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.