Enjoying myself on the cut (perch article, entry 255)

Although I am a serious angler in the sense that it’s more than just a casual pastime, I still feel it’s very important to never lose sight of the fact that it is still a hobby. No matter where we are fishing or for which species, it should always be underpinned with enjoyment. Not that I need to remind myself, but angling isn’t meant to be a burden. It’s supposed to be enjoyable.

And after last week’s spinning on the canal after perch, that’s where I headed this week. I’m not going to catch anything that is going to rock the angling world but I really enjoy a late evening hour or so walking along the towpath casting a spinner into every potential fish holding spot along the way. And whilst I don’t usually take my dog with me, the venue and the style means that Twinkle my Bedlington terrier also gets a good walk at the same time.


A pike saves the day

The first session of the week saw boat traffic coming through even quite late on. It was half-term week though and so there were obviously going to be a lot more boats than normal; and I guess people had set themselves certain targets and in order to meet them they had to be moored up in a particular place each night, which meant that they continued travelling way into dusk. So whilst I was hoping for the water to settle instead it remained murky as the bottom was constantly churned up.

Needless to say it was hard going and I was looking at what seemed like an impossible scenario – a May blank on the canal. But fifty metres away from my exit point, as I was just about to lift the spinner from the water there was an almighty thrash as a fish snatched at it. It all happened so quickly that I thought it must be a big perch or chub, but once I had gathered my thoughts I realised it was a small pike. It put up a good fight but didn’t take line as it wasn’t big enough to call the shots.



Childhood memories

This is the first time I have ever encountered a pike on this stretch. I must have cast a lure thousands of times yet never once been given even the slightest indicator that any pike were present. It just goes to show doesn’t it, no matter how well we feel we know a venue there is always the unknown. And isn’t that a good thing really? There are lakes where not only is every fish known but also the weights that they are captured at. I’m not speaking against that, so don’t misunderstand me. But one thing I love about fishing is when you don’t know all the minute details about the quarry and what to expect.

When I was a kid I fished a tiny brickworks pond. Every time I cast in and my float cocked in the water I had dreams of a monster perch, roach or crucian carp. And when the float disappeared and I lifted a 4oz fish from the water, I always thought to myself, ‘next time’. And that’s how it was every time I visited that tiny three peg venue. When I became older I became more realistic and I knew that the only bend in my rod was going to come if I got snagged on some weed.

Tip of the week

Never forget that angling is always about enjoyment. If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, try something else!

More canals than Venice

But that sense of initial belief has never left me, even if it has tempered over the years. And that’s one of the reasons I enjoy fishing the lower Severn for example. It’s such a wide, deep and extensive section of river over many miles that every time you tighten up and put the rod on the rest, there is always the thought that the next screamer could be a 16lb barbel. To me this is one of the ingredients that makes angling so special.

My second session of the week saw me on an entirely different venue. Living as I do in the town of Sedgley, betwixt Dudley and Wolverhampton, one thing that we are not short of is canals. It is well documented that in Birmingham alone there are more miles of canal than in Venice. So having a particular section in mind, I decided to do some exploring and what better than to do so with a spinning rod. That way you not only get to fish but you can also make notes for any future sessions. For example I am always on the lookout for carp activity, particularly late in the day. There are now some decent fish to be had from our man-made waterways and although it has been a few years since I last had a serious campaign for carp on the cut (as they are known locally), I feel a few sessions as least coming on.


Enjoying the bird life

To round the week off, the third and final visit saw me again exploring some new territory. Struggling again on the second session with just one perch, this time I had several and also some fin-perfect chub as well. The length of the grass along the canal was a good indicator that it isn’t fished. Certainly there are venues that get lots of pressure but with a little thought you can still find a genuine place of peace and tranquillity where you can literally have the fishing to yourself.

The place was good for birds as well, with a singing yellowhammer in a bush opposite providing a lovely dusk audio backdrop to the proceedings. I also thought I may have seen a tree sparrow but the distance involved meant I couldn’t be sure. I have birded along that area before and seen a single bird so it could have been possible. I also heard a skylark singing high in the sky over the far bank meadow, but as much as I scanned the sky, I couldn’t locate it.


And a little owl to end the week


The canal looking good in late May

The best bird though was seen on the way back home. Driving down a lane a little owl flew across the field to the left and perched for a prolonged period of time on a telephone wire. I pulled over and watched the bird and if it wasn’t for the fact that by now it was well and truly pushing dark, I would have got the camera out and taken some photographs. But I was happy just to tick my first little owl of the year.




The week ahead

Not sure at the time of writing what lies ahead, it all depends on the weather. If it stays as it is I will continue spinning but if it picks up I am going to do some late evening canal carp fishing.

One job that definitely needs doing is to clean out my bait freezer as there has been a big build-up of ice


(Originally published May 2008)

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