From the water’s edge

July 2015 - Straight up and down

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What should we do on what promised to be the hottest day on record? Should we battle it out with the inevitable merry go round of boats on the canal, or should we go back to the river with no fish.

When I woke up at 5 am after a hot, stuffy and sleepless night, I can’t say I fancied going fishing at all. But then I had arranged with Terry that we would meet him at the river, and we haven’t been able to fish with him for ages.

By the time he left us in the early afternoon, he must have regretted going out with us even more than I regretted getting out of bed.

The lower reaches of our club stretch are a bit strange, very deep, no flow whatsoever, and tons of cabbages and reeds, fallen trees and algal blooms; and as it turned out surprising amounts of fry.

Pete and I are very taken with our pole fishing experiment and neither of us could bring ourselves to carry the rods to the bank in the end, even though we both had them with us. It turned out to be a surprisingly good decision. We had fished this stretch once before, with absolutely no success whatsoever. No takes, no possible takes and certainly no fish; it just felt that this area ought to be better than that so we had to try it again.

Nobody could possibly have been more surprised than I was when, out of the blue, I had a take dibbling a small nano minnow at about 4 metres distance. I had been picking it up and putting it down with occasional speculative jiggling movements of the pole tip, when there was a fierce rattle and I snatched the lure from the mouth of who knows what.

I dropped the lure back down and almost immediately lifted into a small perch. An almost guaranteed blank avoided and shortly after, Pete did the same. This was surprising to say the least and we set to with renewed enthusiasm. I lost a couple, stupidly striking when I had already discovered last week that it bumps fish off. It is hard to tell how big they are on the pole, but they felt ok. I moved along a bit and started working the lure around the next set of lily pads.

It had been ten minutes since the last take, and my mind was wandering already. I dropped the lure on the bottom and lost my concentration for a couple of minutes before coming to and lifting the lure straight up and into a fish. A fish that became larger the longer I played it and growing from 8 oz to 2-1 in the meantime. A frankly astonishing result that none of us could repeat. Pete can never resist saying that two pound perch are alright but I can’t catch ruffe like he can, but then I caught two today and now, not to be down-hearted, he is currently researching fresh excuses.

Another lure angler turned up and with the sun getting ever higher and hotter, with the shade diminishing and takes non-existent, we decided to head for the pub.

Unfortunately we still had an hour and a half to kill so with absolutely no hope of success, we set off along the neighbouring canal towpath for a final dibble amongst an absolute frenzy of boating activity.

There were two boats in every lock and always two between as well. The water was turgid, but with so much concrete about perhaps not as bad as we had feared. Even so it didn’t look great. I dibbled one out of the margins and Pete went over the lock to try in the cool of the shade opposite. There the water was shallow, dropping off as he dibbled away from the weed in the mouth of the overflow and into the mouth of the lock.

Ten minutes after starting the paddles were opened and he worked his little shad out of the flow and into the slacker water. Almost immediately it was taken by a really nice perch which gave him a good run around on his No 4 elastic, before coming to the scales at 1-14. Now that was the second of three astonishing results today. The third? Terry who is a far better angler than us and who we both look to, to catch when we are struggling, caught ‘nowt.

He won’t thank me for mentioning it I am sure and normally I wouldn’t, but he was fishing properly, while we were dibbling beneath roach poles. He was casting and dibbling the margins with a 6-7 ft rod. That was the nearest we have yet come to evidence that the pole might have some worthwhile advantages and that was the only reason I mentioned his misfortune today.

The pole is as precise a tool for lure fishing as it is for roach or carp fishing. It has some very big disadvantages in that you have to fish within its reach, it is less sensitive and if the water gets deeper as it did by the lock, you will have to re-tackle with a longer line.


But and it’s a big but, you can fish straight up and down in the fish’s face, between the lilies and search a tiny spot very thoroughly. You can also fish tight to any feature you can reach which you cannot do so often with the dropshot. When the water is as dirty as the canal or the fish are as few and far between as they are in the river, the ability to fish that lure in their close proximity for longer is a huge advantage.

artificial lite



journal 2015.


journal 2015.