I will start by saying that it's been an uneasy transition from bait to lure for me. The idea of drop shot fishing really appeals, but the physical evidence that bait can out-fish a lure nine times out of ten dampens my enthusiasm. A possible answer came from a video I watched online of Des Taylor. He was fishing a drop shot rig but instead of using a bit of rubber to entice a hit he was using an actual worm. I was aware he did this before now but never typed it into google before, and when I did find and watch the YouTube video I was sold. It just seemed perfect for me to try as I can't quite commit totally to fake fish and yet I have absolute confidence in worms, as after all they are my first choice bait when asked the question 'if you could only ever use one bait again in your life what would it be?'.
So with a bait box full of various size worms nestled next to a box full of state of the art rubber, I hit the tow path. Even though my main intent was to dropshot I couldn't resist adding a little more weight to my light roving kit by way of a dead bait rod rigged up with a small float set up and a pack of dead roach in my back pack. Really I don't know why I haven't been taking this out whenever I go out lure fishing, as just I know flicking out a dead in the margins or down the cut quite often brings a few bonus fish. Lucky I did bring it along for the walk as after spending a good hour working over a section of canal I'd had exactly zero hits on the drop shot rod.
I knew a shoal of zander had turned up in the area when the float began tootling off across the canal surface. I missed that one but after casting the roach tail straight onto the spot again the float went straight under. The single o'shanassy hook took hold well on the strike and soon a little schoolie was in the net.
I persisted casting the rubber lures around all afternoon as I made my way down the tow path. Every now and again I was getting taps which I suspected might have been tiny perch. After making a few adjustments to the rig I spotted a tiny zander of no more than six inches long turn off at the surface as I lifted my lure. Straight away I slowed the retrieve down from a tortoise pace to a snail pace and bang I hooked one up. By fishing this way I managed to start hooking up with the veracious little critters but still the bigger fish were eluding me.
The change came when I switched over to fishing the worm or should I say walking the worm. With an hour to go before the light began to fade I swapped over. I did continue to really crawl the baits around and straight away exactly what I needed to happen, happened. As I dropped the worm something grabbed it, my incessant jiggling of the rig smacked the hook home and a nice two pounder surged angrily off down the canal.
This was just what I needed to instil some proper confidence into the method for me. Not ten feet and three casts later it happened again as I worked the tempting worm up onto the marginal shelf. This time though the water erupted and a nice size zander did a rather shocking jump before really kicking off in the margin. I've always thought zander don't fight that hard, this one though went berserk after that razor sharp hook bit hard into the scissors of it's mouth.
Now I was really buzzing after hooking two good fish in succession and it didn't stop there either. As the dark began to creep into the sky the perch really turned on the feed. Every cast I could feel them nipping at the worm shortening it down to a nub by the time I'd reeled it back. I was going through worms at an alarming rate, but I did land a few more pound plus fish for my efforts.
The last area I fished was one that has in the past been very good to me. I know there's a deep hole in the centre of the canal where the bottom drops away an extra two feet for some unknown reason. Straight away I knew I was going to hook something as I felt a juddering bang as the bait was hit as it sank on a tight line. Strangely it took quite a few more casts for me to hit a fish, but when I did finally hook one I knew it was proper old perch.
It hit me as lifted the rod and like the others, it did not like it's dinner fighting back one bit. It really had me going with my little drop shot rod arching down into the water as it surged for freedom again and again. I felt every bang and shake of its head reverberate all the way back up the braided line and along the rod, and even though it wasn't the biggest perch I've ever caught I really didn't want to lose this one. Finally the hook held and in the quickly fading light I netted a lovely hump back Autumn perch.
What this session has done for my confidence in drop shotting is unbelievable. I know that generally the method is orientated around lures, but for an stalwart worm angler, walking the worm really forms a very useful and reliable way to transition to the world of drop shotting. Now though I've opened up a whole new can of worms, if you will excuse the pun, as I am just thinking of all the venues and spots I wanted to fish this winter where I will be torn on whether to walk the worm or watch the float.