At a quarter to eight I opened my crusty eyes and reached for my next to useless mobile phone. Even though it was quite light by now the sight of the glaring screen forced my eyelids back down. After scrolling through the various screens I arrived at the alarms page to see all the helpful little green alarm clock shaped symbols which indicated a set alarm still staring back at me. This must be the thirtieth damn time this has happened and maybe the fifth when I was meant to be going fishing. If I was drunk and didn't actually need the stupid thing I would have throw it in a rage across the room.
It was strange though that this should happen on this morning, as the night before I had said to JB that I hadn't made my mind up where to go as yet and intended to do so in the morning. Now I found myself lying under a warm duvet pondering where I should go with three hours scratched off my session. Turns out the noise of me thinking roused my other half, who after repositioning herself, chatted to me in sleepy tones. In these situations I am never normally that receptive to suggestions, but when JB suggested maybe I should just head to a nearby canal I remembered I have for the longest time intended to scout out a section of cut I haven't fished in years.
I was generally quite upbeat and excited even though I was on my way to a bit of a back up session. This canal when I fished it years ago really had its poignant moments and I was hoping it would once again live up to my expectations, then seeing it again the banks held a forgotten familiarity. It might have been bit of a gamble but I intended again fish the drop shot rig and walk the worm around so as I could cover maximum ground, mapping the topography of the bottom for future reference if I was going to return.
My starting point was going to be a spot that always produced some nice perch. Disappointingly the old tree that used to hang low over the cut was long gone and with it the perch that resided in its shade. There was still plenty of far bank cover though and two hours were easily consumed bouncing baits back and forth all over the canal. I couldn't buy a bite for love nor money until I arrived opposite an odd feature on the far bank. First cast at it and a few flicks of the rod and I felt something snatch at the worm which was followed by the rod bending over. After zipping around in the muddy water, a small zander of two pounds thrashed shaking it's head angrily into my net. I was sure there would be others around so rather than mess around I slipped the little zed back away from where I was fishing and quickly cast again. But that was it for that spot, even after thrashing the surface into a foam I could buy another bite.
If I thought that first feature was odd the second one I found could only be described as rare as hen's teeth. In all my years of lingering on canals I have never seen such a prominent, attractive and yet probably over looked feature as this. It's rare that I am one hundred percent convinced that will catch in a spot, sure I like to think I can spot a good swim, but I am never totally convinced. Yet here I was looking at this one, knowing that it would produce.
I picked the biggest, juiciest worm out of the tub, hooked it up and swung it out across the canal. That first retrieve revealed a clean and smooth run back to the bank. The second confirmed fish were present and the on the third a small vicious zander mullered the worm.
After releasing that first fish and going in again I couldn't seem to go wrong wherever I cast. There were perch and small zander all over the area and every cast I could feel them nipping at my worm as it danced enticingly among them, until one engulfed the whole bait and the rod juddered over. It was great fun just catching all those little predators, but as always I soon enough I began to wonder where the bigger ones might be.
In an hour or more of fishing I had figured there was a central concentration of fish in front of the feature, so it wasn't too much to theorize that any bigger predators might be close by but not in the shoal. So I began casting around the hot spot looking for something a bit bigger. Low and behold I was proved right when I felt a really hard hit shoot back up the tight line. The rod instantly bent and the clutch gave line straight away. I have already noted whilst walking the worm that you seem to get a harder fight out of zander when they have actively hit a moving target. This fish was really giving it some and when I saw a flash of white under a big boil I thought I had contacted with the mother of all canal zander. The fight though soon became far to protracted for any zander no matter how aggressive a fish it could be. Then when it came up again I saw a different tail to that of a zander and the mystery was solved.
Twice the long lean little pike tail walked as I got it close to the net. It even thrashed on the surface with it's mouth wide open a few times before it went in the net. Then once in the net it was like a timid little kitten and just lay there looking meek. I have to say that I have never seen such an immaculate canal pike ever; it was literally perfect from head to tail.
After that I knew it was time to leave, but I know I will be going back that spot as soon as reasonably possible, as after seeing what is attracted to that very rare feature and knowing what fish this canal contains, I suspect there is something very, very special that at least visits this spot now and again.
I felt a bit stupid walking back to the car as I've known of this places existence for donkeys years and for one reason or another I've never been back to check it out. Now I am kicking myself for not following my instincts and going back sooner to rediscover this forgotten feature.