By Tim Baily
Lures, flies, and bait are perhaps the most talked-about subjects amongst anglers, and this is very much the case on Lake Nasser.
Each season of the year has different lure requirements: broadly speaking bigger and deeper for winter and slightly smaller and shallower for summer. Here I will talk about some of the lures we use for each season. However, as a keen angler, I learnt long ago that the more you get to know about a particular branch of fishing the more you come to realize how little you actually know. After eight years operating safaris on Lake Nasser and countless captures of Nile perch over 100lb one might think that I am an expert. But although I maybe know more about it than most people, I still have a long way to go and a great deal to learn. So the following are simply my observations and not the last word on the subject.
There is a great saying: Its not the lure that counts, its the jerk behind it. There is a lot of truth in this. You can have the very best equipment and all the right lures but your catch results will be in proportion to your fishing skills. This is especially true with shore fishing. When trolling, success is more down to the skill of your guide.
While the lure statistics (see chart) are interesting and informative, they have to be considered in the light of the fact that most anglers have a strong instinct to repeatedly use a lure (or colour) that they know to have caught an exceptional fish. Our Nubian guides also follow this same instinct. If their angler catches a big Nile perish they will nearly always recommend the same lure that caught this fish, time and time again, safari after safari. It is not uncommon to have a group of six to eight anglers all using the same brand of lure and even perhaps the same colour, to the exclusion of almost all others.
Now when a particular lure is working, it certainly makes good sense to continue using it. But, on the other hand, I have often found in a hotspot that has been heavily fished with one make of lure, that a change produces better results.
During the winter, for example, in places where the Depth Raider and Russelure have been used extensively, I change to the Rapala Deep Sea Magnum CD22 with very satisfying results. (I recommend replacing the two big double hooks with 6/0 or 7/0 trebles.) When the perch are not lying very deep, a good lure to have available is the Nils Master 25cm Invincible a great lure but it does not dive quite as deep as the similar-sized Rapala CD22.
During the 1999 winter season a lure that I was particularly impress by was the Reef Digger. I would not mind betting that this will become one of the hottest lures on the lake for big fish during coming winters.
Fish caught (75lb +) by lure type
The first time I saw it in action was with two experienced American anglers, George Liska and Charles Patrasek. Between them in October they caught 18 Nile perch over 75lb. The second time was when John Wilson produced it from his well-stocked lure book during our epic December 99 safari. The Reef Digger is a big lure, about 24cm long, with a prominent vane that takes it down to about 16 or 17 feet, a bit deeper than the Depth Rider. The swimming action is erratic and there is a rattle, both good strike triggers for a big perch, and the colours available are the same as we are used to with the Rapala and Depth Raider ranges. The Reef Digger is an American lure and to date I have not discovered where to buy them. John Wilson told me he got from Andy Lush at The Friendly Fisherman in Tunbridge Wells.
I am starting to agree with the old saying, Size counts, in particular when it comes to lures used to catch Nile perch of 100lb and up, especially during the winter months. Mammal predators will not expend a lot of energy and vital protein chasing small prey if they can conserve their energy for more substantial meals. Whey should predatory fish be any different?
During summer, however, I reduce the size of lure and also lighten up a bit with the rod and reel to take advantage of the excellent sport from smaller Nile perch of 30-50lb-plus.
During mid March to late April, the Tilapia and other species start spawning, mostly in shallower water, and this draws the perch out of the deeps into water as shallow as 8-10 feet. For some reason, in summer there are more smaller (30-50lb) Nile perch in evidence, and this is the time for excellent shore fishing as opposed to winter, when shore fishing can be difficult and slow. As for the bigger fish, they are still around but much more spread out than in winter.
The all-time Nasser summer favourite is the Rapala Super Shad Rap, which swims at about seven feet. This lure has the shape of a small Tilapia and a very alluring swimming action. I tend to have a preference for more natural-looking colours and recommend the metallic silver (Silver Roach) and bronze (Green Gold Roach). The Fire Tiger and Red Head are also good catchers.
The Rapala CD14 range is also very popular with top Nasser anglers and produces good results shore fishing and casting from a drifting boat. Just one size bigger, and in my opinion almost as effective, is the CD18. Both the CD14 and CD18 have interesting colour options. Purple and orange both work well.
This is a good point to say some more about CD lures. These are count down (as opposed to floating) lures. The beauty of a CD is its versatility. If you cast into shallower water and immediately retrieve, it will swim at a shallow depth. But if you find a deeper pool, you can cast and count down approximately one foot per second and get down to the fish which might be lying in deeper water.
On the other hand, a floating lure which is designed to dig in and dive deep is very useful because when you hit a snag you simply stop reeling and the lure will rise and clear the obstacle.
One floating deep-diver that I have been testing is the Lil Ernie Deep Diver, which is made by the American company Muskie Mania. This lure is 14cm long and really digs in deep and has a very good swimming action. Its a tough lure, except the eyes drop out - so I called my favourite catcher Nelson. Another feature I like is the built-in rattle. My field tests show that this lure is a very good catcher; I recommend it for summer shore fishing.
So much for lure patterns, but it doesnt end there. Few anglers without prior big-game experience can believe the amount of damage a big Nile perch can do to a lure until they actually experience it for themselves and then maybe that big fish has been lost. So there are important points to attend to in connection with preparing your lures and terminal tackle for taking on a big perch.
Practically every lure except the Rapala range must have their split rings and hooks changed. The hooks that we use are Mustad (made in Norway) 5X trebles.
Another point: a lot of lures come fitted with three trebles, and one might think that three trebles give a better chance of a hook-up. Maybe but take our advice and fit only two trebles to the last two rings at the end of the lure. We find that the greater the distance between two hook-holds, the more chance that one will pull out or bend.
Also, experienced Nasser anglers do not use cross lock links - we have seen far too many straighten out. Simplicity is the general rule. When using a well-balanced lure I do not even use a swivel. On my main line I like to have a long (6-8ft) double leader, which is attached directly to a good-quality 80lb mono rubbing-leader (5-6ft long). This leader is then tied directly to the lure with a version of the Rapala knot. For shore fishing I use the same rig but with a shorter double leader and rubbing leader.