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The Perfect Excuse For Fishing…

Published: 17th February 2020 | Author: Tim James

‘Tomorrow has been cancelled’ went the text I received a few Monday’s back. A delivery of plants necessary to complete a gardening job hadn’t arrived and therefore Tuesday’s work was rescheduled. This wasn’t entirely negative news as a bad day’s fishing is better than a good day’s work. I opted to fish the morning on my perch river, leaving the rest of the day for spending time with the wife, toddler, and baby.

Stepping out of the house early in the morning to load the car the breeze was icy cold. Peering up to the dark early morning sky showed clear conditions ahead. It wasn’t looking good especially as 2020 has been very slow, in fact, I hadn’t caught a fish from there since the start of the new decade. Even the lure anglers I spoke to on my last trip confirmed that the river had been fishing hard.

Upon Arrival

I got to the area around seven but there were no parking spaces near the river. Well, only single yellow parking was available meaning that I would have to vacate the river by 9:45 to get the car moved by 10 – the start of restrictions. By the time I got rigged up there was a steady trickle of commuters heading to the train station which is located over a bridge that spans this small river. I peered over the bridge to assess water clarity and was disappointed to see that it was particularly coloured. In fact, clarity was less than a foot and based on my several previous fruitless sessions it wasn’t filling me with confidence at all.

Perch and pike fly setup

The Fishing

Making matters worse was the low single-digit temperature which was beginning to sink into my fingers, sapping my motivation slowly. I decided to limited fishing to handful of very small areas where I had caught previously. I started fishing a small area where I landed a couple of decent perch in late 2019. While walking up to the next spot (a widening of the river – which itself is more like a canal in many respects) I saw small fish causing occasional dimples on the surface. Although the surface disturbances didn’t indicate bait fish trying to evade predators I made a beeline for this area as where there’s small stuff there’s a possibility of a predator close by. This area has a boat ramp on the other side leading to a boat repair yard. Fan casting the area and imparting a very slow jerky figure of eight retrieve at first yielded a tree branch. I moved ten feet, cast out and waited ten seconds for the fly to sink and began the figure of eight and shortly after felt a sharp tightening of the line.

The boatyard, london canal, perch and pike fishing

At last

The split second of stillness where I momentarily thought it may have been another snag was subsequently broken as an unseen predator sped away, sending fly line shooting between the blank and my forefinger. Having been through a dry period since the New Year I was praying that it wouldn’t come off. My anxiety wasn’t helped when I fumbled to get my net ready! I knew by its first run it wasn’t the specimen perch I desired but a jack pike which was confirmed when I slipped the net under healthy specimen of around five pounds. It had a number of leeches on its back which suggests that the fish population has been temporarily hibernating during the floods and cold weather. Having been considering whether to bother continuing to fish the river, at least for the next few weeks, this pike was the much-needed sign I needed to tell me that my efforts since the beginning of the decade were not in vain!

Releasing a pike on a london canal
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