July 2013 - It’s a beautiful day

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I am still trying to get to grips with drop-shotting. My plan for the day was to spend more time using the method, only reverting to classic cast and retrieve shads as a desperate measure if the need for takes became overwhelming. Once more it didn’t work out quite like that although, today, I learned an awful lot about its effectiveness and deployment. First stop was a weirpool at the top of the stretch. Rocky, snaggy and nowhere near as productive on recent visits as I had initially hoped it would be, it nonetheless has its share of smaller perch. Today I had tied another drop-shot rig using a barbed hook. Normally I crush them but so far most of my fish have fallen off, possibly because of the unpredictable effects of having a weight swinging around below the hook. It wasn’t a large barb but I hoped that it would make some difference and in fact it did. Only one dropped off today and that was as I swung it to hand. A bit quicker and I would have had no losses to report. So another lesson box ticked.


Before casting in anger I wanted to just have a practice in the edge where I could watch what effect my rod manipulations would have on the bait, so I dropped the rig into two feet of water at the margins and starting playing. Within about 20 seconds my lure had drawn a crowd of perch from seemingly nowhere, but none would take it. They darted at it, pulling up short, apparently egging each other on without any of them actually being bold enough to have a go. Then bang - out of the shadows shot a 4 oz perch that absolutely whacked the lure and bolted, making the clutch chirp and slamming the rod tip over, before being catapulted straight to hand. My first proper take on the method and proof that from a distance at least the lure can look tempting, even if to those fish close at hand it looked a bit risky. This actually turned into a theme with a couple more caught the same way. Plenty of fish watching but not sure before a bigger one would come straight in, out of the gloom and nail it. All the takes I had felt up to now have just been small fish tweaking and tugging at the tail and extremities of the bait. Its no wonder I had missed so many of them.

The day was an even hotter, even harder one than we have had to date. This relentless sunshine has led to gin-clear water and ever lowering levels - not a fair trial for any method really and I feel sure that the reticence of fish to take a drop-shotted lure will reduce as the water takes on some colour if and when it ever rains again. Even the usual techniques were not as effective today and many of my previously successful spots no longer have enough water over them, so clearly some of the fish have re-located. The weather takes its toll on one’s enthusiasm and thinking too. The pub becomes even more attractive.

For all the moaning, experimenting and struggling my results were the equal of my previous visits, 17 perch to about 12 oz and two chub, biggest a pound and a half maybe, but they were harder earned and still the majority came to 1 and 2” kopytos retrieved spinner-style across the stream. Nevertheless results on the DS were encouraging and interestingly, considering all the trouble I have had with reluctant takes and dropped fish until now, every one required the use of forceps to get the the hook out. Some were well down. Those that took it were clearly very convinced. I, however am convinced that we do not take into account to effects of light on the quality of our takes. If a fish takes positively, we say that it really wanted it. I wonder of those confident takes aren’t more the product of fortuitous lighting circumstances making us, and our lines less obvious. Those perch deciding to hit my lure from a distance, while those close-up could see the catch, kind of bolster that belief.

Off at to sea on Wednesday - fingers crossed. If we get gales on the south coast, that will be my fault.

As the day wore on and we fished the length of the river, it became apparent that heatwave had brought the chub to the top. They seemed to be in every swim although not quite as up for a grab at my lures as I would have expected. They did bring me one of my heart-stopping moments of the day. I had crept into a peg that had several nice chub up to three pounds or so cruising around on the surface. I tried a small kopyto on a light jighead but most of them just melted away leaving just one, two pound fish hanging around behind a reed bed to my left and close-in. I decided to put the drop shot out there and see if I could tempt some action and cast well out before working the rig back into the side. Time and again, the chub circled the bait working its way upstream and then passing it without ever looking like a take was going to happen. I moved the lead a little and it drifted down on the current before hanging up again and I started working the lure. Quite an effective ‘retrieve’ for me has been to lower the tip slowly which lets the lure drift downstream and closer to the bottom before tightening the line and making it dart back upstream again. While the line might be slack to the lead at least in a current it is not slack to the lure and takes are still readily felt, no matter how small.

As I tightened the line on this occasion, a huge chub appeared behind it. I mean about 1” behind it and it followed it with interest until the line was taught and I had nowhere more to go, whereupon it just slid past and melted away across the river into the gloom. In a river full of chub, this one stood out and looked to be at least five pounds to me. It was further confirmation to me that the technique is attractive to fish but only up to a point - then things become harder. They can obviously see something is wrong. Today they would often move confidently towards the bait only to treat it like a roundabout when they arrived. More evidence to my mind that fluorocarbon is no less visible to fish than any other nylon or wire and that once more, desperate lure anglers have succumbed to the hype over the reality. That is not to say that fluoro does not have some benefits - it is easier to straighten, less prone to damage and pleasant to use - but invisible to fish, don’t make me laugh.


artificial lite

From the water’s edge





journal 2013.



journal 2013.