Artificial

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From the water’s edge

March 2014 - Baitbox blitz

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It’s, it’s, a baitbox blitz. The blanker’s revenge. After last week’s demoralizing blank, Pete was desperate to catch a fish. Just like every other lure angler who has had a grueller, he was convinced it would never happen again. But - today was his day. Never mind blanker’s revenge, more a case of blanker’s cramp, caused by opening and closing that lure-box time and time again. It took him just long enough to catch his first, a small Z, for Colin to miss it. He fishes differently to us in that he moves farther, faster and more frequently than we do these days. Once it was different, but now if anything, be it a knock or previous experience or even a gut feeling, occurs, we will work an area to death. Colin was long gone by the time we started getting hits. My first came on a 3” Yum craw. It hit hard and pulled hard. It was a heavy fish but on the first run, all went slack. I thought I had been bitten off or snapped, but my lure was missing although the clip was still there. I suspect a weak split ring or an incompetent angler.

He might have started with a Z, but it was perch that accounted for the bulk of Pete’s catch. This one of around a pound and a half took a home made cray on a home-modified hook. The latter, an un-weighted worm hook had been wrapped in lead wire which was then coated with two-pack epoxy. The crayfish started as a tube and the claws were created by sticking the skirt into two arms with superglue. Just because you can’t buy what you want, it should never stop you catching. A well deserved fish if ever I saw one. Me, I moved my lure up in the water and promptly lost another 3 lb plus fish, a Z for sure this time, on a 3” black and copper shad.

Takes were sporadic and it was chopping and changing baits all day that  kept us catching. 3” shads, 3” curly tails, cut down and fished on very light jigheads, flies and crayfish in a variety of colours, weights, and patterns; fished deep, slow, up in the water, hopping, dragging and erratically retrieved all added fish to the tally.

If we’d stuck to the cast, catch and move habit of the past, I doubt we would have caught more than a couple apiece.

 

Pete really seemed to have the magic touch this time, whatever happened last week. When they began ignoring his tube-cray, he pulled out a 3” tripple ripple grub, cut the body in half and fitted it to a very light (less than 2gm) jighead. Straight away he had a slower fall and a different bait to offer them. We knew they were there, it was a case of offering something that hadn’t already spooked them or which they had perhaps never seen before. Feeding fish will try anything new if it looks like food, how else are they going to make the most of their environment and immediately this switch worked. He had perch to one ounce under two pounds this morning, every one earned, every one over a pound and every one as pretty as a picture.

I tagged along behind, catching Zs and small ones at that. By the time I packed up, I had lost three good fish and landed all the tiddlers. That’s the way it goes I guess.

In the end, the hot spot had cooled totally, extra effort was being required to get smaller and smaller bites and they were all un-hittable. We had nothing new in the boxes left to offer and frankly, they had just been offered everything we had, tried it out and now found it to be not worth the risk.

Time for us to move on then. We did go up the hill, but all our favourite spots seem to have been turned into marinas and all those overhanging trees and semi emergent reedbeds had been destroyed. I don’t doubt the fish were still there somewhere but our hearts weren’t in it. A couple of years and the initial enthusiasm for tidiness will have waned in an effort to save money and things will look better again, I’m sure.

In the meantime, we headed back down to a spot where a river flows into the canal. Pete was straight back on the fish. Mostly perch again and he was catching on all sorts of lures. He even gave one of his old flies a run out and had small zander on it.

My second cast with a four inch cray gave me some exciting and ultimately disappointing moments. Half way back as the lure left the flowing water and dropped off the shelf, my slack line leapt forward. That could only be a take and sure enough when I struck, two heavy thumps on the rod tip proved the point, but the line quickly went dead. Immovably dead and in the end I had to pull for a break. The snag did move and after much huffing and puffing I dragged in a big old branch that judging by the black colour of most of it had been buried for a long time. That was my third bigger fish of the day lost and I was beginning to fear that I might be beaten for numbers and size of fish. I was but  I did manage one decent perch in the end.

It went just over a pound and a half and was very welcome by the time I caught it. I can’t find any weighted worm hooks small enough to fit 2” crays. I have or rather had, a couple that Pete had made up for me using the lead wire, but today I only had ordinary jigheads left. I fitted one on and instead of retrieving through the silt, settled for hopping the bait over it. I kept the tip high and gave fast turns of the reel handle to get that lure shooting up off the bottom before letting it drop down again. Sure enough it worked immediately and halfway back the slack line flicked and my best fish of the day was on its way to the bank.

We finished with twenty odd fish between the three of us. Pete had a round dozen more than half of which were really good perch and we had a lot of fun. Especially as it was warm and dry for a change. Maybe that high pressure having been settled for three days now was all it took. More evidence that Alan was right when he suggested that a pressure change is as a good as a blank.

 

 

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