Tuesday, 17 January 2012

River Roach - A Royal Leamington Blank

It's hard to write about a blank if nothing happens, fortunately something happened just as soon as Phil Mattock pulled his motor into the car park of the Leamington AA stretch of the Leam at Newbold Comyn. We found a tiny grey tabby Kitty Kat transfixed in the beam of the car's headlamps... I couldn't just leave it there to fend for itself as an easy meal for one of the foxes we later saw prowling about in the predawn light so I stashed her ( I checked its rear end!) in the car and we made our way down to the river.

I wanted to check out the Leam's roach potential never having fished the river before but having heard of good fish there, so I'd made myself a bait box full of bread discs cut from slices of Warburtons Blue with a section of a broken whip, discs that I have found through experience to be the best possible way to go about fishing bread in sub-zero temperatures as there's no fumbling around with slices and ripping bits off and fiddling about with icy digits, just get a disc, compress it, fold it lightly in half and hook it through the bend. In the water it swells up rapidly and hides the hook deep inside a lovely ball of fluffy mush. Its surprisingly durable too and somehow resists all the small plucks till a more positive bite is got.

It was so cold that the discs were frozen in no time, but no problem, the warmth of the fingers thaws them in seconds. The first cast was made into some deep and very sluggish water and I sat back to await the inevitable plucks on the tip that bread produces in most swims from some kind of fish or other, only they never came. They never came upstream or down, under the bank or far across the water. The swim was obviously a bad un'.

Phil had fared the same and so we moved along downstream. I chose a lovely looking peg that had small fish topping in the margins but here too, there was nothing doing. The freezing air was causing the wet line to stick in accumulations of ice in the tiny rings of the quiver tip. A speculative cast upstream jammed and sent the feeder and baited hook straight into a bankside bush where it dangled like a xmas tree bauble till I tried to carefully inch the rod tip out and around the offending tangle in an attempt to retrieve things, but a single wrong move made matters far worse and ten seconds later the whole problem had become a cat's cradle of tangled line, feeder and hook. I tried to flick the bread off the hook to avoid killing a bird by mid-morning but only succeeded in losing the quiver tip, which plopped into the water and disappeared forever. The last one of the three that the rod shipped with...

Damn it!

I pulled for a break, eventually flicked off the bread with the stump of the rod and retired defeated. This session was failing before it had even started! but Phil fishing downstream had at least got bites to his bread and a small perch to his lobworm, so there was still hope...

We went up to Offchurch where I managed to sleeve one of Phil's spare tips with a float rubber and stuffed it into the socket of my rod. Back in business!  Here the river was altogether smaller and more attractive a prospect but no matter how succulent the swims may have looked, and one particular swim (above) with lovely green-tinged water running below a high bluff leading to a raft of trapped rubbish against downstream reeds simply screamed roach, chub, or both, but even here nothing was biting and so we retired an hour or two later, quite bemused.

Phil fishing the weir at Princes Drive

Next port of call was below the town and the weirpool at Princes Drive. We lasted all of ten minutes there before a gang of thirty Sunday morning canoeists made life impossible so it was up sticks time once again, and off to the pegs downstream, all of which proved to be just as fruitless as all the rest had.  I did foul hook a tiny roach though which proved there were at least fish in the river to catch even if they weren't biting. I was just beginning to believe it was completely barren.

It was desperate stuff so we decided to move to the Avon at the Saxon Mill, a well known quantity and a place guaranteed to throw up bites whatever the weather or river conditions it being stuffed bank to bank with fish in the mill race above the weir. Here again we experienced the same perplexing absence of anything remotely fishy, which has to be a first in my long experience of this stretch of river, it being a place where you're unlikely to experience a blank five minutes, let alone an hour or more.

The kitten, who'd travelled further in the hours of our Royal Leamington Blank than it ever had in its short life was happy clambering all over the car, and developed a penchant for sitting atop my head and shoulder like a parrot, but now resides in our house as a temporary, or perhaps permanent resident, if we can't find either its original home or another home for it soon.

Molly the spaniel is fascinated, but the cat is harder and meaner than its short existence on this planet should have made it, spitting and growling every time the dog gets anywhere near. She's asleep in my lap as I type. The dog has retired upstairs to the bedroom where she no doubt cogitates about this handful of fluffy upstart intruder who she probably wants to love, but who won't love her back. Yet.

We'll see.

If she can't or won't learn to love Molly, then I'm afraid she's either free to whomsoever wants her, or free to roam again, her undeniable cuteness notwithstanding...


  1. A very enjoyable read Jeff, you certainly seem to have a way of meeting felines whilst out on your fishing trips, my mums rather smitten with the picture of that kitten sat atop your head too.

    Kind regards

  2. Trouble at mill Jeff !!!!

    Blimey thats the first blank ive heard of on there , unlucky .


  3. I think you probably got my best side on that photo jeff!

  4. You guys are spoiled by small rivers in Warwickshire - I can't recall the Leam (even though it should be obvious given the connotation with the place name, hmmm) and THAT swim looks fantastic.

    On the kitty cat? She looks gorgeous and you just can't. Not when you've done the right thing in the rescue act and not when she's still so dependent on you for a home and a chance. Seriously, she'll be good with Molly and if you've got the patience for her it will turn out fine (it was meant to be!)

  5. Steve in Colorado18 January 2012 at 03:22

    As KB sez- the kitty is yours, now. She'll love Molly when she gets over having a big snout stuck in her face. Cat man, meself...

  6. Cheers Mark, would your mum like it? Going cheap (free!) ...

    Baz, you know how rare that is!

    Phil, the camera was too slow, you were turned toward the water when the shutter was clicked.

    KB & Steve, you are of course, right. The kitten is making itself at home and thinks I'm its mum sitting in my lap here! I think we'll keep it unless there's an offer to take it away to a dogless house!

  7. Now, why didn't I think of that?