Saturday, 23 April 2016

canal tenkara / 2 - the worm has turned

Encouraged by kind words of interest from friends on social media, I am keen to take 'the enterprising worm' out for a test to find out whether it performs as well as it looks in the swim tank.. 

I'm fishing at the Grand Union Canal which runs a few hundred yards from my home - ideal for a few quick visits to try out the new pattern. In fact the canal has become something of a fly laboratory for testing new ideas. Right now the water clarity is poor - less than a  foot, so I am hoping that the movement of the worm will pulse out enough vibrations for fish to find it. I would certainly have little confidence with dries and nymphs in today's conditions.

I've tied up both earthworm and bloodworm colours and the canal bed is snaggy so I'm taking a box-full. Because of the poor water clarity I've opted to use the bloodworm to stand out better. I have often read that red disappears the quickest under water, but on the other hand, fish have their own colour receptivity and red is known to be an effective attack trigger for many fish, particularly perch..

My chosen spot is the neck of a narrow channel where the canal opens out into a large marina.  I'm using my little 8ft zoom with a level 3.5 weight leader of about 7ft plus a 3ft  5x fluoro' tippet. The water is around 4ft deep and the whole shooting match gives me a reach of around 15ft, so it's fishing up-close and personal.  The tungsten bead means the 'fly' is heavy enough to be flicked out with an under arm jump cast, but is still light enough for conventional tenkara casting too.  
Day one - half an hour snatched before work

I let the the worm settle on the canal bed, swim tank testing tells me it stands vertically on its head with the buoyant tail pointing straight up. My idea is that by keeping the line sunk I can keep in direct contact with the fly and small movements of the rod tip should make the tail wiggle enticingly. I soon get some sharp plucks and am impressed by how much feedback the little rod transmits, especially if I keep my index finger on the blank above the handle. My hope is that while micro fish will mostly bite just on the tail, larger fish will suck in the whole fly. The Veniard worm body material is so soft I think this will help delay mouthing fish rejecting the fly and blowing it out again. Eventually a couple of tiny gudgeon come to hand but many tail nips go without a hook up. Time to go, but no matter as I will be back tomorrow with slightly shortened worm tails to improve the hook up rate.  

Day two - an hour in early evening
I fish the same spot as yesterday and immediately get sharp plucks on the line that quickly turn into two nice fat little perch of around 1/2 lb, one clearly just about to spawn. Not huge but great fun on the tenkara rod, although I am impressed by the steel the little rod has in the lower third of the blank. I feel confident that it will handle the 3 to 4lb perch I hope to be catching again in the autumn, when I think the enterprising worm will really score.

Day two - an hour in early evening
A few more sharp plucks from small fish which fail to connect, but then I see some bream rolling on the top just along the canal. I cast into the fading rings and the next take is more subtle as the worm is taken mid water on the drop. I lift solidly into a nice silver bream that fights with spirit but is quickly netted, The barbless hook has already fallen loose into the net, so after a quick photo' my fish is swiftly returned without any handling at all - catch and release at its best! Actually its my first ever silver bream on the fly and what a beautiful fish. In the blue light of the setting sun she looks like she is made from mercury.   

Day three - an hour at mid morning 
Today is more about helping my kids fish which is such great fun and trouble-free with tenkara. However, our chances are dashed when a tandem of cargo barges pass through, muddying the already soupy water beyond what is productively fishable. We do manage one pristine little perch though and hey no matter - these guys are earning their living - we are just fishing..  


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