Plodding on with pike (pike article, entry 398)

Although I am a very keen angler, and so in one sense I take my fishing very seriously, I have never lost sight of the fact that it’s all about enjoyment. It’s not like a work-related task when we are told by the boss ‘Do this’ or ‘Do that’, and it’s certainly not meant to be a burden. I never think to myself ‘Oh no, got to go fishing in the morning’. And on that introduction it was back to pike for the third article on the trot. I’ve been enjoying myself pursuing the species and on that basis alone I continued.

With the wind direction changing to a northerly I knew that it was going to be three tough sessions that I had planned for the week. Not that I’m making excuses, but whereas a couple of degrees fall in water temperature in summer is generally neither here nor there, at this time of the year when we’re already scraping rock bottom, it’s not ideal. But we are pretty much beyond the severe conditions of the winter gone and so with everything being relative. I was more than confident.

 

I was back on the Kinver Freeliners AC jewel-in-the-crown venue of Dudmaston in Shropshire. Whilst you may not get amongst monster pike (there are certainly bigger fish to be caught elsewhere) the pools offer pleasant fishing in beautiful natural surroundings. And apart from the Brim Pool with the main road behind it, you can add ‘quiet’ to the descriptive words. But even on the Brim, it’s like living near a motorway or a railway line; you sort of get used to it in the end.

My first session was a blank, not so much as a basic enquiry from a pike. But as always, no time spent at the water’s edge is considered a waste of time. Not only do I see my angling as an ongoing learning curve experience, and so I always draw something from it, but I’m dialled in to the natural world around me. In the common alder tree above where I fished, in with the small group of blue tits were a coal tit and a marsh tit. In true Marty Feldman-esque style, I had one eye on my floats and the other on the birds (especially the marsh tit) as they fed, totally oblivious to my presence.

On the right is a Dudmaston pedunculate oak. If a tree could talk, what a story it would tell having lived through hundreds of years of English history. And how many anglers’ tales could it relate, perched just yards from the waters edge?

 
 
As I returned to Shropshire for my second session, I was greeted by a flock of c.450 black headed gulls on the water. Of course they all flew as I approached, but then came back once everything had gone quiet again. Scanning the group with my binoculars, the amazing thing was that no other species were in with them. Usually you get at least a few other gulls, but no, every single one was a black headed gull. There was a variety of plumage with first winter birds, winter adults and some with summer plumage but not one other gull.

 

 
 

My approach was simple and the same as my previous sessions in recent weeks. A deadbait on the deck with a float as the means of indication. I tie a knot using power gum on the line above the float and so have the flexibility to change depth as and when needed. I always try to set the rods up on bank sticks as per the shot on the left; this helps to avoid any tangles that can easily happen when the rods are just lying on the ground.

The last thing you want as the float starts to sail away is to deal with snared undergrowth or releasing the line from behind a stone or branch. As well as leaving a short length of slack line out I also lift the bale arm – just extra precautions so that in the event of a lightning take from a pike I’m still in control.

 

And it was such an experience I had, as one of my floats, suddenly and without any warning, disappeared from sight. But just as quickly as it went it shot back to the surface. And that was that. What looked like a quick snack on the run ended up with a spit-out, as the fish obviously didn’t want to go any further. It wasn’t even a dropped run, you couldn’t call it that. But crucially, would I get another bite of the cherry?

 

The answer to that was yes, I would. And this time, on the other rod, I encountered a pike that was in a much hungrier mood. After a brief but spirited struggle, it finally succumbed and slipped over the waiting submerged landing net. As I posted on my social networking sites, just a small one but at least I wasn’t a blanker.

One of my facebook friends Stu, was also out the same day and like me had two takes. For him unfortunately though he remained fish-less whereas at least I had the one. As I commented to him, it’s a fine line between ‘success’ and ‘failure’. But like he replied ‘Success tastes so much sweeter after failure’. And I can certainly echo that, as one who has fished right through the worst of the weather that winter has had to throw at us, I certainly appreciate the rainbows after the storms.

 
With one final session left to complete the article, I returned to the stretch of canal I fished in last week’s piece. A brand new section with no history or knowledge, I had an enquiry and that prompted me to give it another go. It was literally a flying visit, just three and a half hours, and I was on the way back home again to do some work. I didn’t have any interest this time round, but that wasn’t a problem; there’s no such thing as a wasted fishing session. And in the case of exploring how do we know what’s in there unless we give it a go. It’s ok when people pass on fish-filled locations to us, but there’s something far more rewarding, and that’s finding them for ourselves. (Article published February 26 2011)

 

 

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