Categories
Cameron Harris Coarse Lure River

Lure Fishing What Makes It Tough?

Lure fishing is the most exciting method of fishing known to man, with explosive takes when the rods in your hands and light tackle helping you to feel every bite and head shake. Theres often times when you will be able to just grab your rod, rig up a drop-shot, find a boat. boom, perch. If it was that way every time we’d fall out of love with the sport. And despite the hard days being stressful they help us keep the hunger and wanting more!

My favourite lure fishing conditions are a low pressure, cloudy, little drizzly. But with a busy schedule you cant always pick and choose on days. this is why its important to be fishing in all conditions and learn how to fish, this will make you a much better all rounder angler. From what ive found (everyone will most likely find different) a high pressure affects the aggressiveness and active status of your quarry. I should say this is on rivers around me i haven’t tested this theory on reservoirs and lakes. In a high pressure the fish will be much harder to find and ive found trying to get a reaction bite rather than a feeding bite will result in finding perch and will make your life a hell of a lot easier. The best way i do this is by annoying the target into biting, IE bright colours, rattles, vibrations etc etc.

For this reason i like to pick bright loud crank baits when applicable. In winter ive found just using bright colours works well. The depth the fish hold up in will also be affected by the pressure. My theory is that the reason perch fishing is soo good in low pressure is because all of the perch rigs are on the bottom where the perch will be in low pressure. Following this same idea in a high pressure they are more suspended in the water, and as much as i hate the drop-shot its a very viable rig for high pressure situations. Rigging a lemon tiger slick shad on the drop-shot was a lethal method when i met up with Ben Smith.

Let me know what you’ve found with your fishing and any patterns you’ve managed to home in on.

My lure caught species in January 2022.

January is a tough time of the year for lure fishing anywhere in the UK. The colder temperatures and regularly strong winds that results in dirtier waters are things wished away by the lure angler, especially LRF anglers. Now even though it does get more difficult in the very early part of a new year, it’s not impossible. It just takes a little bit more patience, a willingness to change up your tactics and to fish in less than comfortable weather.

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I’ve caught 7 species up till I’m writing this in January, below I’ll write a little bit about how I caught them (mainly dropshot) and throw in a few pictures.

A whiting is pretty much a given whilst fishing in Hartlepool marina in January but I’ll take nothing away from the fight that the bigger ones give you. My main tactic for catching them is a dropshot rig, a small length of light coloured isome, slowly winding in across the bottom will attract them.

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Coalie bites and fights are very different from Whiting when using the same tactics. A very strong initial pull over and strong fight regardless of the size. However, I find that a drop straight down a wall and a slow retrieve up will catch them mid water. Either with a dropshot rig or a light jighead.

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One of my favourites species to catch are Long spined sea scorpions. I’ve caught a few of these so far in January and all them have either been between boulders down the side of a pier or close to some sort of structure in Hartlepool marina. If you feel a single lunge of your tip and nothing else, there’s a good chance it’ll be a scorp keeping hold of your dropshotted camo gulp.

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LRF flounders are a special thing. I’ve had most success with a looped dropshot and either isome or Berkeley gulp but I have caught them on a cheb head, size 12 hook and and inch of isome. The fight you get off a big flatfish is like nothing else, just when you think you’ve got ready to net it’ll take another dive.

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A shore rockling on a 2.5g jighead was a first for me. Dropping an ecogear aqua shirasu in between boulders I started to get small bites then one large bend in my rod I pulled up in to nothing, something had taken my lure off my hook. I put another one and dropped it into the same place, this time after a few seconds I had a fish on and it was fighting. I pulled up a decent sized shore rockling.

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Dabs are a cool flatfish that have a very distinctive bend in their lateral line. I’ve caught quite a few of these and the seem to love pink isome, a looped drop shot rig with a couple of inches of pink isome will definitely do the job. I prefer this method over a Carolina rig for dab.

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PInk isome works great for Dabs but this one took a full camo gulp.

I’d fished the whole of January hoping for a codling and believing that I’d get one every time I went out. This wasn’t the case, in fact it took till the 24th for me to catch one and I caught 3 in the same night. The first was on a magbite bladed jighead and an ecogear aqua shirasu.

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Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks to the lads from The big lerf for putting on a winter competition, its definitely made me go out and fish more and thanks to the admin team from Hartlepool lure and LRF for fishing with me.

Categories
Bob Dellar Coarse

For The Love Of Perch


There’s been a bit of a perch bonanza amongst fellow Essex Anglers bloggers lately, so I thought I’d show my appreciation for this magnificent fish too. 

Like most anglers, my very first fish was a perch, in fact I think I caught about nine, at the age of nine, from Highams Park Lake in Woodford Green, Essex, an estate lake originally part of a landscape designed by Humphrey Repton in the eighteenth century. That first session had a profound effect on me, and I was utterly hooked from that moment. Part of the allure was the fish itself; they were tiny but they fought like tigers, flashing back and forth in the pellucid shallows, all spikes and stripes with great, gaping mouths and huge, predator eyes. They certainly put a bend in my six foot Woolworths fibre glass rod. I’ve still got the folding, red fishing stool I used on that day and the Golden Virginia tobacco tin my dad gave me for my hooks and bits.

Perch loomed large in subsequent trips to the lake, as I’d yet to hone my angling skills enough to tempt any of the more wiley tench, roach and carp that lived amongst those kamikaze stripeys. Eventually, after discovering the revered books of tench guru Fred J Taylor, I managed to bank a tench or two, plus a 1lb roach. But that was a couple of years away, and me and my best friend and angling pal Gary were content to hoik out “wasp” perch on line thick enough to hang your clothes on.

Gary was a street-wise kid who’s personality contrasted with my laid-back, mild manner but our mutual appreciation of wildlife and fishing forged a strong bond. We once witnessed an older group of boys catching perch after perch and dashing them to bits on nearby rocks, laughing as they did so. We were utterly appalled and shouted at them to stop, from a safe distance obviously. Thankfully they did stop, despite hurling threats and abuse, but the shocking sight of those poor, eviscerated perch is still emblazoned on my mind.

Later on, after I left college and moved back to London, I discovered what was at the time one of the best big-fish rivers in the south-east: Coppermill Stream, Walthamstow. A short, two mile tributary of the river Lea it is nowadays a shadow of its former self but when I fished it was renown for specimen fish of many species including barbel, roach, chub, and perch.

I enjoyed good sport from all the above, apart from (and despite my best efforts) the perch.

I knew they were there, I’d heard the fishy tales from fellow anglers of giant stripeys, either caught or spotted skulking amongst the streamer weed. My own personal experience of these gorgeous giants was to be bitter sweet; to be truthful more the former than the latter! But nonetheless I’m glad I had it. One evening in the late summer I was fishing for barbel with no success. A few swims up was another young angler fishing hard up against concrete bridge pilings. He was hoiking out perch after perch, whooping with delight as he did so, every cast produced another fish. And they were massive, the biggest perch I’d ever seen. He was carefully placing them in a keep net and after a while my curiosity got the better of me and I walked up to him to witness his remarkable catch. He was a humble, good natured bloke and appeared almost embarrassed by his success. He asked me to take some photos for him and I was happy to oblige, a bit jealous of course but very pleased for him and in awe of his catch: six specimen perch to 3.8lb; not fresh, clean-skinned, fin-perfect youngsters these but old, muscular warriors, with scarred flanks, blood-red fins and bristling spikes. If there had been smart phones at the time I’d have asked him to text me a photo or two, but this was the late eighties and mobile phones resembled house bricks. I’ve still got some vivid memories of those perch though. The fella packed up shortly after, a very happy angler. I asked if he’d mind me poaching his swim and he graciously obliged, but although I fished into darkness I had not a touch, despite replicating his tactics: legered lobworm against the concrete pilings, feeding maggot over the top. 

Over a decade later, I would employ the same approach to catch my own big old stripey. Not a 3lb monster but a beautiful fish nonetheless. One autumn evening in 2004 at Dobbs Weir on the river Lea in Hertfordshire, I took the advice of a friendly bailiff I’d met at the weir the day before, and fished hard against the concrete bridge pilings adjacent to the weir. I had two perch, the biggest 2.12lb. Luckily, that same bailiff turned up again, and with a smile and an “I told you so” took a couple of photos for me. 

Here’s one of them.

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Nowadays, perch fishing is enjoying an amazing revolution. The opportunity to catch specimen fish from a wide variety of venues using a wide variety of tactics are legion. I have myself been bitten by the lure fishing bug, and in the space of a year have bought numerous multicoloured, jelly-like lures; some resembling fish, others the “Bugs” from Starship Trooper movies. But to be honest, although I’ve enjoyed fishing with them, I’ve not caught many perch! Plenty of jack pike though, which on light gear are a joy.

Saying that, I had two nice fish of around 1.5lb from the Great Ouse near Ely, on a jig resembling another perch! The little cannibals…

I had to resort to the time honoured perch catching marvel that are lobworms to get amongst something bigger. On a favourite stretch of the Suffolk Stour is an old railway bridge and a very deep pool with perch, (and chub), written all over it. One evening in December last year I  decided to give the pool a crack. As dusk settled in numerous fry were making their presence known, their tiny bodies iridescent in the margins. In went a link-legered lobworm and within twenty minutes out came a beautiful perch that pulled hard and shook its head all the way to the net. She went 2.2lb, again not a monster but a fish that had me buzzing for days after. 

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Categories
Cameron Harris Lure River

Chub Chasing

So on this day, I took the heavier gear and some jerk baits around 10cm and smaller. I went to the clear part of the river it sits at about 2ft with deep holes of about 4ft chub central. I found a lot of shoals but being a bright day it’s difficult fishing and managed to get a lot of followers however no takes.

I stopped sight casting thinking that the fish were not gonna be in the shallows, one blind cast resulted in a fish within the first twitch of the lure. The fish was fighting like a chub but when it showed up it was a pike of maybe 3-4lb I landed it in my 30cm trout net which was a comedy show in itself. but finally got the tripod set up and a nice fish

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After spending more time with it going extra quiet I decided to move to deeper darker more weeder sections of the river I found a particular bridge I had been looking for for a while I knew it was covered in perch so I just wanted to find a couple of perch to save a blank. I ended up with one first cast which came out as a nice fish.

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If you’d like to see the video check this out!

Categories
Bob Dellar Coarse Lure River

Avoiding The Football


I’m afraid I’m a tad indifferent when it comes to football. I only ever take a mild interest if Spurs, the team favoured through family tradition, or the national side start to perform well and show signs of actually winning something significant. Such was the case with England’s recent Euros performance but I have to admit as the final drew close I had a desire to escape the build up and hype as the doubts, anxiety and inevitability of failure came to the fore. So I decided to go fishing, and although failure is often inevitable with this pursuit also, at least I’d be outside enjoying the natural world.

The local river Stour in Sudbury was my chosen venue, and on arrival it became apparent that large swathes of the river were unfishable, either because of overgrown swims or copious weed growth. I should have known really. This year, probably due to the wet, warm summer, grasses, nettles, bankside reeds and all manner of vegetation has grown with wild abandon, completely transforming spacious, comfortable pegs into impassable jungles that would make even Indiana Jones hang up his machete. Nonetheless, there were enough accessible swims to make a cast or two worthwhile, so I thought I’d have a go with the lure rod as I love the roving nature of this type of fishing and the opportunity it affords to reconnoiter stretches of the river I’ve yet to explore. Also, I’d recently seen a photo of a 3lb perch caught from the Stour in Sudbury which had whetted my appetite, as had a dead perch of well over 2lb I’d discovered on a canoe trip last summer. But I’d have to contend with the pike, which the river is famous for.

My dog Indy was my fishing buddy for the day and true to form he did his usual impression of a rhino and bulldozed his way through the undergrowth totally oblivious to the stingers and brambles that were tearing holes in me and constantly snaring my landing net. 

I had a few casts to no avail, constantly thwarted by the weed and cabbages, so I changed from a jig to a Cheb rig, with a view to fish a creature bait using the “weedless” approach where you hook the bait in such a way as to conceal the hook to reduce snagging up. As I was rearranging my tackle (?!) I noticed that Indy had disappeared. 

I needn’t have worried. Tucked around the corner in the next swim were a couple of Polish anglers who had taken a shine to the dog and were feeding him bits of their lunch. 

“Nice dog”, the older one said as I walked up to them. “He’s always nice to people that feed him” I said. “Nice dog”, he repeated, nodding his head.

They were both smoking fags that smelled mighty pungent, not ghanja, more likely cheapies brought over from Poland made from weightlifters jockstraps sprinkled with festering grass cuttings or something. I bade them farewell and left before my nose fell off. After a few more fruitless casts, I found myself at a familiar spot, an old railway bridge  spanning the river, with arches casting deep shade and wide brick pillars descending into the depths; perfect ambush points for perch and pike. In addition, below a straggly willow is a back eddy above a very deep hole that on a winter’s evening the previous year delivered a nice brace of sizeable chub and a perch of half a pound or so, all on legered lobworm. I’m sure I’d have caught more had I not been scared half to death by the dog, who suddenly started growling low and deep and staring fixedly into the blackness beneath the bridge. It was all far too “Blair Witch” for my liking so I buggered off sharpish, dragging the dog with me who carried on growling all the way back to the car!

This time, however, it was broad daylight and the sun was out, perfectly illuminating the space beneath the bridge along with all the beer cans, plastic bottles, fag packets and general detritus common to river banks nowadays; bloody horrible but not a knife wielding maniac.

Annoyingly, the bridge swims produced nothing so I flicked the creature bait into the hole beneath the willow and was rewarded with the smallest pike I’ve ever seen, a micropredator not much bigger than the lure. And that was it, not a sniff for the next twenty minutes so a move was in order.

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The micro pike from the deep hole

I headed for a stretch of the river that’s maybe three or four foot deeper than the general course where apparently dredging work was carried out in the sixties. I figured they’d be less weed in deeper water. First cast proved that theory was flawed when I reeled in a big chunk of lily rhizome but it was definitely less snaggy than the shallower area where I’d started, and there was also more fish action as I caught two jacks of about 4lb in quick succession, one of whom nearly tore the rod out of my hand with a thwack of a take. I was beginning to enjoy myself, and light levels were dropping as the evening rolled in so I begun to work the deep margin cover for perch.

But then what can only be described as rowing rush-hour began. One man sculls, two man sculls, four man sculls, they all kept coming in what seemed an endless regatta of men and woman in boats; puffing, blowing, shouting, splashing, laughing, swearing and even some waving at me and the dog. It was practically impossible to fish. During a brief lull in the paddling I chanced a quick cast and, unbelievably, hooked another jack! I just managed to land it before it was keelhauled by a single rower totally oblivious to me and the tussle going on beneath his boat. As I unhooked it, a passing two man scull shouted “show us the fish mate!”, which of course I did. And that was that, the boat traffic seemed to fade away and with it my enthusiasm to fish on. So my football avoidance session hadn’t exactly been Premier League but I had some sport from those lively jacks and had spent a couple of hours walking a river that was a pleasure to behold, watching ethereal dragonflies skim and dart and kingfishers hunt for fry from riverside perches. Which was, of course, way, way better than watching football.

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None the worse for wear despite the keelhauling!
Categories
Bailey Payne Lure River

Dropshot for Perch: Creature Lures & Worms!

Something different from me today, I go to try and get the grasps of lure/dropshot fishing for Perch. I have previously tried, and failed, although so far only have 2 lure caught fish to my name, a Pike and a Trout. So I’m not the most confident when it comes to lure fishing and the Perch has evaded me so far.

I was hoping to christen my Rigged & Ready Fish Rig 180 a super light rod ideal for Dropshot and lure fishing for Perch. This time, my dad decided to come along and give Dropshot for a few perch a go too. We headed down to the River Chelmer, a river with an abundance of Perch, or we were hoping for anyway! We focused on fishing structures where we thought likely for the Perch to be, bridges etc etc.

I started the day using a FFS INBE Creature Lure in Get Bit colour, really hoping I would get my first Lure Caught perch! The lure is only small, so it gave me a lot of confidence the little wasps would go for it. At the first bridge, the water was crystal clear and we could see a lot of Perch darting around, although a lot where close in just staring at where the wall met the water, possibly after larvae?

The first cast saw instant attraction, with a group of Perch following the lure through the water as I jigged it. However none of them seemed to keen? Maybe I had to tweak retrieve to spark interest? (If anyone can comment or message me tips It would be greatly appreciated as I am still learning this technique!) I went for quick bursts which seemed to really get the perch chasing the lure, a quick burst, then stop, drag, quick and repeat…BANG! First Perch had grabbed the lure! And was quickly lifted in!

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My first lure caught Perch!

I was chuffed to get my first lure caught Perch! A lovely little wasp! This bridge struggled to provide much else for us, so we wandered down to the next, where again it wasn’t long before I managed to get another on the same Lure!

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I started to struggle to keep enticing these Perch to take, so swapped over to using worms on the dropshot for the rest of the day, which certinaily gave me more fish, clearly it was a worm day, however the Perch still seemd pre-occupied (Any thoughts maybe?).

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A lovely little wasp by the Rigged & Ready Fish Rig 180.

The Perch were coming quite quickly for us through most of the day, and we caught a lot of the smaller wasps just on sight fishing, which is great fun watching the Perch suck in the worm and lure! My dad managed a few Perch too, and even a little Pike which put up a good fight!

The best Perch of the day came as the water started to colour up, preharps the more coloured water on the upper chelmer starting to come through, or just the sheer amount of boats that had been going past us?

The best Perch came from the middle of the River under a bridge, and was on the retrieve, still on Dropshot and Worm. And put up a great scrap!

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The best Perch of the day!

On our wanders up and down this lovely bit of River, we did also stumble across a rather large grass snake, which I couldn’t leave out of my blog!

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Grass Snake

All in all, a good day, and really helped me build confidence on the Dropshot, hope to go out on the jig and catch a few more soon! Really got the bug of this type of fishing! I’ve always loved a Perch too!

Until next time, Tight Lines All…

Rigged & Ready Fish Rig 180: (If you interested in getting anything from Rigged & Ready use the following code for 10% off! ESSEX A+R&R)

FFS Lures INBE:

https://www.ffslures.com/product-page/inbe

I highly suggest checking both of these out! Tom @ FFS Lures is a great help and will take the time to answer questions and help you find what you need to get you catching!

Categories
Guest

LRF – Flounder On A Bladed Jighead

Flounder just epitomise LRF (Light Rock Fishing) to me… Quirky looking, surprisingly aggressive and fight so well on light tackle. Knowing that they start to come back from spawning in May, could I catch an early one? A trip to Cornwall was on the cards…

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One of the most entertaining LRF target species.

Flounder return from their spawning grounds in deeper water, hungry and aggressive. They have successfully served their purpose for another year and spend the rest of spring and summer building back up their fat reserves. Although they aren’t traditionally targeted by most anglers in these months, for me, this is the best time to find them. These fish are lean and fit, ready to take on any prey they can get their jaws around!

”These jigheads scream flounder, bass and gurnard to me, so I was excited to try them out”

Recently, I had badgered Jon Owens (Jonny Lerfer on Facebook and Instagram) to order the Magbite Blading Jigheads in, and of course he came up with the goods. These jigheads scream flounder, bass and gurnard to me, so I was excited to try them out. They have a thick, strong hook, with a small blade underneath coming from an extended lead head. Flatfish love bling and these seemed perfect. I couldn’t wait to give them a dipping.

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The Magbite Bladed Jighead

Keitech make exceptional soft plastic lures. I have tried and caught on most but there was one I had eyes on that day. The Mini Wag is a perfect worm imitation, especially in natural pink. Scented with squid like most Keitech lures, it has a mad wriggling tail. Unlike your average curl tail it wiggles from the middle of the tail, not the end, so it’s really unusual. Combined with the Bladed Jighead, I had a combo with great potential, but could I find the fish?

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The Keitech MIni Wag

The tide was pushing in around the harbour and with it, hopefully some predators. I often find flounder will hug the structure, skirting the base of the harbour walls hunting for any fleeing prawns, fish and worms in the onrushing tide.

In classic Cornish fashion, myself and Jon were sharing the quay with tourists from across the UK. There were a variety of accents, ordering drinks and enjoying chips and pasties. Cornwall has a love hate relationship with the tourists that make their way to the county every year – they cause chaos but the money is vital for the locals. As angling tourists though, me and Jon were more interested in the life below the waterline rather than expanding our waistlines.

”a vortex of swirling food, an ideal ambush spot for a bass or flounder”

I flicked the lure out, letting it drop so I could work it along the base of the wall, jigging up and then stopping regularly. The tide was pushing over the slipway, created a vortex of swirling food, an ideal ambush spot for a bass or flounder I thought.

The technique is super simple.. Let the lure hit the bottom and leave it for a few seconds. Once the slack is tightened, I then flick the rod tip gently to lift the lure and spark it into action. A couple of turns of the reel bring lure closer, covering the ground, after that I let it sink back down and stop again. For any bottom dwelling species, this is the ultimate lure technique – stop go, stop go, stop go. It keeps the lure in the strike zone.

”There were no bass like headshakes, only the resistance of an angry flatfish!”

After lots of casts working my way around the harbour, about half way in the rod bent round into substantial weight. The fish had taken the lure on the drop and as I tightened the slack I set the hook. This felt good! There were no bass like headshakes, only the resistance of an angry flatfish!

Spring flounder are far more aggressive and active than in winter, they hit lures with ferocity and fight hard. This fish was no different. It went on a number of drag ripping runs, giving it hell to avoid being netted. The hookhold was strong though in the flatfish’s bony jaws. With a now captivated audience of tourists it was in the net. My first decent lure caught flounder of the year.

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The prize!

We moved out of the way of the now gathering holiday makers, onto some steps to get photos. Other than scorpion fish and gurnard, flounder are my favourite muse. If you get the angle right – photographed from their bottom jaw up – you can really capture their moody nature. Photograph them from the other side and they look a little dorky – these are quirky fish after all!

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Moody looking creatures don’t you agree?

After admiring the fish’s mottled markings, burgundy spots and bony head, I held the flounder in the water. The fish caught it’s breath and kicked away powerfully. The tactic had worked first time and this was the earliest in Spring I had caught a flounder. Everything bodes well for a great season to come.

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See what I mean about looking dorky from this angle?

Thanks for reading. You can find the jigheads and similar items on Jonny’s website –
https://japanjonnylerfer.bigcartel.com/product/blading-skirted-jigheads
The Keitech Mini Wag can be bought here –

https://www.chesilbaitntackle.co.uk/keitech-mad-wag-mini-25-31397-p.asp

The set up
ROD – Majorcraft N-One NSL-S662H/AJI 0.8-12g
REEL – Shimano Stradic 1000
MAINLINE – Majorcraft Dangan Braid 8lb
LEADER – Majorcraft Fluoro leader 4lb
Find more articles like this on my blog – www.benbassettfishing.home.blog

Categories
Bob Dellar

The Call Of The Pike Part 1


Jig fisher virgin.

And so the colder months are upon us and I’m keen to get amongst the spikes, teeth, stripes and manly jaw-lines of our native piscine predators.

Although I’ve had the odd dabble already, if the truth be known. And I’ve discovered a new way of catching them, well new to me anyway. Jig fishing. 

My very first outing was an opportunistic one, when I sneaked the jig rod in amongst the chainsaws and climbing ropes before I left home in the hope of nicking a quick session on a lovely stretch of the Upper Stour near Liston, Sudbury after a morning’s work. The weather was red hot, bright and sunny with a brisk wind so not that perfect! Nonetheless I was keen to take my new six foot rod out for its maiden voyage and to pop my jig fishing cherry at the same time! I’ve fished with spinners and plugs on and off for years but the jelly-like jig lures with all their assorted names, colours and strangeness are new to me. When I arrived the river was crystal clear and what was really pleasing to see was the sheer number of fish from fry to the more mature flitting around in the shallows. And where there’s prey there’s predators, so the sight of all those silvers boosted my confidence. Features abound in the Stour at Liston with lilies, cabbages, reed beds and overhanging as well as submerged branches. All great to cover the backs of a spiky-toothed pike or a bristling perch but a bit of a snag-magnet for a cack-handed jig-fisher virgin.

Incredibly, my first cast with a perch fry micro-lure had a follow from a little jack which might well have had a pop had I not panicked and plucked the lure from right under its nose sending it skywards into a hawthorn. I don’t know who was more surprised, me or the pike. It hung in the water stock still for a second or two and if it had blinked and shaken its head in disbelief I wouldn’t have been surprised.

After disentangling my lure and trace from a particularly vicious hawthorn branch I continued my trek down the bank on the hunt for more predator holding hotspots. The wind had whipped up sending tiny manes of white water across the river’s surface obscuring potential snags and hazards, so every cast became a lost-tackle lottery. At one point, the eddying wind and water subsided briefly offering a brief glimpse into the depths like a porthole on the Nautilus. It was then that my spiky little lure came into view no than than four metres from the near bank. Just as my wrist tensed on the rod handle to induce a last enticing flick, a jack pike shot out from his liquid lair with astonishing speed and grabbed it. I still am astounded, when I think back, at the sheer pace and savagery of that lunge. What ensued was a brief but powerful tussle with a summer pike of no more than two pounds. He gave it his all that little pike and I’ve had less enjoyable tussles with Esox many times his size who have thrown in the towel early and limped to the net like a hooked bin-bag. A second, slightly bigger fish of about three pounds followed from a swim overhung by one of the oldest and gnarliest white willows I’ve ever seen, it’s squat, fissured trunk rubbed smooth and shiny in places where generations of cattle have scratched an itch or sheltered from sun or rain. It must have been pollarded countless times over the years as well as thrashed and decollated by countless storms but as is the way with willows, new growth soon emerges to replace the lost and damaged. There must have been an absolute maze of fibrous red-tinged roots wafting in the flow where the tree’s huge buttresses enter the water, a perfect ambush point for that hungry little pike.

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Little pike from below the willow


Next swim was a tight one and I had to kneel to cast. The jig was snapped up as soon as it hit the water and I fell back in surprise and flailed about in the nettles before I regained my composure. I was attached to a lively perch of about half a pound which, as it thrashed about in the margins, was escorted sympathetically by three or four of its shoal mates to the waiting net. Anthropomorphism is a dubious trait I know but as I released him back into the flow I like to think that his mates took him to one side, checked he was ok, and gently rebuked him for being so impulsive. 

So, for a first session on the jig as it were, things went quite well and overall was an enjoyable experience. Remarkably, I didn’t leave any lures, lost and forlorn, snagged up in the underwater jungle, but I did crush my fibre glass landing net pole when the perch pounced and I fell back on my arse.

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First perch on a jig rig


Jungle jigging

I’d recently joined Sudbury and Long Melford Angling Club, impressed by the range of river fishing they offered, mainly on the Suffolk Stour. But amongst the river delights were an intriguing trio of well established gravel pits: Glemsford 1, 2 and 3. The pits are collectively a nature reserve and an SSSI, primarily down to its outstanding population of dragonflies.  I love dragonflies. If I spot one I’ll stand and watch, because every time they enthral. Absolute masters of the air, and aerial predators par excellence they can turn on a sixpence to grab an unsuspecting fly, midge or mosquito mid-flight. Without them they’d be a lot more mossie bites to scratch, a lot more hydrocortisone anointing. And their names are perfect aptronyms: darters, hawkers, chasers. On the Norfolk Broads, I once witnessed a southern hawker doing battle with an angry hornet, a bout that the hawker lost but the ensuing dog-fight was a spectacle as both insects wrestled mid-air, end over end, free falling then ascending, a contortion of brightly coloured abdomens goring at each other until the hawker was thrust away defeated, its perfect wings trashed and crumpled as it ditched in the river Ant and gently floated away, a fitting Viking burial, back to the water from whence it came.

And so for my first trip to Glemsford I opted to fish No 3, a fantastic, prehistoric looking water, wild and swamp-like, a Louisiana bayou without the heat and alligators . A maze of spits, islands and craggy-old willows with dislocated, fractured limbs hanging precariously in the trees or strewn around, as if an angry giant has crashed through. 

The weather was mild and overcast, absolutely ideal so out came the jig rod again for a couple of hours of jungle fishing. This is about as near to wild angling as it gets round these parts. Every swim I cast into screamed fish, such was the abundance of predatory lairs and ambush points. And such was the case as I netted three perfect little Jack pike and a couple of bristling perch up to half a pound within the first hour. I’ve been told that the pike are restricted to youngsters at the moment as a couple of unfortunate summer oxygen starvation events put paid to the older fish. But the perch are an unknown entity. There could be some big girls down there, hopefully I’ll find out.

Conversely, next door is a commercial fishery that’s the polar opposite of Pit 3. Comprising of a ‘traditional pond’, a ‘pleasure/match’ pond and a larger, ‘specimen’ lake, the two ponds are barren puddles with the odd drift of sick looking lilies, no bankside vegetation, very few features and certainly no fishing appeal. A rusting JCB that may well have dug them out skulks nearby, giving off an air of after-thought and that’ll do to the fishery as a whole. The specimen lake is behind a gated fence so is difficult to see. It does look slightly more appealing with some reed beds and a couple of islands, but comparing this fishery to Pit 3 would be like comparing Stephen Fry to Joey Essex.
But I suppose it’s a case of horses for courses. No doubt these ponds are packed full of fish and would provide a a welcome bend in the rod if you’d suffered a few blanks elsewhere. And these fisheries are often fantastic confidence boosters and training grounds for new fisherman. But I’d prefer a wild-water, any day of the week.

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The bayou that is Glemsford Pit 3


Apologies to the pike. Winter, 1977 (or thereabouts.)

As a schoolboy of twelve or thirteen, I fished fairly often with Steve, my brother in law. I remember fishing a stretch of what was probably the river Roding in Essex; a small, narrow stretch festooned with vegetation and overhanging willows, a chub fishers paradise. 

One Sunday afternoon during the winter, while Steve and I immersed ourselves in this chubby heaven, probing the depths with ledgered luncheon meat, I got bored with the lack of action and slapped on a rusty old Mepps spinner that had been knocking around in my tackle bag for ages, regularly puncturing my fingers if I delved too deep. I just tied it straight to the nylon mainline, no trace, and no thought to the consequences.

I think I had perch in mind as Steve had said that fishing near features like bridges and weirs, especially during the winter, was a useful tactic for big stripeys, so I blame him entirely for the years of guilt and trauma I suffered as a result of my foolhardiness! Just upstream from our swim was a small weir coupled with a small footbridge; perfect perch territory according to angling oracle Steve, so off I trotted in the naive hope of snaring a giant stripey . I’m not sure if it was first cast or not but everything seemed to happen very quickly. As I reeled the spinner back towards the bank I had a great, lunging take that very nearly ripped the rod from my hand and sent a great shudder of shock and fear right through me. This was no perch, for if it were it would have shattered the British record, and I would have been a famous schoolboy fisherman. What had grabbed my rusty old Mepps was an enormous pike. I’d been a fisherman for about three years up to that point and my biggest fish to date had been a five pound common carp. Now I thought that fish put up a fair old fight but it was truly nothing compared to the pike. I had little concept of playing a fish of any size, and the clutch on my Intrepid ‘Boyo’ reel was cranked up far too tight, so that poor old fish jagged, tugged and tail-walked right under my rod tip. I held on for dear life; from a distance I probably looked like a manic conductor suffering a fit during the final movement. But as soon as it started it stopped. I have a searing image, still vivid to this day, of that great pike’s head disappearing below the foam it had whipped up, my rusty old Mepps spinner, with its flash of red-wool, dangling from its face like some cheap, back-street piercing. I’ve caught pike to 25lb since then, so I have some idea of pike proportions. I’m guessing that pike could have easily been a mid-double and I hope it shed that spinner very quickly and lived a long and happy life, or maybe grew to love its facial adornment and wore it as a token of its prowess in battle. Puerile musings aside, I still feel guilty about that pike. And now, as a convert to the art of jig fishing, drop-shotting, ned-slinging, creature chucking and so forth, I always use a trace, despite the general consensus amongst the lure-fisher fraternity that it’s ok to use fluorocarbon hook lengths, because if you do hook a pike and it bites you off it’ll soon shed the hooks. I think to a great extent this is wishful thinking, so I’m a trace man, in memory of the Mepps spinner pike.

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My Mepps was rustier than this