Christmas was just manic this year, it sneaked up on me then pounced and then wrestled me for a couple of days. A healthy lay in was required then after bacon sarnies I poked my nose out of the back door to find a pleasant, mild afternoon. The good lady suggested a walk by the water, she'd take her camera and I'd take a fishing rod. Could I be bothered to rummage through the shed to sort out the necessary tackle? It's been dry around these parts for weeks. We had a bit of rain a few days ago but I figured that would have dropped out by now and the river would be low and clear. Pretty crap really but I'd have a chance on a lure. That would make a change as I rarely use lures these days. Lets do it then.
I braved the shed, and managed to drag a landing net and my lighter lure rod out. Grabbing a pair of pliers was easy next to find some lures. The second marg tub I looked in contained some spinnerbaits and a couple of rubber lures, that would do. I also picked up a bait trace and found a couple of Roach in the freezer, just in case. We left home around 1400 taking a short drive to the stretch of river I taught myself to fish on as a kid. I still hold a sentimental attachment to the Pike in this place, which I've fished for, off and on since the late seventies. In all that time the largest I have managed was 18 ½ pounds and doubles are not common but it's a place you can usually move a fish in all but the grimmest conditions. Every now and then I visit these places then rant on about how much they've changed, so I'll try not to do that this time.
Through the old houses and then to the river which looked pretty much as I'd guessed it would, only with more weed. I clipped on the lightest Zoota Wagtail in full confidence. Strange as I rarely cast lures these days and rarely fish my local river. Memories of what works where stick, almost instinct. We walked upstream through narrow, streamy stretches that really should have been stripped clear of weed by a winter flood by now. Not really good Pike water but I managed a cast or two and there were photo opportunities for Shelley. Further along the river was green and choked with duckweed, this is December? Past some bridges and on to a deeper, wider stretch of water from which I've caught many Pike in the past. There was a large sign but I had something in my eye...
A couple of swims into the stretch a cast upstream produced an unexpected thump on the rod tip and some instinct made me strike. Would you believe it, I'd hooked a Pike! After a bit of thrashing around I netted a nice little fish in perfect condition which had engulfed the wagtail. Hooks out easily and a quick pose for the photographer before I slipped a nice clean little Pike back. The first I've managed to pull out of my little local river since...? We walked further upstream past loads of fishing memories along a very nice, largely familiar stretch of river. At the top end of the stretch was another angler, I decided that as I hadn't been able to read the sign downstream I'd better make a discrete departure. A shame as I fancied my chances of another Pike or two along this part of the river.
After retracing our steps in the fading light we detour to a mill pool close to the car. Still a picturesque spot despite the encroachment of houses, if they want to live on the flood plain then good luck. Loads of memories along this stretch too but little sign of any aquatic life. It had been an enjoyable afternoon so why don't I do it more often? A decade ago lures were accounting for around 75% of the Pike I caught but after a few seasons of chucking big baits tennis elbow gave me grief. After becoming a boat owner I was captivated by trolling lures and caught literally hundreds of Pike but I grew tired of this too. T the moment my favourite fishing places don't respond well to lures and there just isn't enough time for all the fishing I'd like to do. However it was nice to remind myself that there is a time and place for the lure rod. When I sat back in the driving seat the clock said 16:09, a little over two hours out in the fresh air but enough to clear the dregs of Xmas from my mind, and a Pike!
And that will almost certainly be the last Pike I catch in 2011, a year that has gone very nicely on that front, ta very much. Then there was the Tench, Carp, Barbel or anything else I tried to catch this year. None of that went the slightest bit to plan and varied from funny to farcical although highly enjoyable. This time last year we were enjoying England thrashing Australia and retaining the ashes (more about that elsewhere) and a dominant summer followed. For the first time in my memory we have the best cricket team in the world. In fact this past year has been pretty bloody good on all fronts, concerts, festivals, parties....just those bloody Tench.
Apart from faffing around with the layout again, I've added yet another blog to the links on the right, 'Norfolk n good' is “one of them pike fishing blogs” in the words of the author, who is apparently anonymous. However I know who it is but I won't embarrass Chris by naming him. That's it for 2011, happy new year.