From the water’s edge

July/August 2014 - Meal ticket

I hope that you find my journal interesting and entertaining. If, having read this, you think that I am talking rubbish then at least you have stopped and thought about it long enough to come to that conclusion which is something of a result in my book. If you would like to comment on this article or anything else relating to my website, please feel free to contact me using the adjacent form. Feedback is always greatly appreciated and very helpful when it comes to improving both my site and my angling. Thank you for looking.

Our efforts to extract some decent and not so huge fish from our ‘new’ water are proceeding at snail’s pace. Like all really enjoyable fishing, it throws up new problems and surprises at every turn, but if truth be told, we aren’t making a lot of headway at the moment and the last two visits demonstrate our difficulties admirably. The water looks great. It’s a small windy river with shallow rills, and deep holes. Big slacks and wide bends, narrow straights with faster water and weed. Weed everywhere, and that weed should represent a massive larder generating healthy, large populations of fish in a range of sizes from fry to proper specimens that have grown to that size in part by eating a lot of those tiny fish. It is not like that. Something is clearly wrong and in keeping with my experience on many local rivers, that diversity of size and density of populations is a shadow of what it was when these waters were not as ‘clean’ as the authorities now claim them to be. Indeed this particular river was once an acclaimed big fish water. Some of our local celebrity big fish men cut their teeth on it and made names for themselves on the back of their well-earned results. I doubt they could do that now.


The local BBC news carried this story  a couple of weeks back. Warwick Uni did some testing on their local river and found the water to be carrying high concentrations of dangerous animal and human bacteria, mixed together in an environment likely to produce hybrid, untreatable and antibiotic resistant organisms. There was much mention of the possible effects on animals and humans, none of what effect this might have on fish. This river was not selected because of its likelihood to be so infected either, it was the only one they tested and chosen simply because it was closest to their campus! This is likely to be happening across the country.

There are a couple more observations that I would make too that I feel are very relevant. Lack of water in the ground due to extraction over many years has led to a situation where flows have been reduced badly. Once powerful rivers and fast flowing streams have relaxed into almost stagnant summertime canals. All green vegetation, tree roots and gravel beneath the surface seem to be coated with dull brown algaes that must surely have adversely affected the viability of fish spawn. I know from keeping and breeding fish at home that any sediment around fertile eggs is the kiss of death to hatching rates. That heavy weed growth and algae are boosted by nitrate run-off from farm land and those very same, clear but chemically rich sewage farm outfalls that carry so much harmful bacteria.

Recent heavy rainfall might just improve this issue in the near future both by diluting problems and cleaning spawn, but it cuts both ways. Ever wondered what happens to the rubber worn off your tyres as you drive down the road? Or what happens to the salt slurry that we loudly demand is sprayed onto the roads every time the temperature gets close to freezing. What about the heavy metals eroded from your catalytic convertor (You think that too small to matter? Well there is a company in London that considers it financially viable to mine these rare metals from dirt collected with road sweepers) or the particulates from your (and mine ) diesel cars. How drinkable do you think that water is that trickles out of your exhaust or air conditioning on to the road? Well I wonder, and I also wonder just what is the effect of this toxic soup being washed into the rivers every time we have a heavy downpour. Water authorities are allowed to discharge untreated sewage and human waste into rivers and the sea in times of extremis only. Times when their facilities cannot cope with unusually heavy rainfall. Well round here for the last year or two unusually heavy rainfall and excess surface water (due to our unquenchable desire to render the earth over with concrete) has been a very regular feature of our weather. I have to wonder what the long term effects of this are likely to be. At worst poisoned water, at best even-more fertile water exacerbating the algae problems.

It’s a wonder there are any fish left at all.

For all my moaning and considering that a walk along this river is unlikely to show more than a handful of small fish at the surface, we still catch a few. Despite the much higher numbers in the Avon, we have caught more net fish here, it’s just that there aren’t many small ones to keep us entertained in between times. Not that the bigger ones are all that big, they are just netters , but very satisfying to catch nonetheless. All of us seem to work hard all morning for next to nothing constantly wondering if we will catch anything at all only to get back to the car and find that we have pretty much matched our canal averages numbers-wise. The canals do have far more big fish in though, which is something I would not have expected myself to be saying just a few years ago.


Our challenge is to find a consistent way to locate these fish. Swims that produced (with one notable exception) last week don’t seem to produce this. The lures that have been most effective everywhere else are less so here. Grubs are at least as effective as shads, maybe even more effective in my experience, although we have caught on both. The dropshot on paper is the solution (as ever). Baits can be held in tight corners and worked carefully downstream through quite heavy weedgrowth but as yet I have not had one take on it.

It doesn’t matter how you look at it, there just aren’t the fish here to catch. I hope to be proved wrong and humble pie will never have been so tasty if we bag up next week, but I shan’t be skipping any meals to make room for it.


Everywhere I have fished the dropshot, and for all its faults and limitations, I have always had takes or at least attracted fish away from cover to inspect the lure. Not here.

Nix, zip, the square root of bugger all, nothing; and then in the next swim a fish appears and falls for a straight retrieve. I really am not sure where to go with this.

Next time we will be fishing the other end of the stretch, and if past performance is anything to go by, I can see me digging around in the dust at the bottom of my lure stash for wire and crankies.

If the fish are there we will catch some of them and there are lots of things that I used to use that might warrant a reprise, so next week the box will be home to small spinners, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Maybe a stumpjumper if I can find any and a topwater or two.

One things for sure though I shall be packing a few size 12s and some small split shot because I am not proud and if a minnow like the one at the top of the page will wipe out the blank, I shall use it.

In the meantime, I only have to look at this picture of Pete with an average chub to see why we go. We just like it there. It’s quiet, rural, beautiful and ours. The fish such as they are, are just the jam in the doughnut.

artificial lite

journal 2014.





journal 2014.

journal 2013.