Rapala Countdown lure hooks pike trainee.

January 17, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Constant heavy showers put an end to any thoughts of a bait fishing trip this week, my desire to stay warm and dry, overcoming the need to catch fish. The local weather forecast had promised an afternoon of sunshine with occasional heavy showers and this was enough for me to chance a couple of hours lure fishing on the Basingstoke Canal.

Jack pike and perch are a nuisance on this stretch, when fishing for roach, often flashing through the shoal, as a ball of groundbait goes in, or worse, taking a roach on the retrieve, which on light pole tackle, usually results in at least a broken hook link. Temperatures being mild, it seemed the ideal time to get my own back on these carnivores, while giving the opportunity to try out a new sinking lure, the Rapala Countdown.

With a range of body sizes and patterns available, I chose the 2 inch long, roach lookalike and set about searching out the dead reed beds and features along the opposite bank. The Countdown has a sink rate of one foot per second and can be cast into the shallowest of water without snagging, if retrieved immediately. The action of the lure  gives a side to side motion, causing the flanks to flash as it swims, while rapid reeling, or sharp forced movement of the rod top do not induce it to dive into the canal bed. This canal has only a couple of feet beneath the far bank trees, which drops off to 3 feet along the boat road and I concentrated on this far shelf, making 25 yard diagonal cast across the canal as I made my way along the bank.

The weather forecasters seemed to have got their sums wrong and I spent much of my time sheltering under ivy ladened trees, as I worked my way towards a likely looking hotspot, where permanently moored narrow boats jut out on a bend in the canal. Like the rest of the afternoon, this area was drawing a blank, wherever I cast, whatever depth, or speed, not a touch. Finally, probably the tenth time I’d cast beneath a bush, the rod top rattled and pulled round. The strike brought another rattle from the rod top, but little else. Not a perch, but the smallest pike I’ve ever caught. Totally outgunned by the tackle, I swung it in to hand.

 As can be seen from the photo, this little 10 inch jack really wanted this Rapala, two of the rear trebles hooked neatly in the gill rakers. I always remove the barbs from my trebles to avoid damage and following a quick twist of the forceps he was swimming free again, none the worse for his experience. Minutes later the heavens opened again and I beat a retreat back to the van.