Monday, 13 May 2013

Bycatch beauties!

A few days ago I had the afternoon free so I decided to see how the Forth & Clyde Canal was fairing. My plan was to go hunting for perch as the few I recently had down south really whetted my appetite for stripey fish!

After driving through ridiculous May Day traffic jams I eventually reached my chosen area by the Falkirk Wheel. The only thing that had kept me sane throughout the journey was the prospect of meeting Tony, Scott's double captured, scar flanked, lunker perch! So with him in mind it was out with the LRF tackle, 7'10" Graphiteleader Corto EX rod, Shimano Technium 3000SFC reel and 8lb Sunline Super PE braid. I tied up a dropshot rig comprising of a four foot length of 8lb fluorocarbon leader, two foot down I attached a #8 Decoy Offset Worm hook via a palomar knot and clipped on a 5g dropshot weight. Gulp! Sandworm in natural colour was my lure of choice and I attached a 1.5" tail section.

With the rig all set it was time to hunt some perch and I weaved through the crowds of tourists to get to the canal. I began to search about with the lure along the pontoons and margins, casting then retrieving very slowly with little hops and shakes which makes the gulp writhe like an earthworm. I fished my way towards Tony's lair, taking the constant questions from the tourists "Are there fish in there Mister?", "Had anything yet?" and the classic statement "You're wasting your time fishing there pal!". Mumbling pleasantries I started to work the area where Tony the Perch was last caught all the time anticipating a bite. I had worked my way down Tony's pontoon and was nearing the end of it when  the rod tip nodded with a soft but firm bite. I set the hook with a flick of the wrist and the rod bucked wildly as a big fish shook its head, before being wrenched over into its fighting curve as the fish took off. Holy canoli, Tony's gone wrong!

It quickly dawned on me that it was not Tony but a large pike attached by a flimsy 8lb Fluorocarbon leader and #8 hook, I had to play this carefully. The trick to playing big fish on LRF tackle is to let the rod and reel do the work, with the drag set lightly I kept a good bend in the rod and allowed it to gently sap the fishes strength. I find that the fish doesn't panic as much as when you are trying to winch it in, makes sense really, the more you pull, the more the fish will pull back!

The fish lumbered about in front of me staying deep and it made some small runs traveling about 20ft before turning and gently coming back towards me. By now I had a bit of a crowd behind me as the tourists flocked to see what was going on! As the fish broke the surface I readied the net and put a bit more pressure on to bring it in to the margins. This added pressure caused the fish to leap twice like a launching Polaris missile  the almighty splashes as the pike belly flopped back into the canal drew yet more people to watch. Two young lads who had been fishing with there dad/tackle caddie were really excited and clustered around me absolutely mesmerised by the fight.

As I continued to play the fish I gave a running commentary on what I was doing and why, eventually I led the pike gently to the net and quickly slipped it under the fish. The pike went a bit mad at this point causing the lads to shout and jump back but the fish was in the net and the job was done! The fight didn't take too long and the fish had been brought in gently without a panic, that's why it went a bit daft once in the net. I realise I was lucky to land the fish without a wire trace and lucky that it was hooked in the scissors, although what a big pike was doing hunting tiny earthworms is beyond me! I showed the boys how to handle and unhook the fish and got one of them to take a few snaps and a good job he did too! At just under 9lbs it is my biggest fish so far this year and the biggest fish landed on my Graphiteleader Corto EX to date.

At just under 9lbs this pike put up a great fight on LRF gear.

There must have been about ten folk clustered round me and as I was releasing the fish a smartly dressed woman pushed her way to the front. "Excuse me, is that a cod?" she enquired. "No, this is a pike." said I grinning like a maniac. This brought a strange reaction from the woman and her cheeks bulged as she forced air through her pursed lips with a sort of wet farting sound. "Pffftttttttttttttttttttt!" she exclaimed shaking her head in disapproval before stalking off seemingly disgusted with my answer.

Not sure who has got the biggest grin here!

With the fish released the crowd dispersed and I could get on with the hunt for Tony, although after that wonderful pike I wasn't bothered if I didn't get another fish! I continued to work my way down the canal and soon I was getting little nibbles as I retrieved. These soon resulted in a couple of little perch, my first from the canal this year.

This was what I was expecting to catch, Perch and a pretty one too.
The second perch had some nice golden hues to it, I got rid of the leech on release.

I also had another jack which again put up a nice scrap before being landed, this was witnessed by a surprised boat owner who kindly took a picture for me. I slipped it back again wondering why they were so into tiny worms today?!

This Jack was quick to seize a 1.5" section of Gulp! sandworm.

A short while later I managed to land a 6" micro pike, I find them ridiculously cute, perfect miniature predators. At least I could understand the mini pike wanting the worm!

I love the tiny pike too, very cute!

Then time was up and it was time to go home, I really couldn't have asked for a better session I was only there for two and a half hours and I enjoyed every minute! As I drove home high on fish and heavy metal, I had a chuckle about the womans reaction. "Pffftttttttttttttttttttt!" indeed madam "Pffftttttttttttttttttttt!" indeed.

Tight lines, Schogsky.


  1. Hey Jake,

    Good Pike from that stretch of canal!

    From my experience pike love worms and leeches! If you think of the drop shot presentation of a Gulp Sandworm it looks like a Leech swimming( at least I think).

    There's a wee hill loch I fish for perch and pike that's full of leeches and we hammer fish on black grubs (pretty Leech like?). They even work static!

    1. Hi Callum,
      Good call with the Leech theory, there is alot in that section of the canal and I know Catfish love em!

      The hill loch sounds fun! You must introduce me to it one day!
      I think I feel a Gulp! Leech purchase coming on!