An angler's journal

Monday, 27 February 2017

Tough Times

It's been a bit quiet on here and it's fair to say that's a reflection of my fishing exploits so far in 2017. A run of blanks and being unable to take advantage of the few mild spells mean that fish have been few and far between.

The last few weeks have seen me visit the Warks Avon, the middle Severn and the lower Severn. It's been hard work but a few fish have graced the net including chub, barbel and pike. Hopefully, with a couple of weekends still to go before the river season closes I can still manage a few more.

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Friday, 23 December 2016

The search for a big river perch - A tale of woe

The last twelve months have seen me finally get amongst some perch. Thanks to some help with locating some stillwaters with potential, I have managed to net some fine fish to over 3lb. However, my real target was a river fish of 3lb plus. To catch a wild fish displaying its finest colours was my focus. Of course location was key. My river of choice would be the Warwickshire Avon but the BAA's insistence on a live bait ban would limit my options. I finally pinpointed a location that ticked all the boxes. I could live bait providing I could catch them, and the swim I had in mind provided me with some sheltered deep water next to a nice flow which perch are find of. It also contained evidence of small fish which surely would have been of interest to the area's predators.

I was armed with my ledgered perch set up incorporating a link of 10lb Drennan Soft Strand to counter the inevitable pike attention. I also had a dedicated pike set up with some dead baits and a waggler to catch some silver fish. The problem I had was a lack of quality bait. My old maggots had mostly turned to floating casters meaning I had to feed groundbait and pick out the odd remaining maggot. Not ideal but I had been lazy. Unfortunately, this was to prove costly. Although I was sure small fish were present I really struggled. Eventually, I caught a perfectly sized roach. Out it went and it was not long before the alarm beeped and my strike was met with a fish. The speed of the run told me the culprit was a pike but it somehow managed to slip the hook after charging too close to my deadbait rig. More amazingly, the roach was still tethered and apart from a few missing scales was in good nick. This was brilliant news as the only other fish I had caught were too big for perch live baits. Soon after another beep signaled a take. I struck into the fish and the nodding rod told me I had hooked into a perch and what felt a good one. Having caught some decent perch this one felt in an altogether different league. Perhaps it was the flow but I caught a glimpse under the surface and began to get excited as it took line from the reel. I was convinced this fish was special. You can imagine my despair when inexplicably the hook slipped and the fish made its escape. Without another suitable bait I was powerless to see if I could provoke another predatory fish into feeding. I tried worms in vain and soon the light went and with it the window of opportunity.
A perch, but not the one that got away

I have to admit to feeling pretty crestfallen. To lose a fish is bad enough but it's a terrible feeling when you sense the fish was a true specimen. On the plus side, I at least have a spot to try again. The key of course will be being better prepared for the small fish. I am sure that if I can get them feeding and manage to catch a few the rest of the plan will fall into place. Whether I can tempt a big perch into the picture remains to be seen but I will definitely be giving it another go.

Saturday, 10 December 2016


With the rivers still cold and uninviting, a perch trip was planned to a small pond that has produced some reasonable fish in the past.

Tactics would be to attempt to attract some small roach to the net and eventually the prospect of a 2lb plus perch. The problem with this lake however is the huge population of carp that make catching live baits really difficult. The recent frosts had also made bites harder to come by so it was something of a struggle to put anything in the net. A small carp inevitably kicked off proceedings before a bream also made its way to the net but sport was generally slow. I eventually acquired a live bait and placed it near some overhanging willows.

I then hooked a good fish on the float fished maggot set up. It was obviously a carp but of a much better standard than I'm used to catching at the venue. On relatively light tackle, a spirited battle ensued before a fine looking carp was netted. At around 10 ½ lb, it was a good return for a chilly afternoon. No sooner had I returned it when the alarm of my perch bait sounded resulting in line being taken purposefully. I struck into a fish and the first perch was on the bank. It was not a monster but at 2lb 1oz it was a nicely sized perch. I did manage another perch soon after to a maggot which was somewhere around 1 ¼ lb but there was to be no further action as the light gave away to another cold night.

A brace of perch

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

A week of fishing

The last few weeks have been a quiet affair as far as fishing goes. But with a week off I was able to get out and about and do a bit of catching up.

First up was a friendly social gathering on the lower Severn. It was a very unstructured match complete with a half time. However, with the low conditions, a daylight session was always going to prove tough and so it was with only a few pound winning. For the record, I managed a few roach to avoid a blank.

Can you see the pike?
A couple of days later an equally difficult session ensured on the Warks Avon. I was on the river at around 7.30am with pike the target and I was confident. Deadbaits would be the prime attack but my optimism faded as the hours passed by and each likely looking spot failed to respond. With lunch time approaching I decided my next swim would be the last. Finally, the float decided to tremble and then inch its way across towards the near bank. The strike hit a lively fish but it was to be no monster at around 6lb. My son had turned up by now and wanted a photo but  the fish decided not to play ball and somersaulted itself back to its watery sanctuary. I did attempt a photo as it lay stationary in the margins but you'll do well to spot its camouflaged profile against the river bed.

Next up was a return to the middle Severn. Perch were to be my target on this occasion. I had seen some good fish attacking the fry during the summer and I had vowed to give them a crack on my return. I set up a worm rod and fed maggots to attract the smaller fish and the perch's attention. I did fish a float to see what would turn up but the result was mostly minnows although a few dace, roach and chublets turned up. I lost a pike to a bite off and did manage a small perch. As dusk approached, I did land a better perch but it was not the specimen I had seen before at just over a pound or so.

A short evening session back on the Avon saw me trying to take advantage of the mild conditions. A 3lb chub on the first cast was a great start. I then lost a barbel at the net which soon restored the balance. I did finally land a barbel of around 7lb or so before the action slowed to a complete standstill.
A chunky Avon barbel

My final session of the week saw me and my brother in law take to the banks. He wanted plenty of bites so we decided on a pool that would provide plenty of carp action but also gave me a chance of a decent perch. The sport was pretty frantic as the carp were in ravenous mood. We also landed some nicely sized roach and tench. The problem with the perch fishing was having a bait that would not be hoovered up by the carp. Fortunately, live baits are allowed. Unfortunately, catching roach of the right size was nigh on impossible. Eventually, we caught a fish that could be used as bait and it duly delivered in the shape of a 2lb 12oz perch which would turn out to be my most memorable fish of the week. I also lost another soon after but with the absence of any more roach I was unable to tempt another on prawn or worm.
The best fish of the week

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Warks Avon Barbel

The lack of activity on this site tells its own story. I've been pretty bogged down at work during the last month and the few trips I have managed have only told a tale of woe with a few eels and two lost barbel on the lower Severn the result.

So an evening on the Warks Avon was long overdue. It was only to be a short session and it ended up being less than three hours. I arrived an hour before sunset and set up two rods. The downstream was baited with a lump of meat together with a feeder crammed with scalded pellets. This approach is my preferred method as the cooler months approach. It gives off a scent without over feeding and has proven quite successful over the last few years. My upstream rod was baited with 1 ½ boilies with PVA bags containing a few samples. I was able to top this up periodically with a few loose offerings thrown well upstream.

After ten minutes or so I received the first signal that fish had arrived in the shape of a sharp twitch
on the rod top. Soon after the upstream rod was nodding as the first fish was successfully hooked. A spirited fight brought the welcome sight of a barbel in the clear Avon water. It wasn't a huge specimen which I suspected was around 5lb but in impeccable condition. With a fish so early in the session I was quietly confident. Soon after, another barbel was hooked but a hook pull saw an end to that brief encounter. The meat bait had been left untouched until the rod tip wrapped around suddenly. I struck expecting a solid resistance but was left hitting thin air. A cheeky chub or line bite? I'll never know. The fish were obviously feeding and very active so it was not a huge surprise when another barbel was hooked a landed. Slightly bigger, this fish put up a great scrap. Another bite on the meat saw the line peeling from the bait runner but the bait was dropped and I suspect a chub was definitely the culprit on that occasion. It had been a hectic hour or so.

With a clear sky above the temperature had dipped dramatically following a warm autumn day and with it sport began to slow. The next hour saw very little happen until a 3lb chub decided to break the silence and cap the end of my session. It might have been brief but it was an enjoyable way to end the recent drought.

The arrival of October also brought about the commencement of the pike season. I now need to find time to find some pike and ready myself for the colder months ahead.

Monday, 5 September 2016

The rough with the smooth

I ventured to the lower Severn on Saturday evening. I was in no rush to cast a line as most bites have been coming late on. I eventually settled into a swim just as the rain began. For the next few hours it tipped it down. Meanwhile my downstream meat rod and upstream boilie rig lay motionless. I also discovered my umbrella had a leak to compound what was turning into quite a miserable affair. As 11 o'clock approached the upstream rod took off completely out of the blue. A powerful fish took off towards mid-river before the line parted. Gutted was an understatement. I gave it another half hour before a break in the rain saw me escape feeling very deflated.

I had agreed to take my son fishing the next morning . I have to be honest, I wasn't exactly feeling enthusiastic but a promise is a promise. We arrived on the Warks Avon mid-morning with a view to a few hours until lunch. We used a 4m whip and maggots to catch a selection of species including gudgeon, dace, perch, bleak, roach and skimmers. I had also cast a boilie baited rig complete with a PVA bag of offerings mid-river. This bait had sat undisturbed for hours when without warning it jumped into life. A barbel was on. It took me by surprise as daytime barbel have become thin on the ground in these low conditions. Although not a huge fish it offered me some redemption following the previous evening's disappointment. My son also had an enjoyable morning so it was smiles all round.
Around 6lb or so

Friday, 2 September 2016

Perch and chub make up for a barbel drought

It's all been a bit quiet for me in recent weeks. A trip to the lower Severn resulted in a blank. I was quite confident on arrival as there was extra water and some colour but with the river still rising there was barely a tremble of the rod tip.

A few days later I tried the middle Severn. Surely a barbel could be tempted? Well no. The middle also disappointed. In the end I found some opportune perch fishing to provide some drop-shot fun after seeing them harrassing the small fish in the margins.

A final trip saw me on the Avon on Bank Holiday Monday. It seemed like it had been fishing well upon arrival but the sunshine had brought out an army of anglers. This meant I ended up fishing a new area. Again the barbel drought continued but the chub were more than obliging with fish to around 4lb finding their way to the net.

With work back on the agenda, it signals the end of the summer for me and with it my visits to the bank will be less frequent. Hopefully I can finish my break on a high note this weekend.