Fly Fishing in Devon, Coarse and Sea - Musings of a wannabe fisherman

Welcome to my Fly fishing, Sea Fishing and Coarse Fishing blog. I am based in Exeter, Devon primarily interested in fly fishing but also happy to fish for anything that swims. I hope you enjoy my blog and find it useful, I am always keen to share and hear about other angling experiences so don't be shy, leave a comment.

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Exeter canal slowly starting to respond to lures

Monday, March 14, 2011
Posted by james

The weather in the late part of 2010 and early 2011 has really had an impact on the “normal” expected fish behavior. If you are fishing in the sea, estuary, the rivers or still waters everything appears to be either early or late. Fishing the Exeter canal on lures over the past couple of months has been tough. Myself and T-Mark have been putting in the hours but have either blanked or at best caught a couple of fish between us. Dead baiting has been producing the fish but again from speaking to those using this method it has also been a bit hit and miss.

Yesterday was a one of the first days of this year where I have been able to wear a t-shirt while fishing. The water temperature appears to be increasing and the plant life starting to emerge. When we managed to get a response the takes were a lot more aggressive. One pike engulfed a lure that you could only see the very tip of it’s tail, a 19cm savage gear 4 play! I was primarily on the large. Having a number of follows and a fish within 15 minutes things looked good.

I was primarily fishing the large 9″ Slug-Go’s. I have fallen back in love with these simple but deadly lures. I first used them in the states fishing for large mouth bass with explosive results. Once you learn how to rig and work these lures properly they are incredible fish catchers. I particularly like the way you can fish these totally weedless, chucking them into the rough stuff where you even wouldn’t dare cast a plug. They are also exceptional value, giving you more confidence to go balls deep and not be particularly bothered if you lose a couple. Unfortunately the 9″ and 12″ are so big you need to put a stinger on the main hook (I embarrassingly said I couldn’t be arsed but Mark made me put one on, yup I hooked a Pike with the stinger). If you don’t the hook up rate is terrible, fortunately Lunker City have wised up to this and started to churn them out with tandem hook rigs. My ONLY problem with the Slug-Go is that I feel people just don’t know how to fish them properly and therefore are not as popular as they should be. I guess this can also be said about the majority of soft plastics, people are slowly coming round which hopefully means we will have access to greater range of colours, styles and sizes.

After chucking a large amount of hard and soft lures we had plenty of follows and a couple of fish but nothing huge. It just didn’t feel right but hopefully a couple more weeks of mild weather should liven things up. On the walk back to the car we stopped off to chat to a couple of pike anglers dead baiting. As we stood there discussing the canals current form one of the floats started to bob and move very slowly across the surface of the water. A pike of 15lb was on the bank, unhooked and weighed before being gently released. This fish confirmed our suspicions, it was a very long fish but incredibly lean. This fished had more than likely spawned already, at that length it should be nudging towards the 18-20lb mark. Not good news for those looking to land a big winter fish but great for us lure anglers, they should start to be on the feed and ready smash, lunge and destroy anything you put into their lair.

It was a good day, and great to meet some great anglers on our circuit, all willing to share tips and locations. I also finally landed a fish on my new Esox Lucius lure rod. A great bit of kit and excellent for chucking the huge lures but still extremely sensitive (considering it can chuck 100 grms). I am looking forward to the next couple of months and I have my fingers, arms, legs, eyes and everything else crossed for a couple of nice upper doubles on the lures.

River 20

River 20

River 20

Nearly every angler goes through that stage of becoming a little too concerned (obsessed) about catching the “big one”. I admit to doing this on numerous occasions and to varying degrees but I believe it is an exercise that really helps you to progress as an angler. When it comes to Pike (or any predator) gearing up for the possibility of that 20lb’er automatically kicks in and finesse goes out the window. Have you ever thought about targeting pike under 5lb on lures?

It sounds dumb to some but I bet you learn more in one session than you would in several fishing your “normal” way. Why? Fishing this way forces you to achieve the following, Finesses, Focus and Clarity. I am not going to suggest you start trying to levitate and burn incense but lets break it down.

Finesse – extreme delicacy or subtlety in action.
You want to catch small then you are going to have to think small. You need to change your game plan. In this miniature world there is no place for huge lures, size 6 trebles, broom sticks and lures that create 10inch bow waves. Going as fine as one dares (and water rules allow) is the order of the day but with fish safety in mind. A very light lure rod that still has plenty of beans in the butt should I hook into something more substantial was my weapon of choice. It is extremely difficult to muster any control or precision over those smaller lures if using a heavy rod. Soft plastics are perfect for this style of light fishing, they come in a huge array of sizes / colours along with the bonus of being able to fish them weedless. I have the gear but now what?

Focus – to concentrate: to focus one’s thoughts.

That 3inch soft plastic lure is a lot harder to bring to life than its 9inch inch big brother. Every twitch of the rod, twist of the reel needs to be a lot more calculated, timed, and skillfully executed. Fishing at such a scale forces me to focus on forming that direct link between me and the lure. As I eventually start to breath life into that flaccid lump of plastic everything starts to fall into place, a piece of evolutionary perfection lunges out of nowhere and smashes that lure.

Clarity – clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity.

That moment of clarity comes after Finesse and Focus has been achieved. The fish start come thick and fast and as larger fish are hooked the feeling of being totally out of control hits home reminds me why I started fishing in the first place. Being force to adopt this super delicate and focused approach gives clarity by making me realise this is how I should be fishing all the time.

Get out there and give tiddler bashing a go. I can guarantee you will learn a great deal about your fishing and pike. Apply this approach to all your fishing and your catch rate will improve no end (not guaranteed :p).

Even better when you get an unexpected surprise like this:


This post is in no way supposed to sound as phallic as it does

River 20



River 20

River 14


Large Mouth