncommon especially with the ever increasing technology involved.

Some things to sort out from parts off tool not quite going together as expected, and fit and finish issues here and there but considering I had to redesign a load of parts that were already off tool, and also design some new one due to some 'late packaging changes', the outcome thus far has been better than expected. 

Family stuff as always occupied much of my weekend, but then why wouldn't it, however some down time is nice. Cooking is my thing especially with a glass of red in hand where one of the highlights was the Turkish Lahmacuns with homemade flatbreads, very nice they were too, with the distinctive flavours of lamb, parsley, aleppo pepper and copious amounts of lemon.

Anyway I WONDERED when you would want to know how to go about catching bream. These fish can be as aggravating as the carp in its most tantalizing mood. When fishing for bream you can expect first class sport or absolute disappointment. They either feed all out or go on a hunger strike.

There are two kinds of bream silver and bronze. You will catch silver bream but I should say you would be angling for bronze. There are no big silver bream! To what weight does the bream grow? The biggest ever recorded in the UK is one weighing 22 lb. 11 oz. If you catch a four pounder you can be pleased with yourself, though six pounders aren't all that rare. Of course there are the occasional eight or ten pounders, and if you take one of them it will be an opportunity for the glass case and gold lettering. I'm still waiting!

A canal fish, well 4lb and 3 ounces is the best I can muster up thus far.4lb and 3 ounces is the best I can muster up thus far. 

The bream is a tricky chap. When I have had a blank day fishing for bream I often think of the picture of the monks who haven't had a good day's fishing. 

Very doleful they look! The picture is Tomorrow will be Friday and we've caught no fish today.

Carp and bream were the monks' fish on Friday which was, as you know, a meatless day. I used to think to myself that they must have had a few hungry Fridays. And so they would, if they'd had to depend upon a good catch of bream or carp every Thursday! But the monks were as artful as the fish. They were always fishing and kept the fish alive in special small ponds stew ponds from which they could net them when needed. And they stuffed them with herbs, baked them in butter and wine. I wonder if they had bilious attacks?

I'll begin telling you about bream with a piece of sound advice.

Really ? literally where the public footpath turns 90 degrees, I despair

If there is any wind from the east in the air, angle for some other fish. I have never caught any bream when there has been an east wind in evidence.

Further, I have found that winter fishing for bream is useless. Bream don't like the cold, and I can't say I blame them. Summer is the time for bream, but I will qualify that by telling you that they dislike hot sun. Before the sun gets too high in the sky and when it begins to drop in the west - those are your times. Mark you, when on a summer day there is a soft south or west wind ruffling the water, and a little cloud in the sky that is very different!

Oh yes, you want to know about tackle. Line? Breaking-strain 3 lb minimum., use a small waggler Hook? A number 12 should suit. If you find a school of really big bream change over to a number 8. I'm all against VERY heavy tackle. After all, we aren't angling for sharks! Bait? Paste, worm, maggot. Ground bait? Bran and bread or cloud

There, now we know what we need.

Yet we must know a little more about the bream before we set off after him. He can be a very contrary chap when he likes which is far too often for any but a keen angler. We have agreed that he is a summer fish, so we know the time of year when we are most likely to catch him. But where? In rivers and in the still waters of lakes, ponds and canals. But bream rivers are generally slow running, with muddy bottoms, and away from the main flow there must be deep 'holes', the deeper the better, for in those holes the big ones will be found. Both in rivers and ponds there must be weed if we are to find good bream.

What more about the fish itself? The bream is, essentially, a bottom feeder. He feeds mainly upon insect life and vegetation which he collects by sucking it from the bottom. And because he is 'as deep as he is long' he has to get his tail well up to get his head well down.

Then, for no apparent reason though some anglers believe it is preparatory to feeding the water will become alive with bream rolling about all over the surface. Maybe they are just playing for I can't believe that they are preparing to feed. I've tried all the tricks I know to tempt them with various baits at varying depths, with the odd scrap of success.

Bream travel about in schools. If you can 'get into' those schools you are in for really fast and furious sport. To do so depends on the way you use your ground bait. We will return to that matter in a few minutes. Keep an eye open for the school travelling on the bottom. 

We can spot this school by the bubble trails it makes. As the school travels, the fish are poking about in the bottom mud with their noses, which makes the bubbles rise to the surface. You may have sport with this kind of school. Cast your bait in front of it. As the fish are sucking up insect life, offer them a worm. I suggest the tail of a lob. So far so good.

I now suggest that unless you know the water you are to fish, you get to know an expert angler who does, and who will point out the best places to you (not good asking me). It is essential that you should know the holes both in the rivers and still water. You must know where to do your ground baiting. 

While bream travel around in schools, they invariably return to the hole or swim. You must find two or three holes, ground bait them and stick to them. There isn't much point in wandering all over the water. You'll probably miss the schools. Use groundbait wisely and bring the bream to you. We are getting along nicely, but just one word more about your needs. For a day's fishing I don't think 10 lb. of ground bait would be too much. You will have two or three holes or swims to feed. And one more thing: don't have your shot closer than 18 in. from your hook. Now we are all set.

You have chosen the water and you have taken the depth. Remember that the bream is a bottom feeder. I believe that it is better to fish just off the bottom a mere inch or two. It is rather a tricky job to adjust the float correctly, but I feel it is worth it. The bream is a 'deep' fish, so while his belly is on the bottom, his nose is a few inches above. 

But you should try both fishing right on the bottom and an inch or two above, and learn by trial and error. If you are fishing the river holes, I suggest you try first with bread or maggot, but if there has been rain and the river has risen, then the tail of a lob is the bait. (You may well pick up a good chub or perch with the lob tail, too.)

In still water, unless you are trying the tail of a lob in front of a travelling bottom shoal, begin with bread, and if that does not tempt your fish, try maggot. Vary your bait and vary the method if need be, the feeder is another good way to fish for them. 

You begin to fish, and you are lucky. You have tempted a fish. But, oh dear, what a miserable little twitch the float gave! And that is the way of the bream. He is far more hesitant than the carp. 

He will mess about, and then just when you are fed up away the float will go. Then you strike. Now and again you will find that, as with the carp, your float will be 'lifted' or flattened. 

Of course, there will be no preliminary twitches and such like dithering. Your float will dive as if a whacking great perch had taken your bait. Keep your eyes open and keep your hand ready to strike.

I think you have all that I can tell you about bream and if you have just that bit of luck to help you to find a shoal on the feed, you will have sport, but don't be too disappointed if the day is blank. 

I'm sorry to tell you this, but it is no good pretending that the bream is anything like a fighter unless you happen to hook a good one in a river hole and he gets out into the current; then you may think you've hooked a submarine!

Anyway looking back over coarse angling over the years, and thinking about bream, I can see a great deal of difference in the attitude to coarse fishing. Nowadays we take fish and we put them back for another day. But in the days before the war when there were so many people without work, fish were not so often returned. This is not a fisherman's story, but I was told by my Dad as many as twenty bream, weighing over 70 lb. altogether, being taken by one fisherman he knew and not one of those fish was returned! They were all for the pot. And that angler wasn't the only one.

However, what I want you to understand is not only the different attitude of the angler of today, but the sport which bream can give when on the feed. Twenty fish weighing more than 70lb. altogether was not a particularly out-of-the way catch then, nor is it today. You will have blank days. What angler does not ? Yet there will be those days when the bream will give sport you will remember as long as you live. 

Just look a this memorable session from Nic from Avon Angling up at bream bay prior to an invite to a marina to fish where this was a taster for what was to come. Bream soup !! Bites are good, bream are good, what's not to like. Well maybe the smell of the garage afterwards from the keepnet or landing net. 

Anyway to the fishing, I was back to the area I caught my PB from because I've had others that were not far off that weight too over the years. I decided to fish the method I've been trying of late which is fish a small buoyant waggler that can be fished overdepth with a SSG anchoring the shot on the bottom, and a large piece of bread on the hook. It's more sensitive than the Generation Z'ers, and boy (insert one of the other 71 genders (apparently) they are sensitive, there is no denying that !!

The reason why I like it is because it just seems to work rather well for the roach and the roach bream hybrids as well as the bream, any interest whatsoever is registered on the float and you don't need the reactions of a fighter jet pilot to strike at a light bite. Obviously I'd have a Zander bait out as well, because there are a few knocking about here. 

I arrived just as a boat was headed up the track but luckily the lock paddles were already open meaning that the disturbance would be minimal once the boat had churned up the water. It soon settled down thankfully so I could get the baits out.

The bites were slow to come by to honest and the bigger bream didn't show this evening. But one schoolie Zander on the roach deadbait and also some nice roach bream hybrids succumbed to the overdepth pellet waggler set-up. 

The key is to fish as many swims as you can because after dropping the bread in, feed some bread slop it's surprising just how quickly you get a bite if a fish is there. Bread seems a very selective bait as well and it's my preference over maggots if I'm to bag a large roach that may slip up using this technique.

Still a few fish caught but overall very quiet indeed. The heavy rain ended the session but an enjoyable few hours I must admit. Now I need to give a recently dredged (5-6 mths or so) area a go sometime because I'm sure the extra depth might hold some nice fish. It's also where I bagged a 9lb Zander many moons ago so it would be nice to see if there are any hanging around. The problem is it's a popular mooring stretch and I'd be fishing the winding hole, so being early or late is a necessity. 

Tuesday 28 May 2024

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.113 (Bream Bay)

For some reason my sleep has improved immeasurably of late, I'm not sure why and hopefully it will continue because I feel better for it. To be fair with the weather the way it was over the weekend, not a bad thing either as I'd have had to fish in the rain both mornings if I did get out.

Bank holiday Monday was a shower dodging day however post a late afternoon BBQ dinner I decided to head up to bream bay where Nic from Avon Angling had 11 bream from the other day. I'd gone for a wander up there at the tail end of one of my sessions and the fish activity really was quite ridiculous. I'd ran out of time though and Nic returned the following day and cleaned up.

I got bankside around 6.00ish to see the surface as still as anything and no sign of fish whatsoever, not only that within 5 minutes of arriving the heavens opened and the shower amplified to umbrella requiring levels. Luckily I had decided to don my waterproof gear. 

Anyway something different for this session, I decided to use feeder tactics to reach over to the far side which is a bit of a chuck with a float. I rarely use feeder tactics on the canal but I've caught plenty of bream using the method so was I missing a trick ?

I decided to ball in some sweet groundbait and small pellets to kick two swims off and used a simple cage feeder a long shank feeder hook and alternated between corn, worm and maggot, oh and the odd time bread. The rain stuck around for a good 40 minutes or so which made trying to spot any fish activity impossible really, but the motionless tip was 2nd best πŸ˜€

Thankfully the rain stopped and the surface as like a mill pond but both of the baited area there was no sign of feeder fish whatsoever, then out of the blue a decent bream rolled out in the middle of the track well away from the shallower areas I was fishing.

No sooner as I got the feeder over to that spot I had a confident pull round of the tip and a fish was on. Now often canal bream because of their slab sides give up some good resistance, but this fish despite being over a couple of pounds I almost just reeled it in.

I felt sorry for it to be honest, because it was slimier than the usual stamp here so after a quick photo in the net I quickly returned it, hoping that the swim would kick off knowing now where the fish were. 

But sadly that never happened, the bream were just not here, or in a feeding mood so God knows what was going on. It's feature filled this bay and it usually holds fish because of that, but not today. The mist started to hug the water around 8.30pm or so and I could have fished till dusk and beyond but with over 2 hours fishing without much success and a black cloud coming my way I decided to call the session early and maybe come back another day.

It's a lovely place to be this area because you overlook open countryside and because it's a trek to get here with all your gear it seems to put anglers off.

Then again the amount of walking I do on the locals canals I rarely see other anglers. Where the heck are they, well ok many anglers hate the idea of a slimy bream tainting their landing nets, but it's the mystery for me, in relatively untapped waters.

You really don't know what is going to be on the end of your line in these narrowboat free waters (sadly just temporary), well luckily until the rivers are open again was is nice. I'll be back though and maybe the deeper track is worth a proper go next time, fingers crossed the weather will improve.

Saturday 25 May 2024

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.112 (Maggots and Bread)

I must admit the closed season is getting to me now. There is something about fishing rivers isn't there that the canals and stillwaters cannot match. Just having to trudge another canal towpath to try and get a few bites and get that fishing fix is starting to grind a little I must admit.

It didn't get off to a good start when a dog walker thought it was ok that his out of control dog wasn't doing anything wrong when it decided to leg it up to me with hackles showing and barking like something possessed whilst frothing at the mouth in biting distance from me. Let's just say he got a piece of my mind, however if Ben was with me who has an irrational fear of dogs my actions might have been different. 

I arrived at around 6.30am and the canal looked a lovely colour for a bite or two. I decided to fish a two rod approach with maggot under a sensitive float the main attack with a crude pellet waggler set-up as a back-up which I'd fish from time to time.

The swim was primed with a couple of tennis ball sized groundbait balls laced with some hemp and also some small micro pellets to try and draw in a few fish.
The session started off like it usually does with a good wait till the first bite, which in this case was probably about half an hour.

If I'd not experienced this before I'd have probably moved swims but I knew one's fortunes would change once that float rose for the first time.

I was using the lift method on the sensitive set-up and it seemed to work quite well for most of the bites with the odd one going under instead.

The smaller fish arrived first but then they started to get bigger when I started to introduce a little more maggots in to the swim.  

Not the biggest of fish admittedly but hybrids pull back rather nicely and a decent slab is always a novelty to catch just because how ungainly they are.

I didn't lose any fish this session which has been causing me a nightmare of late because I've lost quite a few fish not taking my time basically and bullying the fish rather than letting the rod do the work.

The bread rod had not interest whatsoever it was maggots all the way.

The first boat came through at 8.30am and that basically killed the swim, so much so I decided to head to another canal altogether where I'd rove around with the bread rod tight to the reeds to see if I could find any decent roach. This is more my thing really rather than being nailed to the spot.

 I decided to head up just past the knackered lock which is out of action till the 17th of June (apparently). That has meant limited movement on the canal for around 3 miles where there is a winding hole above and below. It has already been closed for a few weeks so in desperation those boats that found themselves stranded on this length of canal facing the wrong way have had to reverse the whole way if they needed a pump out / fuel and water etc.

For the angler though it has meant the stretch has been rather quiet indeed which is perfect when you are doing some float fishing at 10.00am because usually it would be a boat every 10 minutes or so.

Anyway Jon Arthur look away now, no size 22 hooks with 3mm bread punch, this is my overdepth reed rig I used to catch the larger fish on the canal. An SSG anchors the size 12 hook on the bottom and the very sensitive foam pellet wagglers amplifies every bite.

The fact that the shot is so tight to the reeds means you can also fish tight to them and it didn't take long to get a bite when I fished the first swim. I baited with some bread slop and the bite came after 10 minutes where the float all of a sudden woke up and was carting to my left down the canal where it eventually disappeared from view. 

The fish had already hooked itself so I only had to lift the rod and the fish was already on. I thought it was a nice bream initially but then the fight kicked up a notch and it was taking me all over the canal. Yup a hybrid most likely because they fight really well as this one was and sure enough when it surfaces an unmistakable hybrid. My biggest from the canal is 4lb on the nose and after netting it this one went 2lb and 12 ounces on the scales, so a very nice fish indeed, it's just a shame it wasn't a roach πŸ˜€

So after the dog incident spoiling matters at the start of the session this made up for it thankfully. I fished a couple more swims but that was it. An enjoyable trip out though and plenty of walking that often is only what is needed really, catching a fish or three is a bonus. 

Friday 24 May 2024

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.111 (Canal Zander)

On-route to visiting my Mum from working from MIRA for the day, I drove past the 'THE LAND OF GIANTS' which is Europe’s newest and only, Jurassic & Ice Age themed event touring the UK for 2024! (This was the grounds of Maxstoke Castle' Apparently the experience is the only one of its kind to showcase giant beasts from both periods of time, the Jurassic / Triassic era and the Ice Age  Era'.

'THE LAND OF GIANTS is a must-see family edutainment attraction, a highly educational and entertaining Jurassic and Ice age walk-through experience, aimed at family audiences. 

Featuring over 50 impressive installations of animatronic dinosaurs and Ice Age beasts with moving parts. 

Visitors will explore the gardens and parklands and uncover epic life-sized replica dinosaurs and Ice Age beasts, including everybody’s favourites such as T-Rex, Triceratops, Woolly Mammoths and Smilodons. Each beast has robotic moving body parts, which includes heads moving, bodies breathing, arms and tails moving, eyes blinking and jaws opening wide with realistic roaring sound effects. Making for a truly awesome walk-through experience!'

Well, errrr ok I saw the dinosaurs from the road (in-fact I did the previous week and wondered what the heck was going on), but the rain had caused havoc during the day with many of the local roads flooded (The Alne put an extra 2m of water on in 24 hours) which had clearly put the public from visiting. There was a few cars in the car-park which to be honest could have been from the street vendors that all appeared to be closed. 

There was a guy that looked slumped in his chair sheltering under his gazebo who presumingly was meant to be checking bags and tickets from the crowds that were expected. Rain puts people off, and thankfully even the lycra clad middle aged tyre distressers were non existent this journey but this rain had been biblical to be fair, even the T-Rex was holding an umbrella FFS. 

Anyway after seeing my mum for a while I did think about going fishing because it had eased off but to be honest I'm lacking a little motivation at the minute, so I decided to go out a couple of days later after watching Luke Litter win the PDC (where it was £9 a pint apparently 😲) instead where hopefully I'd try and winkle out a Zander from this usually productive stretch. This area is harbouring some decent Zander currently would a decent one turn up ? 

Well to be honest a good hour and half nothing whatsoever which could mean that the fish have dispersed post spawning, or as it was in the middle of the day they might not have been in a feeding mood.

In the end I decided to upsticks and take a look at an area where blog reader Nick had spotted some carp. It was a reasonably humid with the sun coming out intermittently so a good time to see if there was any mooching about to be fair.

After a natter to a couple of anglers who were struggling for bites on worm and maggot with only a couple of perch caught I was bankside by the rather feature filled area. I tried two swims with the Zander baits but nothing and I didn't see any carp either, but they don't show themselves that easily on the canal so not unexpected. It looked a little like 'carp corner', so no reason why they wouldn't like it here, it's the sort of place that just looks good for them to be harbouring up.

In the end I retraced my steps on the way back to the car and leapfrogged cover after cover where eventually after 3 hours or so I must have dropped the bait on a Zanders nose as I had a bite within a few minutes of it going out.

Only a schoolie though sadly but at least I didn't blank, anyway I was hoping that wouldn't be alone down there but that was the only bite I had from that swim, and another 3 or so after that. Hard going I must admit but that's Zander fishing for you, fortunes can change with the flick of a finger.  

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Warwickshire Trout - River Alne Pt.12

Since Lanzarote back in February it seems an age to my next holiday but having booked the days off work yesterday August onwards I'm staking them up. Nothing too exciting I might add, with a week in Northumberland in the aforementioned month, then a week in Devon to see my brother and his family in October, soon after a lads 6 nights in Spain in a mates Villa, again in October, there is a light at the end of the daily drudgery. 

November brings the Fat Boy Slim weekender which is always a good do with the old ravers like me descending to Minehead for some repetitive beats. Hopefully I'll get some sea fishing in during those trips, we will see. I quite fancy trying to catch a smoothhound rather than the dogfish I usually catch.

This year there seems to be even more takers out of the social group with 12 going I believe which is great, because for me, do what you enjoy doing I say, and ignore the finger pointers, you've a weekend with the like-minded. It's a great bunch that go there and many older than Big Beat Basher Norm himself, and unlike the crowded Creamfields kidfest at least you won't stand out like a sore thumb and asked for a selfie every ten minutes with the coffin dodger. 

My love of repetitive beats is still there since the 90's and long may it continue, because very much like fishing it gets me in the right frame of mind.

Talking of the right frame of mind, I needed to install a sign down a the River Alne because a few times now the village frequenters have taken it up upon themselves to block access to the gate, when I needed to access it, so I could have a dangle whilst I was down here. 

At least this sign is nice and clear and hopefully it won't mean I'm having to knock on doors to try and find out who is preventing access. The last time was a guy in a brand new Range Rover who was at the pub for a wake (I think) and couldn't find anywhere to park his car (Errrr because it's mahoosive) so decided blocking a gate was perfectly acceptable. 

Anyway with the weather being rather nice indeed I decided to see how many trout I could catch in an hour and a half or so. Simple tactics with a Salmo minnow lure with polarised sunglasses to spot the fish on the frab. A couple of swims down nada, however the weir swim usually comes up trumps.

The river is obviously very low and clear but this is often a hotspot to get a few bites. With a tree that had fallen blocking much of the weir lucky the water could flow under it. When there is a metre and half of extra of water on it maybe a different story !!!

Anyway to cut a long story short, the fish didn't seem to be on it despite their being mayfly around. I only saw one rise from a baby trout about 2 inches long and in around 5 swims I fished I managed 4 trout, one that was foul hooked all of a similar stamp.

Nothing big showed at all really and with the grass almost waist deep in places it was hard going just to get to the swims. If we get some rain to oxygenate the water a bit I might give it another go, but we will see, at least I didn't blank. 

Monday 20 May 2024

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.110 (Maggots and Canal Zander)

Have you ever noticed that aquariums never have any great white sharks? Well, there's a good reason why. Sometimes, you need a day out to your local aquarium if you have one, of course. 

But, while you're likely to spot everything from dolphins to jellyfish to giant sea turtles on a day out at a sea life attraction, one animal that you're guaranteed not to come across is the great white shark.

While they're a similar size if not smaller than some of the other sea creatures on display, there's a heartbreaking reason why they'll never be held captive.

That is because when a great white shark is held in captivity, they always tend to die. The first recorded incident was in 1955 at Marineland of the Pacific, a former public oceanarium and tourist attraction in LA but the shark didn't last a single day. 

And over the decades, a series of attempts have been made but to no avail – the great whites have all been either released into the wild or died within days in captivity.

The longest record was held by The Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is known as the first to successfully care for and display great white sharks. 

It is the only public aquarium in the world to have successfully exhibited a great white shark for longer than 16 days, but even that wasn't without its problems - with one young shark dying shortly after being released into the wild.

So, what's the problem?

First up is their feeding habits as this particular species is carnivorous and tend to only eat live prey, including tuna, rays and other sharks or feed off the carcasses of other animals, like dolphins, porpoises and whales. They also like to snack on seals, sea turtles, otters and birds.

Therefore, it's incredibly hard and expensive to satisfy the dietary needs of this species. There's also the issue of traumatising visitors by dropping live seals and dolphins into the feeding frenzy. What's more, great whites are nomadic and huge, and they cannot stop suddenly or swim backwards. They need to move forward in order to breathe, as vast amounts of water rushes through their open mouths and out of their gills.

Considering they can grow up to 6.1 metres in length, you're going to need a bigger tank than usual to house these creatures. Once again, the costs of achieving this are going to be astronomical.
Last but definitely not least, great whites suffer in captivity, so much so that many of the recorded incidents led to the animals refusing to eat and dying of starvation.

According to Shark Bookings, which offers shark diving experiences in South Africa: "Great White Sharks that are kept within tanks have been known to head butt their noses into the glass walls and lose their appetites. "It has also been noted that they get increasingly aggressive in their depressed state."

I had a dream the other day where I was sitting peacefully watching the float on the canal and a shark fin was spotted coming towards me and proceeded to chase some fish, causing them to launch out of the water πŸ˜€

I didn't spot any in this short morning session but the bites were hard to comeby. In-fact it took an hour or so to get the first bite when fishing maggots where I managed a few bream of similar stamp and then some small roach and perch. Certainly hard going actually and when the canal turned in to a river I packed the float gear up and went on the rove to try and catch a Zander.

I managed a couple of schoolies and this 3lber with a couple of the lure guys also on the stretch catching a few 50cm fish. The weather didn't help I'm sure because the sun was beating down on the swims where the fish usually reside.

When an elderly couple walking their dog bumped in to someone they knew coming the other way walking his dog and proceeded to have a conversation about planning, a fence that needed to be paid for and the parish council, literally right next to me, as a misanthrope it was time for the off. 

I had a BBQ to prepare for later you see because it would be rude not to with the weather so nice. This Char Siu Pork is so easy to make with pork fillet marinated in honey, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, light soy sauce, chinese five spice and a nadger of red food colouring. 

And it tastes so authentic too, the dipping sauce is made from soy sauce, honey, red wine vinegar and some sesame seed oil, very nice indeed I must admit. 

Saturday 18 May 2024

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.109 (Canal Carp & Bream)

This area of canal hasn't been that good of late, I'm not sure why either because I've had some decent success over the years I've been fishing it but with the weather being nice and a small window of fishing opportunity, I fancied trying something a little different than what I've been doing of late.

I caught a carp along this stretch and with the sun going to be high in the sky, I was hoping I could spot some, and if I did, give them a go with surface bread, which was the eventual downfall of one particular carp that just didn't seem to be interesting in taking my bait, no matter how I tried to fish for it. 

If I couldn't see the carp I'd also fish the pellet waggler tight to some reeds over at the far side which I'd never done before up till now, despite catching some nice canal fish that way in the past. I'd been fishing the track and also the nearside reeds and those bigger fish just hadn't been showing up for me for some reason. 

There was a slight hurdle in my plan though and that was the fact that my adopted local pub had Bass on cask and it would stupid to not to have a thirst quencher prior to some fishing, because I know it wouldn't be available after the weekend with only 88 pints being in a keg, and Bass is easy drinking.

Bass beer (the red triangle is the oldest trademark in the UK, the landlord Danny tells me) has a top fermenting yeast that is fermented at a warmer temperature for 3–5 consecutive days. This process also allows for the beer to have a more fruity and robust flavor. It is because of the hops and the malts that the beer is brewed with a slightly burnt aroma and a full body flavor. 

Now up until the 18th century, beers in England were mostly deep brown or black in color, however as malting technology improved, so did the ability to control the intensity of roast and flavor. Some of the defining characteristics of the more paler ales are the clear yellow look of the beer with a half an inch to an inch of head when it is poured into a glass, or for me I look for those more copper red brown. They are usually to my palate rather than those more modern overly hoppy IPA's we get this days. 

Anyway after the nice pint which I managed to get free, because after a natter with Danny, I completely forgot to pay for it until I was half way down it, so shouted Danny who was milling around outside messing around with air rifle (yes really), and he said "Oh well, don't worry about it, have one on me" !!)

Bonus !!!

Anyway back to the task in hand after  I caught a bream within half an hour of getting there that took some bread tight to some reeds, I noticed that the carp was milling around by another clump of reeds, and was sunning itself basking in the lovely weather.

Not a huge fish, but certainly worth targeting, however like all canal carp, very very spooky indeed and despite managing to get some bread right on its nose a couple of times, it was do an about turn and go completely the other way πŸ˜‘. 

I figured out its patrol route and positioned some bread in a perfect spot hoping when it came back it would take it, but no, this time it completely ignored it. I was surprised how much of the canal it covered when I spooked it and at one point I'd followed it down the canal a good 200 yards or so. Very frustrating and in the end I ran out of time sadly. On a positive note at least I know there is still carp in carp corner, I just need to be in the right time and the right place like I was last time I caught a canal carp, fingers crossed !!

Friday 17 May 2024

Transient Towpath Trudging - Pt.108 (Canal Zander & Pike)

As a lover of Indian food a mate of mine said do you fancy the 'Desi Pub'  Soho Tavern in Hampton in Arden for a change, yeah why not !! it worked out well because after visiting my mum after work it's only 10 minutes or so by car. 

It would usually take 5 minutes but with the HS2 skirting past the 'village' the temporary traffic lights over the lovely river blythe scuppered that, as did the large white arrow once you got past that to give way to the oncoming traffic, which at 5.30pm there was a land train of cars, oh well at least you could watch the planes overhead landing and taking off from Birmingham airport. πŸ“’ I managed to safely get to the 17th century White Lion for a couple of pints of Otter after struggling to find parking due to the businesses success, Phippo and I headed down to the Soho Tavern to try and get a seat. 

It was extremely busy you see, even at a relatively early midweek 6.30pm however luckily we managed to get a table overlooking the lovely garden and open countryside, wondering if judging by the car parked at the entrance whether we were about to get fleeced.

The demographic of Hampton-In-Arden changed quite considerably in this establishment but that is usually a good sign that the food is authentic. With so many staff the service was very good but that's where it ended, the food came out stupidly fast almost like they wanted those turn over of table and the food well, very average indeed really. 

This boneless sizzling platter enough for 3 (£22 quid) and a post meal doggy bag contained fish pakora, prawns, chicken tikka and shish kebab over a bed onions. Nice enough but it needed pepping up with chilli sauce, as it didn't tingle the palate. A scoop full of Phippo's child portion sized curry with the garlic naan, that was average at best as well. Oh well you live and learn don't you, we won't be rushing back, the lime and soda was top notch mind you, we should have stayed in the pub and had the pie and chips, that looked great 🀣

Anyway this after work session to keep up the 10k steps a day I decided to head down to an area of canal that is throwing up some nice fish at the moment. Fish big enough to rival the 'Hallowed' albeit ten minutes to drive to get there rather than 35 minutes, which means these last minute adhoc sessions are ideal to try and snare a monster from the canal.

I've managed Zander up to 8lb 9oz from here and there has been much bigger ones caught up to 13lb for the like-minded, which is mad really because I've fished this area on and off for years, without much success, but it shows that things can change year on year.

Anyway I had a small schoolie on the bank within 10 minutes fishing tight to cover so I thought I'd be on for some good sport but how wrong was I. Whilst I was fishing, Nic from Avon Angling was filling me on a session he was having on a canal marina, where he'd finished on around 100lb of fish with countless bream, tench, rudd and even a 12lb pike.

We'd always wondered what was harbouring in these big marinas and now we know first hand, literally fish soup. If I didn't have the wife and kids in tow, I could probably make retirement work and spend my last days moored up on a narrowboat.  

For me though cover after cover the big Zander just didn't seem to be showing and after another schoolie after about 2 hours of fishing I decided to head to a new area, where bait fish usually show up headed towards sundown.

After positioning the deadbaits tight to some overhanging cover it looked good for a bite because the cover was so dense but a good twenty minutes or so nada, so I decided to try the next bit of cover along. I reeled in the right rod and a pike came from the depths and made a grab for the bait in the middle of the track where it made a huge splash but missed the bait. I left the rod alone though and within a few seconds the float was off down the canal so I tightened up to the circle hook. A decent fight I must admit with a few powerful runs but eventually it was safely in the net. 

A long lean fish that went 10lb 8oz on the scales so a decent pike from the canal. Its head was ridiculously big so I feel sorry for the fish that have to encounter that !! After that fish I tried a few more spots but again those bigger Zander were just not showing.

I could have stayed much longer but in the end I decided I had my quota and ended the session on the double figure pike. With a month left to the rivers are open again it's gone surprisingly quick if I'm honest. Still plenty of sessions left on the canals though and thankfully I've been enjoying my time on them. 

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