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January 2016 - Muddy waters

As the darkness melted away, it all became clear. We had made a mistake yet again. We had stumbled and slipped our way for about a mile along a sodden towpath in search of some promising water on an unexplored stretch of the ditch. We had both expressed our concern that we might be making a mistake on the way there, but we need new water, and we need it badly.

Many of our favourite stretches have been taken up by clubs and are being relentlessly lure fished. Others have been lined up for electro fishing by the CRT and they are waters that we have overfished ourselves already. In the end, despite the apparently depressing assault on our fishing freedoms from outside, we need new challenges anyway. These perceived threats (I am sure we worry more than we need to in truth) are a spur to better things and it is already beginning to pay off.

We have found new water, but we need more. We don’t want to thrash what we have discovered, we want to manage our efforts better and stop taking the easy route all the time.

That said, today was not the best time to do it. We visited a spot we were doubtful of and when daylight broke it was immediately obvious that we were right up against it. There was very little difference in colour between the fields around us and the water in front. It was all mud, liquid mud.

We had to try though. And that comment says it all. We were beaten before we started because we didn’t like the look of it. An hour and a half later all our worst fears were confirmed. Neither of us had seen any sign of life either in the water or at the end of our lines.

But we are lure anglers and packing up takes less than a minute. Thirty more and we were further up the road in a known productive area and putting our lures back in the water. Not with any great optimism I must admit because the water was still horrible but, and it’s a big but in these hard conditions, we knew for certain that we were presenting our lures to fish. And that is critical on a hard day.

Mentally we were now in a better place to succeed. Doubts began to creep in after another unproductive hour but we always had that certainty to fall back on and to re-invigorate our efforts. We were certain that there were fish there and all we had to do was find a way to catch them.

I had been dibbling all morning, I do when times are hard, and decided to replace my 2” curly tail with a buoyant Zman lure. I don’t really know what gave it away but at some point on the first put in, I became convinced that something had my bait. I lifted it and it carried a bit too much weight. I held it there and couldn’t make my mind up so I lifted smartly and the first fish of the morning became a bird for a moment or two before disgorging itself of my lure and falling back in. Possibly the smallest zander in all of the land, but a fish for all that.

If they were going to be that small, I should return to a small bait and replaced the yellow curly that I had just taken off. I carefully moved it around the swim and bump, I was into a decent fish. It came off. It happened another couple of times there and as we fished our way back to the car it happened quite a few more times. Even on 1” kopytos, more fell off than stayed on. Bites were minute, frankly and the devil to detect, but they were having it. As the morning wore on I convinced myself that the water was clearing and as it did, my efforts seemed to become more effective. I finished back at the car with seven or so to hand. All tiny, but on a morning like this so precious.

 

A last effort then, tight in the side, in a cosy corner where the natural bank met the old concrete one, in just a foot of water, I lifted into a sharp take and netted the best of the morning, maybe a pound and a quarter, it weighed more than the rest put together. Once I had my eye in, I detected around twenty takes this morning. If the weather had been anything like we have been getting lately I would never have noticed eighteen of them, but it was flat calm today and the difference showed.

The difference between success and failure at this lark is minute sometimes. Pete never had a touch, not one that he knows of anyway. Why would that be? We shared and swapped swims, used the same lures and both spent the bulk of the morning dibbling beneath the rod tip. Pete has caught hundreds and hundreds of fish large and small fishing just like this. He knows what he is doing. Many of those takes came within a foot of the bank. Fundamentally that leaves us no differences to point at beyond the merest differences in the way we manipulated the baits or conceivably the slightest difference in sensitivity of our gear.

We can all point at luck, good or bad and honestly sometimes it is just the way that the cookie crumbles, but I won’t have that. Not twenty times in a morning. My personal best guess is that there was a difference in our presentations that on this occasion made an enormous difference. Pete tends to jiggle the lure around on the spot quite vigorously. It is often a deadly tactic, especially in the summer and on occasions when they are really up for it. I do it myself, even today I tried it, unsuccessfully many times, but all my takes came to slow steady movements or when the bait was static. I was lifting it 3-6” , holding it and putting it down again. Most takes came as I held it off bottom. That is the only difference I could see that might have caused this perverse result.

The whole point of the piece is this, the difference between success and failure can be immeasurably small, and no adjustment to your technique is too slight to potentially make a difference. I left the water with a splitting headache today and there is a good reason for that. The trouble is every time I see muddy water these days, my headache comes on automatically. Dirty water is not impossible, but it can be bloody hard.

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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