An angler's journal

An angler's journal

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

2021 brings hope or does it?

Well, 2020 has finally passed. For many, it will go down in history as one of the worst years in living memory. I realised I haven't posted on here since the end of June. To be honest, having worked throughout the epidemic and facing some tough challenges along the way it was obvious some sacrifices would have to take place. For me, it meant fishing ended up a way down the list and to be honest, the lack of focus yielded pretty mediocre results when I did manage to get out. That said, many have found rivers a tough gig during the past year so maybe I didn't miss out too much. 

2021 commenced. A dawn of new hope maybe? I did manage a trip on the Avon with the end of the Christmas break looming on the horizon. The river had fallen. It was certainly cold but the water had taken on that tinge that always screams chub. Out came the cheese paste. This particular batch must be over a decade old now and has been in and out of the freezer more times than I care to remember. A light quivertip rod, size 8 hook and 6lb line together with just enough gear to allow me to stay mobile was all I needed. The first swim produced some indications but a few strikes met with thin air. My second swim saw me miss a really positive bite that I was way too late reacting too. Off to what turned out to be my final swim. I had seen some chub topping here so I had reason to feel optimistic. Two chub resulted pretty quickly plus another bite that I hopelessly missed. Neither fish was huge at 2-3lb but they brought some welcome cheer on a cold afternoon. The light soon faded and it had also started to rain so that signalled the end of the session. 

Within 48 hours, Lockdown 3 had been announced. It looks like fishing will be down the list once again for a while.  In the meantime, stay safe in whatever you're up to and let us all hope that better times are around the corner. 

Blogger Widgets

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Slow start eventually bears fruit

The opening of the river season seems to have been an anti-climax for many of the anglers I know. Despite several rivers being fished by some good anglers, the results have been the same - very little to write about.

My opening day saw me fish the Avon after work with a solitary 3lb chub saving a blank. A few days later saw me out again in what looked reasonable conditions. A bit of extra water had coloured the river up but I didn't get so much as a tap. I did get a to watch a family of foxes with an excitable cub, two roe deer and a barn owl all in the space of about 15 minutes, which is all I can say about a pretty uneventful session. 

I changed tactics altogether on my next trip, going lure fishing with my son on a completely different stretch. He christened his new spinning rod with a pike and managed to lose one that spectacularly leapt to freedom. I managed a couple of my own and a small perch. It was just nice to find some fish on a deserted BAA stretch of the river. 

Another blank followed that week and it seemed that the chance of an early season barbel was disappearing fast. As the end of June approached, I went out determined to put that right and set about hatching a plan to see a barbel grace the net. 

I baited up a likely looking spot and then fished some rolling meat to see if anything was lurking. I managed to get the bait moving nicely with just enough plasticine to get the bait down to the bottom. Two chub were caught quite quickly before the shoal spooked. That was the signal to get a bait out and sit it out for what I hoped would be a plan coming to fruition. I had a small chub before all went quiet. Then at about 9pm the rod wrapped around in unmistakable fashion. A barbel was on although it didn't put up too much of a battle. A couple of short runs and it was safely netted where it then proceeded to put up more of a fight than it had at any point in the water. It was a nice fish though. I hoped it might be a scraper double but suspected it would fall short with the scales settling at 9lb 9oz to confirm this. It was a great looking specimen and a fitting fish for my first barbel. 

A lovely conditioned barbel

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Happy New Year - A Pike PB

It was New Year's Eve and I was long overdue a pike or two. The rivers had been carrying extra water since October and windows of opportunity had been far too slim. I had however had my eyes on a new stretch of the Avon that I felt might throw up a decent fish so I hit the banks at first light.

The obvious spot was actually quite snaggy and after an hour I'd seen very little to give me confidence. I reeled in and went exploring. It broke the morning up a little and allowed me to search out some potential new spots. An opening in the trees revealed a swim that had to be worth a cast so I walked back to my gear, collected the essentials and dropped a sardine a rod length from the bank. The bait had barely been in the water for 2 minutes when the float started to tremble as a pike picked up the bait. The float sailed away and I was into a solid fish that stayed deep and performed some powerful runs. It was however safely netted and unhooked and it was obvious a very nice fish lay in the net. The scales showed 18lb 9oz which was a new best for me from the river. The search for that Avon twenty goes on but this was a great way to sign off 2019.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Rising river rewards

A rising Warks Avon has always puzzled me. I've had some really great sessions and some that promised much yet delivered nothing. For me personally, a river fining down has always filled me with more confidence. This time last week, the heavens had opened and the river was on the up. Tuesday evening gave me a chance to venture out. I almost didn't. The river was still rising and for the aforementioned reasons I wasn't overly keen. Nothing ventured, nothing gained however so I set off with rain still falling and sporadic gusts of wind.

These conditions leave many anglers bamboozled, a fact borne out by me being the only visitor. Where to fish? How to fish? This is where familiarity scores highly. It's ever so easy to cast into an area that looks the part only to find your rig has dropped into a reed bed, a hidden tree or some other obstruction hidden by the increased water levels. In contrast, fishing a stretch you know means you can cast with relative confidence. There's a number of stretches on the river that I have pretty well memorised for days like this.

A fantastic result
Two rods were cast. Both with a cage feeder filled with dampened pellets. This method means a scent trail is dispersed and the pellets stay in the feeder for up to an hour. The upstream rod was baited with a pellet (a bait that had scored two 8lb barbel the week before) with the downstream rod baited with a lump of luncheon meat. Usually, I'd be relative mobile in these conditions especially if I'd not received any indications after 30 minutes or so.  That said, the weather was pretty grim and with not too many swims offering options I decided to sit it out. I did try my umbrella but the wind was so powerful it was a waste of
time so I sat braving the conditions. It was about 6pm when the meat rod lurched round completely out of the blue. It caught me by surprise as I'd resigned myself to a likely blank. The fish kept low and used the extra current to its advantage meaning it barely budged initially. It then went on a run but I wrestled control back when it then became stuck in what I know is a small bed of reeds. For a minute or so it was stalemate. But pressure told and it began moving again before it surfaced for the first time. A great looking barbel emerged. I'd had to move downstream to remain in charge so the fish was eventually netted about 20 yards from swim. The net revealed an obvious double. It weighed 11lb 6oz and was a great result. It was to be the only fish of the session but what a fish.

I did return 48 hours later on a falling river in what looked like my favoured conditions. I didn't get so much as a tap so it just goes to show what I know!

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Patience rewarded

After the success of my Avon visit a few weeks ago where I managed two doubles in a short evening session, conditions were back to normal summer levels. That night I had been able to take advantage of extra, coloured water. Now we were back to a clear river. I managed a super 9 pound barbel on the following session along with a smaller barbel of average size. The fish picking up a pellet baits presented with a pva bag of offerings. The next visit saw me in the same area. These few swims had yet to give me a double figure fish despite a few 9 pounders over the last few years. I kept returning sure that one day my luck might change but I was still waiting.

11lb exactly 
On this occasion, I fed more heavily laying down a bed of hemp and pellet concentrating on the head of the swim with a lighter effort downstream. I fished boilie on the upstream rod with pellet downstream. A chub of about 3lb fell to the boilie rod quite quickly. All was quiet thereafter. However, I was content. The baits were presented and there was food available. Some people might have been tempted to recast but in my view this is a mistake. Leaving everything alone allows the better fish to build confidence that the area is just as normal. Casting now would just arouse suspicion so I waited. Finally, there was a twitch on the downstream rod. Was it a chub? Another twitch then nothing. I was now thinking barbel as this is often the precursor. Seconds later the rod twitched again and kept on going and the battle was on. The fish was netted and my patience had finally paid off with an 11lb barbel, my third Avon double this summer. 

Sunday, 30 June 2019

A slow start bursts into life

I have to be honest, the start of the river season has kind of passed me by this year. A combination of other things going on meant that for the first time in decades I missed out on the 16th June. A couple of trips in the first week or so resulted in a blank and then a couple of small chub. It was all a bit underwhelming.

Last Tuesday saw a whole heap of rain fall in Worcestershire and the Avon inevitably began to rise. By Wednesday evening it had peaked and was around 3ft up but starting to fall. The weather was grey and cloudy and I did have second thoughts on venturing out. The fact that a heat wave had been predicted for Thursday and beyond was enough to give me a nudge to get my act together so by 7pm I was set up in a swim that gave me some nice steady water on the inside with the fastest water on the opposite bank. The river looked good and as expected, several other anglers were on the bank hoping to take advantage of what looked decent conditions. However, not much had happened and a few were already calling it a day.

I cast out two rods. Upstream with pellet, downstream with meat. Both with a cage feeder packed
The first barbel of the season, and a double.
with scalded pellet to act as an attractant. A few chub topped mid-river so at least I knew some fish were about but all was quiet as far as the baits were concerned. To be honest, I didn't expect much. However, that was all about to change. Around one hour in and the pellet was picked up and it was a barbel. A good fish held its own, using the extra water to its advantage. I kept the pressure on and inched it closer to the bank where it was finally beaten. A good fish that surely had to be a double. Indeed it was, weighing in at 10lb 14oz. My mood had completely changed. What a way to open my barbel account but better was still to come. Both rods had seen a few knocks and at around 9pm the meat was picked up and another barbel was on. This fish just held station. It didn't really run and I could hardly move it. I think at one point it might have snagged but I managed to get it moving again and finally it surfaced. Another double and bigger than the first. The second fish went 11lb 5oz. I packed up at 10pm. I maybe could have stayed on a little longer and maybe another would have showed but I was more than satisfied with two doubles in less than three hours of fishing. The river is now back to normal and we've just seen some very hotweather so right time, right place and all that.
The second of the session at 11lb 5oz 

Anyone that does read this may have noticed I have slowed up with the post releases. I have decided that I will slow down my output, probably posting an update every month or so and maybe an extra if something turns up worth mentioning. However, I'm not really sure how many people are reading this anymore and social media seems to have taken over. There's plenty on here for those that want to search around. Thank you to those that still check in and comment. That's always appreciated.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Tench - Heaven 17

If you're here because of the 80s synth band, Heaven 17 then you're going to be disappointed. However, if you enjoy tench then read on as I'm about to describe a super day on the banks. With some recent warm weather, I decided it was time to catch some tench so set off for a water I fished a couple of times last spring with some reasonable success. The fish are average size with some over 5lb but give great sport on the float. There are rumours of fish to 8lb but I've not found any evidence of them yet.

The first tench of the session
Despite the warmer weather, the day I visited was quite cool with a persistent wind blowing towards me. This was punctuated by some pretty strong gusts and the occasional rain shower. I'd had my heart set on fishing relatively close in using the traditional lift method. A size 16 hook was baited with double maggot and I was up and running. It didn't take long before the float started to twitch. The culprits could have been some of the roach and rudd that also inhabit the lake but I was sure that the tench were not far away. Eventually the float disappeared from view rather than lifting and my centrepin started to spin gently as a fish moved away. A strike saw me connected with the first tench of the day. My new Avon rod gave a satisfying bend as it toyed with its first fish. A fish of over 3lb gave a good account of itself and was safely netted. I thought this would open the flood gates but the next 2 hours were pretty slow. Lots of dips of the float but nothing worth striking at. I tried some modifications. I put a fake maggot on the hook along with a live one. I hoped that a better balance might enable a more confident pick up and also enable the bait to sit on, rather than sink into the weed. The result was instant. I was tighening up to the float when it lifted, fell flat and I felt the line pull. The second tench was netted and a third followed not too long after. However, I was
5lb 7oz and the best of the day
not happy with my presentation. I was convinced tench were in the swim but my optimism was not converting to bites. The wind wasn't helping which by now was pretty strong. I made the decision to switch to a thin tipped waggler. This change proved pivitol as bites came regularly and were now positive. No more maybes, just a twitch and gone. These bites proved easy to hit and the result was tench after tench. I had a few hours where nearly every cast resulted in a tench. I ended with 17 tench. Most were 3-4lb with the best going 5lb 7oz but provided non-stop entertainment. I even had a roach of 1lb 7oz which somehow found a way out of my net as I set up the camera for what would have been a nice photo. It was a great session in what were less than perfect conditions with the troublesome wind. I'm already planning my next trip.