Fishing: More important than life or death (pike article and video, entry 379)

I’m sure that we are all familiar with the Bill Shankly quote that runs pretty much along the lines of ‘Football is not about life or death, it’s more important than that’. I’ve seen a few stickers on car windows lately that take an identical line but substituting fishing for football. And no doubt other pastimes and activities follow the same route. But in reality it’s all just tongue-in-cheek really. No-one actually believes that, it’s just a bit of fun. In the last couple of weeks I’ve found myself in the position where my father-in-law passed away and with all the business that needed to be taken care of, I realised that although fishing had pretty much been on the back burner I hadn’t thought about it. I’m as passionate as anyone when it comes to my angling but I am also thankful that I have a balanced life and everything has its place and priority.


Tom Whitehouse
Tom had been diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year but was responding quite well to his chemotherapy so it came as a great shock to us all when he suddenly took a turn for the worse. Within hours he was dead. That’s a photograph of Tom who is on the left with WBA legend Tony ‘Bomber’ Brown. It was taken at a football presentation for a charity football league that I run, where earlier in the year Bomber did us the honour of presenting the trophies. Although Tom was a Wolves fan, he was from the ‘old school’ that liked to see both local teams doing well and he certainly didn’t have any of the bitterness so often associated with modern footballing rivalries. He was also a committed Christian and he was a member of the church where I am the minister – Tipton Family Church. I did the funeral and although a time of sorrow, yet also one of privilege as I was able to give thanks for Tom’s life. Our church was full and some people were even standing, which was testimony to the fact that he was popular and well-liked. Farewell Tom, we will miss you.


With the year moving on I decided to get my pike campaign under way. With time limited due to the busyness of everything that was going on I headed for Dudmaston Big Pool on the Kinver Freeliners ticket. I’m a great believer in taking a philosophical and stoical approach to life and so wanted to get a session in as it helps to keep things as normal as possible. From an angling point of view I had probably chosen the worst day as the previous SW wind gave way to a biting northerly; and so it didn’t come as a great surprise really when the only movement on my pike floats came from the wind as it battered in from the arctic. But even when I blank I still enjoy getting out to the water’s edge. There was a huge pedunculate oak right behind me and I thought to myself how it was there way before Tom or I were born and how it will be standing long after I have departed this world. I also mused how many blanking anglers it had seen over the years!


That’s a shot of the Big Pool left, looking through an overhanging common elder tree, with the boathouse just visible in the background. It is one of my favourite pools, not for the size of the fish you can catch, but for the pleasantness of the surroundings. And as far as the latter is concerned it is definitely the jewel in the crown on the Freeliners’ portfolio of venues. My second session though was on my local canal. This was the day before the funeral and I fancied a three hour crack-of-dawn outing. I set up in a place where I have caught pike before but it is still a bit hit and miss. There are pike in the Staffs/Worcs Canal and they are on the increase, but they’re still pretty much in pockets. But as an angler who like a challenge, that’s really up my street anyway. If all I wanted to do was to simply catch fish then I would set up next to a goldfish bowl. For me it’s not just about catching that counts, but all the other factors involved are to be taken into account. And when you have to work hard for your fish then when you do net one the thrill is much more appreciated. Anyway I blanked again!

My third and final pike trip was back to Dudmaston. This was after the funeral service itself and although still a sad time, the reality is that life moves on. And what an horrendous day it was from a weather perspective. Strong winds and heavy rain all day long were the order of the day, and it came as no surprise that I did not see a single human soul throughout the session. I was so wet that at one stage I felt like jumping in the lake to dry off. But my dedication paid off though as before I had cast the second rod out I had a run on the first one that resulted in a small pike. Small but very welcome. As I say on the accompanying video trailer for this article, there isn’t much in angling as exciting as watching a pike float react as the fish picks up the bait. And at that moment, right through to the strike and beyond, you don’t know what size of fish you are talking about. It could be a baby or it could be a monster. That’s one of the great things about angling.


It turned out to be a decent day overall as far as the fishing was concerned. I had five runs resulting in three pike landed, one lost at the net and pulled out of one on the strike. Due to my tribute to Tom I haven’t had the opportunity to bang the welfare drum as I usually do when writing about pike, but that will happen enough anyway over the next few months. Pike are not ferocious killers, in fact they are very sensitive fish and there is still a long way to go as far as education is concerned. Take this very session as just a small example. You can just about make out on the photograph above that I have blood on my left fingers. Some people would say ‘The pike bit me’. But no, pike don’t bite. Dogs bite, lions bite, mosquitos bite. But not pike. What happens is that a pike may thrash while on the unhooking mat and the sudden jerk of its head may cause a cut, but that’s all. We need to educate people, pike don’t bite! When we do end up with blood being drawn it is not because of an conscious decision on the part of the pike to attack us. (Article published October 9 2010)




Check out the trailer video for this article. It’s 2010 number 46

 (Originally published October 379)

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