Friday, 29 November 2013
Ultralight poaching with Peter and Peter
As far as different branches of angling go, ultralight lures and fly fishing for predators are pretty close cousins. Both are active, intimate methods that suit smaller waters perfectly. They also suit the fidgety angler who constantly wonders if there's a better spot waiting just a little further along the bank. When conditions are tough, as they have been lately, that's no bad thing either. I always fancy if the fish aren't especially hungry my best chance is to simply show a fly or lure to as many eyes as possible.
Joining me for a couple of roving canal sessions were the two Peters, Wardle and Higgins. It started in pretty urban style as Pete Wardle and I tried around Bridgwater, flipping flies and jigs around likely structures. The fry were present in spades, but the only perch that gave a solid take was a fish of perhaps a pound lured by Pete that came adrift. Other small fish followed or nipped, but it was a bit underwhelming on the whole, a sudden explosion of fry and a rolling pike the most exciting moment. Why is it that these attacking fish quite often seem hard to tempt I wonder? Maybe amidst a mass of living prey fish, a lure or fly is suddenly not so appealing?
Never mind- we soldiered on and ventured out in the sticks to find incredibly clear water and plenty of visible life. We both stuck it out on the really small stuff, because I quite fancied one of us to connect with a decent perch following my pole fishing session on the Taunton to Bridgwater a couple of weeks earlier. The theory was nice, but the fish that came at my fly was more in the small but cute category (what brilliant colours these clear water fish have!):
With polarising glasses it was easy to spot perch and jacks, but less easy to wake them from their lethargy. Were easterly winds and high pressure to blame? Pete thought it was more a case of clear water and light levels- and the fishing definitely picked up in the last hour. I managed to hook and lose a rocket powered pike after switching to a black streamer, while Pete had the last laugh with this cracking perch guesstimated at around a pound and a half on a tiny soft shad:
Peter Higgins joined us nearer home the following day for another testing canal session with similarly chilly, clear water and rather lethargic fish. The place looked beautiful all the same- and it's certainly a confidence booster to be able to spot fish, even when you can't always tempt them. I think Pete Wardle, used to fishing busier, murkier cuts, found our canals a very different prospect and swapped the ultra light lures for a fly rod, so that all three of us were fly fishing:
And so the tricky fishing continued. Even the tiny jacks were a bit nervous or disinterested, sport only really picking up in the afternoon. I kept ringing the changes during lulls, and while the takes didn't exactly come thick and fast a black fly worked best for me- a Black Beast, to be specific, that Turrall will be producing early next year for the new "flies for coarse fish" range. It's not the first time this has been a get-out-of-jail pattern for me by any stretch and also tempted the best fish of the day:
This was a strange creature, big mouth but not much bulk. The take and ensuing fight were both rather lazy and bloodless too- although it did manage a sudden thrash on the bank as I retrieved the hook, giving me a bloody thumb as a thank you. Mind-blowing fishing it hasn't been of late then, but interesting nonetheless and perhaps what I like about fly or ultralight fishing is that it makes every fish an event: every bite is earned and you don't need to hook anything spectacular to put a decent bend in the rod. After all, fishing should be about fun rather than bragging rights shouldn't it?