Raid­ing the cas­tle’s trea­sure – Will McCra­nor

William McCra­nor fills his net with roach un­der the shadow of the me­dieval War­wick Cas­tle

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Front Page - Words & Pho­tog­ra­phy Tony Grig­or­jevs

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”

Dou­ble-fig­ure de­light

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

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