Sunday, 29 August 2010

Photos From The Other Night. On The Avon.

Dusk is arriving  more quickly each week.

I fished two quiver tips.

The river had been over the top but was now back in it's banks.

Dead maggots, prawns, pellets and fishmeal groundbait. Eel chum.

Not an Eel.

Look at the gnashers on that..... that's Danny's hand by the way.

No Eels!


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Go With The Flow.

It's not been happening for me on my last few fishing trips. A trip to the Leam last week after eels yielded just a small one, a few hours on Sunday morning after dace saw me miss more bites than I hit, and last nights attempt at eels on the Warks Avon produced a 7lb 4oz pike. As our fishing challenge continues into the autumnal weather I am bumped further out of my angling comfort zone and find myself chasing ruffe, catfish and eels.

The recent couple of hours after dace was on the top meadow at Wasperton (LAA) before our work party. I used my super-sensitive Shakespeare wand with the finest quiver tip attached hoping the dace would produce wrap around bites and hang themselves in the process. The river was up after recent rain however and that ruled out fishing all but the more sedate nearside water with this rod.

Fishing a smooth channel of water with a light lead down the near edge it was soon apparent that the weight of water on the line from the flow was wiping out valuable sensitivity in the last third of the tip. The tip eye was at forty five degrees to the butt of the rod.

I'm certain this observation - that the flow of a river pulls a quiver tip round - does not provide new insight to all the experienced anglers out there but I'll see the thinking through as it took me to an interesting place.

Because the sensitivity of the tip had been diminished by the flow the bites I was receiving from the dace were sharp, jaggy, over very quickly and difficult to hit. The flow had the effect of making it seem like I was using a much heavier tip and because I was fishing so close in there was no elasticity in the rig. When fishing at even a moderate distance on running water there will be some latent 'give' from the length of nylon line between tip and lead, or slight bow in the line.

Essentially the set up was ineffective for the conditions.

Contrast this scenario with the tips performance in still water where it's only the weight of the line between eye and lead which pulls the tip round. Once the lead is cast it is possible to reduce the line tension to such a degree that the tip is almost straight and I'm sure most of the line is laying on the lake bed. All of the tips sensitivity is then available for bite registration.

The flow on the top meadow at Wasperton is pretty fast compared to slower deeper stretches of the Avon. That's presumably why the Barbel are attracted to it. It's faster still when there's new water in the river like there was on Sunday.

Reflecting on the ineffectiveness of my set up I tried to pick a method which would have been better on the day and found I couldn't positively settle on a favourite.

I ruled the waggler out on grounds of flow speed but thought it might be too turbulent even for a stick float. In hindsight I would go with an 11ft quiver with a slightly beefier tip and fish across and down into one of the far bank glides, keeping the tip high.

I propose the reason why I have such trouble picking between stick and quiver is because the water was roughly suitable for both. In an attempt to describe this intersection of methods and conditions I came up with the graph below.

This interests me inasmuch that it's probably something most of you already know and do in your sleep but I bet you've never seen it drawn up like that before! Of course it would be almost impossible to put numbers on the axes or to quantify these things further.

One line I thought about adding was to represent the tip movement or viciousness of a bite. I would start that line low in the left hand corner rising up in a straight line as the flow increased. The viciousness of a bite is just another way of saying how likely the fish is to hook itself as when your tip is bouncing round or being pulled off the rest that's not a bite it's the first charges of a hooked fish. I think the faster the flow the more likely the fish is to hook itself when it turns with the bait in it's mouth.

What's the upshot of all this cogitation? In fishing you can often learn as much from an unsuccessful session as you can from a successful one.


Friday, 20 August 2010

After Eels On The Leam.

Tuesday 17th August, 16:00 - 21:00. River Leam, Radford Road stretch. Warm with heavy rain to start.

Apparently there are some good eels in the Leam. This was an exploratory session really to see if anything happens here as the sun goes down.

It started spitting as I was choosing where to fish and by the time I'd put my chair down in my chosen spot upstream of a large willow tree on the near bank large globs of water started to fall from the blackened sky.

I stared at the underside of my brolly for the first half hour whilst I let the compact storm pass over. I hadn't even set up.

After the rain and thunder I set up two simple quiver tip rigs and alternated between worms, prawns and dead baits on the hook. Before rigging up I pulled a lead across the bottom to work out where the tree roots came in and learn a little about the bottom contours. The sun was now out and the air felt fresh. I fished at the bottom of the near marginal slope.

I had made up a fishy chum of dead maggots, casters and prawns and fed that along with some reds sparingly into the swim at first. I held back the lions share for twilight.

It only took fifteen minutes for the tip to register some interest but I was using medium sized baits and so some bites were snatchy and unconvincing. The bites continued for only an hour after the rain during which I had an eel of eleven ounces and was bitten off by something.

After this hour the bites simply dried up. I thought a predator might have moved in so had an hour on dead baits but nothing. I scaled down to maggots on the hook but still nothing. I rotated through prawns and worm but nothing I tried bought me a bite.

The tips were motionless until just before nine o'clock when I had two more rattly bites on worms.

I've seen such an intense feeding burst after a storm a couple of times before - whilst after carp - but when so close to the evening my recollection is they usually continue. This one ended as abruptly as it started.

As the evening closed in I found myself becoming concerned about the safety of my car in the car park. I could hear the odd noisy gathering knocking about and so didn't stick around for full darkness.


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Slip Streaming.

Monday 16th August. 09:30 - 15:00. Warm and Dry.

I had no idea this day would turn out like it did.

We returned from our family holiday on Sunday evening and my car was booked in for a service and MOT at the garage in Berkswell first thing Monday morning. Naturally I rustled up some tackle, called in at Lanes on the way over and after booking the car in walked around the corner to Lavender Hall premier mixed coarse fishery.

Amazingly the tub of worms I'd left amongst compost in my fridge were still alive and kicking after a fortnight of neglect. I opened the lid with some trepidation - raise your hand if you've ever had a 'bait tub surprise' at some point in your angling life. I removed the layer of fungus from the top of the compost to find the wrigglers huddled together in a corner for warmth. Armed with these, a bag of prawns and a pint of reds I intended to grind out a perch point from the commercial. Fifty two-ouncers should do it.

I bought a ticket at the cafe, asked the lady which pool was most likely and set up a short pole.

Maggots brought bites straight away and I caught rudd, roach and a couple of small perch. A worm wasn't taken so readily but did seem to differentiate the perch as I had a couple more. The only thing I caught on prawns were good sized roach - worth remembering for the inevitable winter trips to the Coventry canal.

A Golden Rudd.

At eleven thirty the day had warmed and I wasn't catching at anywhere near the desired rate so a change of pool was in order. Also, feeding maggots now had the water boiling with rudd and skimmers. I caught a few to check out whether there were any perch amongst them.

I weighed in my perch for only four ounces.

Heavy duty 'perch' carrier bag.

At the second nearby pool I fed only a few prawns into the margin and fished a worm on the hook to start with. First put in and a sail away bite saw me connected with a carp which had me adding sections and then holding the pole aloft for ten minutes whilst it tired itself out. Waiter! This is not what I ordered.
The culprit:

I caught two more small perch for about two ounces, two other carp, a gudgeon and two more decent roach (on prawn again) and looked at my watch. Twelve thirty. Things were not going to plan.....not going to plan at all.

In a fit of pique I made a snap decision. I reckoned I had four hours before my car would be ready and so packed up my tackle and headed back to the cafe. I'd read about Danny's bullhead point with interest and he was gentlemanly enough to share the location of his glorious capture with the rest of us challengers. I mean, Berkswell, Hampton in Arden, Barston, Solihull, Wolverhampton: they're all in this general direction aren't they. I would march to bullhead paradise under my own steam!

The lady at the cafe gave me a sideways look when I stood with rod quiver, tackle bag and bait bucket and asked for directions to the tiny stream. Not three hours ago I'd handed over seven quid to fish her premier mixed coarse fishery and now I was carping about the lack of perch and asking for hiking directions to a nearby ditch.

I'd forgotten my phone in the melee to get out of the house and so set off in the glorious weather on hoof and uncontactable. Totally untethered for half a day.

I walked with a spring in my step and saw some things.

The cafe lady reckoned my destination was two miles away. I've since googled the route and it's exactly four! I asked a number of people for directions along the way and just outside Barston village a farmer eventually stopped laughing and gave me a lift for the last leg in his pick-up.

The downstream Police Anglers trout stocked stretch.
 Upon arrival at the hallowed water I lumbered out of the truck shouldered my gear and realised it was the school holidays in August. Not only did I look like Gulliver compared to the stream but also too with the 'little people' dashing hither and thither with fishing nets, grand parents, dogs, picnics, wellies etc. More strange looks.

Tommy logge Nirvana

There are two known hot pegs on this beat. I fished the one opposite 'Danny's'. If you look closely in the photo above you might be able to make out some rock gabions on the far bank. That's where Danny fished I think. I sat on the footpath and used only the top section of my pole as if I put a second on either the tip touched the far bank or the butt stuck out into the road where tractors were passing by.

Amazingly with the gear laid out on the concrete around me, every time a little person approached granny would tell them to, "Shush Barroi", or "Shush Spudulika, that man's fishing there". Who's mad now!? That's like seeing someone lining up a putt in the middle of town and shouting for shoppers to be quiet so he can concentrate on his shot. When granny went back to her car however I was overrun with the little ones wanting to see the endless minnows I was pulling out. There were plenty to go around.  "Minnows for everyone!" was my cry.

It took me a while to suss out how to avoid the minnows (pin the bait to the deck by a rock) but once I had I got amongst the bullheads. I believe some of these fish could be repeat captures and so in true specimen hunter style have christened the biggest ones I caught.

Notice the 'Featherlight A5' weigh sling (carrier bag) which is reserved for occasions such as these.

I'd completely forgotten what these fish do when you try to get the hook out of their mouth. They flatten their head and jut out the tiny spikes on the ends of their gill plates in a kind of piscean 'brace position'. They clamp their mouths so tightly shut a disgorger was needed for every single one, just to open the jaw.

I had six bullheads for one ounce.

Given Danny had a dozen for between two and three ounces it looks like half a dozen to the ounce is about the going rate.

I packed up just after three o'clock and hiked back to the garage. I was back by four thirty.

There's a definite pang of guilt about pouncing so quickly on someone else's information and ground work. But what I'm not sure about is whether there is any redemption to be had in the eight mile hike in order to get this point? Does this effort tip the scales back in my favour or does it just plonk another kilo of bonkers on the other pan?

The others have been busy whilst I was away and so here are the challenge scores today: