From the water’s edge

November 2015 - Forcing a result

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I don’t know about you but I know that sooner or later things will get tough. I know, although it seems unlikely when a take is coming every cast, that I will have to pay for that success later on with a grueller. And yet, what constitutes a grueller has changed for us over the years. Once it meant a blank or worse still a run of blanks, whereas these days it is starting to mean a day when the fish aren’t giving themselves up and have to be persuaded to take a lure. In fact more than anything a grueller is more likely to be difficult fishing in uncomfortable conditions. I can enjoy myself catching very little if the weather is pleasant.

Today was a grueller but it was nice to be able to force a result from reluctant fish in unpleasant conditions. It started badly. Another major, no the major, drawback to pole fishing reared its ugly head, power lines. We had chosen to test fish the next stretch along from an old favourite, so we drove to the far end and walked back safe in the knowledge that if it proved unproductive there would be easy fishing at the the other end. I hadn’t expected the electricity lines to be directly above the towpath for the first mile, nor had I expected to find power lines that were so low. Like everybody else I get fed up with life sometimes but I wouldn’t want to plug myself in and miss my tea all the same.

It was a bity parky, a bit overcast , but at least it was calm... right up until we started fishing anyway. It was one of those narky miserable winds that wasn’t too strong, merely unsettling, presentation disrupting and cold enough to spoil everything. A scrooge of a wind, like one of those throw away comments that pisses you off all day, it just nagged around the edges of our coats and distracted us from the task in hand.

I had a lot of water in front of me so the long line seemed sensible. I suppose it was, but it didn’t work and I knew I wasn’t fishing with any conviction. A sure sign that I was just going through the motions with no real idea of why I was fishing the way I was. Whenever I get like this now, I dibble. I find a definite fish-holding feature and dibble the living daylights out of it. I know I will catch like that and I did. First I had a tiddly Z, but the second fish was better, a perch of maybe 10-12 oz. I suppose I should just call it a 30 cm fish, which sounds bigger and nobody has any idea what I am talking about either. Whatever, the blank was slain and we could move on. We never found another fish on the whole of the new stretch and ended up desperately trying to catch on water we knew much better.


It was slow old work, I concentrated hard, switching between long and short lines far more often than I would usually bother with and barely managed a couple of ‘maybe, maybe not’ takes on the crayfish. We headed off to another wider piece of water a hundred yards along the bank. A favourite, nailed on area, which taunted us for three quarters of an hour before Pete had his first take and a fish on and off. On his next cast however he had a better fish on and I netted this one for him. A nice perch of 1-10 seemed like it would be best fish of the day until just three casts later he had a much bigger one bumping around in front of him. A zander this time that cracked the scales down to 4-12, our best for quite a while. Both of us had been in and out of the lure box all morning looking for the something that would provoke a reaction. With little sign that the fish were striking freely, we had been fishing close to the bottom, but after our recent experiences fishing with Colin, Pete had come up in the water. The perch had wolfed down a 3” battle shad and the Z took a spinner. Every lesson learned is an extra fish on the bank sometime in the future.

Of course I began fishing up in the water as well and in no time at all, we never had another take at all fishing that way. I did get some more, the best being a two pound zander, but I resorted to dibbling small baits to get them. It was a satisfying result in one respect. We both felt as though we had overcome the odds to catch anything. It was as if we had only caught because we had insisted that something gave itself up and in fact we finished with nine fish. But it wasn’t that enjoyable if I am honest. We had 9 fish on seven different lures we had no idea why they took what they did or what we could have done to make things any better. Maybe we couldn’t have, maybe there was no answer beyond the ones we scraped together to catch a few reluctant fish, but I can’t stomach that idea, I have to believe that there is a better way to fish that will coax one or two more to the bank when the odds are stacked against us. I suspect that the answer might be better bite detection in the wind. I am sure we miss a lot of takes when the rod is being buffeted about, especially when I see how subtle they are in calm conditions. I have some more ideas.

artificial lite



journal 2015.


journal 2015.