Saturday, 16 January 2016

Floodwater Piking and Flounder on Lures

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I’ve always loved unusual fishing and the sport’s capacity to spring a surprise, but even compared to my oddest adventures, my one day mission this week was bonkers. To be brutally honest I wondered whether I was on a hiding to nothing as I sped towards Dorset and saw trickling streams rendered into gruesome, muddy flows.

I was looking forward to catching up with Nathan Edgell, but fancied that even with his knack of catching specimen river pike we would need a big slice of luck, or our brains testing. Along the access path to the fishery alone, we were up to our thighs- and perilously close to that annoying leak in my waders, just around “Crown Jewels” level. And then it was tricky to see where the fields ended and the river began.

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Now, I’m not going to give away the whole story in this hasty blog, but if I can give you any inkling as to how Mr Edgell catches so many pike it has nothing to do with fancy tackle or secret tactics and everything to do with his willingness to be mobile and get stuck in. He is like the Heineken of pike anglers- the one who gets to the parts others don’t reach. By which I mean he gets stuck into the bits most of us walk right past or take one look at and think “no way.”

Not only did he winkle out a pike on the day, but he did so on a lure and the fish was absolutely cracking! There’s a great article there, with some revealing dodges anyway. More to follow...

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It was only later in the day when I managed one of my own. With takes at a premium, I decided to put my final efforts into an hour or two with a sardine in a tempting looking slack. I managed to trip and almost totally fall in just getting into a position where I could fish properly. Boy was it cold. I was starting to shiver when the float started to take a walk- and in a split second all discomfort was forgotten and it was just man against pike.

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It was a pretty and hard-fighting fish too. It fought harder than some much larger fish I’ve caught. Nothing like as big as Nathan’s, but hey- that’s a pretty normal state of affairs for anyone who follows his exploits! I didn’t bother to weigh it, but it looked like a scraper double. It also had the top of its tail missing- perhaps an otter attack, but I couldn’t say. Perhaps one of you blog readers might be able to enlighten me? It looked well healed and the fish was fit.

I was literally shaking with cold as I left for the coast to catch up with another fishing pal I hadn’t seen in a while. I last met up with Andy Mytton on a towpath zander fishing trip (hence his appearance in my Canal Fishing book). Ever since then though, I’ve been staggered by the sheer variety of sea fish he catches on lures. Unless, like a goby, you’ve been hiding under a rock, you can’t have failed to notice how Light Rock Fishing or LRF is getting increasingly popular. And having done a lot of recent fishing with light lure gear for perch, a visit to the sea was overdue.

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One species not usually associated with lure fishing had particularly piqued my interest however. Flounder are a childhood favourite that I’ve always had a soft spot for. They look almost comical, but if you are a shrimp or crab these are mass murderers. Even so, I expected it to be a tough challenge to tempt one on a lure. If anyone could help me it was Andy and his pal Ricki Hill, who are real specialists when it comes to fishing the salt with small lures.

While the river that morning had been a scene of millionaire’s houses and the Green Wellie Brigade, the Dorset town where we met was a world away. On exiting the warmth of the car I saw a rat running along a wall and the police speed past. Some poor homeless chap was hunkering down for the night in a sleeping bag and the waters looked eerie.

Again, I can’t spoil the whole surprise here, because Andy’s tactics and observations were fascinating deserve a proper article later this year, not a filleted blog entry, to do justice. But By working tiny worm style lures low and slow close to features we managed to draw the odd bite.

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Ricki had just caught a little school bass when my own chance came. I’d had a suspicious pluck already, when a few casts later the little rod went bouncing over. I was instantly transported to being twelve again with a cry of “I’ve got one, I’ve got one!” And yes, it was a flounder!

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I cannot quite convey just how chuffed I was with this fish. Perhaps it’s because I’ve tried and failed to catch these fish on flies. I now know it’s possible without bait though, and the fly rod will make another appearance this year- no doubt aided by Andy and Ricki’s fascinating tactics and observations on the species.

Beyond flounder there are a whole galaxy of species to target with the light gear too. Ideal for the “toy” rod I’ve enjoyed using so much for perch lately. Delightful and unusual fishing, with both a world of detail and quite specialized stuff but also perfect for big kids. Right up my street- and I can’t wait to experiment further with both tiny lures and flies this year.

Otherwise, it looks like winter might finally be here. Anything but more rain I say! I wish you tight lines in the meantime anyway and should you fancy some more reading I've also updated the Turrall Flies Blog and received another incoming report from The General that you can read here. Keep warm and be lucky!

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