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I chose to use Yum craws as they seemed to resemble the real thing pretty closely and I rig them on weighted worm hooks so that I can grub them across the bottom without losing too many. My favoured retrieve is a single rapid turn of the reel handle and a rest to allow the lure to hit bottom again. I leave it for 5 - 15 seconds before moving it again and takes always come on the drop or when the lure is at rest.
Crayfish are possibly the main driving force behind the growth of perch in our waters to sizes that we only ever dreamed of (and as I write I hear there has been talk of two 6 pound plus fish which the captors have not claimed as records). Barbel too will be taking advantage of this common and nutritious food source, but boilies and halibut pellets are probably more important to them. I can’t believe that perch eat many boilies and the waters I fish don’t see them in any quantity anyway. I doubt if they grow to these sizes on damselfly larvae, so crayfish seem to be the obvious food source for these fish.
This 2-9 fish on the right wanted it badly enough and despite the apparently hidden hook, I rarely miss takes using this presentation. I suspect the picture tells us why. The lure is almost always well inside the mouth. The method has caught me some better fish and most of the perch will certainly be in the pound plus bracket. Occasionally they will even get to the giddy size of the one at the top of the page, but perch are not their only predators.
The larger of these two zander weighed 5-10 and while not huge is a fair size for the canals around here and this also took the Yum craw. Personally I only use these lures where I am sure that there are fish to be caught. Canals are so patchy and the quarry so concentrated into small areas that until you have established their presence, you are better using a searching bait like spinners or shads.
It takes a lot of concentration and patience to fish these lures effectively and trying to do it in places where you don’t know if there are any fish or not is soul-destroying and life is far too short.
These are not the new killer lure, but they are effective fish catchers in the right circumstances and I wouldn’t - no - I don’t, leave home without them. You never know when they are going to throw up a fish like that one at the top of the page. All takes are special, but when the lure is stationary on the bottom and the line flicks upwards, then you really have fooled the fish with your artificial lure, which is all that this game is about.
This was the first bream that I ever caught on a crayfish . It came from the Grand Union canal, went about 2 lbs and had the look of a hybrid about it, but who cares. I have had a couple more since but the biggest at around 5 lbs fell off at the net. It is only a matter of time before a carp follows the same route to the bank. Maybe it is time to look at signal crayfish as a good thing rather than a bad one.
I have to admit that the capture of this 3-14 oz perch is my excuse for writing this article. I couldn’t believe my eyes when this 4 lbs jack turned out to be a near 4lbs perch at the net. In fact it was a 4lbs perch for a minute or two because the first set of scales showed 4-2, but it was not to be. Not being 4lbs doesn’t change it from being the huge fish that we thought it was when we first weighed it anyway. It was 19” long and stretched as you can see from the crook of my elbow beyond my finger tips. Jut try looking at that on a tape - it is huge and it was so, so impressive in the flesh. It took a 3 ¾” yum craw worked in fits and starts across a large slack on Old Father Thames. The take was a sharp flick of the line and distinct tap on the rod tip, neither of which I would probably have noticed if I had been using nylon instead of a good quality, high visibilty braid. The second fish below weighed 2-9 and I never thought a two pound perch could look so small.
Death and destruction are the new watchwords of the modern conservation movement. Among the victims of this preservation by killing are two subjects close to my heart - crayfish and zander. Few predator anglers would argue that zander should be left alone, because they offer us fishing that we could only ever dream of in the past, but crayfish??
Well there have always been crayfish in this country. Our native species is the white-clawed crayfish, a smaller and more unassuming species than we now find in our waters. Unfortunately long before the signal crayfish arrived on our shores, we had driven the native species to become extremely rare, by poisoning the very waters it lived in. When the more resilient signals arrived we had left the front door open and so they moved in and took possession with little trouble.
That was our fault not theirs but whatever the arguments, there is one that I haven’t seen mentioned. These freshwater lobsters are extraordinarily good food source for other wildlife. They are eaten by kingfishers, herons, grebes, coots, otters, perch chub and pike amongst a host of others. My real interest lies in the fact that they are eaten by perch and zander and it was that discovery which led me to try using soft craw baits with some success.