Session 42 – Five Species, A Nice Perch And An ‘Eyeless In Gaza’ Track…

Monday, September 17th I was on my planned trip to the club stretch of the Shropshire Union Canal (AA-SU/WA) and, as usual, I was the only one there – fishing anyway, a few dog walkers, ramblers … and an armada of boats (10-12 boats passed by between 1100-1200) were the only signs of other human life there.

Pic 1 shows the canal ‘upstream’ of my position – the ‘downstream’ view was corrupted – and Pic 2 shows the far bank area of my swim. A couple of things are not evident from the photos – (a) there was a fair bit of flow on the water even on arrival at 0700 before the boat traffic started (first boat of the day passed around 0830) – possibly a leaking lock gate up stream? And (b) the surface was already getting covered in leaves – usually its mid-October or so before the trees along the stretch start shedding but it seems the long hot summer that suddenly ended and the temps turned chilly has kicked off the trees’ hormones early… Luckily there are no willow trees along this stretch as I find, as I’ve said before, willow leaves falling in the water are not conducive to good fishing … my reckoning is that willow leaves are a source of natural aspirin and were, in fact, chewed as painkillers in days gone by … and the aspirin leaching into the water sickens it … so in summer willows are good providing shade and cover underneath but in winter the fallen leaves are not good and the areas are best avoided.

OK then … the fishing … I started off casting at around 0730 fishing the centre channel and about 3/4 the way over with the almost the same set-up as I used of my Staffs-Worcs Canal trip on September 6th (Session 40) – 10’ float rod, 6lb line, small onion float set to trip along the bottom with the flow and a size 16 hook baited with double maggot (red/red, white/white, and red/white) and first fish came to the bank within 10 minutes – a 6oz bream… and then over the next hour and a half this was joined by 8 perch (1oz-10oz), a small roach, 2 gudgeon …. and then a surprise fish, a daddy ruffe, which I wasn’t expecting at all!

And then – a really nice perch came to the bank – and this is where the ‘Eyeless In Gaza’ track comes in. One of the tracks on one of their albums (‘Caught In Flux’) is called ‘Scale Amiss’ … and my scales were amiss in that I’d forgotten how to use them! They are scales that I carry in my canal ‘seatbox’ – a small lightweight digital set – and thus had not been used for a while – and I’d forgotten how to set the units to weigh in (lb or g or Kg) – and I couldn’t get any reading despite trying a succession of varying button clicks and so I elected to photo alongside a tape measure I carry in my box and try to locate a ‘length to weight’ conversion table on the ‘net rather than unduly mess about and stress the fish.

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So reckoning on 14” length – and by extrapolation the depth is 5” so the girth should be around 11”-12” by my reckoning – and with those dimensions the table I consulted reckons it to be around 1lb 14oz (11”) to 2lb 4oz (12”) so I think to call it 2lb is acceptable? Whatever, its not a major issue as my PB is 2lb 8oz so it doesn’t compromise that….

Thing is that, whilst fishing later, I fiddled with those scales and discovered the secret of their operation! Oh well, I’ll just have to go back some time and re-catch it won’t I? LOL!

Anyway, at this point a few boats had passed and with the opening/closing of the lock gates the flow was getting a bit much for float fishing and so I switched to a light ledger system with my 8’ quiver tip rod – 4lb line – size 12 hook, worm baited (prawn tried later but not a touch) and a 1/2oz ‘penny’ lead which was cast close to the overhanging vegetation… over the previous time I’d been feeding this area as well as the area I was float fishing with hemp, corn, rice and dead maggot. And with this change I had a further bream (4oz),  and 6 more perch to around 12oz.

So, a good half day’s fishing as at noon due to the increasing boat traffic I called it a day and headed home. The one disappointment being that none of the expected chub succumbed to my charms LOL!

Well, that’s my fishing, freshwater anyway, now until 1st October as we are away in Porthcawl from Friday 21st of this month but we’re hoping to get some lines in the water from Porthcawl Pier in the interim…. and on our return we’ll probably have a day’s lure fishing for pike.

WATER TEMPS … sadly I forgot to pack the thermometer!

Session 41 – Middle River Severn…

Friday, September 14th and I headed off for the first of my River Severn outings of the year – and this year looks like being my last one too.

Normally, January to March I pike fish pools then April to September its bream, tench, perch, etc and then October to December its back to the pike BUT come the end of August I’m usually thinking that perhaps I ought to get a couple of barbel sessions in before the piking starts. So come September I make a bit of an effort and usually manage 3-4 barbel sessions. However, this year, with other things impinging on the month, my first visit wasn’t until the 14th … and as we are away on holiday from Friday 21st – Friday 28th, and as I’m intending to visit a canal on Monday 17th, my next trip to the waterside will be Monday 1st October – and I’ll be lure fishing for pike on a club pool, with Liz hopefully. Its been a short barbel season for me then this year!

Well, I headed as I say to the Severn – a club controlled stretch on the middle reaches (KF/S/HL/M) of the river. The swim I selected was based on comfort and ease of access (first swim on the stretch) really but it does look a nice fishy swim anyway with a current flowing a few rod lengths out but sheltered from the flow by a willow hanging in and over the water to the right and a fallen bare branched tree just downstream which forms a slow eddy … and still quite deep despite the current low water levels.

I initially started off with a 2lb TC barbel rod, 10lb mono mainline with size 4 hook on a 6” hooklength of braid ledgered with a 1oz flat ‘pennyweight’ type ledger attached to a short 8lb ‘weak link’ on a large eyed free running swivel that was stopped on the line so that bait-to-weight tail was about 3 feet in length.

Initial bait was a chunk of ‘Extra Hot Chili Sausage’ (tinned, ‘Ye Olde Oak’ I think) which was cast just over the edge of the current and allowed to swing round with the flow so that it settled ‘on the crease’ twixt flow/static water… and first cast was made at 0730 … and at 0740 the rod slammed over … and I missed on the strike never feeling a thing. So out a new bait went – and over the next few hours I had nothing apart from a few minor nods and twitches of the rod top….

0930 I switched the bait over to cheesepaste – stinky as its about 3 years old! But over the next two hours I had not a touch…

So Plan B came into operation … whilst fishing I’d also been feeding the slack/eddy area regularly with hemp, maize, wheat, rice and dead maggot … so I decided to see if any perch or chub or whatever wanted to play. The rod was switched to a 12’ feeder rod with a light quiver tip, 3/4oz ‘pennyweight’, 8lb line and size 10 hook to 8lb braid hooklength and baited with worm or worm/maggot and the bait cast around the eddy… Most casts elicited a response … most were just quick twitches … but I did manage 2 perch of around 4-6oz each by the time I packed up at 1430.

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WATER TEMPS

Minimum: 14.7’C
Maximum: 15.2’C

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OK … so plans for next trip are to visit a canal on Monday September 17th – the Shropshire Union Canal this time. A stretch of the canal (AA-SU/WA) that I’ve fished many times before with lures and spinners in search of pike and perch but only once with a ‘general’ bait rod, and that in a match, despite it having some decent sized carp, chub and perch amongst its known residents. I hope to fish an area where the far bank is overhung with brambles and bushes, and is an area where I have had reasonable catches on the lures and lost 2 good perch a few years back which I saw before the hook pulled and reckon they were close to, if not over, the 3lb mark.

Session 40 – A Short Canal Session…

Thursday, September 6th, I set off at 0530 for a short session on the local canal (Staffs-Worcs Canal). It may be local but it’s a stretch I’ve not bait fished since the 1980s at least and, in fact, more likely will have been the 1970s although I have lure fished a few times in the interim period and bait fished other areas of the same canal but even then it will be at least 2 years since I did any fishing on this canal at all.

The stretch I fished was located at Swindon in Staffordshire, near to Dudley, and is controlled by the Birmingham Angling Association (BAA) and they control most of this canal from Wombourne all the way through to its confluence with the River Severn at Stourport with the exception of a couple of small stretches which are under control of another club (of which I am a member too!)… and going the other way through Wombourne a long stretch stretch is under the control of the Wolverhampton Angling Association (WAA) and then the WAA also have further sections interspersed with holdings by other local clubs (Sankeys AC, Goodyears AC, etc).

 

Back in the 1970’s the canal was renowned for its head of gudgeon – in fact, back in those days catching anything other than gudgeon or the occasional stone loach would have likely to make front page headlines in the local newspaper – and possibly in the national’s too! The surface was always a mass of bubbles – as if a lorry load of Alka Seltzer had been tipped in – all due to the gudgeon foraging … and ‘first-to-100’ competitions were finished within 30 minutes –and that on a bad day! I remember the groundbait I used to use too – a 2lb bag of plain flour, wetted and mixed into one big stodgy dough ball which was slung into the middle of the centre channel!

These days, the gudgeon have dropped in number and the stone loach have totally disappeared it seems – but now the canal is home to bream, roach, rudd, chub, dace, barbel, perch, pike, tench, carp …. and others! At the moment it seems that only zander, catfish and sturgeon are lacking but for how long? Some of the fish are a good size too …. the chub in the area go to 7lb or more, barbel of 7lb I know have come out, carp into the 20s…. and perch of 3lb+ are not uncommon captures along its length…

So, as for today…

I arrived at my swim at about 0550 … the canal being literally 10 minutes from home … Air temps at just under 10’C felt a little chilly again – and the water was much warmer as can be evidenced by the vapours seen in the photos above.

Tackle was a 10’ float rod with a light antenna float (or ‘bodied waggler’ in new-speak! LOL) taking about 3BB of shot on a 4lb main line with a size 16 maggot baited hook attached directly.

The centre boat channel was fished … yes, I know that the ‘overhanging vegetation on the far bank’ is the accepted norm but I prefer to fish the centre channel especially when the boats are active as the churning stirs up all sort of micro-organisms, etc and bait offered in that I find quite effective – also the margins of both banks are often very shallow, sometimes only 12” deep especially on the far side which, often having overhanging vegetation, keeps the boats further out and thus the silt lies deeper there… not written in concrete obviously, horses for courses and all that but always best to check before blindly sitting there all day without a chance of catching? Depends on the species too … chub, and bigger perch are more likely to seek the shelter of overhanging vegetation than possibly roach and bream but then the further it protrudes out over the water the better … another canal I fish has a line of bushes that extend out over the water a good 6-8 feet or more and is the perch/chub hotspot. Also, I always fish in the wake/churn of passing boats to the point of casting in a yard or so behind the boats as I find the bait wavering in those currents becomes quite attractive to the fish… not that any boats passed today, the two boats that did set sail were ones that had been moored either side of me – and both set off away from me so no churns but did get the flow due to the locks being operated…

Catch? Nine fish in all by the time I packed up at 0900, and the first 5 fish were of 5 different species! Bream, gudgeon, perch, ruffe and roach in that order. And then I added another 3 perch and another gudgeon. The bream was the biggest at about 12oz-1lb.

 

So, the canal fishing was a pleasant change – and something I intend to do more of over the coming months especially with the warmer winters (although the way the temps are tending to be dropping this autumn…) that don’t suit my pike fishing which I used to start in October. The past 4 years or so I’ve dabbled for a couple of dead/live bait sessions at the start of October, then gone back to ‘general species’ fishing with occasional outings with lures for pike and I’ve not really started proper piking until January when the water temperatures get to drop below 7’C….

I would have stayed longer today but for the fact that I needed to make changes/adjustments to my setup that would have involved stripping down the whole tackle and re-tackling … and, as I needed to pick up a prescription from the chemist too, I thought I’d satisfied my fishing desires for the day and so head back popping in chemist for medications and re-do tackle in the comfort of home….

AND – I did take my thermometer … so the first September-March readings have been done…

Air: 9.8’C

Water: 15.8’C

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Session 39 – At The Members Only Pool…

Monday, September 3rd, as I’d said in the previous posting, Liz and I set off to the club members only pool (KF-WL2) located at the venue I visited on the previous Friday.

This pool is a fair bit larger than the day ticket pool albeit still not a large water and consists of two parts really – the ‘old’ part which was the original part of the pool and the ‘new’ part which is the extension made by the club and the pool owner several years ago and which has greatly increased its overall size. It’s also been stocked with carp which seem to be growing well and also has its original native population of roach, rudd, bream, perch and bream among others.2018-09-03 01

Setting off from home at a little after 0700, and with a slight detour to a Sainsbury’s in the hope of getting Liz a cap – she’d left hers at home – we arrived on site and were at our elected swims at around 0745.

Our swims were on a ‘spit’ – basically it indicates where the ‘new’ and ‘old’  sections are connected – so from the end of the spit you can cast in front of yourself and be in ‘old’ or ’new’ water – however, at this point the ‘old’ water is only about two feet deep but drops quickly to around four feet over on the ‘new’ side.

The ‘old’ pool had a lot of floating weed – some curly pondweed but mainly species of elodea… the ‘new’ side seemed quite clear visually but there was a lot of bottom weed and the fish hooked made full use of it generally being landed festooned in it… and the water level, like the day ticket pool, was down from its usual by 18”-24”.

I fished the end of the spit casting out with my float rigged rod slightly left and about 15 yards out. I didn’t use cereal groundbait, just catapulted regular small catapults full of mixed hemp, maize, wheat, rice and maggots into the area. Liz fished at the neck of the spit as per usual casting out her frame feeder rod towards a small island.

Baits – I tried worm/maggot, sweetcorn, and meat but only had bites on the worm/maggot combination and Liz used meat, sweetcorn and maggot.

We made our first casts at around 0815 in what was then quite a mild and calm start of the day – however, that soon changed to grey overcast skies and with a moderate cool, if not actually chilly, breeze and we had a couple of periods of fine misty droplets in the air although it never developed into the proper rain that it seemed likely too.

So, I started off the day’s proceedings with a tench of 1lb 15oz at 0905…. which was followed by steady procession of perch (24 in all) and the occasional rudd throughout the day taken on the worm/maggot cocktail. The perch ranged from one so small that the worm it took was far bigger than itself (5 to the ounce type!) to a nice one of 1lb 6oz with about 4-5 of 8-12oz, the rest being around 2-4oz ….

Liz had a slow start to the day and by midday was still biteless …. but then started to get twitches and her maggot baits being stolen which eventually turned into a success capture of a 4oz roach – and quickly after that a nice tench of 3lb 13oz – taken on maggot sweetcorn cocktails.

And that was our day, packing up at 1615 and heading back home via our local for the traditional end of day beverage.

I have since realised its now September – and I usually take water temperatures during the September-March period – so better pack my thermometer ready for the next trip!

Session 38 – Bombs Of The Non-Arlesey Kind … And Small Fish….

Well, the first thing I can say here is that I’ve always pronounced the name of the ledger weight that forms part of my heading above totally wrongly!! Typed it in initially to match my usual way of saying it – Arseley (ars-el-ee) – and it didn’t look at all right as you’d expect and even after slight re-arrangements I could tell it was wrong and ended up ‘Googling’ it… so it’s pronounced ‘arl-es-ee’ then – and was it named after the pool for which Dick Walker (bows head in reverence) developed it so I’ve not been doing that pool a favour either! And even now I’m having trouble getting it right in my head … but practice will make perfect I’m sure!! BUT at least  I’ve always said ‘PREscription’ rather than the usually uttered ‘PERscription’ LOL!

Right then – on to expedition number 38!

So it was Friday 31st August that I set off again to the intended pool…. ‘again’ as I’d actually set off to the same venue on Monday 27th but due to circumstances I didn’t quite get there and had to turn back home … but all was OK really, just a minor ‘hiccup’….

I arrived at the pool (KF-WL1), a club water that we sell day tickets on and is one of two pools on site and one I’ve visited fairly frequently in the past at around 0730 … the other pool being larger and ‘members only’ and Liz and I will be fishing it on our next outing on Monday 3rd September…

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As you see, I elected to fish a swim facing on to a small island, but actually only fished out about 3-4 rod lengths from the main bank – the water level was still quite low – about 18”-24” below the normal level as determined by the bare ground collar around the island and the main banks – and usually I haven’t had much luck anyway fishing tight to the island which would normally be perceived as the best place…. We’ve always done better fishing about 1/3 – 1/2 the way across.

I was float fishing for the day – water depth between bank and island probably about a constant 6’ deep on the day – and fished basically by the lift method. 6lb main line to 6” of 6lb braid hooklength with a size 10 hook and a 4AAA (it said on the float – but actually takes 3SSG to submerge all but the teeniest part of the body and then I use a further SSG to anchor) drift/windbeater type float set 12” overdepth in relation to the anchor shot which itself is 6” above the actual hook.

Baits used over the day – mainly worm and maggot and for the last hour I tried bread flake – all produced virtually a bite a cast – and I tried ‘luncheon’ meat and lamb’s liver but not a single touch on either after 30+ minutes on each bait – prawn, after its success on my last trip, was a bit of a disappointment in that it produced only a few gentle nudges/float wavers at best despite trying pieces of both cooked and raw versions.

At the end of the day I’d had 15-20 small perch (best 11oz), and a similar number of rudd (up to about 4oz) and a solitary tench of 6oz-8oz. Also I hooked into 3 better sized fish but all 3 managed to shed the hook before I even got a glimpse of them but one felt like a good perch and another tench-like in their playing….

Anyway, nothing major but enough float action to keep the mind active!!

And if I had have been dropping off to doze then something else saw that off as a possibility!

Sitting there, peacefully watching the float, when all of a sudden a huge explosion bursts out about three feet to my left hand side … and something whizzes through the air over my head! First thoughts were that someone was shooting at me!! But then I notice the item that shot over my head is now floating on the surface of the pool …. a clip-on top of a Tupperware type pot … in fact the top of the Tupperware pot that I keep my tinned sweetcorn in when fishing – I use frozen corn for feed but find that tinned corn makes for a better hookbait. Yep, it seemed that one of two thing had happened – (a) the corn had started fermenting and the pressure building up in the pot blew the top off (but corn was fresh and no ferment smell) or, probably the true reason, (b) I’d stored the pot and corn in the freezer since the last trip and had moved it in to the fridge for overnight for defrosting so it had been quite cold when carried out to the waterside… and, as the pot had sat by the side of my chair, the warmth of the sun had heated the air inside, expanding it and ‘BOOM’! as the lid was blown off! Anyway, I now know my heart is 100% sound as that must have been the ultimate test!! LOL!!

So, that was that for the day … and next trip has now been planned … and tackle sorted and fresh maggots purchased today … which leaves me free for catching up on the gardening tomorrow … a few hot and dry weeks with nothing growing and then a few wetter days and everything, weeds especially, sprout up faster than Jack’s beanstalk and probably as high too! … and includes species that I’ve never seen in our garden before! Scottish thistles??? How did they they get here in the Midlands? Invasive species even Hadrian’s Wall couldn’t hold back! LOL