Today I have been mostly working on something new.
I’m looking into making a film about a lure fishing. Details to follow at some point when all plans have been confirmed.
Because of the nature of what I’m doing, I’m making myself practice a few lure fishing disciplines and rigs to try and learn a bit more about it.
I know how much work some of the people we film on Tight Lines put in to practice their art – so if the cameras are going to be aiming at me, I really want to be able to add something meaningful to the content I’ll be providing.
That means you have to put the hours in – come rain or shine. It today’s case it was snow.
I decided to try a few different rigs and lures on a trip to the Kennet and Avon Canal in Berkshire. I went to a location where I know there’s a chance of an odd perch or two. The mission was to spend a couple of hours doing valuable research – simply to see what worked and what didn’t. I wanted to build up a mental picture of what was happening with my lures under the water.
I happened upon two major issues in the process of my valuable practice session. First, as I arrived at my location and set up, it started to snow. A lot.
I’d decided to fish LRF-style with soft plastic lures. I tackled up with my Hearty Rise Sealite 2-12g and a Daiwa Luvias 2500-size spinning reel. The reel was loaded with 8lb Savage Gear Optic Braid and I tied on a 4′ length of 4lb breaking strain Berkley fluorocarbon.
I wanted to experiment with my take on a Carolina rig. Put simply, a small, sliding weight goes onto your mainline. That comes to rest on a swivel, to which your terminal tackle is attached.
(Here’s a YouTube clip of a bloke showing you what I mean…..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sqgZaQWM-w)
BUT…..I don’t like the idea of a swivel in this rig. To my mind, it de-stabilises your cast, can cause tangles and just looks and feels a bit unwieldy. Bearing in mind the whole idea of this style of fishing (LRF I mean) is to go as light as you can, I don’t like that concept.
I also don’t like the idea of the lure rotating on the retrieve. So, I used Drennan Grip Stops (x2) pushed together to act as a stop for my sliding tungsten weight. The stops were positioned about 3′ up the fluoro leader.
To that I attached a #6 Owner Weedless hook using a Trilene knot – and chose a Savage Gear ‘Dying Minnow’ soft plastic lure. I have a sad story to tell at this point.
I was kindly given a pack of these lures by Ant Glascoe Jnr. There are eight lures in a pack, and in my practise sessions I’ve managed to lose seven of them. Part of the reason they’ve disappeared is fish seem to love eating them. In the last two months, they have been my most successful short session lure.
So – the lure I put on was my last cab on the rank. Lose this one, and I was in trouble.
You notice I’ve been waffling on about rigs and that. Well, it beats talking about the weather. Me and my dog Archie were sheltering under the tailgate of the Audi while the snow pelted down. I was starting to wonder if I’d made the wrong decision here….Arch is as keen as mustard to go out almost all the time – and even he was giving me a bit of a funny look! That’s a springer spaniel for you.
Archie In the snow. Not impressed.
Anyway, there was nothing for it. I’d set my gear up so there was no point hiding in the car.
I wandered to the first swim I’d planned to fish – and was more than a little bit shocked with what I found. With all the wet stuff falling out of the sky, I’d expected the canal to be like a chocolate milkshake. When it’s like that, it can be really hard for the fish to find your lure. On the way, I’d driven over the River Kennet – and it was almost out of the banks and running like crazy. Amazingly though, the water in the canal was lovely and clear. You could even see the bottom in places. Game on!
I lobbed my lure towards a moored barge in my first swim of choice, and allowed it to drop to the bottom. A Carolina rig is designed to allow you to fish a soft plastic really slowly. As you lift the weigh up gently, then drop it, the lure follows it with an enticing, snakey weave up through the layers, then it flutters back down. In my mind, it’s mimicking a dying or distressed small fish.
I wound really slowly back, and felt the lure pick up a twig on the bottom. One of the hazards of this kind of fishing. I wound in, removed the twig, reset the lure on the weedless hook so it slightly masked the hookpoint – and recast. Within three winds, the rod tip twitched, then ripped round. Fish on! A few moments later, and I saw the unmistakeable shape of a lovely little green and black perch emerging. Great stuff.
This fella loved the Savage Gear ‘Dying Minnow’ fished on a Carolina-style rig
When you know fish are on the feed and you are lure fishing, it’s really exciting. Bait fishing allows you to manage the feeding patterns of a shoal of fish when you’ve had some practice (so I’m told…!!!). But with lures, you are at the mercy of nature. So, when you get a take straight away, you know you need to cash in.
I recast straight away, retrieved again in similar style – but nothing. Cast four brought another take, this time from a TINY perch which wasn’t even as long as the lure. Clearly these stripeys were HUNGRY.
I stayed in the same spot for about 20 minutes, casting and recasting, varying the retrieve. Going faster, slower, twitching the rod tip up a couple of inches and letting the lure drop back. In those first 20 minutes, I hooked and landed five perch. One was followed all the way back by a decent looking pike! I whipped him out of the water to safety pretty quickly!
“Don’t tell him your name Pike….”
Having five fish from a single spot is a rare luxury, especially at this time of year, so it was no surprise when the takes dried up. I changed lures, putting on a tiny black Bait Breath minnow for a few casts, then switching to a terrific bright green and yellow Sakura Drop Fork in fire tiger pattern
It was time for a move, you I whistled Archie, and off we went for a little wander. I made my way towards a bridge, thinking it would be a good fish holding feature. It’s an area that’s been successful in the past, so I was optimistic. After a few casts, I was starting to be little concerned that the feeding window had slammed shut. An area that’s normally reliable for a couple of takes, even from small fish, provided nothing. Nada. Zip.
Archie seemed keen to play with the ducks and swans, who were being fed Hovis by some small children. I decided to move on to save myself being dragged into the canal by a crazy spaniel.
I found a likely looking spot and cast my drop fork lure as close to an overhanging bush as I dared. It landed with a satisfying ‘plop’. I counted to two, then flicked the tip of the rod a few inches and tightened up. I repeated the routine…and within a few seconds, I was in! Another lovely perch – number six of the day.
This one liked the taste of Sakura….
All the perch, apart from that one little greedy bugger, were about this size. Not quite a pound – but lovely fish with nice colours, full bright red fins and dark, black eyes.
After a few more casts with the Sakura, I switched back to the bigger, more active Savage Gear Dying Minnow. Then, disaster stuck. First cast with the remounted lure, it snagged on a huge tree branch under the water. I dragged it towards the bank, relieved I was going to get it back….but it wasn’t to be. The line snapped half way down the leader – and I watched tormented as the lure spiralled away, then drifted into the silt never to be seen again.
The thing I like most about that lure pattern is that it’s holographic. You can see through it enough to see bright colours inside, glints of silver inside the pink, and a tiny fish shape inside. Its what those crazy Scandanavians at Savage call a ‘Cannibal Shad’. I hear on the grapevine Savage aren’t making these any more – which is a bit of a shame – especially as the last one I had is now at the bottom of the K&A. Ant’s promised to send me some from his ‘private’ stash…..still waiting for the postman to turn up!!
I had a rummage through my lure bag – and the only thing I had which was holographic was a pack of really old plastic bass lures. They were about 6″ long – too big for what I wanted. I decided to cut one in half and doctor the tail a bit with my braid scissors to make it a little more active. I’d gone from ‘Cannibal Shad’ to ‘Mutant Tail Shad’. Would it work? there was only one way to find out…..
Three casts later, and I was in. Another K&A stripey pushing the pound mark made it’s way to the bank. Once again, it was followed in by a little pike. It made me smile.
“Look at my fin. I’m well ‘ard. Grrrrrr.”
As you can see from the picture above the light shines through the lure really nicely. I reckon on a day when the water is clear, this is a key factor to get takes. It looks much more natural than a solid coloured plastic.
I’d decided I was only going to fish for about another hour or so. It was still snowing, my feet were getting cold and Archie was getting bored with not being able to go for a swim. I moved gradually back along the towpath towards the first swim I’d fished in. A couple more perch followed, taking the count to eight.
I told myself I’d have half an hour in the last swim to see if I could finish in style. The snow was now getting harder, I’d not brought a flask of coffee and my fingers were numb.
Anyway, three casts into my final flourish, and I was in again. This time the fish was slightly bigger. A real result. Archie always tries hard to help me land them – but it’s not a great idea when you’ve got a pound of angry, spikey fish to deal with. He whimpered as I slipped the landing net under it. Happy Days.
A little bigger – what a cracker.
The clock was ticking, and like all anglers, I decided to have a last cast or twelve. It’s a good job I did. Within a few minutes, I was in again – and this one was making the drag fizz on my Luvias. It’s got to be one of the most satisfying noises ever…..
The fish kited left and right, and Archie followed every dart and dive. It took about 4 minutes to get it under control, playing it with soft hands and allowing the fish to take line to avoid a hook pull. As it broke the surface, I beamed. Easily the biggest fish of the day.
Safely landed and unhooked, it was time to admire my prize before slipping it back into the water.
Biggest fish of the day – with the kit that caught it.
About to go back….
So, what a way to finish. Archie was ready to go, and so was I. We trudged back to the car and he jumped into the back, shivering and with snowflakes falling off his head.
“Head and Shoulders? Or is it just healthy looking, lovely fur….”
Running total for the day…10 perch caught on three different lure patterns. Biggest fish was well over the pound mark. The Carolina Rig works. One happy lure angler. One successful research day. One wet and shivering spaniel.
Time to go home and demolish a nice hot bowl of chicken soup and light the open fire.
If you fancy seeing a bit more about lure fishing for perch, tune into this Friday’s programme on Sky Sports, were Ant Glascoe Jnr uses soft plastics for perch on a Scottish loch. Let’s hope he’s got another pack of those cannibal shads lying around somewhere, otherwise there will be trouble…..
Why not check out some of the other films elsewhere on my blog too? Hope you enjoyed reading this.
Cheers and Tight Lines,