A very welcome baby indeed (pike article, entry 179)

As a barbel angler I always get excited when the rivers are in flood. But there are floods and there are floods! And when the Severn is sixteen feet above normal level, then it actually becomes physically impossible to walk to the river’s edge unless you possess superhuman powers. Hence I was forced (although I’m hardly complaining) to switch both venue and species.

I decided to go for pike and with a couple of sessions lined up I was hopeful that I would at least catch one fish. Although I have fished both places (I intended to try two different venues) before, I have never targeted pike. But you have to start somewhere, and so I set the alarm for the ungodly time of 5.45 am so that I could get to the gravel pit at first light. I am definitely not a morning person, that’s for sure, and even though I rarely get to bed before midnight, getting up at the crack of dawn is a different proposition altogether.

Arriving at the pit I set up two rods and cast small rudd deadbaits out into fourteen feet of water. The place I pitched up at is the deepest end of the water, and so with lots of roach and perch there during the winter, it doesn’t take much thought to know that the pike won’t be far behind. Well, that’s the theory anyway! On this occasion though, I was left scratching my head as to the no-show regarding any fish. I was convinced I was in the right peg and that my baits were in the correct place, but no one had told the pike. Maybe it’s not ‘winter enough’ for the theory to kick into place.

I’m hardly on a good run at the moment, and so for the final session of the week I was wondering whether I would be the angling equivalent of the England cricket team. With time very limited and just a few hours available on the Friday, I decided to fish a local canal to see if I could engage with a pike there. With a network of canals within a few miles of home, I am spoilt for choice, but thinking it through I decided to fish a spot that I had made a mental note of some time back.

With a far bank dense bed of reeds, plus the canal is much wider as it is a turning basin, it stands head and shoulders above the surrounding water as a likely pike holding spot. I had caught a small jack last year when spinning for perch, so I knew that there was a chance of connecting with something and so I wasn’t fishing totally blind. In some ways it’s nice having no prior knowledge though, as that element of the unknown gives a certain sense of excitement.

And so, exactly one hour after casting out, as one of the floats started to tremble and then move across the water, I experienced the buzz that this type of angling brings. Striking into the fish I knew it wasn’t a big one, but it was still a relief to actually see some action. Funnily enough as I got it on the bank a local dog walker came past and he couldn’t contain himself ‘Wow…what a fish…I’ve never seen anything like it’. When I told him the size that they do grow to, and that this was just a baby, he was amazed.

No more pike followed, so it was a very welcome baby indeed. I will definitely try the ‘cut’ again though. With the Black Country canal network having gone through a transformation in terms of water quality, who knows what may be lurking beneath the surface? Anyway, with so much water within a few miles of home it has to be worth a try, particularly when time is short as per this last visit. In fact with the price of petrol I have been thinking that I need a few more local venues just to keep costs down. With a tank of fuel costing more than £40, a couple of long distance sessions in a week and that just about covers my angling before I even do any other driving.

(Originally published December 2006)

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