You can’t get enough of a good thing, and so far this year I’m enjoying my pike fishing, hence I decided to continue with my pursuit of the species. I construct all my own traces and so the evening before, I made a dozen or so in preparation for the session the next day. It is crucial however that any home-made traces are up to standard, as you will read later in the article.
In fact, for a beginner, it’s probably a good idea to either buy them from a tackle shop that knows its pike stuff or else to seek advice from other more experienced anglers. Poorly constructed traces can be lethal; we’re not talking about a size 20 hook left in the mouth of a roach, but size 6 trebles on wire stuck in the throat of a pike.
Arriving at the lake, the water temperature was again low at just five degrees. Still, I’ve been catching with the thermometer fluctuating between four and five, so I wasn’t too concerned. Fishing sprats, by 10.30 a.m. I had both rods cast out, and was ready for action. I have mentioned in previous writings how I find fishing with a pike bob incredibly exciting – in fact I could stare at one in the water all day and still not get bored.
However, for three hours, the only movement was when the wind raised a ripple or two on the surface, this in turn causing the float to bob up and down slightly. But eventually, the left-hand float sailed away and I struck into a small jack pike that weighed in at all of 4lb 10oz! Still, I was very grateful, considering it had been so quiet all morning and early afternoon.
Within a quarter of an hour, it was the turn of the other rod to provide some sport. This time it was a fish almost double the size at 8lb 9oz. As I positioned the fish on the landing net and removed my hooks, I noticed that it also had another rig in its throat.
Using the correct tools I removed it easily enough. Looking at the rig though, I was saddened to see that it was a very poorly constructed home-made attempt. The wire itself looked incredibly thin – compared to my 24lb wire it looked like cotton.
In addition, the crimps weren’t attached properly. There was no nylon at the swivel, and so I wasn’t sure whether the angler had cut the line when the fish had been landed or whether a poorly tied knot had simply given away. Either way, it shows that there is a lot of education still to be done amongst anglers.
But I do feel it’s important that we employ education and not judgement. Before we get too harsh, we should at least give people an opportunity to respond to positive criticism. It’s also a good idea to consider joining an organisation such as the Pike Angling Club, particularly if one is a novice and needs good advice on handling the species. In addition there are plenty of Internet angling forums where questions can be asked of more experienced anglers.
The final fish of the day came within the hour, this time back to the left-hand rod. It was a good fight and as the fish turned in the clear water I could see that the first double of the session was about to make the net. It was in fact an ‘11’, taking the scales round to 11-5-0. A slow start had come good in the end!
I did have another good fish on as the afternoon wore on. However, just as it was getting into netting range, the hooks pulled. It was a low double, but I consoled myself with the fact that at least it wasn’t a ‘20’! And at that, my memory went back to the fish of that estimated weight that I had recently had in the net, but which escaped before I could weigh and photograph it. I promised myself another river session as soon as the conditions were suitable.
As I packed up and left the water I noticed that the resident drake and duck Goldeneye had now been joined by a couple of more males. They are very colourful birds, particularly the males. I’m sure I’ve seen them before, but it’s only now this year since I’ve been really taking an interest that I’ve been able to say for sure. Plus having binoculars with me helps. Even with strong natural eyes, at sixty or seventy metres, ducks are nothing more than blobs on the water!
With a sudden change in the wind direction meaning that bitterly cold weather was now on its way – not to mention snow – I knew the next session was going to be hard. However, an early afternoon double (10-12-8) meant that I was glad I had bothered to go fishing in spite of all the negative signs regarding the weather.
The truth is that if we only fished when conditions were perfect, we’d probably not get out that often. And think of the times when everything looks set to produce a red-letter day and we actually struggle! And when we do catch in adverse conditions, it is certainly very satisfying. And so, returning the pike to water and watching it surge off back to the deeps with a flick of its tail, made me glad that I wasn’t at home in front of a warm fire watching TV!
As the afternoon wore on it certainly became very cold, and I was extremely grateful for the umbrella that kept away the snow and sleet that was coming down periodically. Not really expecting to catch another fish, I was pleasantly surprised when right at the end I landed an 8-7-0. I’d have certainly settled for two pike if I had been offered that option prior to setting up. And with a brace of doubles for the week, I was certainly defying the weather.
I also added a couple of birds to my tick list. First up was a Great Tit, which as is often the case, was in a mixed flock of other Tits. They are very pretty birds and I was able to get a good close-up as the flock was in the tree to my left. I also added a Great Crested Grebe, which in its winter plumage can easily be mistaken for the Red Necked Grebe, as it loses its very distinctive summer tufts. However, I did get ample time to view the bird and to identify it properly.
(Originally published February 2004)