Passionate but not obsessed (pike article, entry 397)

There is a massive difference between passion and obsession, and it’s important that we know where the one ends and the other begins. Whether we are anglers or not, it’s vital that we live a balanced life. There’s nothing wrong with passion, in fact it’s a positive thing, whereas obsession is destructive; so understanding the difference is important. In a nutshell, obsessive behaviour has a negative effect upon our life and the pursuit of an obsession means that other areas seriously suffer. On the other hand, a passion is contagious and acts as a spark which ignites the rest of our life. In practical terms, if angling is an obsession it will have a detrimental effect on our relationships, our marriage, our work, even our health. But if it’s a passion it will spill over and the other compartments will be enhanced and blessed as a result.


On the right side of the fence, this week my passion saw me once again pursuing Esox lucius. With the River Severn falling, but still bank-high, it was to a stillwater I pointed the car as I headed into Shropshire for some pike activity. The lake I was fishing (the same as last week) was quite shallow with maximum depths of just four feet. But most venues have some underwater features and with a drop-off quite close in, I fished just beyond that. I put out a few balls of groundbait specifically mixed with pike in mind. Brown crumb and SBS predator groundbait mix and liquid gave me the base and dead maggots and chopped sardines added the substance. From a human perspective the look and smell was awful, but then again it wasn’t my lunch, but designed to attract pike into the swim. And not only predators but also other fish as well, because where the smaller ones are the bigger ones won’t be far behind. Fishing with a float as the indicator, I presented two baits on the deck – a sardine tail section on one and a perch on the other.

It was a nice day weather-wise and the mild conditions of late saw winter and spring overlapping. For example I saw a flock of c20 siskin and two goosander flew overhead but also had a visit from a seven-spot ladybird (for the second session in a row) and witnessed my first bee of the year. It was a fleeting glimpse and so I wasn’t able to identify it but all part of the fact that spring is beginning to edge winter out. In addition there were several flowers beginning to burst through -all in the early green growth stages at the moment, but nevertheless evidence that we are slowly but surely leaving behind the severe winter experience of the last three months.


And with the water responding accordingly to the upturn in conditions, I caught a pike on my third successive session. This is on the back of five opening blanks for the species, which highlights just how important the conditions are. I only had the one fish though in the short visit I made to the lake and that’s it on the left. Not a big fish but I’m not sure what size they actually go to at the venue so it could be a baby or it could be a specimen. That’s the beauty of fishing new places where you have no prior knowledge as to the size of the fish. But from a personal point of view, whether it be 5lb, 10lb or 20lb I’m always happy to catch a pike and regardless of size each one is a marvellous example of one of nature’s most wonderful creations. Although I am an all-rounder I do understand fully why some anglers pursue the species exclusively. And if you’re a pike novice then check out the Pike Anglers’ Club of Great Britain (PACGB) where there is a mine of excellent information.

Since I went down the road of website sponsorship last year a few angling-related organisations and businesses have come on board and this week I’m really pleased to announce the latest. Gwen’s Tackle and Bait is my local shop and I’ve been going there for years. Although in this day and age, with so much stuff available, no local shop can stock everything and so mail order does fill a vital gap. But there is still something to be said for supporting your tackle shop, as the convenience is important for those unexpected trips, when you find you are out of something, or you need to pick up maggots. Gwen’s Tackle & Bait is as it says on the tin and run by a woman. And while the question of whether women understand the offside is something else, one thing is that Gwen does know her fishing. It’s a small shop, in Princes End, Tipton and caters very much for the pleasure and match angler. But even for a specimen angler like me, there’s enough to keep me going on basic bits and pieces at least. Check out details of Gwen’s on the home page of my site.


My second and final session of the week saw me wanting to try a new section of canal where I have not fished before. Would there be pike in there or not? There’s only one way to find out and that’s to get out there and put the rods out. And that’s exactly what I did. Walking along the stretch I did notice one section that looked like if pike were in there, that’s where they would be, but my intention was to fish several swims. So setting up some distance away I left the rods out for about twenty minutes in each peg and then moving along the towpath. Eventually I reached the likely looking spot, and having no action whatsoever up till then, I cast out and settled back to watch and wait.


As one of the floats started to bob I knew that a pike had picked up the sardine tail section that was on the bed of the canal. It developed into a run but then spluttered into what we call a ‘dropped run’. In other words the fish had chosen not to feast but had decided to spit. These things happen, and even though I didn’t catch I was actually encouraged that I had discovered at least one fish. And usually where there is one, more are not far behind. The float that prompted the action was making its debut and can be seen on the left. Although it looks old and battered it’s actually brand new. I saw a few of them at Gwen’s Tackle and Bait and thought ‘I must get one of those’. They reminded me of something from Mr Crabtree, and although I usually fish with modern Drennan pike floats, I was certainly pleased with the £2.95 hand-made and hand-painted traditional pike bung. Obviously you are limited to a certain depth as you have to fish float rubbers, for but for canals and the such like they are going to be my float of choice from now. I will get some more next time I’m shopping in Princes End.


Doesn’t time fly? We are now less than a month from the end of the river season, and although I do a lot more fishing than just flowing water venues, nevertheless I always feel a sort of sadness (if you can call it that) when the season ends. The irony though is that for many it doesn’t. I responded to a question the other day asking when I last had my rod licence checked by an official from the Environment Agency. I may be wrong but I can’t remember ever being asked. By club bailiffs, yes, but not by someone from the EA. For someone who fishes over 150 times a year is that a good thing or not? (Article published February 19 2011)


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