From the water’s edge

March 2014 - Sharp relief

How can you go from a situation where for months on end you are expecting a proper take every time your bait hits the water to one where the very idea of a firm hit seems not just unlikely, but downright impossible? Goodness only knows, but in the last few weeks it first happened to Pete and now it has struck me down too. Fishing next to somebody who can’t buy a worthwhile take is a recipe for both smugness and pity. If I am honest, in that order as well, but what goes around, comes around, as they say around these parts.

Last weeks blank was this weeks crisis of confidence. It was allayed somewhat as soon as we saw the clean green, perfect colour of the canal, but two fruitless casts were enough to bring on the horrors.

“Yep, got one” echoes along the towpath and without even looking round, I have given up on 3” shads and I’m back in the box looking in despair at a useless collection of useless lures. 3” - too big, 2” - doesn’t work these days, 1” - too small. Yellow, they’ve seen it too often, black and copper, too dark. Crayfish? Two casts - no good.

Ahaa! 3” curly tail. Straight retrieve - nothing, hop it along the bottom - nothing, dibble it - nothing. Slow retrieve, drop it on the bottom , mid-canal - noth... flicker - damn, damn, damn, and blast. I never moved a muscle.

No second chances these days, so after another fruitless, pointless, depressing, frustrating half hour, it’s off to the next spot. Out it goes, flicker. I stand and stare stupidly at my rod tip and the slack, un-moving line beyond it.

“Fish on, no it’s not, it’s a pike!” he shouts. I swing my lure to hand and thread it back onto the hook. Another thirty hopeless minutes. Pete’s pike fell off too and we are on to our last chance here. It’s a nailed on , never failed, ever, dibbling swim. Down goes the 1” yellow kopyto and I take it for a walk around the feature. Lift, hold, move, lower, lift, hold, shake, drop, lift. The line pulls distinctly but minutely to one side and the lure whistles past my ear. Thirty tedious, wasted minutes later, we are back in the car and five minutes after that we are casting into our most fruitful stretch of late for zander.

Still nothing is happening. I’m on the crayfish, it works here regularly and frequently, but still nothing happens, the bottom is a forest of ‘tidied’ hawthorn branches, I drag three monsters out on consecutive cats and then on the fourth, I move the lure into another. I lift the rod to flick it free, only to see my line zipping to the lift and a pound plus perch comes flying out of the water as it takes all the spring out of the rod before throwing the hook. Back in the box.

My bottom lip is bleeding now I have been chewing it in frustration for so long. Yellow tailed, pearl hammer. It seems to have teased a take or two of late. Pete casts to his right and catches a 12 oz zander, on a yellow-tailed pearl hammer. Great minds think alike. Mine hits the water thirty yards away and yet another tiny flicker catches me a 12 oz zander. Same lure, same time, same species and same size, thirty yards apart. Strange stuff.

Two casts later, I’ve had one small perch, and there is another take. Tiny, on the drop, but definite. Despite striking hard and fast and long, and running up the bank while winding like mad, I just can’t get any pressure on the thing at all. I can feel it, but just can’t bend the rod into it and of course it falls off.

I can’t deny that I have had takes, I’ve not blanked, but it’s such a struggle. Takes are tiny, few and very sporadic. There is hardly any repeat action once a take has been missed. It’s like we are fishing for a take from the one vaguely interested fish in every shoal and once that chance has gone there are no more takers.


We decide it might be worth a trek up hill. To a small fish spot admittedly, but it would give our aching backs and heads a rest. I can’t resist a cast just before we leave, and whack. Sharp, almost vicious relief from the vague tugs and tickles I’ve been suffering of late. A three pound zander has it so far down its neck, I need binoculars to see it.

We finish with four apiece, in various sizes from minute to three pound, four lost, half a dozen each missed. Not so bad on paper, but in practice, still it was a grueller. Something always happens when you are lure fishing. It also happens when you least expect it. I could definitely do with another spell at the school of hard knocks though.

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.

artificial lite

journal 2014.





journal 2014.

journal 2013.