Sunday, 25 May 2014

Freebies and some perch.

Rapture Vibra shad
No fishing at all through this week as I wasn't in the mood but Saturday was nailed on to be the day to get out as usual with Woody. We didn't know what to do as we're pretty much just waiting for the rivers to open up now. The weather for the week was also getting worse so we were thinking that any chance of chasing brownies would be a no go as the river would be up and muddy. All plans would be left until the night before.

I had a couple of nice surprises through the post this week. First of all I received a batch of goodies from my Youtube channel sponsor, Lure Lounge. "Have a go with these and see what you think" I was told. A bunch of various soft plastics from a few manufacturers I'd never used before. Rapture Swimmy, Bottom Shad and Vibra Shads some Zman Shadz and Minnowz and some Savage Gear Manic Shrimp. They'll all catch, it's just a matter of using them at the right time. Straight away I knew the small Rapture Shads would bag some perch, the bigger Swimmy will catch pike for sure and the rest I just needed to test and see what they did.

My second parcel was one from Mark Houghton of MH Custom Lures. I've bought some lures from him in the past and also have some on order, hand crafted balsa wood lures. He makes fantastic looking lures, the paint jobs come in their hundreds and the finish is superb. The lures are brilliant, I love the Slide n Shad and the Crank n Shad which both catch me plenty of fish. However these lures aren't hand made. Mark has got a new range, buying in some plastic blanks and then spraying them up in his many colour themes as you desire. The Alphabet cranks looked superb, and I couldn't wait to try out all my new toys.

MH Custom Lures Alphabet crank

Vibra shad
So on to the fishing. The weather dictated we were on a still water and we opted for the canal. We'd not fished here together for a while and we knew there was plenty of water to go at so we'd find some fish eventually. As we got our gear ready I was showing Woody the batch of goodies we'd been sent to play with. He stuck one of Marks Alphabet cranks in his cap for easy access later and clipped on a Rapture Shad as the first spot was a lock gate. We both dropped the Rapture shads right in close to the gate and within seconds Woodys was nailed, a good bend in the rod and the fish put up a fight so the net was scrambled. As the fish came up there was another even bigger perch chasing it so I dropped in but didn't get the double hook up. The fish was landed and the lure was a proven catcher. Woody bagged up in this swim with a further half dozen or more small perch while I kept dropping fish. Funny, and annoying. The Rapture shads were simple to fish, just like any other. Cast out and retrieve and the tail did a nice little wiggle. Though we had better success making use of the flash of the white underside these ones had. Raising or flicking the rod tip had the lure dancing up and then down and as it did so the white underbelly flashed away. Usually we just use Kopytos in one solid colour but these were two toned and the flash of these lures was an eye catcher, particularly in slightly coloured water.

Big perch on Rapture Vibra shad

We fished the other side of the lock gates and picked up a few more small perch, with me even finally getting off the mark. It wasn't the ideal spot to test the Alphabet but we wanted to see how it went so clipped one on each and launched it out. They cast a good distance so that was a plus, and then on the retrieve you could feel the vibrations of a wiggle. They went down to about three feet but the clarity of water meant we couldn't see too much. Fishing instinct told us this wasn't the lure for today and particularly off a canal wall around a lock, as you're never going to get it down. Lure choice is key when lure fishing and getting it right means fish landed or blank. We switched back to the shads and continued to catch small perch, though the action slowed down. Not long before we were ready to move on I switched back to the Alphabet and wandered off to a lower bank to where I knew the water was about four to five foot, much better than the eight foot lock gates and it gave me a chance of a fish even with the murky water. Casting along the canal bank with the idea of bringing it back along the edge where perch often hang out. Second or third cast and it was nailed. At first I wasn't too sure as it swam towards me but then it started to battle and go deeper. A decent perch was on the line and when Woody netted it we both commented that it fought well above it's weight. A nice perch and the alphabet was now christened. We had more chucks with the crank and the shads between us here but nothing, so we moved off in search of fish.

MH Custom Lures Alphabet crank

It was steady for a while. The weather had been dry for the first part of the morning but the dark clouds were on their way, it wasn't long before we were going to be pissed wet through. I was still having a crack with the Alphabet while woody put on a tried and tested jointed Rapala shad rap. If he was catching and I wasn't, then I'd switch and vice verse. Make use of your numbers and use different lures or techniques to find out what works and then both switch. That's what we do and we work hard to find out what is the flavour of the day. When we find it out we pass it on and when we catch a fish we're telling the other one to cast in that spot. Sometimes the fish can be in small groups or areas and so finding them and putting each other on them means we're both in with a chance. May be a hundred yards of bank was covered with nothing to show, but then while I was reeling in a tangled mess of noddy fishing line I heard a shout, could see a big bend in the rod so ditched my rod and ran up to net the fish. As I arrived the panic of a big perch was gone as Woody explained he now knew it was a pike and as the fight got bigger I too could tell it was no big stripey. A pike of around 6lb had taken Woodys shad rap. A nice fish which gives you great joy on the light gear. I went back to my tangled mess while Woody sorted the fish and got the hooks out of the net.

There was no reason for me to switch to a Rapala. One pike doesn't prove anything in particular is working so we kept at it with our lure choices. After another hundred yard or so and nothing, a little chat made us switch to even smaller lures. We'd seen perch but they were mostly small. Woody threw me a new jointed Yogi lure that he'd bagged off eBay for a bargain price. One of the lures he had great success with the trout. In no time the Yogis were catching fish, small perch but at least we were catching. We reached a bridge and switched to the soft shads. A few fish came and then one of about a pound took my Vibra shad before eventually Woody moved around to the other side and I was left to bag just one plastic bag. Back on the Yogis we had fun with huge masses of tiny, angry perch chasing the lures. Some as little as two inch with the odd 10oz beast landed every now and again. By now the rains were in full swing and we were well moist. The water had found out where all the leaks were and knees, elbows backs and necks were now feeling the cold. It was time to head back to the car for food, a good walk as we had gone a good distance. We ate as the rains added moisture to our lunch, then set off in the other direction along the canal. By the time we'd reached the next bridge we were met by even heavier rains and a convoy of canal boats, probably ten, who were opening and closing locks and churning up mud from the canal bottom as they came past. We took that as a sign. Things were getting worse and it was only going to get harder and wetter (ooh, sounds like a good night) and even though we'd had a few more small perch at the bridge we decided to call it a day.

Not long now for the rivers to be open, and then loads of rain to make them unfishable!

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