Thursday, 28 September 2017

Canals & Barbel. An Eclectic Mix.

The suddenly changing seasons, firstly with gales and short bursts of heavy rain combined with a noticeable drop in air temperature, have taken me back to considering canals.

Initially a week too early it seemed as, having endured over twenty narrowboats in an hour and a half period recently, I did wonder what on earth, or water, I was thinking.

Thankfully it was a one-off and a couple of subsequent quiet weekday evening sessions after work have been pleasant however, neither with a boat in view, and both mixing tactics with bread down the middle and worms to one side at the bottom of the towing path shelf.

The highlight of these visits, somewhat oddly, was a lost fish...
A whole lobworm was lowered among a mass of physically discumbobulated dendrabenas and, upon striking, there ensued an initial aquatic hiatus during which the fish (if it wasn't a seal, or Adam Peaty) did nothing and felt relatively manageable. As the realisation struck, the fish decided it was an appropriate moment to make use of it's express single ticket to the far bank and as I searched belatedly and frantically for the tightened clutch I was beaten to it by the crack of the line.

I say that was the highlight but on the next trip a ruffe just under the ounce snared itself on three dendrabenas and a fake maggot. A rarity indeed, followed closely by a surprise but sought-after rudd just over a pound which, combined, provided a few unexpected but welcome Challenge points.

It was nice on a separate early Feldon morning the register the first impressive canal roach of the campaign at a touch over 1.5 and a few perch to just over a pound have succumbed too.

Two new (to me) stretches of canal have been visited, the Ashby for big hybrids (failed) and the Grand Union Leicester Arm for tench (failed)


The first spell of seeking-out Barbus maxima was partly covered in the previous post but that was only the beginning of a truly unbelievable run of three or four sessions either side of the physical feature identified as the most  likely holding spot.

Next session after the 9.12 was banked two hard-battling fish were landed at 11.14 another p.b. and 10.9 but then to my parallel amazement and unbridled joy a 12.11 hit the net a day later and raised the p.b. bar yet further.

Worse than dreadful picture but here it is. 12.11
Barbel were also pursued in a second little burst on the Avon since very recent heavy rain achieved the all but impossible and put some colour into its customary fish tank like clarity but no bites have been forthcoming. Others have been catching them elsewhere so I suspect they may have moved.


An early start on the Grand Union 'proper' this past Sunday was however exceptional. If we can ignore a little three ounce tearaway of a zander the smallest fish of the other eight fish of four species banked weighed a chocolate mouse less than a pound and the biggest, a bream, went 3.2.0 on the replacement, and now suitably calibrated, scales.

I was really after carp however (failed!).

In a feathered sense regular barn owl views on the river, a marsh tit roving through the backside vegetation on the GUC and an unusually showy, quite magnificent, adult water rail wandering out onto lilies in search of the sustenance of the Leicester Arm have been worthy distractions there.

News is though that we will soon be back on The Stillwater, necessary maintenance works having been completed, and this very evening The Boy Wonder and I traced the wending route of The Stream to deduce best options with colder roach, perch and chubby weather on the horizon. Only three swims appeared to have been fished this season and those the armchair options of course.

"What size tell-tale to hold this down?!"

1. James Denison 920
2. George Burton 754
3. Brian Roberts 633
4. Danny Everitt 513
5. Sean Dowling 428

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

This Autumn Mourning

Mourning the passing of summer. Celebrating the coming of autumn. I sit in my small corner.

Anticipating movement.

Four days ago the sharp chill of early morning signalled that change. Bang on time. The afternoon sun still has the capacity for uncomfortable heat in its glare but this will diminish unless an Indian summer is to provide a thermal boost.

Rivers again run clear and are unapproachable in daylight hours. The canals awash with ignorant fools.

The option therefore? To enjoy some late tench fishing in the hope that something unexpected might trip over the bait too.


So we have settled into our oft peaceful, always still corner of the Res for the dusk period on an all-but daily basis.

Large comings-together of hirundines are now evident in favoured locations and soon they will be gone, swifts long-since departed, with the current massing of gnats to be replaced by their northern cousins capable of survival on arboreal fruits.

Tiny furry mammals, at their most numerous and industrious at this time, forage and squeal underfoot - and sometimes over it. The company of bank and field voles, water and other shrews, stoat and rat has been enjoyed in recent weeks.

The decreasing temperature and increased humidity would initially suggest an associated drop-off in fish activity but the water remains warm to the touch and, like the sea, this will be maintained while the air gets colder. Cloudy nights will assist. The fish 'know' that the time for feasting is upon them and until the winter sets-in they will be at their most vulnerable to the angler.


For now then the corner has been both comfortable and comforting. It's a snug little spot and for the last hour of each visit has produced precisely three tench to bread over a bed of hemp together with a smattering of roach up to just under the satisfying pound.

The hoped for unanticipated capture to take symmetry to asymmetry went awol through the steady string of lifts, occasional sailaways, dithers and crayfish interruptions but tench are never to be ignored, so obliging are they in the biting and fighting stakes, morning and, in these cases, dusk.

The green Goddesses and Gods were in the two to three and a half pounds bracket on the first two of three trips but, for no fathomable reason, the third brief session proved the best float caught FF&F tench catch ever with fish of 4.1, 4.4 and a hard fighting 5.3 last cast. All fish were taken on bread flake in seven feet of water late in the evening.


Daniel Everitt has been tantamount to camped here for the past few weeks but, coincidentally, has now vacated in search of flowing water fish with the changing seasons.

Sunday evening, the fourth session and ninth and tenth hours of effort, took place under heavy skies and through light drizzle.

Inundated with passing visitors, as though they knew something I didn't, the lake was otherwise quiet in an angling sense.

Admiral Fudge and Ollie the greyhound; Committee Keith with Buddie the terrier and then Joe the bailiff. During which time (first cast) a roach of one pound eight ounces was a surprise capture followed by two sub-pound fish but it wasn't until just after Joe returned with bailiff no.2 Pete (I can be a handful), and we'd exchanged pleasantries and tales of woe, that it happened.

By way of a change I slid the BB tell-tale shot up to pop a piece of crust up 5" just above a thin layer of Canadian pondweed fragments littering the bed.

Minutes later the float dipped and lifted and the strike met with decent resistance. The fish moved off right and then treated me to a juddering sensation reminiscent of an eel but less insistent. I immediately allowed myself to dream. Then the rotund side-plate shape confirmed it.

"I've got a crucian guys"

Back came Pete and Joe in a hurry.

The fish had ideas of escape however and took a while to subdue even on the specimen float rod but at the second attempt a geriatric crucian skimmed over the rim to be consumed by mesh.

An old fish.

Battle scarred, with split dorsal and otter-ravaged caudal, this beaten character (in both senses) was to shatter the p.b. set in the height of summer by a 1.2.6 fish.

Pete estimated "Two and a half". I didn't venture a guess but hoped it might just exceed that. Joe fell silent. In fact both did when it came to the maths.

The roach had gone 38 ounces with the net but this magnificently ancient individual would, with 14ozs to deduct from 56, reset the bar at 2lbs 10ozs.

Photographs were kindly taken and the boys said their goodbyes.

Danny was able to confirm via the ether that this fish was caught twice in 2016 at exactly the same weight give or take the loss of the top of its tail in the meantime. I declined giving it a name but if I did 'Grand Cru' would seem appropriate

Darkness fell a good fifty minutes earlier than normal due to the weight of cloud cover somewhat bizarrely requiring an isotope to complete the session, but, with no more action, the car beckoned and we, that is myself and the memory, hit the road...floating on air.


It is now the two day 'anniversary' of the capture and it barely slips my mind at any time. Compared to a specimen roach it is admittedly not quite there but otherwise perhaps the most satisfying of captures. In this Bloggers' Challenge year personal bests have fallen regularly with the commitment to try to load as many points on the board from all available sources within a range of about 30 minutes travel. There have been the river bream, barbel, carp, etc., but the smaller species never cease to give me greatest pleasure. Somehow they just seem that little bit more difficult to catch. If I were to list species in order of personal significance it would go something like - roach, silver bream, crucian carp, rudd, tench, chub, perch, etc., but this is splitting hairs really as any species is good to catch if it proves to be a challenge.