The river looked good, fairly clear and any drifting weed was being kept at bay by a fresh breeze from the west. The day began clear and bright, pleasant to fish in but not ideal for the fish, particularly the Perch. I used my usual tactics, a big lure for Pike – once again I opted for the Salmo Skinner, as well as a medium sized lure which would attract Perch too. I selected the Heddon Lucky 13 which had been successful for Josh a fortnight ago. I had a third rod in the boat for smaller lures aimed at catching the Perch. It was nice to have the boat to myself and for once everything was neat and organised, all I needed now was to find some fish.
A herd of cows stared at me while I toodled past, a Barn Owl gracefully flew across the river ahead of me and a Kingfisher darted along the river. A pair of swans and their brood tried to outpace me and I was surrounded by the peeps and squawks of waterfowl. This fenland oasis in glorious summer greens looks so different to the bleak winter wilderness I am more familiar with. All was right with the world but after ninety minutes and nearly five miles I hadn’t had a touch! I’d passed through a stretch between two side drains that had been red hot last season, my lures were in the zone, virtually untroubled by weed but nothing had touched them. What was going on?
As I neared the next ‘hot area’ at last the lucky 13 was nailed but this fish was off the hooks again straight away. At least things were looking up and I carried on with renewed confidence. The Lucky 13 was fished about 15 to 20 metres behind the boat, with the rod in a holder. Because this lure runs shallow it can be left while I concentrate on the rod being held. The Salmo lure runs to about three feet deep and brushes the top of the weed in places so requires more attention. By raising the rod tip the lure can be made to veer to the side and rise in the water, bringing it right to the surface in this way often triggers a take which can be visual and very exciting. I’d just raised the lure like that when a decent sized Pike swirled at it but missed, bugger! Seconds later I was contemplating turning the boat to cover it again when the Lucky 13 was nailed, fish on! I soon had a nice fish by the boat which I guessed around twelve pounds, I took a photo of it in the water before unhooking it without lifting it out or touching it in any way.
I was off and running and it was only a couple of minutes before the Salmo was nailed and fish number two brought to the boat. I went through this stretch of water a couple of times taking two more small Pike, one on each lure and lost a couple then stopped for a tea break. My plan was to now do away with the large lure and replace it with the lighter set up to target the Perch. While the tea was brewing I had a few casts with an Ondex spinner and hooked a fish almost straight away. I hoped it was going to be a Perch but no, another Jack. After a cuppa and a bite to eat I resumed trolling for the Perch, covering the area that had produced several nice fish in the past but all I caught was more Pike on the Lucky 13. This was good fun but I really wanted to catch Perch, perhaps the bright conditions were putting them off? I have to admit as far as Perch goes, if plan A fails then I can’t draw on much experience to come up with a plan B.
By 1030 the first narrow boats and holiday cruisers had started to plough their way down river. The water coloured up considerably and the wash dislodged lots of drifting weed which started to foul the lines. I switched back to the Salmo Skinner and added a couple more Jacks but the further upstream I went, the water became more coloured and the weed more difficult. The highlight of the return was two male Kestrels; one had a catch in its claws which the other desperately wanted to steal. They dropped below the flood bank and out of site so I’ll never know which one was victorious. By 1215 I was back at the launch site, preparing to hitch the boat again for the long tow home. My reward for all the effort, apart from the pleasure of spending a morning in a wild, angler free corner of fenland, was nine Pike to the boat and another three or four which slipped the hooks. Very nice, in five trips with lures I’ve caught thirty Pike (+ a few Perch) but this is by no means exceptional for these waters. Anyway that’s enough Pike for now, time for some very different fishing next time out.