As I write this is now the middle of May and I'm wondering where the rivers closed season has gone! It doesn't seem like five minutes since I was chub fishing on the dove but I realise now it's been nearly two months! Winter has given away firmly to spring and now daytime temperatures are right up we find ourselves on the cusp of summer and the angling delights it brings.
Since my last post lure fishing has absolutely dominated my time on the bank culminating in a pretty significant event in my angling career, more of which I will come onto later.
In these days of being able to fish lakes and canals in the closed season it doesn't seem quite so 'closed ' anymore and, although I long to fish running water, there are still opportunities to be had all over the place.
Towards the end of March I started doing the odd evening session after work on a local canal and it quickly became apparent that the perch were still well grouped up for spawning. There would be long stretches seemingly devoid of anything until suddenly a pocket of fish would be found and several would be caught in quick succession. More often than not these fish would be fit to burst with eggs which was the obvious clue as to why they were shoaling. One memorable evening gave me several half decent fish up to a very creditable 3lb2oz which, for the canal in question, was a true specimen!
I also dabbled in a little bait fishing in an attempt to catch a big perch from a commercial I'd been told about. Sadly, although I caught several small(and spawnbound) perch, the big ones weren't forthcoming and I had to make do with several nice carp and Tench instead. They really pulled the string so I wasn't complaining.
As the weather warmed slightly through April I noticed a lot of nice Trout suddenly appearing on the timelines of some of my lure fishing Facebook friends so naturally I wanted a piece of the action. I wasn't at all sure about the legalities of it all and after a few enquiries I managed to get permission to fish a small stretch of Derbyshire Dove.
If your reading this and fancy some trout action yourself, please note that all angling clubs are different in their rules regarding trout fishing during the closed season with most either being fly only or not allowing it whatsoever so it's worth asking the question before rocking up to the river and starting to chuck lures everywhere. You could save yourself from being banned or ending up in court!
It was an overcast day with a biting wind and the river was carrying slightly but it was good to be back fishing running water again albeit in a somewhat limited way. I started the day fishing tiny jigheads with creature type lures such as micro shrimps and crayfish with little success other than a few gentle taps. As lunchtime approached I switched to a dropshot setup and caught a small browny straight away and I really thought I'd found the method of the day, how wrong I was!
Nothing else happened for an hour or so so I decided to change to a tiny crankbait I had in my bag. It was a mega cheap thing I'd ordered on eBay for about £1.50 and to be honest I'd only brought it along to see what action, if any, it had. As you can imagine I was somewhat shocked when my first cast resulted in a savage thump and a lost fish!
Since the back end of April the lure match calendar has really begun to kick in and my first one for a while was the 1st round of the LACC pairs league which was held at knowle locks on the GUC.
After an initial gamble didn't pay off, myself and partner in crime Carl had to think on our feet as we were seriously trailing behind the leaders at the halfway point. Eventually we managed to find a few tiny Perch to amass a total length of 2.38m for a hard earned 4th place overall which gives us some decent points to build on throughout the rest of the series. 11 points puts us in 5th place leaguewise at the moment but it's tight so still all to play for!
My most recent match was the International lure challenge run by the CRT and angling trust building bridges initiative. Teams from England, Poland, Romania and Lithuania were to battle it out on the GUC at leamington with prizes for both team and individual glory.
To be honest I wasn't sure about this one as my only previous dealings with Eastern European anglers was from a bailiffs point of view if you know what I mean! The point of the match was integration with a competitive edge and Each competitor had to team up with a member of one of the opposing teams and in my case I drew a Polish guy called Robert who turned out to be a really nice chap as it happened. There was over 70 anglers on an 8mile stretch of canal, the weather was set to be a sunny scorcher and the boats were out in force before the match even started,this was going to be tough! To add to the difficulty there was minimum size limits on qualifying fish, 20cm for Perch, 25cm for Zander and 45cm for Pike, anything under these sizes wouldn't count.
Fortunately we were drawn 4th or 5th out of the bag and got an early start. Seeing as the stretch was so long the organisers allowed driving so I persuaded Robert to head straight to the car and we headed straight to a spot I knew would hold a few. Great minds think alike because my SHUK teammate Carl and his Romanian partner were already at the spot when we arrived!
The size limits meant that wasp fishing was out of the question so my opening gambit was to be dropshotting 3inch plus lures in an attempt to find some Zander. 90% of the opposition seemed to be using 2-5inch shads on jigheads so I figured the different presentation of a dropshot approach might make the difference especially with the bright sunshine. The lure up off the bottom creates more of a profile in the murk for the fish to see, that was my thinking anyway.
I hooked on my lure as I approached the canal, dropped it in and had a sharp pluck within seconds which resulted in a 22cm Perch, a great start I couldn't believe it! Next spot I tried was a similar story and 37cm Zander was hurriedly netted and quickly followed by a 25cm fish! 30mins into the match and my length was up to 84cm already. Our team was keeping in touch via Facebook and it was quickly apparent that very little else was being caught.
As I expected with the boat traffic the canal got very coloured very quickly and the fishing became mega tough all round. I was keen to build on my early good start however and kept plugging away at it. Over the next four hours I had just 4 bites which, fortunately resulted in 3 more qualifying Perch included 2 over 30cm.
At 7hours the match was a long one and with 2 hours to go I was on 1.74m total length. The towpath was exceptionally busy with walkers and cyclists and by mid afternoon the fish had all but switched off, I really couldn't buy a bite and dispondancy was setting in a little. I knew I had a good total as the information which was creeping in was telling me that most were struggling badly. A Romanian guy had found some Zander though apparently as had a polish chap who had jumped in my original spot and camped there. I was kicking myself for leaving it but I had found fish elsewhere so couldn't be too upset about it, a look at his total gave him 1.63m so I was just in front! A 69cm Zander was reported as I headed back to base but I was quietly confident of a top 10 result.
As people rolled in it turned out that one or two people had a few fish but many more had really struggled and even blanked. I started to get twitchy as several people reported multiple Zander catches. I tried to sit back and relax with a beer as we all waited for the results to be announced but it was no good, people kept telling me I was in the lead and the tension was killing me!
Finally, after a few group photos, the individual results were announced. Third place with 1.63m is ............... Blimey! I was Second! .........second place with 1.66m is ........ Bloody hell! Bloody hell!!! ..... First place with 1.74m is ........ I was already in a daze and My teammates were already shaking my hand as they announced my name, I don't even remember walking up to accept my prize I just remember standing there grinning like a moron with a certificate and the best part of £300 in my hand, speechless was an understatement!
So there it was, my first ever match win! The only comparable feelings I've had before in my fishing was when I caught my first 30lb carp and my first 4lb Perch!
Despite my win and Carl managing a fantastic 4th place overall the English team was beaten back to third place behind Poland and Romania in the team event. Everybody had a laugh and an enjoyable day out of it however and I would certainly attend next years event if given the opportunity again. In the meantime I have new rods to buy .......... :-D