After a number of spinning sessions on the canal for perch, I really wanted to do some bait fishing. However, with time previously being at a premium I didn’t have long enough to set up and fish from a static position. This is one of the benefits of spinning of course – you don’t need to bait a swim and preparation time is minimal. You literally turn up, tie a spinner on the end of the line and you are away.
But now that I had located where some decent fish were to be found, I wanted to try a change in tactics. And with just a few things to do in the morning, I was able to find myself fishing before mid-day. Having the stretch to myself I didn’t have to worry about other anglers, the only people around were walkers who passed by.
I set up in a spot facing a tree. Although not quite an overhanging one it did at least provide a feature, in addition it was in the area where I had caught some of the decent perch recently. And there’s nothing wrong with a little confidence when fishing. I initially set up a float rod with the intention of fishing maggots to see what was around. In addition I had another rod ready for action as soon as I caught a gudgeon, as I wanted to put a livebait out.
I had a steady trickle of ruffe, perch and roach, but it took me a long time before I finally caught a gudgeon. I had to smile to myself. There must be millions of them in the Staffs/Worcs canal and yet I couldn’t even get one! But as soon as I did, I lip-hooked the fish on a size 6 hook and cast it out into the channel. I used a 5g pike bob, which was big enough for the fish not to take down but small enough that any perch taking the bait wouldn’t feel the resistance.
It didn’t take long before I had a take. The movement indicated that a fish had smashed into the gudgeon, and as the bob disappeared below the water I struck. Unfortunately though the fish came off before I could get it to the net. It looked like a decent one though. But rather than be discouraged it spurred me on.
And it wasn’t long before I had another perch take the bait, and this time I was a happy man as I slipped the net under it. It was just short of the 2lb mark, weighing in at 1-14-0. Fish of this calibre, whilst not making national news, are good specimens from the local canal. On the subject of what determines a specimen it isn’t just weight that we should take into account but also venue.
The rest of the session was a little frustrating, as I couldn’t get another gudgeon! I had some nice roach and perch and several ruffe but no gudgeon. Every time my float went I struck hoping that I would get a small fish. Funny how most anglers want to catch bigger ones yet for me the smaller the better was my philosophy! Anyway, as dusk started to set in it was time to pack away. And with a nice perch to show for the day out, I was certainly a happy man driving back home.
Encouraged by the perch, my next session was also a sit-down one with bait rather than wandering along the bank with a spinner. With a livebait rod at the ready I was hoping to catch at least one gudgeon early on so I could get that rod in the water. But again I had to wait. In fact it was not until the last couple of hours before I caught one – and then they came out one after the other! That’s fishing for you isn’t it.
Actually I didn’t catch a perch at all, not on the livebait rod or the float fished maggot. In addition to the gudgeon I had several roach though. But I missed far more bites than I landed fish. It’s just as good that I target specimens, as I am hopeless at catching small fish. Not that I am any better at catching big ones most of the time, but you get my point. If I were a match angler I’d be what they call pools fodder.
(Originally published March 2007)