Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Next Years Nonsense...

The beer got the better of us the other night. But after stripping to the waist and oiling up there could only be one clear winner.

To try and catch a bag of the record weight for each species. e.g. Catch 21lbs 1oz of Barbel in one session, or 4ozs of Bleak in a single sitting.

Some will be easier than others, but unlike last year when Pete and I were fishing for big fish this year it will be consistency and all-roundedness that will shine. A good day on the cut could nail Gudgeon, Perch and Ruffe. Whereas I doubt if I've caught 46lb of Pike in any previous angling year never mind single session!

I will keep you abreast of my own achievements on here. I'll let the others tell you their stories.......

Cheers. And here we go again.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

To Fish or Not to Fish. What A Silly Question...

Monday 28th December, 11:30 - 16:00. Warks Avon on The Pluff. 4C dropping to 0C by dusk.

Christmas timber weighs heavy but my step is sprightly when there's a river at the end of the track.

I arrived before Pete and so had the first hour or two to myself. I travelled Titanium-tackle light and made my way well upstream before starting to fish. I had tackle and bait for one approach only: trundled bread.

The countryside looked magnificent with a lingering fog around until the sun was properly up. It was hard underfoot and some sheltered spots stayed white with frost all day.

The river was up by a couple of foot and the water was pushing through. It had a green tinge with about 3-4 inches visibility.

I needed a single swan shot on the line to get a good balance of tackle and bait in the pull. Because of the extra water it was a case of guiding the bait downstream along creases and glides where the I thought the Chub might be holding up.

I fished a number of spots as I worked my way down river. The routine was; arrive, look at the water and try to determine where the Chub might be. Lower the bait in and try to work the bait into the chosen spot and then slow it down to a snails pace and hope for a pull.

Despite my best efforts I didn't have a tickle. Pete arrived and I walked downstream to meet up and eat my lunch.

After the pleasantries I fished upstream of him in a swim which I consider a banker for Chub with this much water on. It has a run of Willows on the far bank and you can use the flow to carry your bait almost under them - what would be an impossible cast if fishing a static bait.

First run through and I had a pull which I missed. Second run down and the same happened but I connected this time and landed a spirited Chub.

Good god the fish felt cold!

I had a dabble in the swim upstream but to no effect.

I settled in to the 'Willows' peg for the remainder of the afternoon and had two more Chub. All came from areas parlously close to the snags on the far side and one from under the downstream raft.

The last of the three fish had a pug nose.

I missed another half dozen bites in between captures.

As the sun dropped the temperature plummeted. I packed away and went down to catch up with Pete. He hadn't had a bite but swore if it wasn't so cold he would stay and inevitably catch a 6lb Chub, 11lb Barbel and the first ever Zander to come out this far up the Avon.

So with almost no time left in our competition the final scores are:

Pete was staying over at mine so time to go out on the beer with mates and dream up next years challenge?

My Salmon fishing is now in the bag. A week on the middle Dee at the end of March. Here's hoping for a mild end to winter in the hope it will push the runners up in time for our arrival.


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Salmon Fishing is ON Next Year

I know I'm not going to be able to afford either the best beat or the best time of year, but every year that passes without one of these adventures is a missed opportunity.

I've tried the Wye for Salmon but it's too close to what I know to astound me. When you see a clear river with the force of a thousand juggernauts sliding towards the sea at walking pace and then think of the power the fish must have heading upstream you can't help but grin.

In my (limited) opinion you just can't beat a Scottish Salmon river. Ever hauled yourself out of a car after an eight hour drive and just sat down on the bank for half an hour to marvel at the river?

Ever had a weeks fishing and learned something totally new every day?

This is what is what my mate's Dad's money buys on the Spey (one year he wasn't well and that's how this all started) -

I can stretch to the same bridge without summer finery (is it wrong to take photos of your car?)-

The same bridge but with the pull of a horse tugging on your legs-

That aint no Bream! No. But seriously. How the hell do I stop it!?-

Your first 'fish' is always something special -

Ahh, the first but not the last to fall to the 'Leaded Lady'. My own invention consisting of a floating silver Rapala lure off a Bouncing Betty lead -

Only Salmon and Sea Trout make it into the Book and this was my second Salmon -

Apres fish. Almost as memorable as the fishing -

A sun sets on a week on the Spey. I have not returned since. -

Monday, 21 December 2009

The Swan's Neck at Stratford

Sunday 20th December, 10:45 - 12:30. Stratford Town waters with Jeff Hatt. -1c in my garage!

The world froze over at the weekend and so when this trip was in the planning stage the previous morning, running water was the only option. It was so cold: -3 on the dial first thing. I half expected to arrive at Stratford and find something akin to a Thames Frost Fair in full swing.

Before I describe the conditions which did greet us at Stratford I must make mention of the calamitous start to the day. Jeff had kindly arranged to be dropped at ASDA near me at 09:00 to save on my tyre wear. I pulled into ASDA car park at 08:59. I have a seriously bad dose of anal punctuality. At ten past nine I texted Jeff saying I was waiting. At twenty five past I texted him again saying I would give him until half past. A 09:29 I took a call from an unrecognised number, it was Jeff. He had borrowed some bloke's phone and explained to me he was at 'the other' ASDA. Through some catastrophic hiccup in communication and phone credit sales we had managed to be sitting in different supermarket car parks for the last half an hour. I made my way to 'the other' ASDA. Theatrically raised voices came out of smiling mouths but no one was to blame. Neither of us came out of it well.

At Stratford the car park had a layer of half inch thick ice on it. As I emptied buckets of pound coins into the parking machine my size tens slid all over the place.

We both donned layers and suits astronauts would be proud of.

Fishing opposite the theatre I lobbed a cage feeder stuffed with the usual breadcrumb, seeds, maggots and micro pellets into the centre of the river. My groundbait was more bread crumb than food items though as I guessed the fish would be slow after the big freeze.

I had one pluck and a tremble on the tip for my efforts.

The puddles you can see along the bank in this photo were solid ice throughout.

The Swans were a bit of a pain and Jeff had a couple of minor run-ins with them. Usually when someone on the far bank started emptying a carrier bag of bread into the water which attracted all birds for about half a mile swimming at breakneck speed to dine. What with them and the rowers there were some low level irritations.

Things escalated when some Doris started emptying her bag of bread about five metres upstream of where I was fishing. Not only did we get the flotilla bum-rush but the aftermath of interspecies squabbling and riotous behaviour that accompanies a bird feed frenzy. There were hundreds of birds all over the place.

We just couldn't fish and avoid the buggers and so called premature time on the double blank.

Despite the irritations it was good to be out in the daylight and in good company. I don't think it was a case of the fish not being there. I think it was a case of waiting for them to feed. This might eventually only have been a short burst for an hour or so in the afternoon but I didn't have all day at hand.

We did hear of some small Roach and Chub being caught above the weirs and in hindsight the walk down there would have rid us of the crowds and birds and we might have caught. But hey, we didn't have the hindsight when we arrived.

Happy Christmas.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

We Made The Effort

Thursday 17th December, 16:00 - 19:00. Below the Swan's neck at Wasperton with Pete.

This week's been mental busy for me so it was great to get on the bank again. I was out with Pete and after a Zander from a stretch where I've not really heard of any being caught before. I had two rods out and Pete had one for Zander plus a rod for Chub.

I didn't even get chance to sort my gear out yesterday evening and so had to set up upon arrival. By the time I'd done this dusk had arrived. It was 3C and I was insulated to the max. One piece suit, fleece underneath, fishing clothes and highly attractive 'base layer' - long-johns to you and me.

The missus had our camera on her work do last night but Pete lent me his to have a play with. It's a Nikon Coolpix and I entertained myself for some time mucking about with it.

It has loads more pixies than my camera and the increase in quality in the raw files is noticeable. I think it's the pixies that quickly draw the image of whatever you point the camera at. The more pixies you've got the better. I reckon the battery feeds the pixies and so when the battery is dead the pixies are hungry and cannot draw without more pixie food. Stop me if I'm getting too technical here. Perhaps I should take some time to explain how digicol cameras work on some photo-pro forum tonight. But let's leave it there for now for you simpletons.

I cast my baits behind an enormous tree raft whilst Pete fished on the next peg up.

I stared at my tips intently as the light faded and the betalights began to glow against the skyline. Wrapped up warm it was a great place to spend the end of the day. Zander fishing my style means I don't have to sit on top of my rods as I would if I were after Roach. Once the tips start bouncing I've found as long as I'm on them within ten seconds or so I can convert the bite into a fish before excessive resistance makes the fish spit the bait. To this end I was able to recline low to the ground and out of the wind on my chair looking skywards.

Like the images on the camera my own vision became grainy as the light continued to fade, eventually leaving just the glowing tips of the rods against the skyline.

Neither of us had a bite. I moved upstream of Pete for the last forty five minutes to try and force a change of luck. There had been snowfall earlier on in the afternoon and by six the ground was starting to sparkle in our headlights beneath out feet.

By seven the call of an open fire was irresistible and so we called it a day. Our landing nets were stiff with ice and my car showed 1C as we pulled out of the car park.

Short sharp sessions are the order of the day at this time of year.


Monday, 14 December 2009

The End is Nigh.....

[To be read in the manner of an acceptance speech delivered by a tipsy nominee to an audience of one man and his dog in a smoke-filled and very echoey working men's club.]

Tap tap. Hello. Hello. One two one two.

I started running this blog at the beginning of the year when I stumbled upon Jeff Hatt's ramshackle word-mash whilst researching the river Blythe which flows nearby my workplace.

Of course I have been following Jeff's entertaining writing ever since, and have fished with him more than once. His words read easily and make sense to a fisherman.

I used to keep an angling diary some years ago and even went so far as issuing it to my mates on two consecutive Christmases. It was compulsory reading, but as you might imagine when I tell you none of them had ever fished it didn't go down too well. To them I might as well have been extolling the virtues of piano tuning, so out of key was it to their interests.

The weblog was not a new concept to me, but the associations I had with the word were totally negative. A woman at work left the company a few years back when her blog came to light as all she did was slate all-comers on it. Apart from slagging off colleagues she filled whole pages with the most mundane shite anyone could ever wish to read. With hindsight I think she was ahead of her time as she might have indirectly discovered Twitter. Back then I associated blogging with people who really didn't have anything else better to do.

And so it was with uncertainty that I took to this journalling. I'm not blessed with self-confidence and so I literally thought my verbosity would slip unnoticed amongst the noise. But being a geek at heart I put a stat-counter on the site.

Three things then happened almost simultaneously. My mate Pete from work came up with the idea of a fishing challenge. I could see up to a dozen people actually reading the stuff I'd written and, god bless him, Swivel (Leyton) started following the blog.

Well, as far as I was concerned that was it - I was now a big time Charlie. The challenge gave me something to focus on and the dozen site visitors and one follower gave me an audience. Sock it to 'em Jobbo.

Almost 1/100000th of English anglers regularly visit this institution of a website. You belong:
Over the last year I've surprised myself with my reliability. I really have recorded in some way every fishing trip I've made. To see them total approximately one hundred in number does nothing but fill me with excitement for next year! Without the daft challenge on I don't think the sorties would have been so varied. You certainly wouldn't have found me fishing for Bream or Zander without some external motivation. Now I have though do you know what? I'll definitely be fishing for both again next year. At first I was a Carp man then I became a Barbel man. I'm just a fisherman now. There's reward to be found in all species and arms of our sport so don't knock it 'till you've tried it.

I've mostly enjoyed the writing too as like football, music, or the fishing itself it's a creative outlet. Creative outlets are good for the soul. Sometimes it's hard to write up those sessions when next to nothing happens - we all have them. Other times I've found myself looking forward to recounting what's happened as it's made me laugh at the time.

I'm disappointed I didn't get to show you anything special from Brandon Marsh. That place has killed me this year. But I've a warm glow about the increasing likelihood of kicking Pete's ass in our competition. Who says thirty years endeavour and thousands of pounds on bait and tackle were worth nothing!

Rather than knock it on the head completely what I'm going to do next year is make this an occasional endeavour rather than a religious one. That means I'll post here when something notable happens.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Christmas and Cheers.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Just a Walk

Sunday 13th December, 08:45 - 0930. A walk along the Warks Avon at Wasperton (Leamington Angling / BAA Water)

I didn't fish before the work party this morning. I was umm'ing and ahh'ing last night but decided against it late on. What with the various Xmas concerts and parties this week it doesn't look I'll be able to get out again until Thursday now. This is a busy time of year for all I imagine.

Instead I went for a brisk walk upstream of the Swan's neck on the Leamington stretch and even hopped over the fence to look at the upstream BAA water where my mate Pete's been having some success with Barbel recently.

Here's a few photos.

Sun comes up above the Swan's Neck.

This is the fallen tree peg where I had Chub and Bream from the other week. The water was a good colour and looked no more than a foot or so up.

Upstream of the fallen tree there's a subtle increase in flow and there's the remains of a weed bed or some other obstruction mid-river which is causing turbulence on the surface. Would be nice for fish to hide behind.

Looking downstream from the upper limit of Leamington's water. There are some nice overhanging trees on the far side and the current picks up a little pace here. I am going to give this a try for Barbel next year.

Looking upstream from the upper limit of Leamington. The 'Propeller' peg is in the distance. there are thousands of saplings on their water too. They've been planting a bit haven't they?

I saw a Hare here.

The 'Propeller' peg on the BAA Manor Farm stretch. Good cover on the far side. The river runs into scar bank at this point and is directed to turn left by the rock. Slightly narrower, there is faster than average pace.

Back down at the Swan's neck later on there was a good number of silver fish topping. By far the most populated area was at the end of a run of rushes on the far side. Park in the lower Waspo' car park, turn left downstream and as the rushes on the far bank run out the fish were there.


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Have You Been a Good Boy this Year?

I don't care get the hell off my lap!

Two fishing-related stocking-fillers from Aldi.

I say curb your propensity for branded goods. I've bought from this store before and there are often bargains to be had.

I bought a small fishing bag (well two actually) last year for £7.99 with 'Crane' branded zip pulls. I saw an identical bag for sale with 'Chub' branded zip pulls for £29.99. Don't get me wrong it's not all top drawer, but worth keeping an eye out for the special deals.

I also commend the Bratwurst sausage to you. If Aldi's done one thing for me it's introduce me to Bratwurst sausage. Hmmmm, with mash and peas.


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Manage Your Expectations

Tuesday 8th December, 16:00 - 20:15. Brandon Marsh. Light Southerly, air temp warming from 8C to 10C on departure.

How many times have you embarked on an outing almost certain of a red letter day only to be mystified by the absence of your quarry? How many times have you 'nipped out' on the off chance and had something momentous take hold?

The more you fish the more you are able to predict how you will fare in certain conditions and with certain species. You can't buy such experience and when things fall into place it is immensely satisfying. Conversely, unpredicted events are what feeds experience. Anglers are always on the look out for the unexpected.

My Roach approach has been catching mostly Bream of late - wherever I employ it. Bread crumb mixed with a few small pellets and particles and a sprinkling of some liquid additives in the feeder. Bread flake on a hair on the hook.

I took my approach to Brandon with Bream in mind.

Given I've put in quite a few hours at this venue this season for not much return, experience told me to dampen down my expectations.

I was prepared for it to be dark within twenty minutes of arrival.

I was numbed to the fact that my tip might not move a millimeter all night.

I was expecting it to be raining from the off and to be under a brolly for the duration.

On this occasion my glass ceiling of expectation was smashed!.....................

........ It didn't start raining until at least 7:30pm!

Now that's what I call success.

I'm still struggling to catch from Brandon but I maintain that it's my problem and not the fishery's. My approach was positive, casting accurately and switching hookbaits for variety. I was tucked up warm and under a brolly the footy was on the radio so all was well.

I'm pleased with my new one piece suit. The elasticated cuffs really keep out the draft and it's totally waterproof. However this means I'm virtually hermetically sealed-in and so the garment acts as one enormous dutch oven. The seal to which is usually broken around ones neck when you move in any way at all. Even a deep breath displaces air up from the collar. I had garlic chicken for dinner last night. It's like sitting in a gigantic guff sauna.


Saturday, 5 December 2009

Weird Animal Slapstick

Tuesday 1st December, 16:00 - 19:30. Oxford Canal with Jeff. Cold.
Saturday 5th December, 10:30 - 14:00 Weston Lawns. Dry, bright and chilly.

Tuesday night saw me back on the canal with Jeff after a decent Roach.

I set one rod up for Roach on a light bobbin and alarm and fished a light lead with a borrowed worm and a few pouches of maggots around it.

I set a second rod up with a float for Zander. It was this rod that bought me my only bite of the evening which resulted in a small but tidy canal Zed.

Jeff had a nice Roach of 1lb 8ozs to his worm, a fish which continued his decent run and raised the subject of stats for various baits. The worm is definitely the weapon of choice for Jeff on the canal at the moment.

We fished for a few hours after dark but it grew colder by the minute and the rain came so we retired to the pub.


I grabbed a few hours this morning and intended to try for Roach at Hopsford Hall. I dropped my son off with his grandparents and drove the short distance to the fishery only to find it shut! Hopsford Hall has been closed from 30th November. That was my first bit of bad luck.

I had to find an alternative venue and so headed back in the direction from which I'd just come - to Weston Lawns fishery just outside Bulkington. I'd not fished here for at least five years but I recalled it had three pools. The first of the three contained some large Carp and so with the embers of my original plan still glowing I thought I'd give this pool a go for neglected Roach.

As I drew up beside the lake there were two tall birds about twenty feet away. They looked to me like Emu's and came over to check me out as I unloaded my gear. Weird. More on these later.

I chose a relatively sheltered peg out of the wind with lots of open water in front of me. I cast two large feeders with a mix of breadcrumb, particles, and a few small pellets a comfortable range into the open water before scaling down the feeder and starting fishing. Bread on the hook.

The pair of Emu's then sprinted around the back of my chair and onwards around the perimeter of the lake and out of sight. They can really shift!

Apart from a few trembles on the tip it was a bit quiet.

I was then visited by a huge white Great Dane which cantered round the lake from the other side. This dog was followed by something decidedly more squat which in turn was followed by a Jack Russell.

I next saw the trio of hounds when they walked with their master towards me. Their owner asked how I was doing and when I said I was after Roach he told me I'd be lucky as the pool had been netted and all the Roach and silvers transferred into 'pool three'. Second stroke of bad luck.

My heart sank. This is the second time this year I might as well have been fishing in a bath! I reasoned that if the netting had happened a year or so ago there could still be some left over Roach grown fat on boilies and pellets in residence. The guy had continued on by this point and as I mulled over my options I saw his muttley trio take off after the Emu's. The Emu's gave it legs and put some distance between them and their poorly proportioned pursuit pack. They then stopped, stood tall and kind of jogged with high knees on the spot, ruffled their feathers and returned the compliment to the dogs by sprinting straight at them. The dogs struggled for traction for a u-turn on the grass, especially the Great Dane, not so the Jack Russell, and belted off with two the Emu's in hot pursuit. The dog owner stood to one side as the high speed cort├Ęge blew past him but he seemed relaxed enough. I presume this must be a regular occurrence as the guy later took my money and so was obviously linked to the fishery and the dogs seemed to be having a wail of a time - Emu baiting.

I fished on without much indication and was joined by a ginger cat. I shooed it away only for it to go behind me and jump onto my head. It moved too quickly for me to hit it.

The guy with the dogs did another circuit of the pools and so I asked him when the netting had taken place. "About a month ago", came his reply. The Great Dane then nicked my loaf of sliced bread and bounded off with it. The owner appeared to appease him by saying the dog could have a slice if he gave the loaf back. The massive dog thankfully stood still while his owner took the bag from his mouth.

I moved to another lake and repeated the baiting up process. Within fifteen minutes I was getting indications on the tip. I had only forty five minutes left to fish by this time however.

I converted two bites into skimmers and by the time I was leaving the time taken for the tip to twitch after casting was becoming shorter and shorter. I reckon I could have caught more fish if I had stayed on.

The Emu's came to see me in my second peg and I threw them a slice of bread. The ate it in a flash and then came really close to me and started poking around my stuff. By god they're tall when you're sat down.

At the end I fed them some left over maggots and the remains of my bread. Weird.

In order to bring some ying to my yang I bought the family a lottery ticket each for tonight in the hope of good luck.