Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Winter's here.


Isaac and I continued our quest to christen his Pike rod with a couple of hours at the Marsh this afternoon. I didn’t fancy taking him out in the gale force winds we woke up to, laying in and listening to the cricket on the radio was a much better idea! By midday the wind had eased considerably and the sky was clear so it was much easier to venture out of our warm house. We fished an area in the North western side and spread three rods over the marginal shelves. He fished a Bluey in front of the reeds to the left and a sprat in the middle while I settled for just the one rod with a popped up herring tail cast towards some dying pads. Isaac’s casting is coming on, he improves all the time. Today he wasn’t happy with his first two attempts; he wanted his bait nearer to the reeds where the Pike may be hiding. Once the bait landed to his satisfaction he was content to leave it and play the waiting game.

This is only our third trip of the Pike season and like the previous two it would only be a short two hour stint by the water. This way I can keep Isaac’s enthusiasm if things don’t go to plan and the Pike don’t play ball. The last thing I want is for him to get cold and bored sitting by the water for hours at a time. I want him to enjoy the experience, that way he’ll be keen to come back again. The downside to these short sessions is we have less time to locate and catch the Pike. If plan A doesn’t come up trumps then there is no time for plan B. So far we haven’t managed to put a bait near enough to a Pike during our outings and today followed that form. We’ll have another go in a fortnight, maybe we’ll try the river which is badly flooded today or maybe we’ll keep persevering at the Marsh.


The week that followed was in two distinct halves. It started off with days of monsoon which resulted in flooding rivers and meadows under water. The second half was clear, bright and cold with overnight frosts, the first sustained cold spell of the winter so far. By the time the weekend came around the river was running below its banks again and it had to be worth a go. This little river has few big Pike so sights are lowered, any Pike is a good Pike today.

The afternoon was clear and bright and like the last time I fished the river almost a year ago Shelley joined me hoping to catch something interesting with her camera. My plan was to travel light and cover water as the stretch I had in mind is one I haven’t fished in about twenty years. The river would be very different to when I last fished it. I chose to float fish a sprat, trotting it down with the current and when it swings round to the near bank I’d slowly retrieve it. This little river is perfect for this method, you can catch trotting down and also on the retrieve, provided the river has a little flow. On arrival it was apparent that flow wouldn’t be an issue, it was spot on but the river had run down more than I expected. Had I known it would be this clear I’d probably chosen to use the lure rod. Oh well… Here in the east we live in the flattest part of the country but floods rarely cause any problems to homes and businesses. Either by accident or design the water finds its way out to sea very quickly. Apparently a local reservoir is at a fairly low level, which really is baffling. I expect we’ll be told there’s another drought this time next year.

Trotting a bait is a good way to discover changes of depth and weedbeds as well as locating Pike. I dropped in here and there trotting along the trailing tree branches and any other feature that looked likely. After covering about three quarters of a mile I hadn’t seen sign of a fish but Shelley was busy capturing the frosty landscape. A run of trees was deeper than average and looked good but still failed to produce a Pike. Coming to the end one bush stood alone with a nice raft of debris providing cover, the river narrowed here making the current run a little quicker. The float bumped off the raft and about half way along, as it swung out a little the float bobbed sharply then began to move oh so slowly against the flow. I wound down and hit it quickly to prevent it reaching any snags that may be under the raft. It was quickly evident this fish was no monster but it was pretty lively considering the cold water. I soon chinned out a cracking little Pike that was typical for this river and looked like it had never seen the bank before. It was held up for Shelley’s camera and returned with no more than a pin prick in the scissors.

We carried on for another half mile or so before stopping for a brew and a short break. I switched to a wobbled sprat for the return walk, just a few casts here and there while Shelley snapped the setting sun. No more Pike graced our presence but it was a couple of hours well spent. If I return to this stretch any time soon I’ll have a good idea of where I might find a fish or two. I think the series of floods we’ve had this year may have done the river a world of good. The weedbeds that had remained for nearly two years have been ripped out in many places, hopefully slowing down the shallowing process that abstraction and drought has inflicted on the river. I wonder how it will look this time next year?

I picked up a copy of “Carp & the Carp angler” by George Sharman for pence from a second hand shop back in the summer. I thought it might be worth a few quid on ebay but so far I haven’t checked it’s worth. I did find time to read some of it though. It was published in 1980 when the development of Carp fishing was gathering pace it was already dated for its time and was completely blown away by Kevin Maddocks’ “Carp Fever” a couple of years later. I enjoyed reading the stories of Sharman's campaigns fishing on difficult waters but compared to even contemporary authors, the fish caught barely justified the effort. Maybe that’s harsh, as the size on an anglers “target fish” is subjective but that's another subject... Most of the book is dated to the point it is relevant only as a historical record of Carp fishing struggling out of the darkness. I couldn’t be arsed to read the last few chapters.

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