Artificial

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December 2013 - Lucky strike

 

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.

The absolutely most basic tenet of my approach to lure fishing is to improve my catches by taking out the luck element of the take-generating equation and replacing it with reasoned thought and the application of common sense. However, if ever a day’s fishing demonstrated the necessity of undeserved luck and the usefulness of fundamental coincidence it was this one. Today we would break the habits of a very long time and explore a new stretch, that contained no locks, or indeed any man-made features of note. Pete knew of a piece of canal, accessible only by a three mile walk or by driving up a farm track across the fields. Once there we would have miles of the twisty, rural Oxford canal all to ourselves. The question on both our minds as my car crawled up a suspiciously well-surfaced farm track in the dark was, “would we have it all to ourselves because there were no fish there?”

We stumbled through the brambles onto the towpath and our hearts sank, or at least mine did. The water had a nasty milky hue to it, the likes of which have only ever foretold a difficult day for me. The water was quite clear with visibility of around 8 or 9” but that milky colour filled me with gloom.

My favourite water colour is clean, dark green and with clarity allowing between a foot and eighteen inches of visibility. This was neither and was right up there with gin-clear on my list of don’t wants.

Anyway, fishing is fishing and we set to our task, casting into beautiful overgrown swims bordered with ivy and brambles, reeds and rushes. It looked as good as every other stretch of open rural canal does and was every bit as hard to catch from. In fact after two hours of fishing all the best looking spots in a mile and a half of canal and and trying every lure/method option open to us, a single small perch dibbled from underneath a farm bridge was the sum of our efforts.

The wind was light but absolutely freezing and the damp was eating our bones and if truth be told, we were both fed up. Turning for home was an easy decision.

We set off and had walked back about half a mile when Pete’s phone went off. He stopped to answer it, saying “you catch a fish while I answer this.” I cast out a 1” yellow kopyto, only on the line because I had been dibbling fruitlessly in the margins at the last spot we had tried, and donk, the line flicked and a perch had taken it on the drop. Before he had put the phone down I had caught a second, he cast out and had one straight away. If Doreen had rung ten seconds earlier or later, we wouldn’t have caught. It wasn’t a spot I would have picked out and further fishing either side produced absolutely nothing. Surely the most bizarre and warmly welcomed coincidence of the year. No more takes on the yellow, so I switched to 1” orange and black and had a third. Pete’s had taken a 1” bright red lure and in fifteen minutes, we had taken a hefty slice of luck, applied some reasoning to it and caught some fish. In turn, both surprising and then very satisfying.

We decided there and then to add some more logic to the equation. There were clearly fish to be caught here after all and if they could be caught instantly at random, then with a little more method and persistence applied we ought to be able to add to the score. We started (metaphorically, not actually I hasten to add) leap-frogging along the canal. A basic three cast fan then twelve good paces past each other and repeat. We covered a lot of water very quickly; the fan covering 25 yards casting twelve yards each side of each angler then moving. The next guy’s casting carrying on where the first’s finished. Maybe a hundred yards every fifteen minutes with tiny insignificant 1” lures ( we did try others but they didn’t work at all).

A miracle happened and twice more we found pockets of fish and they were good fish too. We finished with a simple dozen between us, but none were less than half a pound. The four biggest were nearer a pound and a half than a pound, the largest even teasing us enough to get the scales out. The fishing had gone from total rubbish to interesting, fascinating and moderately productive because we had applied a small dose of logic and planning to a hefty dollop of the good fortune that no angler can ever do without.

We arrived back at the car, happy but still absolutely frozen to discover with the benefit of full daylight that the farm track was the drive to an enormous posh house and that I had parked my filthy, knobbly-tired mobile pig-sty on the beautifully manicured, cut to within an inch of its life, bowling green standard lawn that flanked it.

As we unloaded our gear into the back, trouble came rolling sedately down the hill in a big posh, brand-new and utterly spotless BMW. The window hummed down as I prepared my most innocent expression and mentally rehearsed how I was going to blame this transgression on Pete; a perfectly charming lady asked me politely if I would mind leaving the car down by the main road next time, wished us well and smoothed off down the hill in a cloud of expensive perfume. We all need some luck and we had all ours today.

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