From the water’s edge

Artificial

 Lite

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.

I remember fishing a handful of small unfrozen areas on the Grand Union with Pete Allen and catching a couple of dozen fish ( mostly perch) against all the odds. Leaky lock gates, sheltered areas under bridges and tree cover provided us with a day’s sport which come to think of it, that stretch has never offered us again even in seemingly perfect conditions. Perhaps we psyche ourselves out of a good day’s fishing more often than we realise.

Or how about another day on the Birmingham and Fazeley canal when the rain was so torrential that the only reason I kept fishing was because it was too heavy to walk back to the car in. I hid under the first bridge I came to and half-heartedly chucked a crayfish softbait along the side into eighteen inches of water. A two pound perch soon had me concentrating a bit harder and I had another smaller but still decent fish before the takes dried up.

A slight slackening in the downpour and I dashed back to the car and set off home; but I can’t help thinking about what I might have missed. Maybe they had just come on and more fish were queuing up for a lure that I never cast at them. Mind you I do know that it would have cost me a car, because when I eventually reached mine it was up to the sills in water. I had to drive half a mile staying as near to the middle of the route between the trees as I could because there was no sign of the road beneath the flood.

 

And that’s just the winter; summer brings its own problems. The rivers aren’t in flood any more, they have dried to a trickle. The current is negligible and the weed is thicker than ever. Run-off from the land and ‘treated sewage’ over-fertilise the environment and algae uses up those excess nutrients. Now those tempting slacks behind the mid-river reed beds are strung with long lines of green slime; effectively destroying the chances of surprising the fish lying there. Spinners stop spinning and shads trail long streamers of crap through the swim ruining everything. Strategy is required to overcome such problems. The holding spots are cleared on your way down the river by dragging all that fouls the lure onto the bank and then in the afternoon on your way back chances are much improved. Perhaps I should watch the forecasts more closely and instead of struggling in the heat on a shallow still water head for the oxygenated water of a big weirpool instead.

 

Strategy is a good word. New strategies are what is required to overcome these problems which seem to be ever present. Just lately, everywhere seems to be either frozen, in flood or stagnant and short of water. Classic comfortable overcast conditions with perfect water colour seem to be the stuff of dreams; maybe they always were, but I am sure that whatever happens we will find new ways and approaches that catch fish for as long as they are present. If we can’t or rather I can’t come up with some answers my future fishing promises to be lean to say the least.

 

Flood conditions on the river are another pet hate. I don’t think there is any doubt that lures work better in water which offers the fish good visibility and for years the sight of filthy brown water would see me return home with my rods unassembled.But now, I have caught enough zander in filthy canal water to be fairly optimistic that I will still catch. Rivers are not the same for me, and yet I caught my first ever lure-caught chub in a raging flood on a flying condom spinner.

 

When I was LAS editor, Pete Gregory sent me an excellent article on catching very large pike on lures, in floodwater , so it clearly is not the hopeless task that I have always persuaded myself it was. Location may be the key here and that immediately reminds me of a couple of visits to the fens when they were being pumped. The Delph would be tanking along and a three ounce lead would virtually float down the river because it was going that fast; but there were still fish rolling in mid-river. I am old enough to remember when some match anglers, having noticed similar activity on the Severn, scaled up to leads as large as 8oz before catching barbel from the middle of the river.

Sharkey caught this near 5lbs chub from a Thames weir at the height of the summer.

Dirty water often produces very pale fish.

Plump and pink with cold two welcome perch in difficult conditions

Coping with the climate

Well, what do you do when the whole planet is against you? Three weeks of very cold weather, cabin fever is well set in, and it can be very hard to find the enthusiasm to fish when difficult conditions are relentless rather than short-term. If the doom-sayers out there are right, then that laissez faire attitude is not going to serve me well much longer and I shall have to look at my approach to winter fishing again. Actually when I start writing down the problems, I can nearly always remember a day when despite them I caught fish and it was not always just the odd one either.

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