For a long time now I've felt that being a bit specimen inclined has left me ungrateful in the face of a simple good days fishing. When I was a young novice scratching around on the Cov cut with my 1/4 pint of maggots, a handful of deep hooked perch would have been a great day and catching a roach, perch and gudgeon in one session was a red letter day. Fast forward twenty six years and my eyes have grown bigger with my stomach. Now unless any fish caught is not over a certain size then if I am honest...I ain't that bothered. It's this ungratefulness that reared its ugly head on my last outing when I had a session of my childhood dreams that in my adult mindset was a wasted day.
I am constantly looking for new areas of canal that tick certain criteria for big fish. One spot in particular I came across a while ago has been studied and to all intents and purposes seems like a perfect big fish holding spot. It has great cover, deep and shallow areas, shelter from seasonal highs and lows, good numbers of prey fish, crayfish are present and it's a bit out-there so it probably doesn't get that much attention. As the warmer months have ticked away this special area has festered in my mind and as it's done so, it's big fish potential seems even more obvious.
After mulling how to approach this potential honey hole several hundred times, I concluded that the best way to get a good picture of the fish population was to go and bait fish it with lob worms and dendrobenas on one rod and fish dead bait on a second line. So many times in the past this combination has routed out hidden gems of all species. Though having decided to just bait fish I did pack my drop shot rod and some appropriate lures just in case.
Finally the time came to drop by for an early morning session to try and see if this spot actually has much potential. I arrived on the tow path just as the sun came up and was soon tabbing full steam along the edge of the canal. I'd hoped that arriving early and having to walk a decent distance along the section might have meant I'd see a few rising fish, but worryingly there was zero fish evidence as far as the eye could see. Soon enough the feature I was heading for appeared way off down the canal.
The huge tow path side reed bed that I had thought about so much was still very green considering the time of year, but as always it looked to be the perfect fish holding spot. So with no other target areas on my mind I pitched up next to it, did a quick bit of plumbing up and settled on fishing right on the corner of the reeds in the hope that once the canal started towing under the influence of the far off locks, the chopped worm I was going to deposit would draw any fish to my end of the reed bed.
Now I am not so deluded as to think that the first fish that comes along is going to be what I am looking for. I was fully expecting to have to give this a full mornings attention and try and catch a good sample so as I could get a decent picture of the general population. This plan really went perfectly in truth and from the off my chopped worms were doing the business drawing in fish. Considering no boats had been through and the water was initially very clear, the float never sat still for very long at all.
The perch were here and on the feed and it quickly became just a matter of keeping the spot topped up with freebies, releasing any captures off away from the area. The whole time I was working the inside line a dead bait I had cast onto the far margin lingered in the shadows waiting for something to find it. Through the course of the morning the float above that dead bait only moved once when a small jack pike found the half a roach and got itself a free meal. The float zipped off, I struck and played the little pike all the way to my own bank before seeing the fish with the bait just in the front of its mouth before it let go.
The perch though kept coming all day and I maintained my concentration the whole morning, fishing like a match angler trying to play the numbers game. I was convinced that if I kept the feed going in and the fish coming out that it would soon just be a numbers game before something bigger came along. This was not the case though and after nearly five hours of working the spot hard I had caught close to fifty perch between two and eight ounces, but nothing bigger had shown at all and no other species either.
After the session I did some rough calculations and working on a 3oz average fish weight and that I caught around fifty fish, it works out that in the morning I had put together a near ten pound bag of perch. Now any match angler fishing a match on any canal in the country would snap your hand off for a peg that could produce that off a single line. But that same match angler would also know that catching those numbers of fish from one spot should have turned up a bigger fish if it was there. For me as a canal specimen chaser that is awful results as I ideally want to be fishing areas that not just hold one big fish but multiple big fish; those areas do exist it's just that this might not be one of them.
I suppose I could put the lack of big fish down to conditions as the canal was very clear and the sun ended up being very bright all morning. But the reality is that this spot which I have built up in my mind really needed to offer me something back quite quickly for me to bother returning in the future and giving it any more of my valuable time. Sadly though with not a lot other than small perch and a single jack pike turning up when I was offering top notch fish fodder, the specimen angler in me has been left not very impressed whilst in reality I did actually have a good days fishing!
|My ungrateful bugger|