Piking on the run-in to Christmas (pike article, entry 180)

After my visit to the local canal as recorded in last week’s Angling Journal, I decided to return again for my first outing this week. I had a meeting planned for early afternoon so it worked out right anyway, as I couldn’t travel very far. With the local Black Country canal network literally down the road, the time from home to parking is just a couple of minutes. And when you think that waking to casting is about half an hour in total that can’t be bad!

I returned to the same spot that I had previously fished from, partly because if anywhere will produce the goods, then that has to be the favourite. Concerning the actual place I set up in, I chose that with meticulous care. Nothing to do with fishing actually though, but rather dodging the dog droppings. As a dog owner (I have a 6 month old Bedlington Terrier puppy) I always carry plastic bags with me to clear up, but so far in a couple of visits to the canal I have not seen one person bother to clear up after their pet.

This is one of the massive downsides of urban fishing, along with the trash that gets thrown everywhere and the potential of encountering anti-social behaviour. But somehow you have to forget the aesthetics and concentrate on the fishing. And staring at a couple of pike floats is a wonderful way of blotting out the surroundings. In my view there isn’t much to rival fishing for pike with a float as a means of indication.

There is something really thrilling about the tremors and trembles that begin as a pike picks up the bait. And as the float moves across the surface of the water, following the fish beneath it, that merely increases the excitement, with the strike being the icing on the cake. And I did get my fix, if you want to call it that, as I had a pike pick up my rudd dead bait late morning. It wasn’t a big fish at all. In fact I called last week’s pike a baby, and by that definition then this one was premature!

But as my wife always tells me when I say I only caught a small one, at least I caught something. And that is true of course. But with my sights set on a bigger fish, at the end of the week I decided to fish a small river that I have targeted before and had decent pike from. Hence at first light I found myself at the water’s edge getting ready to fish. It had been a very cold night, and I couldn’t have visited the canal if I had wanted to, as the surface was frozen solid.

The scenery around the river was very seasonal. Although there was no snow, the frost as it clung to the trees, grass and undergrowth, certainly came a close second. It was almost a shame that the sun had to rise and spoil it. But compared to the urban canal that I had previously fished, it was still a veritable Garden of Eden. The river itself had a nice colour, but was just a little above normal level, and so looked good for pike.

In fact within minutes I had a fish on. That’s often the case, not just with pike but with a number of other fish, particularly barbel, that you can get a take pretty much within seconds of casting out. Like other species, river pike will certainly use the current to their advantage, therefore the initial strike and seconds beyond doesn’t give you an indication as to the size of the fish you are playing. But soon you get an idea and I quickly realised that it wasn’t a big fish. But bigger than the one I caught from the canal! (The fish is pictured above)

And it seemed like I could be on for a good session when within the hour I had another fish, this time it was little bigger than the first. But as it turned out all I had done was connect with a pike-feeding spell, and for the rest of the day I saw no action other than to re-cast occasionally. However, with the water temperature being rock bottom, I was genuinely glad to catch something. And with Christmas fast approaching, this was my last session before turkey, mince pies and such like began to dominate events!

(Originally published December 2006)

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