Sunday, 5 October 2008

My addiction

I call the place “Eden”. What can I say without giving too much away? It’s a large tidal system, an area of outstanding natural beauty and a haven for wildlife. The fishing can be extremely difficult with Pike few and far between. The draw of the place is the challenge and knowing if you are rewarded then it could well be with the fish of your dreams. I’ve probably said too much now but then again, if you know the place I’m talking about then I haven’t told you anything you didn’t already know.

Today I had my first trip of the Pike season proper and once again I am totally addicted to fishing the system. I towed the boat up and was joined by Giles, we launched then motored out, greeted by a pair of Marsh Harriers circling away to the west. Where do we fish on this big river system on an October day? I decided to start in the area we had done OK in last year. We spread an array of deadbaits around the boat and occasionally cast lures but mostly sat enjoying the scenery and soaking up the special atmosphere. We were in a decent area fishing with good bait but thoughts of actually catching fish didn’t enter our heads, this was a hard water after all! However as Giles slowly retrieved a drifted dead roach he felt a sharp tap and a Pike swirled at his bait. Unfortunately his bait wasn’t taken but there was a fish in the area at least!

The weather was pretty much spot on for fishing this system, mild with a decent westerly wind. The only downside was the rain which had begun to fall and was getting heavier. This may not put the fish off but it might make things uncomfortable for us sitting in the boat. At around 9am the bait runner on my rod baited with Lamprey signalled what could only be a take. I pulled into a decent sized fish which punched its weight but was soon in the net. She was a little bit tatty showing the scars of what may well have been a close encounter with a propeller but I was happy with a Pike of eleven pounds. We stayed in this area for another hour before following a pre-determined plan to search out other areas of the system.

By 1030 we were in another area, moored up in a sheltered bay, within lure casting range of the reedbeds. A couple of deadbaits were put in this area too but most were cast out into open water. We had only been in position for a few minutes when one of my rods, baited with Bluey was picked up. The strike connected and plenty of head shakes were transmitted down the line, soon a long lean fish of around seven pounds was brought to the boat. Unlike the first fish this one was in superb condition, a long spotty example of a river Pike.

I’ve known Giles for nearly thirty years and to describe his eccentricities would require a separate blog on its own but the events I’m about to describe go along way to showing the kind of character he is. On one rod he was using a dead roach that had been in his freezer for about three years and looked like a bait that had been in the freezer a while! As he attempted to launch this bait out it parted company with his hooks and splashed down a few yards in front of the boat. After taking the piss I turned my attention elsewhere while Giles mucked about with his lure rod. After a while it became apparent that he was trying to foul hook said Roach which was floating like a cork. After a few attempts he actually managed to do just that, in fact he foul hooked it perfectly through the lips! He then proceeded to reattach it to his bait rod again and cast it successfully back out. I had to laugh; “You’re gonna catch a ‘twenty’ on that!”

You can guess what happened next. A few minutes later, the Hi viz float on that rod went steaming off just like one of the barrels in ‘Jaws’ and the strike put a solid bend in the rod. It wasn’t long before Giles pulled a long, lean, big headed fish into the net. It wasn’t a twenty but at 15.10 it was a very nice fish indeed. A quick photo session and she was returned to grow even bigger while we sat back laughed at our luck, even the rain began to ease!

After a quick repair job on the stove we feasted on bacon sandwiches before moving on to explore further. Our next stop was in open water with deadbaits spread around the boat and lures cast from time to time. This move proved fruitless so we lifted the weights once more and tried another area. This was another likely looking spot, once again the reeds were well in range and we continued to use the same tactics. After nearly an hour nothing had happened and we were just discussing our next move when one of my floats started to move. This proved to be the smallest fish of the day at around six pounds and picked up a buoyant Pollan which had been cast out and slowly twitched back to the boat. Not long after this the bait runner sounded again, my rod baited with bluey went off steadily then stopped just as suddenly. I wound down anyway but there was no Pike on the end and no bait either. My guess is a small Pike had picked up the bait and managed to tear it off the hooks, if it had been a bigger fish I’m sure I’d have put hooks in it.

We gave this area a while longer then moved back close to where we had started. We sat here for an hour but no more action occurred so we packed the gear up and motored back. So my first excursion on my favourite water yielded six takes to two anglers and four Pike to the boat. I’d settle for this kind of sport every week but I know it’s going to get a lot harder as the season wears on!


mizlan said...

wow...nice catch!do eat that fish ?

Michael Hastings said...

Hi Mizlan, No 95% of fishing in the UK is catch & release. I'm reliably informed Pike taste like crap anyway!

T. Brook Smith said...

I've eaten Pike in my youth and they were indeed awful.

Nice fish Michael!

Ben said...

excellent fish!

mizlan said...

hi michael,
your friend, Giles, is unique and creative guy. by the way what is 'roach'? it it cocroach or some insect?surely, i would like to try that bait but to leave it in the freezer i donno if my wife would like fishing buddies also made up weird stuf as bait. some use even chicken neck as bait.for me, i once used chicken intestine. the smell is awful but it can make snakehead went crazy. but the downside of this bait, your hand remain stinky even after using soap.

Michael Hastings said...

Cheers for the comments Gents.
Mizlan a Roach is a cyprinid fish native to most of Europe. They rarely weigh more than 2kg and make up a major part of the diet of the Pike we fish for.
Using a smelly dead fish as bait is probably the most popular method for catching Pike in the UK.