From the water’s edge

Artificial

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December 2012 - talking dirty for perch

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.

After my first post, I expected to clean up using the things I had learned, but on both subsequent visits, the water was very clear which was good,  after fast weather changes which killed it stone dead. Not conditions that I expect to produce and I was not disappointed in that respect. The one saving grace was that with persistence, I did get some takes and a fish on each occasion. Nothing dramatic but it is always a relief to extend the blank free run some more.

Today on climbing over the bank, we were greeted by a veritable turd soup of a canal with 3” visibility tops. In the past, I would have turned straight round and set off elsewhere, but that wouldn’t have prove whether I had really learned anything or not, so we persevered. Out came the box of 1-2” baits and the bigger ones were put away again for more conducive conditions.

It was tough going - bloody tough going and I had chopped and changed through every lure I had with me, even digging out the bigger baits again, but all to no avail. I couldn’t see my yellow line against the colour of the water and the rain on my glasses wasn’t helping much either. In fact I had a splitting headache before long and all I really wanted was the pub. With three hours to go before opening time, I had to pull myself together.

It is easy to put a lot of wasted effort into finding the ‘right’ lure when things are hard when what you should do is use your most successful lure/colour and pour all that effort into showing it to the fish.

I knuckled down, put on my most successful dibbling bait, a 1” yellow kopyto and searched every inch of the bottom under the rod tip and eventually it paid off. The tip stayed under tension as I lifted the lure carefully off the bottom and I assumed it was just a leaf or a small stick, but the line was wandering aimlessly around in circles it had to be a fish and so it proved. A reasonable one too of around a pound. Yet another perch on a lure from filthy water.  

 

We moved around a lot from one known holding area to the next and gradually I got my eye in. Takes were minute. At best, a tentative pluck on the line; but mostly, just an unexplained sense that something wasn’t right or a minor deviation of the line. I would watch the black speck of the meniscus where the line entered the water and sure enough, if things didn’t feel right it could usually be seen to move unnaturally.

 

I can’t deny that this wasn’t hard going, but it was something of a revelation. It has always bugged me that I should struggle to catch perch on lures in conditions where bait would still work well, but I have seen them stare at a bait for ages before gently taking it and moving off. The float would just slowly slip under or move across the surface and a strike would be met with a swallowed bait. A conventionally retrieved lure is never going to be in front of the fish long enough for it to decide to take in such conditions, and if the lure is barely moving then why would it grab it and dash away? Of course they don’t. Most takes are not takes, they are the effect that the angler’s retrieve has when the lure is stopped or gently but firmly taken. Only chub hit a lure and bolt all in one go; the angler wraps the rod round by continuing the retrieve.

Using this technique now, I aim to cover as much water as possible as slowly as possible. I lift the lure, move it a few inches and put it down again. I lift it off the bottom a little bit and let it hang there, shaking the rod tip a little every few seconds and let it hang again. Most takes come then when the bait is just suspended stationary in the water.

 

It is painfully hard to do and persevere with if you don’t know where the fish are. I would head straight for spots with a good track record in better conditions and if I found myself on new water with no acquired knowledge I would be looking at brickwork, man-made structures overhanging bushes, angles and corners in the bank  and so on, but I would never say that it won’t be hard.

On a dismal, no-hope day when the fish weren’t chasing I had another half a dozen perch to one pound and missed twice as many bites. None of this will set the world on fire, but I can honestly say that I have never been so successful in dirty water with perch on lures. As all serious lure anglers know, finding something like this out or sorting a technique that you have always struggled with is not the end of the matter leading to a never ending succession of successful blank-free days. It is just another door opening to reveal a long corridor of questions. Will this mean that I can catch perch from permanently dirty canals all the time now instead of just when the locks are closed and the water clears. Is it worth getting some stuff together and trying to drop shot the same lures in areas slightly further from the bank? In better conditions, would the same technique using 2 and 3” baits produce more good fish? Will it catch zander because it hasn’t produced any yet. How can I do this for three hours without getting a splitting headache from concentrating too hard?

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