From the water’s edge

September 2015 - All lucked up

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It’s always the same. I tell everybody we are going to fish the river and it promptly pisses down for days and the river is all over the place. Our intended venue is hard enough at the best of times and we really didn’t fancy our chances so we went back to our other ‘new’ place. Not being able to fish the river was a bit disappointing. The last decent fish we had came from there and decent fish have been in short supply of late.

That’s ok, we are used to it but I am trying to decide whether the reason for this dearth of better specimens is that our new spots just don’t have them or if using the pole has restricted my technique so much that I am missing out on fish we might have caught using our old methods. Now that we were on the cut after all, Pete’s plan was to use the rod and reel and we could then go compare, as it were.

The first lock had fished itself stupid on our first visit and we really had a lot of action. Our second visit had been much more difficult and today’s was moribund to the point of embarrassment. Pete had  a small perch out pretty quickly on one of his 4” flies and that was it. Not another tickle. I had already suggested we expend some extra effort at another lock further up the flight as it had produced a few better fish in the past. In every respect, today was no different. Pete had a nice perch that might have made a pound and a half, but after another fruitless half an hour that was it until, bizarrely we both hooked and lost decent fish at the same time. Why bizarrely? We were fishing thirty yards apart using different techniques and we both hooked up and then became unhooked simultaneously. Not the first time that has happened, but we couldn’t provoke another touch. This was like drawing teeth and we had to move, so at ten am, we set off for a different canal ten miles away. One that we know intimately. If it is going to be hard, go somewhere easier, it’s not rocket science is it?

At last our, or rather my luck turned and how. A blank was beginning to look likely, but dibbling a 3” yellow tripple tail along the moorings caught me my blank-banisher. It might have been small as perch go, but nowhere near as small as my second fish, this tiny zander. I had switched to a 1.25” fox shad-like thing after missing a few tugs on the bigger curly tail. I put the little fellow back to grow into my first ten pounder and dropped the lure back in the same spot.

When I went to lift it off the bottom, the elastic stayed put and the pole hooped over. I held everything steady for moment to confirm that it was the bottom only to feel the deep, heavy bump of a good fish.

Judging by the huge swirls boiling up to the surface as it dived repeatedly for the bottom, not to mention the amount of elastic it was pulling out, it was clearly going to be a good one to get in the net for a change

Anything that feels like a good fish always turns out to be an olive-marbled headache full of teeth and attitude, but this time something was different, a deep golden flash at the surface concentrated my mind in an instant. This was a good perch. It rolled on the top and slid toward the net - this looked like a very good perch indeed. In fact it turned out to be my best ever from this canal. Pete weighed it for me at 48.9 ounces which, as near as dammit in old money, is 3-1. What can you say about a fish like that? For this canal perch fisherman, that is pretty much the holy grail, all I could do was sit and stare at it. Thank God for cameras, I can understand why people used to have them stuffed when there was no other way to relive the experience. Not all progress is bad I guess.

Of course there is no gain without pain. I had no sooner put it back than the next flotilla of boats arrived and as we were fishing by the moorings, we politely stood back and watched. It didn’t matter, the spell was broken and after some pleasant banter with the folks on the boats, we headed off. With bits and bobs, we had caught about fourteen, I think it was. We had a decent fish each and a day that had blank written all over it, had turned out to be a very memorable one indeed.We still didn’t prove anything one way or the other as regards the efficacy of pole or rod, but I certainly shan’t worry that the pole is going to be ineffective for big fish anymore.

It was interesting that having persevered with three inch baits all morning in an effort to tempt something a bit better, the big fish came on a tiny one. I have said it before, I know, but small baits don’t seem to reduce the number or size of our better perch, they merely increase the number of smaller ones we catch in between them.

We packed soon after and after a nice meal in the pub, I dropped Pete at home. I had something else up my sleeve to try. I wanted to try and improve my catch rate at the commercial. I am convinced that there is a way to catch more fish in filthy water, even if they don’t usually take lures.    

I’d only been there for ten minutes when the bailiff came ambling up for a chat. Even as we spoke, the tip rattled and I caught this delightful little perch on a nano minnow. How different is that to the one I caught before at the canal. How the mighty fall and how quickly.

Eventually the bailiff finished laughing at my little fish and left me in peace, but after an hour things were not looking that great. It was more of the same. I could gather a bit of interest by flipping the lure in front of a cruising carp and controlling the drop ok. Most times it was ignored but now and then the fish would follow it down and I would frighten it off by striking at the wrong time.

It looked like I was in luck when  low double sauntered into the bay where I was fishing at the time. I flicked the lure at it and it turned and took immediately - no doubt about that. I lifted the hook home and in a split second the fish had all my elastic out and had nicked the trace through against the reeds. All that was left was a huge commotion and a lot of water sloshing and rocking around the bay. I missed a couple more and was getting hot and fed up to be honest. Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea coming here after all.

There were only a couple of other anglers there today and after a long tedious hunt around the fishery I was ready to pack up when I noticed that they were on the way home. Maybe, they would have chucked all their bait in and I could fish a greater concentration of greedy fish - well you never know. The fish were there alright. Loads of them slobbering around in front of the two recently vacated pegs demolishing the abandoned slices of a whole mother’s pride. I tried dropping the lure straight into their mouths - didn’t work and I would have been embarrassed and ashamed if it had. I tried the usually effective controlled drop but they were focussed totally on bread, nothing. I tried all my usual techniques of vertical jigging, fast lift, slow drop; slow lift - fast drop, slow up and down, fast up and down, trolling it behind the pole. All useless.

The bread ran out, the surface settled and it looked like another waste of time. Maybe this was never going to work. I had one idea left. I would drop the lure on the bottom and inch it around the swim rather as wadey fishes his ‘gherkin’ lure. And I mean inch it around as well. I let the line just go slack and took up the tension, lifting it just enough to re-settle the bait. I was immediately snagged so I pulled and the snag pulled back. Fish on - fish off - bugger. I tried again. This time I got right out into open water. Exactly the same thing happened but this time, after much toing and froing I landed a nice common of around five pounds. Interesting. I tried again.

I tried again. For two or three casts, I got small indications of interest, but missed them all, before once more lifting into a fish that I didn’t know was there. This one shot across the swim and shed the hook. Back in. Halfway across, the line started wandering off and I lifted into yet another carp which was bigger than the first at 6-4.

Hmmm. Maybe onto something here. I decide to try the next swim. I dropped the lure (a white nano minnow) in by the reeds and edged it out into open water. The tip rattled and I was into a smaller fish that jagged away for a moment or two before coming to the net. The real focus of my attention as well, a perch of around twelve ounces. Back in and the same bite in the same place but this time, the fish was bigger . I never saw it before it fell off but the fight was distinctive - just like the last.

I reckon I had been close to catching my first good perch at this water. Bites stopped then and it really was time to go, but for me that result was nearly but not quite as important as that wonderful fish from this morning. Next time I go here, I will be confident that I am in with a chance of catching fish that I haven’t seen and that some of those could well be the big perch that this fishery undoubtedly holds.

I’d call that a good day. I can always tell when it’s been a good day for me because Pete turns all ventriloquist and congratulates me without moving his lips. Sadly the grinding of the teeth tarnishes the sincerity somewhat. It was my turn today and I’ve still never caught a two pound perch, a six pound zander and an 18 pound pike all on the same morning, so I have a way to go yet to catch up.

artificial lite



journal 2015.


journal 2015.