Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Leaves on the Line

The past couple of weeks have been varied in all manner of ways.

A return to The Stillwater is imminent but a mixture of lake, canal and river have kept this soldier of the angle busy meanwhile, if punctuated by the odd blank.

I asked my colleague to do a raindance for the rivers and it worked, to a degree. In fact it was the degree, or lack of them, that ultimately scuppered that plan with two frosts in that period.

So there's been the chance of the odd fish, by hook or by crook (perhaps attached to an orange 1970's fibreglass pole) and an inexplicable influx of our biggest finch, the hawfinch, with its massive bill (Greater Invoice Finches?) has occurred over the past week or two. Odd individuals and groups into double figures have been turning-up 'all over' and having a bird-conscious sideline has never been more timely. Plus winter visitors are arriving in force when it only seems like yesterday that summer visiting warblers were singing from every tree,  thicket, reed and hedge.

So it was with an eye to the tip or float and another to the sky (Marty Feldman again) that entertainment was sought.


It would be misleading to say the good days outnumbered the bad in angling terms but without doubt there have been some highlights in a phase of such variable global warming-induced weather that made the seeking of regular decent action improbable.

This 'bonus fish-hunting' lark is nothing if not regularly rewarding but it would be too easy to plunder the same stretch of canal that has given-up some double figure bags of bream and hybrids.

Fluctuating river levels mean occasional days with floating vegetation gathering on the line and the need for colour in the water make it constantly sought after, yet not often present.

Angling is nothing if it is not a challenge.


So what have we encountered?

Starting with the highlights, the list is quick to define through it's lack of depth.

Top of the list, without anything coming close, was catching a stationary stoat in the headlights on entering a fishery. In turning to face the light it exposed an inverted triangle of pure white chest crisply set in chestnut flanks before bounding into the verge and the consolation of darkness. The nearest warren would soon be on the highest level of alert.

Next, a bruiser of a barbel from below the weir, a fish that somehow managed to find itself being replayed a week later in the Club newsletter. This capture was unusual in the way the swim was fished.

Unbeknown to me the depth of the river changed dramatically precisely where I sat. If I swung a lead under the near bank to the left it suggested around 5 to 6 feet but to the right it was comfortably into double figures.

Given that it wasn't deepest winter the shallower area was favoured. A couple of handfuls of meat went in, the big fish rig was lowered to join it and left to simmer while a light liquidised bread feeder was cast a third across hoping to bring that area to an immediate boil seeking that elusive big river roach.

The latter didn't occur, the best of seven fish going around eight ounces.

An hour and a half in however, while fiddling with my tackle, the 1.75tc rod attempted to take off. Instantly dropping what I was doing, I managed to grab the handle and adjust the clutch to suit.

The fish fought like a champion. Tearing off diagonally downstream initially away from the bank and then back, kiting, deep in the strong weirpool flow. Then it was off again this time closer and almost under the bank. Close to capture, the fish was in and out of the net twice and landed at the third attempt.

A public location...a crowd had gathered.

Various uneducated questions were asked and  responded to. It was a barbel, not a tench and, no, I wasn't expecting that but I did hope for it. Then a guy with a unit conversion app advised me it was 11lbs 3ozs with the net, which, by this time, was large and sodden and upon deduction brought a notably chunky barbus to it's true weight of 10lbs 6ozs.

The fourth and smallest F,F&F Warwickshire Avon 'double' of the season/lifetime.


We were.


Beyond stoat and whiskers it's been a case of digging deep into the notes to find no.3 in this week's chart...

The increased flow and depth of local rivers had engendered a certain misplaced excitement yet with little to report. Not surprising at this time when water temperatures are still unsettled but on a general downcurve.

So we go back a fortnight and into a slightly questionable decision. A visit to a short stretch of Grand Union that produced a rare ruffe in the summer occurred.

Knowing it might produce roach, bream and/or hybrids was of use but the worm sideline failed miserably for predators.

The session was entirely predictable in that it took time for the fish to find the feed. When they did though things instantly became just a tad interesting...

Three hybrids ranging from 15ozs to 1lb 10ozs started the action off followed after a lull by a twelve ounce roach. I felt I may have started too close in and so fed again further out after the first boat.

Crayfish were a real problem, constantly pulling the bait around, but a decent flake popped-up out of their reach and soon something somewhat more substantial was attached. At first it swam toward the bank and I lost direct contact thinking it was lost and then maybe that it was a smaller skimmer but when it turned, perhaps having seen me, it stripped line off the centrepin for a few yards. Being a fish of its species however it was never likely to be the battle to top them all and soon it caved in, flopped on its side and was directed over the net to be recovered for inspection.

Now at this point I must explain that I do not know how big my biggest canal bream had been. It will have been caught in a match on the Grand Union, probably at or near Fenny Stratford, but won't have been weighed separately. I have therefore been 'seeking claims' from myself at a minimum of 3.8.0, so to speak.

This baby went 3.10.3 and therefore now fills that previously vacant spot. Which just shows that the area one might often walk past should not be ignored when the time might be right.

The most bizarre thing of all is that this little event had gone partly unrecorded. No notes left in the phone, only part of the story in the log book but with points claimed for The Challenge.

Otherwise three things are worthy of note - a dace of a few drams larger than previously claimed and a one pound, twelve ounce river perch for challenge points together with a straggly flock of around 150 migrating golden plover over the Warwickshire countryside.


1/. James Denison 523
2/. Sean Dowling 314
3/. Brian Roberts 308
4/. Mick Newey 272
5/. George Burton 268

1/. George Burton 296
2/. James Denison 206
3/. Russell Hilton 180
4/. Daniel Everitt 119
5/. Sean Dowling 95

1/. Brian Roberts 301
2/. James Denison 296
3/. Daniel Everitt 249
4/. George Burton 249
5/. Russell Hilton 147

1/. James Denison 1025
2/. George Burton 813
3/. Brian Roberts 654
4/. Russell Hilton 576
5/. Daniel Everitt 541

A typical current river catch. 4lbs or so of rosch, dace and chublets

To conclude this particular post then -
A small number of good fish but with plenty of quiet sessions in between; some nice bird sightings but no hawfinch (yet) and plenty of the season left to go at.

Bring it, and the proper cold weather, on!

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