From the water’s edge

Artificial

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February 2013 - Hobson’s choice

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.

It’s hard not to repeat yourself when you write regularly on any subject and I can’t remember how many times I have written that the lure is less important than the location of feeding fish. Today because I suffer from some kind of degenerative memory condition that I can’t remember the name of, I had the opportunity to find out if I was right. After an hour of failure in water of perfect clarity in an area that we know contains fish, I decided to try a smaller lure. A good idea you might think, worth a try anyway, but not so easy when you have left them all at home.

I thought my back wasn’t hurting so much and it was hardly surprising really. All I had with me was the rod set up with the last lure I used the previous week, a net and a camera. Talk about travelling light.

It didn’t look like it was going to be a great issue though. With no takes or follows to fire me up, I spent more time trying to be creative with the camera than fishing. It looked like it might be an opportune time to show you (in response to a recent e-mail enquiry) the landing nets that Pete and I use.

Pete’s local tackle shop was flogging off a load of cheapo whips and his inventive mind thought that part of them might make some very light landing net handles. He retained enough sections to reach the water easily and glued a bank stick boss into the end. Hey presto, ultra light, very short landing net handles to fit on large-perch sized carp match nets.

He made hangers from hard plastic strips to hook them into the patch pockets of a waterproof coat and we took them out on test. I already had a good quality Whitlock sea trout net slung over my back, but despite being made of alloy, eventually it always made my back ache and I would end up carrying it from spot to spot and laying it on the grass.

In the end I couldn’t avoid it any longer and had to give Pete’s idea a go and have honestly never used anything else since. The net weighs nothing and despite my reservations never gets in my way yet it is right there to hand when needed. Lifting it off the pocket and letting the net drop to extend the handle is dead easy and very quick; absolutely crucial with soft-mouthed fish like perch. It is too easy to lose them if you twat about trying to extend a recalcitrant handle. You can see from the picture below that this travelling whip has provided four sections giving a handle that is barely 12” long at rest, but extends to about four feet. It would have been easy to have left another section in place to going another foot as well. Hats off to old Pete then, right up until he caught the first fish on a 2” yellow kopyto. It was about a pound, but I thought I’d take a shot or two, so I let the lure fall to the bottom, opened the bail arm and lay the rod on the ground while I went to have a look.

Five minutes later, when I picked it up again, there was a similar sized fish on the end of my line which had picked up the stationary lure from the bottom. He might have come up with a useful net design but a bit later on he demonstrated that he wasn’t going to use it for everything. This bream which flattered to deceive, was a big perch until he got it to the top and he wasn’t going to get all that snot on his net; my goodness they go well when you hook them in the dorsal don’t they?

Having eventually retrieved my hook from way back in its throat and put my fish back I cast out and immediately hooked another. I knew it was a good fish and as I netted it, I called out to Pete, “this is a cracker!”

His reply came from right next to me, “not as big as this one though - is it?”

Despite fishing thirty yards apart we had caught a two pound perch each at the same time.

 

So having caught nothing all morning, a long walk to another noticeably warmer area, had put us straight on the fish and for the first time that I can remember, we had two, two pound canal perch on the bank together. Mine only just made it, but Pete’s was better still at two pound five ounces.

While Pete was chopping and changing colours, I was stuck with my tan pearl shad; the only lure I had with me. I had the freedom of Pete’s lure tray but I decided to teach myself a lesson and stuck with it. I had another five between about a pound and a pound fifteen before it went dead. Only then did I miss the choice I usually carry. I can’t help wondering if a change of colour or size might have clocked up one or two more after the takes dried up, but I shall never know. I do know however that I can last a whole day with one bait and still catch plenty of good perch.

All our fish came in less than an hour from a stretch about fifty yards long, but I had four on consecutive casts at one point and every one took as near as I could tell in the exact same spot. Takes were varied, I had one good pull, but the rest were quite subtle, The line would just flick either on the drop or while retrieving and every time, the bait was right inside the mouth. They were really taking the lure well. It still didn’t stop me dropping a good one at the net as I tried to get the camera out for a ‘sliding over the net shot’ which served me right and it looked like another near two pound fish as well.

So there you have it, one lure seven fish, one lost and a couple missed. Pete had another four, the biggest 2-5, and we had nothing under a pound. All of them came from a fifty yard reach after fishing more than a mile of canal. For the first time that I can remember, we bumped into another angler. He was float fishing worm and maggots for perch , and when we left he had caught one tiny perch from his only bite. I often wonder what I could catch if I used fish food for bait instead of lumps of plastic and it looks like today at least the answer might have been - not a lot. Bait is real food and that is its advantage, Its disadvantage is that it is nearly always fished in one spot. I guess it pays to get that bit right before you set up camp. We hunted our fish down and it paid off in spades today.

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