Sometimes in fishing it pays to... well, not pay anything. If I can make it, find it or tie it myself I generally do. This not only saves you a few quid but adds a certain satisfaction to the sport. I love catching on my own, home-rolled flies, for example. I also like swapping and receiving freebies from fellow anglers. As a fishing writer you have to make the most of these perks because, aside from the big stuff like books, much of the time you get the feeling third world child labourers are paid better.
This lovely perch was one of several taken on some cracking "Martin's Minnow" flies sent to me by Martin Smith (keep an eye on www.flyforcoarse.com for a step by step in the next few weeks- plus a link to order from him). I'd vowed to give them a swim ages ago but got snowed under with work. At long last though, I managed to take an evening stroll on the Grand Western Canal near Tiverton. Having located a shoal of fish under a bridge, I was happily wrestling one after another in on the flies- each as greedy, and small, as the last. I fancied a bigger one but thought nothing of it as I wandered onwards. However, on the way back to the car at the end the light was going and I had that gut instinct that makes many an angler late for dinner which says "I think I'll have just one more crack". I hooked the fish virtually on the bottom and it gave a nice deep, lolloping if unspectacular fight. With bits of dorsal fin missing and worn scales it had that retired, punched too many times boxer look. I love perch though- and at 1lb 13oz this was a good one for such a small canal.
Equally appealing to my cheapskate side was a trip to Creedy Lakes today using bait that cost only some work with a garden fork in the compost heap. Call me tight, but finances are only one reason for this decision. Boilies are not only expensive but overrated on busy fisheries, in my humble opinion. 95% of visitors must use them- and as often as not blank on them. Why such a stranglehold? Simple- the whole carp fishing world is full of anglers who get free bait in exchange for saying "you must use this to catch." It is of course utter horse manure, designed to separate pound coins from pockets. Yes, boilies have their uses and I have also been a bait field tester in the past- but I detest dishonesty. As I've explained before, I'll often use boilies for less pressured waters- but if everyone is using them, carp will become extremely suspicious and there are much more effective baits. Worms are one of them.
Anyway, I digress but the main lake at Creedy proved tough. Strange because I really fancied the end where a mild wind had been pushing in all week from the same direction. Nobody on the lake was catching anything. I had a couple of small "pasties" on the worm but just couldn't hook anything bigger, so I tried baiting with some chopped worm right in one of the craggy corners, where the bivvies steer clear. I didn't fish it immediately, but kept returning for a look. A swirling tail pattern told me all I needed to know a little later. Within five minutes of lowering in a double red worm bait, direct to a size 10 hook and 10lb line, I was in:
The fish ran like stink in the confines of a very tight swim. It was absolutely beautiful too, really long and strong for its' weight of fifteen and half pounds. When I think of how much tackle I had brought with me, it seems crazy that the only things actually involved in the capture were one rod and reel, a net, the most basic of float rigs and a handful of bait that cost absolutely nothing. Always a sweet, slightly guilty pleasure at a fishery where anyone not using three identical rods hurled across the lake is led to feel like they are some kind of lunatic.