Thursday, 26 November 2009

Double-Ended *****

Wednesday 25th November, 16:15 - 20:00. Stratford Weirs. Cool and windy, occasional shower.

Please excuse the title. The missing word is 'blank', literally. It's just I get such a kick from seeing the search terms people have used to land on this blog I thought I'd ramp it up a bit. The best so far is 'dogging at Ryton pools'.

I think the post below was at the root of this;
Double-ended is also completely meaningless in the context of this trip.

Pete and I arrived at Stratford after work at about four o'clock. We fed sack-fulls of pound coins to the parking machines with the endless appetites and headed to the weirs.

The sluice on the main weir was shut but there was an energy to the river which looked about 2ft up. It was a lovely colour too, and the mist from the weirs smelled fresh.

I fished a maggot feeder filled with reds which was dipped in a pot of sweet liquor before each cast to add some aroma to the stream.

I cast just off the main flow of the weir where there was still about 6ft depth.

52.185052, -1.706414

Debris was not a real problem and my rig was coming back clean but I didn't have a bite all evening.

It now looks like the big Chub from the previous day was all my luck at once rather than an omen of things to come.

Pete fished for Barbel a bit further downstream and had a Bream and a baby Barbel about 3/4 lb which was really cute.

So cute in fact that I've had to blank Pete's face out of the photo. The contrast the two photographic elements created generated an electromagnetic charge the Large Hadron Collider could be proud of. Unedited the energy from these polar objects would have warped your PC monitor and threatened all other metallic objects within a ten mile range.

This image is now safe for humans to view;

What do you reckon, three years old?
It's the first time I've seen a fish of this size from the Avon and it is a good sign. It still has a long way to go before it becomes too large a meal for either a Pike and more probably a Zander though.

After we'd packed up and walked back to the car park we stood around and chatted for a while at the back of the cars with the boots open for light. Within ten minutes a police car turned up and pulled alongside to see what we were up to. Amazingly we convinced them we were not malcontents, ably assisted by headlamps and fishing attire. They bid us good evening and left us in peace. Whether we'd been spotted on CCTV or it was just a routine patrol I don't know but it made me feel much better about the hundred weight of pound coins I've put into the parking machines this year. I like it when I see the Police doing a good job but still felt a bit guilty even though we hadn't done anything wrong!


Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Pleasure Points - There's Art in That There Wafting

Tuesday 24th November, 16:10 - 16:45. Warks Avon. Gusty wind, overcast with a little rain. 12C mild.

I've made arrangements to fish with Pete tomorrow evening but I was itching to get out and so made arrangements with the necessary authorities to have a couple of hours after work tonight.

The forecast for this evening was iffy when I looked last night and so I needed somewhere close to home and where the likelihood of a fish was good given I didn't want to be out too late.

I couldn't think of anywhere in competition terms that fitted the bill. I'm currently after Roach and Perch. Float fishing for Roach with bread at Brandon made it onto the short list but I just didn't fancy it in the dark. Instead I thought I'd have a night off from the competition. Once that decision was made all sorts of ideas came rushing through the gates, Barbel, Chub, Tench even!? Quite a liberating state of mind, but tempered by a worry that complacency would chivalrously open the door marked 'Opportunity' for Pete.

I settled for a go at the Chub on the river close to home given the mild weather and recent rains, and plumped for a method which is both active and killer on small rivers at this time of year- wafted bread.

Word has it that wafted bread is the bastard son of trundled meat. Theoretically simple it involves pinching a large piece of flake onto a hook and running it downstream off a centrepin. The only addition to the rig is a small weight say twelve inches up from the hook. This weight ensures the whole lot goes down along the bottom. In recent times I've also preferred to hair rig the bread as it improves hook-ups as you're not striking through the doughy stuff around the shank.

The skills associated with this type of fishing are threefold. Firstly, when baiting up you want to leave enough fluffy bread so the bait floats. Secondly (and coupled with the first) you need to judge the amount weight added to the line so it pulls the floating bait down to the bottom but still allows the whole ensemble to bounce lightly downstream. Too little weight and the rig will rise in the water and skate across the surface. Too much weight and it will always be snagging and catching on the bottom. Obviously current speed is a big factor in the first two. Thirdly is the line control from the reel. Often the current itself is enough to pull line from the reel even if the rig has lodged on the bottom, this is to be avoided. A combination of slow circular rod tip movements and thumb control on the rim ensures you remain in contact with the bait as it 'wafts' downstream.

Bites are registered on a light quiver tip and are often plucky affairs. The fish feels little if any resistance upon slurping down the bread and wrap-arounds are very rare.

With a little practice you can use a combination of line-lay in the current and reel control to guide your bait right under rafts and other overhung places where Chub love to live.

It was this method I employed this evening and after puffing up my capabilities in the preceding paragraphs I lost the lot on a snag on the second cast. In my defense it was not the best swim for the method with a tree tunnel at the tail of the pool! A snag was always on the cards.

I set up again and moved downstream one peg. I rebaited, adjusted the weight on the line and swung out into the flow.

After quite an initial peel the bait moved off the main flow towards the near bank and into marginally slacker water. There was still enough pull to inch the bait along the bottom, it was not static.

A twitch on the tip signalled interest. I left it for a second or two and the line remained slightly more taught than when just under the influence of the water.

I struck and felt a thumping weight on the line. At first I thought it was a Barbel. My gear was stout and I drew the fish upstream and could soon see it was a Chub - not a happy one though, it thrashed the water to foam.

I haven't been Chub fishing for ages and so my eye is not in weight-wise.

I netted the fish in the nearside slack and lifted it onto the grass. It was definitely a good fish.

Once unhooked it weighed in at 6lbs 2oz, just 1oz short of my pb;

Chuffed to bits I decided not to be greedy and to call it a day, sated.

I did however find time to ring Pete and let him know I'd caught a fish (and species he still needs!) worth five points in our competition within 30 minutes of arriving on the bank. Instant gratification is not something that comes along regularly in fishing.

Here's hoping this is a good omen for tomorrow evening!


Thursday, 19 November 2009

Not Even Sure Which Canal I Blanked On

19th November, 16:00 - 18:30. Hawkesbury Junction with Jeff. Stiff wind. 15C upon arrival 13C on departure.

A quick one this.

Met up with Jeff to poach his manor for Roach after work. The strong wind dictated our position and Jeff had kindly put in a reccy earlier on in the day to find a spot with shelter.

I fished bread on a hair on the hook under a float over spicy hemp and liquidised bread. I had nothing that could even be misconstrued as a bite all evening.

Jeff fished the worm and had a blank saving fish which I'll let him tell you about.

I looked at my watch and issued a 'pub!' command after around two blank hours. Winter fishing eh; shorter sessions on the bank, longer sessions in front of an open fire!

Whilst roasting our nuts on said fire we both put thought into Jeff's winter Roach campaign. Once again I won't fist his chips but it is an ingenious double feedback loop involving Roach and Zander. All I will say is that if you're catching one you're probably not going to be catching the other.

Many plans were laid for trips which haven't yet happened.


Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Tuesday 17th November, 16:30 - 21:00. Warks Avon Theatre at Stratford. Mild with strong SW wind, occasional shower.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to make fishing at all yesterday and so was pleased when things fell into place to allow me to arrive on the bank before dark arrived.

I was fishing by the theatre at Stratford with Roach in mind.



Soon after;


I was fishing a 2oz glass quivertip through to a cage feeder. In the feeder was a combination of liquidised bread, hemp and a few drops of little liquid additives. I had a boom of 12lb ESP coming off the swivel by the feeder to prevent tangling on the cast, onto which my 4.5lb hooklength was attached. My only nod towards ingenuity was the small hair and pellet band coming off my hook. I pinched my flake onto the hair leaving the hook free.


It was a slow start. The wind was strong and was being funneled up the river by surrounding buildings and trees. The water was the milky tea side of chocolate. There was a bit of extra push on but not a great amount. Whilst light I could see floating debris coming down.

There was also sub-surface debris in the extra flow as I was occasionally getting debris bites and was also picking it up on the feeder and hook. Not so much as to interfere with the fishing too much though.

It took me a while to get my brolly positioned correctly so it wasn’t being blown about by the wind and once I’d done this it freed up my left hand and made things more comfortable.

Over the course of the evening I’d say 50% of casts were brought to an end by a debris bite, 10% by a gust of wind dislodging the feeder on the deck causing it to bounce off downstream, 10% by a bite and 10% by a swan. The remaining 20% of casts ran their natural course.

I had my first bite and fish before the beta lights started to glow though; a steady jagged pull-round. This resulted in a Bream of 5lb 9ozs. Larger than the average size below the weirs I’d say.

A second Bream 5lbs 1oz followed, once again a good bite.

I missed a bite whilst chatting to Pete on the phone then had another fish around 4lb (not weighed).

Next were fish of 6lb 5oz and 5lb 14oz, so five fish for 25lb+. Result.

I didn’t catch any Roach which were my target species but enjoyed the session nonetheless. The Bream kept pulling back right up to the net and the extra water boosted their fight as they kited in the current. All the fish were in great nick.


Monday, 16 November 2009

Plugged Half an Hour

15th November, 0845 - 09:30. Snitterfield Ressy. A glorious morning.

I was well hacked-off with the weather last week. Wind, rain and darkness. Add to this the rapidity of the seasons change and it's a recipe for pure sour despondency. All my geeky efficiencies of setting up and preparing bait the night before have simply stopped buying me any noticeable benefit in fishing time. No matter what tricks I pull it's getting darker earlier. Time to stop fighting it and go with it then.

I look at this website religiously. In the spring and summer months I will time to slow. Right now I'm motoring to December 21st, the shortest day of the year. Why? Because it's all upwards from there on in!

All this negativity troughed at Brandon last Tuesday. Like a diver descending into the depths I've now stabilised. Apparently it's not just the depth that can kill you but the speed at which you either descend or surface. I'm becoming acclimatised.

I'd had a busy weekend prior to Sunday and so didn't plan to fish before Sundays work party. However when I awoke just before eight and saw blue skies out of the window something grabbed me and propelled me out of the house without breakfast. Saturday had seen some mental weather hit the south and west in terms of severe winds and lashing rain. Sunday morning was a fine example of the breed.

I had spinning for Perch in mind and found two friends Mark and Ian with the same idea already fishing. A few other pleasure anglers were present and seemed to be catching regularly.

I fancied having a go at the structure by the dam but both guys said they'd given it a good going over so I moved to the opposite end by the weeds in the sunshine.

I found a peg with a lot of water in front of it and pulled a small jelly shad through the spectrum of casts available. I didn't have any takes.

The sun was warm on my face.

I know there are lots of Perch in the water and so rather than move round I decided to go through my box of lures to see if I could find one they would take - a little experiment. I put on five different lures in total, some with seriously cheap blunt hooks. From sparkly to garishly coloured I didn't get a bite. I wasn't so worried about the duff hooks. I thought if I could find a pattern the Perch were interested in then I could always change the hooks and thrash it once I'd picked a winner.

I had a few throws at the 'pier' before packing up but had the same result there - nowt. I was using a short rod and braided line and when pulling the lures through the margins they all looked irresistible with their twitchy, flashy movements. I wondered how any predator could refuse them, but refuse them they did.


Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Tuesday 11th November, 16:00 - 19:15. Brandon Marsh. A cold 8C and soft rain all evening.

I returned to Brandon to try for a Carp. It had been a struggle the night before to cajole myself into packing the gear into my car. The missus caught me standing at the back door staring into space weighing it up and then after I'd bolted to the garage I did more of the same, deliberating on what approach to take. I've taken most approaches other than dynamite at Brandon this year and have not found reward anywhere yet. Brandon has all the qualities of a black hole to me, relentlessly dulling, blunting and consuming all the 'sharp' ideas and fresh approaches I've thrown at it. I elected to aim both rods at a Carp, knowing full well I would most likely miss.

I had one rod on standard Carp tactics cast towards an island and a second set up with a float in lift style on the near marginal slope. Both rods had a bright fruity boilie on the hook and a few freebies and chops scattered around them.

It was a wet night and the fading light was replaced by the distant glow of road lights soon after I arrived. Tiny droplets of rain fell with almost no wind. The drips from the trees came both singularly and in mini-crescendos as one droplet hits a leaf and releases two more and so on.

I put a starlight onto my float but soon found my eyes were shutting whilst watching it and so changed the float over to a light bolt rig straight through to my centrepin reel.

I nodded off.

I woke about twenty minutes later, slightly chillier and with a bit of a stiff neck. I tried to visualise a massive Carp descending on my baits but my lack of positive focus turned this into a comedy conversation between fishes. My visualisation didn't work.

I stared out into the gloom waiting for something to happen. I considered the coming cold months and how in the absence of any warm weather data catching something decent from here would become even more tricky. Fishing into winter on the back of a fruitless summer is like someone spinning you round when you're already lost. Tactics-wise I'm in a cul-de-sac. 'There's no way I'm going to the AGM next year if I'm still Carp-less', I thought.

I got bored - not something that happens often when I'm fishing - and went home.

All a bit depressing really. Sorry.


Tune in next week when I sit in the cold and dark somewhere else! Welcome to winter folks!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

At Last A Gold Zander, Then BAIL!

Thursday November 5th, 16:15 - 17:30. Stratford Town Waters. Cool and dry to start then lashing it down later.

This short session after work began badly. Is it just me or is there a correlation between bad starts and good fishing?

I'd set up my rods the night before in order to minimise the time required to commence fishing. Walking to my chosen spot a treble came loose from its rod wrap and became snagged in the hood lining of my new one piece suit (on it's first field outing!). Whilst contorting to free it I put too much tension on the line and broke the quiver tip on one of my rods. This made me cross with myself on the grounds of slackness. I managed to unhook myself and salvage enough of the rod tip to fish with but I probably lost all the time I'd saved by setting up the night before.

I'd moved down a bit from where Jeff and I fished the other night. I was casting half way.

On the first cast I had a pull on the left hand (broken tipped) rod. I hooked and landed a small Zander about 1-2lbs.

A good start.

Next cast and the same rod gave an indication. I hooked the fish and had it on for maybe ten seconds before it spat the hook. Aaarrrgggh. It felt good.

Remembering what Danny had said about casting back to the same spot I put the rod straight back out.

After another fifteen minutes passed and I had another bite on the crocked rod. I struck and again connected but this time I landed the fish. It weighed 5lb 9ozs! Yes! Gold!

I rang Pete and as he picked up the phone a flock of geese came into land on the river. One flew straight through my right hand line and nearly yanked the rod out of its rest. I reacted quickly as I was standing right by it and saved it from a dunking.

Rate my Zed;

After this fish the rain started to pour and so job done I packed up. I had one more bite whilst on the phone to Pete which I hooked but again lost the fish to a failed hook hold. All bites came to the (broken) left hand rod.

Jeff and Danny - I've devised something as cunning as a Danny's instrument to try and increase hookup stats, and it seems to work!

So. Two hard earned points to me and a lead of twelve points in the competition I have on with my mate Pete. Time to move on to other species quickly before the world freezes over.

Here's the scores;Cheers.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

How I Wish It Was A Zander!

Tuesday 3rd November, 16:30 - 20:00. LAA Stratford Town Waters with Jeff. Cold Wind dropping to leave clear skies. River remains pretty low and clear despite the recent rain.

Pete caught a Barbel of 10lb 3oz from the Avon last night. That earns him a point in the competition and draws him to within ten points of my score.
It's looking increasingly likely that the points I currently have will see me through to the end of the year. Scope for improvement is deteriorating like the light and temperature.

My trip to Stratford with Jeff was two pronged; one rod for Zander and one for Roach. Jeff fished all out for Roach, a species which I rate him ahead of me in terms of understanding how to catch.

Dark descended quickly, leaving me only just enough time to find a place to cast which was weed free and tune my feeder rig to stop my hooklength wrapping round my mainline on the cast. I used a 'boom' of 12lb mono below the feeder then a short 4lb hooklength proper. I fished liquidised bread and hemp in the feeder with flake on a 14 hook.

Jeff had a nice Roach of around 8-10oz soon after starting and while I was faffing about. A good start.

I had at least two pluckings on the Zander rod, one of which was sustained for ten seconds or more but I struck into thin air on both occasions.

After dusk things went decidedly quiet and the temperature dropped rapidly. We'd had a flurry of early bites and promise of Roach which simply dropped away as the light faded.

My next indication on the Zander rod resulted in a twelve and a half pound Pike. As per usual I pierced my thumb on one of it's teeth which bled for over forty five minutes. This got right in the way of me eating my sandwiches but added a nice touch of colour to every pinch of bead flake I put on the hook thereafter.
I tried to will this Pike to turn into a Zander using the ancient art of cross-eyed magic. The Pike was unimpressed and tried to bite my face:

Despite the daft photos the fish was respectfully returned to the water with only a nick in it's jaw for it's troubles.

Jeff had three more Bream (I think) and I had one of about four pounds.

After the bite from the Pike the Zander rod remained still and I had no more fish on the feeder.


Constantly Variable Weather

Sunday 1st November, 08:00 - 09:15. College Pool and River Avon (briefly). Mental weather: howling wind and hard horizontal rain.

After the pleasant weather we've had recently Sunday morning turned out horrible. I arrived at College Pool with the rain lashing the windows and the wind rocking the chassis of the car. I sat for five minutes questioning my right-mindedness and pondered getting out.

I quickly got bored of pondering and have lost track of how right-mindedness ever gets a look in in a fisherman's head. I braved the weather.

Horizontal rain and a strong wind greeted me on the outside.

I threw a single hook jelly shad around College Pool for half an hour in the hope of a good Perch but no luck.

I moved down to the river as there was a 15 peg match booked and I wanted to check they hadn't all been blown in or washed away. Only four guys had turned up to fish but they were getting bites on maggot feeder.

I had a pull but when tightening up to the fish the line went slack. I reeled in only the top swivel from the trace - the top crimp had let go. First time that's ever happened to me. It was a single hook lure with the barb squeezed flat.

I packed up and returned to College to start work with the rest of the work party. The brolly and chair of the only other mentalist fishing had been blown into the pool. He went off to Stratford to buy devices with which to fish it out but was unsuccessful when he returned. I broke out the spinning rod and put up a Blair spoon. I soon had a take from something heavy in his swim which moved slowly under pressure. Other help soon joined me and we eventually retrieved my pb Korum accessory chair with brolly attached. The brolly was lip hooked too.