Thursday, 25 February 2016

Signs of Impending Reward

So steady weather floating above freezing is upon us and some consistency in approach can be relied upon for the time being

Let's face it, this is always the most difficult time of year to put fish in the net but, at last, there is some hope

Last week The Boy Wonder and I found an only partly frozen stretch of the Grand Union Canal, complete with its own little car park, which, despite being a more coloured than would be perfect, did offer some encouragement. For his part, chopped worm was to be the option while bread would, as always, be deployed on the next peg. As a secondary option, and with a hint at what was set to come, sleeper rods offering roach heads or tails on single hooks were also cast to features to check-out the predator potential

Pretty much straight-off the worm produced a nice perch and soon after a decent hybrid to bread but angling wise that appeared to be that. We dabbled with some lures but nothing lead us to conclude this was an ideal day for them

It was prime cheddar feeding time, a known fact with an iced surface of course. I had this tidy bag on a roach head and was close to competing with TBW's pair of boxers from the cut a few weeks back. 'Not taken one on a dead bait before

Charlie though had a problem. A rabbit carcass was floating in the water a couple of metres from the bank and the little fella decided it must be lunch. No spring chicken but, as would be seen, a springing mutt he was and so he leapt, headlong into the freezing water. His elderly handler had some literal action to undertake, instantly kneeling and hoiking the canine miscreant from the surface with a shrill and tremulous, "Charlie!, Charlie!". In a flash, what now appeared to be a mobile pink chammy leather, was back on formerly dry land and coughing like a woodbine-smoking micro-pig

"I think he fancied a swim", someone quipped. There were only three of us.

"He's never done that before", she said...and he wouldn't be doing it again judging by that cough. He'd've been covered in ice by the time he got back, and so would she, having instinctively picked him up to carry him home.

Poor old Charlie. I wonder if he lived.

Next day it was predator time at The Stillwater. TBW was feeling under the weather and fell asleep as we left home, waking some two hours or so later having missed the excitement of the first run.

Four runs later and we were no closer to actually hooking anything than Stuart Brad and so we slipped-off home to contemplate the next piscatorial half-volley

What followed was something of a fishing-fest...type, thing

The Leam produced nothing other than an interesting discussion with Stalwart Club Member of thirty years' experience on the water and a take from a less than two pound pike that showed an unrealistic yet fleeting attraction to a four ounce roach deadbait but saw sense as well as daylight when his gape released the unsuspecting corpse into the cold air

The Avon - a single chub of three pounds three ounces

The Canal - nothing

The Avon, again - a single chub of a pound and a half, but wait, there was more to that trip...

Hon Gen Sec did not believe there were rats present but each time I stayed after dark there they, it, was, scuttling under the phragmites debris, the punctured footballs (the rusting bicycles), ballcocks and plastic lighters

"But what would they eat?", he questioned. Bread mash, that's what

This rat was the Louis Smith of the rodent world. No speck or blob of mash was beyond his reach and, with the inability to see his beholder in red-filtered light, he wasn't leaving any for the mammals formerly known as long-tailed field mice in his super-rat efforts to clamber up and down the reeds, from land or water, seeking out every freezing splash. He did get a touch over-familiar toward the end, but then, he was a rat after all

The Stillwater again. Early morning. Completely still water. Two hours to take the challenge score higher, if only a pike would have a nibble. -4degC on arrival. Zero on departure. Between times - a single run. This time connected and again the multi-purpose Avon admirably dealt with this pilferer of the mirrored surfaced as the water burst to foam

The pike squirmed as it sought freedom on the bank but in excellent chunky pre-spawning condition it turned the scales to 177 ounces, less the bag at fifteen, ten pounds two ounces of living excitement. At last twenty-odd points to show for the effort

This leaves just two more weeks to try the same trick on the river and add anything else possible before that particular meandering avenue of alders is chopped down in March to regenerate in June

Oh yes!...and finally - the lamp shade needs wiping, somebody

Apologies to the Modfather himself

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Disruption and Discontent or The Fish won't Feed 'cos the Weather doesn't Know What to do Next

It's been a tough year for the angler thus far...and sheep. Thankfully the latter, with their special feet and woolly coats, can cling-on through the worst of weathers

If it hasn't been gales, heavy rain and rising filthy rivers it's been frozen canals, lakes affected by fluctuating temperatures and excessive colour in the waters. Not the greatest of recipes

The decision had been made to seek to gain blogger's challenge points on rivers or seek-out pike where their seasons are limited until March and then revert to still-waters and canals but it has proven almost pointless, in both respects

Until just this last Tuesday six consecutive blanks on a wide variety of all three categories of venue and numerous methods had been fruitless since the last week of January. It feels longer. Most of the visits didn't produce even the merest hint of a bite and none of them saw fit to offer reward with any sport at all

Then on Thursday three bites all hooked and two nice chub of 3.6.0 and 3.4.0, with one  perhaps a touch larger lost at the rim of the net, were offered-up by the Upper Warks Avon and, at last, razor blades were not a consideration for the journey home

The better of the brace added a measly two points to the challenge tally but it was a pleasant event adding that couple to the chart having been so long away from it. I estimate that the past four point-scoring fish have added a sum total of around 6 to the aggregate. Not great.

The winter birdwatching has been okay while out there sitting by a range of waters, the highlight of this was a small flock of siskin feeding on weather damaged alder in the glorious and thermal-layer eschewing sunshine of last Sunday, together with close-up views of treecreeper and the, ever confiding, long-tailed tit flock, and of course it's always a pleasure to see the immaculate and continually diving goldeneye.

Kingfishers have been abundant and a brown hare brightened a cloudy lakeside stroll with lures, though he seemed uninterested in an imitation perch, perhaps a fake blade of grass may have been more to his liking

It's quite incredible when I think back through the tactics used in that spell that link-legered bread and lobworm, free-lined lobworm, cage feeder with groundbait and maggot/worm/caster hookbait, lures, deadbaits, etc., etc., have all failed when in different conditions all would produce the necessary goods.

The fish simply shut down.

Even these wouldn't work
The weather hasn't been all bad though. When the river fell, and at the same time it was suitably cold, fantastical glistening pendants of ice formed as the stiffening receding waters clung on to strands of vegetation bent like small spinning rods to the lowering surface; extensive sheets of magically thin ice were left floating in the air over the shallows and those natural, but rarely seen, phenomena formed in the riparian margins turned boredom to wonder

A glimpse of the chocolate merlin commuting through her wintering quarters in the valley of the stream was enough to bring confirmation that sometimes it's acceptable to think all is well in the real world. Well enough for now anyway, pending a turn in fortunes

A planned day off was looking perfectly timed until the rains returned today and by the time those clouds are drained the rivers will be rising again, the lakes will be coloured by cold water and the canals likewise.

What are we to do?

The Boy Wonder and I satisfy ourselves by working-out imaginary comedy situations. An evolving episode of which currently involves a tramp working as a barrista in Nero, or Costa, or Starbucks, or somewhere. Anyway it was funny to us, wherever it was staged. He even found a better way to get his groundbait out to the middle of the lake...

Things became so bad on Sunday that I sat with the dead-bait line metaphorically tied to my toe, Huckleberry Finn-style, when the incredible quantity of, mainly plastic, refuse settled in the debris left behind by the receded Avon became interesting. I actually found myself sifting through it to see what I could identify, until I heard a rat scuttling below the land-based raft and thought better of inviting Weil's Disease upon myself

The badger footprints in the deposited silt were good though, among the rat impressions - not ones I had trodden on, I do mean the footprints


Mouse training -
Bubble still runs at the sight of anything that isn't known to her to be in her cage.
Squeak is now taking sunflower seeds from my fingers
...and I found out they can eat celery, which they love.

Blogger's Challenge -
Everyone is struggling in the Midlands and James just gets further and further in front with his ever-increasing dace, grayling, unicorn and other mythical beasts we can only dream of up here in Warwickshire. Next time I think it unquestionably necessary to handicap him like a champion race horse. I don't feel a weight disadvantage would help much though as he's probably fit enough to deal with that too. I'm leaning toward a straightforward ban, that should do it

Snow-caught Chub Challenge (commenced 2012/13) -
I have always loved seeing experts with their pictures of chub in the snow but it has not been until the past three or four years that I have tried it and, at last, in the most recent fall, it happened. Not huge at 2.6.0, and not the deepest snow cover, but welcome and an ambition achieved