Another year bites the dust! (pike article, entry 76)

After a couple of weeks of focusing on roach, I decided to have an end-of-year crack at pike (This will be my last Angling Journal entry of 2004). After all, variety is the spice of life, or so they say. I haven’t quite worked out who ‘they’ are in this instance, but it is a genuine pearl of wisdom as far as angling is concerned. I find that switching to a different species keeps me sharp and allows that enthusiasm to bubble away.

Travelling as light as I could, I set off for a stretch of the Middle Severn, hoping to fish as many swims as I could. I have never pike fished this venue before, but a recent roach session saw me eyeing up a few swims that really looked like they could hold a decent predator or two. And there’s only one way to put any theory to the test – get out there and do it!

I started off by fishing a meadow quite some distance upstream, with the intention of gradually working my way back, eventually finishing up at the car park. Fishing two rods, one had a sea bait and the other a coarse fish section. With the river having minimal flow, I fished a straightforward leger set-up on one rod and went for a float-fished bait on the other. I have mentioned many times before, how I find float fishing for pike incredibly exciting.

The tremor of a float as the fish mouths the bait is one of the most thrilling of angling experiences in my opinion. And even when the float remains motionless, the sheer anticipation of it all is a thrill in itself. And it’s a good job, because for several hours of swim hopping, I did not even get one bleep on the buzzer or so much as a quiver on the float!

But as they (there they are again!) say, good things come to those who wait. And after making my way downstream through several swims, I eventually found that my float was indicating that something was stirring beneath the surface. Striking at the appropriate time, it was nice to see a healthy bend in the rod, although it was clear that I had only hooked a small fish. As the photograph shows it was only a ‘Jack’ but nevertheless very welcome. And particularly so as it proved to be the only fish of the trip! I ended the session indeed grateful for small mercies!

For my final outing of the week, and indeed the last one of the year as far as the Angling Journal is concerned, I opted for a local lake. With temperatures having been quite cold, a minimal raise saw me quite hopeful. However, as is often the case, expectations don’t always match up with reality! Yes, you’ve guessed it – I blanked!

I did have a run though, but the strike saw nothing other than the mackerel tail make its way back to me as I stood on the bank. Still, I enjoyed the session and it’s got to be said that a ‘bad’ day’s fishing still beats a good day at work any time! In fact I commented to someone recently that I have never had an angling trip that I didn’t enjoy. It’s an old cliché, but fishing is more than just catching fish.

Take for example, this final session of the year. No fish, but I saw my first Goldeneye of the winter – a male and two females. Plus there was a Wigeon on the lake, not to mention the flock of twenty Tufted Ducks that now seem to have made the venue their permanent winter residence. Using the zoom facility I even managed to get a shot of the male Goldeneye. Considering it was quite some distance from shore, and the camera wasn’t that expensive, I was quite pleased with the result.

So, in conclusion – another year bites the dust! Don’t you find, the older you get, the more time flies? It’s frightening isn’t it really! But whilst none of us can do anything about the march of time, what we can do is ensure that we make the best of the allocated years that God endows upon us. For sure I will never be able to do everything I want to do in angling, even if I live into treble figures!

But I intend to give it my best shot, and looking back I have had a good year angling-wise. Lots of blanks, which are par for the course really if you are a specimen angler, but plenty of good fish along the way. However, whilst it is nice to reflect, I do much prefer to look forward and I am relishing the angling challenges that 2005 throws at me. See you next year! In the meantime, have a great New Year yourself!

(Originally published December 2004)

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