Euro Fishing: Clint Walker - Angling and Technology
Is there too much technology in angling now? Do we take too much intelligence to the bank? Is it spoiling fishing? Or is another evolution? I sat on the banks this week, amidst a howling snowstorm, whilst catching nothing but cold, and glanced down at my kit whilst pondering this week’s column. I was a little surprised to realise just how much ‘tech’ I carry, but I bet I’m not alone…
Aside from the usual smartphone, with more computing power than was used to put man on the moon, I also carry a couple of digital cameras, a tablet, a powerpack, and now, a Deeper sonar. Yes, admittedly, I do write whilst on the bank, (especially if blanking) and I’m obliged to take a couple of hundred images each week for various clients, so the tablet and cameras are a necessary part of my angling, as is the phone, and as a result, so is the powerpack come to think of it! I know of other anglers who take a variety of lighting options, cookers, electrically heated socks or sleeping bags, a bivvy heater, underwater cameras, and all sorts of other gadgets, and I wondered are we fishing, or camping? I know we all go fishing for our own reasons, but are we losing the ethos of angling? The passion for angling? Or is it just things moving on? Personally, I enjoy nothing more than leaving all the gadgetry at home, grabbing a single rod, a small box of tackle, a few worms, and stalking a few swims on the river to see what I can catch, but unfortunately, (or not) modern angling seems to be moving on…
Having said that, I’m not completely oblivious to the advantages of advancement. I recognise that bite alarms allow the angler to sit back and take in the surrounding countryside, that developments in leisurewear and sleeping bags have enabled anglers to fish year round in far more comfort, and that smartphones and tablets have changed the way we live for ever, giving access to knowledge immediately, on the bank, that may allow us to fish better, so it’s not all bad. I have to be honest and admit to embracing the very latest in castable sonars too, but is it cheating, or is it using my time a little more wisely? I like to think the latter, but I’m not so naïve as to think that others will agree, but what has it changed for me? Knowledge; the ability to see a little further into the water, and to use that bit of advantage to fish better, and more efficiently… hopefully!
This week I endured a gruelling session on the bank at a local club water. As I arrived, I noted another angler setting up on the lower pool, so stopped to chat. As we compared fishy tales, I watched his quivertip pull around within a few seconds as a fish picked up the bait. He missed the bite, so rather than distract him further, I made my way to the next pool to tackle up my own quivertip rod. It was still cold, with sheets of ice drifting across the lake, and as I got the umbrella tied down, it started to snow. I’d picked the car park peg, not wanting to barrow everything around in the mud, so was settled into a peg giving access to an area of deeper, warmer water; or was I?
I catapulted a few tiny pellets out, followed by a pouch of maggots, loaded the feeder with groundbait, and dropped it on the spot, fully expecting a fish or two. After an hour of regular casting, nothing had happened, so I changed the feeder for one full of gentles and lengthened the hook link. Another hour, and aside from a brief flicker of the tip, still nothing had happened. I changed my hook pattern and put a grain of corn on the hook before returning the feeder to the spot; still nothing, another hour gone. Fining right down to a single maggot on a size 20 hook just saw a translucent skin returned, so it was obvious that the only inhabitant of the swim were tiny roach, too small to even register at my quivertip!
I put on a small waggler, shotted it right down, and fished almost under my rod tip to try and get a positive indication. Again, a pinch of maggots over the top, and again, for another hour, I sat biteless… I changed once more to the quivertip rod, hoping that fish would have moved to the baited patch, and wasted yet another fruitless hour watching a motionless tip… That made six hours of staring at the water for no return; could technology help?
I set up a heavier rod and cast the Deeper sonar out into the swim. I’ve had a trawl around with a marker float previously, and I reckoned that the lake bed was fairly consistent at about six feet deep. Apparently not. I knew there was a snag to my front, but I didn’t know it came up almost two feet off the bottom, nor did I know that the lake bed shallowed up just to the left of it. I wasn’t aware of a small depression further to the left, or the fact that a deeper trench ran along the far bank, less than a rod length out. I knew that there was a bed of lilies to my left, but I didn’t realise that an amount of blanket weed covered the swim beneath the canopy. Yes, I agree, that it could perhaps be deduced or expected, but it was nice to see it in technicolour on the screen before me…
The sonar also revealed my swim completely devoid of fish, but interestingly, it also alerted me to the fact that where I was fishing, the water was considerably cooler, by at least two degrees, than the area to my left. The sun had briefly illuminated that area earlier, and despite the presence of the deeper trench, it was here that fish were located! I reckon that a sluice to my right, pulling water through to the lower pool, and tipping the ice sheets into the abyss, was the reason for the cold water influx in my swim. Obviously, I cast in to the area which had returned piscine pings, and within a few minutes, I missed a bite… the only one so far! A quick recast, and I missed another, but then I decided enough was enough, as by now, I was more interested in playing with the features of the sonar…
Like any male of the species, I didn’t read the instructions, instead blundering through a series of tabs to find a variety of settings. After twenty minutes of said fluster, I opened the manual which is embedded within the App, and was quickly able to decipher more of the techno-garb, which saw a veil lift as I began to translate the icons reflected back at me; a revelation indeed! The one feature which stood out far more than any other was the ability to quickly map a water, store the result, and even add notes and a picture! By revisiting the stored map, I’m able to see exactly what the lake depths are, and combined with the history tab, I can even tell whether the lake bed is hard or soft, gravelly or weedy, and much more! It’s like having a plethora of marker float information at my fingertips, only much more accurate, and I haven’t had to spend hours writing in a notebook, or thrashing the water to a foam with a lead and marker to get there! Brilliant!
There is no doubt more to discover. If I’m honest, I’ll keep the marker float too, just to confirm things until my confidence is absolute, (after all, a length of white wool beneath the marker tells a story) but initial soundings (geddit?) are good. The Deeper can give me as much information (and more) in ten minutes that splashing around with a marker would give in a couple of hours, and as a time limited angler, where every minute counts, then I’m damn well going to use it at the end of sessions to map the lake, or when I get an hour with a lake nearby, and give myself an advantage next time…why not? Although it may tell me what is happening beneath the water, I still haven’t found the tab which persuades fish to eat my bait… I do wish they would hurry up and update the App!
Euro Fishing: Clint Walker - Angling and Technology