December 2013 - Reality check


From the water’s edge


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.



Right from the off, we could see that the closures were having an effect on the canal. The water was as clear as gin, it was my strategy that was as clear as mud. James and I have never fished together before as far as I can remember, we are more usually attempting and failing to photograph wildlife but at last the window of opportunity had been prised open and the evil spirits of work had been held at bay long enough for a morning on the canal. We had a simple plan. I would show James how to catch loads of fish and hopefully during the course of the morning he would lose his zander cherry. As plans go, it worked about as well as any of my plans ever do.

My first fish, a perch, came pretty quickly to what Pete and I think of as the veals shad, simple because that is who we buy them from and we can’t read the Japanese writing on the side of the packet.

James followed up moments later with his first perch as well and everything seemed as normal, except that it wasn’t. It must have been an hour until I caught my second fish, a zander this time, but at least James had seen one now.     

Boy, what a struggle. We chopped and changed lures and colours. We struggled to get a decent retrieve in at all close to the locks because of the leaves and when we did they proved utterly fruitless. Dibbling caught the first fish but was not at all productive, primarily I think, because the water was too clear and they could see what we were up to.

Eventually we started fishing further along the canal, away from the lock mouths and beyond the rafts of fallen oak leaves just to get a decent crack at the water and it paid off up to a point.

A fish here, a fish there, a knock here, a pull there. Things were happening but they really weren’t having it. A missed take on a 3” bait can usually be turned into a fish on the bank simply by scaling down a size or two, but it didn’t help much today.

James is an enthusiastic purchaser of lures and he plucked a savage lure out of the box and started twitching that about. I think it was a soft 4play , but the point was it pulled perch after perch out of the shadows for a look, with its erratic, unpredictable action. The trouble was they wouldn’t take it properly, simply pecking and head butting it. Eventually, I waited until it had lured a perch into the side and while it was playing about with it, dropped a 2” kopyto in alongside and held it still. Wallop; the perch just turned and wolfed it down.  

Not for the first time I had seen perch bewitched by an erratic unpredictable lure. Sharkey and I used to fish salmo butcher crankbaits like this. Twitching and flicking and jerking them about. It really used to wind them up and so it did today. I tried using a lake fork, live baby shad about in the same way and tempted one or two to follow. Once they were in the side, I just hung the lure there, twitching it occasionally until it was taken.

The first time I put it in the water a 4 lbs pike shot out of nowhere and make a grab for it but I was too quick for it, lifting the lure out of its mouth just in time. Like a lot of the fish that followed out lures into the edge it was clearly spooked by our presence, a clear demonstration of why we were struggling I suspect.


It wasn’t until the first and only boat of the day came past that we got a few more takes and then we had a zander apiece, the largest about two pounds and a new species for James. We finished with 18 fish, 15 perch and 3 Zs, found a new lure/technique, and broke a duck. Not the terrible failure it felt like it might be at the start of the day, but not wholly  spectacular. I’m out again tomorrow on a different canal, so it will be interesting to see if any of the problems we had today or indeed any of the solutions we found are relevant to our fishing in general or simply a mixture of coincidence and wishful thinking.

artificial lite


journal 2013.



journal 2013.