Artificial

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November 2013 - Four pack

 

From the water’s edge

 

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 hardly know where to start these days when I sit down to write this drivel. The fishing just seems to get better and better. Something radical has happened. We have got luckier or cleverer, or the perch population has exploded around here. I have no doubt that there are more perch to be caught than was the case when I started fishing that’s for sure. In the distant days of my youth, when Ziggy was the naz, a perch was a rare catch. The days when tiny perch would choke their tiny lives away, gut-hooked on a small child’s worm, were long gone and the species had nearly been wiped out by what was commonly known as perch disease. Now they seem to be everywhere, and in sizes that were once beyond our wildest dreams. That said, we are still catching loads more than we did even last season. Terry thought that it might just be that he was fishing for them now, but I am not so sure. I think he does himself an injustice because he is a really good angler who has been fishing two inch baits for a long time. He might not have been targeting them, but he was fishing in a way that should have seen him catch a lot. I think that the breakthrough is a mix of factors.

Undoubtedly in all our cases, dibbling has improved our catches, but it still doesn’t work all of the time, everywhere. We had an awful lot of fish today but very few came to the method despite turning to it on many occasions.

Personally I think that I have refined my approach and that has worked heavily in my favour. I know better than ever where they are likely to be, Instead of casting and walking, I am searching my swims more effectively and once I have located at least one fish, I will work my selection of lures hard to get the best  from them. When takes die away, I will change colours and then sizes and then sometimes even types of lures. Each and every change can and often does bring more takes. I work harder and concentrate harder, I know why I retrieve the way I do and the confidence that inspires swings the pendulum of chance in my favour. We now fish quite close together and between us test every swim that produces to its limit before we move. Even then we don’t move far or fast until takes have disappeared and then we switch back to searching mode, covering more water and seeking those productive nests of fish.

The weather was dire today. Cold and miserable to start with, the sun did show itself later on, but by then the fishing was about over. All the time, that bone-achingly cold breeze chewed away at our fingers. It didn’t look good, but we caught straight away from another new spot. Both Pete and I had fished here before, but it was a long, long time ago and we weren’t sure that the few small perch we had caught back then would necessarily translate into lots of perch today, but it did. Not only that but we had a lot of good fish too. Many of them were in the one to one and a half pound bracket and a return visit has to be on the cards soon. There just cannot be that many sizeable fish without a few two pounders swimming among them.

We were rather concerned to catch a couple with what appeared to be minor outbreaks of lesions on the skin, so we can only hope that these are not a sign that the perch boom is about to collapse. All animal populations tend to fluctuate in sympathy with their food supply or the environment’s capacity to accommodate them. Any farmer will tell you that over-crowding leads to disease and there were an awful lot of perch here. In the first two hundred yards we had three pike, a few zander and a stack of perch. Those two spotty perch aside all their others were in mint condition. All I can say is there must be a lot of silver fish here, because the perch were in every swim.

Terry had the first Zs. He missed knocks on a couple of casts only to find each time that the tail of his shad had been folded over the hook point. Classic zander sign that. They tend to come up behind the lure and as they open their mouths to take it in push the tail forward where it snags on the hook point preventing it from catching in the fish’s mouth. We commented on just that point before on the third cast he caught the first Z of the day.

The water was pretty clean today which undeniably helps with perch on lures. When the water is clear they are far more likely to take lures up in the water and so it proved. I had takes on the drop, in the side, stationary on the bottom as well as in mid-water to a straight retrieve. They really were up for it. When the first boat appeared, I was worried that it would kill the fishing, but as it passed, I cast right in the wake and as the lure passed through the first swirl of silt welling up behind the boat the lure stopped and I was was into my biggest of the morning. I tried out that new lure that I mentioned before. I have to say that they look good on the bank, and they look good when you rig them thanks to a clever design that makes them hollow. In the water they just don’t move me. Their tail action is negligible although the body has quite a sexy rolling action. The biggest problem for me is that they work better the faster I move them, but I always like to fish my baits as slow as possible. I have never yet used them and not caught fish, so my prejudices obviously don’t count for much.

 

One of my correspondents this week asked me how I manage to avoid pike when I am fishing canals as he catches so many that he has to use wire all the time. The only reasons I could come up with were that my lures were very small, the water is usually dirty and maybe there just aren’t as many in our canals as there are in his. All those factors will count for something, but today in clear water, I had two and only just managed to nick my lure off the nose of a third. Pete had one as well. They really are a pain in the proverbial, but none of them bit us off although I replaced the traces on each occasion as the 8lbs fluoro was showing signs of roughening. What really is annoying is that they both ripped my baits to bits and I was close to running out of my most successful lure of the day. I have to pay homage to this lure as well. The black and copper 3” hammer shad has always worked really well for me in clean water, even when as I did today I cut it down to about 2.5 ins.  

We all have our favourites and I know guys whose ideas are the exact opposite of mine but for what they are worth, I find bright colours especially yellow work best in dirty water and darker and more natural colours work best in clean water. Whether that is fact or fancy matters not. It is an effective plan that works for me and means that my mind is made up for me just by looking at the colour of the water. I can then forget colour and concentrate on fish location and performing an effective retrieve.

And so our morning continued, from about 8am until 10.30 ish, take after take. Loads of banter and piss-taking. Fabulous fishing, taps and bumps, plucks and knocks, fish on, fish off (we lost a fair few as well) and wet nets all round. There is a special pleasure when all is going well in casting within an inch of the far bank and getting that retrieve just right so the lure is an few inches off the silt, knowing all the time, absolutely convinced, that the next take is just moments away and bump - there it is. The reflexes are spot on and another fish is bumping and boring away hooping the Spro right over and making the clutch chirp in protest before another beautiful perch slides into the net all belligerence and blood-red fins.

At just about eleven o clock, two numpties came thrashing round the bend in their narrow boat. They kindly slowed as they passed and then immediately opened up the throttle. Thrashed is a good word because narrow boats don’t seem to go any faster just because the throttle is open wider. They still do 4 mph but they dig the bottom up something rotten. At the next bend they buried the boat in the shallows and got well and truly stuck. By the time they had beaten the canal into submission with the prop, water clarity had become the stuff of wet dreams. Whether it affected the fish I doubt, but it affected us. Our hearts were no longer in it and catches just evaporated. We fished on for another hour or so to absolutely no effect until I had one last hit completely out of the blue.

 

I cast right over, dropping the lure in the margins beneath a large overhanging ash tree. Instantly the rod slammed over and the clutch squealed in delight. I new what it was immediately, I have caught them from this peg before, but I was initially worried that I might be wrong and that another jack was going to steal my 2” yellow kopyto. I shouldn’t have worried only a chub could treat my little rod with such disdain, bending it and straining it as it tore off line in every direction before I managed to get it, still scrapping, into the net. A fitting end; a two and a half pound chub and along with all those perch, zander and pike, the full four pack. I haven’t done that for a while.

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