Artificial

 Lite

From the water’s edge

January 2014 - Dogs hite blues

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.

And still it rains. All night, last night, and our first choice of venue was turgid and horrible. The optimism and excitement of those perch feeding frenzies in late 2013 seem but a distant memory, clean water seems like the stuff of dreams. The days of chasing and snapping perch are well and truly behind us for the time being and scratching is the order of the day. Last weeks success with the crayfish spurred me on and today I was baitcaster equipped. My new little Abu Devil, 5-20 gm casting rod, untested, was clamped to my ever-reliable Shimano Citica and I was gagging to do some dragging. Close my eyes, and it is clear as day. There is my crayfish scooting across the bottom, through the dross, bumping into resting and hitherto uninterested fish, eliciting a sharp and rapid response; a short struggle before another quality fish is up on the scales filling page after page of my blog with glory and smug smiles. Open my eyes, cast out and donk - whack, **!@**! My knot snaps. Mumble, mumble, curse, swear, re-tackle and cast out. Halfway back, the slow drag and a firm strike sets the hook in the first plastic bag full of dog s**t of the day. What happened to that glorious dream of just ten minutes ago?

Terry was with us again today, and fortunately he knows what he is doing. Dibble, dibble perch. Dibble dibble perch. On with the crayfish. Cast out - splash, whack - **!!%@** missed it by miles. Thank god it isn’t only me. Out goes a shad, gently, gently, donk, whack, and he sets the hook firmly and surprisingly, immovably into the second plastic bag full of dog shit of the day. He may well have been ruing the firmness of that strike given that this turned out to be the heaviest bag of the day. A solid gold testimony to the advisability of crushing your barbs though.

By now Pete was trailing well behind, and he hadn’t caught any fish either. He tried the crayfish and a bit of dibbling but when all else fails, on with the two inch yellow shad. Out it goes, plop, just nicely against the far bank. Gently, gently, donk. A firm strike and there is that heavy unmoving resistance, sliding over the mud and remorselessly, inevitably toward the moment when he too has to unhook - yes you’ve guessed it - a zander. They don’t really fight that hard do they? Not always and certainly not as stubbornly as the plastic bag full of dog shit that he caught shortly afterwards.

Small, torn and nowhere near as smelly, (the bag) it was a poor specimen compared to Terry’s Great Dane extravaganza, but all the same, he was back up there and scrapping against the experts again. Business was slow but picking up and we were sort of glad that we had abandoned our intended venue and moved five miles up the road to marginally cleaner water.

I stuck with the crayfish because.. because.., well because I am stubborn really and I was just in the mood. Takes were painfully far apart, but then neither Terry or Pete was setting the world ablaze. I had a zander, not big but very welcome all the same, It took as I slowly lifted the lure to the surface under the rod tip. Had it followed it in, or was it just there anyway. I’d love to know what goes on down there. I bet we’d get a shock. You are having a total nightmare, not a sniff, boredom sets in and suddenly wallop, there it is. How many more followed during the day thinking “ you must be joking if you think I can’t see the hook in that?” is it heaving with fish that aren’t hungry or are you casting in the bath? Ten takes, one fish. Is that one busy fish, or ten indifferent ones?

Out goes the lure two turns and a smash take. That can only be a smelly,toothy creature, but I turn and see Pete further up the bank. In that case it must be a pike instead. Nevertheless, very welcome once again - sort of. Pike are alright but they’re not perch are they?

We moved again. Another canal nearby

Time was pressing us a bit. Back’s were playing ‘torture the angler’, Every time we closed our eyes, we could hear glasses clinking together and hear that refreshing hiss from the tap. Pete could smell the barmaid’s apron, (I’ve told him not to wear that before). But Terry was motoring now. I’ve never seen anybody miss so many, so quickly and so effectively but in the end, he slipped up and nailed a couple more, including best fish of the day. Not bad that; fish of the day, log of the day and any moment now, dish of the day, the faggots and peas. Best bag and best bag of fish. Impressive stuff

His takes were all on the 3” hammer. I am sure that there are any number of equally effective 3” shads out there even if you don’t count the kopytos, but its strange how you come to view one sort with something approaching affection. They have that underlying air of competence which means that every time you clip one on, a take is expected. If you don’t get that take, then they aren’t eating three inch shads today. I think that whatever bait you use it is good to have one like that - it is a source of comfort on a day when nothing is happening if you can be so confident in a bait that it either catches you that fish or simply proves that they aren’t having it.

Sometimes I feel that people who chop, change and buy every lure that comes on the market are missing out, on confidence and consequently fish. I do like to stick with what I know works, and it takes a lot to get me looking at something else. I am very conservative in that respect.

I really rather enjoyed that today. The fishing was not outstanding. We finished with just ten fish between us, I had all three species, catching a pound perch at the last minute. All on the crayfish. We all missed a few. We proved to ourselves that dirty water no longer means no fish, because we all have the techniques at our disposal now to overcome such unhelpful conditions at least 90% of the time.

Our reduced catches of late seem readily explained by the number of fish we caught today with leeches on them. They were all wearing them and I don’t really remember ever having seen them on perch before. Not surprising really because perch are a bit more mobile than the others a lot of the time, but it suggests that my approach of getting down and dirty in the mud, fishing the lures as slowly as I can bear to in these conditions is moderately productive.

The new rod was a success and incredibly it was £27 well spent. Yep 27 quid, brand new. Just think how many more I could have caught if I had paid £300 and had it hand-made in America!! Not fair that really, but it does go to show that we have never had it so good when it comes to light lure tackle. A big thank you to our east European, American and Asian angling friends and a big fat raspberry to our British firms who can’t leap onto a bandwagon unless somebody else has set it rolling downhill. Roll on the Lurefair then and we shall see what other goodies are out there to drive us into penury while we swap lies and foolproof, complicated, techniques for catching the cleverest creatures ever to have populated the face of the earth - fish.

Right at the end of our meal, I asked Terry what colour that bag was. I like to get my facts straight for these little essays, but he couldn’t remember. Apparently, he tells me, he never can remember faeces.

PS ( I stole that joke from Angling magazine in about 1972 and I have been waiting to use it for over thirty years - how sad is that?)

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