Saturday, 5 November 2016

Scriptio continua

You will have to excuse the title as I really could not think of anything more appropriate as it has been a while since my last post, you could call it a slight hiatus, but I do sometimes prefer making lump sum style entries.

During what has been a rather dry Autumn, I found myself wishing to get out for a spot of chub chasing on a new stretch of river and at the same time decided that it would be nice to do a bit of filming of this trip. I was most pleased to slip a perfectly formed chub into the landing net, in fact it was a beautifully brassy fish (5-3), although trying to extend a landing net with your teeth is not something I would ever recommend.

I have been wishing to do some more reconnaissance on a waterway that I have enjoyed fishing in the past, every time I wet a line so new pieces are unlocked and for what is in many places a most diminutive waterway, it is one that I feel has quite a few surprises to be uncovered.

During this trip I was kindly offered a lift by Maureen (all round good egg,superb mother and taxi driver to her son ), we have a mutual agreement whereby I do household chores and in return she kindly gives me fishing lifts.

Positively bursting with features

I had decided to have three hours fishing and at the same time a little scout about, bringing my purist rod and a lighter tip,opting for a spot of link ledgering to get under the many rafts and feature filled swims, a tub of worms, tub of maggot/caster and a few slices of bread was to be all that was needed. The river on this section was very coloured and yet I could not fathom out as to why, there is only a couple of drainage channels and we had not had any rain as such, however it looked as if there had been a spot of rain to say the least, resulting in a slate grey colour.

I was soon engrossed in studying each swim and decided to start in the one you see pictured above, if that doesn't scream fish then I don't know what does, after a steady trickle of caster and maggot I hooked into a spirited chub that had taken to doing what chevin do best, gorging on free offerings! As it rested in the net the casters and maggots tumbled out.

A greedy golden chevin

I was happy to open my account on a new section of river and more so that gut instinct had paid off. Heading downstream I came across a rather interesting swim, replete with a spare tyre for company.

This looked a likely skulking zone for perch so a change to lob worm was made, after a few tentative plucks it became apparent that there was more than a few residing in this location and I soon had some healthy perch awaiting their parole from the confines of the landing net.

The pick of the bunch was to be a beautifully built and marked fish (1-8) my best perch during this short sortie. I plan to return during winter as I fully suspect this little waterway will throw up many wonderful surprises.

Near the end of September Tom Aldous and myself did a fishing trip together on the the Blackwater hoping for a few chub. Arriving at the river we found it to be running low, gin clear and the better chub were to provide us with a stern challenge. A few small perch were taken along with the odd chublet, but it was not until nearer the end of the trip that either of us would connect into a better stamp of fish, Tom taking his from what I like to call the gateway swim (blog title photograph) and indeed he had a few more chances there too, but they were in a skittish mood.

Meanwhile I was fishing downstream and having primed the swim with a few pinches of bread, rolled my flake through and was kindly rewarded with a very lean and mean chub, with a large head to it.

Slim Jim (2-12)

I have to be realistic regarding this trip, I felt neither of us fished particularly well, we were cumbersome in our approach and when bites can be at a premium that is never the greatest of combinations, however in one of the swims I saw a brilliant looking perch with vivid rouge fins which looked all of 3lb,I could not tempt her despite watching her flank a smaller chub that I had hooked.

With those red fins fresh in my mind, plans were made to go back out and have a try for her. This river contains some absolutely gorgeous perch and I had been unlucky to lose a larger fish a few seasons ago to a hook pull on worm, one of those moments you don't forget but can look back on and have a good smile about as it ended in me being left with said fishes incomplete and rather mouldy Bullhead supper in my hands.

Heading back to the river a few days later with lob worms and a healthy helping of dendrobaena from our family wormery, which incidentally is another area I would like to cover in a video as Maureen has gone into special depth and detail with breeding, feeding and keeping these worms in all weather conditions and she knows a lot more on the subject than this son of hers.

I planned to spend a few hours in one swim with the hopeful intention of finding that beautiful  Perca willing. It was a cloudy afternoon with some light drizzle, perfect conditions. I had decided to bait the swim with some chopped dendrobaena and feed this alongside a light amount of maggot. The first bite was from a small chub, this was quickly unhooked and slipped back upstream, followed by a few juvenile perch and a Gudgeon. Now I don't normally use gudgeon as live bait and I have a lot of trouble in doing so as they are such a lovely little fish, but I did end up lip hooking this particular fish and within half an hour I had a perch that I would have estimated at the 1lb mark, thankfully Mr gonk was unscathed and returned to the water alive and well.

I topped up the swim with a light helping of maggot and some more chopped worm, and as I did so noticed a bow wave pass through the swim, the shape of it suggested it was indeed a perch, possibly harassing minnow and had me questioning if releasing the gudgeon was such a wise idea, even if releasing it after having one perch on it did make me feel a bit more morally comfortable.

Around an hour had passed when I had a most affirming bite, as I set the hook there was to be no doubt that I was connected to a better fish, my cheap and cheerful 8 foot Avanti rod had a welcome bend to it as this fish tried to run under the sunken branches, eventually the sight of a broad built, perch broke the water in mid current and I could see from the striking red fins that this just might be the fish I had seen on my last trip. A few nervous moments later and she was finally sat in the net and not one jot happy about any of it with the commotion she was making. I could see she was a nice size and did think she was possibly a 3lb perch, the scales settled at 2-14 and a new personal best for this waterway.

You can't beat a nice river perch caught from home turf (2-14)

During October the family took a break on the Warwickshire Avon, this is fast becoming an annual event for us and something we enjoy, as it gives mum the chance to recharge her batteries and catch up on some reading time, as well as allowing my father and I to do some evening time river fishing together.

En-route to Stratford we made a stop at Shipston, namely to grab a bite to eat at the fish and chip shop which I might add is simply superb price and portion wise, wish our portions were as good locally and as well priced!

The following morning was a sunny affair and Dad and I decided to take a look around the river, we had been informed by a few of the local anglers that the Avon was not fishing so well on the barbel and carp front, some of whom also kindly suggested and offered different stretches to fish, I'd like to say thank you to those chaps whom kindly offered that opportunity, however we decided that we would give this section a good crack much like last year and see what would or would not happen.

I decided to tie this in with doing a spot of lure fishing and had quite a few small perch and a chub which fell to a Yo-zuri Aile Goby,blue shad

We stayed in the snugs/beehives that the caravan park provide for rental, these come with a bunk bed and a sofa that converts to a double bed, as well as a small fridge, there is also a toilet/shower block that is used exclusively by these rentals. I just want to say a big thank you to all the Staff, especially Lynn, who is such a wonderful person, she kindly lent my mother some extra books to read and helped us during our stay no end, you're an absolute star and a very thoughtful kind hearted person.

The following evening my father and I had settled down to fish an old swim that had produced both barbel and carp last year, the river is a little deeper here, but no less clear,our plan being to start late evening on each session and fish till around 1am. We decided on one rod each, myself fishing a multi species approach on the quiver tip and 6lb line, my father would be on boilie wrapped in paste.

The first night went nicely for both of us, no barbel to show but plenty of chub up to 3lb for myself on worm over a light ground bait mix and a couple of better chub for my father.

 Golden enamelling

We packed up that evening happy to have got our eye in and with thoughts regarding the clarity and water level as well as the otter activity which was fairly evident from the off.

The following evening I baited both our swims with a light hemp and crumb ground bait mixture followed by a few broken up boilies over my fathers swim. This particular evening was to be a quiet one with little in the way of any fish movement, indeed the same could be said of the flow and I was finding it very easy to hold bottom on link ledger with just a couple of 2ssg shot.

After a couple of light twitches on the quiver what followed was a bite with more commitment, no less subtle though, upon setting the hook the pace soon quickened and was soon aware that I was into a decent fish, as it kept low and held ground I had an inkling that it perhaps could be my first Warwickshire Avon barbel. By now dad had joined me in the swim and as it broke the surface I couldn't help but state in the most obvious of ways "Barbel and looks a decent one!".

However this fish was not in the mood for fun and games and set off on a powerful run along the margins, tearing its way through the weed beds as it went, it was a good test to say the least and when I did finally attempt to net her some nearby tree roots nearly saw to it that she might slip back out, an elated yelp was to be heard as the prize was finally safe. Leaving her to safely recuperate I made my way up the bank to ready the camera only to trip and fall, dad just seeing a pair of legs flipping up into thin air. "What the hell is happening!?" he shouted, "erm I..I seem to have managed to fall over" I replied sheepishly, "how can you manage that on flat ground?" I didn't really have a reply to this as it was all a bit daft, I suppose the best explanation would be that adrenaline can do some funny things or more to the point I'm about as agile as a feline that has paid a visit to a taxidermist.

Happy as a sand boy (11 lb)

I was deeply overjoyed to have had a barbel from this waterway and a double at that on the light tackle, this fish was in perfect condition, no sign of any otter damage to it whatsoever and in perfect health. I remember saying to my father "if I don't get any more during this vacation I certainly won't be unhappy". Finishing up around 1.30 am we made our way back to the snug and I must admit we both slept pretty well with our confidence and hope buoyed by this capture. 

We had made a decision during this vacation to not fish on the first weekend as it seemed busier with boat traffic and people in general and like anything there has to be some give and take, so we planned to have a family barbecue or two, this also gave my dad time to recuperate from the night fishing as he is not the active angler he once was.

bbq or bonfire? Probably too much pallet wood!

A roaring success

After the weekend and mum having some time to enjoy herself on the boat taxi, dad and I decided to give the same swims another crack, personally I would have liked to have tried a bit further upstream but at the same time I did agree on giving it another go as we had baited it on the couple of times that we had fished it. That evening was to be quiet for myself save for a few small chub and a couple of skimmer bream. Dad however managed a better fish, in the shape of a stocky chub (4.7), missing another bite late on, which we both felt could well have been a bream.

A stocky chevin and a happy dad (4-7)

During this particular night we both noticed two different otters, one smaller, perhaps a youngster and an adult, the adult actually surfaced in my swim just prior to packing up, as much as I love my wildlife I can't help but feel that an imbalance is being created with the reintroduction of these animals, last time we were on the Warwickshire Avon my fathers barbel exhibited enough ragged marks on the tail to suggest that something had taken a fancy to it and I somehow doubt it was another randy barbel! Meanwhile on my home waterways I have witnessed the odd carp with its throat ripped out and the E.A wanted to suggest it was the doings of mink, really guys?  Not wishing to be too coarse here but do you take anglers for ignoramuses who don't know the difference between otter and mink or perhaps you take us for a word that rhymes with stunts?

Mini rant over, but how about we at least have some transparency regarding how fish stocks are being damaged by the reintroduction agenda?

Both my father and I felt that by fishing the same spot and ground baiting we might perhaps be helping to lure the fish to their own deaths so to speak, as it seemed quite clear that on the last couple of evenings the otters whilst nearby didn't seem to be directly working the swims as they had done during this particular evening, so with this in mind we decided to move.

A nice tree line
The following evening was pleasantly calm with the cloud breaking at irregular intervals, certainly nice conditions for October time, I picked up a few skimmer bream on the quiver tip along with the odd larger bream (4.6) and plenty of smaller chub.

During this particular evening dad had a good bite which he failed to connect with, I must admit he seemed pretty down about that and I can empathise with him, it can't be easy feeling how he does health wise and he did say "I have lost the ability to fish. Now I know you wouldn't expect me to post such a statement up on my blog, but this blog is at times warts and all, the reason I find myself sharing it is because it sticks in my mind most poignantly. Memories of the times when I was younger and forgetting to bring my jumper with me whilst we were carp fishing, dad kindly lending me his and being able to show me how to fish, someone that I looked up to (still do), hearing him make such a statement filled me with a painfully deep remorse that only passing of time has the ability to evoke.

During the coming evenings I was wondering where the carp might be hiding, we had heard some activity which sounded like carp moving along the opposite margin, but that was to be a blank for my father, with a few chub and quite a few roach to myself fishing half worm over maggot and included a very plump red fin (1-5).

A plump roach, I wouldn't mind a few of this stamp on float from this waterway

I was glad to be fishing quite an open ended method where species were concerned, as I have to be realistic this reach of river was being a fickle mistress.

I do wonder if fishing during evening time was really the best idea, as it makes me wonder if otter activity being higher from evening onward could in fact make fishing more tricky, surely there has to be a possibility that any such activity would spook any larger fish away from the area you're fishing, I mean what fish in their right mind wants a pair of sharp teeth sunk into them? I actually wish during our stay that we had tried a couple of daytime trips just to ascertain if there might be some correlation.

Dad waiting patiently on a cool bright night.

We had an enjoyable trip in general with a nice mixture of species for myself, Robert wanted to stick to a boilie and paste approach, which was understandable, I just feel that at times when conditions are transitional and having those first few colder nights with low and clear conditions that fishing a less selective method can be very helpful, such as maggot feeder, worm, caster etc.

A brassy chevin (4-2)

A short dumpy chevin 4-5

Nearer the last couple days of the vacation, Robert did connect with a very good fish and judging by the way it powered off we both felt it was a carp, sadly this eventually ended in a  hook pull as he had to put some side strain on the fish to stop it from going towards some snags upstream, I really felt gutted as I had been hoping throughout the vacation that a barbel or carp would put in an appearance for him just like last year, sometimes despite the effort you don't always get the rub of the green and this was one of those occasions, he really deserved a bit more luck with this fish, especially for his diligence and being so willing to get out on some of the cooler evenings despite his health, there's always next time dad.

It hadn't been straight forward but dad and I were happy to have had the fish we did, although this stretch of river on some evenings was most fickle and it reminded me of the Loddon for its moods, due to this you could say that over the last two vacations it has struck quite a chord with Robert and myself, hopefully a return visit will be on the cards in 2017.

Over the last couple of months a friend (Mark) and I had arranged and rearranged a trip together, we finally made a date set in stone and that nothing (hopefully) would get in the way of as we had not wet a line together since last season, so this was long overdue and from our numerous phone calls we were both looking forward to hooking up to spend some fishing time together, Mark had mentioned that he would like to come down and spend the day after barbel if possible as they are a species he doesn't target as much and I suggested that would be great and would try to advise and offer suggestions regarding swim selection and such.

The following morning I received a text text "I'll be there within a couple of minutes"  he was punctual to say the least and within two minutes he had pulled up outside the house, after stopping in for a cup of tea and quick chat we were soon on our way to the river.

It was a delightful day, dew lacing the grass, mist gradually lifting to reveal a day filled with promise and sunny intervals, we both chatted a great deal during the trip, stopping off to rest ourselves regularly. Along the way I pointed out quite a few swims, suggesting a light baiting followed by fishing some of these on the way back. Prior to the trip I had made a mental decision to not fish as much as normal and concentrate on some of the swims with Mark, stopping in a few spots along the way and during the evening in hope that one of the better chevin might take a liking to a spot of cheese paste, but no dice on this occasion.

Come early evening and as I was reeling in I could see that Mark had his headlight on and soon my phone was ringing, "I got one mate!" he said, to say I was overjoyed would be an understatement and I was soon in his swim with the kind of elation that you might compare to an overweight and overexcited Labrador, "oh mate well done, well done indeed, I'll go grab the camera!".

One very happy angler! (9-4)
It was a perfect looking fish not a single scale or fin out of place, a few hearty pats on the back were called for, probably too many by myself, but the amount of joy to see that one had shown itself and Mark had winkled one out was a bit too much for my adrenaline levels, I was relieved as when I have any friend come down my neck of the woods I always want them to have a good trip, however Mark did state that he had enjoyed the day anyway but we both agreed this was the icing on the cake, that evening we made our way back to the car chirping away and insisting that we shouldn't have left it for so long and would have to head out together again but in his locality. On the way home he kindly treated me to kebab and chips, thanks for the cracking company throughout the day mucka, it was brilliant to see you so happy with your capture and we must not leave it so long next time.

About six days later and I was pondering where to fish and what species to fish for, I did want to start doing some perch fishing in earnest and perhaps a spot of chevin chasing, that said my barbel itch was starting to tickle me a bit, so I made a decision to head out late afternoon with the words of a certain woman ringing in my ears "if you go today I can only pick you up if you come home early evening". I must admit I didn't get down to the river till 3pm and was then torn in making my mind up where to fish, admittedly having a plethora of features on a river is an enjoyable spanner to have thrown in the works, that said boy can I dither at times, finally making my mind up over a full hour later.

I was soon ensconced in a perfect little spot, with a nice depth and some deep undercuts, preferring to fish this area upstream due to the amount of debris that was flowing by. A whittled down boilie wrapped in some paste, fished alongside a very frugal helping of birdseed was my choice and at around  6:45 I had a lively scrap on my hands from a golden barbel and one that didn't want to take no for an answer, twice making a dash away from the waiting landing net.

A welcome gold bar (7-9)

This fish was a lovely way to end a short fishing trip and I went home very contented.

Recently I have had quite a few people ask me via youtube and email where my intro has gone on most of my recent videos and that they quite enjoyed it as the opening to each episode, I must admit I quite enjoyed what you could call the theme tune for the channel, but at the time of removing my intro I had not thought that it would be missed and suspected that it got in the way of viewers wishing to into the meat of each vlog. Thanks to those of you  whom got in touch, I may reinstate it in due course but with an updated visual.

I guess that brings everything up to date and this will probably go down as one of my largest all in one posts, not sure I'll be planning to allow it to build up in such a way again before posting, as that was a lot to remember!


  1. Lovely write up and some more excellent fish Mark. Great to see your dad out and catching too.

    1. Thanks Dave, it was great to get out together too.