Wednesday, April 01, 2009

On the dark(ish) side

I spent over an hour and a half walking along a stretch of my local canal bringing back happy memories of my teenage fishing years. The spot I caught my first pike on a deadbait from, the bend where I caught a net-full of small perch and the next bend that seemed a mile away where I caught a perch of a pound that got my name in Angling Times and a Kingfisher Guild certificate!

I was also reminded why the place now drives me mad. Drifting mats of reeds broken up from the margins and rafts of dead reeds, both of which drift around with attendant outriders of single stalks hanging subsurface in order to catch your line when you are lure fishing. Or in my case today, fishing with a fly rod.

The bane of mobile canal fishing

Some six or eight years ago I gave pike fly fishing a whirl, even built a rod for the job but I was never really happy with it and stopped selling it. I wasn't too sure that pike could be landed quickly enough on fly gear. Having been assured that they can, by people whose judgement I trust, I'm getting the urge to give it another go. So I rustled up a blank I thought might be suitable and dug out my fly lines and 'flies'. The rod certainly casts a 10 or 11 weight well enough - even better in an experienced caster's hands. The canal is always a banker for a jack or two, especially on a warm and sunny spring day like today when something sparkly usually does the trick. So that's why I was there having a walk. Trying to find a fish to put a bend in the rod.

I tried lots of spots, each one should have had an eager jack lurking in the side waiting to nip out and grab a lure. But not today. It was a grand day to be out though, a buzzard mewed and soared overhead, lapwings and shellduck were in the ploughed and harrowed field at my back, frogs croaking in the reeds, blue skies and fresh green leaves on the hawthorn. I could have easily stopped out all afternoon, but I had somewhere to go and someone to meet.

Something sparkly

It always makes me laugh that pike flies are tied to look nice when they are dry, when what matters is what they look like when wet. That tinselly lure looks like nowt when it's bedraggled, but in the water it comes alive. Fished on a floating line it's weighted head gives it a pulsating rise'n'dive action. One that jacks can't resist. But not today!

Something sparkly in the water

I think I can see the appeal that fly fishing has for some people. There are lots of gadgets, gizmos and gunks to collect, not to mention the flies themselves, and there is a pleasure in the casting itself. In some ways it's like golf, though - a good walk spoiled! It's certainly an inefficient way of catching fish. Why put all that effort into repeatedly casting when a juicy maggot will catch trout for fun? Some people obviously like to make their leisure hours more like hard work...

Anyway, the good news is that my knee appears to be working properly. So, sod all that rod wafting, it's time to sit behind the buzzers again!