Water clarity vs success on canals

hydroform

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Hi all,

I'm an experienced fly angler and have dabbled with lures on-and-off. I've just started to give dropshot a go for perch on the local canal and expected it to be relatively straight forward to pick up small perch.

However, the perch have not read the script and I've had two outings with the dropshot that were fishless! Which I probably deserve for underestimating the quarry.

I've fished the trent-mersey canal and the caldon and had two very different sets of conditions. On the trent-Mersey the water was crystal clear and on the Caldon section that I fished it was chocolate.

Let's say you have a standard, overcast day; what level of water clarity would you say was ideal?

From river fly fishing my water craft is reasonable i.e. I stayed back from the edges I fished, tried to present the lures delicately, but not a sniff.

Might try to search the water with micro jigs next time, casting with bump it along the bottom and slow retrieves until I connect with a perch, then try the dropshot.

Any advice to help get into a few fish would be greatly appreciated,

Gary.


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hydroform

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Also. I am fishing a sensitive setup; light braid to fluorocarbon trace on a 5-15 g agility LRF, so no issues with registering takes.

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laguna

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If the water is crystal clear and little to no cover, I would try casting it out and bumping it along... sort of sink and draw method. Drop shotting can be very effective along the top shelf and margins but I find it only works well whenever there's a bit of colour in the water imo.
 

john step

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Perch are notorious for gulping down a bait and deep hooking. However I am sure others have notice how delicate and fickle perch can be in cold water/winter conditions.
It may be nothing to do with your water clarity or your presentation.
You could try to use a portion of real worm on a jig head for sink and draw. Can work wonders.
 

hydroform

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Thanks both, great info. Much appreciated.

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ian g

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I'd agree with John , if you try a bit of worm you'll find the fish if they're about. I know from my attempts on the Llangolllen canal they can be quite tightly shoal so using worm will give you confidence to find the fish, the canal near me is never crystal clear but you can often see the bottom in the near shelf so a jig would be my choice.
 
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theartist

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I know little about drop shotting but fish the canals a lot for perch on maggot and I often see drop shotters going along, sometimes many in a day. That could be the main problem is it's now so popular many of the big perch are pretty clued up plus these guys cover a lot of ground. I've seen them working swims I know have many big fish without a sniff on many occasions, It looks like a tactic where you have to put the hard yards in
 

sylvanillo

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Gary,.I do not know the canals that you mention. But, I fished the.local one and other bigger canals in the north of France. Hard lures,.soft lures, wobbling deadbait, streamers. Zander, perch, pike. On one of those canals, the density of zander or.perch was very small, it didn't prevent me from catching big perch and a lot of zander.
What I noticed was:
- Keep moving to find them. Build your own map of hotspots, the ones that match your targeted species, your fishing method, your style. Doing 3 miles of towpath in a 3 hour session was common while I was starting with a canal. Then, you can allow yourself moving from hotspot to hotspot.
-.Explore in detail larger areas, bridges even small ones, proximity with affluents, underwater trees, 'holes' between wood/weed near the bank
- On the oxford canal up in the north, the zander were positioned extremely precisely: away from the boats, active only without boat traffic
- Very good conditions that I noted over and.over again: clear water; west dominating wind; regular and mild windspeed; white clouds with sunny intervals
-.Adverse conditions: very cloudy and no wind at all; hot temperature, boat traffic; milky eater.
Very clear water may be a must for pike, relatively clear and blueish water excellent for perch and zander.
In my experience, the colour of your water is much more important than the brightness (even for zander)
Of note:
- I had quite good.specimens of perch in.sunny conditions as long as I would carefully try snags - perch loves the sun when it's dark and.loves shadows when it's sunny
- I had my longest series of zander (5 to 10 fish in a row) in 50 cm of water in very cold conditions, by fishing early morning before boat traffic start
- Best results for pike and perch were in 2011 when the canals became crystal transparent due to the lack of rain

Here are 2 attractants that I really heavily used on soft lures:
1) Megastrike attractant gel
2) If you don't have a family..., fish oil such as sunflower oil from tinned sardine or mackerel

I'm sure you will catch and enjoy.
 

spoonminnow

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Sylvanillp suggestion is #1 in importance. Fish not present = fish not caught.

There are thousands of soft plastic lures fish bite regardless of species and fish size. Lure design and size are extremely important !

Design dictates lure action and how a lure is worked such as slow or medium in speed.

Lures cast horizontal to the bottom cover the most water and in my opinion - the slower the better unless fish activity level is high.

Finesse lures include those with tails that quiver or flap with the least angler input at the slowest retrieves. This is where I'd start:

jig suggestions:
1/32, 1/16, 1/24 oz unpainted ball head jigs with different size hooks - #6 and#4. Ebay the best source. Jig weight and hook size determine lure size used and lure action/speed.

one of the best UK sites for soft plastic lures other than Ebay:
Soft Plastic Lures

Grubs with straight tails such as the Big Bite Bait grub shown below sometimes do better than curl tails or tubes:
big bite.jpg

In fact, I've cut the curl tails off grubs, rigged them on 1/32 oz jig heads and caught fish.
fat ass.jpgy6pveo1.jpg

mini plastic worms do very well on light jigs such as this Crazy Fish worm:
products-1.2-Tipsy-89-91.jpg
The Crazy Fish Tipsy is a great finesse worm, designed to provide maximum movement from the slim tail.
Thin tail grubs catch fish like crazy - especially ones that are inactive.


If larger fish are caught or when casting an area, larger worms on light jigs catch small and large fish. Below is a Gary Yamamoto Kut Tail Worm:


Thin diameter braid and a light action rod complements lure action and the feel of the light strike. Setting the hook is just a matter of allowing the fish to panic and set it itself as the rod is raised to take in slack after which the reel handle does so in conjunction.

Not sure of you experience level with any of the above and apologize if too much info is presented. But for anyone with any level experience, any suggestions may be helpful.

Good luck and catch a bunch !! Just remember cast all over the place using a slow slightly erratic retrieve at different depths.
 
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spoonminnow

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One thing I forgot to add:
Water clarity in most cases is not important due to the presence of a fish's lateral lines. It is the eyes of fish that can't see a lure in the dark and directs its attention to lures or food locations until visual contact is made in close proximity
Once fish target a lure, the rest is a lure's ability to provoke fish to strike.

The spinning blade and flapping curl tail combination, used with a medium retrieve speed produce the most vibration and catch fish that ambush lure.
 

hydroform

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Sylvanillp suggestion is #1 in importance. Fish not present = fish not caught.

There are thousands of soft plastic lures fish bite regardless of species and fish size. Lure design and size are extremely important !

Design dictates lure action and how a lure is worked such as slow or medium in speed.

Lures cast horizontal to the bottom cover the most water and in my opinion - the slower the better unless fish activity level is high.

Finesse lures include those with tails that quiver or flap with the least angler input at the slowest retrieves. This is where I'd start:

jig suggestions:
1/32, 1/16, 1/24 oz unpainted ball head jigs with different size hooks - #6 and#4. Ebay the best source. Jig weight and hook size determine lure size used and lure action/speed.

one of the best UK sites for soft plastic lures other than Ebay:
Soft Plastic Lures

Grubs with straight tails such as the Big Bite Bait grub shown below sometimes do better than curl tails or tubes:
View attachment 8124

In fact, I've cut the curl tails off grubs, rigged them on 1/32 oz jig heads and caught fish.
View attachment 8125View attachment 8126

mini plastic worms do very well on light jigs such as this Crazy Fish worm:
View attachment 8127


Thin tail grubs catch fish like crazy - especially ones that are inactive.


If larger fish are caught or when casting an area, larger worms on light jigs catch small and large fish. Below is a Gary Yamamoto Kut Tail Worm:


Thin diameter braid and a light action rod complements lure action and the feel of the light strike. Setting the hook is just a matter of allowing the fish to panic and set it itself as the rod is raised to take in slack after which the reel handle does so in conjunction.

Not sure of you experience level with any of the above and apologize if too much info is presented. But for anyone with any level experience, any suggestions may be helpful.

Good luck and catch a bunch !! Just remember cast all over the place using a slow slightly erratic retrieve at different depths.
Thank you so much for your very informative reply. Much appreciated.

Part of what I've gotten from this and many pieces of advice is fish the lures more slowly!



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Krang

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I have always found it hard going in very clear water until dusk. The river I fish most often has some canalised sections and these are rarely clear when other parts of the river are so the difference between the two conditions on the same day has been quite clear to me. Also the clear water means I can sometimes see that the fish are ignoring my lures. On bright sunny days in particular I focus on sections with colour or at least shaded areas with over hanging trees.
 

spoonminnow

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Krang, you mentioned some very relevant observations - something all anglers should be aware of any time they fish. I have a pond that holds fish and noticed that when fish are nearer the surface under a bright sky after a cold front, they're not apt to bite. The clearer the water, the less action on sunny days and just the opposite on cloudy days when fish are at mid depth or near the bottom.

When the bite is tough, I've found that downsizing a lure gets a few more strikes. Yesterday I used the 1.5" grub on the right rigged on a 1/32 oz ball head jig.

An action tail like the smaller curl tail shown can flutter at the slowest retrieve speed - another thing needed especially in cold water in winter or early spring. (Note the clear plastic I used to make the grub. It's worked just a well as ones with color - in fact better. At times I glue a very small bit of fine glitter to the grub's surface for a bit of flash .)

This worked even better:


The float splashes down after which the hair jig (one I tied using fur from my dog), drops down a leader length of around 3' from the float. Then I slowly drag the float a foot at a time and pause, then repeat. It seems fish couldn't stand the tyke swimming without a care in their territory. Maybe the float's surface ripple adds something to the setup's success, calling nearby fish in closer to see what's going on. Note: Jig weight is 1/32 oz with a #6 hook.

You might think the large float scares fish, but for some reason it doesn't and within a few feet of travel the lure gets tapped making the float twitch slightly but then becoming more pronounced. Even smaller fish take it down as they try to run off with the lure.

Yesterday after only getting one fish on the curl tail grub in the morning, I switched to the float & fly combo in the pm and caught 4 crappie, one green sunfish and a bluegill within 1/2 hour.
Note: I can see the bottom in 4.5' of water that is less than 50 degrees due to cold night time temperatures.
 
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WW-Piscator

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I would agree that the ultimate problem in clear water is that the fish(already pretty finicky) have learnt and recognised certain lures.

I’ll give an example, I live in an urban area where there is one large stillwater that can be lure fishes on in the vicinity. Naturally the local angling community gravitate towards here and it receives a decent amount of angling pressure along with the influences of dog walkers and the general public... The quality of lure fishing is fairly decent, a good day producing 2-3 odd five or six lb pike, the overall stock of fish seeming relatively below standard... However electro fishing surveys seem to state otherwise, loads of decent perch and pike being stunned during the process. One day(first day of the open season last year) I got up early and headed down to the venue with a friend , the water had become less clear, I began and... Long story short by the end of a two hour session 8 of said good pike (largest being 14 odd lbs) has been procured with the friend having had another 7 and one lost. The bites were constant...

The only sound explanation is that the regular retrieval of fox shads and savage gear replicas had given the fish a crash course in what not to eat and only after a period of rest coupled with ideal conditions had they been coaxed to bite. It seems now that using unfamiliar lures on the water (mostly U.S bass sticks and worms) also leads to greater success, affirming the point. A similar thing goes on at the local stretch of Thames, lots of perchy fun in early spring, summer and autumn with silence in winter. Worm seems the way to go.
Hopefully later on in the year fortune shall change for you!
 
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