The C-Factor is a vital ingredient (pike article, entry 396)

The usual problem that I have with my angling is not if I should go, but rather where. Although perch are my favourite species, variety is the spice of life, and I keep myself fresh by targeting other fish as well. And if you throw in the various venues I enjoy fishing, variety is definitely the spice of life. This week though much of the indecision was removed from my planning, courtesy of very heavy rain that pushed so many of our rivers not only to bursting point, but in the case of the Severn, to overflow and beyond. The photographs below were taken of the river in the middle reaches and as you can see, any level of the surrounding fields that was below bank-point was submerged.


With the water up as a result of SW winds bringing warm rain, it would be very frustrating to the barbel angler who would definitely be fancying his chances in these conditions. But when you can’t actually get to the water’s edge then there’s nothing that you can do about it. The odd section was still fishable though and assuming the river rises no more then no doubt there will be anglers on there. But as I was in pike mode, the conditions were definitely against me. So instead of a River Severn fish, which was my preferred target this week, I switched my attention to a stillwater. In particular I headed into Shropshire to Dudmaston on the Kinver Freeliners AC ticket.

With a mild day and a water temperature that was very encouraging, I set up with confidence. I do refer to the C-Factor on a regular basis because I think it is an important ingredient in the recipe of the successful angler’s cookbook. In itself of course, it won’t put fish on the bank – I’ve proved that. But when we have confidence in abundance it will often bring the best out of the other ingredients. And more importantly, when we don’t have it, our session will always be a struggle. If we have conceded defeat before we even get to the venue, then it will be an uphill struggle from the off. I’m a confident person anyway, so it’s a natural progression for me to translate that part of my personality into my fishing. Like last week as I travelled to Molineux with my youngest daughter, and we gave our predictions to each other as we always do. I said Wolves to beat Manchester United 2-1…


As far as pike fishing goes, for me personally there’s nothing more exciting than watching a float. Although that could be bettered of course when the float starts to rock and roll in the water, as a fish discovers the bait and decides that it likes what it has picked up. And this was my experience during the session as a pike obviously liked the small sardine that lay enticingly on the bed of the lake (pictured right). When to strike is important; too soon and you miss the fish but too late and you have a deep-hooked one. Experience enables you to make more right decisions than wrong ones, but in the meantime if you haven’t done that much piking then it’s better to be safe than sorry. As far as I was concerned, on this occasion the strike was perfect and after a short but very spirited fight, I was able to remove the hooks without even needing forceps. As the fish lay in the folds of the landing net I noticed my other float had also started to move. However, even though the pike ran a few metres, it dropped the bait and so just the one to show for my efforts.

Still, after the harsh conditions of the past few months, anything is a result. As you can see from the photograph below, the fish wasn’t massive – I’ve certainly caught much bigger. But as anglers we need to appreciate fish for what they are and also, even if we are specimen anglers, to realise that we can only catch what’s in the venue. For some places a 10lb pike might be a cracker. We can become obsessive to catch bigger and bigger, in fact an obsession that will destroy if we aren’t careful.


I love pike and they are certainly contenders for the title of ‘Most misunderstood fish’. They aren’t freshwater killers that roam up and down waterways devouring everything in sight, in fact they play a very important role in maintaining a healthy and balanced fishery. And although I try not to be dogmatic if possible, that last statement is one that I am happy to stick with. There is still a long way to go with pike education, as indeed with fish welfare generally. I mean genuine education and welfare, not anglers using these issues as smokescreens to attack other anglers. Read any fishing forums and sooner or later you get personal attacks shrouded with a cloak of respectability, accusing the other angler of all sorts of crimes against fishmanity. I’m not interested in that stuff in the slightest, and I steer away from it with a passion. Rather than channel my energies into angling forum controversies, I prefer to put them into what it’s all about – actually going fishing. Not that I’m against networking though, far from it. Just the nasty side of it.

If you’re a regular visitor to my Angling Journal then you will know that I used to do a video each week to accompany the article. I stopped that a while back and wrote about the reasons why. This year though I have started a very short trailer video promoting each article. In as much as views are concerned, they seem to be going reasonably well, with three-figures being reached within the week. Obviously they are just short promotions, and that’s the purpose of them, so by their nature they won’t contain the detail that I used to put into the previous videos. People keep asking about them and when I will be doing more, but as my camcorder broke recently, and I’m not planning on buying one just for fishing that really is it for the foreseeable future. I have been able to personalise the trailer videos as from this week though as I have a reasonable video camera on my Blackberry, plus I have downloaded some software to convert the files.


On the nature-front I heard a couple of ravens as I made my way to the pool. They were about 400m apart and I managed to get a view of one of the birds. I keep a bird list and only include what I see, not what I hear. The signs of spring are all around us and as I sat by the pool I noticed a seven-spot ladybird on my rucksack. That’s a species by the way, not necessarily me saying I saw a ladybird with seven spots. And even though we are still technically in winter, spring isn’t that far away evidenced by lots of new green growth, as various plants start to make their way into the world. But one species that is far ahead of the competition is the snowdrop. Whilst the others are still some way from bloom, snowdrops can be found everywhere bringing some colour to the otherwise drab surroundings. Trees are also showing signs of life and I noticed various species that have evidence that their dormant period is coming to an end. I love all the four seasons, but spring is great as it’s about new life. (Article published February 12 2011)


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