Thursday, 31 December 2015

Christmas is here and the Fish are getting Festively Fat


The Christmas period has not been quite what one would have hoped on the piscatorial front, notwithstanding those who are, and have been, flooded-out of their precious homes in various parts of the country. Unthinkable for those fortunate enough to have been spared as we have in these parts

The river was to be my personal target but it soon struck-out into the fields, after I finished that which must be done to earn one's daily Warburton's blue, and has pretty much stayed there since thanks to regular bursts of heavy rain

So from wet stuff to White Stuff it was. Armed with wrigglers and then vouchers to pass the time

This was on my Christmas list and didn't materialise...
...but these beauties did!

The canal may therefore seem an obvious refuge under such circumstances but the eastern end of the cut, which, again, I had ear-marked for the break, would be unfishable due to the heavy colour it takes-on. It would be the western part below the locks that would have to be concentrated on, and this would limit possibilities

I did very gratefully receive a wide array of bird feeders to set-up in the currently overgrown garden of the new house at Christmas though. This followed a seriously hot bonfire that cleared a good chunk of the debris

Some of the feeders became instant squirrel magnets but, thankfully, others are proofed from the pilferers. No major surprises have been spotted as yet but when it gets seriously cold, and I understand that process may well start tonight, that is bound to change. Highlights so far have been a wintering male blackcap, green and great spotted woodpecker, coal and long-tailed tit and fifteen collared dove sheltering in the apple tree away from yesterdays gales.

A pictoral record of the few trips and interludes of the past week or so follows:

The above 4 photos all from the same early session on a peg that has, as yet, produced no fish under a pound that I recall. Hybrid 2lbs, perch 1lb 14ozs, zander 1lb 4ozs (and that boosts my Blogger's challenge score by 1 point - big news!)

A single bite at dusk produced this cracking roachXbream hybrid of 2.10.0 on the next trip.

Two consecutive catches above dominated by, apparently current or recently spawning, perch to 1.6.4
Biggest roach of the week came today at 1.3.14. A spotty youth at that.

Have a Great New year all!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Risks of Canal Angling Prevail

The risk in canal angling comes when conditions dictate that an unusual approach is required and this weekend's strong gales brought about that very situation

Firstly we are lucky in that our local canal bends round the east end of town and there is always somewhere one can hide from the wind, be that fall-out from either sag aloo or storm Desmond

Saturday, dawn:
Severe prevailing winds usually mean that the traditionally best pegs on the cut are perfect and in my case I tend to use such circumstances as an excuse to visit

(My) conventional tactics of lift bite bread rig and lobworm on the tip poured a touch under ten pounds of multicoloured offerings into the mythical net. Hybrids to 1.5.8, Roach to 0.15.12, Perch to 1.10.8 and a solitary zander of 1.2.10 made up the two-rod catch

Most memorable moment was kneeling to disgorge the best roach and finding the tip pulling gently round, so netting the zander with the roach already in there. The trials of fishing two rods when both lines are active!

Part of the evening was spent contemplating how to take full advantage of a good few hours spare the next day. This was where the risk came in.

The Boy Wonder was keen to try to get some angling action having been out of it for much of the season thus far with various injuries and illnesses, but after a number of late nights wasn't keen to get up early, so we decided I'd go early and then come back to fetch him for a short session, midday

Sunday, dawn:
The map indicated that a good few miles of canal I'd rarely, if ever, fished before would be safe from me either being blown in or over, and there I headed. First peg on a turning bay had cables over and they looked quite close so, although it was still dark and I could see no signs, I decided life would be the deciding factor as Parps wouldn't get his trip out later if I was charcoal and moved-on.

Five minutes later I pulled-up in a silent, yet remarkably full, pub car park and set off to fish between boats. Boy was it shallow, even in the track, 18" or so less than much of the rest of the canal, but I tried three swims and came back with less than pound of fish to show for it but 'enjoyed' a good number of crayfish pulls and nudges. A lesson learnt

Sunday, midday:
In an attempt to get The Boy on some fish in the middle of the day, with the gale raging and boats likely, we went back to the banker swims of the previous day. There was a peg where willow roots enter the canal on the nearside and we could fish either side of it feeding the one central spot, close-in, and feed it we did...but the fish really did not.

At one point I struck in frustration at a crayfish bite only to find my float stayed where it was until I realised I had been watching a tiny bobbing stick for around 5 minutes. The real float was by now behind me on the bank of course

TBW however managed to outwit the odd one, in his usual Lloyd Honeyghan-esque 'take no prisoners' style. Heaving a good perch and his first zander of the season aboard the good ship Towpath.

Perch 1.4.6, Zander 10cm.
At last he could trouble the bloggers challenge scoreboard again! Mission accomplished in trying conditions and the risks had been worth it

For my part? Just the one chubby little striped footballer, a sort of Sammy Lee of the Water, but there's always next week.

Incidental bird list;
Moorhen, mallard, mute swan, black-headed gull, starling, mistle thrush, redwing, blackbird, robin, dunnock, wren, blue tit, long-tailed tit, magpie, jackdaw, woodpigeon, carrion crow, great spotted woodpecker.

Thursday, 3 December 2015


Drama on the Cov Canal?
The conclusion has been reached that, for now, with the usual temptations of canal and small stream ahead until mid-march, the Blogger's Challenge can be intermixed with those delights and any incidental points scored along the way will be exactly that

The prospect of targeting specific species through that period will be difficult but hopefully some chub points, combined perhaps with roach and dace, might just come along and, in the right conditions, pike can hopefully be added too with nothing more than a micro-specimen to show for the season thus far

So, the past couple of weeks have involved a brief obsession with a certain stretch of canal which I visited with Jeff & Russell on Zedvember 54th when the change in weather overnight had been little short of horrific in angling terms - from an extended period of exceptionally mild autumn weather to a burst of cold rain then a strong frost and no prospect of reaching 4degC all day. Not the best of circumstances for Jeff and I to take up the 2lb canal roach challenge nor for Russell to have his first taste of big roach fishing on the Oxford. Needless to say that little sortie had nothing to commend it

The Zedvember fest itself however was most enjoyable with the Boy Wonder and I having a brief dabble and then a chinwag with those bloggers we'd not met before from far and wide in various shapes, sizes, accents and interests. All with a tale to tell, largely involving plenty of schoolboy humour of course!
While we were gathered Jeff's partner Judy arrived with words to the effect of, "Ooh. A bunch of fishermen. What do you call a collection of fishermen?" The only word I could muster in the circumstances was 'a blank' and, with no advances made, we stuck with it for the time being; albeit I'm not sure anyone actually did blank but it felt as though most of us had

B.W. and I had intended to stop to eat but the pub was so deceptively busy [the only person out front all afternoon had been Jeff (all afternoon) and yet the car park and the overflow at the back was packed] that we decided to leave it and tackle a bag or two of chips on the way back

The highlight of the day, apart from the obvious of course, was in running back to the car to get Russell's birthday card before he departed, misjudging the steepness of a grassy bank and falling headlong forward like some kind of poleaxed grandfather clock

Until, that is, on the way to the chip shop, many conversations later, this...

"I've got it", said The Boy, in mildy subdued exclamation, all matter of fact.


"It's was a cast"

"What was a...? Oh yes! It's a cast. A cast of anglers. Now that is clever". The penny dropped and, yes, sure enough it was a cast of anglers, and some cast at that

Back to the plot from the cast:

The ensuing visits to the canaloid have been interesting, engaging and predictable in equal measure. That is about 1/3 of each

(Canaloid: A three-dimensional form with level top, rounded bottom, and indeterminate, often snaking, length).

A quick sojourn to the area that produced the biggest roach of recent weeks at 1.13.0 brought a few fish with a single specimen over a pound, coming in at 1.5.4 to be precise

Otter signs nearby suggested young ones to be present from the scat evidence but the entertainment of the day was a 'flick'(?) of 3 friendly moorhens (okay not as good as a cast, I'll grant you) which ran toward me at the prospect of bread and then retreated with equal gusto once they'd claimed a morsel each never to be seen again

Following this the first subsequent visit to the stretch alluded to earlier involved a couple of pegs being fished in the usual manner, bread down the middle and lobworm nearside, 10 yards to one side on the tip, producing two roach to 12 ounces on bread and not so much as even a sniff-let on worm

Peg two was a contrast.
No bites on bread but plenty on whole lobworms. A surprise chub, thought initially to be a rare carp, took a lob on the drop and tore-off along the far shelf, eventually being beaten and weighed-in at over three pounds. Soon after a smaller one was lost, which I didn't initially realise I had hooked, and then a real beast took possession of the hook and bait proceeding to surge from the swim eventually losing grip as I ventured to follow it along the towpath, an opportunity lost. Two perch on worm followed, up to 1.2.0

With no significant roach to show for that trip yet driven by some kind of disbelieving urge I was back at dawn the next day and mistakenly, as is usually the case with revisits, back to the chub peg which this time produced a couple of skimmers to 1.4.0 on bread and perch to 1.5.0 on worm. Moving to two other pegs again produced roach to just under the pound and numerous perch and small hybrids

The longer walk however brought into view even further pegs overhung a little by hawthorns and the like, plus some rushes and sweeping bends which were just too tempting to miss-out on and, it seemed, the odd topping fish too

So, Wednesday, there I was back again with a plan to work my way along those previously unseen
swims 25 yards or so at a time with bread only. If the fish are there we know they will fall to the magic bait within minutes and a twenty minute maximum was set unless a peg was consistently giving-up good fish of course

First swim opposite some hawthorns gave-up 2 roach to ten ounces

Second, on a bend with an ash tree overhead - 2 roach to 1.0.14 and a 3ounce hybrid

Third, again on the bend, but this time in the middle - 2 roach to 0.14.13

The 4th peg - I settled into but got boated-out before long and breakfast called with just two little perch in the net

This three-trip adventure told me enough about that stretch and it will be left well alone for some time now. Perhaps until I feel it is time to try to tackle some chub again

Over the subsequent few days the mild weather has returned with high winds and rain too. This has put far too much colour into the other more likely stretches of the Oxford nearby and so it may just be time to tackle the Leam again, perhaps with a few lobs into the more slack areas, which the postman kindly delivered out his capacious red bag this very day

Has Santa come early I ask myself?