Apologies to Accrington Stanley (perch article, entry 132)

In last week’s update I described myself as the angling equivalent of Accrington Stanley. Well, this week I really must make my apologies – I am worse than Accrington Stanley! With a window of opportunity presented by a mild weather spell at the end of the week, I was very optimistic that I would finally catch something decent this year.

I even wrote in my angling notebook that accompanies me on all trips, that if I couldn’t catch anything in this weather then I need to pack up fishing altogether. Well, it’s a good job that it was just a statement and not a promise, otherwise I’d be advertising a batch of fishing gear cheap. In fact on the first two sessions of the week I totally blanked, not even a tiny perch.

I started off full of optimism though as I had a really big fish follow the spinner right to the edge. It even snatched at it, but unfortunately no contact other than that was made. What a difference that fish would have made to this week’s article. Instead of scrambling around in the amateur leagues, I’d be at the top of the Premiership. And just like football, the line between ‘success’ and ‘failure’ in angling is a very thin one at times.

I enjoyed watching a little grebe as it worked its way up and down the canal. They are very shy birds and I counted myself blessed that I was able to get a good view of it. Much smaller than the better-known great crested grebe, and not as colourful, nevertheless they are nice to watch. You need to be quiet to observe them properly though, as they are cautious.

The second session, again on a stretch of local canal, was even worse than the first. In spite of the mild and very spring-like weather, I couldn’t even get a fish follow through to the edge. I concentrated on the section of canal where I caught my three big perch just before Christmas, yet in spite of literally flogging the area to death, every single retrieve of the spinner was totally unhindered and free of fish harassment.

I saw a mink though, working its way along the far bank, totally oblivious to my presence. At one stage it paused to rub itself against a tree stump and rolled around obviously enjoying the experience. It reminded me of our house ferret (contrary to popular opinion they don’t necessarily smell and they aren’t violent if raised with lots of affection), Mr Big.

Whilst I do see the need to deal with the wild mink problem, it’s not really the animal’s fault. When it kills, it is only doing what comes natural. Obviously there have been escapes over the years, but when animal rights activists release them en masse, that is not doing anyone any favours. And the ironic thing is that these released mink will then go on to devastate the indigenous bird and wildlife of the area. Strange behaviour for people who claim to love animals, to set them free to kill everything else in sight.

Anyway, after the two blanks, Friday was the final throw of the dice. After a couple of months or so of Mepps Aglia, I decided to do some bait fishing and put away the spinning rod. I targeted a stretch of canal that although I haven’t fished for a few years, has produced some good perch for me in the past. When I got there, the swim I had in mind was covered in debris – branches, leaves etc.

Unfortunately it is a bit of a trap as far as these sort of items are concerned, as the nature of the peg means it literally acts as a magnet for anything on the surface in that area. I still considered it fishable though and was happy to set up and spend the afternoon there. Well, the good news is that I didn’t blank. But a trickle of four-inch gudgeon was as good as it got. Not even a small perch to shout about.

I couldn’t even blame the weather, as it was quite mild and definitely a day that looked as if it would produce the goods. So my miserable start to the year continues. One thing though is that I always tell it as it is. No bringing out old photographs to pretend I have been catching. If I catch something nice, you’ll get to hear about it. But if I blank then I’ll also tell you the truth. At least my run will make you feel better. Unless you’re on a worse streak than I am that is! And if that is the case, you have my total sympathy.

(Originally published January 2006)

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