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).
Live minnow and circle hooks.
I have to admit that I like a change of tactics occasionally. Although I catch lots of good fish on artificial lures there's no doubt in my mind that livebait is often better so the other day I decided to give live minnows a go for the perch and chub. As far as I am concerned there are a couple of problems about this type of livebaiting. Firstly, it means that I have to catch some baits and secondly I HAVE to use a wire trace in case of pike, which are numerous.
I'm basically lazy and like to keep things simple so instead of taking two rods (one to catch bait and one for fishing) I simply took the livebait rod (my little Teklon with 20lb Nanofil on the Mitchell reel a wire trace with a size 6 circle hook on the end). I tied a foot of 3lb nylon with a size 16 hook to the end of the wire and used this to catch the minnows. It was surprisingly effective and before long I had a dozen nice lively minnows in my bucket. Off came the minnow tackle and I lip hooked a minnow and waded upstream looking for a suitable chub lie. The river is so low and there's so much streamer weed this year that it was a while before I had a cast. There was no wind to speak of and the thin line made casting simple. Out flew the minnow and landed close under the bank immediately downstream of an overhanging willow bush - perfect!
As the minnow settled I felt the line twitch. I waited until I could feel the weight of whatever had taken the bait and then I gently tightened and I was in. Sure enough it was a chub, no monster but a nice fish of about two-and-a-half-pounds. The circle hook was firmly in the upper lip so, having taken a couple of pictures as I reeled in, I unhooked and released the fish which instantly swam off. Good start.
I rebaited and plodded on upstream. This time I came to a large slack and I flicked the minnow up towards a patch of lilies. Again the bite came before the minnow had sunk to the bottom. The bump, bump battle signalled that I was into a perch, so again I took a picture before returning it. In the next half-hour or so I had four more perch. Like the first one they were all neatly hooked in the scissors but I also dropped several, which were presumably less firmly attached. When I lost the hook on a snag I decided to try a J hook to see whether it would be more effective at hooking the perch. I baited up and out went the minnow. As usual there was a bite within a few seconds and I struck quickly. It was not a big perch - probably my smallest of the session, but when I reeled in I was dismayed to find that it was hooked in the back of the throat. It was quite a palaver to remove the hook and it persuaded me to stick to my circle hooks in the future.
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The chub took my minnow well despite the wire trace.
this shows where the circle hook had found a mark.
The first of my perch on a live minnow.
Again beautifully hooked on the size 6 circle hook.