Artificial

 Lite

December 2013 - Getting wind at Christmas

 

From the water’s edge

 

I hope that you find my journal interesting and entertaining. If, having read this, you think that I am talking rubbish then at least you have stopped and thought about it long enough to come to that conclusion which is something of a result in my book. If you would like to comment on this article or anything else relating to my website, please feel free to contact me using the adjacent form. Feedback is always greatly appreciated and very helpful when it comes to improving both my site and my angling. Thank you for looking.

Neither of us could remember ever having to sit in the car waiting for the rain to stop before. We arrived at our usual time of 7.30 am in very high winds and driving torrential rain. The car felt nice and warm and safe, and we didn’t like the look of it out there at all. The low thick cloud kept the day light at bay for at least an extra thirty minutes, before we ventured out onto the towpath. It was horrible. The canal was filled to over-flowing, water cascading over the gates and leaking onto the towpath. This torrential rain had obviously been coming down all night, we just hoped and prayed that it would give over sooner rather than later. We walked two hundred yards along the bank to our starting point, intending to fish back up and past the car as the morning progressed. Hopes had been high but the fishing was hard. Last week we had caught loads of fish along here casting 1” baits and we wanted to take advantage of what we had found out. That was never going to happen. Even though the fish were feeding moderately well, they would not chase and it was dibbling that got the ball rolling. In fact of the 14 perch we had between us, only one took a retrieved bait.

When we got back to the bend, we both switched to larger lures. This has been a productive area over the years and usually coughs up a decent zander or two and we have had plenty of perch here in the 1.5 - 2 lbs bracket. Despite having failed to catch on 2, 3 or 4” lures since daylight, two hours in, we started to get some proper takes. It was nice to get a good sound knock for a change instead of the subtle dithering of small perch, but not so nice to find the first proper take on a 3” bait producing yet another 8 ouncer. But still, one or two of those can keep the enthusiasm up while you seek out a better fish, and so it proved. Pete caught the next, a pound plus zander on a 4” bait. It wasn’t exactly manic as last week had been but considering the totally dire weather conditions, steady stuff.

If in doubt give the 2” yellow a run out. Pete did and was fast into a nice Z on his first chuck. No take, he just found himself playing a fish halfway back. They come up behind the lure, overtake it and keep going until the retrieve parts ways with the fish and the hook sinks in. Three pound or so and a pleasure to see on a day like this.

There was an awful lot of rubbish about. It hadn’t been an issue really until a couple of early boats had just gently chugged through lifting lots of stuff back up into suspension. The colour fell out quite quickly, but it would take about an hour for the debris to settle out again.

I cast my 3” copper and black across to the far bank and it was hit immediately. There was a sharp knock, and the strike met with minimal resistance. I struggled to keep the slack out of the line and wound for all I was worth before the weight started to come onto the rod, but as it increased, it went past the nice perch stage, and then the nice zander stage, finally becoming another dozy old pike. I reckon this one had woken with a start when the lure landed in its bed, because there were plenty of leeches about its person, and it just meandered around the swim like a sleepwalking log while I took some pictures and finally netted it. I wanted to shake the hook out, but as I let the line go slack, I could see it getting close to those teeth and settled for a quick netting, photo shoot and return. Pretty as you like, it might have made four or five pounds, but once more all my gear is covered in snot. I’m not really complaining, it’s nice to feel something heavier on the end now and then, I just wish they wouldn’t keep cutting my baits up.

It never got busy, but after every period of inactivity we seemed to be able to provoke something by changing lure or method. Changing my black/copper hammer for a pearl one with a yellow tail immediately drew hard and fast interest from a lovely zander, the spitting image of the one Pete had just returned. They were either shoaling by year group or this was one very greedy fish, (which I doubt). Considering zander are supposed to travel and hunt in bloodthirsty packs, they aren’t half hard to catch. I’ve lost count of the singletons that have popped up out of nowhere, yet find one perch and there are always plenty more. These guys who think that the canal is stiff with them are truly blinkered and the number of fish that the perch must be eating must surely outweigh the number that are taken by zander by at least ten to one, especially at the smaller end of the scale. If zander and pike were truly having a lasting impact, I find it hard to imagine how so many perch have survived.

I have even heard lure anglers claim that once the zander move in, the perch move out - total and utter load of old gonads. We catch them all the time from the same swims and you never know which is going to take the lure next. They really are a beautiful fish and it is so rare to find one in anything less than perfect condition. Hopefully they will one day be accepted for the fine sporting fish that they are; after all, carp have got their fins well and truly under the table now and they are an environmental disaster compared to zander.

By late morning, it was getting harder and colder by degrees. Minimal as the boat traffic was, it kept stirring up the rubbish and the wind kept shifting about seeking a way through the trees and houses so that it could annoy us all the better. Just as we would find a clear warm spot, with the weak winter sun lifting our spirits as well as the temperature, the wind would come snapping round the side, curbing our enthusiasm. We needed two things, and the first was a method that wouldn’t catch so much dross; we were wasting at least fifty per cent of our casts, working the lure slowly and carefully back to the bank only to find it festooned with vegetation. I dug deep and found a 4” fluke mounted on a weedless rig and sure enough it tricked another, somewhat smaller zander. Just the one, but it set me thinking and now I am home, I have an appointment with the useful bits box for some smaller worm hooks and lures to suit. The ‘dying swan’ is ok, but I reckon the ‘dying cygnet’ might catch a few more

That was one thing we needed sorted out, the other had a nice log burner and a menu, so for the first time in ages we packed early, cold, wet, hungry and happy, with plenty more to think about. Wadey was creeping small lures slowly across the bottom last week and caught fewer than the rest of us. I think maybe he might have done better this week than we did. A grand Christmas lure box sort out is on the cards.

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