Tuesday, 28 September 2010

They're not 'avin' it mate....

I'm never happy attributing a poor days fishing to the fish not 'having it' or to them 'being off' on the day. It can't be their fault I didn't catch them, they're only fish.

Provided they were there, which I know they were, there must have been something I could have done to induce a bite - it's just that that thing wasn't in my armoury on the day. I liken it to someone putting a roast dinner in front of you after you've just eaten. You're not likely to go out of your way to get at it. However if someone were to offer you a wafer thin mint you might just reach out for it.

The days succeeding a blank are when I am at my most vulnerable to the shiny lights of the tackle trade. Indeed the tackle trade's shiny lights are based almost entirely on persuading you that dog days like those could be things of the past, times you could look back on and laugh at your own ineptitude, if only you were  to buy their 'thing'. Perhaps if I had had that thing then my day might have been different?

Enter stage left...... this pair of beauties (2 of 3) from The Range. Not really tackle trade I know but still twinkling at me. Glow in the dark jelly lures with spangly bits on the side and real life hook point protectors. How the hell can I ever fail to catch predators again with these boys at my side?

From a physiological perspective, sometimes the fish just aren't 'aving it.


Sunday, 26 September 2010

Avro Vulcan XH558 at Coventry Fly In 2010.

We took our boy to the Help for Heroes Fly In at Coventry airport today for his seventh birthday.

Just like when I was kid watching the air shows, the Vulcan bomber's thunderous appearance stole the show.

Any anglers out at around eleven a.m. in Warwickshire might be wondering what the noise was! I suspect those at Jubilee pools might have noticed it.


Saturday, 25 September 2010

Never Stop Gambolling.

I've been out a few times since last posting but on each occasion the fishing was less tome and more tomb inspiring.

Last Sunday morning my daughter and I had a three hour slot before lunch to try and catch ruffe on the canal at Ansty. We both fished with poles into the boat track and fed earth and pinkie groundbait. After a biteless half hour she went back to the car to listen to the radio. Within a further thirty biteless minutes I'd joined her. The endless boats and water movement without so much as a dither of the float weren't conducive to pleasurable fishing. We called in at a supermarket on the way home and bought a big fruit pie and a tub of ice cream. We ate the pie after an autumnal dinner of sausage, mash, peas and gravy. The only positive from this is trip was that the morning outdoors made the food taste great.

On Tuesday evening I went to the Avon at Wasperton after eels. I fished feeders opposite the fallen tree above the swans neck where I'd caught eels last year and this time used either maggot or worm on the hook.

 In the field on other side of the river a herd of beef cattle made their way slowly in an upstream direction. There were calves amongst the group and in between eating grass they would sporadically start running and chasing each other around. Joyously mucking about. Jumping, jostling and barging into one another. The parents looked up now and then but didn't look like they were going to join in at any point. The calves reminded me of my children who are forever making video-game-themed courses in the back garden which they race around. I get dizzy just looking at them. It made me wonder at what age cows - and humans for that matter - stop gambolling? I couldn't answer my own question on behalf of the cows but I reasoned that us humans never really stop. I certainly haven't. Fair enough I can't remember the last time I did a cartwheel but find yourself in front of me in a race up the stairs and be prepared to have you ankles grabbed. Totally contrary to my 'don't play on the stairs!' ruling.

I had two bream about three pounds each as the sun went down.

Chase me.

After sunset the clouds broke up and moon shone through illuminating the landscape in a blue light. It was bright enough to cast shadows and for me to walk back to the car without the aid of a light.

Yesterday I had the day off work to fish for predators on the Avon. I was weighed down with a heavy cold which had serious motivation sapping powers. I didn't catch any predators. My excuse is water tight. The water was so clear even the fish eaters were taking shelter, from fish eaters of the same species bigger than themselves. To provide evidence of the water clarity: I could see the stony river bed all the way between the top weir at Lucy's mill and the larger bottom weir. That's a first.

Two blokes were up from Banbury bream fishing and optimistically had two keepnets in the water as both times in previous years they'd filled them. When I walked past them as I was calling it a day they'd had four between them. Abnormal.


Saturday, 18 September 2010


Friday 17th September, 16:30 - 21:00. The weirs at Lucy's Mill (Leamington Angling). 16>12C.

Sadly Danny couldn't join us this evening as he had other commitments but three of the ramshackle four: Pete, Jeff and I had an evening on the Warks Avon after zander and bream respectively.

Jeff and I arrived first and we found sport was slow whilst the sun was high in the sky despite Jeff wearing his new jumper. I targeted zander with deabaits, launching both rods across to the shade of the sluice hole. Pete arrived around six and we were set up three in a row opposite the flats.

Perched like a hippo on a map pin I recast my baits to a variety of spots to try and find the predators.

There was guy fishing upstream of us when we arrived and every time he cast his groundbait feeder out into the slack water just off the flow of the weir a gang of bleak would rush to the surface to pick off the bits. The gang were frequently seen leaping clear of the water as something hit into them. As the evening wore on Jeff had the same performance in front of him. After casting out a feeder the bleak would come up to the surface only to scatter as they were attacked from below. Good perch maybe.

I brought my lines in close and had my first customer of the evening, a pug nosed pike of 10lbs 8oz.

No lower front teeth.

My single treble was just inside the lip.

 Whilst I was returning the fish my other tip registered a bite. A small 12oz zander was on the end of the strike.

I have just eaten a dead bait half my size.

As dusk descended I had a run of subtle bites which I couldn't convert into fish. I changed the hooking arrangement on my traces over to a large single at the top with a treble midships of the dead bait and pretty soon had a 7lb 3oz pike then a 4lb 5oz zander take hold.

I got my eyes on you!

I trust you are NHS.
After all this time Jeff was approaching a successful outing. Pete and I stared at his tips so hard I wouldn't have been surprised if they simply caught fire in front of our eyes such was the mental intensity focused upon them.

Once the metaphorical cork had been popped it was hard to stay focused on the fishing, more-so when there are a few friends on the bank. Once we had something to celebrate thoughts quickly turned to the pub.

Before we got anywhere near the pub however the subject of next years competition took centre stage.

If you fancy joining us next year then please contact me on email via my profile link. The only entry criteria we have are honesty, coupled with a commitment to write up your exploits on here somewhere.

Our meandering conversation was earnest. Within the scope of this years challenge we enjoyed the fact that we are not direct adversaries. No one can take a point away from anyone else. We are all pitting our wits and fishing skills against a sheet of paper - notional targets. We walked back to the cars along the banks of the Avon, past the floodlit medieval church, Shakespeare's theatre and the chain ferry. There was an intense discussion about the ethos of next years challenge. Pete openly admits that fishing for the smaller species is not 'his thing'. I confess to loving having a strategic plan for the year and the driven diversity of fishing for species which would not normally receive my attention. We all agreed that complexity was our enemy and that we should keep things as simple as possible.

The overwhelming consensus was that we did not want to find ourselves wasting our precious leisure time chasing the million to one shots which are massive specimens. But more importantly,  that none of us want the isolation of direct opposition to the cohort. We crave a shared interest over a point scoring fight to the death any day. 

Make no mistake, the result of this years competition is still in the balance. If Danny brings back the expected eel and ruffe point from his upcoming holiday to the broads I think he'll have it in the bag. But do you know what? Right now I'm not that bothered if he takes it. Last nights outing was everything I want from a bloggers competition. Like-minded souls finding endless enjoyment and discussion which are otherwise nowhere to be found amongst those you spend most of your time with.

Just for the record:

Reckon you can beat us!?


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Trident Tested.

Tuesday 14th September, 17:00 - 21:00. Stratford Lido (Leamington Angling). Heavy rain during the afternoon with skies clearing at five. 16>14C.

This evening session was a three pronged ruffe, eel, and zander mash-up at the lido. A little research lead me to an online interview with with match angler Clint Elliott where he mentions getting 'bitted out' by ruffe whilst fishing worm down the edge on the Warks Avon. The main thrust of this evening then was to get bitted out myself.

As I was fishing worm I thought I'd also stand a chance of an eel if they were around, and to ensure I stayed busy I put out a dead bait rod for zander.

Before I could start fishing I had to sit out a torrential downpour in my car. As soon as it let up for a second I had my wellies on and was out.

I chose a peg just down from the lido bay where the flow was on the near side and there was a steady flow with some depth at my feet. Owen the bailiff says the water level up here (directly above Stratford) has dropped since a row of bricks were knocked off the weirs in town a few years ago.

Rather than use a quivertip whilst targeting ruffe I set up a stret-pegged waggler in four feet of water. It took a little time to get the setup right - adjusting the depth of the rubbered float and the angle of the rod tip to the water - but once right it worked like a dream. The bites were indicated at first by the float trembling and sending out small ripples across the surface and were followed up by the it slowly cocking and disappearing. A really pleasurable way to fish.

I challenge you to fish for ruffe without smiling.

I had a 2XSSG shot on a loop of line running on the reel line to keep everything static.

I bait-droppered in chopped worm in compost with a few pinkies thrown in. The bites were instant but it was mostly beautifully marked perch which nabbed the red worm bait.

Not a ruffe.
Not a ruffe.
One stret-pegging efficiency tip I have for you is that I used a clip swivel to attach my hook length to my reel line. This meant I could unclip my hook length and clip on the bait dropper quickly.

I ended up with sixteen perch, three dace, two gudgeon and a bream on the float.

I had a jack pike about four pounds on the dead bait.

So no ruffe, no eels, and no zander. Laser guided species targeting don't you think?


Sunday, 12 September 2010

After Ruffe On The Grand Union Canal.

Sunday 12th September, 06:15 - 08:45. Grand Union canal at Long Itchington.

I saw another dawn this morning and enjoyed it just as much as last Tuesdays. This time I was on the grand union canal trying to catch a ruffe in the fishing challenge I have on with my pals.

The canal looked good, steaming at first light:

I fished a pole with maggot and fed maggots and compost into the milky water.

I could see fish  feeding and bubbling on the silt up by the lock and wondered whether they were bream. At seven o'clock a carp came clear out of the water and made significant ripples which spread out towards me.

Carp to over 30lb have been caught from this stretch.

I also saw a good number of roach and bream rolling on the surface throughout the morning.

About half an hour in and I started to get a few bites. I caught a steady stream of perch, all in mint nick. Half a dozen in all.

My last fish of the day before the boats started moving at eight o'clock was a roach bream hybrid.

All in all a jolly good start to the day.

By nine o'clock I was cutting back trees and brush at Jubilee with the Leamington work party.

No ruffe.


Thursday, 9 September 2010

A Most Glorious Dawn.

Tuesday 7th September, 05:30 - 14:00. River Avon at Wasperton then College Pool. Warm and dry after very heavy rain the night before, rain setting in mid afternoon.

After an early morning airport run for the inlaws I now stood looking out of my kitchen window into the gloom, drinking coffee and eating a breakfast of buttered muffins. The rain from the front which had battered the country the previous night had now subsided to a misty rain but I'd seen some serious puddles at the road side during my drive. The world has an enigmatic charm at four a.m. The roads are almost completely empty and there's a post-apocalyptic atmosphere.

I drove to Wasperton village in the dark and wondered in what state I'd find the river. My plan for the day was to tough out the dace point on Leamington Angling's top meadow and then make use of my BAA day ticket and fish for pike downstream with whatever time remained. I'd not slept properly and had been up since three and so expected a mental crash at some point during the day. But by god it felt good to have a whole days fishing in front of me.

I got my first sight of the river by head torch after walking across the soaked grass of the meadow. It was up, yes, only a foot though, and the clarity was good. I intended to wade in a little and trot down the Hawthorn bush swim just upstream from the run of willow tress but the added water ruled out that idea. Instead I made my way downstream without tackle assessing by torchlight where else might offer the opportunity to fish with a float.

The height was not dissimilar to my last visit which prompted me to graph the effectiveness of  various methods against flow speed.

I set up whilst the light was too dim to fish.

I put up a stick float in a top secret swim with no identifying features:

As the sun rose the countryside exploded into colour.
 I made my first cast just before the sun broke above the receding rain clouds. I had broken blue sky ahead of me and the the river looked amazing. Wave after wave of elation hit me as I was treated to the most beautiful sunrise in my favourite fishing month on my home river.

Almost there. Mist clung to the grass.

The light of the sun was contained by the low cloud.

The river steams and the first shafts of light hit the fields.

Now risen, the sunlight was intense.

I spent as much time looking over my right shoulder as I did looking at my float.

The wooden electricity pole made a good shield against the direct sunlight.

Morning has bro-ken, like the first mor-ning.....

Thankfully the dace were obliging and after playing about with the depth of the float I found I caught pretty regularly on double maggot.

My stick float set up.
I was paranoid about a pike attack as my ever increasing net lay in the rivers edge. As Pete arrived at eight o'clock I'd just weighed in at 11ozs. I weighed in again at 1lb 3ozs and then finally called it a day when I weighed in at 1lb 7ozs.

1lb 7ozs of Warks Avon dace.

By ten o'clock I'd packed up my dace gear, driven down to the BAA water to catch up with Pete and set up a deadbait twitching outfit. We leap-frogged our way down the BAA stretch for an hour without so much as a pull. At eleven o'clock I could feel any chance of the pike point slipping through my fingers and had a tactical chat. Pete went on to focus on barbel and I made another move up to college pool to try for perch.

Both rods were in college pool by midday - an inflated lobworm four inches off the bottom and a light float outfit fishing maggots.

The lobworm rod received a bite within a couple of minutes of being cast and a jagged fight with a fish which felt like a couple of pound in weight ensued. I was sure I'd hooked a good perch. To my surprise it was a chub which came up from the depths. I'd heard about the chub in college but had never caught one myself so was chuffed with this fish.

It didn't take long for the perch to home in on the maggots and I weighed in 3lb 10ozs of them after one hour of fishing. They were a lovely size to be catching to build a weight, averaging 3oz I'd say.

During the second hour I made some subtle rig adjustments and really tuned into the fishing. I became a perch catching machine. Spurned on by lack of sleep I bagged 5lb 14ozs of them in my second hour on the pool, just one ounce short of the perch point in that second net alone.

Plus the first net of 3lb 10oz the perch point was bagged.

Totally satisfied with my two point outing I wearily packed up just after two o'clock and went back to the river to sit with Pete.

You can park behind your peg on the BAA stretch and as the rain had once again returned I indulged in some proper brummy barbel fishing, sitting in my car eating my sarnies watching Pete's tips!

Properly wired now and with the insulin hit of two rounds of sarnies in my blood I drove home.


Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Leamington Angling Association Committee Match 2010.

Monday 6th September, 10:00 - 16:00. Jubilee Pools. Strong SE wind during the day with heavy overnight rain setting in at 7pm.

Once a year, all those who lend a voluntary hand towards the smooth running of Leamington Angling Association are invited to take part in its Committee Match.

As you might expect from a fishing match organised by a fishing committee there is much to-ing and fro-ing beforehand on the date, venue, rules, allowed species, baits, methods, allowed colour of hat, correct parting of hair etc. etc.

This year was a rod, line and float only affair held on the Horseshoe lake at Jubilee Pools. The only outstanding matter arising from previous debates was what to do about carp. Our three options departed from the extreme station of 'carp (spit) don't count at all', called at 'all carp count as 5lb irregardless of weight and hence avoid the need for weighing' and terminated at 'weigh the carp as we went and count them at face value'. Good sense and weighing them in as we went won out. Imagine playing a carp for ten minutes on match gear only for it not to count!

My suggestion that a spod could be counted as a float fell in well with the pre-match banter in the car park.

Pegs drawn, we took up our positions and prepared tackle with that serious air that only a match can afford. When Anthony Simmons came round and said it was fivers in, well, the hair on his head stood up.

All anglers expected fish and a few expected quite a few carp or bream. When the whistle blew we cast in with great expectations.

I'd rigged up two rods and ran line through the rings on a third in case I needed an option later on. I balled in some groundbait and fished a heavy waggler with lassoed pellet at distance over the top to start. I was fishing into 14ft of water and was after bream.

My second rod was a pellet waggler and although I didn't turn to it until exactly two hours into the match I started to feed carp pellets in ones and twos every twenty seconds or so at the same range as the grounbait. The groundbait was an active mix and so I knew floating bits would be coming up off it from the bottom.

After an hour I'd seen only one small roach swung in and I'd not had a touch. After two hours the knuckles on my hand were battered from constantly catapulting out pellets and so still biteless I gave the pellet waggler an hour. Nothing. Hmmm.

In the early afternoon I fed a margin line and tried that. Then in desperation tried to buy some bits fishing light with maggots but remained dry netted.

By two thirty and with an hour and a half remaining I was beginning to think I would never catch a fish again, never mind during the match. Scratching around had got me nowhere so I resolved to stick with my original plan and go back out over the groundbait at distance which had gone in steadily over the day.

At just before three o'clock I had a bite and landed a 3lb 12oz bream. At a quarter to four and with fifteen minutes of the match left I hooked a carp and played it like it was life or death. It took ten minutes to get in and weighed 4lbs 4ozs.

To my amazement those two fish were enough to win the match for me. The majority had blanked and the minority had a few roach.

Regulars of Jubilee will know just how many fish there are in the Horseshoe pool and how spectacular the fishing can be, but if we were newcomers to the water you'd have thought it was empty after the day we'd endured. There was well over five hundred years of fishing experience on the banks and most bases were covered. It was as if someone had flicked a switch turned the fish off. I saw very few carp moving.

My Prize.
 The day finished on a high for everyone however when over a century of Leamington Angling records were passed on (in a ceremonial cardboard box) from one official to another for safe keeping.

The photo below is from the inaugural Association meeting on 11th June 1890, over one hundred and twenty years ago. I think Ernie Archer was in attendance that day......


Saturday, 4 September 2010

Round Up.

Saturday 28th, Monday 30th and Thursday 2nd September. Clear days and cool nights.

Last Saturday evening I went to fish the Coventry canal by Jeff and generally have a catch up. He entertained me with tales of being thrown about like a cork on the sea during his recent boat fishing trip whilst I grimaced at the thought of the described predicaments. He's not right in the head you know, laughing like a madman as he recounted how his cheery whistling during the worst of the weather brought merciful looks from his fellow suffering passengers. He's made my mind up for me, sea fishing afloat is not for me. I'm going to buy him some sack cloth and a scythe for his next outing so he can properly scare his shipmates by standing at the prow whistling looking like the grim reaper as the sea swells around him.

Applying my tick box assessment of  happiness it was a three out of five evening. I was fishing, Jeff bought along a couple of beers to lubricate the conversation and later on warm sausage rolls from Gregg's materialised from a worker at his house.

I caught some perch on the pole during the evening and we then both tried for zander to no avail.

On Monday evening I took my daughter Abbey to Brandon Marsh for an exploratory eel session. She's been wanting to fish into dark for some time and with no school the next day it was opportune. We fished worms over some fishy chum and resoundingly blanked. It was great to star gaze together though and was a good introduction to the countryside at night, something which takes even grown men some time get comfortable with.

On Thursday I had an evening at Ryton after perch but beforehand made up some very light bobbins for the resistance sensitive species.

I used short lengths of white plastic radiator cover attached to lengths of nylon string. I tested them in the back garden before use and found I had to add a small amount of plasticine to the string in order to get them to show a drop back they were so light. I anchor them to the ground using tent pegs and on the strike the line simply pulls out of the plastic cylinder.

Best of all they fit - along with a couple of tent pegs - into an old car radio case I had knocking about.

I fished air inflated lobworms popped up a few inches off a light running lead and regularly sprayed red maggots lightly over the top. Apart from a few short sharp upward movements of the bobbins - presumably caused by the myriad of tiny fish in Ryton this year - I didn't get a proper bite. Entertainment was had listening to the bloke fishing on the point repeatedly scald the family of swans who now ten-strong are off the nest and making nuisances of themselves with anglers.

Here are some quotes I think we might all use when the time is right:

"Iiiiiiiiiii HATE you, you, you......arrrrrggggghh!"

"Gertcha! you horrible, horrible, thin necked, tiny brained MORONS!"

"You're getting WORSE! DO, YOU, NOT, UNDERSTAND!? 'BUGGER' OFF!!!"
Time to go home: