Barbel and chub have been taking very much of a back seat this year, as far as my own angling is concerned, with pike dominating the scene. After a slow start, I’ve been really getting into my predator angling. And so it was, for the first of the sessions in this week’s journal, I headed for a local lake in pursuit of the species, to see if I could improve on my recent trio of fish that included two doubles.
It was a mild day, but plenty of showers ensured that the umbrella put in an appearance! The water temperature was still quite low, at just five degrees; I would have ideally liked it to be slightly higher than that. Still, I was very hopeful, as my previous visit had yielded fish with the thermometer going no higher than four degrees.
I had to wait a couple of hours before I saw my first action. Like lots of small fish, the strike resulted in it taking off at double speed. However, as is often the case, the initial burst of energy is all the fish has, and it is quickly overcome. At 6-9-8 though, it was still better than a blank any day!
It certainly looked as if I was not going to catch anything else, and for the rest of the afternoon, the only movement I had was when I added another species of bird to my tick list for the year. A solitary Redwing landed in the tree behind me; just long enough to identify it and log it in my diary that accompanies me on all my angling trips.
However, I did add to my fish tally for the day, when right at the end, another pike took the sprat dead bait. It was another small one though at 5-9-0. But as you will see from the accompanying photograph, it still deserved the unhooking mat. This is an essential piece of equipment when pursuing big fish of all species, and particularly when after pike. In spite of their fearsome reputation, they are in fact very delicate fish.
Back again on the lake, the next session was to see me land half a dozen fish, and still pull out of two pike on the strike. If anything I always err on the side of caution, as the last thing I want to do is end up with a deep hooked pike, with treble hooks down its stomach.
Fishing two rods, I had my baits in the water less than an hour when the left-hand one produced a fish that weighed in at 8-12-0. No sooner had I returned the fish than the right hand rod was in action, this time a much smaller pike that weighed in at 5-9-8. You may wonder why I bother to weigh such small fish. The reason is that I keep very accurate and detailed records of all my angling trips, hence they all get the same treatment!
Within fifteen minutes of re-casting both rods, another small fish (4-9-8) was on the unhooking mat. With three fish in a quarter of an hour, it was certainly an action packed spell. Putting the fish back in the water a Treecreeper landed in the holly bush to my left. It was oblivious to my presence and I was able to enjoy it for a moment or two before it flew off again – they are very active birds and don’t stay still for very long.
Like the previous fish, the birds seemed to be coming thick and fast too. No sooner had the Treecreeper moved on, a Goldcrest took its place to take my species tally to thirty. Following this, I connected with the best fish of the week so far. Taking the digital read-out to 11-6-8 I was certainly happy to catch the first double. In spite of the really big fish that certain venues produce, I still think that a pike in the 10lb+ bracket is still worth catching and something to be pleased with.
The fish on this session were very much like buses– after a long wait, two or three would turn up! Hence, no sooner had the fish been returned to the lake than I was into another pike. A good scrap saw me land another good ‘8’ (8-14-0). The birds continued to land in the tree to my left and a small flock of Long tailed tits took my tally to thirty one different species for the year.
Getting ready to pack away, I was more than happy to watch the float indicate a pike had taken the bait. And striking, I knew that I had a decent fish on the other end of the line. And so it was that I caught my fourth double of the year, and my second ‘14’ as the fish reached 14-6-8 on the scales. It certainly was a great end to a very busy – and fulfilling – day.
So far this year I’ve caught eleven pike, four of which have been doubles. But very encouraging is that every single fish has been hooked in the mouth, making hook removal a very simple affair. In addition I’ve been encouraged that my fish to runs ratio of 11:13 has also been very good. Indeed, it’s going well on the pike front so far this year!
(Originally published January 2004)