No doubt as anglers we look forward to certain days on the calendar, with June 16 being the obvious stand-out date. There are others though, and for me October 1 is one of them – the start of the traditional pike season. With the country experiencing an Indian summer, it didn’t feel like traditional conditions though as I kicked off my predator campaign.
With air temperatures nudging 20C it was positively warm, and definitely so for the time of year. Water temperatures were also holding up well, and that’s why many clubs have the date that they do before anglers can start chucking out baits with treble hooks in them. Higher water readings mean the pike are more active and therefore the risk of swallowing a bait is greater. It’s a sensible rule.
Float-fishing deadbaits, I just watched my floats with an eagle-like eye, as you are supposed to anyway, so that the slightest movement and I would be there ready to strike at the appropriate time. As it happened, there was no striking going on in the opening sessions. I didn’t get a single dropped run or even an enquiry of any description.
It was certainly the slowest start to a pike season that I can remember, and it was my fifth outing before I actually banked my first fish. You may wonder why I share that fact, after all isn’t it a negative? Not at all, is my reply, just a fact. We all have periods of struggle when the going is tough and the best sort of angling writing, in my opinion, is not just to record the ‘highs’ but also the ‘lows’ as well.
The fish that ended the run of blanks was only a small one, but due to the circumstances, very welcome indeed. The harder the struggle the greater the joy when it finally comes together. Although it wasn’t a big pike – they don’t run to any weight in that venue anyway – it made my day. It was caught on a sardine tail section.
The venue I fished is one of the best for all-round nature. It’s one of the reasons I go there, knowing that although the pike aren’t big, I can enjoy the natural world. It really does excel in fungi though, with so many species to be found. The photograph below is of a puffball on the bank. I also had a flock of c.100 grey lag geese on the lake, and as I had the place to myself they were happy to keep their distance and stay put.
I was back on the same lake for my final fling of the blog. In such a short period of time the weather had turned and the water temperature had plummeted to 12.9C. Rather than discourage me though it actually had the opposite effect. It felt something like proper autumnal pike weather at last. With strong wind and heavy rain I was raring to go.
There at noon, within minutes I had the unmistakable sign that a pike was making an enquiry. The tremble of the float, the tremors and bobs, culminating in it moving across the water before finally disappearing from view. Strike! Fish on! Typical size pike for the venue, it certainly gave me a buzz after such a slow week. It was caught on a sardine tail section by the way.
Would it be a one-off or would it be the proverbial bus? You wait around for ages, then two turn up at once. Well not quite on top of each other, but a couple of hours later I had another fish on the bank. This was a close one though, as the hooks came out in the net. If you’re a predator novice (and even if you aren’t) it’s always preferable to strike early and be on the safe side than risk a deep-hooked fish.
So after an extremely slow start to my pike campaign, it picked up towards the end. And without doubt, the conditions played a massive part in that. It’s all onwards and upwards from now on! (Published October 19 2013)