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I have always felt that increased baitfish activity encourages predators to wake up and start feeding. In the past I have been a fan of the cast and move approach, covering a lot of water, but canals appear devoid of fish over long stretches, so lately I have modified my approach and persist in areas that have been productive or where I am as certain as I can be that fish are resident. This means that lures (potential prey as far as the fish are concerned) are going past their noses regularly and this apparent increase in baitfish around them can start the predators feeding.
The flip side of this theory is that once a lure has been closely inspected and either taken or rejected, they wise up quickly and results over the last six months using this approach have shown that a simple change of colour or lure will give more opportunities. As soon as takes dry up, I change the bait. I also do this is if I see a lure refused, rather than persisting for more than a cast or two with one that for whatever reason they have decided is not worth the risk.
The fish above took a bleeding olive big hammer shad, while the one below took a bubble gum pink one just a few minutes later
It took us a while to find the fish, but once we had, three hours fishing produced half a dozen perch between one and one and a half pounds, couple of tiddlers, a 2.5lbs zander and a 4 lbs pike. By constantly chopping and changing lures and colours we kept catching and I feel that we did a lot better with this approach than we might have done fishing how we used to.
It was great to get back out there at last, especially with the fish biting freely. It amazes me that some lure anglers believe that winter is too difficult for lure fishing. It can be, but the rewards are there to be won. You just have to remain alert and keep trying new things. If the fish really are harder to catch, then that surely just makes it more interesting.
I have always believed that lure colour is relatively unimportant and that natural colours will ,over the long haul generally serve just fine, if not better than most others. I still believe that, but I now carry more different ones than I ever have. I don’t care that much what they are - just so long as I can offer something that is obviously different to the lure that they have become wary of. At the moment it is paying off and the future looks very interesting.
Just to demonstrate how effective I think this new approach (for us anyway) seems to be, this pike took my usual 3” kopyto shad. Nothing unusual in that, 4lbs pike will take anything - or will they? I had already been fishing this spot for an hour before I caught this and the Kopyto only went on because all the other colours had stopped producing takes, yet this little guy hammered it after having presumably declined a range of other colours, sizes and styles of lures.
We decided to start here again, because the total absence of boat traffic would mean clean water and enhanced opportunities to catch perch, but initially at least, results were dismal. Apart from one tiny perch on a ‘gherkin’ softbait, no takes were forthcoming. We decided to try another area where turning boats have scoured the bottom into a more interesting profile. This paid off immediately and although takes were sporadic to start with, they became more frequent as we worked the area. I believe that there are a couple of reasons why this worked that might be of interest.
It’s been a long time coming around here, but at last the thaw has well and truly set in. Pete and I turned up at a favourite spot today that, while it had produced well to start with, had faded somewhat in the weeks leading up to the cold weather. I was worried that we had killed our own sport off by over-pressuring the fish, but decent perch swims are hard to find in this neck of the woods.