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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. If this form will not work for you, please e-mail me at editor@ericweight.co.uk
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artificial lite.

Bizarrely, no sooner had I put my last piece up than I received an e-mail from John, an occasional correspondent contemplating the mysterious disappearance of fish from the stretches that he fishes. John uses both baits and lures and while he was struggling on the artificials, the real thing was working ok for him. It turns out that in some respects his experiences had been the same as ours, while in others the opposite seemed to be true. It got me thinking as most things do, this time on the differences between bait fishing for zander and on the perceived disappearance of fish from previously productive stretches.

By the way if ever you hear a horrible grinding noise often accompanied by the smell of burning, that is me thinking. It doesn’t seem to require any more effort with age, but I do have to resort to it more often, usually in order to achieve simple things like standing on one leg to put my socks on, where once it was only employed pondering trickier subjects like quantum physics.

We too have been struggling for most of the summer and while blanks have been limited to a single trip, decent fish and numbers of fish have been painfully hard to come by. So hard in fact that we moved away from the canals altogether, choosing to fish stillwaters and rivers instead. I’ve no idea why this should be, but others reported similar results on lures for the early part of 2016, yet bait anglers that I know didn’t seem to suffer in quite the same way.

One of the big problems when you fish in limited company is that you tend to operate in a bit of a bubble and it is too easy to over interpret your experiences. I am sure that somebody will contact me to tell me that they had a brilliant summer on the canals, but that is the nature of fishing. One can only act on events as they unfold.

John’s bait-caught fish, have been coming from the far slope and fish running with his bait have invariably moved under the bushes on the far bank. To a safe place that I have just stated produces very few fish indeed for us on lures. I think John puts his finger on the problem when he suggests that we are always pulling our baits away from that cover.

Dropshotting is invariably offered as the solution to this problem, the weight being employed to hold the lure over the far side so that it can be worked on the spot. I still think that sounds a reasonable solution, but in practice quite a heavy lead is required or any attempt to work the lure will cause the rig to creep away from where you want it, and because of the angles involved and the shallow nature of the margins opposite, the practice may not prove to be as easy as the theory anyway. Certainly I don’t see much evidence of people consistently and successfully dropshotting the far margin. Everybody seems to either use the method to cast across and twitch the bait back or fish under the rod tip with this method. Nailing a lure in one spot with lead in an effort to catch fish begs the question , ‘why not use a dead roach and catch even more?’

The first time I ever heard of the pole being employed to fish for zander was on the Ashby canal. Local match anglers would work a deadbait along the far side close to the bushes in order to catch and remove as many Zs as possible, so it can be done. The trouble is that as a lure anglers, we need to be mobile or the whole method becomes a pointless exercise in the bloody minded refusal to use bait. To successfully employ the full length of a pole all morning long, one would have to be seated.

This overlong pre-amble has finally led me to ask why bait should catch when lures won’t and I always come back to the same train of thought. Fish have to eat or they die. When things are tough, they may not be so fussy, but in general, real food will always make a preferable meal to plastic and rubber. In the case of far bank fish, then scent is presumably drawing them out to take a real dead fish which they then take with them when they slide back whence they came.

In gin clear conditions, or times of heavy disturbance, I would always begin fishing water that I can guarantee holds fish. It would seem sensible to carry that methodology forward in situations where the fish despite being present refuse to give themselves up readily to artificial lures. That then is the first imponderable out of the way. Are they there ? Yes, move on. To what? Well standard responses would involve finer traces, smaller baits, slower retrieves, and fishing at greater range to reduce the chances of spooking them. Fish close to cover and dark water. Fish over a dark bottom (not much choice on a canal I know).

All of these things will work, but not necessarily as spectacularly as we might hope, because fish may not just be fearful and cautious due to the conditions, it may just be that they are well fed and not hungry. All you can do is try harder, put in a lot of effort and concentration looking for tiny bites and ,,, and keep your fingers crossed. The old analogy of being too full to eat another roast dinner, but always prepared to accept one more chocolate springs to mind. Fortunately it isn’t always this hard.

This week we fished a different stretch of a favourite area that last week had offered us a couple of possible three pound perch. They were offered but both Terry and I lost our fish, both offers, to our eternal regret, spurned. But it is producing steadily and decent fish at that. We had four around the pound and a quarter, pound and a half mark today and for a while at least they were feeding greedily.

 

     

This perch of less than a pound had hit hard and got the 3” shad right down making unhooking a tricky business, pity that those two big fish last week couldn’t have done the same, but they never do, do they?

I maintain that I get my best bites on crayfish, my favourite takes that is. I also reckon that over the long haul I get a better average size of fish on them and in fact both my biggest zander and my biggest perch took crayfish lures, yet today I had only small fish on them. On one retrieve I lifted the lure to the surface to find a minute zander of maybe an ounce hanging on on claw like a crab. I caught two more of around the 2-3 ounce mark and a 6 oz perch. All fish with eyes bigger than their stomachs and the cause of much mirth from the general direction of Pete.

Now that Autumn has arrived we seem to be able to catch at will from water that was giving us a really hard time in the summer. In fact the fish are so keen at the moment that they are prepared to take even 3” lures up in the water among a frenzy of badly driven boats. Last week as I mentioned before we hooked and landed two out of three two pound perch from the very spot where a boat had hit the bridge just ten minutes previously. They are clearly making the most of it before winter sets in.

Despite all my prevaricating, and all the manufacturers hype and ingenuity, fundamentally, we only catch the greedy fish easily. Everything else is down to persistence and doing the best you can. Put your bait, almost any bait in the right place at the right time and pray. How’s that for strategy?

artificial lite

Matters of greed