Raiding the castle’s treasure – Will McCranor
William McCranor fills his net with roach under the shadow of the medieval Warwick Castle
URBAN fishing on rivers and canals has enjoyed a major revival in recent years thanks to the evolution of roving. Whether you enjoy slowly creeping back a small rubber lure for predators that lurk nearby or freelining a chunk of crust for a greedy chub, there is every chance you have tried it on a stretch within a stone’s throw of a buzzing town centre. But those that still prefer to carry everything but the kitchen sink and fish from the comfort of a seatbox still fret at the thought of setting up on a local towpath. It’s not that they don’t want to put together a net of silvers that are barely fished for, but more an understandable concern for their tackle, with the element of risk associated with pedestrians, runners and cyclists. Remove that potential for disaster and give them the convenience of a commercial and anglers will flock to have a crack at it – as the Warwickshire Avon in the centre of Warwick is proving. The Myton Fields stretch is located close to the medieval Warwick Castle - the area’s biggest tourist attraction which draws in thousands of visitors. Fishing close to such a heavily populated, touristy destination may sound like chaos but the development of the riverbank has made it quite the opposite for anglers. Sturdy wooden platforms push out into the river, providing you with a zone that isn’t accessible to anyone else. And you can park directly behind your peg because the field is actually a pay and display car park. Box in a peg with your own car and nobody can get close enough to make your heart flutter as they clumsily step over several thousand pounds worth of carbon. All these factors along with top class silver fish sport are the reason up and coming Guru and Dynamite Baits starlet Will McCranor rates it among his favourite venues.
“There has always been loads of fish to catch here but there has been a major roach boom this year and it is better than ever,” explains Will. “Add bonus bream and perch into the mix and you soon realise this is a river that has an awful lot of potential.”
Selecting the bigger roach
Most rivers have experienced successful breeding seasons in recent years and the Warwickshire Avon is no different. Peer over the edge into the clear water and you’ll spot shoals of fry weaving in and out of the submerged vegetation. It all bodes well for the future but the here and now is equally exciting. “There must be literally thousands of roach to go at and you can put together double figures of them from any peg on the field. You can catch a fish every single drop in but if you want to be more selective and find a better stamp then it is all about bait choice.” Pinkies will be devoured by small redfins but switching to hemp will produce better silvers that will enable you to put together an impressive weight. As Will tackled I couldn’t help but gaze at the backdrop. Peering under the bridge, the historic Warwick Castle was staring back at me. On the far bank people from all walks of life were going about their daily business. Parents were keeping their children entertained, dog walkers persuaded their companions not to dive headfirst into the Avon and elderly couples strolled along enjoying the warm conditions. Meanwhile Will had set up three pole rigs which were all designed to fish over the same line at 14.5m. “They all offer a slightly different presentation but switching between them is key to keeping those bites coming.”
Cover all bases
Although the margins are fairly shallow, they slope off quickly and by the time you reach the distance which Will was fishing at there is around 10ft of water. Lobbing in seven big balls of groundbait at the start helps concentrate many fish close to the deck but roach remain fickle and will regularly rise off the bottom. “I feed all my groundbait by hand because the noise it makes draws more fish into the area. My mix is an equal blend of Dynamite Baits Frenzied Hempseed Black, Silver X Roach and Rich Brown Crumb. This creates a feed that is packed with food and attractants while creating a reasonably dark colour that the fish will confidently graze over. I also include a handful of hemp and dead pinkies in these balls to increase the food content.” Will’s first rig is aimed at fishing pinkie hookbaits on the bottom and is the opening gambit. Hemp is then be trickled in regularly via a catapult and, once he feels that a better stamp of fish are feeding confidently, he will make a switch to rig number two. “This has a strung out shotting pattern and the aim is to catch those bigger roach on hemp that can be sat at any depth. This set-up makes sure the hookbait falls at a slow pace to give the fish plenty of time to attack it.” Last, but certainly not least, is also for pinkies but has a heavier float and is designed to slow the rig down in the current. Its purpose is to catch bonus skimmers that ignore baits moving underwater at pace.
“Out zipped several feet of solid No.5 elastic and a 2lb bream was added to the net”
In went the carpet of groundbait before Will shipped out the pinkie rig. It was noticeable how much room he had behind him and that he could go about his business without worrying about whether an overzealous terrier was going crash through his pole sections. Despite the commotion of the bait going in, there was no shortage of fish with small roach and perch coming from the start. Although the bites showed no signs of tailing off, he switched to the hemp rig after 30 minutes and hoped the result would lead to him requiring the use of his landing net. Several other tiddlers came before the first in a series of chunky roach pulled his float under. A lull in bites gave him something to ponder and it was time for another change. “There is either a pike in the peg or a big skimmer has got its head down and disturbed the roach. Let’s hope it’s the latter.” His heavier rig was lowered in and held back against the slow current to prevent the hookbait from moving and within a few minutes the float dipped. Out zipped several feet of solid No.5 elastic and a 2lb bream was added to the net shortly afterwards. “That’s just one of the many beauties of this brilliant venue – you just never know when a bigger fish will turn up. There are dozens of urban river stretches that are packed with fish but very few offer the convenience and comfort of Myton Fields.”
Switching between three different rigs kept the bites coming all day
Warwick Castle makes for a breathtaking backdrop when fishing the prolific Avon
Unlike many river stretches you can park directly behind your swim