Winter has finally realised what it should be doing here in the East, cold frosty weather through the week and even a bit of sleet the weekend, not good fishing weather but I didn’t expect to be heading out anyway. However Shelley’s car is in the garage and she required picking up from work so this gave me an idea to go look at the stillwater I’d fished last time. I wanted to know if once again the place would come alive with baitfish at dusk. Firstly I had to make sure the kids were happy and get some household jobs done. With both boxes ticked my idea had advanced somewhat. I hastily filled a flask and picked up some bait, then sorted out a net, a lure rod and a rod to float fish a deadbait. No need for a chair or shelter today.
I had to pick Shelley up from Town and a look at the clock confirmed I’d be able to get to the water, have an hours fishing then collect Shelley on my way back home. By 1530 I was fishing but things hadn’t quite gone to plan. In my haste to get going, the rod I’d picked up was the only one set up with a leger rig. I had neither the time nor inclination to change it so a legered smelt was dropped close in at the bottom of the shelf. Things didn’t look great for the deadbait, as well as being cold the water was flat. On days like this a livebait can make all the difference. I had none but I did have a lighter lure rod and a selection of smaller lures to through around.
I really fancied working a Professor spoon as it was the right sort of size and I could fish at all depths. Despite having caught loads of Pike on spoons, including a few big uns I rarely fish them at all these days but something I’d read had put the idea in my mind. However for some reason the first lure I clipped on was a Reaper jig which I bounced around the bottom and caught nothing but leaves and twigs. Next I tried the Professor fishing mostly deep and slow with the occasional faster turn followed by letting the spoon flutter down again. After a cast parallel to the bank I casually lifted the spoon clear and beneath it the water boiled, I’d moved a fish! The next cast the rod bent round and I dragged in a branch, bloody typical! Detaching the debris gave me a moment to think. Was that Pike sitting close in? If so if I drop the spoon into the deep margin and jig it a bit that might work? This old trick has worked before and it almost worked today, the rod went solid and I slowly pulled a Pike up to the surface where it shook its head and chucked the lure back at me. Win some, lose some.
I stopped for a brew and looked out across the water, there were a few fish topping but nothing like as many as last time. With the warm tea inside me I went back to flinging the lure around. A long cast into deeper water brought a sharp thump at distance, definitely a fish but the hook didn’t set. Was this one of those days when the Pike aren’t really up for it and just nip the end of the lure? I kept on casting and tried different lures; a spinnerbait and a paddle tail jig before switching back to the spoon, all to no avail. At 1640 I tidied up in rapidly fading light. There had been nothing like the amount of silver fish showing this week but there had been at least one Pike willing to have a go. I have a feeling I will be back.
Both the children were busy on Saturday morning which gave me a couple of hours free time but with sleet and freezing conditions could I be bothered? What the hell! It only took me a few minutes to grab a rod and a net then stuff a few bits into a rucksack. With good thermals under plenty of winter layers; hat, shades and gloves and I was prepared for anything. We hadn’t had much recent rainfall so I guessed the river would be in pretty good nick and I’d be in with a chance. Lower the sights today, just a Pike any Pike.
I arrived at the downstream end of the stretch and saw the river looked bang on with a nice green tinge. The first swim had a treacherous muddy death slide to contend with, usually this is precisely the type of obvious obstacle to which I succumb but by leaning on the landing net handle I made it. I started off with a Shad but it didn’t give me any confidence so switched to a spoon. This didn’t look right either, so I reverted to the faithful Wagtail and felt happy straight away. The other lures may well have worked but I wanted to move quickly today and confidence is everything. An Egret flew low looking to perch in a far bank tree. It saw me and lifted off again, shame, would have been close enough for a half decent photo.
I made my way upstream casting to overhanging trees and along reedy margins. Many features looked just the part but by the time I was half way along my chosen stretch I hadn’t had a knock. It never crossed my mind to change the lure, the Wagtail has done the business so many times, maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy? It doesn’t matter. A cast along the front of a raft of winter muck saw the tip hoop round, fish on! I don’t expect to catch big fish here and this one is run of the mill but on a light set up she charges about a bit and muddies the margins before I can chin her out.I worked my way to the top of the stretch and once felt a tap on the tip that may have been a Pike, or not. As usual I swapped lures for a spinnerbait and made my way back downstream, travelling quickly with just a cast here and there. I’d had enough and was happy to get back into the car with ‘Green day’ warming my ears. Time to get back to being responsible(ish.)
The cold weather has been here a week and looks set to stay for a while longer. I think it’s fair to say we’ve had a ‘proper winter’ this year. As much as I’ve loved the Pike fishing this season I’ve had more than enough of raw, frosty weather. Here’s hoping for South westerlies and climbing temperatures.