Saturday, 5 January 2013


 The Christmas period saw another deluge of rain which meant the river spilled over into the surrounding fields and meadows once again. By New years day the level had dropped to within the banks again which enabled Shelley and I to take our cameras for a stroll. I debated taking a rod but in the end I didn’t bother which was probably just as well. The river was well up, coloured and bombing through. Just about fishable provided you know the stretch, in this case I didn’t as it’s one I’ve rarely fished over the years. This afternoon I was happy to just walk along and watch the water, searching for clues to help me another day. I noted a few spots I could have dropped a bait into but it would be useful to have another look some other time. By the end of our walk we were covering ground I’d never trod before. I’d heard there was a Pikey feature way upstream and today we came across it. This just has to hold a fish or two and I’ll find out another time. From here we retraced our steps and photographed the setting sun as we made our way back having covered about four miles.

Over the Xmas our house was a temporary home for a very active and noisy mouse. It wasn’t paying rent so something had to give and it met its end in a trap, job done… or so I thought. With the traps in the house that left the tackle room unguarded and when I opened the door today there was immediate signs of rodent activity. In fact the bastard thing(s) have chewed holes in two good ruck sacks as well as getting into a bucket of pellets. There may well be more damage I’ve yet to discover. I take this kind of liberty very personally and have declared war on the varmints. Two traps have been set to begin with and I want blood.

Anyway while I was uncovering this mess Isaac was eating his breakfast and getting ready to climb into the car for another trip to the lake. It’s been too long since I last wet a line and I really needed to spend some time by the water again. This would be the latest stage of the mission to christen Isaac’s Pike rod. The weather was very mild and depressingly dull with a moderate westerly wind and a little drizzle. For some reason things just felt Pikey and I felt assured today was going to be the day. We arrived at about 0900 and found the most productive swim free so wandered towards it. I expected the water level to be high but most of the swims were under water. Isaac was just able to wade out far enough without danger of the water going over the top of his size 2 wellies.

As this water is very often a “one take” lake I decided not to fish today, it was all down to Isaac. He cast ‘his’ rod, a float legered mackerel, alongside the reed bed to the right. I almost always play fish by back winding but I’d set the clutch on this rod as I figured he’d find it easier that way. The other rod was a popped up sprat which he dropped in the margin to the left. This left a large open area in front of him which he could cover with a lure rod, the same fixed spool set up I’d used a few weeks previously. This was a great way for him to practice his casting and he might even catch himself a Pike along the way. Isaac’s casting was erratic, he managed to catch trees and reeds but the improvement continues to show. After a while he grew a little tired and joined me sitting in a chair on dry land. With our lack of success so far this winter, Isaac found it hard to believe he’d ever catch a Pike here. I was more confident and once again reminded him exactly what he should do if a fish took his bait. We discussed our chances and tried to think of other convenient places locally where we might do better but avoid crowds at the same time.

After an hour or so Isaac’s attention was waning and he took a few steps along the path, peering into the flooded reedbeds. We were both abruptly alerted by a couple of beeps from an alarm. The float on Isi’s own rod was slowly moving away from the reeds towards the deeper, open water. At long last he had a take! He splashed out and picked the rod up then with me talking him through things; he wound down and swept the rod back. Fish on! At this point I realised I hadn’t set the landing net up so panic stations while I hurriedly did so, all the time reminding Isaac to keep the rod bent. By the time I’d waded out to join him the fish was passing close by, visible in the clear water; “Pike!” yelled Isi. She thrashed in the margins and tried her best to make the sanctuary of the reeds but our luck was in and I soon scooped her up in the net. After three unsuccessful attempts we’d done it. A few moments of magic that passed all too quickly at this ancient, tree shrouded, gloomy pool.

Isaac held the Pike in the net while I got the camera, mat and forceps ready then we carried her over to do the necessary. The size 6 double was firmly in the scissors, a perfect hook up. Two quick photos captured the moment forever then I carried her back to the edge and we watched her gently slip away. Isaac had christened his rod, magic!

And that was the one take of the day. We may well have caught more but we only stayed on for another hour. By late morning the day was barely less gloomy than before but at least the drizzle had stopped. We discussed future fishing adventures. For a couple of months we’ll try for more, bigger Pike and when spring comes well go for Carp & silver fish. However, today we’d got what we set out for and there were jobs to do at home. A contented Pike angler walked back to the car with his dad.


T. Brook Smith said...

Great fish, Michael.

It looks in your previous posts you had a wonderful 2012. Congratulations on a great year fishing (and an awesome job on the Olympics!).

It was ok here too...minus the Olympics...and anything nearly as big as the fish you caught.

Michael Hastings said...

Thanks Tim, I'm lucky that 60 miles from my house is an historic, natural Pike fishery that has no equal in the UK.
I've enjoyed reading your blog too!!!