Stepping out of your comfort zone!
Having fished a local river for 7 years or so, I 'learned' something recently that quite frankly, I already knew...summer and winter fishing are markedly different.
The particular river has a decent head of pike, perch and chub, as well as a number of course fish I never bother with, but it can be very challenging lure fishing at times. In spring and autumn particularly, one can go out and expect to catch a couple of perch, the odd pike and a chub or 2 in a good session, but the majority of times, I am just fishing for an hour or so after work, or before the family wakes up on the weekend and it all goes pear shaped and if I get A fish I'm happy. In contrast, traditionally in winter I really have struggled. As a result, I don't ever give it much of a chance, visiting the very specific spots that were good to me the preceding Autumn and losing the will after a few casts as I am usually 'not feeling it'!
It was only late this winter when a mate of mine argued that winter lure fishing is not 'crap' and encouraged me to go out that I actually give it a good go.
Having planned to go out for my typical hour or so at my favourite spot below a weir, I packed my usual drop shot rig, but thought I'd bring a light lure fishing rod too in case the river was too coloured for optimal drop shot results and I opted for a Texas rig or similar.
Arriving at 'my spot' I found a bait fisherman had beaten me to it... for the second week in a row!! Usually and as with the previous occasion, I would turn around and go home as I couldn't be bothered fishing 'the natural' stretches of river in a short session, that are typically unproductive. But, on this occasion I was not going to be defeated, so greeted my bait fishing friend as I passed by; who turned out to be the same chap who was there the previous time. If I had that man's number I'd call him to say 'thanks', because as a result of him being in my spot, , forcing me to think outside the box a bit, I had my very first river 'slam' of the season, a slam being pike, perch and chub in one session. Only one of each, with a couple of tentative pike lost, but a slam none the less! All fish being caught (and lost) in about a half hour period, on the same 3.5" Keitech Swing Impact that held out really well, rigged on a 1/0 Decoy Decibo Violence 1/8oz jig head. Despite going after perch and chub, I tied on an 11lb AFW Surflon trace, as I know there are pike about, they attack the smallest of lures and will bite straight through my 8lb Seaguar fluorocarbon!
The secret? Well it's no secret really, that in winter, when the rivers are in flow and a little coloured, change your 'usual' tactics. Usually I would fish a natural colour in that particular area, but on that day I opted for black, which is a great lure colour in those water conditions. In addition, instead of targeting the man-made structures as I've become quite predictable with, I took the advice my buddy gave me (and I have known for years but never implemented properly on my river) and targeted the natural eddies and slack waters, catching fish in 3 different spots, in which I had never previously tried, let alone caught a fish. I returned for 3 more short sessions in the days following and caught a number more fish from more 'new' spots, including a brace of chub over 2.5lb... they certainly seemed to love the Keitech Black Shiner! Ps. Photo of one making up slam, not a 2.5lb... before I get told to 'check my scales!'
The moral? It pays to change your tactics once in a while and step of your comfort zone.