From the water’s edge

July 2015 - It’s luring Jim, but not as we know it.

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It is probably just a conceit, but I like to think that people might not be sure what they expect to see whenever they drop in to this site. To be honest, if you had asked me to predict a year ago what we would be doing and catching with our lures in twelve months time, we probably couldn’t have predicted what is happening.

That, is what makes lure fishing such an absorbing pastime. The options appear limited but are in fact limitless. The answers unlike those in carp fishing are not all there yet, please God, they never will be and so today my journal has non predatory species and unnatural lure fishing practices to tempt the reader.

The days of chuck it out and wind it in and whoops there’s another jack pike are a distant memory for us - it’s bliss.

Today we started on another new venue. Locks of course, but previous efforts further up the flight had proved utterly fruitless. In the spirit of adventure, we started at the other end, simply so that we could say we had tried and ticked the place off the list of potential sites. The fact that it was close to the pub and other more reliable spots was not an accident either. Let’s get it over and done with and move on. So in went the baits and instantly we were into fish. Fish on, fish off, fish missed and fish landed.

Mostly they were small Zs from an ounce to a pound or thereabouts. Great sport. Greater sport still when Pete hit a surprisingly stubborn and, it has to be said, athletic adversary. The big golden flash shouted perch, but the net, when he wielded it, whispered hybrid. More roach than bream with big scales and red fins, but sadly a deeply forked tail and a long, long anal fin. Somewhere there is a bream with a bicycle that’s been visiting mrs roach for a crafty trot round the block. Weird that it should fight so well compared to a similarly sized predator though.

For all the lure fishing we have done over the last ten or more years and all the dibbling we have done in the last two, we have never caught so many ‘incidentals’ as we have since we started using the pole to present our lures.

We fished that lock out and set off up the hill, but only one other lock produced anything and from it, after much perseverance, Pete nicked a nice pound and a half perch. Shortly afterwards, he lost what felt like a better fish, but little else was showing. Little else other than boats that is, they were out again in their dozens. Are we scared of boats anymore? No we are not. Off to our second venue then, now that sport has dried up.

It wasn’t far but it was a tale of success and disaster. The fish were still prepared to come out and fight if we fished hard enough, but the pub was shut, hopefully it’s not closed down, but it looked like maybe it has. The best of our growing selection as well. A sad day indeed if it’s all over there. More Zs, more small perch under the watchful eye of some exotic mutant ninja turtle cast-off and the many and varied lenses of the local camera club and then  our morning was over.

There were more conclusions to be drawn about the new style of dibbling, but it was after I dropped Pete off that I really gained an insight into what we are up against.

Instead of going home, I sneaked off round the corner and back onto that commercial. I was very confident, I had the pole and I could always avoid the carp if I wanted.

It seems to me that there are two ways to improve our catches using lures. Either we discover a more effective technique in the same way that carp fishermen found the bolt rig, or we get better at what we are already doing. At the moment, I cannot see the first happening, mainly because the obvious improvement is to use real food on the hook instead of an artificial copy. Lure fishing is to my mind, a bloody-minded corruption of the fundamentally simple art of angling designed to create its own challenges. For me, lure angling is really just a fascinating puzzle that keeps me entertained. If our bolt rig ever does come along, I shall probably pack it in and fish for roach and gudgeon.

Having wasted years and lots of money seeking improvement through the lure supplier’s catalogues, I eventually realised that the answer is not there. New (are there really any?) lures will seldom if ever make a dramatic difference to our catches, but they will often enable us to make improvements in our technique. No new lure that I can envisage is ever going to be our equivalent of the bolt rig, but it can often enable us to fish existing styles more effectively.

That is enough to keep me spending, but in the meantime, I am looking hard for those small improvements in technique, understanding and skill that will up my average take for the day.

Today gave me an insight into the problems we are all grappling with. On the canal, we walked straight into a swim heaving with hungry fish, and the task was simple. All we had to do was get the lure back in the water as quickly as possible to get another take. Once the boats started however it all changed and we had to fish harder, more thoroughly and carefully, and with a lot of concentration to get far fewer takes. More difficult it may have been, but it was possible and far more productive than my early days with lure rod could ever have suggested. We have come a long way.

In the last few weeks, while we have been playing with the use of poles for lure fishing, one unexpected difference in our catches has begun to emerge. We have been catching more incidental, ostensibly non-predatory species; namely, to date, ruffe, bream, hybrids and carp. True we do use smaller baits a lot, but all of these have taken lures of an inch or more which we have been using for a long time anyway. It suggests to me altering our presentation that may have may be making the difference.

So this afternoon, I headed out to a local commercial to press on with experiments along another line of my thinking. I am convinced that if I could find an effective method of catching 'passive' species, at the very least, I would find a way to catch more omnivorous predators like perch, zander and chub, especially when conditions are difficult. So far, progress has been slight but today I did spot a glimmer of light in what seems a very dark tunnel.



I had intended to try the pole and fully expected to catch quickly. It has worked well in the canal and I figured it would make a big difference here too. Working baits up and down, methodically around the margins would surely catch. It didn't.
I had intended to avoid carp at all costs, but I am weak and they were everywhere sunning themselves, bubbling and just generally teasing me, so I succumbed and tried for one.

I carefully lowered a 1" nano minnow into the water close to a decent fish and held it at the surface. Nothing, no response whatsoever and slowly, the fish drifted away. I tried again, slowly drew the lure across its nose and once it was within six inches, the fish became alert and turned towards it. Steadily and slowly, I lowered the lure in the water, a controlled drop, and the fish followed it down. When I judged that the fish and the lure had coincided, I flicked the tip and a great bow-wave shot across the pool at the end of my elastic. Success.

After some protracted bungee argy-bargy, I got its head out if the water and once it had gulped some air got it safely in the net. It Weighed nine pounds exactly and proved if nothing else, that 4lbs fluoro is not going to be broken against a number 6 elastic by any perch or zander that I am ever going to catch. Five minutes later I repeated the same feat but this time the fish was around three pounds. I missed three more in the last ten minutes. They turned down after the lure and my timing was out, they hadn't got the lure in their mouths and therein lies the problem. You have to see them take it to know when to strike, because even a near double will not necessarily give you a take that is detectable through rod and line.

This ties in with what I have been told by guys that catch coarse fish on the fly. See the take or never know you had one. It ties in with my experience of fly fishing for trout. Watching for the fly line to move only ever caught fish that had hooked themselves against the bow. Using a sight bob was an eye opener, I had dozens and dozens of takes where once I had been getting one or two. You can probably see where my mind is going here, but this is about identifying the problems at this stage. There was another factor in play here as well. Those carp didn't spot the lure until it was within six inches of their faces. And another thing has just struck me. Those carp never chased the lure in any direction but down. Predators obviously would but maybe the reason we have been catching more incidentals is because we are lifting and lowering baits rather than retrieving them?

All we have to do is put the lure right in the face of fish we cannot find or see and hit takes we cannot feel or see. Madhouse here I come.

artificial lite



journal 2015.


journal 2015.