Saturday, 25 August 2012


The local patch is under seige! The local anglers are up in arms! The local gossip is of someone blowing cover! The local culprit, is me!

Me & my blabbermouth...

I tried in the beginning to disguise the location, but small details in words and pictures gave the game away. I succeeded for some time, well, some little time. Then anglers started to appear who'd never been seen before and before long the word was out and spreading like wildfire — yes , it was indeed possible to enjoy a days fruitful fishing on the Coventry Canal !

Lads fishing the Coventry Canal

Yesterday morning I went out and found my favourite peg occupied by two anglers. Now it wasn't the fact that my favourite peg was occupied that I found interesting — it often is filled by anglers fishing it blindly — it was the fact that the two anglers filling it were fishing with the right bait and to the exact feature that more or less guarantees serial catches of bream and tench there. That was the secret of the peg that I worked hardest to disguise (but not hard enough!) because fishing away from that feature and using the wrong bait, more or less guarantees less than fruitful results.

The earth is not yet down to a muddy rut — the peg is still a lush green sward of grass. However, it's out of my hands now. Where just a couple of months ago it was possible to turn up and guarantee that the spot would be vacant, now it is most unlikely. Every day I walk the canal and pass the spot, and every day it is occupied by someone new. It is becoming one of those swims where to fish you must get up at the crack of dawn to be in with a chance.

It's the price I have to pay for publishing my results so widely and openly. But what's the alternative when the secret of writing a blog that is actually useful to people and not just a pulpit to brag from, is in the giving away of all and everything, for free and gratis? A good read is a good lead. Details will be pored over and clues will be followed up on. It's an enjoyable game.

Trying to hush things up just doesn't work in the long term because people do know how to extract the marrow from bones thrown them. I certainly do. So don't publish 'mistakes' if you want to keep your waters secret from me!

I do know where that double-figure £@%$& was caught, btw ;-)

But can't afford the ticket and the travel...

Yesterday morning saw a grand total of 7 anglers fishing along just 100 yards of towpath, including myself, and that's a rare, rare sight on any canal nowadays. Do I mind? Well, not really. It's good to see the canal being fished regularly and people are queuing up not for specimens (though the secret-squirrel specimen fraternity will black ball me forever after this... oh, black balls to them!) but for a bit of free pleasure angling outside the confines of our over-priced and over-rated commercial fisheries. So good luck to them all.

It's all to my advantage to be fair, because the anglers who come to fish have mouths too, loose ones usually, but ones that can be prised open with the tease of a little extra information, no matter how tight lipped. I get to learn by their successes and their mistakes. I also get to see or hear about the contents of their keep-nets.

Haven't seen any silver bream yet, though...

The Warwickshire Avon is under-fished. Well, under-fished in the sense that 99.99% of its banks are hardly ever or never fished, and 00.01% are fished to death. Take my recent experiences at a certain lock. Just a handful of viable swims available, and those occupied every day of the week by the evidence of the state of the bank. It's the sort of place where queues form. Anglers pitching in second choices, keeping a beady eye on the occupants of their first choices, upping sticks and jumping in when they depart. Doctored photos and anonymous leafy backdrops will never ensure a swim there — it's common knowledge.

Yesterday evening, Martin and I went back for seconds. The prime pegs were of course, occupied. Martin's first choice was free though, and for good reason — it's not the sort of place where you'd go for a comfortable and lazy afternoon's fishing. My first choice was open too, and for similar reasons, it being a muddy hole reached by a treacherous slippery staircase with room at the bottom for one rod and a bait box, but no easy chair.

Two anonymous pictures of the Avon are quite enough, should a very large fish be caught from it, for the precise swim to become common knowledge in less than a week. 

It wasn't the same swim it was last week though, because the flow had weakened and with a foot less water in it, it felt a foot less promising. I went bite-less. Martin did not repeat his previous captures either, and struggled for one small barbel. THEN, right at dusk and the prime time, the prime swim was suddenly free...

We were in it like rats up a drainpipe. It peed down almost as soon as we were comfortable, and the rods, which we fully expected to be pulled off their rests in moments, remained steadfastly frozen against the anonymous leafy backdrop. An hour or so later we decided to call it a day, because Zena has 'borrowed' my headlamp for her adventures at the Reading Festival, and as more of a fashionable mosh pit accessory than a means of negotiating the night, I might add, and I couldn't function properly without it. Besides, it looked a dead loss.

Just as Martin went to pull his rod from the rest and had his hand over the cork, I saw it bend over to the water. He picked it up unaware of the bite and was attached to a surprise fish, a barbel of a four or five pounds. A last gasp bonus.

On the way home, with lightning flashing in the skies towards Coventry, I felt around for items of tackle stowed in pockets, and to my horror found that I'd left behind what is, or rather was, the oldest item of useful tackle I own. To those occupying the prime swim this day — and it will be occupied — please, let me have my 20 year old Gardner Bait Needle back.

It's beneath your feet, trodden into the Avon's mud. Send it back, and I'll tell you a secret you don't know, if only I can think of one that nobody, or their dog, knows about already.


  1. I know the exact swims you were in, Martin gleaned them from my anonymous blog photos last year, I am afraid his first choice of swim was hammered yesterday morning, apologise to him for me in a tongue poking out kind of way!

  2. Thanks Joe. I knew it was a bit quiet on the bite front. Well done though mate. I have fished these pegs for about 20 years or more on and off, on the right day you can get your arm pulled off. It's not a peg for the faint of heart though, snags abound and they know where safty is. How's your arm Joe ?

  3. 'Tis a tricky one. The author of a blog may not mind naming or showing stretches but what about other anglers who fish the same spot when the blogger is not there? Do they mind finding their favourite swims busy/pressured? They don't have a say in the matter.

    But isn't it great to get people onto rivers and canals? Isn't it nice to see new anglers on the bank? Providing they are the 'desirable' sort, that is... What if next time you find beer cans and burnt out instant barbecues?

    But how long will clubs and associations justify the paying the lease on a stretch of water if people don't actually fish it?!

  4. There's a local tench water that was inundated with anglers last year. The word got out that a pair of double figure fish had been caught by a pleasure angler — not surprisingly others wanted to know all about it, and have a chance at catching one. I doubt if the anglers who had been fishing the lake for years liked it very much as all the best swims were taken most days.

    After thousands of man hours had been expended between what were expert anglers, nothing approaching such a fish turned up, and an awful lot of tench were caught to prove that double was a mis-weighed fish after all.

    This year the lake is back to what it was before — deserted!

    Interestingly, blogs did little to promote the lake and those who tried all got the word on the grapevine. A single angler who'd had the tip off and kept it secret might have fished for years before giving up on it, so I suppose there's something to be said for indiscretion!

    On the whole though, I think that anything that promotes canals and rivers is a good thing. They need anglers on the banks if fishing rights are to be retained for the future, as you rightly say.

  5. As for the bbq's and beer cans, there's a little local water that was full of lovely rudd and that bloggers fished three years ago, and publicised. Last year the signs appeared on the bank. The rudd were ridiculously easy to catch and anyone with half a wit could bag a ten pound net in a an hour or two. This year the place is almost devoid of the larger fish and crawling with tiny ones...

  6. That Gardner needle wouyldn't be one of the transparent yellow jobs would it? If so I'm coming to find it!

  7. Jeff,

    That same canal peg got hammered a few years back when one particular angler decided to tell the AT about his regular catches of 100lb of bream. AT did a feature on it and again, you had to be there at stupid oclock to fish it if you wanted.

    Its a shame, but way of the world, never mind once the cold sets in, the guys will stop fishing it and we can have it again for the pike & zander :).

  8. Rob, no, it was one of the slidey green ones, which can still be got I see. Are the yellow ones rare?

    Gaza, I saw him catching those bream and it was real enough. The electro fishing that came afterwards, no doubt informed by that feature and where not surprisingly bream were the BW target, seems to have reduced the bream shoals somewhat, but to the advantage of the tench, who are now flourishing.

    I know what I'd rather have!

  9. The yellow ones are legendary Jeff, well for a piece of plastic anyway :)

    By writing in the public domain you have the power to influence things either way, in situations where it may be detrimental to your future sport them sometimes it's wise to use a little artistic license, or just lie!

  10. I think if you stumbled on something very special indeed then there'd be no option, or not publish at all. The trouble is with serial visits, the clues mount up.

    Imagine if it had ben a yellow one... anglers digging up that swim!

  11. If it had of been a yellow one I reckon Time Team would get involved.

  12. Always a difficult one, whether to blog, how much detail to include, whether to publicise a big fish or keep it quiet. I have always erred on the side of caution, and very few of my better fish have received any plugs at all, indeed, much detail and even a few fish are still known only to myself. I avoid naming swims, and often even venues, mainly because other anglers do fish them, and I would not want my actions to impinge upon their sport.
    That said, although I might advise other anglers to keep the lips buttoned, I do not feel I have the right to dictate, or to be critical if they do choose to seek the fame ( and possibly fortune)of having their picture on display. Anglers who write for profit are a different breed altogether, and they probably rely on continued reported succcesses to guarantee their paycheques.
    BUT...I have seen waters lost as a direct result of such publicity.

  13. I agree. I tend to be far more circumspect when others are involved. Still, to publish anything remotely interesting you have to establish both time and place through clever words, or more easily achieved pictures that do that work for you. All become clues in the game should anyone need to know more than is given away directly.

    Personally, I simply fail to read more than a paragraph or two into many blog articles I come across, simply because there's nothing there for me except the looking at some big fish or another, which isn't of any real interest to me without the essential background against which the capture was made.

    Then again, I certainly don't want a blow by blow account of every pertinent detail, which I find equally dull. I think the balance has to be struck depending upon circumstances, but in the end I recognise that on rare occasions there are very good reasons to keep quiet.

    One day I'll have such a secret to keep, with any luck!