As usual I was awake early on a damp miserable morning. Everything had been made ready the previous evening so it was simply a case of filling flasks, loading the car and hitting the road. At least it should have been, I got to the end of the road and had a nagging feeling that my freezer bag wasn't in the car, and so it proved. Five minutes after that false start I was on my way again. I had an easy journey along clear rods, belting out “The Prodigy” and thumping the steering wheel. My mind went back to the summer, watching Maxim prowling the stage at the bowl, audience in the palm of his hand. I also thought about a certain bureaucratic quango; “Fuck 'em and their law”.
At the slipway it was still gloomy and raining, in fact by the time the boat was loaded up it was absolutely chucking it down so I decided to tackle up in the relative shelter of the dyke before heading out into the wilds. I also managed a bit of float fishing and caught one sizeable Roach for my trouble, I wouldn't be letting this one go! I ventured out into the open with a fresh south westerly blowing the stinging rain right into my face. I dropped the weights at the “stump” once more and quickly had four rods out and fishing by 0730. By this time the gloom had lifted a little but there was no real sunrise as such. This is a regular stopping place for me early on in the trip as it is a decent area and gives me a chance to get the boat fully organised before heading off to explore further.
Today it proved a good choice as after half an hour I looked up to see my float skimming across the waves signalling something trying to make off with a Bluey. I quickly set the hooks and found myself attached to something that wasn't particularly heavy but didn't want to come anywhere near the boat so punched above its weight. Even when I brought it alongside this Pike wasn't finished. I turned to pick up my forceps and by the time I looked back it had dived under the boat and out the other side. All was soon retrieved, a nice fish safely unhooked and returned before normality resumed. Would anything else make an appearance in this area? No, an hour later I was pulling up the weights and preparing for a move.
My next stop was predictable, was “shit or bust bay”. Once again I stuck to fishing with four deadbaits, saving the Roach for later. I cast a Herring and “the evil” out into open water then fished a Bluey and a mackerel on the reedline. Sadly today was bust. I spent a while bailing water out of the bottom of the boat, this had gone unnoticed when I launched. After completing this procedure it was high time for another move so I quietly made my way across an area I hadn't fished before. I sat here a little over an hour and in this time the sky cleared some what to reveal some very welcome patches of blue and a respite from the persistent rain. No Pike troubled me here but once again I'd searched a little further and learnt a little bit more.
By 1300 I was slowly approaching another favourite area. There were other boats about here but I hoped there'd be enough room for me to squeeze onto the corner of a bay without disturbing anyone. There was another boat about one hundred metres away and I judged that this wasn't too much encroachment so carefully dropped the weights and set about fishing. I was on t the spot I'd taken a couple of fish from on my first visit of the autumn. By 1315 I was settled and fishing with Herring and Mackerel in the open water plus Bluey and Lamprey on the weedline. I hadn't been there long when I noticed action in the boat across the other side of the bay.
I hardly had time to ponder on this before a flat spot caused by oil on the surface attracted my attention, had something chomped the Bluey? Yes! The float was sliding away! The resulting strike put a proper bend in the rod, lovely! I found myself attached to a big angry Pike that didn't want to come near the boat then had a similar reaction to the landing net. After a brief tug of war and lots of boiling water she was mine! Into the sladle, unhooked then weighed, a quick photo before being admired briefly, (bootiful!) and returned. Job done!
A very angry Pike
I spent a happy hour smiling to myself and sitting in the sun, an all to rare experience so I enjoyed it while I could. It was bright but the wind had increased and swung a little, a fresh Westerly rocked the boat about. Before long itchy feet took over and I was pondering my next move. Obviously other boats in the area cut down the options and I ended up sitting in a spot I've fished a few times before. I've never boated a Pike here but it does tick all the boxes and it's only a matter of time. Not today however. As I tidied up for my final move of the day Rich made his way into the area. After a quick chat we headed off to our chosen places to spend the night.
I settled in to the same general area that I'd fished a few weeks previously. I cast a Herring and a Mackerel into open water then a Lamprey towards the bay. Finally a Bluey was dropped close to the boat along the weedline. For once I had time to get everything ship shape in the daylight then got down to business of a traditional evening meal. My usual healthy option of fried vegetarians nightmare. As the sun sank in the sky I changed a couple of the rods round, I replaced the Lamprey with the “evil” and swapped the Herring for the Roach livebait fished on a Paternoster rig. I washed dinner down with a cup of tea then sat back to wait.
Night fell but there was no let up in the wind which if anything had increased and veered to the North West. The night was mostly cloudy and rain fell in showers from time to time making life a little uncomfortable. Occasionally the full moon broke through the cloud and reflected spectacularly in the choppy water. The wind rushed through the nearby trees making that familiar sound. It was another wild night! The evening passed by with Richard and I texting filthy jokes to each other but neither of us was disturbed by a fish. By midnight I'd had enough so wound the rods in and retired to the comfort of my sleeping bag, covered with a plastic sheet, in the bottom of the boat.
I awoke around 0630 and despite the opulence of my accommodation I was damp and uncomfortable. However I soon shook this off, cast out three fresh deadbaits and put the kettle on. Once again the cloud made the sunrise a non event, the wind was now light and from a westerly direction. After ninety minutes without action and a hearty breakfast I was pondering a move. This was put on hold however by a couple of heavy showers, whipped in by the freshening wind which by now had swung back to a North Westerly.
Before much longer I was anchored up in the spot I'd had the fish yesterday, employing similar tactics. The Roach which was still full of beans was switched to a float rig. I hoped to drift it down the wind but this fish was intent on swimming everywhere but where I intended it. None the less it was still covering water so I wasn't too bothered. The time here was spent mostly watching Harriers in a sky that had now become a clear blue. I spent just over an hour here then moved a hundred metres or so south to a point in the reeds. Forty five minutes here followed without incident so I tidied up, upped the weights and moved off the area.
By 1300 I was sitting pretty in a large bay at a spot that had produced a few nice fish in previous autumns. Here I was mostly sheltered from the still strengthening wind and for some reason I felt confident. I continued to drift the Roach around under a float rig and fished deadbaits on the other three rods. I chucked a Bluey and a Lamprey downwind then with the final rod I popped a Herring up to fish it just off bottom. This rod was kept on the move, twitching and recasting regularly. I was watching the livebait float dance its way along when after half an hour a ticking baitrunner alerted me, once again the Bluey had been picked up. I wound down and bent into a fish but immediately felt the taps of a head shaking jack being transmitted along the line. This lasted for a second or two before the fish came off, it may have been small but I don't like losing fish, ever. The Bluey was recast and I figured I'd missed my last chance of the trip but I'd better give it a bit longer just in case. Forty five minutes passed and I'd given up and begun tidying up the boat. Was that a baitrunner? Bloody hell it was! There was a flat spot on the waves downwind and the float was moving rapidly to the right, Bluey again. I bent into a better fish which tail walked on impact then pulled hard against the bent rod. She was soon subdued and alongside the boat, another good sized, plump fish in fantastic condition which I chinned with a gloved hand. The hooks were just in the scissors and were removed easily, no need for the sladle this time. Should I take a quick photo? Normally I probably would have but as this one was still in the water alongside the boat I simply removed my hand and allowed her to drift off.
After that I felt obliged to stay a while longer but nothing else occurred. The last of the rain clouds had departed and I packed the tackle away in sunlight which was a relief. The wind was still fresh and the boat skipped across sizeable waves on our way back to the slip. Another weekend in my favourite place had come to an end leaving me very tired and slightly damp. I hope the weeks pass quickly so I can get back here and do it all again.