Third time lucky – and that was just to get on the bank! (pike article, entry 181)

Third time lucky (not that I believe in luck, but it’s a well- used saying) and that was just to get on the bank. I had a frustrating Christmas fishing-wise, in that I was up bright and early Boxing Day, packed the car and was about to set off when it wouldn’t start. Thinking I had sorted the problem, I was planning to get out the next day, although on that occasion I had the sense to try the ignition first before loading the gear into the back. Which was just as good, as for the second day on the trot, the car refused to play ball.

By now the garages were open again and the problem was identified as nothing more than a dead battery. So with a new one fitted, I headed off on Thursday afternoon for the Lower Severn. With the rivers having dropped again to normal level following the recent floods, I was intending to continue my piking campaign. In fact the two previous aborted trips were planned for the local canal system in pursuit of the species.

The banks of the Severn were treacherous and by the time I left it was more like an ice rink than a piece of ground. Not that it was frosty, far from it, but rather so muddy that I couldn’t stand properly. And that’s why, when we choose swims in adverse conditions we have to seriously consider the safety issue. One of the factors is how can a fish be landed, particularly in darkness.

Putting out a couple of rods, I had a fish early on in the session. It was my chosen species, although there is not that much chance of catching anything else apart from a zander that is. It came as dusk started to descend over the Worcestershire countryside, as I had arrived late afternoon. A couple of photographs and back it went to fight another day. It was a good fish and would certainly feed a family of Eastern Europeans for a week!

I continued to fish through the night and up to lunchtime the next day, but nothing else was caught. I have quite a few sessions where just the one fish puts in an appearance, which makes the difference between a blank and a good day. The line between success and failure is indeed a thin one as far as specimen angling is concerned. But on this occasion I was more than happy to be on the right side of that line. And the fish was also the last one of the year for me.

I have enjoyed my angling in 2006, with three personal best fish caught. One of them, the zander, was my first of the species though so I suppose that’s not much of an achievement. But the best of the bunch was definitely the big bream I caught, particularly as I had been after a double for a while. I can still picture the night I caught that fish even now; it will definitely be one of those memories that will never be purged from my mind.

I didn’t have a good start to the year though, as my dad, who had previously been diagnosed as terminally ill with cancer of the pancreas, finally gave up his brave fight on February 19. For the whole of 2005 I had scarcely got going, and although I still fished (life has to go on and all that) my heart wasn’t totally in it 100%. But following his passing away, knowing that the situation had reached its culmination and there was nothing more I could do, then I started to get back into things with a passion once more. And that’s when the bream and the tench (the third personal best fish of the year) came, during a springtime gravel pit campaign.

Once the river season opened it was a case of barbel, barbel, barbel all the way. I found myself fishing the River Sow, which is a small tributary of the Trent, quite a lot. I did twenty sessions for just four fish – but with three of those being doubles, including one of 12lb 4oz, you could hardly describe it as a wasted experience. In fact, that fish ranks as my happiest memory of the year, with the bream a close second.

And with a mild autumn and early winter, the barbel fishing continued, with a switch to the Lower Severn as the main focus of attention. Over the last couple of weeks I have done some piking, and that just about brings me up to date. It’s amazing how quickly a year can pass by when you are describing it in this way. But let it be said that I have had some fantastic times, certainly from March onwards, and I am looking forward so much to 2007. And I trust that you are too!

 (Originally published December 2006)

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