Out of my two daughters, Miriam the youngest is definitely the one that takes the most interest in fishing. Hence it came as no surprise when she asked if she could come on a piking trip with me! I always try to make it interesting for her, and so we pack lots of food and drink and treat it as an adventure.
She understands the nature of specimen angling – that you don’t get many fish, but when you do catch one it is likely to be above average for the water you are fishing. However, in spite of my constant asking her if she would prefer to go on the canal with a pint of maggots and catch gudgeon all day long, she still prefers to sit it out with me hoping for a decent fish.
We arrived at the lake just before mid-day and before I had time to set up the second rod, Miriam alerted me to the movement on the pike float. (She really does concentrate on the job in hand!) Striking, we found ourselves playing a nice fish, which eventually turned out to be a scraper double at 10-2-8.
I tried to get her to pose with the fish, but she was reluctant. It’s the first time she’s seen pike in the flesh, and I think the teeth put her off! Pike can appear to be ferocious looking to those who are not used to handling them. I spent time explaining to Miriam in reply to her question ‘Dad, do they bite?’ that although you need to be careful that you don’t make contact with their teeth, pike will not in fact make a conscious decision to ‘bite’ someone.
Returning the fish to the water, Miriam was now ready for the next one! And within thirty minutes we found ourselves weighing a smaller pike of 7-3-0. She was now getting more confident with the fish, but still had reservations about those teeth, and therefore declined the invitation to pose for a photograph!
As three o’clock approached we landed pike number three of the session (8-11-0) and on the dot at 4.00 p.m. we connected with the fourth and final fish of the day. This was to be the heaviest also and by now Miriam was confident enough to play the fish herself and bring it to the landing net, where I did the honours. However, she was quick to ask ‘Dad, will you get the hooks out?’
The fish put up a good fight and the thrill of having a nice fish on the end of the rod certainly captured my daughter’s heart. That’s the thrill of angling, as we all know. On arriving home, the first thing she did was to tell her mom and big sister about the excitement of playing a double figure pike!
My next visit to the lake was alone, and in spite of the cold weather I was actually quite hopeful. However, I must confess that the weather well and truly caught me out. Although the temperatures had been just below freezing at night, I didn’t expect the lake itself to be frozen solid.
I made attempts to break the ice, but just as quickly it froze over again. I know when to quit and so headed back home, disappointed not to wet a line. Still, even though I was at the water’s edge for just a few minutes, I did manage to add three birds to my tick list for the year – Coal Tit, Pied Wagtail and Grey Wagtail. The latter two species were spotted on the frozen lake!
(Originally published March 2004)