Artificial

 Lite

From the water’s edge

November 2014 - Twitching and scratching

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.

Buoyed by our recent successes, we decided to give another of our less-frequently visited spots a long overdue visit. Water clarity was good, better than usual in fact in that it carried a slight tinge of colour. So clear, but not gin-clear, just right. Two nights of proper frost had given way to a mild one of steady rain. We both felt good about it, but what suits us obviously doesn’t always suit the fish. We struggled badly.

I started the year determined to go a whole season without a single blank and failed almost immediately. For a time, it looked as though I might be in line for another at the 11th hour, but slowly, oh so slowly, we wrung a few small fish from a reluctant canal. And when I say small, I am not joking. This fish has taken a 1” lure, I doubt if three would have fitted in. Pete had one that was smaller if anything, but they all count. As you can imagine takes at this scale are not exactly arm-wrenching affairs.  The most dramatic ones being little more than a vague sensation that something wasn’t right. You really do have to be in the mood to deal with those, and maintaining that degree of concentration is not easy.

Not only were takes hard to spot, but two on the trot killed the swim every time. In the end we threw the stuff in the car and moved five miles up the road to ‘the spot that never produces’ that has produced perch in abundance for the last half a dozen visits. Today it was the spot that never produces again. We really were struggling. Off to the next lock and bingo, a few fish gave themselves up to the smallest baits I could find. 1/2” lengths of red rubber cut from a children’s toy (thanks Steve) and fished on a 1 gram size 8 jighead.

It all helped to get the total moving, but there is always that nagging feeling when you are scratching for tiddlers that you could be missing better fish that can’t be bothered with your tiny baits. That is one reason, why we always try 2 and 3” shads in every swim and true to form, in the end it paid off, for Pete at least.

During the course of the day we missed about four or five slight knocks on bigger lures, but only Pete managed to put the hook into one of them. Fortunately, it was another cracking perch of around a pound and a half.

Once, days like this would have seen us persevering with our favourite, larger baits, bemoaning the fish’s lack of effort. We would drive home telling each other that they can’t feed all the time, that everybody has blanks, that when times are hard there is nothing you can do about it. All those things are true, but blanks are nowhere near as unavoidable as we once imagined.

In fact on looking back through my records, it appears that my only one of the year so far was on Grafham water in January. Three or four years ago, that would have been almost unimaginable to me and I have ultra lite lure fishing to thank for that. I can’t even remember going that long without a blank when I used to fish with bait.

It is true that you do have to reign in your megalomania somewhat. One of my very best friends is a specimen hunter and he cannot understand why anybody would want to catch a one pound perch let alone one weighing barely an ounce.

I just think we are so lucky to be enjoying ourselves this much while still catching a few good fish at the same time.

For a couple of weeks the clarity of the water has made dibbling ineffective. Today it was working well, doing what it does best, scratching a few blank savers just when we needed them most. I hadn’t realised how much I had missed doing it.

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