Monday, 9 December 2013
Trials and treats of a predator angler
I've probably explained before about my love hate relationship with "the slag of all canals": Exeter Ship Canal. Do I blame conditions for my latest blanks, or simply the fact that the fish can and do move away from the places you caught them before? I'll get to the bottom of it at some point, but at the moment I get the feeling it could be later rather than sooner.
In fact the logic is rather skewed with this beast of a canal. You'd think that its deep waters would be ideal for consistent winter fishing. So why is it that the shallow canals of the west seem to produce many times more bites? It might be true that Exeter Canal has the bigger fish, but it also sees more pressure. And in my book roving about for some jacks is more fun than sitting on your (cold) arse for an interminable amount of time for one bite that might just be something big.
The other benefit of the Bridgwater to Taunton Canal and Levels are that perch are pretty common- and I shared a catch of several in a day trip with Russ Hilton. Bait fishing is perhaps the really selective way to fish, but I just love roving with the fly rod at the moment. You really cannot whack sight fishing. In the course of a long wander we spotted so many fish. I've been scaling down and using small fry patterns for variety of late:
I caught several jacks as well as small perch on our last trip, and had I held my nerve would also have added a two pound chub that sucked fly in before I snatched at it, pulling the thing straight out of its gob. Put it down to excitement, but I really never learn. A lot of fun though, and a lot of fish even in the really flaky bits around Bridgwater.
In one swim in particular I found no fewer than four tiny pike, all keeping an eye on the fly as well as each other. Another fish did something crazy- I watched this jack of about two pounds follow the fly to the near bank before changing its mind and lashing out at a nearby rudd instead! He only managed to grab it by the tail and so we watched for several minutes as the fish flapped while the pike refused to let go. Bizarre stuff- and all part of the joy of clear water and polarising glasses.
We did also locate one or two that required the net, not huge but very welcome:
Certainly a lot more exciting than the next early morning stolen on the Exeter Canal at the back of Water Lane. I ended up using my scarf not as insulation, but as nose protection from the infernal stink of the nearby factory. What do they do in there? Boil a mixture of dog turds and dead horses?
I will have my revenge at some point- but the only pike I saw on Sunday otherwise was the one below, a bit of a festive tradition at my folks house that my mother always insists on; in Switzerland these seasonal, sweet bready treats are made every year. Most volunteers make little people. Being a fishing idiot I compensated for my lack of real pike by making one out of dough, raisins and nuts. Desperate stuff eh?