From the water’s edge

April 2014 - Whose got clean hands?

Mirror, mirror on the wall,

Who has the cleanest hands of all?

The pub falls quiet. Three old farts are sitting in the corner discussing yet another another morning’s struggle on the dirty old canal. Who will move first. Pete makes his excuses and gets up to order and pay for the food. His hands are clean. Eric spits on his hand and rubs it on his trouser leg. It’s not what you are thinking, he must have caught something or at least fallen over at some stage. Terry leaves the bar and washes his hands. The crowd sighs. The winner is declared. But wait... A fellow drinker gets back from the washroom before Terry. Terry has been washing both hands!! And he looks smug. Very, very smug indeed. Smugger in fact than is right for an Easter-time canal fisherman.

All morning they toiled in filthy water between the relentless waves of boats rolling around the Warwickshire ring. They smiled politely at the ‘have you caught your breakfast yet?’ jokes and plugged away diligently and just this once were privileged to see their just rewards stretched out on the bank.

Takes were few and far between this morning. After about 45 minutes persisting in a known productive area, I had the first. The slack line flicked violently and yet again the crayfish had worked its magic. I had turned to the cray just as soon as it had become obvious that they were not up in the water chasing shads about. I was using the 4” yellow one and it seemed to be the right choice. That small zander was followed about thirty minutes later by a second. Not such a big indication this time, but no doubt whatsoever that it was a fish. Seeing a slack line move of its own volition is THE very best thing about fishing the crayfish. They have picked it up static, proof that you have fooled them into believing. We are little more than confidence tricksters really. Another half an hour passed before my last. All less than two pounds, all picked up and unhooked with one hand. Good but not good enough.

Terry turned to a smaller 2.5” yellow cray in search of his first take, and soon had a goer dobbing about under the rod-tip. A good perch? It wasn’t thrashing around like a small Z, it had to be.


As yet another boat came chugging through, the rod pulled own and he was on his knees giving line. Hmm, might be a pike after all. If it was neither Pete or I was going to get snot all over his net helping out. We decided it would be more useful to take the mickey and stood back to watch the fun.

It all changed rather quickly, Pete caught a glimpse, “looks like a Z to me”.

He was right, in fact it looked a pretty decent fish. It was pulling hard, staying deep and giving off all the signs of being a good four or five-pounder. Result.

Terry slid it over the net amid a torrent of bad language (mine) and gasps of astonishment (Pete’s). He lifted awkwardly and the net creaked ominously..... into two pieces. It was too late for the fish, terry had his hands on the frame and it was lifted, in a reverential silence onto the grass behind the towpath.

Pete and I have been fishing the canals in these parts for nigh on ten years I reckon and in that time, we have caught double figure pike and the odd three pound perch, but neither of us has caught a six pound zander. Plenty (well several anyway ) of fives quite a lot of fours but never a six. In fact despite all the different people we have fished with over the years who have all caught sevens and eights, and despite all the dead-baiters we have met reporting plenty of sevens and eights, nobody has ever caught one over six pounds in front of us. I did lose a monster once which rolled off at the net and that could have been eight or even more, but it was a long time ago and time has made me less certain that it ever existed or that it wasn’t in fact just another carp like the 12 pounder I landed shortly afterwards.

Today, all that changed for good. Terry’s fish trembled the digits on my scales to well over 10lbs. The net, miserable sod, cost just enough to drag that back down to 9-14. Full of spawn and living proof that the electro-fishing that took place not all that long ago was a complete waste of time and money. You’ve no idea how happy that makes me.

All was right with the world. The sun shone, the blossom blossomed, and Terry had a PB, caught on a crayfish as well. Bliss.

I thought his rig was of interest. Grubbing these lures across the bottom is a recipe for disaster. Or it would be if we didn’t use worm hooks hidden well inside our baits. We all use the weighted ones when we can get them, but even when we can, the size range is rather limited and seldom carries the weight we think we need. Un-weighted worm hooks on the other hand are much more common and smaller sizes easier to come by at the moment. Terry uses these and just clips a small Arlesey bomb onto a split ring at the front. Quick, cheap simple, versatile and above all productive. Look at the picture above, nobody can say that doesn’t work can they?


The noise died down, plates were scraped clean, Terry’s hands were as clean as Pete’s had been all day. The insults and banter were focussing on me now. I had caught three small Zs and I was paying the price, trapped between the smug and the bitter, but I shan’t forget today in a hurry. It might be a bit hard at the moment but if nothing else, Terry proved that another cast is always worthwhile. Roll on next week. We really enjoy fishing with Terry, but any more of this kind of behaviour and that could change. It’s my turn next. Please.

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.

artificial lite

journal 2014.





journal 2014.

journal 2013.