Watercraft – Underappreciated, But Oh So Important!

Watercraft – Underappreciated, But Oh So Important!

If you were to put me on the spot and ask “what is the most important aspect within angling to catch consistently” it would be, without doubt, skilled watercraft. In the modern era of angling trends I have to confess it is disappointing that this topic is all too briefly studied because without acknowledging the importance of watercraft, and taking the necessary action, you will always be on the back foot. Today we see so much emphasis put on the next wonder rig or bait whilst forgetting that the ‘Old Skool’ appreciation of our quarry’s location, and the reasonings behind it, are actually far more important.

Ball of weed: As long as safe to fish into never fear weed – it’s where most of the fishes natural food lives.

In basic terms, watercraft is the appreciation of where the fish are and why they are there, especially on the day in question. There could be so many reasons from water temperatures through to natural hatches, from angler pressure through to oxygenated water – the amount of variables that come into consideration will be something learnt over time and not something one can learn overnight. In today’s modern angling, where so much can be bought, be assured that this skill will only come in time with your own experiences as well as researching individual topics and learning off those already appreciating, and benefiting from their knowledge of watercraft.

Simon looking out over lake: Your eyes are key to good watercraft – if you see fish go to them, never expect them to come to you!

To try and cover the many variables in such a short piece would be totally impossible, but the most important element is to always seek out the fish and never make the assumption that they will come to you. Your eyes are the ultimate tool for you to use as what you see will be the real indicator to where fish are holding. The plainly obvious is to actually see fish in a location and that would be the place to start your fishing. It may be the case of seeing a fish launch itself out, swirl, a cascade of feeding bubbles or the movement of reeds – any obvious signs of fish activity is a great start point. But, if you don’t make the effort to seek out such basic signs and plump for a swim just because it looks the part, is near the car park or in the sun, then be warned your chances of catching will drop!

Over head shot – where there is one fish, there is likely to be a whole

One of the biggest challenges we face today, especially in carp fishing, is the amount of gear we take with us! As a kid, if I couldn’t strap it to my push bike or have it in my wicker seat box then it didn’t come with me and this mobile approach allowed me to visit numerous swims instead of the common trend of today where we set up in one swim for the duration. Now that is all well and good if you choose a swim with showing fish, but what happens when they feel pressure and then move off? If you then don’t follow them is it not the case that you are now sitting in a swim devoid of fish and with little chance of them returning? Of course at some fisheries you have a peg and no option to move, but those where you can it is a must, so I always take as little kit as necessary. Even as I get older, whatever the weather or circumstances, if the fish are showing elsewhere I’m off. I’ve even woken up in the middle of the night and heard fish crashing elsewhere and moved. Okay that maybe a little bit keen for some, but I just love the thrill of catching and the ‘hunt’ is a big part of that. Moving onto showing fish is a huge buzz: knowing fish are in front of me and by fishing for them, at them, means my odds have just increased massively.

Waterfall: Oxygenated water is a plus and can also create a habitat for naturals

Though watercraft cannot just be bought, I would suggest that one top tip would be to hunt down a series of fishing magazines which were published around forty years ago called The Fisherman’s Handbook. The pan-species titles are available and can be found on platforms like e-Bay and contain some incredibly useful information, including tips on watercraft. They are worth every penny and still to this day I use them for reference. Totally uncontrived and written by passionate and dedicated anglers seeking to share their massive experiences, I can’t praise them enough.

Snails and Eggs, the tip of the iceberg of natural food fish need to eat. Find where they are and you will find your quarry.

Another way you can quickly advance you knowledge about watercraft is to question us ‘Old Timers’, especially those who own, work on or regularly fish the venues you are going to. Fishing should always be about helping others and, by questioning, you will learn from such lengthy experiences as well as the reasonings behind their conclusions. Not only will you then benefit but you will also be in a position to then help others – and on and on it should go!

A recent five fish haul for Mike Heljula – whilst the rest of us struggled he had the fish in front of him and it made the difference between catching and blanking!

Final food for thought on a topic I have but scratched the surface of, would it not be better to spend 23 hours of a 24 hour session hunting down the locations of the fish and then spending an hour hauling or spending 24 hours in a swim with no fish in it and blanking? For me I want to enjoy the pleasures of catching, as well as the overall joys of angling, so watercraft is the ultimate key to such successful sessions – find the fish first, never expect them to find you.

Till next time – be safe and catch more!

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