Artificial

 Lite

From the water’s edge

December 2015 - Putting in the hard work

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I hate to sound like a stuck record, but the wind was a pain in the proverbial yet again. Blustery, strong and bloody annoying, that was Pete all over. Almost straight away he was getting into fish. Four in the first half hour on an original Z man bait fished on an unoriginal Pete original rig. Of course getting into fish (not in the biblical sense obviously) is one thing, landing them is another. They all fell off, but it was promising and as they all appeared to have been small zander, not too worrying.

He might not have been worried, but I was, I couldn't get a sniff. Worse still, I was using a buoyant bait of my own creation that I was absolutely convinced would work brilliantly. I could hardly press for a move while Pete was getting takes, so I had to persevere in the same place for a while longer, so I switched to the original commercial baits for the next half an hour with absolutely no success whatsoever. I tried shads and curly tails as well, but still nothing. At least a lack of interest from the fish in more usual baits meant that my own creations were not failures, yet. We moved.

A few hundred yards further along, we put in again. Pete immediately lost two more, this time on 3" shads, one of them a good fish. I had been back in the prototype lures box and was nedding one of my creations around the swim when I got my first take. It fell off. So did the second, on the next cast. We had no idea what was going on here, but thankfully my third put in resulted in a wet landing net. It might have only been a 12 oz perch but we were mighty glad to see it. When Pete nicked out another, we both had the blank monkey off our backs, but it wasn't very inspiring all the same.

If there is one key that I am constantly searching for, it is the one that unlocks the greed of fish that aren't really feeding. Experience has shown that while, just occasionally, a fish will come out of the blue to a standard retrieve when things are tough, it is slow, methodical, finesse techniques that offer the best chance of saving the day. The ned seems like an ideal method for those difficult days, but it didn't save this one, dibbling did.

Eventually I just clipped a little Fox rapid minnow onto a short line and crept it around the swim as slowly and carefully as I could in a contrary and difficult wind. It worked of course, producing five small zander and a cracking perch of just over a pound and a half.

Whenever the next big thing comes along, we all, me included, feel that we might be missing out. That all those methods we have perfected, all those hard-earned specimen fish that we have caught are second rate compared to those that the latest lures and rigs are catching. Nothing is as demoralising as thinking that everybody else knows the secret that you don’t but it is very comforting when you realise that it is all smoke and mirrors and you have equally good solutions in the armoury already.

artificial lite

It's one thing trying out a new method or bait and having some success with it, but for any lure fisherman worth his salt, that is just the beginning. Why does it work? How does it work? Most importantly, how can we make it work better?

So armed with our ned baits and a selection of modified, cheaper, hopefully more efficient, rigs and baits, all utilising the inherently buoyant bait principle, we returned to fish the same stretch that we fished on Wednesday.

Sod's law clearly states that the more trouble one has gone to and the more excited the angler is about the potential of any method or venue, the less likely the fish are to feed. That was today in a nutshell.

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