Of all the facets of light lure fishing it's the dropshot that intrigues me most. By that though I don't mean it's the only method I use, as I have grown to understand that every method has its moment and I am just as likely to cast a tiny crank bait, jig or Carolina rig when I believe it is appropriate as I am a dropshot. But all those methods have one single thing in common that the dropshot doesn't, and that's that they are predominantly retrieval methods where as the dropshot to all intents and purposes is generally conceived to keep the lure in one area, or at least retrieved at a snail's pace.
The other day I actually went out with the sole intent to fish the dropshot on a section of canal so rife with structure that it would be easy to think it was built specifically for the method. I had with me pretty much the entire spectrum of dropshot lures, from tiny Mebru shirasu worms right up to E-sox Lobworms, but it was the latter sized lures I intended to use... You see I have become adept at using all sizes of lures drop shotting, and see that by using scaled down tactics, micro hooks and tiny lures you can catch tiny predators all day long. Occasionally these mini methods tempt bigger fish, but honestly in my experience they do lean heavily towards small perch, or wasps, as people seem to be calling them in lure circles.
Now although I do not believe that the bigger bait catches the bigger fish, I do believe that if you offer a fish something that is too good to pass up they will more than likely eat it. It's like when you are trotting maggots on a river; once the fish are focused on the maggots that are moving towards them they have to make an instant choice - grab the maggots or let them pass by where they will be lost. Transpose that onto lure fishing and think of it this way; if you drop a tiny lure into the vicinity of a big old perch on a freezing cold day, if it is big enough to catch her attention then she is going to work out instantly if it's worth being bothered with or not and she might have it, or she might not. Now replace that tiny lure with a lure three inches long and suddenly it's a feast not a snack, and when you're weighing up energy expenditure verses reward, bigger baits have to be better, right.
So rather than mess around with 2lb line, mosquito hooks and maggot sized worms set up with a much larger rig intended to fish big lures. Given that the Grand Union was quite clear I chose a core few very natural looking lures, like the Wave pumpkin Tikki monky which looks rather like a newt, the E-sox lob worm which is a great replica of a lob worm and the now ubiquitous Savage gear 3D bleak to concentrate on through the afternoon.
In the past I have had some great results with the Tikki monkey creature bait, but even after working that hard in every conceivable manner around loads of structure, I had exactly no interest in it. The same went for the E-sox lob worm and even the 3D bleak was striking out fished under the rod tip. At this point the thought occurred to me that although the structure offered cover to the resident predators, maybe they were actually in the deeper water looking for warmth. So I resisted changing onto a jig rig to search out the open water and stuck with the drop shot rig so I could work the lure really slowly across the bottom. I knew there was a good chance I would lose some gear fishing this way in a snaggy area but the risk was worth it.
After casting onto the far shelf margin I gently work the life like little fish down the shelf into the trench the barges carve out. I worked the lure slowly down across and up the contours of the canal until finally I located a willing taker close to my own bank just were the shelf began to rise up. There was no doubting it was a fish, there were no plucks, just wallop, as a nice size perch engulfed the lure.
That same area produced three almost identical in size perch in consecutive casts and showed me exactly how tightly these fish were grouped in the clear and recently thawed and still thawing water.
I had my doubts that the zander might play ball at all in the clear conditions, but after working a few more areas over diligently, I targeted a patch of dead rushes on the far bank. Zander I have found can be very subtle taking lures, unlike perch and pike which seem to thump and tear respectively. I have often thought this might be because they sometimes seem to grab the lure and either stop or move forwards, which doesn't give a definable hit until I reel or lift the rod with something on the end. This was exactly one of those occasions where I felt no hit then reeled, the line went tight and the fish moved, then I struck. Considering how far in the mouth the hook was, anyone would have thought the fish had really hammered the lure which was just not the case.
The rest of the session passed by quickly with me working hard to find localized shoals of perch which all seemed to be lurking in similar areas around the bottom of the near side shelf, and I even found couple more small rouge zander loitering amongst them. My confidence in the 3D bleak lasted all day and every fish landed on this session felt the lure of this realistic replica fished as if it was a struggling injured fish, was too good of a meal to let pass by.
Every single perch absolutely nobbled it and proved my decision to go big or go home right on this occasion. Although I feel I would have probably caught fish on smaller lures, I don't think I would have caught as many or as higher quality perch as I did. I ended up catching twelve good sized perch of between 20-25cm perch and three 25-30cm zander for a rough overall length of 3.5 meters, which I am led to believe is a respectable length of fish from any canal and happily I lost no gear as well.