Not bothered about the odd blank or two! (perch article, entry 123)

Following my debut as a spinner last week, it was definitely a case of more of the same for this one. In fact I so enjoyed my first session after perch that I felt a renewing as far as my angling is concerned. And for someone who is a self-confessed fishing fanatic, that is a pretty powerful statement! I was like a kid on Christmas Eve, waiting for the next afternoon to come round so I could get back on the canal. Sad or what!

Although most canals are much more uniform than many other venues – they basically have a shelf and a boat channel – nevertheless they are far from devoid of features. With overhanging trees, bridges, moored boats and the like, there is certainly enough to concentrate on as far as perch location is concerned. And even open water cannot be neglected either, although of course the features are the obvious places to focus on.

With a dry day forecast – last time out I got absolutely soaked – my first session was ideal for roving. I had a couple or so hours to spare on the afternoon and intended to see the day out on the local canal. There’s nothing wrong with the canal itself, but the fact that it is in an urban area means that it is hardly likely to win any nominations for a ‘Wish you were here’ competition. The place is full of litter, some from anglers and some from the general public. I even found a used nappy on the towpath. Some people, eh?

And as for the dog mess, well that is disgusting. You find that every step that you take you are looking down before your feet touches the ground in case you tread in something. And when you see people letting their dog foul everywhere and they just carry on walking without clearing up, you feel like saying something. But unless you want to end up in a fight you keep quiet. Sadly, that’s very much the way things are these days.

Yet in spite of all that, I am genuinely able to switch off from the surroundings and enjoy the experience. And sometimes that’s exactly what you have to do when angling, although given the choice I do prefer the more rural and therefore ‘less people interference’ venues. But with just an afternoon to spare, local it was. Plus there are some nice fish to be caught and I’d never cut my nose off to spite my face.

The fishing was good, and although they weren’t in the monster category, I landed four decent enough perch, certainly big enough to put a nice bend in the rod. I have fitted a bank stick to my landing net and slot it in the straps of my rucksack and so not only can I carry it without any problems, but I also have easy access to it when landing a fish. As it is a canal I’m fishing, there is no need for a long pole, crouching down gives me all the access I require to comfortably net a fish.

The best way to end an angling session is to want more, and that’s exactly how I felt as I drove back home. Well, I didn’t have long to wait as the very next day I’m back on the same canal and fishing the same stretch as previously. Well, what a difference a day makes. Whilst on the previous session I had caught four fish and had several takes, this time I completely blanked. I didn’t get any taps on the retrieving spinner or even one single fish follow the lure to the edge. That’s fishing!

The same stretch, identical conditions, fishing at the same time of the day, even with the same spinner. Yet two totally different outcomes; don’t you just love angling? Yet at the same time, isn’t that the mystery element that makes fishing what it is? Imagine what it would be like if every fish were known in advance – the species, the weight, and the time. I don’t think that would appeal to me, although on second thoughts we could avoid any blanks and long fish-less spells of inactivity!

Still, I prefer it the way it is, even if we struggle from time to time. Because even then, the more blanks we have, the more we appreciate the times we catch something. And although it may sound like a funny thing to say, after a thoroughly enjoyable start to my spinning, I’m not bothered to get a blank. As far as my angling is concerned, the odd blank here and there is just part of the experience! And with a harsh winter ahead being forecast by the experts, I guess there will be more than one or two before next Spring rolls round!

 (Originally published November 2005)

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