Saturday, 8 January 2011


It's the New year and I haven't been fishing for weeks. I was so bored waiting for the cricket I ended up brightening this blog up. I'm kind of getting itchy feet but at the same time I'm struggling to motivate myself to get off my arse and go out into the cold in search of some fish. It occurred to me that the last time I fished was before the Ashes series started and now here we are, the series is done and dusted with an England win. Now the cricket has finished there is one less thing to occupy my mind so motivation increases again. I have a bit of time this weekend but all the local stillwaters are only just showing signs of thawing after a few nights where the temperature has stayed above freezing. Tonight we have another frost forecast so the chances are they'll freeze solid again. I might find open water if I put some miles on the car but just can't be arsed to put in that amount of effort when I know I'll struggle when I get there.

There was a time when I'd have spent the last few weekends scouring the countryside looking for fishable water. These days would inevitably end up in a struggle but most of the time we'd find a fish or two and very occasionally hit jackpot. Like the time the 'Big fella' and I travelled up to the fens. The river we'd planned to fish was rushing through, carrying all sorts of debris down with it. We drove on to another river which looked better but didn't inspire any confidence. We ended up setting up on a drain where we were confident we could keep our baits anchored in one place while we chilled out for a while if nothing else. Out of the blue an alarm sounded, the 'big fella' dropped onto a 12+ pound Zander! In hindsight although the conditions weren't great for Pike but were pretty good for Zeds. Other than that I struggle to recall another day when things went quite so right.

Despite all of the above I'm also sure I could have caught a few fish had I been a little bit more open minded about where I fish. Now cabin fever is looming I've been racking my brains and realised I do know a couple of venues where I would have had a chance of some decent fishing in recent weeks, had I been able to get the timing of my visits right. Back to the old catch 22?

A few days have passed and during this time the temperature has slowly risen. Driving around I've noticed the first signs of waters thawing out. Forecast for today was for a high of 10 (yes ten) degrees with a fresh westerly wind. After six weeks of Arctic weather, stillwaters will thaw and the Pike will feed. It's a great time to go fishing and I had time to squeeze a short morning session, somewhere.

I couldn't get my arse out of bed too early but managed to make my way to 'The Pool' around 0745, happy to see that for once there were no other cars parked up. I wanted to fish an area I hadn't tried before, a small point which would allow me to move rods about and keep covering water. I was sure Pike would be feeding, it was just a question of finding them. As I walked down the path the lake just didn't look was still covered with a thin sheet of ice! Bugger!! Or words to that affect. What should I do now? I scanned the lake and noticed what looked like a thin strip of clear water on the windward bank. My choice of swim was cut to one but at least it was a spot I'd caught from before.

By 0800 I was fishing. I legered a buoyant smelt and float legered a Herring head. These were cast into open water and twitched back towards me every now and then. I also rigged up a lure rod using a Replicant which I fished deep and slow. This was cast around every now and then, in between and around the bait rods. The morning was a stinker, dank and murky with light rain but it was mild with a fresh westerly wind. Good conditions for Pike fishing in my experience, especially as the icy lid was only just beginning to lift.

The wind was doing a good job of breaking the ice and after an hour about 1/3 of the water was clear, giving me more scope to cast and search the water. After another half hour even more water was clear but I still hadn't seen sign of a fish of any kind. Conditions were good, I may not know much about this lake but I knew I should be catching fish. I switched the float leger to a paternoster rig to keep the bait away from any debris as I twitched it back towards me. This was cast about thirty metres to the edge of the receding ice. The other rod I just dropped at the bottom of the marginal shelf to my right. 10am, I should move but where? The area I wanted to try is still frozen but there is another swim now clear in between, should I give it a go? I picked up the lure rod to have a few casts while I pondered the decision...

Out of the blue came the sound of the BBBB alarm, surely not a take?? My lure was cast nowhere near so that ruled out one potential calamity. It was the margin rod which I picked up and wound down putting a nice bend in the rod. A decent fish plodded up and down the margin but was soon bullied into the landing net, my first Pike of 2011 and clearly the largest I've caught so far from this particular water. A nice lean fish in good condition with unsurprisingly a sprinkling of leaches. I took a quick photo then slipped her back. A fresh smelt was dropped into the same spot then I sat back with a cup of tea. I only had an hour left so decided to stay put.

That hour passed quickly without any further action then it was time to pack up and get back to the madhouse. My motivation is back and I'm fishing again!


Jason Skilton said...

Hi Mike,

I didn't manage to extract anything from my "pond" on saturday.

Did have a run, but dropped it...

Not heading up the river then?

Michael Hastings said...

This weekend mate, can't wait ;)

T. Brook Smith said...

Happy New Year and best fishes, Michael!