Catch Fish with
For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).
Weed can be a pain in the bum when it comes to fishing. Whether it is kelp or wrack clutching at your lures in the sea or water plants and flannel weed smothering the hook in fresh waters it can certainly spoil your day. With the current low water levels in my local rivers and the mild, bright weather we've had this year there is weed, of all types, in profusion. If you want to fish you just have to learn to cope with it. I had a couple of good examples this week.
On the first occasion I went coarse fishing with a lure. When it's weedy and shallow I generally find that a small buoyant plug is as good as anything and I've been using a J9 floating Rapala. Of course, being armed with a couple of sharp trebles, if it touches the weed it will pick it up and become useless so you have to judge the depth and fish appropriately. Now I hope to catch chub, perch, trout or pike on these lures but there's no guarantee of what will take on any given day. I always use a short trace of knottable 15lb wire in case of pike but otherwise the set up is very simple. No weights, rigs or gadgets, just the little plug attached by a loop or a small clip. The main secret is accurate casting and any little bay, overhanging bush or gap in the weeds gets my attention.
In this case the worst of the weed is either floating duckweed, which can form carpets on the water surface or flannel weed (Cladophora) which can form mats on the river bed. For some reason, on the afternoon in question, the chub and perch were not biting so, for half-an-hour I was more or less biteless. Then I came to a stretch with a weir. Downstream of the weir were one or two slightly deeper runs with a bit of flow - promising! I thought. First cast downstream from the sill I held the little plug in the current and let it waggle enticingly. Smash!!! A good fish grabbed it and showing a big, gold flank as it rolled made me think - 'record chub'. No such luck, the typically pikey behaviour which followed showed me exactly what I'd hooked.
Now I had to find somewhere to land my fish (probably eight to ten pounds and full of beans). I struggled across the weir and down the nettle clothed bank to the water's edge. Meanwhile the fish tore about in the shallow water picking up every scrap of flannel weed it could find. Eventually I managed to beach it and extract the hooks before nudging the fish back into the water. Phew! As it turned out that was more or less the end of my session. Only one small pike was caught after that.
A couple of days later I decided to have another go for seatrout (I've had a few nice ones lately). This time the problem was water buttercup. Every stretch seemed to be choked with the stuff. However, by retrieving down and across, the lure (again my J9 with the wire trace) will usually slip though without getting caught up too often. I generally try to cast so that the plug drops within thirty centimetres of the far bank if I can because the fish often take immediately after splashdown. I wind just a bit faster than the current so that the lure keeps wriggling along. Sometimes a big bow wave follows it across the river and sometimes (just sometimes) the fish will have another go if it fails to take.
My first cast produced a nice fat little brownie so I was encouraged. After I'd put it back I plodded on upstream casting every five metres or so if there was no weed on the surface to catch up the lure. It was hot and sweaty in my overtrousers and waterproof jacket (more anti-thistle and anti-nettle than anti-rain) so not particularly pleasant fishing. I saw a decent salmon roll in mid-river but I didn't expect it to take and anyway it was under masses of Ranunculus. A few casts later I dropped the lure within centimetres of a reed bed (best not to hook the reeds, they're tough) and it was taken by a stonking seatrout which exploded into the air and proceeded to hurtle all over the river tearing line off against the clutch. Several times it buried itself in the weed but I was able to draw it out by going downstream and hauling with the flow. Eventually I managed to land it, again getting myself severely nettled in the process (I hate nettles). All in all a very satisfactory session.
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