Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Two days in Eden

Up at the crack of 5am once again. Almost everything has been made ready the previous night so it’s just a case of boiling the kettle, taking the bait out of the freezer and jumping in the car. I meet Giles at Tescos and away we go, cruising serenely down the road with Marvin Gaye playing on the stereo, chatting enthusiastically about the day ahead. Our optimistic chatter was rudely interrupted by the total wanker coming the other way, overtaking on a single carriageway and nearly running us off the road and potentially leaving five children without Dads. We were both fuming and it was tempting to turn round, find the culprit and beat some sense into him. But we didn’t…

We arrived at the boat yard in good time, launched the boat without a hitch and were fishing in an area I call “the basin” in time to watch the sun come up. We were fishing a consistent area, with a variety of good, fresh bait in decent conditions (overcast and mild with a fresh south westerly wind), it was just a case of time surely? Maybe it is but we’re still waiting!! In short we blanked, we spent two hours in the first area then moved regularly after that, trying to find some fish. We kept on moving and searching, fishing areas we knew and others that were new to us. After 45-60 minutes in a spot we pulled up the mudweights and moved elsewhere. We may not have been catching but all the time we were learning.
Sun rise over "The basin"

A fishless day, a waste of time? Not on your life! A little bit more learnt about the system and a pleasant day in a beautiful wilderness of reeds and water, watching the Marsh Harriers hunting ducks. This was fascinating; all of a sudden a flock of around thirty Tufted Ducks would take to the sky in panic and a second later the ominous form of the Harrier would swoop low over the reeds.

As the day wore on the wind increased just as the forecasters had predicted, they had also forecast rain in the early evening so we decided to cut and run. By this time the wind was pretty strong too and as we motored north back to base the boat was being thrown about, it was uncomfortable to say the least. One moment we were being thrown forward on a wave, the next the propeller was turning in the air. On a few occasions I managed to steer us side on to the wind which was definitely a bad move. Giles maintained his composure by grimly concentrating on packing his tackle away, pretending it wasn’t happening. I had white knuckles on the tiller and tried my best to tell myself all was fine. I know Pike anglers are supposed to revel in tales of boats pitching between mountainous waves but bollocks to that!! In all seriousness we weren’t in any danger but were still relieved to make it back to the boat yard. We got the boat out quickly and cleanly, loaded the car the car and got the hell out of Dodge before the sheriff arrived. Or to put it another way, left before the rain arrived. Driving home, tired fishless and to be honest a bit despondent, at times you feel like there isn’t a Pike within a mile of your bait and the system seems so big and daunting. But then again that’s part of the challenge and when it does come right it makes it all the better. Here’s to next time!


Another early morning start and for the first time this season I had to scrape ice off the windscreen. Thankfully this mornings journey was uneventful and after seventy minutes and fifty miles I was nearing “Eden”. Away to the east there was a large bank of cloud and driving the last few miles I noticed puddles in the road. The parked cars I passed were all free from ice so it was obviously a few degrees milder here than at home. This could only be a good thing when fishing a shallow system such as Eden. I arrived at the yard and started sorting the boat out. I noticed there was a bit of ice on the boat cover which was thawing. It must have been freezing in the early part of the night then got milder in the early hours. I launched the boat without a problem and chatted to a friendly local launching opposite me.

By 0700 I was securely anchored up in the “Basin” area and had four deadbaits spread around the boat; Mackerel, Smelt, Lamprey and Bluey. I also mixed up some fishmeal groundbait, with chopped fish and ET Eel oil added, a big ball of this was chucked up wind. I cannot prove this really helps to attract Pike but I use it anyway as it gives me confidence. On a water like this I want to stack the odds in my favour and it seems logical that a Pike will detect the scent trail that this gives out. As the day grew fully light I sat back and relaxed, soaking up the unique atmosphere of the system. Away to the west I could just make out the hum of the morning traffic building, a tractor had begun work somewhere in between but apart from that, all I could hear was birdsong.

After almost ninety minutes I was experiencing an all too familiar feeling; “That hasn’t worked, what do I do next?” I started formulating a plan when I was rudely interrupted by the ticking of a bait runner. The rod baited with Mackerel was away. “Bloody hell a take!!!” Not something that has happened up here lately!! I wound down the slack, waiting for the line to tighten into a fish. I kept winding and winding…and winding then eventually worked out that the Pike must have dropped the bait. Bugger!!!! After two full days without a bait being taken, now I get a dropped take, highly frustrating to say the least!!! I sat it out in this spot for another hour but no more fish disturbed me. I then lifted the mudweights and allowed the boat to drift a hundred yards or so and the fished this area for another hour without success. I began to get a sinking feeling that another blank was on the cards. Stuff that! I’ll keep on searching and working to put a fish in the boat!

By 1100 I was moored up in the North western side of a large bay, in a nice looking area between two spots that had produced in the past. A bit of cloud was building in the west and there was a decent ripple on the water and I began to feel confident again. At 1125 once again I was alerted by a ticking bait runner, a mackerel had been picked up for a second time that morning. I quickly made everything ready, wound down and bent into a fish, YES! The bend stayed round and the rod felt solid, then it all went slack. BUGGER!! The air turned blue and I was pig sick, two chances in a day and both wasted. I had only felt the fish for a couple of seconds, not long enough for a ‘one that got away’ story, but long enough to know this wasn’t a head banging jack Pike. Even so I wasn’t sure how big (or not) the fish had been and the ‘not knowing’ would be torture. I’m lucky that, as far as I can remember, I haven’t had a really haunting fish loss up here at Eden. I stayed in that area for another hour hoping in vain that another Pike would put in an appearance.

Fishing gives us a good excuse to wear daft hats and not be embarrased
I picked myself up and by 1240 I was moored in the entrance to the bay, a nice looking natural bottleneck that had to be a good ambush point surely? An hour here and another 45 minutes spent in a feature packed area opposite me told me that it may well be a good ambush area, but not today. The eastern side of the bottleneck was a little deeper and had some interesting bays amongst the reeds so a little bit more learnt and stored away for the future.

By 1450 I was back in the “Basin”, about 100 yards south of my starting point. By now there was a fair bit of cloud and still a nice breeze from the west rippling the surface, I still felt I had a chance of a fish but time was running out. At 1535 the Mackerel was picked up once again and this time I made no mistake. Third time lucky, a spirited Jack of about five pounds was unhooked beside the boat. I was pleased to have caught at last but this didn’t make up for the sense of wasted opportunities earlier in the day. A few minutes later I was startled by a large splash just off the boat between two of my floats. I’d been considering getting off the water early and missing the worst of the traffic but had a nagging feeling I should stay, the splash resolved me to do just that. The feeling of waste I’d been having got worse at 1612 when for a fourth time the rod baited with mackerel was picked up, once again I failed to get this fish to the boat but having felt the fish I’m sure it was small. I’d now had four takes, all on Mackerel and only boated one fish, what was going on here?

Out of the murk....
The sun was sinking behind cloud in the west and there was an eerie atmosphere in the gloom, heightened by an early Tawny Owl calling to the south. Would I get another chance? Just one more run, please! At 1640 my wishes were granted and this time the take came to a Bluey. I’d been turning my head just like the owl, scanning the floats when I saw that particular float slide off. The strike connected and I soon had a nice Pike of around eight pounds at the boat, a lively fish that punched above its weight in the murky water. Ten minutes later having just rebaited with another Bluey I scanned the floats once again. Where was the float on the Mackerel rod? A ticking bait runner gave me the answer and I pulled into a heavier fish this time. She tried to fight but was out gunned by powerful tackle and was soon in the net, obviously the best fish of the day. These Pike can often be deceptive and the length makes it hard to guess the weight so I quickly weighed her at thirteen pounds. I took a quick photo but was interrupted by yet another ticking bait runner, three takes in ten minutes! It was the rod baited with Bluey again, I managed to set the hooks into another nice fish of around eight pounds. I rebaited both rods again and sat it out for another half hour, until I could no longer see the floats but that was it for the day.
The biggest of the day
By the time I had tidied up it seemed pitch black, the wind had picked up and swung round to a northerly, blowing a bit of rain into my face. Once again I had another dodgy journey back to the boat yard ahead of me, I had to contend with an increasing wind starting to throw the boat about. Not only that, I had to avoid the large navigation posts which were likely to jump out in front of me at any moment. It wasn’t a particularly enjoyable experience but I managed to steer straight down the channel and made it back to base with no mishaps. It had been a frustrating day at times but by the end a very rewarding one.

There has been some debate about whether Pike have preferences for certain deadbaits on the fishing forums. There is the logical opinion that a Pike would not pass by one free meal for something else. For most of today I fished four rods with a different species of bait on each one. My first four takes all came on Mackerel and this was from three different swims so it wasn’t as if it was one particular spot that was producing the fish. Of seven takes today , five came to Mackerel and two to Blueys, I had no takes at all on either Lamprey or Smelt. I think that today, conditions were such, Pike found it easier to find oily baits like Mackerel and Bluey and that is why they caught the Pike. The Pike appeared to prefer Mackerel but in reality, they found them quicker.

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