Although I will be back very soon I fancied a bit of last huzzah on the canal. It's the opening of the season which inclined me toward one. With time constricting on me quickly with a baby due in four weeks time, I really want to dedicate some of my valuable time to a few lakes and rivers which I want to fish before junior pops out. I suppose it's a bit like that saying of you don't know what you've got till it's gone in a way, but I know what I have got and also know it will be gone or at least hampered quite soon.
If someone said to me I could only fish one last time on a canal before I die, I would chose my secret squirrel hole on the grand union. The big perch seem to have dropped in numbers a bit or maybe they've become clued up or quite possibly they have just moved on. Whatever has happened it is still as far as I am concerned the best canal fishing I know round these parts and I really thought that given I was taking a load of fresh Canadian lob worms and a float rod I stood a good chance of getting into those big perch.
As this blog has pretty much been all lure fishing lately, my change of tactic might seem a little strange. First I suppose I should say that part of my inclination towards lures was born out of the impending arrival in few weeks. My theory is that should any opportunities arise to get out once junior is here, having a simply light bait free set-up ready to go might mean I could be out fishing rather than trying to figure out bait. The other main reason is that as I have discovered since really getting into it, is that it's fun! Though this still doesn't explain why I, as a newly converted lure chucker, was going fishing with a pot rammed full of massive worms.
Well in truth I am developing a distinct feeling that the canal fish aren't feeling that aggressive towards lures right now. I reckon that there's a good chance that with the glut of warm weather there's loads on the menu and unlike the colder months they can frankly eat what they want. Though this was my main angle on this angling session, there also always remains the idea that the big roach might show and they have in the past been a sucker for a lob worm or half. Saying all this that doesn't mean I didn't take a lure rod along with me to the canal just in case and I was lucky I did!
Dug in the tow path way before the boaters began moving, my float settled just over the nearside marginal shelf with the worm settling just right, two inches over depth. A few lob worms were broken up and flicked in to sink to the bottom and serve as subtle yet positive attractors to what I hoped might be patrolling the drop off.
The early part of the morning really turned out to be a real numbers game. I was getting regular attention, but with the sort ungrateful attitude that would make a canal match angler sick with anger, they were all the wrong bloody fish. Turns out my few broken lobs were enough to hold a shoal of skimmer bream for well over forty minutes, in which time I landed no less than eight of them between 10oz and 2lb along with a load of small perch.
Finally I kissed enough frogs and something a bit special showed up. My strike was met by neither inane flopping of a bream or the powering around of a perch, but instead a dogged vibration of a big roach came juddering up the line. Soon enough I slipped the net under a pristine canal roach which looked closer to two pounds than one.
Even after catching such an amazing roach I was still a little perplexed on the whereabouts of the bigger Sergeant's. I had landed quite few up to half a pound, along with the odd near pounder thrown in the mix, but as yet the big ones were certainly rather absent. The boats on the other hand were really getting going and becoming a regular little convoy. Knowing my session would soon be cut short I moved over to the trusty lure rod to see if that could spark them into action.
After trying a variety of small jigs and all of my first choice lures I surmised maybe a bold statement was needed. I often get a bit like this when no smaller lures seem to work and end up coming to the conclusion that I need be at the total opposite end of the spectrum and fish something big.
On this occasion I opted for a three inch AGM crayfish lure that when fished by bouncing back in tiny little hops looks exactly like a scared cray trying to escape. It wasn't until I ran it right alongside the spot where I had been depositing the broken worms that I got some interest. At first I thought I detected a bit of pluck and in response slowed the retrieve and increased the pause in between movements. Sure enough only moments later I never felt the jig hit bottom and instinctively struck thinking I might be in. It was definitely a perch and it was definitely going mental.
These summer perch are long, lean and fight three times harder than they do in the winter. Even living in summer canal that has the clarity of a cup of horlicks it still retained some quite vivid colours. What made this even better and a fitting last fish for this huzzah session was catching on a crayfish lure, especially as I suspect that the crayfish have a lot to do with this sudden increase of perch size on the Midlands canals.