Happy New year to any long time followers and I hope you had great holiday and made much merry. Luckily for me I have been fishing quite a lot over the last few weeks leading up to the holidays and thus I have much to catch up on over the next few write ups. My camera phones picture gallery reminds me of all the sessions I've been on and about the furthest one back was a investigation adventure.
I am constantly looking for fresh spots on the midland canal network for the off season when I become pretty much totally focused on canal fishing for zander. As I was driving to another fishing spot on a far away lake I passed over a section of canal which peaked my attention. A bit of research confirmed no discernible ownership and soon enough I dropped by for a proper bit of investigation.
Rather than plonk myself down in one spot I opted to rove around with a lure set-up to try and pinpoint any holding areas. By doing this you never really catch loads of fish, but it does reveal any obvious better areas. At first I thought I'd struck gold when I hooked into a hard fighting fish on a heavily structured bank. It turned out to be a nice perch of 30cm or so. Sadly it was only a speck of gold as I worked the whole area hard with the captured perch retained in the net, hoping to find any shoal mates but in the end concluded it to be a single fish or I had spooked a shoal away.
Bar a few more random small perch caught of obvious features the morning went by very quietly until I randomly discovered a shoal of small zander in the most featureless area I have ever seen. Normally I like the heavy bank side cover sort of areas for zeds but these were right out in the open on a section of hard bank canal with no cover at all, in a raised section. Honestly I'd have missed them if I weren't working the drop with a lure as I walked slowly down the tow path. The first fish was a high thirty centimetre fish as was the one that got off after it.
After working further up I turned back for a second pass which provoked a few more plucks and a second fish over thirty centimetres. Should I have been in a match or practising for one I would have dug in a worked some different methods to ring out as many fish as I could from this bland area but I was investigating a stretch, not just this one spot, so I moved on.
The only other noteworthy action came towards the end of this foray when I got spanked by some monster I suspect was a pike but hope was a perch. I got a really hard hit as I worked a bank side reed bed. The clutch was singing and the super light rod buckled over worryingly as the beast shot across the canal. A single change of direction and the fish was gone, sending my lure flying through the air.
I wasn't a great recce in my opinion but considering the conditions all round of late I might have been over critical of my returns. I think this new stretch warrants some more investigation once the weather warms a little and the preds get moving a bit more.
Myself and my old friend Andy Lewis find it hard to get together to fish nowadays. He's got a boy and I've got a boy and both do plenty of extracurricular activities which means that although we both get out to fish it's hard to line both our times up. But wanting to spend some time with my old mate we both worked extra hard to line up a session to go and fish a quite section of the Avon I personally hadn't fished before.
Not knowing the stretch we were about to fish I brought tackle to flexible on target species. Andy was out for a barbel or chub in the fast water below the weir and had pitched up in likely looking spot. The still calm water above the weir appealed to me as I'd seen several small fish topping and I had it in mind that they might be shoaled up here. If the prey fish were as I suspected shoaled up then the predators wouldn't be far away and I happened to have a lure outfit in my quiver just in case. So as Andy waited for the witching hour downstream I began to work the water above the weir. I'd only made a few casts before I got hit by a small jack close to some rushes.
Having bought some barbel and chub gear with me it seemed like I should have at least a few casts and after priming up swim in the eddy of the weir I snuck in place a bait close to the bank. Embarrassingly I sat on this cast for half and hour until the light died away. Thinking a recast was in order I reeled in to find I had my rig in a very bad snag the whole time and was promptly snapped off. Unwilling to start again I decided my time might be better served trying to fulfill a long time ambition to catch a pike on a lure in the dark.
The bank side above the weir was civilized enough for me to not fall in and so I set up a 15cm fox pearl spikey shad on a 10g jig head and began punching it out into the dark. It's quite odd lure fishing in the dark as with your sight being limited your other sense become heightened and thus you seem to focus on the sensations coming back up the braided line through the rod. You can literally feel every bump on the lure and every movement of the vibrating tail; it was bizarre and it almost has me thinking I should close my eyes once I've cast out a lure during the day. BANG! I instantly felt the pike rip into the lure and it shake its head three or four times as the hook point bit home. My heart was racing, I've caught hundreds of fish in the dark but this was my first pike and it was scrapping hard out in the pitch black. Once in the net it was revealed to not be the biggest pike I've had but honestly, I was so happy with the capture on a lure in the dark, it really made this session a special one.