From the water’s edge

August 2015 - Precision fishing

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It occurred to me this week that by fishing in the way that we do, we may be seeing things differently  to most other lure anglers. Everything we do is introverted, whereas others are probably have a different, wider perspective. When you cast and retrieve, your head is up, you see what is going on around you. You pick your spot from the panoramic view that you have of the far bank and cast into it. When I fish this way, I find my mind wandering a bit especially when the bites aren’t coming. I may be watching the cows in the field across the way or the traffic hurtling past. Mentally I am ticking the birds I see in the hedgerow off a twitcher’s virtual list. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Pete fishing and check out what lure he has on and whether he is getting hits or not.

I may come back to the present and focus harder if I get a knock on the line, but even then I struggle to remember where I cast or where the take came.

Dibbling with rod or pole is different. I think of it as precision fishing. Everything is focused right down to the exact spot that my lure is working. It may be a tiny gap in the trees or even the board slot in the lock wall or as I work my lure carefully, meticulously around a loose brick lying on the canal bed.

Takes are a lot harder to spot, so concentration is key as it is when you are working a fine, expensive carbon fibre pole tip inside a six inch wide slot in the brick wall opposite. You have to feel what the lure is doing and appreciate whether the bottom is clean or littered with rubble. Remember which way you walked the lure into a snag so you can walk it back out again. But most of all when it isn’t going well, you do need to maintain that focus in order to turn things around.

Take this morning for example. Pete, as he has done a lot lately, caught immediately. His first fish was in hand before I had hooked a rig on the end of the pole. His second came before I had my bait in the water. Fortunately for me it was a pike and I could reasonably claim that it didn’t count, but I was struggling.

By the time we moved on to another spot, I still hadn’t caught anything or even had a bite that I knew of. Pete was getting interest all the time. He was using smaller baits than me, but I was keen to put more effort in with something a little bit larger. Others may be puzzled that I think of a 3.5” bait as big these days but that too is another kind of introversion. A tighter focus on smaller fish, smaller bites and smaller swims. Whatever, it didn’t work in the first spot.

At the second it was a little more effective, but although my ribster was provoking interest, it was from fish that were either too small or too careful. I was getting good pulls but no matter how long I left them there was never anything there. Tail pullers were cramping my style and Pete was leaving me, somewhat embarrassingly, for dead. Even the dreaded and yet to be suffered blank on the pole, was creeping into view. This shouldn’t be happening, it was my idea.

Time to pull a crafty one from up my sleeve and I headed for a very short, derelict arm that had produced one or two fish recently. A trickle of water flows in here and there is always a small perch or two to be had.

I couldn’t risk being upstaged again. I had already had to listen to the frankly gloating report to Doreen. “I’ve had a load but Eric’s just a blanker.” I think that’s what he said anyway. Back in the box and on with a nano minnow. A guaranteed blank breaker that one, especially in drowning earthworm pink, it never lets either of us down.

It took two seconds to mark the slate for the first time, another two to mark it again and I was off. I threw the lure back in while I admired my catch but before I could pop it back, the line shot out and the lure had been picked up off the bottom. Half an hour later I had gone from nowt to two dozen fish. They hit it as it touched bottom, they hit it as it skated across the top and everywhere else in between.

Pete shouldered his way in, but sadly (no really) they wouldn’t look at his identical lure. Such a shame, I was in tears ,,, nearly.

“Why don’t you give Doreen a ring then? I’m sure she’d like to know how you’re doing.”

It was a productive morning for us both, but everything was small, I doubt we got above four or five ounces with any of the three dozen we caught, jack pike excepted. As so often seems to be the case, we had tried this area for the first time a few weeks back and caught a lot of fish, and some decent ones among them, but in two subsequent visits, it has gone downhill. The fish are harder to catch and smaller when they do make a mistake. If I had a pound for every time that has happened to us, I could give up work and fish 7 times a week.

The real mystery is where do they go. The biggest we caught here came from a very short pound. Wherever we fish, we can’t be more than twenty yards from them, but they won’t play ball any more.  

We are both looking forward to getting back onto our previous stretches once the boats begin to die down. In the meantime we shall probably give the river a go again next week. And when we return to the canal. One of us will probably revert to fishing the rod and reel again just for comparison. At the moment, we have no idea whether we would have caught as many or bigger fish if we had been using the tackle that we used to.

It’s all very well knowing we can always catch tiddlers, what I really want is some kind of sign that bigger fish may come along again. My first effort with the pole produced some and we have had a couple either side of two pounds using the method, but that is beginning to feel like it was a long time ago.

artificial lite



journal 2015.


journal 2015.