As I walked down the deserted tow path it seemed that the wind had finally dropped a bit and all the remaining wind caused was a repetitive ripple that coursed along the canal. I thought to myself maybe this was my break for the day and I wouldn't be fighting against the wind all afternoon. By the time I arrived at the spot where I would begin casting and work my way back from, the wind had totally died and with it the ripple I'd followed along the canal.
I unhooked the brand new pumpkin paddler grub that was mounted on a three gram size four jig from the keeper ring of my rod, before pulling at my braided line to check the clutch was set. Then with a single-handed cast I fired the lure down the canal aiming for somewhere centre of the trench. Not long after my finger released the line the wind once again gusted from behind me. This wasn't ever going to be problem for the little lure as the following wind would only ever add to its already high velocity, when it made water though, that's when the problem occurred. Having not checked the line the moment the lure stopped I caused the baby hair thin yellow braid to billow out into a massive bow in the wind instantly. It was then I knew it really wasn't going to go well chucking lures around on this occasion...
The problem with fishing super light lures in the wind is that as I have just described the light braid really gets tugged around. If wind knots in mono weren't annoying enough, try getting them in expensive braid where if you snap the line untangling it can cost pounds instead of pennies. Then there's the retrieve. The whole point of what I was trying to achieve was finesse and control. When I am trying to pull the little lure up off the bottom by six inches before it drops enticingly my presentation gets ruined by the wind bowing out the line adding god only what to the rise and possibly even slowing the fall. But most of all it takes away your confidence that your'e fishing effectively and it's not taken me long to figure that this lure game is all about repetitive confidence.
It didn't take me long trying to cast around in the wind to figure out that if I wanted any chance of presenting the lure well on this occasion I would have to keep it on a tight leash and just target the margins. With a little over mile of open windswept canal between me and the car I began working the lure slowly along the marginal shelf, and what do you know it worked.
I must have covered less than fifty feet and hung up twice on snags before I got a proper blasting hit. Something had shot out from a tiny patch of cover, hit my lure and just surged out into the canal. Judging by the power of the fish I was sure a good zander would soon surface shaking its open mouth in anger. When it did eventually surface I don't mind admitting I nearly crapped myself when I saw it was a massive perch. After a serious fight with my stubborn folding net I eventually bundled it into the now open net and took a moment to catch my breath as I knew this certainly a canal and lure PB perch. After few attempts I managed to get a satisfactory trophy shot of the fat old girl before I released her back a ways down the canal.
The fishing gods must have seen my sheer determination to carry on and had rewarded me, but! the computer gods would soon take some back. You see I was being a little less than patient with my work computer booting up and in my haste didn't give it the necessary fifteen minutes it seems to take for it to settle down after coming on. Thinking I could get my pictures uploaded from my memory card I immediately went for the money shot. Why I didn't just copy rather than move the picture I don't know, but somewhere after clicking OK there was long pause before a warning box flickered up and too became inanimate and then everything became unresponsive. A manual shut down, a reboot, a reconfiguring scan later and my money shot was nothing more than a corrupted useless file. So with gritted teeth this is the only trophy shot of my new canal PB perch.
Not knowing what would later befall my trophy photo I was cloud nine on the bank. My confidence was high and after catching such a great fish so early on in the session all I could think about was how big they could grow if I'd just had such a monster first shot. With my net back on my back I quickly worked the area just in case and then moved off as before with the now not so new looking grub actively searching the shelf. The stupid grin hadn't worn from my face before my rod juddered over. This fish was hardly even a meal for the first but it was just as important. If the first one was possibly a spot of luck the second smaller fish proved I was doing something right and it wasn't all luck. Considering it was even a tenth the size of the first fish this hungry little predator certainly hit my paddler grub hard.
The method of just covering what canal I could well using the little paddler grub seemed to be working, so I had little reason to change what I was doing and it was just a case of covering ground before another fish would come along. Twenty feet later an I was into another significant perch, which just like the first came steaming after my lure. Not only was I fishing a short line but I was playing them on one as well, as the whole battle went down within quite small area before a second beast of a perch went in the net.
This one was bristling angry which made for a very good picture. It was a bit smaller than the first but exactly the same shape and never noticed until I got the picture up on the computer but it didn't have any stripes.
After this one though, I couldn't find any more further along the canal. It might sound greedy but I had it in my head that here had to be other big perch around so I doubled back and recovered all the ground I had already been over. Unfortunately I didn't land any, but I did at least make contact with what I am sure was one more big perch.
This little foray proves to me you never exactly what lurks beneath the surface of any canal, because as far as I know this stretch hasn't really had a reputation for throwing up big perch in the past. Now though I know they are here and given what I think are some critical factors I reckon they have a good chance of growing even bigger.