Every now and then I get a reminder that people actually read this shit that I type on here and, as daft as it may sound, every time it comes as a surprise. When I first started writing this stuff 2 ½ years ago I saw it as little more than a nice way of keeping a diary and putting a few pictures up. I can't remember ever 'advertising' it, I just wanted a way to record my memories. Maybe someone would come across the page by accident from time to time, maybe not. When the penny dropped that there actually one or two people around who had enough spare time to read this crap I then realised I had to write it in such a way that I didn't actually tell anything to anyone. This is a challenge in itself, it has to be kept honest without giving too much away. Every autumn, as the Pike season approaches I ask myself, 'do I really want to do this again?' It's strangely addictive however.
Anyway, I had another 'reminder' last week which caused me to ask myself whether I've been a bit unfair to Derrick Amies and his, er … book. In his defence it is only fair to state that Derrick Amies has caught a hell of a lot of big Pike, more than I ever will even if I live to 150. He also knows his way around his home waters far better than most of us, myself included ever will. So who the hell am I to question him? In the interests of balance it's only fair that I make some positive comments about the book. I enjoyed the history section more than I expected and DA's defence of Dennis Pye is admirable, leaving me with the feeling that I wanted to believe him. The chapter on Pike location is very interesting and for the most part believable, even if the hard evidence is lacking. Derrick's thoughts on boat-craft and the need to be quiet on the water are common sense and hard to argue with but maybe a little extreme? However, on this point I'd happily bow to Derrick's greater wisdom. What I'm trying to say is Derrick does have some interesting ideas but it's bloody hard work extracting them. The parts when the book is good, then its pretty interesting. But the parts when it's bad....
Back to the fishing. I had a couple of days free of responsibilities so I was really looking forward to another two days out on the water. I knew exactly where I wanted to fish and how I wanted to fish it. However as the time approached there was a black cloud on the horizon, literally. The forecast for the second day was for heavy rain and gales and not only did this cause an honoured guest to postpone it threw the plans I'd made out of the window. I've read all the stirring tales of Pikers with white knuckles battling rolling waves to heroically get to and from their destination but bugger that, it's only fishing! Was this the reason I felt completely out of sorts as I staggered around the house in the silly, early hours of the morning? Or was it because I opened the wine bottle too early? Either way, instead of bouncing out of bed, all eager to go I was decidedly out of sorts, no energy, no get up and go. So too the journey north, normally my mind is full on thinking about where and how I'm going to be fishing. Two days previously I knew exactly what I wanted to do but now I didn't have a clue.
At the slipway there was a bit of a queue but friendly faces and chat so all good. My bloody engine wouldn't start, after a while I realised I hadn't put any petrol in it.... As I made my way out I still had no idea where I wanted to fish, the wind was from the east and I remembered a spot that had produced the goods this time last year in similar conditions, that'll do for me. As I rounded a reed bed I saw a boat about a hundred metres away, exactly where I wanted to be. Bugger that, plan B was my usual default plan. Head to the spot I caught fish from last time out. By 0800 I had the weights down and the usual four rods positioned around the boat. The sky was a mixture of clear blue and dark clouds that occasionally splattered me with rain. Conditions, at the moment, where pretty good and I was in a decent area with good bait so surely I was in with a shout of a fish? For some reason, today it just didn't feel right.
After ninety minutes I needed a move, but once again I had no real idea of where to go. When I did make up my mind, what did I find? Not one but two boats in the area I wanted to fish. Now I was down to plan D or was it E? I ended up fishing a point between two bays. I've fished here once before, it looks great but on both occasions I've failed to find any fish here. By now the bright, breezy weather had brought more water sports enthusiasts out, twats with sails, so unfortunately these had to be considered before I made my next move. Eventually I settled into another spot I'd had fish from in similar conditions. A nice bay that gave me a bit of shelter in order to have a fry up. I liked it here, a place I've had some success in the recent past and no other boats about either. For some reason, once again I just couldn't feel confident.
Something caught my eye and I glanced to the float fishing a Bluey by the reedline, all of a sudden there was a swirl as a pike attacked my float! Surely it was going to take the bait? Five minutes passed, nothing. I twitched the deadbait a foot and steered my (non dumbell rigged) livebait into the general area. Fifteen minutes passed, still nothing so I started casting a lure, gradually and carefully searching the area. There was a Pike about, could I get a take? The short answer is no. Oh well, fry up complete I sat in the sun with a full belly being entertained by swarms of starlings overhead and planning my next move. It was at this point that the next problem of the day occurred.
I started the engine no problem but the bloody thing didn't want to go anywhere! A quick phone call to Rich confirmed what I suspected, shear pin, luckily I had a spare which was soon fitted and off I went. Rich had boated a Jack earlier in the day but apart from that had struggled. We rendezvoused close by, cast out and sat socialising for a couple of hours. Why was the fishing so poor in what appeared to be decent conditions? Perhaps the barometer was taking a dive with the incoming storm?
The sun began to dip and Richard had to head off, I was left with a decision to make. Should I find somewhere safe batten down the hatches and ride out the night? Or should I follow Richard back to the slipway and give it best? By now the wind had dropped completely and the water was like a mirror in places but for some reason It felt hostile and I wanted to be off. As I pulled up my mudweights that was my intention but as I slowly motored out of the area I was struck by the beauty of the setting sun reflected in the near calm water. I laughed to myself, this is fantastic!! Once again thousands of Starlings swarmed in the sky above me. I resolved to stay and slowly approached an area I fancied only to be greeted with rolling Bream. This will do!
With fresh enthusiasm I put four rods out again, covering the area as Bream continued to roll. For the first time today I actually began to feel a little confident and with no other boats in the area I enjoyed the peace and quiet. I'd put in the effort, would I be rewarded? With the sun sinking the wind died away completely leaving it flat calm. I rocked my boat sending the only ripples on the water as I moved about like Bambi on ice and reflected maybe Derrick had a point? He'd certainly hate sharing a boat with a clumsy git like me that's for sure. I stayed in this spot for a couple of hours by which time the Bream had stopped showing and it was fully dark. What do I do next?
I had another move tucking into the reeds about one hundred metres away from my last stop. Once again three deadbaits and a livebait were positioned, as usual fished on tight lines with boat-biters. Stars reflected in the calm water and I had a permanent firework show going on in all directions. At times the night was so quiet the silence was oppressive but then at others there was a cacophony of sound; startled pheasants in the woods behind me, cattle mooing, dogs barking and Tawny Owls from all directions. There were also some other strange sounds, was that a Bittern?
I had one last fry up, washed down with a brew. It was decision time, do I stay and ride the night out or do I give it best and sleep in a warm bed tonight? It really hadn't been my day but to be honest, from the moment I'd crawled out of bed in the morning my heart hadn't been in it. I just couldn't get my head round the fishing today. I packed up and carefully made my way back to the slip in the pitch black. The system had beaten me today but I'll be back soon.