Out of bed at 5am. Outside it's freezing and conditions seem crap. I have two options, I can go back to bed for an hour, fish close to home and have a good chance of a half decent fish, or drive for an hour and have a slim chance of a whacker even though the conditions are all wrong. The whacker it is then. Out of the house quickly, after clearing ice from the windscreen I'm on the road. The Wailers throbbing from the speakers, the car feels funny, is something wrong with it? After a while it dawns on me it might be ice so drop the speed, lucky I did so as the wheels definitely went whilst braking for a roundabout. Further along the roads get worse, sleet has fallen over night and then frozen, this isn't good. Another dodgy moment on a bend, “why am I doing this?” Mostly because it's probably safer to continue than turn back. The roads will be much better tonight. Eventually I make the last turn with Peter singing “You can't blame the youth...”. After listening to music from the hot bosom (easy now) of tropical Jamaica I step out into a freezing cold English morning.
Next I get to work on the boat, which is nicely full of water and more ice. So full in fact the bunks on the trailer have shifted so that has to be sorted out too. After nearly an hour of bailing, grunting and swearing the boat is loaded, launched and I'm ready to go, three hours after my alarm woke me. Why am I doing this? Splashing myself with cold, icy water on a cold icy morning? Surely these are symptoms of madness? How could we ever explain this compulsion to a non angler?
I dropped the weights in the swim I wanted to be in. Deadbaits positioned nicely, I'm feeling confident and as comfortable as I could be. Options for later, stay in general area or move off to another favourite area?
All four rods were kept on move all day, twitches & recasts, cold water Pike will be close to the bottom and moving very little. Just how cold is it? Thermometer shows a water temperature of just 1.5*C! Oh shit, I didn't expect it to be that cold! With that news the confidence I'd had over night started to ebb away. I realised that I'd spent all week thinking about where to fish and had hardly noticed the temperature had been sliding. Madness! On the other hand I'm out on the water in a beautiful place with a chance, no matter how remote of.... What the??? Great, it's snowing just what I need...
After seventy minutes a bait runner ticked a couple of times. Fish? Probably not, that's the Herring I'd just twitched so almost certainly the line tightening against the swing of the boat. Hang on a minute...the float zipped along the surface and we're away! Gloves off, heart pounding, pick up the rod and wind down and 'Yes' fish on! A nice fight in the cold water then she's in the landing net. There she rested while I got the forceps camera and scales ready before collapsing the net and lowering her into the sladle. I don't usually wear an unhooking glove but in this temperature I decided it was well worth doing so. The top double hook was nicked in behind the scissors and came out with a twist. Normally I would have used both the scales and camera on this fish but in this weather it seemed easier to just lower her over the side of the boat and say goodbye. No weight, no photo...madness? A nice fish against the odds, a nice moment that justified my insanity, to me at least.
Twenty four hours later, who put the world on fast forward? Wrapped up tight against the cold braving the elements and the onslaught of humanity. Hell on earth or as some people call it, Christmas shopping. Wishing I was sitting in a damp boat, at the mercy of the elements in a wild and beautiful place. And they call me insane?
Added to the side bar are two new links, both to online magazines dedicated to Predator angling. The 'Pike Pool' is a blog made entirely from voluntary contributions from members of 'The Pikers pit' forum which is by far the liveliest place to talk about Pike fishing in the UK & Ireland. Initially created by Chris Hammond with a bit of help from Dave Lumb, now Rob Shallcroft is editor. The writers vary from experienced veterans to first timers. All have something to say and so far all have said it very well. Top work fellas!
Then there's 'Esox World' the creation of top Piker Steve Rowley. An online mag in the truest sense. Issue one featured Pike fishing in the UK, Ireland and Europe as well as Musky fishing in North America. The writing line up is quite literally, the best known names in the game. The result is first class. If the next issue is half as good it will be a 'must read'.
Two new online places to enjoy a really good piece of writing about predator fishing and both are totally free. Each done in a different way but both done well by passionate Pikers and are highly recommended, there is time and a place for both.