From the water’s edge

February 2015 - Sluggish improvement

Decent perch have been in short supply of late, but at last, one or two have showed up. Interestingly, they came from a stretch that is seeing increasing pressure thanks to a helpful tackle shop telling all and sundry that it is a good place to catch zander. After years of having this place to ourselves, we returned to find the overhead wires sporting a necklace of lost lures and nylon. Pete even dragged a crayfish lure out, a savage 3D version. At least I know now that I don't need to spend about £8 for three to get the very latest, 'fish can't resist them', 'must have' lure from a hip company. For a fraction of that, I can buy perfectly effective crayfish lures from AGM. Lures that caught me fish again today.

For the first twenty minutes, I thought we were going to struggle again. Both Terry and I had a single hit apiece almost instantly and missed, but couldn't raise a second for love nor money. Eventually however, we started hunting both the surrounding area and our lure boxes for answers, only to find after a while that we could all catch fish on a variety of lures, but that to work at their best, they still needed to be close to the mud. We did catch on shads and grubs. We did get takes on them, but not many compared to the number generated by slow, deep retrieves. The sun may have shone for a while, but this is still winter.

To cap it all, the zander were much smaller than the average we are used to from here. Most were in the ounces, a sure sign in my book that they are coming under increasing pressure. It is noticeable how often the better fish come during the first visit or two to a new area, only for the average size to decline thereafter.

With four of us here today, we were offering them a lot of choice, both in lures and techniques. Wadey was twitching and creeping his dead gherkin-like lure across the bottom extremely slowly, far slower than Terry and I were fishing our crayfish. Pete was fishing his flies slow and deep as well, but we all ran shads through at some stage, higher in the water, hoping to up the catch rate and to be sure that we weren't missing a trick.

I had some drop-shotting tackle with me to try once I had found a few fish,  and to be honest it worked well tstraight away. I had already made my mind up not to strike until I was confident that a fish had taken the bait properly because in the past I have observed them pecking at and playing with the lures rather than just taking them in. Today I just let them mess around for as long as they wanted and waited until the line moved away and the rod pulled down before striking. It worked better than anything else I have tried before.


I got bites ok, I always do with drop shot, I even had a couple of small Zs and a pound plus perch, but I still lost a couple and missed a few more. Terry gave it a go and quickly had a two pound perch, but I think we both still felt that it was not being as productive as crays and ordinary jigs. Still, it was progress, maybe the rest of the world is right, maybe it is the most effective way to catch on lures.

I fished it regularly in every swim I tried for the rest of the morning and never had another take on it. As a result, I remain convinced at this stage, that it is a useful change method in the canal and nothing more. In deep, water from a boat, it allows one to fish a very small and light lure with a heavy weight attached but separate; likewise at distance it allows a similar bait to be fished far slower than any other technique. Both specialist circumstances which the drop shot suits perfectly. In a shallow, narrow canal it is fun, interesting but unnecessary and far less effective or reliable than a host of standard jigging styles. For all that, as long as I have the necessary components in a pocket somewhere, it does offer me options.

I've mentioned Wadey's gherkin trick a few times and he showed it off to good effect today. He was using a two inch section of thick senko style worm in a drab olive colour. A lure with no apparent benefits of action, colour or appeal of any kind, but by putting it in the right place, hard on the bottom, and fishing it at the right speed, dead, dead slow, he was able to get right in their faces with it. And it paid off with several nice fish, a pb zander and two lovely perch, one of about a pound and a half and the best at 2-5. I think we were all impressed with its effectiveness.

He was fishing it with small flicks of the rod tip, lifting it off the bottom followed by a long pause of five to fifteen seconds. Takes were either barely discernible but distinctive knocks and rattles as the fish picked the lure up and chewed on it, or a flick of the line as it was taken on the drop. The strike would only come as the line moved off. He did well with this today although he suggests it is less effective as the water warms up and the fish move up in the water for obvious reasons.

Just lately it has become obvious that there is more to fishing small artificials than simply cast and retrieve. We had close to thirty fish between the four of us today and some good ones among them, but I reckon that standard cast and retrieve tactics would have seen that cut to half a dozen at best. It is strange how one’s outlook changes, I find it hard to imagine ever getting a take on a shad these days, but that will surely change again as the sun gets a bit warmer.


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. If this form will not work for you, please e-mail me at

artificial lite



journal 2015.


journal 2015.