Time is my enemy at the moment or lack of to be more specific. I mean I could fill every day between now and Christmas just fishing all the stretches of canal I want to go drop shotting on never mind everything else. But like most people I don't have the even one seventh of the free time every week I'd like to have to go fishing as earning a crust kind of gets in the way. Hence as we all have to I have prioritize what I want to do with my valuable fishing time. The canals of late have been the dominant target venues, but I know other things are on the horizon so for now they will have to be left alone. Though saying that, I did squeeze in one last day of canal drop shotting in on a stretch I used to fish years ago and the results were quite promising.
From the off, fishing round structure and features proved to be the order of the day. First chuck in and my Fox spiky shad got nobbled by a small zander and on the second cast the lure got literally ripped off the hook. After a few fish hitting in a frenzy, the zeds shut up shop. A quick change to a slow moving actual worm soon rooted out a nice perch which was lingering tight to the concrete margins.
It was the same story all day as I worked along the canal; I'd find a tasty looking spot fish it, get a few hits and maybe a fish or two then off I'd go on to the next one. The only thing was the general stamp of the fish was a little small considering the amount I caught. I landed easily ten or more zander and twice as many perch, but the all the zander were between 1-2lb and the perch were all 6oz-1lb. Now there isn't anything wrong with having a load of fun and a stack of action, but really I would have expected something bigger to have shown up somewhere in amongst that many fish and worryingly I know there are bigger specimens of both on this stretch so maybe I am doing something wrong...
That was it though for the canals for a little while as I had so many different types of venue I wanted to get on and the next was a real classical corker, and boy oh boy did I want to chuck a lure or two into this predator haven. A few years ago I fished a little known estate lake hidden deep in the Warwickshire countryside that as it turned out was stuffed with Jack pike. That first time I quite literally ran out of bait chucking dead fish around, so this time went back with nothing more than a light lure rod and enough lures to choke half the pike in the county.
It was a perfect winter's day to fish such wonderful venue. As we the crossed the rusting old fence into the ageing estate gardens and walked down through ankle deep leaves towards the lake the woods were alive with gaudy pheasants foraging under the alien pines. The cloud was clearing and the sun lit up the house atop the lawn over the lake. Bar the hundred or so Canadian geese ripping the well manicured lawn up over the water and a family of swans it seemed that we would be honoured, and have this wondrous lake to ourselves for the day.
We actually circumvented the lake and followed a small feeder stream through the trees to begin our fishing on an acute bend where a few hundred years of steady water flow have carved a bend into a deep holding spot. The water as predicted by my accomplice Rob was sluggish and slow with a large mat of debris collected where the branches of the ash that dominates the bend dipped into the stream. The sight of that bend alone would make any perch angler go weak at the knees. It had to be fate that I was here and I still had a drop shot rig set up ready to drag a worm down to its doom. It took the slightest of a flick to send my rig within inches of the debris and joyfully I watched as the braid spilled endlessly from my reel and informing me of how perfectly deep this swim was.
I couldn't have twitched that worm more than a hand full of times before something had it off the hook in a flash. The second cast was much the same apart from I did feel the tell tale vibration of a small stripy for a moment. After a fruitless retrieve I found that the inside line directly under my feet was even deeper than the outside of the bend. I could even feel some tree roots in one area which I did my best to avoid but target if that makes sense. It was whilst doing so that the first of a trio of small but perfectly formed perch zipped out and smashed my worm. Even convinced that there must be a bigger perch lingering in the shade of the tree roots somewhere I had an entire estate lake calling to me like a siren, so I reluctantly left the bend in the river thinking I might return at the end of the day.
The water of the main lake very clear as I expected it might be and I had always known it was going to be a case of going through half the lure box to find which fake folly might spur the pike to strike. In hindsight it was totally the wrong decision to chuck out a drop shot rig into this pike infested water. On the very first cast my line suddenly began moving in a very odd angle after something grabbed my lure. After the line fell slack I retrieved nothing more than two thirds of my leader and the hook. The lure and the weight as well as the other third of the leader were all long gone. Rob got the next bit of action as he retrieved a vigorous little roach he caught on a pinch of bread and the water not far from the bank erupted. I rushed to tie on a trace and rummaged around in my box to find something that would float and could work around mid water.
After settling on a small plug I raised three strikes and good hit before playing a excitable Jack into the edge before it threw the lure back at me by thrashing around in the edge. But that was just the start of things for the day. As we worked away around the lake I went through a whole variety of different colours and patterns before settling on a top three productive lures for the day.
The old school but ever reliable silver spinner worked best in the sun flashing away on a fast retrieve mid water and drew quite a bit of attention from some really tiny pike. I had hoped that it might attract a monster perch but they proved very absent through the day. The floating and super bright perch pattern mini fat plug seemed to wind the fish up into a frenzied attack, but as much as they went for that they seemed to miss it most times. The real winner and number one lure was actually a bit of bastard combination in the end. I had picked up a pack of E-sox paddle tails in the ubiquitous pearl and red pattern, and although they are designed to be fished on a drop shot rig I found they were much more productive at hooking these jacks fished on a 10gm jig head whilst being lifted and dropped on the retrieve.
As the day drew to a close we focused on an area where we had seen prey fish topping and it was here that the pike went into overdrive hitting my lure every other cast. In fact in a mad fifteen minutes I had three fish and six hits in as many casts. Although there was nothing bigger than five or six pounds all day these little predators were great fun on my light lure outfit.
I did in the end follow that stream back up to the bend as the sun dipped behind the woods. Before leaving I had dumped some left over chopped worm alongside the old ash's roots. The thought of what might have been drawn in by or whose appetite might have been peaked by the oozing worms had played on my mind all day.
Leaning against the trunk I flicked the rod sending a newly tied drop shot rig half way across the river. Nothing seemed to notice it fluttering across the flow and into the depths below the tree, so I began to bounce it round temptingly around in front of the roots in a figure of eight. The thump that got sent back up the tight line was epic and it really got my heart beating, but whatever did it seemed not to hold onto the bait. Not knowing what had happened I reeled up a ruined worm which looked as if it had been through a mangle. With a fresh one hooked I wasted no time casting and instead dropped it back on the spot. The next and identical hit came on the drop and also resulted into no fish. All became clear though when I once again retrieved the worm for checking and a pike of about five pounds followed the worm up like a Polaris missile before turning in a splash back to its haunt under the tree.
It was then I figured my attempts to lure one type of predator had not been as precise as I hoped and the likelihood of hooking and keeping on any big perch might be a little hampered. Carrying on though, I did again hook the pike which after smashing up the entire swim threw the hook directly up into the bows of the tree and ended my session. I will however be back to have another go after a monster estate lake stripy as we have it on good authority that there are some true beasts lurking in this lake and apparently they are rather partial to a spinner just as I suspected the might be.