Saturday, 2 February 2013

It's all about the take

I've not got a great deal to report. Rain, then snow then defrosting snow and then flooded rivers again. The levels went crazy over night and the banks were burst yet again and even though I had a week of afternoons at work I didn't even bother to attempt to get out. I stayed in doors and just chilled for a week, catching up on episodes old and new, of "The Fishing Adventurer" and the lure angling legend Cyril Chauquet. If you've never seen his programs tune in to Discovery Shed or follow the link above and watch them on line.

By the time Friday of this week came I was finally bored stiff of chilling and decided to go out and see what the waters were like. My favourite bit of river was flooded and still carrying far too much colour so I had to quickly come up with a plan B and opted for a small canal I know about which has plenty of jacks and rumours of larger fish, though I've not had any yet myself. I arrived at the canal to find that too coloured from the river water flooding in at the lock gates, but since this canal is really shallow I felt I still had a chance to catch a fish.

I opted for the heavy set up, which isn't really needed here but I only had that or my ultra light set up with me. I wanted to use some lures with a bit of noise, flash  and also one that wouldn't go down too deep in to the weed which still seems to hang around in clumps on the bottom. I have a nicely waited squirrelly burt which fits in perfect. It dives a few feet but then steadily rises to the surface, and has a rattling ball bearing inside to help wake up those sleepy pike laying up on the canal bed.

The tactic seemed to work in a fashion. I was getting the attention of those sleepy pike, but it seemed that most of them were only small jacks. These jacks were shooting up from the depths and hitting the lure at speed but then dodging the hooks and getting back to their hiding place. I missed a good half a dozen hits, and only managed to hook in to two pike. However I was still happy to be out and catching a couple of fish to boot.

Of those two fish, the first one was around four pounds in weight. As I was bringing it in, Burt hanging out of it's mouth, I felt it looked like a good photo opportunity so grabbed the camera. Getting a photo here and then unhooking the fish in the water seemed a good option for both of us. I took one photo, and then as I peered through the tiny screen on my camera and pressed for a second photo there was an almighty commotion. Another pike had come up and taken a bite at my capture. By sheer luck I had captured the moment on camera. Thoughts raced through my mind of a monster, would it stay on, could I land them both but I soon realised the pike had let go in that same click of the camera. I quickly got the little jack in and surprisingly there was little signs of the attack and the little fellow had got off ok. I was actually more concerned about the number of leeches on the poor thing so I spent a bit of time grooming the fish, for what good that would do.

Saturday was to be a day of shopping with the girls unfortunately so any plans to get out and fish were put aside. You have to balance family life with fishing and sometimes you have to keep everyone happy. So I cracked the whip early doors and got them all up and out the door, we were back home for around 2pm and the girls had got their clothes and shoes fix. I asked my lad if he wanted to come fishing as he'd not been out for a while. I promised him we wouldn't be long, as despite the sun being out it was still pretty cold outside. I also wanted to be back home for half past four anyway to watch the rugby on TV. Off we went to my same little canal spot, this time armed with the light rod.

Jack had the first few casts and he'd soon fanned the first swim with no luck until finally one jack must have been right below us, or followed in a previous cast. The lure was about two feet from the waters edge and he was just about to lift the lure out when up shot the jack of around three pound. A brilliant take which he saw every bit of and it gave us both great joy. He didn't want to mess with photos and plus I'd annoyingly left the camera at home. I quickly groomed the fish and put it back. Jack gave me the rod so I could get in on the action. Before long I too was in though this time it was only a little pike of just over a pound or so but I was happy to be out with my lad and catching fish. Jack was now winning the match he told me. We'd both caught but his was far bigger than mine he cheekily explained. He had a few more chucks before giving me back the rod because his fingers were getting a bit too cold and he was fearing dropping my rod if something was on the other end of the line. I was soon in to a fish and this one turned out to be about the same size of Jacks pike, so now he had to concede I was winning. Unfortunately my cheap unknown lure that was doing the business suddenly broke in two as I unhooked the second fish, though better for it to happen now than any other time, and this now left me having to find another lure that we could work in the same way.

This lure was a small swim bait, but also had a lip on it too. It came in with a nice wiggle and flash, didn't dive too far at all and had a very tantalising slow sink on the pause. Now I had to find something similar but every lure I tried didn't seem quite right. I did get a follow on a small soft 4play but that was it before finally settling on a 20cm real eel. First cast and I was in. The rod bent double and it was obviously a bigger fish than the others though not a monster. I gave Jack the rod so he could have the fun of a bigger fish on a very light set up. The pike obliged and put in a couple of good strong runs before eventually Jack got the better of it and I scooped it up in the net. A fish so big it took two of us to get it in Jack explained. It was around 8lb, a nice little fat fish and Jack took a couple of photos on my mobile phone and I then set to removing more leeches.

It was great to be out, great to be catching and even better after a long tiring week of afternoons, call outs in the middle of the night and seeing little of my family, it was good to have had a day with them all and to end by catching a few fish with my lad was better than catching a twenty. As we walked to the car Jack explained that he'd won the match. Yes I'd caught the biggest. Yes I'd hooked three but technically we'd both banked two. However the deciding factor of this match, Jack explained, was that it's all about the take, and that I had to agree with him on.


  1. Great read that Paul. Well done for taking the effort in to take your lad out - so to often I leave my young un at home.

    Great snap as well as the little pike got snapped.

    1. Cheers Jimmy. He's part of the Playstation generation so it's hard to drag him out. He gets bored too quickly if the fish aren't feeding. I only take him when he wants to go and don't put too much pressure on him to come. He'll be out a few times in the warmer months where he wants to catch a perch on the lures as he's not caught one yet. No doubt he'll bag a four pounder on his first trip! lol

  2. Hi Paul, I've had similar frustrations with the river fishing this month. I fish the upper Severn and when ever I get chance to fish it, it's either in flood or cold and low. I did find the fish feeding earlier this month in the warm spell. The river had been high and was dropping. I had two fish on dead bait and lure. fished again this weekend in similar conditions but no luck, no signs of any fish feeding.

    in your opinion what are the perfect conditions for lure fishing? Im guessing warmer water and air temp, with a little extra water on the river but dropping.

    One plus I've found about the floods, it washes all the dog shit off the banks!

    1. Hi John. Rivers have been tough but the pike are still feeding if you can find them in any condition I reckon. I think they feed well in floods. They chill out in the same slacks as the other fish and fatten up nicely.

      I think you're on the right track with that though mate. I find that often a bit of flood, then the subsequent run off produces a feeding spell. If you can find a feature or regular feeding spot I find the fish come in to these as the water is running off. If the colour is still a bit chocolatey I don't rate my chances but if there's a bit of water and the chocolate has gone I'm expecting a fish. Often this is the case though sometimes I get a blank. The only other tactic I have are to keep at it as often as possible. I rarely spend too long fishing and instead go for the approach of hitting it lots and one day I'll drop on them feeding/or a big girl. By coincidence, check todays blog entry which backs all that up!