From the water’s edge

May 2015 - Well-earned

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It is easy to believe that catching fish is all about the luck of the draw. It may be true for a match fisherman, but if you are a free agent and you are relying on luck to make your day, then you will be in for a lot of crap days. I believe that successful match anglers are technically, the best anglers. Those that succeed do so by defying the odds of the draw more often than the rest of us. In short they work very hard to catch their fish, they understand what it takes to catch fish when they are not really feeding freely. Their tackle handling skills are second to none. They aren’t all geniuses of course, I have met a fair few in my time who really were just a load of tackle handlers, but the point is, they get out what they put in. They work hard at their craft and it pays dividends, literally. There is nothing like hard cash to concentrate minds.

Pete and I have been through the mill a bit lately, but by studying hard to take something positive from every trip, we find that there are many occasions when knowledge acquired on those hard days can turn an average day into quite a good one. Like today for example.

Pete kicked today’s trip off with three small perch in rapid succession and the old ‘not my day’ feeling was looming within half an hour. I was lucky though, I had the fourth fish and nerves were settled. True it wasn’t very big either but at about 4 oz it weighed more than Pete’s all put together. Heady stuff indeed.

The section that we were on had never given up any zander to us but just around the corner where it is wider fish to 4 lbs are not infrequent at the right time of the year. I had always figured that at the wrong time of the year they would have to be here, there is nowhere else. For the first time today I was proved right when a really nice zander fell off in front of the net. Three pound plus for sure, (that’s Pete you can hear laughing) maybe four. I offered some ripe language to the heavens and was rewarded by a 2 lbs jack biting me off at the net. The Gods 2, anglers nil. Pete came rushing up just as another 3-4 lbs fish rolled off of my net and threw the hook. My incompetence this time, I ballsed it up in my haste.

Amusingly, Pete was bitten off by the same silly jack pike and already we were 4-0 down. I had a small Z and missed a couple, it seemed like a good opportunity to dropshot my way to victory. Out went the bait, tighten and slacken the line a couple of times and the rod slammed over. Bloody silly jack pike again, but landed this time. It didn’t even have the decency to still be wearing our lost lures, so all we could do was moan at it and press on. Next cast, I caught a 12 oz perch and suddenly dropshot was looking like the the solution. I never had another take on it.

I know we should have expected it but being a bank holiday week, the boat traffic began in earnest at about ten am. Two up, two down, two in the lock and another pair waiting above and below every set of gates. Absolute chaos. People running up and down some being bossy ( no you wait your turn) some being treated shabbily after politely waiting for the holidaymakers to share the lock and then being left to shut it all down by himself while they roared on to the next traffic jam.

Once we would have given the job up as impossible but these days we have enough acquired knowledge to keep catching. More perch, 5 of them around the pound mark and a small Z or two were just rewards for our efforts.

All of them from under the rod tip, on a variety of small baits, mostly yellow of various hues, mostly two inch and mostly triple tail grubs. Some dibbled, some cast out and hopped back.

So we ended the morning with just over twenty between us, on a day when we might once have had a couple at best. It was very satisfying and very enjoyable for most of the morning, but the fact remains, that we like our own company and spending your days off among throngs of merry boaters has a limited appeal. A couple more weeks and the river will welcome us back I am sure.

A whole new lot of problems to sort out then. How will we catch more fish, which swims will produce this time. I hear that the locals have been out with the chainsaws doing their own flood prevention. Maybe access will be better, maybe there won’t be any interesting swims left, who knows. One things for sure, there won’t be any boats and at least all the turds on the bank will be sheep rather than dog.  


It was too nice a day to go straight home. I spent too much in the garden centre, Pete spent too much in the pub and all because the sun was shining. I dropped him off and on the way home detoured by way of the commercial. I had to know if last week was a fluke. It wasn’t.

Being sunny there were far more carp about. I cast at as many of them as I could. Most ignored the lure, but one sank out of sight right over it. That’s following it down I thought and focussed intently on the line. It flickered and I flicked the hook home. 7-6 common, a good start. Ten minutes later I was in again. This time I had snagged a pectoral fin lifting out to recast and hadn’t struck at a bite at all.

The bigger fish had quite a nasty mouth wound. You have to wonder how really, too many bolt rigs maybe or hook holds worn large by the action of too strong elastic. I don’t know, but I do know that my jig didn’t do it because it was hooked on the opposite side of the mouth.

The fish was fun, but the most interesting thing for me was the number of bites I did have. I probably missed another half a dozen, one of which whipped the rod round and was almost certainly a chub. My last cast alongside some reeds ought to have caught me a perch. It felt like it had but on swinging it to hand, I could see that it was a bit too yellow for that. Another carp but from the opposite end of the size spectrum this time. Maybe two ounces, it took my 1” shad quite sharply as I hopped it back along the margins. It was definitely taking something that was swimming along rather than just picking my bait up because it was bread coloured and lying on the bottom, and that was interesting in itself.

I did miss another couple of carp. My method was to cast beyond any likely looking fish cruising around and the wind slowly back at the surface until the lure was within a foot of the fish. Then I just let it fall on a tight line and watched it like a hawk.

Now and then, the fish could be seen heading down in the right direction and then it was a case of watching for the merest flicker. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn’t, but I haven’t managed a decent take from a decent fish by casting blind yet. I have caught and missed a fair few small ones like that however and it gives me hope. There are further refinements to make to my rigs, lures and retrieves before real success becomes expected rather than hoped for. I am definitely still in the process of acquiring that hard-earned knowledge on commercials.


artificial lite



journal 2015.


journal 2015.