From the water’s edge

March 2015 - Tactical inadequacy

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

After a few years of moderately successful lure fishing we have developed a string of techniques that have served us well on those occasions when the fish are playing hard to get. Or so we believed! Maybe it shouldn't have been, but today was a sobering reminder of just how little we really understand.

Waking to an unexpected frost could have been a clue, but we have had plenty of those recently. The wind was one of those bitter, niggly ones that drains the blood from your fingers and that couldn't have been helping either. Coffee never stays warm for long when you blow cold air over it after all, so why should a canal?

But, it was still a surprise to be struggling so much. As the day developed, the sun came and it warmed at least enough to take the sting out of our fingers. Pete had caught a small perch straight away, so it had at least looked hopeful, but it was a good three quarters of an hour before I caught the second. And, that was just there as I went lift the lure from the water. Hardly a ringing endorsement of my angling skills.

Two and a half hours after starting, we put our heads together. This was going nowhere. The water was a peculiar black tea colour that none of us liked the look of. There wasn't a lot of shelter from the wind and it was becoming blindingly obvious that we had make a big mistake in coming to a stretch that has no hotspots and a somewhat variable history. It has been in turns very productive and occasionally very mean in sharing its fish with us. None of us could really say that we were confident of presenting our lures to any fish in any particular swim. We needed to move.

Fifteen minutes later we were three miles up the road fishing a nailed on area that we could be 100% sure contained fish. The water was clean, the wind was still there, but it would at least be screening us from the fish. Great in theory, not so clever in practice. All three of us went through the whole range of baits, but the only ones that offered any hope were Pete's 'flies'. He lost a couple of nice fish on them. One of a couple of pounds or so and another much better one that could have been anything from a big pike to a foul-hooked carp. When it's difficult, lure fishing can be very difficult.

I know I take the mickey out of Pete’s ‘flies’. After all they are just aberdeen hooks with the eye bent up to align with the point; effectively homemade worm hooks, with lead wire wrapped along the shank and smoothed off with epoxy. Wrapped with floss and an overwing of mirrorflash tinsel, they are hardly sophisticated but they do have something that not one other lure in my box has - flash.

Ok, not quite true, I usually have a spinner or two, but they can only really be retrieved at a constant rate. These flies can be dragged and flicked along the bottom. Twitched and jigged, they are very versatile. I think this needs a revisit. (That horrible grating, whirring noise that you can hear is my brain grinding slowly into action after a long period of complacency).





Since putting my angling journal online, I have been contacted by numerous people. Putting oneself 'out there' can be pretty nerve-wracking, but I have been constantly and pleasantly surprised by the kindness of people I have never met. Some have become regular and valued correspondents, many have passed on useful tips regarding lures and methods, while others have helped me out with hard to obtain lures and even sourced replacement rods for me. I shan't name names, everybody's contributions are equally valued; I just wanted to say thank you to what seems to have become a loyal and treasured readership.


It is almost unheard of us for us to be so fed up that all we want to do is go, but the pub was still not open. We had one last card to play and the walk would clear our heads, warm us up and offer some sheltered fishing. We had to try. As soon as we dropped below the next lock, we entered a different world. Warm and sunny, it seemed to suit Pete. He had three more tiddlers in quick succession. The answer for Terry and I was clear. We would have to shove him out of the way and nick his swim, so we did and caught absolutely everything we deserved. Not a fat lot.

We retired to lick our wounds. I needed to compare thoughts with Terry, to analyse our failures. Pete needed to order some new fishing boots with steel toe caps. There is no standing on ceremony amongst friends, only on their toes when they are catching.

artificial lite



journal 2015.


journal 2015.