It was one of those days when you know it’s going to hard, but you go fishing all the same. After all, you never catch anything sitting at home watching television by a warm fire! And as long as you have a bait in the water, there is always the chance that a fish may be tempted.
I fancied a pike session, and as the rivers weren’t looking too good for the species, I decided to head for a lake that I could reach in less than an hour’s drive from home. It must be nice having a good venue literally on your doorstep, but I’m not in that category. However, within an hour or so radius I do have access to a reasonable amount of decent waters so I can’t complain.
The lake in question has a sharp drop-off along the bank I decided to fish, and so it was at the bottom of that I decided to place my baits. The more the angler gets to know the features and terrain that lie beneath the surface, the greater the chances of connecting with some fish. This is why it’s important to check out venues, particularly if you intend spending some time on them. An hour or so with a marker float plumbing the depth can be invaluable.
Talking of floats, for me personally one of the most pleasurable types of fishing is angling for pike with a small bob as the indicator. There is something exciting about staring at the float lying motionless on the surface of the water, as you wait with eager anticipation for a sign that a pike has taken the bait.
It is very much going back to the Mr Crabtree days of my youth, and for that I make no apologies. A little bit of nostalgia does no harm, and although there may be more efficient and modern ways of piking, ultimately it is all about enjoying your angling.
And so it was that I cast out and settled down to wait for some action. At the start of the session the rain came down very heavy and I was thankful for my umbrella. There was another angler on the lake, and I noticed that he was fishing without any shelter. Whether it was intentional or not, I don’t know, but he must have been soaked, as the rain was coming down strong.
Just as the rain started to ease off, I noticed a tremor on the right-hand bob. This developed into a full-blown run, as the pike had obviously picked up the sprat and was now in the process of moving off. Striking into the fish I felt the encouraging resistance that a decent fish gives. The water was fairly clear and I could see the pike as it turned and twisted trying to evade capture.
Almost immediately I thought of the last pike I had caught – one that had made the net and then while it lay in the shallows as I turned to get the forceps, had an almighty thrash and found its way back to freedom! I was determined to not only net this one, but to weigh it and photograph it too! So it was with great delight that I was able to lift it in the weigh sling and see the scales register just under 15lb (14-13-8 to be precise).
Following this fish, with still a couple of hours to go before I had to pack up, I moved along the bank and dropped into another swim. After casting out I settled down to stare at the floats once more. I had already spotted a Jay when I had first arrived, taking my bird species tick list for the year to twenty-six. And as I sat there very quietly, a female Goosander made its way across the lake right in front of me, to extend it by one more.
But back to the fishing, which after all, was the reason I was there! With one decent enough pike landed I was certainly a happy man; anything else would be a bonus. But, right at the end of the session, as the left-hand pike bob started to quiver in the water, I certainly welcomed another fish.
As I struck into the run I could feel that it was certainly smaller than the previous one, and as I netted it without it putting up too much of a fight, I estimated it in the 9lb category. At 9-12-0, my guess was correct, although in all honesty I would have gone for a scraper ‘9’ rather than one pushing the double barrier.
No sooner had I weighed, photographed and returned it to the lake, another fish picked up the remaining bait in the water. It reminded me of the time I fished a large Welsh water a few years ago. The pike seemed to travel in shoals around the venue, as you would sit there for hours without so much as a line bite and then you’d get two runs one after another.
Whether there were a number of pike in front of me on this occasion I honestly don’t know, but I did manage to land this second fish, which took the read-out to 11-1-8. Considering the water temperature was just four degrees, it was certainly a happy man that made his way back to the car that afternoon. And it would be accurate to say that the trio of fish did put a smile on my face, particularly as it has been a bit of a struggle so far this year.
(Originally published January 2004)