Artificial

 Lite

From the water’s edge

November 2015 - Sweeping

Prior to my holiday and enforced absence from the web, I had begun experimenting with larger baits fished on the pole. It’s maybe worth looking at why I felt the pole would be a good way to fish lures in the first place before I expound further on these latest trials. It has always seemed to me that precision, accuracy and persistence might be worthwhile attributes to any method designed to catch both the maximum number of fish and the biggest. That intensely focused approach should, I hoped, put my lure in the right place for as long as possible which would then increase my chances. It has worked out that way, numbers are up, blanks have disappeared completely (famous last words) and perch to three pounds have fallen for this technique, but if I am honest, I would like to see it work better with more of the bigger fish: and I always have this nagging worry at the back of my mind, that bigger lures mean more big fish. That is not a given, but it is one of those aggravating feelings that I just can’t shake off. It has been commonly accepted mantra since I started fishing at the age of 12; big baits for big fish.

I don’t think we should ever accept angling ‘facts’ at face value, in fact I would encourage anglers to listen to the accepted word and then do the opposite. If everybody else is right, then you already know as much as them. If as it always seems to turn out when the future arrives, the common wisdom is myth, then you may well steal a march on the herd. Think bolt rigs. While we were all freelining, hiding hooks in baits and cutting resistance, some angling anarchists used heavy fixed leads and mounted the bait near the hook rather than on it. That is how history, and progress is made. If you carry on doing what you do now, this is the best you will ever be. This is as good as you can hope for. I feel that for the time being, I am on the right lines but that if I could just put some 2-4” baits out there often enough and fish them in the same way that we have so successfully fished 1-2” ones my catches of better fish might improve. Probably my most successful lures for better fish are the crayfish. They should suit this accurate, precise style of fishing with the pole well, because crayfish do not race across the cut, they work best fished slowly and sporadically. Bait and method should be a very good fit.

So, cut to the chase. We met Terry on his patch to fish a stretch that I have fished once before. Terry had been earlier in the week and caught plenty. There should be no excuses. Boat traffic light to non existent, weather settled, and mild, what could go wrong? Well something could and for about two hours it did, for me at any rate. Pete was retrieving two inch kopytos in white, Terry started out the same way , but switched to the leopard yellow cray with impressive results. Me? I used the pole and dibbled and dobbled the near half of the canal with 2-3” shads and crayfish, but I was struggling. I knew this day would come and fishing hard for a couple of small Zs whilst watching the pair of them hit fish after fish from the far side was pretty demoralising.

They would cast across, two or three turns in, just as the bait was heading down the far slope of the boat channel, they would get the hits. I got nothing for maybe two hours using the same lures ten feet closer in. The pole has one huge limitation. It is too heavy to use at lengths that bring the far bank within reach. It might be ok sat on a match anglers oil rig with all the appropriate attachments, but at those giddy lengths it’s no good for roving or travelling light. I always new that one day I would be stuck for reach with just five metres of pole, but why did it have to be today when the fish were clearly ‘aving it large’; (trendy talk - works best with Fox tackle). They were feeding like mad and I was just a casual observer to all the action.

Then Terry came over with actual living proof that I am as thick as a plank. “Couldn’t you use a longer line?” Clearly, it is possible to be too focused. I use a short line with the pole for very good reasons and that will not change as far as I can see when I am fishing straight up and down in tight areas with small baits. It works best near features or places where there is never any doubt about the presence of worthwhile numbers of fish. The short line means that the rod tip, one to two feet above the water is so close to where the line goes in that both can be watched at the same time, a fantastic aid to bite detection. It also reduces the effect of wind on the line which buggers up the presentation of tiny light baits quite badly.

Today though the fish were active and chasing, I was drawing the pole slowly to the side dropping the lure back to the bottom every two or three feet  and exploring the centre of the boat channel right into the side. Perfect, except the fish were not there, they were over the other side. I put on a longer line to fish to hand and lobbed the crayfish in amongst the grasses on the far margin. One slow sweep, a second, the drop after the third was longer and the bait was coming into the channel now. Tic, and the first fish was on. What a muppet. After that I caught loads of fish, lost a fair few and missed my share as well. From zero to hero in a moment. The long line worked perfectly with a bait fished along rather than up and down. Of course it is width dependant, but here, on a pretty standard stretch, the far bank was comfortably within reach and a gentle swing could drop the lure precisely into gaps in the foliage and cover opposite; neat, quiet, effective and efficient.

Now I have found another way to catch on the crayfish that although at first sight appears to be no better than using a rod in the normal way, does mean that I can catch them on the pole if dibbling with it isn’t as effective. It also offers a neat way to search a lot of water with the pole which is much much harder to do by just dibbling with it. I may be kidding myself here, but once I had my eye in, I found it very effective. Maybe even more effective than using the rod. There is something special about being attached directly to the lure without having that reel in between. Takes were all of the usual kind, flicks of the line, knocks, slack liners, and fish just on when I lifted off bottom, but some were not always visible, but felt, sensed almost intuitively I would say. It’s hard to describe and may be a heady mixture of bullshit and wishful thinking, but then Terry fishing alongside me was finding it a lot harder to keep up with my catch rate and himself commented that it was looking more effective. More messing about required, but we finished a 4.5 hr morning with at least 44 fish between us, of which 6 were perch to a pound and a half (Pete’s) and the rest Zs, many of which were in the 2.5 - 3 lbs bracket. Of those I had 13 zander and 1 perch and all but three of those came in the last two hours, once I had followed Terry’s advice and used a long line. It was a big leap forward as far as I am concerned and I can’t wait to get back out there and find that it was probably just luck and that it never works again. Hey-ho, time will tell, but at the moment sweeping is the new dibbling.

 

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 editor@ericweight.co.uk

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