Tackle, Tactics and Experience

Fishy Tales

The Truth, As I Remember It

Fishing must be in my blood, I don't claim great natural expertise, it is just the one thing I have always enjoyed. I remember being taken fishing by my older brother when I was five years old, my father was a keen angler and he took me and my younger brother sometimes, and I started unaccompanied fishing when I was about thirteen years old on the local river Severn. Since that time I have fished with many techniques for all our native fish, with varying degrees of success.

I began fishing with lures in 1989, at first as just another method to try, but slowly it has taken over, now I am a lures-only angler. Back then it was difficult to get any good lure-fishing information and harder still to find good lures. How things have changed!

I sometimes wonder just what it is about lure fishing that has got under my skin. I think for me it is principally two things, the pleasure of using tackle, always concentrating and trying new lures, retrieves or swims as the day evaporates, and the excitement of the take with the rod bending on the strike - fish on! Then there are the amazing things you see: fish - monsters or tiddlers following lures, a swirl as a pike turns away, the heartstopping last-second takes on topwaters, and the strange things pike do.

Here follow a few odd tales, not of monster fish but of amusing or surprising incidents that I have experienced in my lure fishing.

I don't believe it!

This happened not long after I began lure fishing and before I learnt good tackle maintenance habits. One summer evening fishing a weedy, shallow bay on the Severn I was into a fish using a Lazy Ike jointed plug, when all went slack. I wound in to find the screw-in eye had opened up and the rear treble was missing. Blast, it felt like a good fish.

Two evenings later I am in the same swim and felt a jagging take using a spinnerbait, but no fish hooked, I retrieved to recast and noticed something hanging from the lure. Incredibly, there was a treble hook, hooked properly through the eye, on the hook of the spinnerbait. I checked, and it matched the front hook on the Lazy Ike!

I swear this is true, but I wouldn't believe it if somebody told it to me.

Jammy B#!%&#!?!

December 1997, boat fishing with John Shield on the Severn at Tewkesbury. I had worked the night before so had joined John at lunchtime. He had blanked with livebaits all morning, as had several other anglers around the lock island. We motored up to the weir and I began casting with my new David Lumb Raider rod, my pride and joy. John was all for packing in because the river was up and coloured, the weather was cold, windy and damp, and it was all a waste of time.

Still, I had driven twenty odd miles, so we could stick it out for a bit. John is a part-time lure angler, much preferring to use live or dead baits, but he wanted to try the new rod. Okay I say, he casts, cranks the plug down, the rod bends fiercely and I think the clumsy plonker has hooked bottom. Not so, and I net a seventeen pounder for him. Words failed me.

I did restore some pride later with a fifteen from the lock cutting, but it still smarts...

Mad Steve's Monster

Steve Le Maitre is a fan of big lures, by which I mean upwards of ten inches long. He asked me if I could make for him a "Grandma"-shaped plug but in a larger size. I duly obliged and luckily it ran true straight away.

It was just under fourteen inches long and a bit of a handful to cast and retrieve, but he tried it intermittently through what turned out to be a hard day on one of his local gravel pits. I was fishing some distance away when I heard him yell, he had a fish on the plug. I dropped my rod, picked up the landing net and ran to assist him in landing the monster.

I reached him to see him sheepishly hand-landing a pike that turned out to be 25" long. When I stopped laughing we could see what had happened. Teethmarks clearly showed that the pike had grabbed the plug between the front trebles, but Steve's strike had pulled it out of its mouth, it had whipped round and the tail treble had foul-hooked the pike's back, creating the sensation of weight that had got Steve so excited. Ho hum...

A Funny Trout

I sometimes used to do a bit of spinning for trout on the river Teme in the coarse closed season. I caught a few wild browns, as well as "accidental" pike and chub.

Bored with spinners one May evening I tried a feathered jig, an American crappie lure. It was not that easy to use, getting caught up between stones on the bottom as I tried to work it throught the rapids, but it did look good in the water, so I persevered. I was considering the different range of jig weights that I would need to be able to fish every swim properly, then I realised that what I had thought was a snag was pulling back!

The light telescopic rod hooped round and something heavy and determined headed off downstream, with we wishing I had used line a little stronger than the 4lb b.s. that was perfectly adequate for trout. For a few seconds I thought it might be a salmon, but it did not go fast enough; perhaps a foulhooked pike, but surely not from those rapids; then I realised, there was only one fish it could be, I'd caught enough of them in the past to recognise the fight.

I waded downstream in pursuit of my prize, I really wanted to land it. The soft rod was struggling and I wondered how much pressure it would take, and would the line hold?

I eventually got downstream of the fish and felt I had a chance if I could pull it onto the shallows. Now I had it beaten and I saw it was not as big as I had thought, and the 4lb barbel went safely into the net.

Don't Ask Me, Mate!

I remember catching a ten pound pike from the Avon at Pershore, a match angler was watching me, and he was, surprisingly, not a pike-hater. He was quite impressed (so was I, it was my first Avon double).

He was, however, completely gobsmacked when he saw the spinnerbait that had fooled the pike. "What on earth did it think it was eating?" he asked.

What indeed, I thought.

A Load of Bull

The Severn at Arley used to offer interesting lure fishing for pike, chub and perch. In the summer it is fast flowing, clear and weedy, every swim looks great. The banks are steep and often overgrown with the usual tangle of brambles, thorns and nettles, this makes for tiring fishing if you wander too far. One sunny day in August I had begun at dawn and covered a couple of miles of bank, and by lunchtime I was quite tired and heading back to the carpark. As I approached a stile I saw the herd of bullocks and young heifers on the other side but, being raised in the country, cattle don't bother me. I stepped onto the stile and the mental alarm bells started to ring. I stopped and took a good look at the large Charolais bull in the middle of the herd that was watching me with interest.

I got back off the stile. The herd moved towards me, young cattle are often curious, and the bull followed. I wanted to get back to the car but I was not too keen on getting into that field. The herd moved yet closer, until the first bullock was licking at the stile, the bull looked at me, and I looked at the bull. He was quite impressive at close range, a ton and a half of muscle. I know Charolais bulls are supposed to be docile but I did not really want to find out that he was an exception to the rule.

A minute or two went by with me trying to think of a way around the impasse, the young cattle were getting fretful as the flies gathered, and the bull was just watching me. The flies were becoming a pest. Irritated, I swiped at one on my face, and then laughed out loud as the sudden movement of my hand sent the herd, bull and all, stampeding off across the field in terror.

I crossed the meadow in complete safety.