If you will excuse the pun, this light lure fishing has really got its hooks in me. Although I haven't written much over the last few weeks it goes without saying that I have been fishing and mostly what I have been doing is lure fishing. Since I began to concentrate my efforts on this different aspect I have discovered just how addictive it really is. But I have found myself in the strange position of being what I can only describe as the most experienced beginner possible. You see unlike a total novice I do have a large working knowledge of the target species and an existing ability with a rod. What to do with the said information and skills is another thing though. I don't mind admitting like many I was always under the impression that lure fishing was something that you did in September for pike; all it involved was hoofing a massive lure half way across a lake before reeling it back and a big old toothy pike ate the bugger. Maybe this misconception was why I have had a large collection of very shiny and rather dusty lures in my shed for so many years.
All this has changed though, the learning process is now in full swing and I can't cram new information into my head quick enough. For a while it was all about the drop shot or walking the worm, but the more I looked into it the more rigs and methods came to light, one of which seemed very attractive to me! Even in the bad old days when I'd have ten casts with a lure before giving up and going back to bait fishing I had some success with jigs here and there. Then when I read about finesse fishing with tiny jigs something clicked. Given my previous success and proclivity towards canal fishing for predators this seemed like a perfect method for me to try. It was also quite convenient that a rod which I had initially bought to use for dropshotting that turned out to not be great for that, was exactly the sort sensitive stick that was required to fish tiny lures. After matching the rod up with a thousand size reel and some hideously expensive braided line, I was off.
I love being excited by a new method and truly I was excited to get out and use this set up, but knowing what I do about fishing in the depths of winter, I was apprehensive of what success I could garner plying lures when the water was on the verge of freezing. Thus it has been a mixed up and haphazard time for my fishing. Reluctant to commit fully I have found myself packing round all kinds of rods and swapping from one to another every five minutes, with mixed success. So a few weeks ago I fished in a normally productive section canal using float, dropshot and finesse set ups. On that day I scratched a few small perch on the float, nobbled two good perch on the dropshot worm and blanked on the finesse. The next week I went to a new stretch of canal which is reported to throw up some mental sized perch and zander. There I again scratched a few on the float fished worm and got nothing on any type of lure related rig. It's the third and most recent trip that has thrown everything I think I know in the air.
The other day I went to a bit of canal where I knew it would not be frozen. I turned out to be mostly right as the area I wanted to fish was free of ice but the entire canal to my right for as far as I could see was frozen over. Now I thought that as the water in this specific spot obviously had a higher in temp than the surrounding water, that the fish would number one, be there and two, be willing to feed. Well as JB has repeatedly said to me "You know what thought did...Laid in bed and shit himself" and this time it seemed well founded as the session was not going well. I did through sheer persistence force out a trio of small stripys using the float before a travelling narrow boat steamed past full tilt and smashed the ice flow to my right into bits. After that the tow picked up and sent the smashed up ice field steadily through my swim making it unfishable.
With no other choice I packed up and headed home, but on the way I remembered another little cheeky area that might be worth a cast on a day like this. By the time I arrived my hands were so cold I could barely remember what feeling felt like in my fingers and that's what inclined me to keep active and fish a lure whilst fishing a dormant dead bait on the far bank. That dead bait did remain dormant the whole time I was fishing but the lure though, that was another thing...
Really and truthfully I believed that it was far too cold for anything to make the effort to eat a free juicy worm, never mind chase and hit a lure. Well I don't mind admitting that was the second time I was wrong that session. The obvious choice was the super light finesse set up, but after half an hour chucking a few different and proven lures around I'd had nothing. Then after changing to a small black grub and flicking down the margin I bounced it back a few times and something hit it and surged out into the centre of the canal. Even small fish put a bend in this rod which makes playing even a four or five ounce fish like this so much fun
Turns out I had located a pocket of perch prepared to have a go at the little grub, as I received a few more plucks before snagging a second smaller shoal mate. That action didn't last long though and I suspect the shoal spooked off into the trench after a while. What those perch did though was not only save the day but they give me the confidence to keep searching out all over the canal knowing fish were prepared to hit the lures even in this sub zero temperatures.
It was a lot of hassle to keep picking up my gear and keep changing spots as I wasn't really set up for roving, but it turned out to be worth the effort when I hooked a micro zander hardly big enough to fill my hand. Repeating the same cast again a few more times picked up a second fish closer to a pound which really smashed into the jig just as I lifted it off the bottom.
It was time that ran out on me rather than luck in the end and even though I could have carried on all day I had to leave. I have always found that the walk back to the car and the journey home is the time when I am the most reflective of the days session and on this occasion it was no different. In no uncertain terms I would have never expected lure fishing to out perform bait fishing so much. I was and still am, shocked by this little revelation and this is exactly what I mean when I say I still have a lot to learn about lure fishing. It could just be a one off anomaly but I suspect in truth that's not the case and it was just more a case of tracking down fish. Maybe all those days I've spent freezing my extremities off blanking, sitting on my arse were wasted fishing barren swims when I should have been on the move throwing a few lures around. For now I know I am going to have to start committing to keeping mobile even though I suspect there's a few knock backs in the pipe line. But hey, it's all part of the learning curve and if I want to endeavour to get better at lure fishing, the blanks are something I will have to take along with hopefully a few successes as I stick with it and keep on casting.