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When we got back close to the cars, we spent the last hour fishing below a lock in a spot that has always held a lot of small perch. He had mounted a one inch length cut from the end of a thick, dipstick worm on a small jighead and was retrieving it at the rate of half a turn every fifteen seconds. He would let the lure hit bottom and wait. Fifteen seconds later he would give the reel half a turn and wait again. Takes came while the lure (?) was lying motionless in the mud on the bottom and in that hour he had 8 small perch; and on a day when Sharkey and I were struggling.
I was impressed with this method’s potential and determined to try it myself which I did for the first time yesterday. It wasn’t wildly successful. I had one small perch but then I had loads more much bigger ones on 3” shads, so it didn’t look like this method was going to feature much in my armoury of deadly techniques.
They were tiny bites. Typical small perch interest I would have said and it was only because I always use good quality braid that I could feel them; it was only because I use bright yellow braid that I could see them, but they might just as easily been the branches of a discarded Christmas tree brushing the lure as it passed by. In the end, I was tempted to try Wadey’s slow crawl technique to see if I could make something happen. I would either lose my gear on a snag or catch a tiny perch, but I had to try. On went the ‘gherkin’ and I slowly crawled it across the bottom. Half way back, the line flicked, the tip rattled and pulled over and I found myself playing a heavy and determined fish. I got Sharkey to weigh this one for me when I had it on the bank alright and I’m glad I did. At 2-11 it has set the rubber worm hare running again. All I can think of now is where I ought to try it next and how often I have dismissed tiny insignificant takes as being from tiddlers.
There used to be a book on fly-fishing, (it might have been by Skues?) that I think was called ‘minor tactics on chalkstreams’ or something similar. I can feel a book coming on.
Fish are contrary creatures (have I mentioned that before?). Today I was fishing with Sharkey on a distinctly urban stretch of canal and bagging up. I had caught about a dozen perch over a pound and a few more smaller ones. Two might well have been two pounders but as I rarely weigh fish these days I shall never know or care. All the takes had been confident and un-missable, but in this one swim, I kept getting ambiguous taps on the rod tip.
I guess we all believe that if we fail on lures, bait would probably have done the trick, but I am not so sure about that. There are undoubtedly times when fish will not chase a lure and I have been searching for a long time to find some way of catching fish when they are in this kind of mood.
I mentioned this to Allan Mee at AGM, and as I explained in my previous article he was kind enough to send me a selection of different patterns to try and first out of the packet were these very natural-looking worms made by Creme. I couldn’t wait to try them out and the first time I visited a known small perch stretch I was eager to get my bait in the water. I arrived in the dark and flicked out the worm, mounted on a size 6 mini-wacky jighead. It hit the bottom and after a few seconds, I gently lifted it. Immediately the rod tip rattled and stabbed down. Perch no 1 was on the way to the bank. I was convinced that I had found the holy grail, a lure fishing method that would allow me to catch as many perch as a bait fisherman might on the same water.
The icy weather conditions have been against me since I caught those first few, promising, fish but I am determined to make this work better; although I am still not convinced that I have necessarily found a method that will work when others don’t rather than just another interesting thing to try when I get bored with my usual techniques.
At the height of this last bout of bad weather Wadey came up to visit from the sunny ‘souff’ and taught me a lesson in patience and persistence.
After five unsuccessful and freezing cold hours, fishing lures at speeds that I have always felt were slow, he showed me a technique that for most lure fishermen would be one small step short of being dead. As lures go his was dead.
All lure anglers suffer from two common anxieties. They worry that there is a method that others know about, but they don’t and they are all convinced that fish can be caught whatever the conditions, it just remains for them to discover how. This is not a bad thing, it drives the search for knowledge and an improvement in techniques, but more importantly it prevents the sport becoming dull and uninteresting.