From the water’s edge

July 2015 - Light lifting

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In the interests of informative writing, I am minded to rename the method we have known as ‘dibbling’ for so long to ‘lifting’ now that the pole has become our favoured tool for the job. But I am getting a little ahead of myself here, as I haven’t even begun to describe the day’s fishing yet.

A day’s fishing that I have been looking forward to all week in the way that I used to when I was a kid. To be honest wherever or whatever I have been doing this week, this trip has always been on my mind. I went to sleep thinking about it, when I was awake, I was ordering more hooks and more lures, hopefully better suited to what was coming and I was so focussed on what was to come that I left tools at just about every job I went too and had to spend half my normal fuel bill again just recovering them all. How I haven’t driven off the road I’ll never know; such is the fascination of lure fishing for me.

After that build up, you will surely be expecting a fantastic haul of big fish, but disappointment awaits you. It was a good day though. Yet again, we visited a new piece of water. We have been here twice before in years past with very minor results, a blank and a couple of small perch to show for our efforts. Any kind of positive result today would be a big thumbs up for the method. Given the amount of boat traffic that we had to endure too, it turned out to be a very big thumbs up. Frankly having caught so well in this chaotic mess, I believe that we can catch in just about anything.  

All was calm and quiet when we arrived, I still had a nano minnow on from last Wednesday. I wonder why we buy anything else at times. I put the lure in half a dozen times and it was taken half a dozen times, but I was not tuned in. Stop, breathe, relax, there goes the tip, let it go a bit and lift smoothly to hand. Fish number one.

That was the template for the morning really. True we both had quiet spells, but then we both had busy ones as well. I’d be surprised if we didn’t have some kind of interest on 30-40% of our casts. Casts is the wrong word though. With the pole we put the lure in, we place it. We lower it to the bottom, we lift it. We shake it all about and we place it back on the bottom. Then we lift it and the tip stays bent and that, is another fish.


By ten o clock, that had happened at least two dozen times to fish that we landed. Goodness only knows how many if we count the times that the fish let go, or flipped off the hook. We pushed the lure further into the very narrow lock mouth as boats went in and came out with monotonous regularity. In amongst the turmoil and the swirling debris, zander appeared and took our lures in sizes from 1 oz max to around the pound mark. Another bonus, we had never seen or heard of them here before.

We made some small progress on lure size as well, because as soon as they showed up, we went up in hook size and bait size, garnering takes on lures up to three inches long. But it was not all good news, better fish were noticeable by their absence. So we moved to the next lock pushing the number of perch up and the size too, although we still could not get past three quarters of a pound.

The waterways guys were friendly, the boaters were friendly and the weather was benevolent too , what more could we ask. As takes died away, we returned to the first lock for another go and it paid off handsomely with a couple of two pound plus zander on three inch curlys.

I cannot put hand on heart and claim that we wouldn’t have caught all these fish on rods or by casting but it was yet another day of almost constant activity.

It really does feel as though we are carefully placing the bait right into the fish’s window of opportunity and that they are responding to that accuracy.

Lifting, why lifting then? Well the whole method revolves around it. Although we do feel and see a lot of takes, at least as many fish are just there when we lift the lure either up in the water or off the bottom. Consequently, the whole process is a continuous cycle of lift and lower, lift and lower. Maybe a few jerky movements in between and plenty of holding the lure still in the water. But eight times out of ten, for me anyway, the fish is just there when I lift.

Lost fish have been an issue. Sometimes none fall off at all, sometimes more fall off than stay on. Some of that may well be down to the small size of the fish or the gentle way that they are taking the lure. They do not have to grab the lure as it races past as they do on a normal retrieve. The one thing that has made the most difference to the number of fish I manage to hang onto is the lift. If I get into a rhythm and don’t strike, but just lift firmly and keep lifting once I feel the weight of the fish, they generally stay on. Dither, either when putting the net in or breaking the pole down and they are off. We could cure a lot of that with barbed hooks I suspect and if they were bigger fish I might be more concerned, but really I think it is just a case of becoming familiar with the way that pole, elastic and fish interact. Interesting times, forty or so fish in a bright, very warm and sunny morning from new, filthy water in very heavy boat traffic is a result in my book. Why can’t there be more a couple more Wednesdays in a week?

artificial lite



journal 2015.


journal 2015.