Saturday, 31 July 2010

After Napton's Perch Again.

Thursday 29th July, 15:00 - 22:00. Napton with Danny and Andy. Moderate NW, 19>12C. Dry.

Danny and I exchanged a few texts earlier in the week, the distillation of which was that neither of us were leaving Napton reservoir on Thursday until 6lbs of perch was under our belt. Recent trips had buoyed confidence and I was also expectant that a decent fish was on the cards.

I took my kids out to a nearby horse field midweek digging for worms in preparation for the trip. They loved it, filling a tub with twenty odd worms and getting filthy in the meantime. I need to get hold of a fork rather than doing the digging with a spade though.

Upon arrival at Napton I gave the overflow on the small ressy forty five minutes with a worm under a float at various depths. If anywhere looked like it would hold a perch it was the overflow.

14ft deep but no perch to be found.
It is ripe for a float fished dead bait for pike in winter.
I moved back round to the rocky causeway which runs between the two reservoirs where I'd left my gear when Danny arrived. He introduced me to Andy who was already fishing and we settled into swims within hailing distance.

Andy was to my Left, Danny to my right.

Trying to bias the perch from the marauding tench I fished a worm off the end of my rod tip just off bottom. I often saw my float slowly lifting and dipping as the worm gyrated and pushed off against the rocks. If I came up the slope too much the worm would get a tail hold amongst the gaps in the rock and could pull the float down.

I caught a couple of small perch quickly but then had to wait an age for another proper bite. When it came the float was pulled sharply under and I struck into a solid resistance. I saw the fish near the surface after a short but jaggy fight and it was clearly too green to be a tench. Ping. The line fell slack. Perch? Jack? I wasn't certain. I inspected my fluorocarbon hook length and it had been burred and scuffed about four inches from the hook. I renewed it and settled back to fishing with higher hopes than ever.

A sthe light started to fade the float plunged again and I landed my first proper perch of 15ozs. Not a monster but validation of the approach. I also had a single tench.

The sun dipped below the clouds as it set and lit up the lake from an acute angle. A much improved weather scene to this time last week.

Whilst we fished we saw hundreds of perch fry amongst the rocks in the margins.

We scooped a few up in our nets and gave them a go on the hook hoping to attract a bigger perch.

Danny on the left of photo.

Within ten seconds of my tiny perch fry hitting the water my float disappeared and I was attached to something which took line from the reel despite my thumb being pressed as hard as I dare against the drum. I had 8lb main line on the reel and a 5lb hook length so this must have been a pike to take such liberty. After a straight line sprint the hook pinged out and my gear fluttered back towards me falling like limp spaghetti on the water.

That was it for me. No more action followed.

Andy did well with the tench:

Unlike last week the perch never really turned up close in.

Here are the latest challenge scores:


Monday, 26 July 2010

Fishing As A Narrative.

Sunday 25th July, 18:00 - 22:00. Plough AS. 23C Muggy. The tree line on the far bank sheltered me from the wind.

To mix things up a bit, I took a notebook with me on this trip and recorded my thoughts as I fished. Reading this post back now - after I've written it - it strikes me that I'm trying to be someone I'm not i.e. Chris Yates. Trust me when I say this was never the intention. It says as much to me about the pervasive nature of his writing that he should spring to mind so readily as soon as you read anything in the same galaxy of the style which has become his signature. I've spent an hour writing it up now though so......


It was just over an hour ago since I faced my dilemma. I'd arranged to fish this evening with fellow angler Steve Phillips in a joint attempt to catch a barbel on the Plough AS. Returning home from an afternoon at Ryton Pool with the family I picked up his email saying he couldn't make it. Now, do I let on to the wife that my arrangement has fallen through......?

It's now six o'clock and I'm set up on the upper Warks Avon. I'm in a swim I call the 'tree tunnel'. I think others name swims to encode their whereabouts, I do so because I can never remember the numbers. It's an understandable practice if you've found some place where the fish have gathered away from pointed hooks; the aquarium, TV, red ball, the nail, washing machine, white tyre, angle.

Not all names are for covert purposes though and with some swims the name just sticks because it describes the river perfectly. Take the 'Washing Machine' pool: the river narrows and becomes focused above the pool and is then deflected almost forty five degrees to the left by bedrock where it enters. The result is a whirling mass of water which when the river is in flood circulates with vigour.

I saw one chub depart my swim downstream when I arrived. Since then I've fed a few balls of groundbait just off the main current and sprinkled some uncompressed mix into the water to get a scent trail going down beneath the overhanging cover. I expect the chub to move onto the bait shortly.

The day has been hot if not bright. It's been thirty minutes since I settled and quietened down and there's not a fin in sight. The water is clear and the river is low.

I put a couple more balls of grounbait and sprinkles in then went upstream for some fish spotting. I left my rod behind but took a fist full of groundbait with me. I wanted to satisfy myself that other swims were behaving in the same way as the one I'd chosen. I've been here in the first month of the season and had all species hungrily eating in open water within minutes of putting some bait in. I'm worried a club match here earlier today may have driven the fish to cover. 

I broke the bait into four small balls and put it into the upstream swim. After five minutes two chub nosed up from the snags and willow. They never made it as far as the bait though, turning tail and returning to sanctuary as if they'd done a double take on themselves when out in the open. It's always the chub out first.

Next to nose up from the dense cover was a barbel. It pushed up over the baited area then as if it too realised what it had done powered off upstream into thick streamer weed.

Apart from the odd nose poking out the only other fish I saw was a murderous pike which silently glided its way up the swim off the main flow. I felt a little sorry for that pike - it might have been on it's Sunday evening stroll for all I know but every movement looked deathly and malevolent. I had typecast it in the roll of villain.

Back at the tree tunnel and the fish are showing remarkable self restraint. Still nothing is visible. What must it be like for them hunkered down in the clear-water gloom not daring to break cover whilst an endless stream of tiny particles drift towards them like the aroma of a curry at the end of a hot day and after couple of pints. I'm not going to make this easy for them.

I've had to change my fishing night in recent weeks for one thing and another and this has disrupted the rhythm which I'd inadvertently developed. Sunday night whilst dropping off to sleep I would hatch a plan. Monday night I would buy bait and ready my gear. Tuesday I would execute the plan (normally badly).

My weekly pattern was just part of a seasonal pattern which in turn formed the annual pattern. Each fishing day even has a pattern of it's own. Stowing the gear for travel, arriving at the venue full of hope, the juxtaposition of realism and dreams and the eventual outcome determined by how you adapt.

Most good anglers have a few seasons under their belts. That's because you need time to accumulate the scenarios you'll unquestionably be faced with. Wind, rain, heat and cold. They all require a decision. Sometimes it all goes well, the purple patch, when a run of trips all pay out the jackpot. Other times your fishing can splutter and misfire and seem like it will never again be the tuned engine it once was.

Robotic programmers have a name for this - Iterative Learning Control - and a formula to boot:

up + 1 = up + K * ep

Essentially iterative learning through repeated action. If any mathematician solves the equation of angling they'll be a very rich man.

The ground Elder which drew me so strongly to the river in the spring is now spent. Brown seeds have replaced the heavy scented white flowers. Bindweed is now rampant amongst the nettles.

It's now seven thirty. The sky has darkened and the air is still. Fly life above the water surface has increased and the shoal of gudgeon at my feet are repeatedly flipping on the surface. Three bi-planes fly overhead no doubt returning from some local airshow to land at Coventry airport. A distant train can be heard, so much part of fishing in the midlands - the heart of so many transport networks.

It's now half past eight and a trip downstream to the TV swim to try and force the issue lead to the same results as here - no fish coming out to play.

Nine o'clock. The mosquitoes are becoming unbearable. For some unknown reason I came out wearing trainer socks and my ankles have been on the receiving end of some serious bites. I've resorted to trying to tuck my trouser legs into my boots for salvation. God damn my waist line, it keeps pulling the legs up.

Half nine now and I can't write any more. If I do the mozzies bite my hands. I am having to shove them deep into my jacket pockets to stop them being bitten. I have my hood up and drawstring pulled tight too.

Ten o'clock and it's taken for the water in front of me to turn absolutely black through lack of light before I've had any indication that fish are in the swim. I've had three tugs on successive casts - all of which I've missed - most likely because my hands were deep in my pockets at the time. It's a dawn 'till dusk rule here and I'm already pushing my luck.

Ten fifteen. Now that's quite enough of that. An unknown animal has just ran along the path directly behind me screaming a blood-curdling scream. I nearly shat myself. I let out an "Aaaaarrrggggh!!!". Deconstructing my outburst I'd say it was fifty percent, "come any closer and I'll bludgeon you to death", and the other half, "WTF is that!?"

I retreated home, blank.


Saturday, 24 July 2010

Dr. Jobling's Prescription For Happiness.

Thursday 22nd July, 16:30 - 22:00hrs. Napton Reservoir with Danny. E switching to NE blow but warm. Heavy rain from dusk onwards.

Now then young man, come come, do sit down. You seem a little unsettled right now. Uncertainty in the global economy is it? Hmmm? Interest rates? Uncertainty at work perhaps? Well, let me see what I have in my bottom drawer here for occasions such as these......yes....... just the ticket.....this will fit the bill. Take one of these at least once a week - that should keep you on the straight and narrow whilst things straighten out.

It's not a complicated remedy you see, hmmm? Been around for dogs years you know. An elixir if you will, a panacea for modern living. Take a good dose of an English summers evening, throw in some fishing and good company (preferably someone who knows what they're doing), and a game plan to get amongst some quality bullheads and perch and you'll be right as rain. Let me know how you go, hmmm?........ I'll see you in about three weeks.

And that's when the fishing started............

With Danny riding pillion we headed to Napton reservoir with grand designs on it's bullheads and perch. My game plan had been four days in the brewing and was bursting at the seams to see the light of day. It was a three pronged attack.

Big Prong 1, and the most ingenuitive strand of my tactics was to scale down my zander rig in order to present a worm to the perch. Not only did it give me an excuse to break out my sensitive Shakespeare wand again but it also used up some old 10lb fluorocarbon I had left over from salmon fishing from three years ago.

With no expense spared I have used a cutting edge CAD package to represent my rig here:

A suspended worm rig.

Enormous prong 2, to fish a whip down the edge amongst the rocks which make up the bank here, to snare a prized bullhead.

Prize prong 3, to feed and fish light and shallow to encourage the small fish to feed up in the water in turn attracting the big sergeants in for tea.

We started fishing in the centre apex of the large reservoir but the wind was blustery and only a few chobbles resulted.

I followed Danny to the causeway as it was out of the intensifying wind. I immediately deployed my whip, and fed a thimble full of groundbait and maggot onto my bullhead line.

I started to get indications as soon as I'd cast out a worm on the scaled down zander rig and soon I was on the receiving end of some thumping bites on the light quiver. I missed the first two but was sure they were from good perch.

I connected with the third tip lunge when I heard line being pulled from the lightly set reel as I was casting out the float rod. The fish felt a good size and plodded around for a while on the light hook link. When it surfaced it turned out to be a tench around 3lbs. I made sure it remained safely in the net and that it remained clear of the rocks for unhooking and photos. It had taken a worm suspended about twelve inches off the bottom.

Fishing shallow on the waggler soon turned into a no-no as this years young ducks were frenzying on the loose feed which was going out. I dropped the depth on the waggler to the deck - about six feet - and fished red maggot on the hook.

I had just the one perch on red maggot at 4ozs.

The suspended worm and the maggot waggler secured me ten tench up to 4lb+ over the next few hours. Great sport in great surroundings. No true angler could turn his nose up at this, even if the prongs on my plan were coming loose.

Danny was getting amongst the tench and perch too on his 'bullhead line' on the slope of the causeway. 'Ooh 'ello', was regularly heard as he lifted his pole into a fish and then had to dip the tip and follow it quickly as it tore off somewhere the light bottom and elastic weren't quite geared for.

At dusk the weather decided to put on a show.

We heard the rain approaching behind us before it arrived.

The sky looked very moody.

It battered it down.

The light values never recovered once the rain started.
I concentrated on my bullhead line as dark approached.
The deluge put an end to the tench sport. I'll let Danny tell you about his Perch exploits.

Me? Well, I went to bed and slept the best I have all week. No challenge points, no (big) perch, no bullheads but happy.


Tuesday, 20 July 2010

I Turned Up, The Fish Didn't.

Friday 20th July, 09:00 - 20:00. Stratford on Avon town waters. Warm with strong SW. Heavy rain later.

I have a memory etched in my mind. It's of the day I first went zander fishing on the Warks Avon last year. Looking back at the blog post it was 25th September 2009, and looking at the pictures I can see the river was carrying some colour.

Setting aside the differences in date and water condition the etched memory is one of bites and fish in all but the brightest part of the day. I recorded seven fish across the session with only an estimated 40% of bites hit.

This first foray into zander fishing was followed by an autumn of warm experiences with them on still and running water. They just seemed so reliable. I rarely blanked when targeting them and the more I opened my eyes the more venues revealed themselves to me, and most were on my doorstep.

I'm not saying I was over-confident going into this trip, just assured that if I could find the fish then I would get the bites. I tried to repeat exactly the session of last year by starting on the swan's neck at the lido.

The river was still remarkably low and clear despite the recent heavy showers and by the time I arrived the sun was climbing well above the mature horse chestnut trees above the 'S' bend.

As this was to be a repeat I already knew the plot. I knew about the deep channel against the far bank and so wasted no time in chucking towards it, hoping the zander would congregate in the dark water there out of the suns glare.

I gave the first peg a biteless hour and a half before moving up one peg at a time spending forty five minutes in each upstream section of the deep channel. Nothing, apart from being snapped up by one of the ferry boats from the upstream campsite coming downstream and round the blind corner so quickly I couldn't wind in or dip my line in time. The captain of the waves clocked what happened and both he and his mate in the other boat went right over the other side after the break off. Accidents happen.

Lunchtime and Zander-less I moved to Stratford town water. I have a parking tip to dispense here. The car park of the Ripple Cafe costs £6 all day and the ticket expires at 23:59. No gates, no lock-ins. Only limited spaces but I bet the parking cost is about the same as a Willy burger and Pear Shake in the caf'.

I gave the sluice hole on the bottom weir the remainder of my Zander enthusiasm, for nowt, before being called home to carry out funeral duties for the family guinea pig - he'd not been well.

Before leaving I had an hour on the waggler just to get a few bites and caught a couple of nice looking perch, some bleak and a few dace. I lost a better fish that could have been a chub.

It lashed it down about six. Thunder and lightning, the works. Danny text me to say his road was looking tasty for a floodwater barbel.

I've never known the zander so uncompromising. I resolve to give it another month in order that the nights lengthen, the temperatures drops slightly and the river hopefully gets some water.

Cheers, and RIP Momo.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Three Ryton Roach to One Ryton Rudd

Thursday 15th July, 16:00 - 16:45. Ryton Pool. Strong warm Southerly. Information Desk out of the wind(peg 1).

I had the following day off work (to go fishing) and so nipped to Ryton to see if I could catch a few perch on red maggot and pole.

I put a couple of handfuls of reds in whilst I put the pole up, then baited the hook and swung out. Before the maggot even had chance to pull the cord on its life vest it had it's insides sucked out by a rudd.

These fish are such a welcome addition to Ryton. I can't remember ever catching a fish on my first cast here before.

Another rudd dropped off and then I caught two pristine roach.

If these fish get the chance to grow on they will be crackers.

I was fishing as close as I could to the weed covered bottom and was getting a few dips on the float that I think were from tiny fish. Last time out here with Barry Swain we saw endless fry and small perch doing laps of the margins. A good sign for the future.

With time ticking on and me not having any perch I packed up and went to watch the carp at the duck feeding area. I fed them red maggots which they grubbed around for in the shallow clear water. Interestingly the wild fowl didn't seem keen on diving amongst them or even swimming over the top of them for that matter.

Ryton looked great in its summer colours. I saw three carp head and shoulder along the car park bank amongst the thick weed.


Friday, 9 July 2010

Summer Nights (awellawellawella ooh)

Thursday 8th July 2010, 17:30 - 22:00. LAA Wasperton Lower with Jeff. Hot, hot rain, light breeze, clear water, slow flow.

I'm not even keen on Grease.

Home life prevented me from getting out Tuesday evening and work prevented me from getting out early on Thursday. I mean seriously, who's running this shower? Anyone would think this is my hobby and not my life force.

SAP at the ICC to Longford Coventry in a GPS high score time. Jeff was at the ready.

I couldn't contemplate leaving any sort of bait in the car during the day as buckets under axles tend to attract attention in Brum and often lead to controlled explosions nowadays. A symptom of modern life.

I had a bag full of lures and a single (now broiled) deadbait at my disposal for this trip.

Lure fishing for me feels on a par with Barbel fishing for Danny. I've never really had a 'great day' lure fishing.

I pulled variations of metal and rubber through the river whilst working my way from the very top of lower Waspo' to the very bottom and all I had to show was one jack, two perch follows and a jack drop-off at the net.

The jack I caught even bit the tail off my lure.

2lb 6ozs
I know from experience that when fishing for non-predatory species in conditions like this on the Warks Avon you're wasting your time until the light starts to fade. When we first arrived I gave Jeff the benefit of my limited knowledge of the stretch and I remarked that I could see the bottom in most pegs and that that was a first for me. Gin clear and slow sums it up.

Only at nine o'clock did the roach shoal which inhabit the 'end of the reeds' run by the car park start to top. Before this time you would have thought the river was devoid of fish.

I wonder if lure fishing for predators follows the same principle as even a small predator is prey to some bigger fish in clear bright conditions. Later evidence supports this.

Jeff settles into tip fishing and we chat about stuff:

As the light waned I divided my single deadbait into thirds, cast out two simple leger rods (or is it ledger!?) and quickly caught another jack of 3lbs 9ozs.

Soon after recasting and the tip was bouncing again to the tune of an 8lbs 3oz pike.

I recast the remains of my deadbait and succeeded in missing the next two bites in quick succession.

"Jeff, I'm out of bait. Home time."

No score sheet tonight. My theory is that the majority of fish are holding up in any shade or cover to be had during the day in these low water conditions, only venturing out into open water once the light dims and their chances of being eaten alive reduces.


Tuesday, 6 July 2010

An Early Morning Drop.

Sunday 4th July, 06:30 - 09:00. Avon at Wasperton. 12>17C. Still at first then a strong wind picking up at 08:30.

Whilst the unafflicted lay in their beds I was cruising along a deserted A46 with my windows down, Warks Avon bound. I found an old Peel sessions cd in the door compartment of my car and put it on. In days long departed I would have been listening to this music and watching the day grow after a night out. Drinking tea, eating toast and mistakenly believing the generation I was with were sole proprietors to this time of day. I still get a kick out of being outdoors early. England, there's nowhere like it at dawn.

I found Waspo' in fine fettle. Like most other waters at the moment weed abounds but the river narrows and shallows at the top of the village and there was still good momentum to the flow.

I fished for Dace for a couple of hours and caught 14ozs of them. Short of the target. I didn't care.

Standing knee deep amongst the reeds I had a couple of chub which bent the rod and stretched the light line.

A wind sprang up from nowhere at half past eight and made the float fishing almost impossible. Line was being pulled from the centrepin by the upstream wind alone causing a large airborne belly to form between the tip of the rod and where the line met the water.

In a vain attempt to scrape a few more dace I switched swims for the last half hour to one with a little more shelter.

I stood on the shelf in the water visible in the photo above. Slightly hairy. The peg looks good for a barbel with all the downstream cover but there is an element of suicide to it as well. It would be tough keeping anything out of the wall of snag on the near bank.

Danny was coming to fish the stretch later that day and said he would try for a barbel and that they were a bit of a jinx species for him. I tied up a hooklength complete with bait which has been successful for me in the past and secreted it in the chassis of the bankside abstraction pump for him to pick up later that day......


Friday, 2 July 2010

Mini Species No Show.

Thursday 1st July, 16:00 - 19:00. Oxford Canal. Bright and sunny then clouding over later. 26C.

I had a brief visit to the Oxford canal after work to try for mini-species. Ruffe and Bullhead were the targets.

I fished on the outskirts of Coventry. I parked in a car park but after an hour an old boy walking the canal informed me the police had just turned up to inspect my vehicle 'as so many get dumped and set on fire round here'. It was that kind of place. 'If it has a vowel in the name then it's a $*** hole' is a good rule of thumb round this neck of the woods.

Fishing on the edge of the nearside shelf it took me about half an hour to get a bite on my super light outfit.

Next on the bank was a surprise.

That's right, it was an eight ounce Ruffe! (Now where did I put that fish identification book).

The 'net' result of a few hours on a maggot down the edge was a few skimmers, a small zed and a perch.

Just mini versions of maxi species. Still, a nice way to finish off the working day.

I let the sat nav guide me safely home and ended up in the middle of nowhere in a 'traveller designated area'. Imagine if when you'd finished with a wardrobe you just rolled it to the bottom of your front gate and left it on the path. That's what one guy was doing as I trundled past and it looked like many of his forefathers had done just the same with their bins of yore.