From the water’s edge

January 2015 - No skill involved

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I am sure I am not alone in liking to think that I have some skill as a lure angler and that I do not rely on luck to catch my fish. A day like this one makes that a hard case to prove. I had a few decent fish today, but I find it difficult to point to anything particularly clever that I did to put them on the bank.

We visited a stretch that both Pete and I have fished on and off for years. It has been kind, but more often it is a little tardy when it comes to producing numbers of fish. Even then small perch are a more likely to make a bag than the odd zander that it throws up. To make it interesting we walked an extra few hundred yards to put us alongside a lot of moored boats and brickwork. An area that screamed fish, but it turned out, hid them well. The weather was mild and damp, the warmest for ages when we started, but as the morning wore on it got colder and more miserable. The wind was chill and very, very irritating.

I bet we had been fishing for a full hour or more when I thought, just thought I might have had a flicker of interest in my 2.5” leopard-spotted yellow cray. I never moved a muscle though and when I next turned the reel handle to move the bait, I could feel the dead weight of a small twig on the end. Obviously not  a take then, so I wound it in quickly to clear the hook of what I was surprised to discover was my first fish of the day, a small Z. They can be so bizarre, the odd better fish will scrap a bit, but smaller ones are frequently less determined to escape than any dead leaf or bit of debris.

I don’t care, I love them all, big or small, and this one was extra special, seeing off my blank as it did. That is always the best fish of the day, the blank-buster. I try to be laid back about my fishing. I try to be unaffected by the size or weight of my fish. I like big ones but more than anything, I like takes and as long as I get a steady supply of them, then small fish are fine with me. I am not even that upset if they fall off in the edge, it saves me getting snot all over the net or my hands. BUT... I have a pathological hatred of blanks. That means I have a good idea of how Pete was feeling for most of the morning. Doubley frustrating for him was that I caught an 8oz perch soon after and then another small Z.

It was another full hour after that before I stumbled on some more and better fish. Firstly I had one about three pounds, quickly followed by another slightly larger one which we weighed as a ‘sighter’ at 3-6. We do this every so often to check our guesstimates, I had thought maybe 3-8, Pete thought 3-4, so proof really that we are pretty close with our judgements. Pete was starting to whinge by now, as he hadn’t had a take, and seeing me shake off another three pound fish in the side must have chafed a tad, but not as much as hooking his first fish and losing it did, I’ll bet.

By now a boat or two had begun churning up the mud and debris. The takes disappeared and despite trying all our best spots as we headed back, nothing else was playing. It was still a bit early to pack up and despite my somewhat gloating account so far, I really did want Pete to slay that demon blank. We decided to keep walking past the car to some locks that have always thrown up a few fish for us in the past. En route, we pass over a small brook, which I think Pete had forgotten about in his disappointment. I hadn’t, I have tweaked a few fish out of here over the years, so I dobbed in a 1” shad and catapulted a half pound chub back up and over the fence to have its picture taken. Happy days, three up now, perch, zander and chub.



Of course it fell off, but I think our new acquaintance probably saw the worth of the method in just those few moments.

And that is the story behind the title of this piece. I had caught six zander to over four pounds and a perch from the canal, while Pete had one on and off all morning . Was it skill? Was it luck? The only skill involved was in applying the acquired knowledge that led me to fish a bait hard and slow across the bottom, but Pete was doing the very same. The luck was all in the result, I never saw a take from any of the fish that I landed, so there was absolutely no reason why Pete couldn’t have had as many or even more. More worryingly to my mind - how many did I miss and never know about? He just wasn’t lucky enough today. But then a few weeks ago, he had an 18 pound pike, a 6 pound zander and a 2 pound perch and I didn’t. I prefer to think that we both deserve every fish we catch and that skill plays its part, but if we fail, then that is luck - bad luck.

Footnote: on the way back I persuaded Pete to drop a grub into the brook and he broke his blank with a little chub, honours uneven (and unfair) I think.     


We reached the lock and started fishing the big bend below it, but it was playing hard to get. Half an hour’s effort wasted before I found myself playing another nice fish. Pete was just lifting it from the water when another lure angler came round the corner.

“That’s depressing!” What? Why?

“ Because I only walked out of that spot half an hour ago”

We weighed it at 4-6, a very nice fish indeed, very satisfying..... for me anyway.

Mr lure angler wanted to know what lure that was on, so I showed him the crayfish and the rig and how we fish them.

“You cast across like this” plop!!

“Then you give the reel a couple of turns, and watch the line fall slack so that you know it is back on the bottom, like this”

“So what are the takes like?”

“ That’s hard, you see, I have caught six today and haven’t seen a take to strike at yet, they have all just been on when I went to move the lure again, but usually the line just flicks up or shoots straight out. Like that!!!!!”

artificial lite



journal 2015.


journal 2015.