This week’s Angler’s Mail HQ blog is by editor Tim Knight.
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FATHOMING OUT FISH FEEDING TIMES
IF, like the guys at Angler’s Mail HQ your fishing time is limited, it stands to reason that you should want to maximize it. And, as I have been reminding myself lately, fishing a few minutes earlier or later can be crucial.
Perch are the species I’ve been aiming for. Sessions have been brief, including one when it took me twice as long to drive home in first gear, due to snowfall, as I actually spent on the bank.
It’s been interesting to look back over these trips and consider the actual timing.
Now, this no big revelation, but I’ve found the last couple hours of daylight consistently the best, all year round. But then again, only rarely since first discovering women and beer, have I got up to fish at the crack of dawn.
I know one hardcore AM contributor who has fished in the wee hours all winter – getting to venues at 2am for instance when it’s bitterly cold – with some excellent results. But his super human calling to be at the waterside when conditions are possibly right is rare. And he does not have to be fully focussed each working day!
I’m always amazed at how many anglers pack up after a hard morning and half an afternoon, when the best fishing is obviously ahead of them. A warm fire or sport on the telly, or an early start down the pub, is admittedly tempting, but if you’ve made the effort to put a proper stint in why forsake the acknowledged prime time?
But, and this is my main point, that “prime time” is not as clear cut as it seems…
One session, before my fingers had a chance to freeze, I had a 2 lb perch in the net – first drop in. Luck maybe, but was I walking in on a feeding time when I would have expected it to happen a couple of hours later after building a swim? I’ll never know of course.
But get this latest example. I fished hard for three hours to dusk. Just one decent fish for my efforts, and a few ultra finicky bites had materialized. And even that magic half hour, just before the float becomes impossible to see, was no better.
I packed away my float rod, plonking a running lead on the same spot, barely two rod lengths out beside some stick-ups (being that perch are stripy it strikes me as obvious to try by reeds – perfect camou isn’t it?)
No sooner was my back turned than the alarm went and a fish had hooked itself, engulfing the prawn properly.
Re-energised to have that extra one last cast, I was soon in again. And again, and again. A couple of carp also muscled in. It was dark but the fish were now munching, before the action slowed and the lure of dinner was proving just too much.
The perch were not monsters but all around the 2 lb mark – fish I’ll never tire of catching.
Had I have packed up when I could no longer see the float I would have thought it was a rock hard day, with the fish too cold and too stubborn to have a feed.
Light levels are strange. I am sure the low light intensity prompted them to hunt strongly for food, but I’d not have believed proper darkness would trigger perch over half-light.
I’ve heard it suggested by one of two specialists that after dark can be better than what we associate as the magic hour, but to experience it for yourself… that is the confirmation needed to believe it.
Fish see and sense the world differently to us. Our dim light can be too bright for them to react as we think they might. And what we think are the feeding times, can never be taken for granted.
ON A RELATED topic, have you ever had one of those days when fish kept slipping the hook?
I had one such ‘mare recently, landing three nice perch but losing seven. Yes, I changed hook but it made no difference. Bites could not develop beyond twitches even when I showed enough patience.
Advice given to me by pals included the following: try a much smaller hook; use a much bigger hook; sharpen even a new hook; hair-rig the bait; just lightly nick the bait; really wait for it to get taken; avoid any shot under the float…and probably a few more suggestions!
John Bailey has some interesting thoughts on this topic and will explain them soon in Angler’s Mail magazine.
Anglers “braving it” – this nation has gone soft, so well done everyone who has fished in the past few weeks of extended winter. Staying inside angling the internet for six months a year seems to be the rule for too many people these days. Just wear an extra layer or two and do it for real!
Cast offs – I’m not talking secondhand stuff, but the way a big carp match was decided, as reported in our latest magazine. Drawing for money lucky dip style, for so long a way in match fishing, is far inferior to a proper tie-break test of skill, as carpers use. Anyone for flipping a maggot into a pint pot…?
Jaw grippers – there’s no need to use those metal grabbers. What’s wrong with wearing a protective glove? We are talking pike, not crocodiles. The news story in this week’s Angler’s Mail magazine gets to the sharp end of this topic.
Anti carp bores – there are a very small handful of anglers on Facebook who seem to have take it upon themselves to slam anything that dares mention or show carp. Live and let live guys… in the family of fishing!
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Related to my main theme in this blog, carp fishing expert Rob Hughes talks to Steve Collett for Angler’s Mail TV about where the fish are and what’s happening out there now. Interesting stuff.
Watch more videos from the Northern Angling Show show by clicking HERE.
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