Friday, 13 January 2017

Dace chase.

Although I can't rightly remember the first time I fished Saxon as it was that long ago, I do remember that it was love at first sight. Anyone else who reads this and has fished there knows full well it is not the resplendent summer river I talk of, but is instead the bare naked, freezing cold winter that inspires us anglers out of bed way before dawn to secure a good pitch.

Once the temperatures begin to drop before Christmas, the fish from miles up river seem to drop down and congregate in huge numbers above the ancient weir. Any of the ten or so accessible spots above the weir are well populated throughout winter, but the last three in my opinion are some of the best winter fishing spots on the Warks Avon you will find. The only fly in the ointment of this wonderful bit of river that gives so much when the going is so hard, is how little respect is given to it by some of the anglers that frequent it. Not really wanting to point any fingers, but beer cans of all nationalities are always present littering the banks, along with all kinds of rubbish like ground bait bags, old margarine tubs that were probably makeshift bait tubs, food packaging, coffee cups, tackle packets and so much more. 

It incenses me to see all the mess left by people who come here. This bit of water has been and will be an oasis in many an anglers long fruitless winter and really should be respected by those who fish there. Seriously, how much bloody effort is it to take the rubbish away. For me it was a sad day when Leamington Angling Association passed up the opportunity to acquire this gem of the Avon. I feel sure had they taken it on they could have done wonders with this lawless bit of river.

Back to fishing though and it is one species that draws me to these muddy banks, the dace. I have real soft spot in my heart for the dace and there aren't that many opportunities to catch them round these parts. In fact the numbers of them at Saxon Mill does seem to have dropped in comparison to the amount of small roach present, but still they are here and with the plying of plenty of maggots you can work your way through the numbers to root out a few better ones here and there.

More often than not it's the float, or more specifically trotting a float, that people use on this venue. For me though the maggot feeder works best. So in the dark the other day I struggled to thread a loop of line through a tiny swivel atop a small maggot feeder ready for the light to come up enough for me to begin feeding the horde. The light finally came up and I swung out the first feeder brimming with fresh maggots to a run two thirds across the river. The feeder barely made bottom before the tip was bouncing under the attack of hundreds of hungry fish.

It took a few casts to get into the swing of things, but soon I was repeatedly dropping the feeder onto a area about the size of a pool table and with plenty of feed on the bottom, things calmed down enough for me to wait for a solid pull of the tip before striking into a fish. The roach were coming one a chuck and did so for maybe half an hour before I landed a small dace. With this place it's just a case of numbers and I worked the numbers hard all morning, fishing with the rhythm of a match angler until finally I found a few nicer sized dace. 

With this many silver fish present and this much activity concentrated in one spot it is always going to attract some attention and Saxon Mill has its fair share of fish thieving pike. A couple of splashing silvers had been torn from my line and several others had been slashed at through the morning, but these pike weren't dealing with the average dace angler were they. I've fished here so much I know exactly how they attack and I had brought along a pike rod especially for the job.

I fished a small dead roach on a free running paternoster two feet off the bottom in the flow. By mounting the dead roach with a slight bend in it, I could see it moving around in the flow, pretty much like a hooked fish. Using such a cumbersome rig it took a bit of effort a few casts to make sure it was tangle free, wiggling around in the area just below where I was lifting fish from the water and tossing them back. It didn't take long for the bite alarm to bleep a little as the rod tip bent over and the line pulled from the clip of the drop off indicator. After a fierce and frantic battle a solid jack pike was landed, had its picture taken and was released well away from where I was fishing.

The next attacker ripped into the spinning dead bait so hard I barely had chance to blink before line was whizzing off the reel. Luckily I had set the free spool very lightly on the reel or the rod may well if taken a dive into the river. I don't think that fish had the bait fully in its mouth, as after a single run it just seemed to let go.

A while later I saw some odd pike behavior. After answering the call of nature in the scrub behind me I returned and before sitting down I peered into the water. Was it not for an odd pinkish growth protruding from her mouth I would have never seen the decent sized pike lying a foot from the bank in the dead weed bed, but once I'd clocked her head I could soon pick out the other three foot of her. After a while she rose up in the water and swam up stream. Thinking I'd never see her again, I sat and got ready to fling more maggots, but as I bent over to load up the feeder I saw her drift back into the edge from downstream and settle close to where I'd seen her before. This was too good an opportunity to miss, so I slowly picked up the pike rod and carefully drew the bait back in towards her. She definitely saw it, I could tell from the way see moved a little as if to line it up, but then she turned back.

I watched that pike for half an hour as she observed the bait, moved off and returned to her spot. She did this three times and every time I was sure she'd hit the bait when she came back, but no nothing. Then after she moved off again a second slightly smaller fish came moving in quickly. This one was going to have the bait for sure, but then the one with the growth drifted in and the new fish bolted off. Finally thinking she just wasn't into feeding I gave up on her and moved the bait back out into the flow a bit. 

The pike distraction over I began casting the feeder again and happily the silvers were still lined up ready to go. But after a few casts fish came flying out of the water just beyond my casting zone as they were chased by a predator. Quickly I chucked the dead bait into the area and sat it on the rests. I'd not even sat down before something took the bait violently. I struck hard and was soon playing another hard fighting pike. After running me a merry old dance right through where I'd been fishing sending fish scattering clean out the water, I managed to subdue the angry fish into the net. It wasn't a huge fish but it was bigger than the first, and like that fish it too was heavily patterned and certainly well fed.

After releasing that last pike to sulk under a tree in the margins upstream I went back to the maggot feeder to finish off the session. Sadly though that last pike's antics, combined with a clearing sky, had changed the dynamic of the area I'd been feeding. For all my efforts with the last of my bait I only scraped a few more small roach to finish off the session. I wasn't disappointed though after catching literally hundreds of silvers, a few nice examples of my target species and two nice pike. I reckon that I had pretty damn good session as once again Saxon Mill came through on a cold winter morning.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

On the matter of self takes.

As an angler and certainly as a blogger, the self-take has become an integral way of recording fish captures for me whilst fishing alone. I remember almost fondly years ago, balancing my compact camera on my seat with the timer whizzing away as I wrestled a fish. Then later I began taking a tripod along, which lasted all of a few sessions as it was so cumbersome. Technology moved on and with the arrival of digital cameras I began using a tiny adaptor to attach the new digital camera to a bank stick and use the self timer to capture a few snaps. My camera grew though when I began using a bridge sized Nikon; somewhere between a compact digital and an SLR, this camera worked well with the adaptor and took some great photos. The only problem was size; when you begin doing a lot of lure fishing on foot, you quickly realize that mobility is key and thus tackle gets cut right back. Now, I actually like to lure fish with a back pack rather than a smaller shoulder bag or hip bag, as it seems to stop me leaning forward gradually through the session and helps balance me. The camera in its bag though was making up close to 25% of what I was carrying in the back pack, add to that a 500mm extendible bank stick to mount it on sticking out of my bag and it's a lot of kit for a few photos. Having to carry the camera round in my kit seemed a hassle to me for ages until just recently when an accidental discovery changed everything again...

I had been playing around with the camera settings on my Samsung A300 mobile phone when I noticed it had a voice activation mode for the camera that is activated by saying a command word, of which the pre-set version was obviously, cheese. A couple of cheeses later and my phone picture storage was sporting some dashing half head shots. This got the old brain goo flowing and a plan to use a selfie stick to hold the phone, plus rucksack to support it soon formed.

It has worked out unbelievably well in practical use; number one, I always have my phone with me so the bigger camera is left at home, number two, I can upload any taken pictures to my Google drive instantly, so messing around with memory cards is a thing of the past. It is so much more user friendly than having to use the camera timer. Literally when I catch a fish I want a photo of, I leave it in the net in the water whilst setting up the phone on the bag supported selfie stick, then I do a quick practice shot before placing my unhooking mat in place as a marker of where I need to be. Then get the fish out hold it up and ring of a load of shots using the cheesy command. Even the quality of the pictures is reasonably high as the camera on my phone is five mega pixels and as we change phones that will just get higher with subsequent generations of phones.

All it took was the purchase of a couple of selfie sticks from the local pound shop, one for each bag, and I was away. I have been doing this for about six months now, it is so easy and I don't think there's been a massive difference in the quality of my pictures for using a phone rather than a camera. So, if like me you take self-takes regularly and have the option on your phone for voice command activation on your camera, give this a go as it really is a convenient way to get some good trophy pictures when fishing alone.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Christmas catch up.

I always find myself trying to catch up in the New year with my blog. What with working in an industry that relies on the holiday season and having a large family, my time becomes rather constrained over the holidays. As I am a true angling addict and cannot not go fishing it's all other non necessary time consuming actives that pay the price and blogging is in there with them. 

Anyway the holiday season has finally passed away into the memories along with 2016. Looking back through last year's posts I quickly concluded that I had a decent year all things considered and judging from the photos I caught a lot more pike, zander and perch than I can remember doing. In catching all those predators my affinity and love of lure fishing has grown along with my knowledge and ability. Literally ten years ago I would have never conceived becoming such an avid fake flinger. A year of repetitive casting though has been peppered by a few memorable sessions using other techniques that have paid dividends in years gone by, inspiring me for the coming year. Carp of both the crucian and king varieties weigh heavy on my mind in these young cold months when so many plans are conceived and so ideas that have been shelved away for too long will get dusted off later in the year.

Back to catching up and I did actually do some fishing over the holidays. From what I remember the first was a relatively successful micro-fishing session on the Coventry canal. It was successful as all I caught were micro fish and quite a lot of them. The whole idea of using these tiny lures to search out every nook and cranny on a canal is novel enough, but seeing how deadly the method is proves exactly why this is such a fast growing fun area of fishing in the UK.

I absolutely love these tiny Allure creature baits by Crazy fish. Through the session I fished both drop shot and on jig heads all around any structure I could find and they always seem to find small pods of fish and persuade them into attacking.

My next outing I went chub fishing... Yes you heard that right I went chub fishing, quiver tip rod, bread and all chub fishing. With only a few hours of daylight left one spare afternoon I grabbed my newly assembled short session kit and nipped to an old stomping ground high up the Warks Avon where literally you could jump the river should you be brave enough to try.

It was great to be back creeping around in the under growth, well I thought I was creeping anyway. The reality is that with spending so much time on the civilised banks of canals I had forgotten how much harder it is to move round through banks lined with old reeds and six foot high nettles blown down by the wind. My techniques for traversing barbed wire fences could do with some polishing given that I nearly  hung my family jewels up like washing on a line on a couple of crossings. It was all worth it though when you get a view of sections of river that is hidden from view for most of the year and only reveals itself for a few short months at the point when the year's growth has died away and is still waiting to renew again.

My fish location proved a bit rusty as well, and it took me a couple of clumsily wasted swims to finally get that quiver tip to rattle round, before a small but very clean chub grabbed my nugget of bread as it skipped under a raft of rubbish collected round the branch of a tree.

Both previous sessions had been relatively short and sweet as they were mere stolen hours here or there. It wasn't until right at the end of the holidays when I finally got my act together enough as to spend an entire morning out fishing. Getting out on this morning wasn't the only problem though. The night before the sky had cleared and the temperature dropped drastically. With a heavy frost and frozen puddles lining the city roads I felt it was a safe bet that both the canals and the commercial pool where I wanted to try my luck for a new perch PB would topped with a thin layer of cat ice. So I switched kits, grabbed a lure rucksack and a light/medium weight lure rod and nipped of over to Leamington to target the sluggish waters of the river Leam.

I'd heard from a friend of mine, Dave Cook, that there was quite a few prey fish shoaled up in the sheltered stretches around Victoria park, and if I know anything it's that the resident pike will not be far away from those smaller fish.

My tactics were quite simple in truth. On previous visits I had formed a mental map of the depths and summer time features of the stretch. Using that knowledge and a few select lures I felt were suitable, I worked my way up through the park targeting the shallow margins where the dead lily pads were, using shallow diving hard baits like the storm ghost minnow and the deeper centre of the river using medium sized fox spiky shads on 10 gram jig heads.

It took most of the morning and a lot of casting before I located the prey fish holding just in the deeper water behind a shallow area at the top of the park. After arriving and making only a few casts, I spotted fish topping and new this would be the area to concentrate on. After eventually dropping the weight of jig head to 5 grams to slow the lure movement down, I cracked the code and got a couple of slashed takes before hooking a micro jack pike. From then I just concentrated on the area; repeated casting and a few lure changes routed out two more tiny pike and one slightly better one which I was very happy to finish with.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Coasting into the new year.

I know we all go through lean patches now and again as anglers and I can accept that along with the best of them, but just lately I reckon the drought is quite simply down to me being a bit apathetic. As always my time is limited and being as it is limited, doing the right thing at the right time is the key to success. As I have not been on point for some reason I've found myself doing all the wrong things and reaping no reward for my effort.

The last tiny modicum of success came a couple of weeks ago when I went out to hook up with Mick on the Stratford canal after zander. Even though I had half a mind that the cut might be a bit clear, I still pressed on and did badly on the zander front as a result. The tiny bit of action I got came right at the end of the session when we fished around a lock filled with leaves.

Only by targeting the structure did I start to get a few plucks from perch sheltering in the shadows. After fine tuning a little I finally hooked up a small perch just as a boat appeared on the canal approaching the lock.

On a dire mornings fishing the little information those perch gave me was enough to hatch a final plan. I had in the bottom of my bag a box of worms I brought along just in case and I knew the fast approaching boat would churn up the canal a lot as it passed by. So I quickly switched my jig for a drop shot rig and then proceeded to mince up a good helping of worms in a pot. As predicted, the passing boat quickly turned the water to tea as it gunned past me. Once the water stopped swirling I deposited the worn on a easily recognized spot on the inside edge. After letting it stew whilst I caught up with Mick above the lock I returned and instead of fishing a lure over the bait, I dropped a worm in over the top. First drop in I felt a quick tap up the line and I struck into a nice perch.

That single tiny patch of feed saved the day for me and I nicked two smaller perch off of it in quick succession, wiggling the worm over it. Had I had the forethought or the sense to just head to this lock first thing and bait up a few spots, then the whole session could have been a different one and maybe a red letter one at that.

My next outing could have been a mirror image of the last in terms of success. Foolishly I thought was being a clever bugger heading to still water with four days of freezing weather preceding. The little lake I went to in search of huge perch was half frozen, and what wasn't frozen was so clear that you could see a willow leaf on the bottom half a way out.

For all the chopped worm and prawn I chucked I reaped little more than a few small perch and roach. For once I would have been over the moon with an interloping winter carp tearing up the swim just to break the monotony and stick bend in the rod and as one didn't, it ended up being a very cold and disappointing session.

 I have to admit that I don't feel that the last few months have been that productive for me and I feel like I am just coasting along up to Xmas, not really making the most of my time. Now though I feel change is afoot and I find myself planning for a new year of fishing. With young BB fast growing up I am becoming more accustomed to life as a parent and with this settled feeling I want to get back into the swing of fishing as I used to, with an eye for big fish rather than just lure fishing and predator fishing as time permits. The Avon rods and light quiver rods have already been dusted off and reels have been re spooled ready to do some chub and dace fishing in January. Plans are forming to use some of the information I've collected whilst lure fishing on the canals to hopefully target some big canal chub in the winter months and huge carp in the spring. Now I know I will still be doing a fair bit of lure fishing next year, but I am really hoping to have some much more varied catches next year and get my lust for all round fishing back again. 

Friday, 25 November 2016

Walking on battered ground.

I can't deny the River Leam has got me intrigued at the moment. It's one of those places I always thought not really worth bothering with, but earlier visits in the year have got me thinking otherwise. The sections below and up into Leamington Spa have up until now been the focus of my attention, but the sections leading out have so far been ignored.

A text from my old mate Andy Lewis prompted me to arrange a hook up with him to go and have a short prospecting afternoon session on these new upper town sections. Ironically I have been round the parks surrounding these stretches of river many times and I cross the bridges that run through them all the time when passing through Leamington Spa, but hand on heart I have never seen a single soul fishing on the Leam. So I was bit shocked when we arrived at a mint looking river to see that it was very obviously heavily fished.

We worked our way along the Mill Gardens section covering every square inch of water with all kinds of lures fished in every way we could think of, but all we had to show for our efforts was a single small jack which I nailed very early on, casting a savage gear 4play fungus roach swim bait on a five gram jig and working it very erratically along the bottom.

After thrashing the living shit out of Mill Gardens we crossed the road to check out Welches Meadow which leads out of the town. This bit of the Leam is a stunning bit of water to look at but worryingly seemed almost lifeless. Again the both of us worked really hard covering every angle, casting at every possible haunt, spot and feature. We'd been through at least half the stretch before I hooked into my second and last fish of the day, a nice perch which took a fancy to a large red head fox spiky shad I'd been working steadily along the margins.

That was it for my action. After fishing our way all the way along the meadow and back again we crossed back over the road to see if the quickly approaching darkness might spur a little action, just as the conditions became that bit more favourable for the predators. Andy wheedled out a similar sized perch to the one I'd had earlier on a white Eco gear bug ant, but that was it for the session.

Thinking about it now, two things bother me about these upper sections of the Leam. Firstly they are obviously fished quite a bit and from the look of the spots that are fished it's not anglers sitting for long periods of time, as there is little evidence of worn patches on the grass, signs of fishing boxes or bank stick holes. It's not hard to assume that lure anglers are going in and out of the swims, and that probably means the fish have seen their fair share of action and could have got a bit clued up already. Secondly, there was hardly any fish movement at all; both me and my companion for this session are very tuned into looking for topping fish and the like, and we saw only two signs of fish all afternoon. Given we fished right till dark, I would've thought we would have seen a decent bit of movement at the end of the day. The lack of fish activity has me thinking that maybe the larger part of the prey fish population might be holed up somewhere and with them  could be most of the predators.

 I reckon if I go back to these upper sections that I will really have to try and pin down the prey fish before casting something. I think it might actually be worth doing, as I keep hearing rumours of some big pike round these top sections. Even though I think they might be a bit pressured, I really like the idea of the challenge of searching out something decent from these town waters over the winter to come.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Ungrateful days.

For a long time now I've felt that being a bit specimen inclined has left me ungrateful in the face of a simple good days fishing. When I was a young novice scratching around on the Cov cut with my 1/4 pint of maggots, a handful of deep hooked perch would have been a great day and catching a roach, perch and gudgeon in one session was a red letter day. Fast forward twenty six years and my eyes have grown bigger with my stomach. Now unless any fish caught is not over a certain size then if I am honest...I ain't that bothered. It's this ungratefulness that reared its ugly head on my last outing when I had a session of my childhood dreams that in my adult mindset was a wasted day.

I am constantly looking for new areas of canal that tick certain criteria for big fish. One spot in particular I came across a while ago has been studied and to all intents and purposes seems like a perfect big fish holding spot. It has great cover, deep and shallow areas, shelter from seasonal highs and lows, good numbers of prey fish, crayfish are present and it's a bit out-there so it probably doesn't get that much attention. As the warmer months have ticked away this special area has festered in my mind and as it's done so, it's big fish potential seems even more obvious.

After mulling how to approach this potential honey hole several hundred times, I concluded that the best way to get a good picture of the fish population was to go and bait fish it with lob worms and dendrobenas on one rod and fish dead bait on a second line. So many times in the past this combination has routed out hidden gems of all species. Though having decided to just bait fish I did pack my drop shot rod and some appropriate lures just in case. 

Finally the time came to drop by for an early morning session to try and see if this spot actually has much potential. I arrived on the tow path just as the sun came up and was soon tabbing full steam along the edge of the canal. I'd hoped that arriving early and having to walk a decent distance along the section might have meant I'd see a few rising fish, but worryingly there was zero fish evidence as far as the eye could see. Soon enough the feature I was heading for appeared way off down the canal. 

The huge tow path side reed bed that I had thought about so much was still very green considering the time of year, but as always it looked to be the perfect fish holding spot. So with no other target areas on my mind I pitched up next to it, did a quick bit of plumbing up and settled on fishing right on the corner of the reeds in the hope that once the canal started towing under the influence of the far off locks, the chopped worm I was going to deposit would draw any fish to my end of the reed bed. 

Now I am not so deluded as to think that the first fish that comes along is going to be what I am looking for. I was fully expecting to have to give this a full mornings attention and try and catch a good sample so as I could get a decent picture of the general population. This plan really went perfectly in truth and from the off my chopped worms were doing the business drawing in fish. Considering no boats had been through and the water was initially very clear, the float never sat still for very long at all.

The perch were here and on the feed and it quickly became just a matter of keeping the spot topped up with freebies, releasing any captures off away from the area. The whole time I was working the inside line a dead bait I had cast onto the far margin lingered in the shadows waiting for something to find it. Through the course of the morning the float above that dead bait only moved once when a small jack pike found the half a roach and got itself a free meal. The float zipped off, I struck and played the little pike all the way to my own bank before seeing the fish with the bait just in the front of its mouth before it let go.

The perch though kept coming all day and I maintained my concentration the whole morning, fishing like a match angler trying to play the numbers game. I was convinced that if I kept the feed going in and the fish coming out that it would soon just be a numbers game before something bigger came along. This was not the case though and after nearly five hours of working the spot hard I had caught close to fifty perch between two and eight ounces, but nothing bigger had shown at all and no other species either.

After the session I did some rough calculations and working on a 3oz average fish weight and that I caught around fifty fish, it works out that in the morning I had put together a near ten pound bag of perch. Now any match angler fishing a match on any canal in the country would snap your hand off for a peg that could produce that off a single line. But that same match angler would also know that catching those numbers of fish from one spot should have turned up a bigger fish if it was there. For me as a canal specimen chaser that is awful results as I ideally want to be fishing areas that not just hold one big fish but multiple big fish; those areas do exist it's just that this might not be one of them.

I suppose I could put the lack of big fish down to conditions as the canal was very clear and the sun ended up being very bright all morning. But the reality is that this spot which I have built up in my mind really needed to offer me something back quite quickly for me to bother returning in the future and giving it any more of my valuable time. Sadly though with not a lot other than small perch and a single jack pike turning up when I was offering top notch fish fodder, the specimen angler in me has been left not very impressed whilst in reality I did actually have a good days fishing!

My ungrateful bugger

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Not sticking to the rules thank god.

A full day of boats moving round a busy junction of the Grand union canal and the water is going to be pretty murky, right! Well that's what I thought and I was totally wrong. I ventured a out a few days ago for a short session on a primo bit of the GU and basically ended up having a weird arse about face session where everything I thought would be the case was not.

Big perch were what I was after and as it was to be an afternoon into dark affair I figured, as I mentioned before, that the boats which are prevalent in this area would have ploughed the canal turbid by the time I arrived. Hence I had armed myself with a float rod and generous amount of worms to attract the fish in the poor visibility. I always do this 'peering over the edge' thing when I walk onto a canal to get an impression of the water conditions. On this occasion my initial peering was followed by a head shake, an eye rubbing and a second peering. Good god it was well past dinner time and I could see two bricks sitting on the shallow margin. The water did have a tinge of green to it, but shockingly the visibility was easily fifteen inches or more.

Even with the less than ideal conditions I pushed on with my plan and went in search of cover to target. Without too much elaboration, the plying of worms onto the canal was a total waste of time. The perch had no intention of moving out of wherever they were hiding to eat in the open. My only hope for this session was the drop shot rod I'd bought along just in case. Maybe, just maybe, by working lures close cover I could persuade any would-be attackers to burst out and hit the lure in the clearer than normal conditions. This is where it really goes against mores supposed rules.

Considering the perch were reluctant to feed I really thought the low light loving zander would never be switched on in such clear water. So how surprised was I when I manoeuvred a small Savage gear 3D bleak close to a moored boat and straight away something snatched it, I was even more surprised when the culprit turned out to be a zander.

I thought maybe that one zander was just some rogue fish that hadn't read the zander rule book, but when a few jiggles of the lure later a second smaller one hit, it began to look like the zander were actually on the feed in the clear water.  By the time I'd notched up three more little zander which all went for the drop shot fished 3D bleak fished six inches off bottom, I was convinced they were really up for it.

Although my original perch plan was well and truly out the window, it turned out that I was out and fishing on one of the wondrous occasions when the fish are hungry, the conditions were apparently perfect and I was using the right lure/technique. The random flitting and dropping of the very life like bleak lure seemed to draw the zander in like moths to a flame and every one which went for the lure got hooked perfectly in top of the mouth before zipping off like a torpedo.

It wasn't just the tiny ones that were up for it either; there were better fish moving around as well. Most were in that half a pound to two pound range and I quickly figured they weren't just tight to the cover. Fishing the nearside shelf brought me a few fish and even a random cast into the centre of the trench brought a hint of interest.

The perch though were just not around or if they were they were well off the feed, which possibly had something to do with the change in temperature. By the end of the short session the sun had long disappeared, the sky was glowing wintry pink as the last rays disappeared, smoke rose from every chimney of every narrow boat that lined the canal and the surface of the canal was like a mirror. 

Although I hadn't come anywhere near catching what I intended to, I had actually had a great session catching quite a few little zander on the drop shot. Had it not been for those zander feeding when they normally wouldn't there was a good chance I would have just frozen half to death whilst blanking. Once the weather has settled down I know for sure I will be back to try for the big perch again and I certainly will be bringing the dropshot rod and those lures along as well.