Hit the net, Jack (pike article, entry 31)

With wet and mild weather muscling in, and the cold front from the previous week being forced out, it was with great confidence that I set off for the first session I am writing about in this week’s journal. With the rivers locally bursting their banks, my species and venue was decided for me, hence I was on my way to target still-water pike.

I was very fortunate in that the heavens held back until I actually reached my peg, but once I dropped my gear on the ground, it was a signal to the clouds to deposit a deluge of water all around. It certainly did pour, within minutes the already muddy banks were turned into something more akin to a World War One battlefield site.

Some things you don’t skimp on, and one purchase that I invested wisely in was an umbrella. A shower-proof one is fine if you pick and choose when you go fishing, but if you are an all weather angler, then you need something more substantial.

My umbrella is also big enough to not only keep me dry but also my tackle as well. I am a tidy person by nature, and like to have all my gear at hand so that I know where it is when I need it. As you will see from the accompanying photograph, my pike tackle box is very neatly arranged!

My first fish came as mid-day beckoned, and although there was rain coming down, it was nothing more than drizzle. Therefore coming out from under the shelter of the umbrella was not a hardship. Striking into the fish it felt like a small one, and this was confirmed when I eventually weighed and photographed a pike that took the readingl to 7-5-0.

By early afternoon I had caught the second fish of the day, this time much smaller at 5-10-0. I removed my trebles easily enough, but I had noticed that the fish had another trace dangling from its mouth. Although I tried to remove the hooks, they were incredibly deep and so I had to give up. I did however, cut the wire as far down the throat of the fish as I could.

It is important that the pike angler carries wire cutters so that in the event of something like this happening one can minimise the damage. However, it must be said that prevention is better than cure, and there is no reason why an angler should allow a pike to take the bait right down as this one had. It’s better to strike early, and risk losing the fish, than it is to keep getting deep-hooked pike. Although, with experience, the latter can be avoided without the former becoming too much of a habit.

No more fish, which surprised me as the water temperature was on the rise and conditions looked good. To round off the week, I decided to have another go at the lake to see if I could connect with a decent pike. This time it was a dry day – although my angling clothes were still a little damp from the previous visit. I don’t know if you are like me, but occasionally I forget to dry my boots or clothes and consequently end up wet before I even start on the next visit.

With conditions looking really good, I was sure that I’d get amongst the fish. However, as the day wore on, I found myself staring a blank in the face. But all was not lost, as late in the session the left hand pike float started to tremble, as my sprat dead bait was obviously getting some attention.

As the bob sailed away I struck into a fish that eventually proved to be the best of the week at 8-11-0. From the way it was hooked, and the way the run had developed, it was clear that the fish had tried to drop the bait. I was just grateful that it hadn’t succeeded, although right at the very end of the session I did catch fish number two, a very feisty fish that registered as 7-9-0.

Ending with four fish all less than nine pounds, I couldn’t resist the temptation to use the heading that I have done this week. So please, if you are a Ray Charles fan, forgive my desecration of your hero’s sacred song!

If you have been reading my angling journal on a regular basis you will be aware that this year I am combining my fishing trips with some bird watching. On this trip I added species number thirty-five and thirty-six. First off was a Nuthatch, which in all honesty I would probably have missed if it hadn’t been for the dropping that I noticed landing in the water from the tree to my right that overhung the lake!

Looking up I saw the culprit, as it worked its way along the branch looking for food. I also added a Pheasant, which although I’ve been hearing them on a regular basis this year, this was the first one I actually set eyes upon. And whilst on the bird front, I noticed that the Great Crested Grebe that is resident on the lake is now beginning to sport its summer plumage, in readiness for the breeding season.

Together with the catkins that are now evident everywhere – not to mention the Snowdrops, which have been out for a few weeks now – it is a sure sign that spring is just around the corner. With just a month to go before the river season ends, I am hoping that the conditions will allow me to do some serious barbel fishing before I then begin a gravel pit carp campaign.

But in the meantime, although the fishing has been slow this week compared to my expectations, it’s still been good to do battle with the pike. That’s the beauty of being an all-rounder – you get pleasure from whatever species you are fishing for at that time.


 (Originally published February 2004)