Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Otter a nutter and a liar

Sunday morning shortly after my 2nd alarm rang, I lay in bed in that place which is neither asleep or awake and half wondered whether I should get up and go fishing, or just roll over and go back to sleep. Problem is that I haven't as yet this year done any early mornings, and truthfully I am not naturally an early riser. This combined with me still feeling like my head is stuffed full of cotton wool after a gargantuan two and a half weeks of lingering cold, has me feeling a little reluctant to venture out in the cold damp morning air.

I knew I had limited time on my hands so I forced myself up and slipped out the front door. The night before it had seemed prudent that with my time constraints I should go down my local trickle to maximise time out and not waste my time driving somewhere. Not only that but returning home the day before I caught a glimpse of the brook as I drove over her and she looked good!

On my short walk from my house to the brook I noticed a rather interesting person walking up the opposite side of the road on an early morning jaunt. To all intents and purposes it looked like this young man was trying to fend of a rampant swarm of those giant invisible wasps we are seeing around here in this warm winter. It seemed best we both stay on a opposite sides of the road and when we were opposite each other and he very loudly began to inform me the were "no fish here" again and again and again and again at the top of his voice, which I am sure woke half the people in Coventry, if not Bedworth too. After exchanging pleasantries and a few peculiar hand gestures I bid the colourful gentleman farewell and carried on my way,  hoping to god he wouldn't follow me.

My first stop was at a swim I have now entitled the Gaza strip! It's a long straight run which even in low water drops down to three foot half way down the tall reeds and maintains that depth to the road bridge where it quickly shallows up and is situated right on the edge of no mans land.

I searched out this entire run fishing a super light quiver rig baited with small pinches of bread. Only to find it is so solid with minnows that a bait only lasts about two minutes wafting in this swim!

The next swim I moved to was on the opposite side of the bridge, where the water shoots out of a bottle neck with more force than anywhere else in this diminutive water. This too was chock full with minnows, although the increased flow turned their normal vibrations into full on bites.

Although both runs looked the part, nether produced anything other than whittled bread and foul hooked minnows. So I opted to move on again.
Before I left I had to answer the call of nature. Rather than have some passer-by call the law about and flasher down the brook, I ducked under the bridge. The river had obviously fallen recently and left soft mud beach on the edge next to the concrete where I saw something very interesting. A set of paw prints running into the water! A lot of them were fouled by each other and I could not get a good snap shot of them. But to me the seem about the right size for an otter.

If it is an otter I would be amazed, as that would mean they are at least 2-3 miles inside the city foraging amongst dense human housing. I am not totally convinced they are otter tracks though I have checked them out online and they look pretty similar.
That's all we need round here, urban otters loitering round under bridges smoking and threatening local water voles. Seriously though is this otter thing as bad as we think it is, or is it worse? I myself was never drawn into the whole Zander being murderous fish that kill for the sake of killing, and look how that panned out.  I have to wonder are we putting otters in the same boogey man category or are they actually destroying our fish stocks, because I keep seeing all these fantastic fish in the fishing rags and the Internet. So some of us are still managing to catch some fish before the otters get them. Truthfully I am not sure whether they are having the impact the media seem to claim they are.

This actually got me thinking. I have been fishing for 25 years in the UK and in all the time I have spent on the bank, I have only seen one maybe two otters and truthfully I have only seen five or so injured fish.
Now I know that I am only one angler so I suppose I must ask whomever reads this. 

- Have you ever seen an otter?
- Have you ever found signs of otters?
- Have you ever caught or found mutilated fish?

To be honest I currently find myself in neither camp for or against otters, as I have never seen first hand what they can do to a fishery. This could change in the future. But for now one niggling thought repeatedly pops back into my head. 'Who was fishing here first, us or them?'

After seeing the tracks I moved on down the tiny river and proceeded to bag four small chub from the next four swims which lead me to a conclusion about the chub in this zone of the river. They seem to all be the same size and I am a bit worried that is as big as they go here.

With only an hour left I went back upstream to an old haunt where an dog walker approached me. It turned out he was also an angler and he then passed on some information regarding whom and what resides around this brook.
I know anglers have a undeserved reputation regarding how big we say the one we caught was. Well this bloke was the king of angling flim flam. (if your reading this Jeff, sit down mate!) apparently he had deposited over 60 carp into the brook and only a few weeks ago the EA came down and removed fifteen fish from a deep hole up the way and the biggest was over 35lb.
If this guy had any idea how big a 35lb carp is he'd understand that a fish of such a size would only have half it's mouth in the water if it laid on it's side in this brook.

I think for my next trip out I may need to head back to the solitude of the country to get away from, well everything.


  1. Looks an interesting brook. Do you ever get anything there on the fly?

    Regular Rod

  2. I heard there was an otter (pair?) up my way Danny, but another bankside tale perhaps? The fish are still there though so it must be eating out of the bin bags locals like to throw in from time to time...

    I'd like to see a 35lb carp in that stream! It would be hilarious! And I have seen a large chub, probably a three pounder, near the superstore in shallow water, last summer.

  3. I feel sure you could land a few summer chub flicking muddler around. But in the area I am fishing it only seems to hold chub, roach and a few other coarse species. But I have heard from a reliable source that down stream there is a population of that rarest of fish. The west Midlands trout! which I may try for later in the year and I might even try a fly rod instead of poaching em out with worms ;)

  4. I've had success in the past with chub on a bushy dry fly like a big Red Tag or a Double Badger. Might be better than the muddler?

    Regular Rod

  5. I should give fly fishing for chub a go as I have all the kit. Only problem is I rank amongst the worst fly fisherman in the UK. It's more likely that any fish I may cast a fly at may float up due to me thrashing the water to a foam rather than one actually take a fly.

  6. Dan there are now otters up at Water Orton on the outskirts of Brum and in a very industrial and developed area . The river Tame I believe they live on . There were trout stocked in to its tributary the Cole and I have caught brownies from the Blythe which also leads in to it .


    1. Baz - The Blythe has had otters for a few years now up to the M6 at least. This year I have seen otters on three different rivers, the Anker, the Mease and the Teme.
      I saw three in one session on the teme with one swimming under my rod ! They're here to stay now me thinks!

      Danny, My blog has post with a mutilated river blythe carp from a few seasons back. click on otter in my grouped labels

  7. There are defiantly otters on the stretches you have been chub fishing Baz. The nature reserve was putting in artificial holt's quite recently in the area.
    I know for sure that there is at least one wild brown trout population in the Sowe and possibly on the Avon as well. So this summer I am going to bag me one ;)