A hobby, a stoat…and a few pike as well! (pike article, entry 117)

October has always been seen as the traditional start of the pike season, and so it was apt that I began what I hope will be a successful campaign, as we entered into the new month. The week ahead was one whereby I knew that I would be able to get two sessions in, and so decided to have one on a lake and the other on a river. So off I went, armed with a bag of frozen dead baits to a lake that is a particular favourite of mine. Not that it contains very big fish, far from it really. But it is in a very beautiful rural area and often when it comes to fishing, just being there is enough.

Fishing with indicators and buzzers, once cast out, it meant that I could get out my binoculars and do some bird watching. Even by not moving from the spot where I was, I managed to see quite a few birds, the best of which was a late hobby. (They leave the country at the end of the summer). Although I have seen them before, I’ve never had quite the view that I did on this occasion. The bird was visible for the best part of a minute, and I got an excellent look as it flew across the lake and back again.

I was so thrilled at spotting the bird, that in some ways whether I would catch a pike or not was almost secondary. I am definitely one of those anglers that really appreciates the full nature package that comes with being out there at the water’s edge. But on this occasion it didn’t have to be an either/or choice as I did manage to land a couple of small pike. By small, I would refer to anything less than 10lb, although I certainly wouldn’t consider fish of that size to be inferior in any way. All fish, regardless of their weight, deserve our respect.

I also lost one at the net, which was a low double. Always the case isn’t it? The one that got away and all that! Still, it wasn’t as if it was a ‘20’ – now then I’d be pretty frustrated with myself. But with the hobby still fresh in my mind it was going to take a lot for me to lose my peace. First session of a new campaign, it’s always good to get a fish or two under your belt and so I was happy with my brace of pike.

To round off the week I headed for the upper middle Severn. That’s the upper reaches of the middle, as opposed to the middle reaches of the upper by the way! I have fished this stretch before, but never gone beyond the first two or three meadows by the car park. But on this occasion I decided to do some roving and intended to walk (literally) for miles along the stretch. Travelling light I had just the one rod with me. As I was unloading the car, I saw a stoat in the hedge alongside the field, and just as when I saw the hobby, my day was made up already.

My plan was to drop into as many swims as I could and spend 15-20 minutes in each one before moving on to the next. I find that very often you get a run fairly soon after casting out if there is a hungry fish in the swim. I was fishing a float as an indicator, which is my favourite style of pike fishing. There is something that is so exciting about staring at a pike float as it lies on the water. And even more so when it starts to tremble and shudder!

I had moved up into the fourth meadow before I had the pleasure of that happening. I had set up alongside a solitary willow that was overhanging the river on a wide bend. Within minutes of casting out I had a run, which unfortunately led to me striking into nothing. Still thinking that there was some mileage left in the swim though, I re-cast. And again, within minutes I was once more into a fish. This time I netted it though – it’s always nice to get your first fish of the session on the unhooking mat. Moving to the other side of the willow I again connected with a pike, It was a good fish but as it was coming to the net it slipped the hooks.

With just the odd shower I thoroughly enjoyed the day and by the time it was getting dark and ready to pack away, I had added another pike. And reflecting on the volume of angler traffic on the rivers these days, I had not seen a single soul along the whole stretch. And considering that I was in the middle of barbel country that is quite a statement. Am I complaining though? Well, no I’m not. I enjoy nothing more than having the river to myself. Although there are implications of less anglers fishing rivers, but that’s another issue.

(Originally published October 2005)

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