The spring is a great month to get out and about on the water, so here are our top tips for making the most of the new season.
The number 1 rule in spring is to simply get out on thwe water as much as you can! There is a wonderful saying that even the worst fishing day is better than no fishing day at all! You should also keep a close eye on the weather report – days of unexpected warmth or sunshine are good opporunities to get out and go fishing.
Whilst out, keep looking for the sunnier spots. The cold water will warm up quickly once the sun brightens up in spring, so more fish will be attracted to the warmer shallows.
Use smaller, more brightly coloured lures during spring, when the water can be muddier or murky. This helps the fish to see them better, and the smaller lures will seem like less of an effort to chase around.
There are a range of different fish which are native to the UK waterways. Here is a guide to the different species you might find!
Carp: carp are found in the majority of UK canals and can grow to large sizes. They are easy to spot due to their dark brown and bronze colouration. They have a large, rounded body and strong fins. There are three major strains. The common carp are fully scaled, mirror carp are partially scaled and learther carp have practically no scales at all!
Roach: the roach makes up the largest numbers of fish within our canals. Roach are a shoaling fish, silvery grey in colour. They are often confused with Rudd. You can be sure by counting the lateral line scales (rudd have 40-55) and check the shape of the mouth – rudd have upturned mouths.
Pike: the pike is a spectacular predator! They have large, bony heads with upward looking eyes, a broad, flat snout and large mouth. They have a lot of sharp teeth! A torpedo shaped body allows for speedy movement!
You can find out more about fishing within our canal network over at the canal and river trust.
Green pond water is a common complaint, especially during the summer months. The reason pond water goes green is because of a growth of algae. Pond algae feeds on the nitrates produced when bacteria break down fish waste, and sunny conditions can make algae grow very quickly indeed.
The main ways to prevent the spread of algae is to remove the fish waste, by scooping out the sludgey layer at the bottom of the pond, and by using algaecides which are chemicals to kill off the algae. These chemicals are dangerous to use when you have pets and children however, so do be careful! You will need to read the instructions carefully, and check if your pond fish will need to be moved into a temporary home while their pond is being treated. Some chemicals could harm your fish.
One of the most fun and interesting developments in fly-fishing in recent years has been the rise of fishing with two-handed rods – widely known as Spey fishing.
Most fly-fishing, of course, is done with a rod designed to be casted with just one hand. And most of the time, that single-hand rod is used for “overhead” casting – flinging the line back behind the caster to flex the rod, then flinging it forward over the water to deliver the fly.
The trouble is, there isn’t always room for a back cast. And salmon and steelhead rivers tend to be big, requiring long casts to seek out the fish.
Spey casting makes it possible to throw a long line with very little room behind the caster, because there’s no back cast. Instead, the caster flips the line into position on the water in front of him, then swings the rod back and makes a simple forward cast. It’s not as easy as it sounds – there’s a learning curve – but once you get the hang, you can send 100 feet of line sailing smoothly out over the river.
It’s every angler’s goal: catching a fish so big you need to use a net to make sure it doesn’t get away.
But landing nets aren’t just for lunkers. A good case can be made that every fish should be netted – to ensure a successful catch, and for the well-being of the fish itself.
A caught fish struggles most violently just as it is being brought to hand. This is, after all, the moment when the fish realizes a very large, wader-clad creature is about to pluck it out of the water. Fighting for its life, or so it believes, the wriggling, flipping fish may well get off the hook, and there goes your photos or fillets.
Losing a fish is bad enough; abusing one is even worse. A hooked fish in the final moments of capture tends to thrash violently against mid-stream or shoreline rocks or the boat deck. If you’re planning to release your fish – and most fly-fishers do, most of the time – an out-of-control fish often experiences serious and unnecessary injury.
A landing net solves both problems. Scoop up the fish as you’re pulling it in, and the worst it can do is twist and turn harmlessly inside the soft fabric of the net bag. Once its initial panic subsides after a few moments, you can reach in (wet your hand first to avoid damaging the trout’s protective slime), left out the fish, take its picture, unhook it and send it on its way.
The scientific name for Perch is Perca fluviatilis. Perch have an expected maximum weight of around 7lb (that’s 3.2kg). The average weight is normally around 6-8oz which is 170-228g. They can grow up to 20in (50cm) in length and live for around 13 years.
The British Record perch was caught in 1985 weighing in at 5lb 9oz (2.523kg), somewhere in Kent!
The perch is a stripy predatory fish which, when still young will attack anything small enough to fit in it’s mouth. As perch grow older they become a lot more wary, making a themselves much harder to catch. Its unique looks allow it to be easily recognisable. Its body is green with several black stripes, enabling it to have excellent camouflage in its watery lair of weeds and reeds. It’s not a fast swimmer like the pike, but it can go at reasonable speed for long periods.
Perch are hunters, preying on other species in the water. The babies feed on water fleas and other tiny crustaceans but they soon graduate to insect larvae such as bloodworms. If small enough fish are available, perch switch to a mainly fish diet when they weigh about 113g (4oz). Young perch hunt in schools, lying in wait among water plants until small fish such as bleak or roach stray too close. The school then sets off in pursuit, harrying the quarry until it is too tired to swim further. Perch catch their prey by biting the tail repeatedly from behind and below to restrict swimming. Characteristically the perch always captures and swallows its prey tail first. Yum!
Dry flies, wet flies, nymphs, streamers: almost all of them were devised to catch trout.
Thankfully, almost all of them catch bass, too.
Most fly-fishing is conducted in pursuit of trout in streams, where fly-fishing gear is perfect for tossing feather-light imitations of aquatic insects, crustaceans or baitfish onto or into the currents. In many places, this activity peaks in the spring and declines during the heat of summer. Trout are cold-water fish and just don’t bite very well when the water gets up around 70 degrees.
Once the water warms, many trout anglers switch to bass, which don’t mind 70-degree water a bit.
Despite their status as Plan B fish – something to fish for when the trout fishing’s no good – bass are great fish for fly-fishing.
It’s not unusual for a trout fisher to think he or she has hooked a large trout, only to find out the fish is a small bass.
They are accessible. Many streams that are trout fisheries in their cooler, upper reaches are great bass fisheries downstream. So the same river where you fished the Hendrickson hatch in May might provide exciting bass fishing in July. Smallmouth and largemouth bass are widely distributed across the U.S., and almost everyone has good bass water nearby. Bass generally don’t prefer truly cold water, but in places with water temperatures in the 60s, they often coexist with trout.