Wednesday 31 October 2012

A couple of questions answered

Back in the summer I fished a couple of small wild clay pools in the Lincolnshire countryside. I had an overnight stay in the area at the weekend so took the opportunity to fish them again on the Sunday morning. On that last session I had a few half hearted flicks of the lure rod without success and the feeder rod soon won over when I caught a tench on breadflake. I wondered back then  if there were any pike in the water? but that question still lay unanswered.

This time I took only my lure rod and bag of jigs, plugs and spinners. With the consistent yellow and white kopyto I made the first few casts into the south east corner and the lure didn't let me down pulling in this little chap from under the near margin.

Question number one solved - they are indeed present, so if there are small jacks then there must be a bigger girl in there lurking somewhere? I cast across to a the edge of a dying lillypad bed and hit what felt a much bigger fish - unfortunately it was off quickly and all I had to show for it was a critically damaged tail paddle, which soon fell off on a subsequent cast.  Never mind I knew there were at least two fish in the pool and I will be back in the spring to try again.  The adjacent pool was very coloured in comparison for some reason so I didn't spend long trying in its murky brown water. 

Shallow  Lincolnshire drain
On the way back I stopped to try a small drain for a few casts, but only managed to spook a shoal of roach in the shallow depth with my lure knifing though the surface layers above the heavy filamentous weed still present from the summer growth. I later saw something charging into them making them scatter like a shoal of flying fish as they leaped out of the water to evade there pursuer, and despite my casts into that area I couldn't get a take from whatever it was !

Question two for this week

Is something that I've pondered over for a while but have struggled to find out much info about on the net. I've found a few brief mentions or accounts about it and some posts on forums that said yes you can, but then they admit they've never actually tried it themsleves ( I love that ...  I mean seriously come on ?)  However, despite all this supposition there was not much that you could call solid evidence or proper advice about techniques.

So what is this big question?

Well it's simple,  could I catch a Zander in the dark on a lure?

The Answer.................


So I stopped off at the canal about 6:30pm  on the way home (it was fully dark by then if your reading this from outside the UK) just  to prove if for myself, and on the third cast hooked another of these handsome looking creatures. Only 3lb 12oz but that's not really  the point here, it was another challenge succeded and one to be ticked off the list certainly.  It will open up some more opportunities for me over the winter I'm sure. Trying to catch bigger fish is always on the adgenda for us specimen anglers so I may even try exploring some other stretches of canal on the way home.... I'm sure you'll read about it on here if I do.

Thursday 25 October 2012

The last of the fading light

The clocks go back on Sunday, which for me means no chance of any after work lure sessions until about the end of the season. I had time for a quick 1/2 hour smash n grab session this evening on the Grand Union Canal near work. After reading Matt Holmes  Fooling Fish  and Paul Bosworth's River Piker recent exploits on a canal near them with small Kopytos, I decided to try out some of my smaller ones that had yet to be christened with a fish. I selected a small 3" yellow/white one and gave it a work out on a stretch I had just discovered earlier in the day whilst out on lunch hour recce. Lots of mouthwatering swims full of overhanging trees and reed beds were found, it just had to contain some pike or perch. I even saw a few small shoals of bait fish lurking by the towpath piling in a few places, so everything looked good for a predator or two.

The first spot produced a lovely fat jack of about 5lb or so, a fish that had obviously been feeding up for the long cold winter ahead.

There were a few further bangs and bumps on the jig on successive casts, and due to the good clarity of the water I saw a follow from a larger fish that was maybe a low double? Unfortunately it turned at the last second.
Further down the canal I managed this little tyke that I saw swim along side the lure for a few turns of the handle, then swallow it as I paused under the rod tip.

Another even smaller fish fell off near the net before I decided to head home as the curtain of darkness cast its sinister shadows around me, out there all alone on a deserted tow path in a strange town !

I reckon I may be able to sneak in a few casts here on my lunch hour where I will try to explore a bit more of this lovely stretch of canal over the winter.  The image of that larger fish that I missed out on now etched into my minds eye will only prove to be another challenge for me to pursue, after all they can't all be baby pike, and as the lads mentioned above have proved more than once the larger fish will take a small lure too.  It's just a question of right place right time now.

Sunday 21 October 2012


Up and out in the thick early morning fog and made it to the river bank despite losing my bearings walking across the fields and ending up going in completely the wrong direction away from the area I was heading for ! With visibility down to about 30 or 40 ft it was difficult to pick out the usual landmarks like trees and hedgerows etc and was pretty disorentating, in fact it's easier to find your way in the dark than fog as thick as that, and I can quite easily see why hillwalkers get so lost in mountain mists, it would be frightening.

The gates over there somewhere ... erm, I think?

I was on deadbaits today so once I'd found a nice slack on the outside of a bend, a sardine was halved and each piece put on the two rods and cast out into the murky mists. The right hander showed movement within minutes but as the float went under and I wound down bringing the bait back in minus half it's flesh instead of bending into a nice fish! Something had striped it. Second cast and the same thing happened then, third, forth and so on. There was obviously a clawed culprit at work here or possibly eels ? but my fear is the former. That will be bad news for the river in terms of succesfull fish egg and fry recruitment, but good for specimen sized fish feeding on young ronnie and reggie I suppose, not that this river struggles too much in specimen sized fish anyway.

go on .... go on.....!

After an hour or so I had wondered around the stretch trying out a few more  swims with no joy.  I just couldn't get into really depite being excited for the last few days about coming over to this river. Sometimes it just doesn't happen for you and so you might as well pack up and go home rather than slog it out half heartedly.  By 11:00am I was back home with a warm brew building a scalextric track in the lounge for the kids and me to keep ourselves occupied on a murky foggy Sunday morning.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Bonus morning on the Trent & Mersey canal



I had a day off work due and a visit to Burton on Trent with the wife. She would be busy most of the day so being the chauffeur, I had to find something to pass the time while I waited for her.  The Trent and Mersey canal was only a stones throw away, so a rod was neatly tucked into the boot with some other bits n pieces that I might need for a few hours wandering the towpath.

I started off chucking some lures about and was astonished to see how clear the water was on this canal. Despite the boat traffic coming in waves - almost a boat a chuck at times ! The clarity was probably down to two feet, which is half way to the bottom on most parts of the canal.  The conditions were bright but cold with the gusting wind barrelling down the canal like a mini hurricane, real hold on to your hat stuff.  This of course created an additional flow on the canal that almost turned it into river conditions.

This canal seems to move with a latent steady flow probably from the effect of the Trent system that feeds into it, the wind only added to this.  It effected the action of the lure on the retrieval in the same way that a cast upstream or downstream does in the pace of a rivers current.  It was easier to get a good action retrieving upstream against the flow rather than down - where the line would fall slack as the lure was pushed along.  The fishing was very hard going and I only saw one follow from a small perch all morning.

After a break for lunch back at the car I headed to another stretch a few bridges down and tried a bit of sprat twitching, or better known as sink and draw. The wife text me to update me on pick up times etc and enquired on how I was getting on.   I had nothing to report and texted her so, then as I looked down to my rod lying at my feet and saw braid peeling off the open spool.  I realised that the sprat that had been left to sink across the slack next to a lock run off wear had been picked up by something. The rod arched over as I wound down to the fish and the fight was on !

A slender fish was landed in a short time.  A very thin fish that looked more like a draft excluder than a predator at the top of the food chain. I didn't bother to weight it but it was probably between 4 and 5lb.
That was to be all for the session as time was against me all too quickly, it was time to go back to chauffeur duties.

Sunday 14 October 2012

First Frosts of Autumn ...

Getting out of the house before the sun is up is a great way to start a session, unfortunately the sun beat me this morning as I couldn't peel myself out of bed as early as I'd planned. Still it was a lovely bright morning with a light crisp frost. After performing the first scrape down of my windscreen this Autumn I was finally on my way.

 Checking the river levels online yesterday the Trent system in Burton and Staffordshire seemed to be 'in flood'  so my planned pike and perch session on the Dove or Trent was postponed for another time.  Instead my back up plan was to re visit to the canal in hope of a big double from my usual spot. I could easily have been a bit more adventurous and gone for a bit of pioneering on a new stretch of the cut, but today the known knowns outweighed the unknown knowns. I was soon settled in and fishing two halves of a sardine by a quarter to eight.

The early morning mist in the valley enveloped the scene around me and whilst sat there contemplating the usual questions we fisherman ask ourselves when waiting for a bite, I thought I saw the float on the left hander twitch.  Nah, must have been the wind !

The odd dog walker passed by along the towpath (some of them very odd !) and early morning pleasantries were exchanged with most. The float twitched again, I was sure. I had that feeling there was something interested but it still could have been my imagination. A few more quiet moments passed by, then the float bobbed, moved and line was taken, finally it wasn't my imagination. I picked up the rod and wound down to a taking fish that fought well for it size. Although it wasn't the hoped for double, it was a nice fish at least. A holiday boater out for a morning stroll, cup of coffee in hand, stopped to admire it and took a photo on his own camara. We chatted for a while about fishing and all things canal, he wondered back to see if the rest of his crew were stirring by now, and I got back to concentrating on the floats.

7lb 8oz

That was all the peak of the action for the morning despite trying out some "sprat twitching" ala' Graham Pullen (look it up on youtube), I didn't receive any further interest up until the Sunday morning boat traffic became too intolerable to continue. I was back home by ten thirty just in time for coffee and toast.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Hitting the right spot ..

Another day another quick session, this time back on the canal.  I wanted to try for a canal perch as there are some fish that go up to at least 2lb on this stretch.   I suspect there is potential for bigger specimens than that, but I've no hard evidence other than fish I've caught myself. I always like to work on facts so I usually rely on photos from reliable sources or my own eyes.  A kopyto two & half inch in yellow and white was cast around a bridge and the pilings along the edge but with no joy, so after a while I decided to get the 4play soft roach out of the box again.
I headed to my left up the canal towpath this time but soon turned back around when a couple of boats decided to moor up causing too much disturbance and noise for my liking. The beauty of lure fishing is great mobility of course, so I just headed back the other way.

Down by some reed beds again and after several casts around there was nothing doing. I headed further along trying all the little gaps in between the reeds. Eventually I decided time was up but had to have one last go back where I started at the head of the reeds, where I caught last weeks zed from. Second cast and literally my last cast of the evening over the hot spot and another zander grabbed the lure hard and proceeded to go mental thrashing about and headshaking wildly.  Luckily the stinger I had put on since losing the big pike at the weekend did the business and another zed was in the net, upping my lure caught PB to 4lb 10oz

After successfully removing the stinger from the back of its mouth cavity, proving the fish really wanted that lure, then weighing it and taking some mat shots, I was just letting it recover in the net when a couple walking their dog came by. I soon had the chap on photography duties to take a trophy shot of me holding the fish, but looking at the photo I should have asked his wife to take it !
To be fair the light levels were not good and with just the phone camera again  I had to hope for the best.  Unfortunately it doesn't take brilliant shots in low light, (that can't explain my daft expression though - Doh!)

My biggest zander from this stretch of canal prior to last week was 3lb 5oz and the average on the stretch was approx 2lb 4oz all caught on coarse deadbaits. The lure caught average is 4lb 2oz so far and OK, I know the numbers of separate units are less, but the bait caught averge is only spread over 6 units, whereas the lure caught ave is over just two units to date. You can see what I'm getting at though.  The other factor to consider is whether the fish are getting bigger naturally?  All the bait caught fish are over the last two years results - which would give enough time for some average size increase in the population anyway I would guess.  The only way to really test this theory is to bait fish on the stretch and see what size of fish are caught. If they are still of smaller average size,  then lure fishing could be the way forward in sorting out the bigger fish ?  It's an interesting theory and I'll explore it further in time I'm sure.  It makes me wonder what the maximum size potential is along here ?

Monday 1 October 2012

Three for a jack

That's how many casts it took on the way home today to catch this hard fighting jack. It's the beauty of fishing lures, the most instant of fishing, and one of the reasons I'm getting so addicted to it. Simply roll up, get out the car, put on suitable clothing to protect work wear, grab your gear from the boot and cast in all within a minute or two.

Nothing massive granted, but it came on an size 3 spinner (above) intended for one of the large perch I was hunting. The jack gave me the right run around even tail walking, reminding me that sometimes the size is just irrelevant. Or in other words "it's not the size of the pike in the fight, but the size of the fight in the pike".

(Please excuse the rubbish quality photo's - I've got to get round to getting a new camera still)