Wednesday, 15 January 2014


An unexpected phone call one evening lead to me suddenly finding myself with some spare time the following morning, now what could I do with it? The weather forecast promised a rising barometer with double figure temperatures, possible showers and a fresh wind from the southwest, pretty damn good conditions for the waters I fish. I thought about heading off to the special place but there wasn’t really enough time so I planned for somewhere fairly local. There was a spot where I’d seen a decent fish follow my lure a few weeks ago. I felt I needed to give it a try. So with tackle, bait and food all sorted I felt enthusiastic and confident for the following day.

I didn’t feel quite so enthusiastic when the alarm sounded in the morning but eventually managed to crawl my way out of bed. A rushed breakfast while the kettle boiled then I was away, arriving at my destination just as light was breaking. There was a decent breeze and a bit of cloud cover but thankfully no rain as yet. After a bit of a walk I arrived at my chosen swim and as I would be fishing at close range, set up away from the water’s edge. A float legered Bluey was placed next to one overhanging tree on the right and a Smelt lowered into a similar position to my left. I like deep margin swims on pits! I’d brought two other rods with me; one rigged up with a paternoster rig, baited with a spratt. The other a lure rod on which I fished shads, spoons and springdawgs. The plan was to mostly use the lure rod but when the rain came, chuck out the paternoster and settle back under my shelter. With the paternoster presenting the bait clear of the bottom I’d whack this rod out and twitch it back a few feet every few minutes.

By 0815 I’d covered the area with a Shad and a Springdawg so cast the paternoster then settled back on my chair with a cup of tea. The next couple of hours passed quickly, I left the two static deadbaits alone but kept twitching the paternoster and swapping it for the lure rod for spells. Unlike some places I fish there’s no reason why lures shouldn’t catch me fish on these waters but it’s just not happening at the moment. I’m trying old lures and new ones but on the last few trips nothing’s happened. It’s been a few years since I’ve done much lure fishing, lots to learn all over again. Likewise it’s been a decade since I’ve fished gravel pits with any kind of regularity but I grew up fishing this type of water and still feel at home. So far I’ve managed to at least find Pike on every trip bar one. I've fished pits on and off for 35 years, the way Pike behave doesn't change unless angling pressure becomes an issue.  It occurred to me that gravel pit Piking requires far less effort than most of the fishing I’ve done in recent years. Fishing other types of water is much more physically demanding, Pike aren’t as predictable and it takes more effort to locate them. When it all goes right the feeling of achievement is much greater too. However nowadays I struggle to find the energy to keep driving the miles and launching the boat in the cold and dark of mid-winter. Fishing that is a little less strenuous is a nice change every now and again.

Around 1020 an ominous looking bank of cloud was approaching from the west so I cast the paternoster again then swapped the other two deadbaits around. The Bluey was now on the left and the Smelt on the right. With the first drops of rain flattening the water I turned the alarms up and settled back under shelter. Conditions were good; something should be happening, surely time for a move, but where? I decided to wait for the rain to pass over.

Ten minutes later the “Billy’s backbiter” was whistling and I was quickly out of my chair and into the rain. The newly cast smelt had been picked up and line was trickling off the spool. As I wound down it was apparent the fish had picked up the bait and run out into open water, away from the tree. The strike me a decent resistance but I was using mono on this rod and it felt all wrong! I wound down again and took a couple of steps back to make sure everything was solid. I can’t remember the last Pike I played on mono! It was obviously a nice fish which plodded and swirled on a short line. At one point the head broke surface and for a while I thought I was into a real surprise. With the fish just out of range of the net I noticed that it was only attached by one of the double hooks, this looked like it was just nicked in. I really didn’t want to lose this one so eased the pressure a bit but managed to bring my first fish of the year over the net.

The hook came out with one twist of the forceps but it took longer to remove the other from the mesh! This fish wasn’t as big as I’d hoped but well worth putting on the scales and a quick photo. The camera had to be placed inside the shelter as it was still raining hard. One quick snap then I slipped her back into the pit.

With a fresh bait dropped back out I hurried back under shelter. As much as it felt strange playing that Pike on mono I wondered whether the light hook hold would have held had I been using braid? The rain hung around for an hour and I mostly spent this time drinking tea and peering out of the door hoping to see one of the lines start moving. With the end of the rain came the sun so out went the lure rod again. I fished on for a couple of hours by which time most of my rain sodden gear had dried. If I’d had more time I’d have moved swims as I definitely fancied my chances for another fish or two but I packed up content with one nice fish.

My craving for fishing had been satisfied with a short term quick fix. Now it’s that time of year when I begin counting the weeks before the rivers close again. That’s more than enough to motivate me into getting in the boat again. Yes the effort is greater but the potential reward is unequalled, anywhere. The law of sod will probably bring loads of ice and snow now...

No comments: