It’s good to be back on the pike trail (pike article, entry 63)

I’ve certainly enjoyed the last month or so as I have specifically targeted barbel, but as an all-rounder I appreciate the variety that fishing for different species brings. Whilst I will certainly continue to fish for barbel right up to the end of the season, now that we are well into autumn, other fish will also come into the equation.

Therefore, with a change in the weather I decided to begin my pike campaign. As well as a number of river venues, I will be fishing one particular lake over the next few months. And it was to the latter that I headed, armed with a bag of sprats, instead of the familiar boilies that have been my constant bait companions in recent weeks.

Although I’m 41, I am actually like a kid on Christmas Eve when it comes to fishing, and so the night before I could hardly sleep knowing that the next day I was going piking! As an angler, you will know exactly what I am writing about. It’s the thrill of knowing that in a few hours time we will be sat at the water’s edge in pursuit of whatever it is we are aiming to catch. In my case it was a nice pike, but it may be a net of small gudgeon, or a couple of perch. It doesn’t matter what our quarry is; it’s the passion of angling that captures us.

As it so happened, I blanked! The pike bobs didn’t even give a tremble as they lay motionless in the water. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed being there, and whilst it’s always nice to catch something, to me angling is about the whole package of being out there in the countryside.

For my next session I decided to head for the Lower River Severn. With the water level almost down to normal, I had a couple of swims in mind that I wanted to fish. I did feel very confident, but as the session wore on, it did not look as if my faith was going to be rewarded. I fished on until well into dark, and changing from sprats to roach dead baits, I was even hopeful that maybe a zander would be interested in what I was offering.

However, come 10.00 o’clock I started to pack away, and reeling the last rod in, finally resigned myself to the second blank of the week. But again, I really enjoyed the session. Whether it’s looking at a float or watching the indicator to move, triggering off the bite alarm, I just love the anticipation of piking – or any type of angling for that matter. It wouldn’t be half as exciting if we knew in advance exactly how many fish we would catch (or not, as the case may be!) and at what times we would catch them. For me, all blanks do is make the next session more enjoyable, as I aim to put a fish in the net.

To round off the week, I decided to give the lake another go. On my previous visit I had fished the deepest section of the venue, but after much thought, I decided to move to a shallower section. It’s still early in the season and the shoal fish – and therefore the pike – will not necessarily be concentrated in the deeps just yet.

Casting both rods out, with sprats as bait, I didn’t have long to wait before the right hand bob started to vibrate in the water. Picking the rod up, at the right moment I struck and found myself playing what felt like a good pike. It fought really well, and made several runs before I finally got the net under it and lifted it onto the unhooking mat.

At 14-8-0 it was a good fish to start my pike campaign. Fish have to be judged by the venue, and with this one not likely to produce anything over 20lb, it certainly is a specimen as far as that lake is concerned. Taking a couple of photos, it was nice to get my hands on a pike after a couple of blanks. Returning the fish to the water, it brought a smile to my face watching it make its way out of the margins and into the main body of water. Yes, it was good to be back on the pike trail!

As the afternoon wore on, the Tufted ducks, Mallards and Great Crested Grebes on the lake were joined by a group of thirteen Mandarin ducks. I have already seen a female this season on the Lower Severn, but this was the first time I have witnessed a male. They are incredibly beautiful birds, and it was a delight to observe them. This year I am hoping to see 100 different birds whilst angling. Although I am a little short at 86, with the winter species now starting to arrive, I’m hopeful of reaching the target by December 31!

But back to the fishing! At 3.45 p.m. it was the turn of my left rod to provide some action. This time the fish was smaller, but still a double at 10-5-0. I fished on until the daylight started to ease away, but no more fish fancied a sprat snack. Still, with a couple of doubles – particularly after two blanks – I was more than satisfied with the result.


 (Originally published September 2004)

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