Thursday, 1 March 2012

Catch 22 - Hatt's Own 'Twenty Four Hour Rod Race'

I went over to the Ricoh Arena with Danny last week to see the fishing event there and when we were leaving, noticed that there was a pile of free Angling Times on a desk in the foyer. Of course I picked one up and took it home. Inside two things caught my fancy out of what was an excellent issue packed with good stuff, one an eye opening article about drop-shotting for big perch by Des Taylor, and the other, one by Matt Hayes about a twenty-four hour species fishing challenge set for him by the AT editor Rich Lee,  at Bluebell Lakes, Northamptonshire, a venue with a complex of pits and a river stretch to go at too.


I struck me that it wasn't that much of a challenge at all to be asked to try for only seven species in the one full day. Matt set himself a list of nine possible species to target, but in the end, only got the seven. I've done better than that in less time before (but without being set a target to reach, I hasten to add) catching nine species of fish and a crayfish too, in a day session spent at Packington Fisheries fishing their Siblings Lake and stretch of the River Blythe. A similar venue to Bluebell Fisheries then.


I could have made it ten or eleven fish species that day if I had targeted the carp that were rooting around in the reeds at Siblings but I hadn't the tackle to cope with them so didn't try and if I'd stumbled upon the whereabouts of a small pocket of dace on the river that were located another day. I hadn't set myself a challenge either, the fish just came along one after the other; a chub, a gudgeon, a minnow and a perch from the river, and the crayfish too, then a tench, a crucian carp, a rudd, a roach and a bream from Siblings.


Not only do I think I could probably outdo Hayes' seven fish species on Packington's waters alone, and in daylight hours only, I actually reckon it's possible, given a choice of any (and the the right!) venues and good time management, to catch no less than twenty two species in the twenty four hour time frame, and by using only one rod at a time (no crafty sleeper rods!) and here they are ~

Roach, rudd, perch, pike, zander, dace, ruffe, barbel, chub, gudgeon, tench, crucian carp, carp, silver bream, bream, brown trout, rainbow trout, grayling, eel, minnow, bullhead and bleak.


First venue would be the Coventry Canal at 12 midnight for a zander as I don't know of anywhere else that can throw one up with any level of certainty. When the zander was caught, if caught at all, I'd switch swims and go after a bream and a silver bream, both species who do feed in the dark. If it looks like a zander won't show then I'd save it for the following night and concentrate on the bream species till dawn. Whilst at it, the bream swims do throw up tench from time to time and a perch is a racing certainty at dawn on maggot with the chance of a ruffe too.


Next port of call would be Packington Fisheries where I'd get a tench, a crucian carp and hopefully a carp early morning from Siblings Lake with the chance of rudd, roach and bream, then across to the River Blythe on the same fishery where I'd get a chub, a dace, a gudgeon and a perch too with the outside chance of an escapee rainbow trout from Packington's trout fishery downstream.


Grayling is almost impossible locally. They are known to be in the local River Sense which is a short hop from Packington, but I never did catch one there, however, I did catch a couple of brown trout and I know where they'll be right now. The same swims also contain roach, dace and chub too.


Next hop would be over to the local ponds if necessary where there's certain rudd, but also certain roach, perch and also some trickier crucians and carp too if they haven't fallen already.


The remaining species would be harder to get, but a session at Stratford-upon-Avon might see a barbel, though barbel fishing is a time devouring prospect, but would get a bleak and will get a roach or a bream. Pike and zander are also present there.


Eels are hard to get locally but an evening trip over to the Severn would certainly get me one after dark and silver bream can also be caught at night on the worm bait. Zander and pike are also possible there as are barbel, chub and any other river fish that still feeds at night.


Minnow and bullhead can be caught from any of the rivers mentioned but would fall whilst chasing other species if they'd fall at all. Ruffe? I know of only one swim in Warwickshire where I can be sure that they exist and that's back home on the Coventry Canal but I can't see how or where I'd fit it in unless I had the previous night's canal targets sewn up by dawn when I could hop over for an hour to the ruffe swim.


Though such a twenty-two species challenge is a nice idea, I won't actually try it, mostly because I don't have the wheels for it, but it could be attempted if I had, and I would have a crack at it!


What I will do is a two venue, one rod only, challenge, by fishing the Coventry Canal from midnight and then going over to Packington early morning, fishing there till dusk, and then returning to the canal to mop up till midnight of the same day. I reckon it's just possible to get fifteen of the species out of such a challenge, possibly more with lucky captures thrown in.


When to do it?  April or May, and whenever that time is when the canal comes alive with hungry bream and silver bream as they gather up into a tight area before spawning. Then is the time because all the other summer species have turned on by then and the winter species can of course be caught too. Doh! It's the close season on the rivers then. Silver bream off the list, they'll have vanished by June 16th, but that is when it'll have to be. Then again I know of a small pond where one can be got...

Silver Bream

And why midnight to midnight? Why not noon till noon? Or dawn dawn, or dusk to dusk? That's because a whole night is too static, too tiring and too concentrated and would, I feel, break crucial concentration in half when it is needed whole, spotting those tiny little crucian carp bites.


I'm gonna do it though! See if I can beat Matt Hayes at his own game, which was the whole point of the article, I suppose. To make us try it ourselves.

Trout. two species of these...

There's a lot of fish in this list! Didn't realise that there were so many...


It goes on...


And on...


And on...


And on!


You are of course, welcome to join me if you want, though I'm keeping a loose lid on my well proven Siblings crucian bait, if you do...!

No, I cant. I can't keep a secret. That's just not cricket.

They begin with a P, end with an N, better cooked than raw in the middle...

And crucians? They love them. 'Sail aways' every time! 


  1. I love the theory Jeff and its certainly the best way of spending 24 hours . The blythe is my local river and I occasionally catch small brownies there and you never know what it will through up next.....The biggest Gudgeon I have ever seen was caught at packington on the river byu my better half . Funnily enough the biggest Dace Ive ever seen and weighed was caught by the afforementioned lady !!!!



  2. Yeah, Judy is a brilliant angler too. Her first ever fish was a seven pound barbel, had never wielded a rod before, cast out perfectly, struck the bite and played it out as well as anyone I have ever seen play a strong fish.

    Hooked? Nah...

    She picks up my rods every now and then and the fish just fall to her! But she won't do it seriously. Good. I'd look very bad if she did, and this blog would have to be retitled, Workaholic's Rest !

  3. I've been reading your excellent blog for a couple of months now and think that your enthusiasm for angling is infectious indeed my 10 yr old son bagged a roach over the pound from the Sowe after reading your blog/viewing your video.

    There are a few venues around here that would throw up a lot of species in a short time frame including one stuffed with eels next to the Avon with barbel and pike!

    I'd love to have a go at that challenge!

  4. Mark, I came across the forum thread where you discussed that day with your son. At least I think it was you?

    I even saw the traces of a presence in the swim in the form of indentations in the mud when I was walking the dog the morning before I was alerted to the thread by a friend.

    They are surprising fish, aren't they? Just beautiful. Great that your son has had such a 'great big fish' that he'll never be able to forget! A died-in-the-wool roach fanatic for the future perhaps?

    And if you want to come along on the challenge, as I said, you are welcome. It'd be a fun way to spend a day.

  5. Sorry, I forgot to add that you used to be able to catch grayling from the Avon near Baginton until a polution wiped out everything in the river between Brandon and Warwick in the Mid 1980's.

    They were a superb species that would feed in literally any conditions from floods to droughts, frosts to heatwaves and I never blanked in the eight years since discovering them to them being wiped out.

  6. Grayling in the Avon, now there's a thing! I wonder if any survived ?

  7. hello jeff,i've also been reading your blog for the last two monthsand find the range of subjects very informative.after years away from fishing rivers i have recently started fishing the avon at ryton with mixed results but always very enjoyable,even catching minnows excites me,so keep up the good work and tight lines.gaz howard

  8. Hi Jeff, Yes, that was 'me' on the Total Fishing site!

    Those fish in the Sowe are in such good condition and the size for venue is enormous. Just goes to show how well fisheries do on a diet of neglect but the fish are packing on weight on a rich diet of Chironomidae, no doubt.

    With regards to the Avon: I don't think any survived as it was a total fish kill and I had never caught them in the upper reaches around Wolston (above the source of the polution) or Ryton (below the source) prior to the incident.

    They were in the water imediately below where I was and maybe a few could have entered the Sowe at it's confluence with the Avon at Stoneleigh as it is very close but I had fished that stretch a few times and never had one from there or heard of a capture either.

    The Avon was restocked quite sucessfully and I have had trout since then but I don't recall that grayling were reintroduced, more's the pity, as few people were aware of their existence.

    I have been back a few times but unfortunately no grayling.

    I fished there on the last day of the season in 2007 catching 99 fish with roach over the pound and chub nudging three. Despite having about 40 mins to catch another fish before collecting the kids from school, I packed up and went for a pint instead!

    Fishing friends thought that I was mad to not crack the ton but, as it was already by far the best catch that I had from the place, there was something that compelled me to stop without doing so.

    I rationalised that it still leaves me something to achieve there.

    Funny eh?

  9. I'm making enquiries at the moment how best to go about extending their habitat, creating places where the roach can thrive, downstream and upstream of that one small natural stretch of the river, where the work of councils and agencies has destroyed any chance of that.

    There's the Sowe Valley Project, a volunteer organisation, who are involved in doing various things with the river. They wrecked the reed beds below one of roach shoals lies, thereby destroying what was almost certainly a breeding environment. They probably have no idea about fish and their needs so no direct blame, but ignorance is no excuse and I intend to have it out with them, and then hopefully liaise and get them thinking about the piscine environment, rather than the cuddly creatures they adore, but which ultimately depend upon fish for their very existence,