I had another busy weekend with only a small window of opportunity to squeeze a few hours fishing in. The plan was to get up at the crack of stupid o clock in the morning and spend a few hours fishing the pit. Once again things didn’t exactly go to plan! The plain truth is, when the alarm sounded the thought of fishing the pit wasn’t enough to drag me out of my warm bed. Eventually after hitting the snooze button for the umpteenth time I managed to get up and out. The kids were stirring upstairs so I poked my head round their bedroom doors, Madison wasn’t getting up for anything but Isaac was keen and after ‘five more minutes’ toddled down stairs for breakfast. By the time the flask was full and we were prepared it was 0730 and a gloomy day was slowly starting to brighten.
As forecast the day was a stinker, gloomy with strong winds from the south and persistent rain. Many anglers seem to think these conditions are the kiss of death for Pike but in my experience it is a pretty good forecast for fishing the gravel pits in this area. On arrival at the pit I spent a while deciding where to fish. The hidden swim in the trees would be a non starter today as there wasn’t enough room to erect a shelter which would be essential with a six year old in tow. I was surprised to see only one other angler fishing, a Carper zipped up tight and cosy in a bivvy. This meant I had an opportunity to fish a large swim that is almost always taken by a carper or two. This spot has plenty of scope and water to cover and I hadn’t fished it since the early nineties. ‘That‘ll do for me’ I thought but on arrival with my kit, closer inspection revealed it was an absolute tip. If being litter strewn wasn’t bad enough a bunch of muppets had made a bonfire which was covered in broken beer bottles, judging by the smell this had been a recent event. Once again my six year old son had to be considered and I wasn’t going to risk his safety with a pile of broken glass. Plan B was to fish the southern bank which was deep with an easy cast to a productive island. Here too I had to fill a plastic bag full over other peoples litter, sadly there was ample evidence that the culprits were Pike anglers. Not only would my fellow anglers be getting a bad name but the area was obviously being Pike fished by idiots. I looked longingly across to my hidden swim in the trees!
By eight o clock I had two deadbaits out soaking while Isaac and I were enjoying the shelter of my little pop up bivvy while the wind whipped rain in. I fished one rod, baited with Lamprey to the Island. Normally this would be a simple cast but the wind was making things more difficult, either gusting and blowing the bait of course or dropping and leaving the risk of landing in the trees on the island. Perhaps I should invest in a bait boat? Not! Eventually I held my nerve and saw the Lamprey land bang on target at about the fifth attempt. The other rod was baited with smelt, and while I was content to leave the Lamprey in place this one was alternated between the deep margin shelf or open water towards the island.
For the next two hours I spent some precious one on one time with Isaac whilst peering through the open bivvy door, keeping an eye on my rods. I helped him read his ‘Star wars’ magazine and he giggled at the ‘Bunny suicides’ book but best of all was watching him feed pieces crisp to a friendly Robin. He was particularly excited when the Robin spotted a worm and after a brief tug of war the bird made off with a second course to its meal. As time ticked by, the sky grew gloomier and the rain seemed to be getting worse, the puddles grew deeper and the bank grew muddier. Everywhere I looked the bankside seemed to be scarred by litter, I suppose that’s the problem with fishing a day ticket pit like this, it is also inhabited by morons.
At around ten o clock Isaac and I were suddenly alerted by the shriek of the BBBB alarm, the Lamprey cast to the island had been picked up, my persistence in casting had been rewarded. The strike met with a solid weight and the rod bent round nicely as I pumped what was obviously decent fish back towards me. The fight was unspectacular, typical of a winter pit Pike and I soon had a good sized fish in the net to Isaac’s excitement. On the mat, the hooks were removed quickly and I recorded a weight of just over sixteen pounds, very nice but unfortunately showing the signs of bad handling from a previous trip to the bank, at least it was returned alive. “What do you think of that?” I asked Isaac as we watched her glide away with a flick of the tail. “That’s cool Dad” he replied “Shall we go home now?” I looked around me and up at the sky which seemed to be getting darker and decided that was a good idea. That fish may have sparked the beginning of a feeding frenzy but I doubt it and we’ll never know, half an hour later we were home, stepping out of soggy clothes.
After the time, money and effort I spend travelling for my fishing I suppose it’s ironic that my heaviest fish of the season (so far!) has been caught from a local water after minimum effort. As much as I enjoyed catching this fish and sharing the experience with Isaac I can honestly say I’d get more satisfaction from catching a fish half that weight from a beautiful natural fishery. Roll on next week!