Monday, 25 January 2010

Void (Part Two)

Monday 25th January, 16:00 - 19:30. Brandon Marsh right hand pool. Cold but still : 3C.

With tonight my only opportunity for the week and with the rivers in spate I headed to Brandon with Tench or Roach in mind. I took some hopes but they weren't high.

I fished a different pool to that which last year laughed at my every attempt not to blank.

I knew where I wanted to fish: into the deeper water off the overhanging willows of the island. I clipped up and cast repeatedly in between the pair of Balsam Poplars.

If you look closely in the photo above you might be able to see the ice on the surface to the left. The ducks sounded funny when they walked across it. Like someone was adding futuristic sound effects to their steps.

I angled my feeder arm to try and get as close as possible to ninety degrees between tip and feeder.

Once cast I wound my line up to the feeder resting on the bottom. I then wound the spool on my reel backwards so only the lightest pressure was on the tip. The evening was still and it was still water in front of me.

Although I sat stock still my tip bounced to the rhythm of my heart.

I fed a Robin maggots.

I scanned the water for signs of fish. I was prepared to move if they told me I was in the wrong place.

I've overcome my hooklength tangling problem when feeder fishing by employing some coated braid as boom for feeder and hooklength. All casts came back clean and straight. It looks a bit agricultural in the photo but is softer on the eye in real life.

I went back to the car at six to get my mp3 player as my mind was wandering from the job of watching the stationary tip. I commend the 'Adam and Joe' and 'Up for Grabs' podcasts to you if you do not already subscribe.

Not a sign on the tip to be had all night. I saw some blades flip but they were too dispersed to warrant relocation.

Where's a Chub when you need one!?

If the local blogger community have drinks next Xmas it has the potential to be big, what with all the new and interesting angling blogs cropping up. I've just read of one pair who fish from bloody canoes - on the Severn! Nutters. I can't follow yet due to an outage but take a look for yourself.. brings a whole new level to cold fingers I bet!


Null (Part One)

Sunday 24th January, 09:00 - 12:00. Stratford Lido. River 2ft+ up and blasting through. 4C.

I was first in the Lido car park and I could see the river looked massive before my engine had started to tick itself cool.

The water was dusty brown and on the grass. I began by casting my feeder into the enormous back eddy that was formed by the Lido bay. After forty five minutes I knocked this on the head as I was continually pulling back debris around the feeder and hook length.

The view downstream

I set up a float rod and trotted a light stick float 'upstream' in the back eddy about a rod length out from the bank. I fed light balls of bread and other goodies, and the odd pinch of maggots.

Owen the helpful bailiff came by and directed me onto his preferred line. I took heed as it was going to be a case of winkling one out.

One never came.


Thursday, 21 January 2010

A Billowing River

Wednesday 20th January 2010, 16:00 - 1830. Upper Warks Avon. Grey and muddy.

Driving towards Ryton on Dunsmore from Coventry I craned my neck as the Avon passed under the A45. If you were to see the river from only this vantage point from a moving vehicle you would be forgiven for thinking nothing spectacular lies within. As it passes under the dual carriageway it is little more than ten feet across. It appears for less than a second but that appearance is often a weather vane for swim choice. Even when not going fishing I crane my neck to look.

After recent snow melt and rain I was glad to see the river back in it's banks and figured I'd return to the lower section of the club stretch I was aiming for.

I parked at the bottom of the village, loaded up my trusty tackle steed i.e. me, and made off upstream. I had on thigh waders as this stretch is notoriously prone to flooding and can be very muddy.

I took a look at the swim in the reeds I fished the other week but the water was too riotous to think about fishing it. The river looked a couple of feet up and there was menace in the pace.

The wooden foot bridge I mentioned before during the snow had knee deep water gliding over it. I took out and extended a bank stick as though divining for solid earth and waded gingerly towards it. I could see the path over the other side of the footbridge was also knee deep in water but this was flowing with more purpose than that in which I was currently standing. I stood stock still for a short while and let my brain do some thinking. The swim I had in mind was a good few hundred yards upstream and the muddy path was evidently submerged by flowing water. I turned on my heels and retreated back to the car.

A good fisherman is more than than just good at fishing. Before you even start fishing there are swim, tackle and bait selection decisions for the current conditions to consider. Once fishing and even once catching you have to ask yourself could you be doing better elsewhere or with a different method? Once fishing and not catching, is it your method, your bait, your location or the quarry letting the side down? The fishing itself is just a manifestation of your decision making. The execution of your ideas.

Where trudging back fully laden to the car without wetting a line is on the spectrum of skill I'll leave you to decide.

I drove upstream to a more accessible stretch.

The river still looked energetic up here. I walked upstream and found a swim with a sharp ninety degree left hand turn with a large and relatively sedate back eddy on the near bank.

The water hit the far bank and turned sharply left, rattling reed stems and occasionally gurgling as it did so. I waded round the back of the tree you can see in the above picture and out onto what is usually a grassy outcrop to try and find a vantage point to fish downstream into the slacker water but I would have had to have stood up to fish and it was again knee deep and I didn't know whether the river was rising after the days rain and so thought better of it.

On the nearside the flow was left to right as it swirled in a big whirl. On the far side the flow was a frothy pacey right to left. In the middle of the whirl was some slacker water. For the first time ever I cast my feeder upstream and put it on the rest. Fishing upstream looked weird on the tip. None of the gentle nodding I'm used to, just prolonged increases in tension as the water billowed round the corner and spilled turbulently into the dead area. I wondered how the river did this - water coming downstream in powerful waves changing the whole dynamic of the pool. It seemed too organised for something so benign in form and well... liquid.

I wasn't rewarded for succumbing to the hypnotism of the flow and the tip didn't twitch. My only observation was that the hooklength was being gently wrapped around the mainline by the swirling water I was casting into.

As dusk arrived I moved downstream one peg to the swim with the willows on the far bank. The flow was again too malevolent to throw a feeder at so I switched my gear over to a two swan shot trundling bread rig in the hope of guiding my bait under the willows.

First run through was like being hooked up to a train. A steady and unforgiving force pulled line from the reel and quickly downstream. Hmmmm... sub-optimal (as the Germans would say).

Second run through with a reduced size flake on the hair I somehow managed to steer the bait off the main flow and to the right under the willows. Once over there the pull on the tip eased and I could let the bait progress at a pace the fish would stand a chance of at least seeing let alone eating. Tug tug. A bite. I missed it.

Third run through the same result and I landed a Chub of 2lbs 3ozs.

I stayed put in this swim until the end missing one more bite and landing a second Chub weighing exactly the same as the first.

A misty rain forced the third retreat of the evening but this one ended in a pint of Guinness back in the village.


Sunday, 10 January 2010

A Short Session.

Sunday 10th December, 09:15 - 12:30. Avon at Wasperton. A boiling 2C. Snowing on and off.

A couple of tickles in the last hour but I couldn't convert them into fish.

Still great to be out in the snow again, although I have half an eye out for signs of spring now. Being able to see the grass would be a start.

Just me then.

Rolling downhill along track at Waspo was easy. Getting back up at the end was a little more taxing, especially at the incline and gate at the first car park.

There were two types of snowfall this morning: from the sky, and from the trees and bankside as the snow melted and fell into the river in chunks.

The first spot where I saw some Roach topping a few weeks ago.

I gave it an hour in the first peg which was nice and deep but didn't get a bite.

Second Peg above the weir and out of the wind.

I moved downstream and tried the wide area above the weir for an hour. It was noticeably shallower here and so thinking the fish wouldn't like this I moved again.

Third peg where I had a couple of touches.

This peg by the gate was deeper.


Hot Brick Outreach, Hot Brick Deception

I currently have two uses for a hot brick. The first is in an humanitarian inter species outreach project I’m running and the second is in the deceit of a machine in the cold weather.

Before I describe each use I will first cover off how I prepare my brick. The following paragraph is aimed at intermediate level brick warmers and so assumes some previous experience in the field.

Find a brick - I use a standard house brick from the ‘London Brick Company’ - and rinse it under a tap to wash off any loose debris. Next, find one of your life partners baking trays and put the brick onto it. Put the brick and tray into an oven and heat to ~180C or gas mark 5. Leave it in the oven until someone finds it and reminds you it’s there.


Once prepared I find the brick can be put to one of two exciting uses.

The first beneficiary of the brick is our family pet Guinea Pig ‘Momo‘, aka: The Black Blob, Mongoloid, Mosoleum, Fat Boy. We had a guess the weight of the Guinea Pig competition at ours this Christmas and weighing in at 2lbs 10ozs he’s a specimen little pig whom I‘m sure is looking forward to summer as much of the rest of us. For now though he is cage bound and miserable, left out in the cold.

I reach out to Momo in an inter species gesture that would surely see the woman out of Gorillas in The Mist applauding in her mountainside grave. I do this by placing the hot brick into the little Pig’s cage and then tuck him up for the night by folding down his insulated hutch cover and strapping it shut. Hmmmmm…. toasty little Pig.

The second use for a hot brick is a deceitful one. I have a bait fridge/freezer in my garage and with the air temperature inside dipping to minus two in recent nights the refrigeration is not being triggered. Quite simply the contents of the fridge are almost frozen without additional cooling. The fridge and freezer are on a single thermostatic circuit and so conversely the freezer contents have warmed and were in danger of defrosting. I overcame this by putting a hot brick into the fridge compartment which contains the thermostat. Voila! The brick heats up the air inside the fridge and the temperature monitor thinks summer has come early! When I checked this morning you could once again break your teeth on the bags of frozen particles they were so hard.

I did not take a photo of a brick in a fridge. Use your imagination god damn you!

Let me know if you have any exciting ideas for the use of hot bricks! Actually, don’t.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

One-Short White-Out

Tuesday 5th January, 16:00 - 18:00. Upper Warks Avon. 0C on arrival 0C on departure. Snow!

We had a big dollop of snow in the midlands at lunchtime today. Everything turned white and most office workers in the surrounding area scurried for home before the road network fell into the chaos that only two inches of snow can bring. By about one o'clock it had stopped so I stuck it out at work for a bit. The BBC weather predicted another helping just after four. It came.

Despite most lakes being solid for three weeks now I had high hopes of catching a Chub from the river. My target for the session was a 9lbs 5oz bag of Chub in fact. I had an inckling from the outset that the weather might be a little tricky as the evening wore on but was dressed for the occasion and was relishing a bout of 'Extreme Chav'ing'. Lows of -4 are forecast tonight.

The river looked good. A deep winter green and about a foot up.

I could see it had been up higher. The photo below is of a small wooden bridge which spans a ditch that runs into the river on the left. Whilst the river was up it must have frozen over above the bridge. I reckon the big hole in the ice is where someone has gone to walk across the bridge, broken the ice and dropped the six inches below onto the wood. Imagine that. Whilst you were wondering where the bridge had gone as you dropped those six inches you would just have time to cack yourself!

I had intended on fishing upstream in my minds eye but after seeing the real life platform game on the bridge I gave it a miss.

I fished a 12ft Barbel rod with 2oz glass tip and centrepin reel with braid. My small feeder was stuffed with 50/50 red maggot and bread crumb and the whole lot had sat the night bathed in a good splash of Robin Red. 6lb line to a size 10 Korda curved hook loaded with three reds completed the setup.

I had to do a bit of mild hacking at the reeds in front of me in order to fish so I wasn't surprised that the first half hour was quiet. Was it Dick Walker who said Chub spook half an hour to the pound?

After about 45mins I started seeing some really slow plonks on the tip. So slow they could have been debris plinking off the hair-trigger that is braid.

One of these plinks looked slightly more meaningful than those preceding it and my strike reflex
connected with a Chub - 3lbs 1oz.

The swim took about twenty minutes to settle again but I had two more slow bites which I guffed-up.

I hit the next bite for a Chub of 3lbs 9ozs. A good scrap in the tight swim.

That made 6lbs 10ozs in total so I settled in to await the third fish which would round off my point scoring bag nicely.

The snow started at dusk. Without a light on I heard it before I saw it as it made a light hissing noise as it fell against nearby reeds.

It grew slowly to a crescendo of white which covered all that lay around me including my rod.

Spot the rod:

I gave it another half hour or so but no more bites materialised once the snow had set in.

It was great fun sitting out there in it though. Snow dampens the worlds acoustics so everything not only feels but sounds muffled. Also the snow reflects the light mud absorbs and so it's like someones messed with the night time brightness settings.

Now where did I put my rod bag?

I retired to the open fire of the pub when my fingers and toes were starting to get cold.

To be honest I'm glad to have not caught the Chub bag on the first attempt as it gives me another opportunity to go for them next week! Besides, it doesn't look like the crust on the lakes will vanish any time soon so Rudd fishing is still out for a while yet.