An angler's journal

An angler's journal

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Perchy Ponderings

With autumn upon us, I decided to target some river perch. The venue was a middle Severn stretch that I have fished on many occasions over the years but not too often in recent times. It was a lovely warm day with some October sunshine to boot. Not ideal conditions for perch who prefer to feed in low light but I did have an ace up my sleeve. Although the river had returned to normal level, it was still holding some colour. I also chose a swim that afforded me some shade. A quick plumb of the swim told me I had just under 5 feet of water a rod length out. There was some slight flow with trees upstream and downstream of where I planned to drop a bait. I began fishing a whip with maggots to see what was lurking in the swim. Unsurprisingly, bites came quickly with small dace, roach and chublets all making an appearance. This was encouraging since as any perch angler will know, where there are small fish then predators are never far behind. After half an hour or so, I dropped in a few broken bits of worm and baited a size 8 hook with a lobworm. I use barbless hooks with perch as they can at times end up deeply hooked. A barbless hook makes this event a lot more straightforward to solve. A small piece of elastic band on the bend prevents the worm escaping. The hook was tied to 6lb line with a bobber type float shotted with a single SSG shot around 8 inches from the hook. I see no point in over complicating matters. 

A 1lb 7oz was the pick of the first batch
Results were pretty instant with a 1lb 7oz perch the pick of the first three perch. They soon moved off and I went back to catching the small silver fish. With the steam engines of the Severn Valley Railway chugging along the valley it really did add something to the trip. After a bite to eat in the warm autumn sun, it was perch time once again. The second stint through up another fish around around the pound and a half mark before I hooked something completely different. I knew it was not a perch and and as the lively battle came to an end, a small pike came into view hooked right on the edge of its mouth and thus preventing my line being bitten through. Then the float dipped and again solid resistance was felt. The tell tale jags told me this was a perch and of much better stamp than its previous relatives. This fish really did put up a good battle and a beautiful perch was netted. It went 2lb 2oz which was a decent result and capped off a really enjoyable day. I plan to return when conditions allow as I know a 3 pounder is a real possibility and who knows, maybe something bigger. 
The 2 pounder promises much for the future

Blogger Widgets

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Off to a flyer

The past year has been a challenge for most. With the ongoing pandemic, my work has dominated this past 15 months and rightly so as there's been a lot to do for the greater good. However, it has come at the cost of my own personal interests. I noted that only one entry on this blog had taken place since June 2020. To be honest, not that much fishing happened and when it did I wasn't really prepared so unsurprisingly there was little to write about. When spring arrived, I was determined to try and make a bit more effort to make time and balance things up. I did a fair bit of cycling during the April and May, raising some money for Prostrate Cancer along the way. I used the Easter break to attack the garden after moving house at the end of last year and finally I was determined to go fishing on the rivers again once the season reopened on June 16th. 

Of course, it fell on a work day and I had meeting which delayed my start but I finally made it to the river at about 7.30pm and promptly baited a swim with the trusty dropper. Eight loads of hemp and mixed pellet were deposited just off a far bank tree. This is quiet part of the Warwickshire Avon away from the crowds but several seasons of investigations has seen me find a small population of barbel on the stretch. I gave the swim half hour to work its magic as I went for a stroll. A pellet baited rig was cast over the bait with a second rod baited with boilie and placed mid-river for any nomadic fish that passed through. 

A few taps and raps were seen as the evening progressed. The stretch has a big population of chub who are always first on the bait but nothing developed. By 9.40, I was starting to think that a typical underwhelming opening day session was about to play out. The 16th June always brings eternal hope and anticipation but as anglers reading this will know only too well, it is often an anti-climax. I'd told myself that I'd need to start thinking about packing up not long after 10pm with a busy day ahead the following morning. 

Then at 9.45, without any warning, the pellet rod suddenly wrapped round and the first fish of the season was on. A great battle ensued as the fish made several blistering runs across the river. I caught a glimpse and it looked a decent barbel as its golden flank flashed beneath the surface. It was then safely landed and allowed to rest. This is vitally important during the warmer months. I could see it was a very solid fish as I lifted it onto the unhooking mat. The scales showed 10lb exactly meaning I had just about scraped a double on the first day of the season. I'm not sure I have managed that before and it was a great way to begin the new season. By the time I'd returned the fish safely, it was time to call it a day. I really hope this is the beginning of more positive year ahead and there will be plenty more stories to share. 

A great way to start the season

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. 

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.