As is usual I was awake before the alarm clock sounded and once my mind had worked out what day of the week it was and where I was going I was out of bed and staggering around the house getting ready. I left home at an ungodly hour brimming with enthusiasm For once I had a dream of a journey north with roads that were as clear as the starry sky above. I arrived extra early so I could have a go at catching a few Roach for livebait before setting off. Maggots fished on a whip and a little bit of loose feed done the trick a lot easier than I'd expected and I soon had half a dozen nice baits in the bucket, result!
There was no problem at the slipway either and I was soon out on the water again. By 7am I was anchored up in the “Stump” area with four deadbaits carefully positioned around the boat. I was happy with the deads for the time being so transferred the lives into a Pike tube to keep them fresh. I had no plan to stay too long in this area but figured the dawn period was a good time to be actually fishing as opposed to motoring about the system. The sun rose into a clear sky, the day was mild with a fresh Easterly wind putting a good chop on the water.
After an hour I heard a ticking bait-runner and looked up to see the float moving downwind, the Bluey had been picked up! I quickly readied the net then wound down and struck...into thin air. “Bugger!” Or words to that effect. I told myself that it had to have been a small fish but it also occurred to me that the fish had been moving towards me and I'd actually struck at the fish in such a way I could have pulled the bait out of it's mouth. A really stupid mistake to make but it was too late now! Any quick move out of the area was put on hold for a while. After another 45 minutes or so I'd had enough of the area I shunted upwind about fifty metres instead. My second mistake of the day was discovered as I tidied up for this move. I pulled the tube of livebaits aboard only to discover that I'd forgotten to zip the bloody thing up, what a muppet!
After another hour here I was itching to move. I had an area in mind but decided to visit another spot en route. Here I was in with a chance of catching some more livebaits to replace the ones I'd pre-baited with earlier. I dropped the weights down, chucked a couple of deadbaits out then started to set the whip up again. It was only then that I discovered that the tip section was either back in the car, laying on the bank or lost. So that was cock up number three, what could go wrong next? Now I had a dilemma, should I stay in this area a while or move to the new area I wanted to try? A holiday cruiser bearing down on me made the decision for me.
By 1030 I was set up in a nice looking bay with the normal four deadbaits scattered about the boat. This was a swim I'd never fished before so I had a cast about to find a depth of around five feet and patches of weed in places.I cast a popped up Smelt upwind and a fresh dead Roach downwind. I placed a mackerel close to the reeds and fished a Bluey in open water. I was determined to explore new areas, this being one and had no real expectations so when, after about half an hour, the bait runner started purring it was a very pleasant surprise! The float on the Mackerel rod was heading steadily towards the reeds so I wound down and struck into a powerful fish. She tried to pull my arms off for a few seconds before turning and running back towards the boat at speed. The fish surfaced as she rounded the back of the boat and after a short tug of war she was in the net. “You beauty!” Long and lean, in mint condition though not yet anywhere near maximum weight but I was well chuffed.
I cast a fresh Mackerel back towards the reeds and sat back in the sun with a smile. It seemed my run of bad luck (or incompetence?) had ended in style! I had plans to fish elsewhere later in the day but that could wait, I'd be going nowhere for a while! At 1155 it happened again, the Mackerel was picked up but this time the float headed upwind. I bent into another fish which put a good bend in the rod but was soon bundled into the net. This fish looked longer than the first but definitely leaner and weighed in a few ounces lighter. Another beautiful Pike but this one had a red sore on one side, evidence of a recent capture perhaps?
After that success I spent a couple more hours in the bay though upped the weights and moved about a bit, however I had no more action and by mid afternoon I was back on the engine and heading out of the area. I started off fishing in a large bay then after an hour or so here I had a short move. Hopefully any scent trail coming off the baits from my two stops would be heading towards my intended destination for the night. By 1745 I was there, a small bay giving me a reedline horizon in three directions and I was brim full of confidence as this spot had “form”
Despite having to tolerate two holiday cruisers full of fuck-witted idiots I was soon settled with four baits in position. An “evil” was cast into the mouth of the bay, a mackerel fished on the weedline opposite, a Smelt on the near weedline and a Bluey in open water. All the rods were fished with heavy leads, tight lines and ET boat-biters. The cuddy thing was up and after an evening fry up I was warm, fed, comfortable and confident. I sat back and enjoyed another big sky broadland sunset as the Geese once again swarmed spectacularly. The wind was still fresh and from the east, the clear sky gradually grew dark and a glorious starscape blossomed before me. Or should I say above me? I listened to the sounds of animals, Geese honking, cattle mooing, Coots squawking and somewhere a dog was barking. I counted shooting stars and wished upon each one, 'health & happiness for my loved ones'. I didn't wish for giant Pike, leave that to Karma. I was happy as the proverbial pig in shit, a couple of good fish already under my belt, fishing with confidence on a wild night in a special place. Love it!!
Heavy lead, tight line, boat biter.
At 2330 my confidence was justified by a take on the “Evil” cast to the gap. I wound down and pulled into another fish that ran straight towards the boat and had me winding rapidly to catch up. By the time I was back in touch it was virtually under the boat and after a bit of pulling another long lean fish was in the net! She wasn't as big as the others and showed signs of an encounter with either an Otter or a propeller but I was chuffed to bits once more. With the fish slipped back and the boat re-organised I recast and fished on for another hour before giving in to tiredness and winding in for a few hours.
I love it when self timer shots go wrong.
I was back in the land of the living by 0615 and soon had four fresh deadbaits back out there. The day dawned with a soft red sky in the east, tweeting from the reed beds and a cacophony of noise from the Geese. I cooked breakfast, filled the flask and slowly tidied the boat while planning my next moves. I would have a move, that's for sure but where?? My thoughts were interrupted by the float on the Evil rod moving down the wind, another take! This fish wasn't in the same league as those that had preceded it but a nice fish none the less. That convinced me to have a short move back across the bay, thus staying in the general area. As soon as I'd made the move I knew it was a mistakes but sat here for a short while anyway. After a long hour I got my shit together and moved out of the area.
My next stop, predictably enough, was back in the bay I'd caught the brace from the previous day. Would there be any more big Pike about? No, in fact no Pike of any size put in an appearance. By midday I'd moved again, back towards “home base” I arrived with no clear plan of where to fish but once again I let the other water users decide for me. In this case it was psycho's on windsurfers. I settled into a spot where two bays joined forming a point in the reeds. This was another spot I'd never fished before, in fact over the previous couple of days I'd fished in five different areas I'd never dropped the weights down before, catching from two of them. The spot looked like an ideal ambush point and I'm sure it's going to produce the goods at some point but that was not the case today. After another fry up I tidied everything away and headed back to the slipway, dirty, tired, smelly but content.
After a couple of days of exposure to nothing but the wilderness and the weather; no people, no TV, no internet, no traffic, no phones (well maybe not quite), no routine. After two days of doing as I pleased I had to prepare myself for re-entry into the real world. Not at all easy, I cant wait to get back in the boat!