November 2013 - Making it work


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.

It is easy when things are going well, to get blasé about it. Everywhere we go lately, fish have been throwing themselves at the lures and giving themselves up. It does give you a false sense of perspective. It cannot always be that easy. While things were going our way, we decided to re-visit a stretch that has given us a lot of good fish in the past and our hopes, to be honest, were sky high. Things didn’t turn out that way except that in the end they did. Cryptic I know, but bear with me. I can’t remember how long it has been since we turned up at a spot and had to wait more than ten minutes for the first fish. We know where they live now and we know what works. Half an hour in and I was already thinking in terms of my first blank since February. It is ridiculous but that is the way my mind works. A couple of knocks and I am expecting something every cast. Ten minutes with nothing and as far as I am concerned no fish is ever going to take my lure again and every take I have ever had seems like I dreamt it.

I had the dibbling gear out pretty soon after the start - nothing. 2” yellow kopyto - nothing. “ What you had Pete?” - nothing. Oh lord, what am I going to put in my blog?

45 minutes later, I clipped on a 2” pearl kopyto and chucked it over. Pete stopped to discuss the state of play, but the line flicked on the drop and I had one. The gloom lifted, but not for long. I never had another tap. Pete meanwhile had moved up the bank and took 5 small perch in 5 casts, just like that. They took his favourite dibbling bait, a flesh-coloured 1” Yamashita Ma2 Action Fish which he gets from Veals. I like them too but not as much as Pete does. I have always found that I can at least match his catches on those with a 1” yellow kopyto. Not today though. He had one or two more but I couldn’t buy a bite even on the same lures. We soon moved what with it being so slow and all. More boats had set up camp by our next hotspot but we cast around them and did get baits in the right place, except that today it was the wrong place. I went through the box again - nothing. Frankly this was embarrassing; 7 -1 down now and not exactly coming up on the rails.


There was one last spot to try before we would need to move on. Back to the bridge where the car was parked and another attempt on that big perch that straightened my hook last time we were here. The canal narrows by the bridge and even a cast here can be almost be classed as vertical jigging.

This is a good moment to sidetrack a bit and thank all those people who kindly pass on their tips and tricks to me via this site. I have been using genie clips for a long time now and I have no issues with them at all in use. I did always wish that I could find smaller ones though because the usual ones rather overshadow my tiny 1” lures. I can’t honestly say that that I have ever felt that they have cost me any fish to speak of, but it definitely offends my eye to see a clip as big as the lure on the end of my line. This after all supposed to be finesse fishing.

Thanks then to Mark Houghton for putting me onto these much smaller versions made by Colmic. I bought the two smallest sizes which I would say were about two thirds and one third the size of genie clips. I bought them here - Christchurch angling centre. The postage seemed a bit excessive, but a portion was unexpectedly refunded into my paypal account which was nice. I have used the very smallest size 0 ones exclusively since getting them and they are just what I wanted. They are a lot easier to use than I thought they might be as well, because they are adequately, but not so heavily sprung as the genies. My 20 lbs split rings swing freely in them still despite their diminutive size. A top tip Mark , so thank you again for that.


While I am on the subject of correspondents, if Barry Hadington is reading this and would like to e-mail me directly to , I will happily reply to your e-mails. I have tried many times using the address on the form, but they won’t go through and I wouldn’t want you to think I am so rude that I can’t be bothered.

Anyway, I thought  it might be interesting to show you just how small a feature can produce perch regularly for us to the dibbling method. This spot below has some overhead cover by the concrete and that produces but without fail, we catch fish every time we go there by working the lure around this small patch of semi-emergent grass. It definitely pays to think small scale.

Pete was on a roll, he caught fish after fish on that little pink thing. I managed a couple more, but by the time we upped sticks and left he had caught three times as many as me. Everywhere he threw a bait he had a fish, everywhere I threw one I had the square root of bugger all. Eventually even Pete ran out of takes and we moved. I don’t think I could ever again bring myself to fish the way I used to in the past. No boxes, no barrows, no seat and no rod rests. We were in the car, parked and fishing again, three miles up the road, in 10 minutes flat.

We both decided to try larger baits here, Pete going straight in with a 4” Daiwa shad and getting the only zander of the day and a half decent perch before the number of small ones swinging on the tail of his lure prompted a switch back to the little pink thing. I worked my way through the box (where have you heard that before) - nothing.

Never before has the 2” yellow kopyto let me down so badly. I fished slow I fished fast, I dibbled, I used the little pink thing, but for every fish I coaxed from the water, Pete had three or four and I was getting a bit ratty. Not with Pete you understand, he deserves every single fish he catches and he never complains when the boot is on the other foot.

Stop, look around, try and analyse the problem. Sort my head out, how is he retrieving? How high is his rod tip, how heavy his jighead. All the things I suggest to him when he is struggling didn’t help me when I was. I should just shut up.

I think he was either getting embarrassed or he couldn’t stand any more whinging; anyway he went up to the lock and sat on the wall to ‘rest his back’ and left me to it. Five minutes later he called me up. Seven fish in seven drop-Ins. Under the rod tip, on the drop, no retrieve or jigging about. Seven fish just like a match angler in a bleak swim. Neither of us have ever seen them give themselves up like this. I have never had them give themselves up like that.

Everywhere we went today, the bottom of the canal  was covered with leaves. This years fall has now become so water-logged that they have finally sunk. My habit of dropping the lure on the bottom did not work well. Every pause meant a wasted retrieve as the lure was fouled with debris. Pete was using an even lighter jighead than I was, maybe there was something there, maybe I should keep the bait up in the water a bit more. Interestingly every one of our favoured spots had a collection of leaves on the surface. Not too many, they are mostly down now, but it made me wonder if that is what makes these spots popular with the fish. Maybe food naturally drifts there? A long shot I grant you, but it is thinking these things through that ultimately helps me get my head straight. If fishing didn’t keep me thinking all the time, I would find something more interesting to do.

Pete was still catching, so I sat on the wall next to him to watch. I cast the same bait in his swim and I caught - one third of what he was catching. And then I hit bottom. The tip stopped dead and the rod pulled over as I lifted. Damn that’s all I need. Can I be bothered to re-tackle again? Is there any point? My back was hurting, my stomach was complaining, my beer muscle was getting cramp from being inactive for too long. Bump. Or shall I just pull for a break. Bump, bump. Bump? That’s a fish. A ha. A face-saving monster perch, or is it a decent Z. Deep down in the clear, clean water, a big gold flash. I lifted and slowly, sullenly a b****y pike came to the top. Zziiiiizzz   ziiiiizzzzz whizzing the line across the lock pool against the clutch. I blame you Mr Edwards. Ever since you wrote and asked me how I managed to avoid the pike, I keep catching pike! So far we have landed every one despite using 8lbs fluoro traces. Don’t get me wrong I would never choose such a thing for pike fishing, but if this one had bitten me off I wouldn’t have been unduly worried.  

My tiny little fine-wire size 6 barbless hook would hardly cause it any concern. Certainly no more than being landed would anyway, but I couldn’t see that happening. A 1” bait is scarcely going to protect the line is it. Except it did. The hook was right in the point of the snout. My only real worry was whether the hook would straighten before I could get the net under it, but all went well and a nice plump 5 pounder was soon on the bank. By the time I had got it back, I was covered in snot, the hook looked like a spring, a perfectly good lure was in shreds and Pete was laughing fit to burst. Plus I would have to sit in the pub stinking like a fish-wife’s undies.

Grudgingly, but with some admiration, I have to say what a pretty fish - just look at that eye. Pete just kept catching small perch. It had been a good day in the end - not the disaster that we expected after the first hour or two. It’s just that - well - they were all a bit small.

In the end we just had to pack, backs were hurting bad. The pub was open and the ovens heating up. We would just have a couple of casts with the bigger lures on the way back, just about where Pete had the lone zander. Three casts, three takes missed on my yellow tailed 3” big hammer. Small fish twerking it? Maybe the 2” yellow kopyto would be the same size as the tail on the bigger bait. It worked. We had a dozen more fish around 12 oz to a pound, shared evenly between us at last and the day had soared to the dizzy heights of being the most productive of the season yet.

Just like that a useless bait was suddenly red-hot again. Just like that a frustrating start had turned into a storming finish. My head hurt with trying to solve the riddle, my back hurt with stooping and my eyes hurt from staring at my line.

For a spell last year, we struggled until about 11am when the fish would come on the feed. It may just be that something similar was happening today. Our previous visits had been in colder weather than this. Today was mild, positively balmy even, but they didn’t want to know at the beginning. What we might have caught if we had been younger and fit enough to fish on, I shudder to think, but we finished one short of 60 fish this am. It would have been a round 60 if I hadn’t lost the last one. Pete caught twice as many as me in the end, so I redeemed myself slightly.

Pete’s new landing net had already acquired that hideous aroma that marks the property of the successful fisherman, my clothes stunk with the hideous aroma of pike. The new clips had stood the test better than my hooks had and all was well with the world.

artificial lite

POSTSCRIPT: Addiction is a difficult thing, it gets in your brain and you can’t leave it alone. All yesterday evening my thoughts kept returning to that coincidence that I had noticed with the leaves collecting only in places where we expect to catch on this stretch. Yesterday it felt like a leap of the imagination that so much surface food would accumulate in the same place as drifting leaves do, that my suggestion had felt a bit like grabbing at straws. On re-reading this blog this morning, I was struck by my mention of catching so many sunken leaves and realised that this too was more of an issue in our ‘hotspots’. If the prevailing winds herd the majority of dead leaves into particular corners or stretches for long enough, they will sink there too. Once they are on the bottom, they will break down and the leaf-litter strewn around on the bed of the canal will attract more than its fair share of small organisms feeding on it. As it breaks down, bloodworm will thrive feeding on this debris and living in the resultant build up of silt. The food chain is well and truly clanking round by then. There may just be a lot more to this theory than I first thought and I am fond of a good theory.





journal 2013.



journal 2013.