Due to circumstances beyond my control (i.e. work), I hadn’t been able to get on a river since the season opened last Monday and the first weekend was taken up with a family break. However this weekend break was on the Norfolk coast within striking distance of my absolute favourite fishing venue; a river I call Eden. At 0530 I found myself on the banks of the river with a lure rod in hand. After weeks of fishing behind buzzers with buckets of bait and a pile of tackle, the simplicity of lure fishing was a joy; Rod, net, rucksack, a box of lures in my pocket and me. As much as I enjoy Tench fishing I struggle, I really am a fish out of water but with the Pike fishing I just feel comfortable.
Anyway back to the fishing. Conditions looked good, broken cloud and a little wind, the river was calm and clear. I considered clipping on an old faithful spinnerbait but decided on something a little more subtle to start off with, a Zoota Wagtail fit the bill, a curly tailed soft bait that was light enough to fish up in the upper layers. I worked my way along the boat dyke, here the weed had been cut and I didn’t see any sign of a fish. Reaching the main river the Polaroids revealed thick weed growing to within about a foot of the surface, it looked perfect. First cast upstream, a couple of turns of the handle and bang! The first Pike of the season was hooked and after the briefest struggle on over powerful tackle, was lifted ashore. She was small but very, very welcome.
I slowly made my way downstream, casting the Wagtail ahead of me and covering the water thoroughly. Another small Pike followed aggressively then sat dead still as if nothing at all had happened, despite my best attempts to stir a reaction that Pike just didn’t want to know. A bit further downstream and the Wagtail was nailed properly for a second time and a slightly larger Pike brought to the bank and quickly returned. I kept moving downstream, through a narrow reedy section where access was difficult, and was rewarded with Pike number three which had engulfed the Wagtail. I reached a nice bend which allowed me to cover a lot of water and looked like it just had to hold a Pike or two. It took a while but eventually the Wagtail lured a fourth Pike of the morning. This one would have weighed around six pounds, not a monster but good fun all the same.
I was happy with what I’d caught so decided to retrace my steps back to the car with a cast or two here and there along the way. I switched to a “Slither” Jerkbait made by Dave Greenwood. Short sharp turns of the handle kept this lure gliding side to side quickly, just above the weed and below the surface. Two more small Pike came in consecutive casts, from a swim I’d already fished with the Wagtail. Halfway along the stretch I couldn’t resist a cast into a weedy side drain which looked very Pikey. Bang! Pike number seven of the morning was soon lifted ashore. As I neared the car I could clearly see a couple of small Pike in the weed but they weren’t at all interested in my lures, not the Slither or my home made spinnerbait. Another slightly larger fish roared up to the Slither looking for all the world like it was going to slam into the lure but stopped dead in its tracks and never moved an inch afterwards. I realised that I hadn’t hooked any of the Pike I’d actually seen, all seven fish that I’d banked had come out of nowhere.
That was that, two hours fishing, a couple of miles walked and seven Pike hooked, landed and quickly returned. All the fish were bullied to the bank using a Fox Elite Jerkbait rod, Abu 6501 reel loaded with 80 pounds Power pro and 90 pounds lure trace, both the latter from DLST (see link). All seven fish powered off, none the worse for the experience when released. Oh and if any members of the Pike police are horrified by the lack of unhooking mat in the photo, the fish were laid on soft grass dampened by overnight rain. Believe it or not, unhooking mats haven’t been around forever and if the banks are soft, Pike do survive without them.