An angler's journal

An angler's journal

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Season up and running

As ever, the 16th was earmarked for a return to running water. It had been a busy week leaving me a little under prepared compared to recent years but I was all set to hit the Warwickshire Avon after lunch on the opening day. I was in no rush and managed about 15 minutes in a new swim with no result. Then a series of events occurred curtailed the session. The result of this was meeting up with friends on the lower Severn instead. To be honest I had lost my enthusiasm for the opening day by now so much of my time was spent chatting and catching up. I did manage a couple of hours fishing but one tap was all I could muster. That said, there were some cracking fish caught over the weekend with some saying it was the best opening weekend on the lower Severn for some years.

As for me, I tried the Avon again on Sunday evening. I simply threw a few boilies in the swim and
made my first cast at 7.30pm. After 15 minutes, a chub of a couple of pounds got my season up and running. I then decided to get the bait dropper out and put in about 8 deposits of hemp and pellets. My boilie baits were recast and I waited. About half hour had passed when the downstream rod wrapped around. A fish was on. An initial screaming run left me in no doubt as to the culprit. The fish stayed low, now moving upstream with purpose. It went on to be a great battle before I was able to catch sight of the fish. It looked a decent specimen and it was soon netted. A cracking looking barbel lay in the folds of the net. It came out at 9lb 10oz which was a fair return for the first barbel of the season and more than made up for the previous day's disappointments. I fished on until just gone 10pm but no more fish appeared. The fish itself was an outstanding example of a barbel. There was not a blemish on it and it's one I'd like meet again later in the season.
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Sunday, 3 June 2018

A cracking tench session

A near 1 pound rudd
For years I have been trying to find a reliable tench venue. Unfortunately, they are thin on the ground in these parts. You either have to be content with temperamental venues or head for the large Cotswold pits and sit it out. I had been planning a tench trip for a few weeks but as ever the choice of venue was the sticking point. A few inquiries had been made but nothing was definite. I had pretty much decided to travel to Leicestershire in search of tench but I have to be honest, upon waking up I just couldn't summon the motivation for the almost 2 hour drive. Instead I chose a pool a bit closer to home. It's one of several at the venue but it's a pool with very little information and was not one I had fished before. The owner had emailed me to say it was worth a go with tench in mind so I thought I'd go for it.

I arrived just after lunch to find the pool empty but for a father and son. They soon packed up leaving me alone. The pool itself was reed lined but a walk around its perimeter showed no signs of feeding tench. A few rudd broke the surface and by now the sun was beaming down and the day was becoming pretty warm. With no obvious area to target I chose a small bay. It was about 4ft deep just off the rod tip and seemed as likely as anywhere. I set up a light waggler and shotted it so just a dimple was on show. Tench can be finicky biters so I wanted to reduce resistance to a minimum. With the pool's inhabitants unknown, I started cautiously feeding a few maggots regularly to build the
One of the 5 pounders
swim up. It was a quiet start but eventually a bite came and a small rudd was swung to hand. With the bright conditions, sport was slow but punctuated by the rudd to keep things ticking over. Some of these rudd were chunky specimens, the best went 1oz shy of a pound and as always, their colours are stunning. As late afternoon approached the first tench was finally landed. It wasn't huge at approximately 2lb but it was a start. I began to up the feed and it appeared to work as bites became more regular and with it the size of the tench increased to 4lb+.

You cannot beat the anticipation of a traditional tench bite. The float rises. It then returns to its starting position before inching one way then another. This can continue for what seems an age until eventually it slides from view and a tench is hooked. Then that paddle-like tail propels the fish on several powerful runs before it it can be safely netted. Then you are able to admire the olive green flanks and red eyes. They are a great fish to catch and the next two hours of my session was no stop. I ended with ten tench, three of which were over 5lb with the biggest weighing in at 5lb 10oz. It was easily the best tench session I had experienced for a long time and all from a pool that had promised little upon arrival. I am already plotting a return visit.
A 5lb 10oz tench

Friday, 1 June 2018

Spring catch up

It's been a while since I have posted. The reason? Well, I've done very little fishing. The heatwave during early May saw my son and I visit a local fishery to target some surface feeding carp. We managed five to just into double figures, all taken on dog biscuit. My assistant kept the feed going in and hung on to a few of the fish which put up a good battle. We saw a hedgehog and a deer on the way home which added to the experience. 

Next up came a trip to the Birmingham to Worcester canal. I didn't intend to fish but set my son up with a 2m whip and half pint of maggots. Sport was unexpectedly slow with a long wait before the first bite arrived and saw a small perch landed. Unfortunately, bites were not too regular but we were lucky that a family of ducklings kept us occupied. Several more perch arrived as did a beautiful looking rudd of a few ounces that added some variety. Then he hooked something altogether different. Despite hitting the bite brilliantly and hanging on, the fish snapped the light tackle and escaped. I suspect it was a larger perch but he already wants to return with 'thicker line'. It might not be a bad idea as there could be some big perch in residence.

With just two weeks until the rivers opening no doubt attentions will start to turn to running water. I still enjoy the build up and hope that we have a few more years of the close season to go before any changes are implemented. In the meantime, I have promised myself a tench session or two. I have a couple of venues in mind so I will hopefully bring some news in due course.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

An afternoon down the canal

What a contrast to seven days ago. This time last week the UK was gripped by sub-zero temperatures and a covering of snow. Today was a glorious spring day and by far the warmest of the year yet. With some maggots left over from last week's perch session I decided to have a few hours in the afternoon sun. The Birmingham to Worcester canal was the chosen venue. In all honesty, I rarely fish canals these days but I fancied a change and was intrigued as to what might turn up.

I dusted the pole off, it's first outing for quite some time, and set up to fish down the centre of the canal. It was about 4ft deep. The single maggot was dropped into place and a little and often feeding approach was employed. Bites on the canal are not usually difficult to come by but today was different. After an hour, I was starting to doubt there were any fish present. However, in the warm sunshine with the sound of new born lambs not too far away there are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon. I decided to go for a short walk when I noticed a 25 metre stretch of the margins was home to population of breeding toads (I think). As the afternoon wore on I was still fishless. In fact, still biteless. It had just gone 4.30pm and I remember setting myself a 45 minute target. If I had still to register a bite I was going to call it a day. It was just so strange to have not encountered any fish after a couple of hours that I had begun to think the stretch was barren and maybe they had shoaled up somewhere else after the cold weather of the last few weeks. Then a couple of fish topped and restored my confidence.

The 11oz roach
At just gone 4.50pm my first bite of the day saw a dace landed. Only a few ounces but more than welcome given the circumstances. Then a steady trickle of roach appeared with the odd small chub and a solitary perch. Things were looking up at last. I then connected with a better fish which turned out to be an 11oz roach. It was in immaculate condition and much bigger then its predecessors.

The hybrid
It was heading for half past six now. The change to British Summer Time afforded me an extra hour of daylight. The sun had dipped now but was causing havoc off the water's surface meaning seeing my float was tricky. The bites continued. It wasn't frantic sport but a bite every so often kept my interest. The float dipped from sight one more time and this fish saw the elastic stretch from the pole tip with purpose. It was a much better fish but what was it? I caught a glimpse beneath the surface and it looked bream like but the fight was anything but bream like. Instead of coming to the net like a wet sack, this fish wasn't going to give up easily. Finally, it was beaten and it silver flanks showed it was a roach/bream hybrid. It was a bit of an ugly work of nature to tell you the truth but it did weigh 1lb 10oz so was a decent fish for the canal. I gave it another 40 minutes or so but the commotion killed the swim and I called a halt to proceedings on what had been an enjoyable afternoon.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

New PB Perch

My focus had switched to perch now that the rivers were out of bounds. A catch up with a couple of friends saw us head to a stillwater that I had been introduced to a couple of years back. It's fair to say the water had been kind to me . My first visit saw me break my perch PB twice in around 30 minutes. A subsequent visit saw me increase it to a respectable 3lb 2oz.

So it I set off at lunch with high hopes. After a frustrating month or so on the river the new challenge saw my enthusiasm renewed. A second wave of the 'Beast from the East' had returned to our shores and the east wind was certainly biting . Air temperatures were just above freezing but that wind was sending it the wrong side of zero and it played a big part in swim selection upon arrival. We managed to find a relatively sheltered bay that the three of us could occupy and fish reasonably comfortably whilst remaining social. My tactics were a simple running ledger rig baited with a prawn and then a bobber float baited with a large lobworm. Maggots would be fed regularly in the hope of attracting smaller fish which would in turn see them followed by some specimen sized stripeys.

My new personal best perch
Sport was predictably slow and that wind was ever so cold. The weather however was anything but predictable. At times we were blessed with sunny spells that almost felt pleasant. Then foreboding clouds formed that were soon followed by snow blizzards. We fished on in what turned out to be an uneventful first couple of hours. It was approaching 3pm by now and with nothing happening I decided to chop up a couple of worms in the hope it might trigger something. Literally moments later the bobber float slid purposefully from view seeing my strike met with solid resistance. I was confident it was a perch and this was soon confirmed when a sizable fish wallowed to the surface. It was safely netted and indeed I had a worthy specimen in the net. It looked like it could threaten the magical 3lb mark and could even topple my PB. The scales proved this to be the case when they registered at 3lb 3oz beating my own record by 1oz. This was more than a satisfying result to my first perch session of the spring campaign. Ben soon had a fish of his own, a nicely coloured common carp was the culprit however. Although he enjoys catching carp of all sizes I know he'd have preferred a perch on this occasion. It was soon my turn to do battle with a torpedoed shaped carp that fought powerfully and Tom also saved a blank with a carp of his own. Unfortunately, no more perch were to put in an appearance and Ben and I both managed another carp as the day closed in. By now it was freezing. My hands hurt, the landing net had contorted itself into a weird looking shape and a journey home to a hot shower seemed the best option.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The longest of winters

One of the few recent captures
Another river season has come and gone and the lack of activity on these pages tell its own story. Since Christmas there have been few opportunities to capture some large winter fish. Since my previous post where I enjoyed some nice chub fishing in January, it has been a tale of woe. The changeable weather conditions have been most unhelpful. We have had to endure long periods of freezing weather which saw the Warks Avon dip to below 2°C at one point then we've had to contend with the inevitable snow melts that saw the river rage and spill its banks. A couple of small pike managed to put a bend in the rod but a string of blanks appeared to be the norm for me.

Mother nature flexes her muscles
Despite the lack of fish, the countryside can be at its most striking at this time of year. From the beautiful snow covered landscape to witnessing the power of mother nature when a river is in full flood. I had the pleasure of witnessing a starling murmuration for several weeks through the colder months. Quite why starlings do this prior to roosting is a mystery but it certainly makes for an interesting spectacle on a cold, winter's afternoon.

The final weekend saw the river rise dramatically. Had it not been the last chance to fish the river then I'd have probably given it a miss since I have found the Avon rarely produces when on a rapid rise. Despite reasonable water temperatures, a winter barbel could not be tempted. I even gave the river a final chance on the 12th but again she was on another quick rise following a day of heavy rain. I struggled to place a bait even in the slacker swims and was forced to retire early.

There are few better sights than the countryside shrouded in a blanket of snow

The PB chub
As I write this, I have awoken to find we are once again greeted by snow. It's certainly been an interesting start to what is supposed to be spring. Looking back, it's been a reasonable season full of highs and lows. The barbel fishing through the summer and autumn was some of the best I've enjoyed on the Avon in recent years and my first Wye double was a stand out memory. A personal best chub brightened up my winter before the weather took its grip. With March upon us it affords time to regroup and explore new challenges and I for one hope that the close season remains although that's a debate for another day. The next few weeks will see me switch to big perch and hopefully some better times to come.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Chub - A winter warmer

Having spent the best part of a week wiped out by a nasty bug, I was itching to get back outside again. I didn't really care about the conditions as getting out the house and breathing some fresh air would be enough after a severe bout of cabin fever.

The first fish of the day
That said, conditions weren't bad. The river had dropped so that it was only several inches above normal and the colour had started to drop out to give it that look that spells chub. With that in mind my batch of cheese paste was defrosted and a few lumps deposited into several likely looking swims. The idea was to stay mobile and hopefully pick up a few fish along the way. Although the air temperature on Sunday was pretty chilly the river itself was hovering around 6°C so I was confident a few fish would bite. I set up a simple running ledger rig employing an 1/2 oz bomb to hold bottom with a size 8 hook. My bait was flicked into position. Within 10 minutes the rod arched round and the centrepin screamed into life. A lively chub was on and heading for the downstream tree. Chub put up a great fight when tackled with suitable gear. A fact often lost when they frequently turn up whilst fishing for barbel and offer little resistance. With their determination to find the nearest snag, my tackle was tested but the fish was successfully landed. A decent fish of over 3lb lay in the net and signaled a great start to the session. Next cast threw up another, albeit smaller, chub before it became apparent this swim needed resting.

The next swim saw immediate interest although the bites were finicky. Eventually, a fish was hooked
Winter and chub go hand in hand
but then lost. With a few missed bites and a lost fish I decided that this swim should also be given a break. My next location again saw me miss a couple of bites so I decided to return to swim number two where I had lost a chub. I didn't have to wait long and I was soon into a hard fighting chub which I gleefully landed despite some powerful runs towards an old reed bed. It was another fish of over 3lb but bigger than the first. It also proved to be the last of my action. It was almost dark now. I did cast in a lump of meat in the hope I might find a hungry barbel but that wasn't to be. However, it has been an enjoyable couple of hours on the Avon and something I have vowed to do with more regularity.