Andrew Pilgrim

New Tricks for the Old Dog

What’s this new-fangled ‘Drop Shotting’ that I keep hearing about? Laughably tiny, whippy little rods and baby reels with a small bit of neon wobbly rubber for bait….. Quite frankly that sounds absolutely ridiculous!…… So, naturally, I thought I’d best give it a try.

Now as I have mentioned before I consider myself an all-round angler rather than specialising in one discipline of our beautiful sport and as I have just had a milestone birthday (don’t ask!) there was some money burning a hole in my pocket, so a trip to my local tackle shop was called for.

Colchester Bait & Tackle is an absolute gem of a place, a wonderfully disorganised Aladdins cave of assorted fishing paraphernalia. All the latest Carp gear and ‘fuss’ baits, a well-stocked sea fishing section, a plethora of match and pole fishing hooks, floats and rigs and a smashing selection of pre used rods, reels etc for those on a budget, and the bait is always top notch. It’s the sort of place where one can spend hours rummaging around and end up spending a vast amount of money on things you never knew you needed…. I love it!

As I walked in Kevan, the owner, gave me a big beaming smile and his face lit up, to be honest I’m not sure if he has a bit of a thing for me or maybe it’s my wallet he is pleased to see, but when he realised that my beloved Sheena was not accompanying me his smile did fade somewhat as he turned and placed the Drennen Acolyte back on the shelf.

“Drop Shotting…. What do you have?” I asked and a selection of rods quickly appeared for my perusal. After much wiggling, shaking, bending and flexing (the rods not Kevan) I settled on a Savage Gear LRF 0.5-7g, quite a light rod but as I intended to target perch I felt it would do just fine. Reel wise I decided to dig out my little old Mitchell 308 which has been kicking about in my collection for decades just waiting for someone to ‘invent’ Drop Shotting.

I say ‘invent’ Drop Shotting and I’m sorry to burst any bubbles but back in the day this was a recognised method of fishing for Perch. A light weight with a short paternoster, a foot or so above, baited with a big worm was cast out and gently jigged to ‘entice’ a bite, it just wasn’t called Drop Shotting. The American and European lure anglers have really perfected this method over the last decade or so and it has become a real art form with lure only matches becoming major events with sponsorship and big prize money on offer for the top performers. We, sadly, are playing catch up in this regards. Having said that we do have some exceptional exponents of the art of Drop Shotting and if you fancy giving it a go I highly recommend that you watch some You Tube videos by the twice British Lure Fishing Champion Steve Collett – very entertaining and informative. Watch this video and I guarantee you will want to pop down to see Kevan at Colchester Bait & Tackle to get kitted out (Other tackle shops are available)

One of the joys of this style of fishing is the simplicity of what you need – rod & reel, a landing net and a bag with a box of assorted end tackle.

Armed with my shiny new gear I headed down to my local stretch of the River Colne in Colchester town for a couple of hours.

I am ashamed to say that despite living in Colchester for 10 years I have never fished this mile long bit of waterway, and as I walked along it I realised that neither, apparently, has anyone else. There were very few recognisable swims or evidence of other anglers, perfect!

I began my session at the weir at the bottom of East hill, where the freshwater stretch ends and the tidal begins, and was to walk the mile or so to the bridge at North Station Road. The first thing that struck me was what a very pretty river this is and what potential it has. The first section is wide with little flow despite the recent rains this then narrows to a tree lined section with a nice pace on the water, this section ‘screams’ Chub and I’m sure I shall be revisiting over the winter to try and tempt one or two of my favourite fish.

As we approach Castle Park the river is shallower with depths of only a few feet and on this day, with the water pushing through was not unlike some Barbel rivers I have fished.

In Castle Park is a little weir that I recall many years ago had a few swims and a couple of wooden fishing platforms, This whole pool is now unfishable due to the banks being overgrown and access is impossible.

 There are a couple of signs on the bridges in this area stating that the river is owned by Colchester Oyster Fishery, This lack of maintenance bankside is one of my pet hates and really frustrates me.  More ranting on that to follow in another blog.

So to the fishing, firstly I can say that Drop Shotting is a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours walking along the bank, searching out likely fish holding spots and really getting to know the stretch, and to be honest my relaxed appreciation of my surroundings was reaching a high when I was suddenly reminded of the task in hand by a sharp pluck on the rod tip. Far too quick to strike at but never the less it did concentrate my mind somewhat. The next few casts with a small brightly coloured lure produced no further action so I changed to a 3” ‘Shad’ style lure and worked it close in down the margins. I’m not going to turn this blog into an instructional piece on how to fish this method so if you are interested watch the video that I linked above. A short while, and a couple of swims , later I had my first real bite as the rod tip was wrenched round and the drag screamed and after a great fight on such a light rod I netted my first Drop Shot caught Perch of almost 2lb, I was a happy little fisherman.

Despite trying many likely looking spots, and a variety of lures, on the remainder of my walk I only had a couple of rattles on the tip and I concluded that they weren’t really having it or maybe my presentation was not quite right, but I’m sure that this method will produce some good catches once I have perfected the technique.

As its now October we are starting the Pike season, so next week I may be chucking some larger lures for predators, Having said that my beloved Sheena says she quite likes the sound of drop shotting and as we speak she is frantically scanning the Drennen Acolyte range looking for a suitable rod to purchase, I fear she may be disappointed, as will Kevan! .

All the best , and Tight Lines Y’all.

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