Sunday, 15 March 2015


March started with Isaac and I heading off to a gravel pit in the late afternoon for a couple of hours fishing.  This is a water I’ve fished a great deal in the distant past with quite a lot of success and one I’d earmarked for a few visits next season.  Today would be a good chance to refresh my memories of the water and hopefully my son and I would find some fish.  Some things stick long in the memory and I recalled an area that used to produce Pike late in the season so it was here we set up. 

The day was bright and fairly mild but there was a fresh westerly wind which luckily was on our backs.  We each fished with a float legered deadbait and used a lure rod to search the swim.  An hour in the first spot saw nothing so we moved to another area, which was the swim from which I caught my first twenty pounder back in 1983.  We fished the same methods and had the same result.  Isaac grew distracted and wandered off with the camera and I scanned my surroundings. Did I really want to revisit this old haunt next season?  With a busy footpath behind me and too many other anglers clearly visible and audible on the bank opposite me I decided probably not.

The reality is in my local area although it’s easy to find Pike fishing, big Pike are few and far between.  Overall the fishing is mediocre at best.  The waters themselves are a mixture, most are pleasant enough places but they are busy, when word of decent Pike fishing gets out the crowds descend.  The big fish I mentioned last month is getting pressured and has been caught again already, once at least.  Almost all of the local Pikers I’ve met have been decent people but social Pike fishing just isn’t my thing.  Most of all the local fishing lacks any kind of mystery to keep the fishing interesting.

About one hundred photos later Isaac returned and settled down with me again to watch the floats.  We chatted away and made each other laugh then Isaac who is a horrendous cheat claimed a victory at “I spy”.  With the sun dipping we both decided enough was enough and returned home happy but fishless.

A few days later I was fishing again.  I’d expressed an interest in a certain East Anglian water and a mutual friend put me in touch with Mr N who was a member at this exclusive fishery.  We had a shared love of fishing and Ipswich Town F.C., we swapped a few emails and Mr N kindly invited me as a guest to fish the water with him.  A date was set and I’d looked forward to it, now it was here.

We met on a cold, clear mid-week morning.  Mr N felt the slight frost was not a good omen but the fresh North westerly wind would hopefully get the fish moving.  We fished three deadbaits each from a large and stable punt which Mr N had rowed into position.  Within minutes he was away on a smelt and shortly afterwards I netted a big fish for him.  Big smiles and handshakes, the day was off to the best possible start!  All I wanted now from this new water was just a Pike, any Pike would do.  It wasn’t long before I got my wish and brought a welcome jack to the boat.

The hour that followed was one of those mad periods of hectic fishing that I often read about but rarely experience myself.  It seemed like we were constantly dealing with a fish, sometimes two at a time and at one point we had a Pike in each net for a combined weight of over thirty eight pounds.  In the brief periods between fish we sat laughing and shaking our heads.  Fishing doesn’t get better than this.  All the fish came to float legered deadbaits with Smelt taking the most.

After that mad hour the sport tailed off so we moved around and Mr N added three more to our tally with another big fish to finish.  He assured me this was indeed an exceptional day, the best he’d had here for several years.  Our combined weight was well into three figures with Mr N catching the lions share; I decided I must bring him luck.  The water itself is quiet and a very agreeable place to spend a day, it ticks all the boxes.  Before this day we’d never fished together before but we discovered mutual friends and much in common, Mr N was interesting and really good company.  He must have thought I was OK too because we promised to do it again.

 A few days later I headed off for my last trip to the special place for this season.  The weather was mild but the fishing was tough and on the first day all I managed was a jack on Lamprey.  The second day got worse, jacks were splashing in the weed and it looked like spawning was on the cards.  I decided to get off the water early.  On the way messages and observations suggested something very bad was happening on the system.  I hope I’m wrong but I have a feeling I’ll be writing more about this in the very near future.

 Saturday March 14th, the children were settled so I decide as it was the last day I could fish the river then I should fish the river.  I grabbed a lure rod and the necessary bits then headed out to my favourite local stretch.  My sights were set low, I just wanted to catch a Pike.  This is my third visit to the stretch this winter and I arrived to find the water low and clear.  There were loads of snowdrops growing, this always cheers me up, a sure sign of spring.  I clipped on the never fail Zoota wagtail and made my way upstream casting along reedy margins and to overhanging trees.  With the water so low the polaroids revealed many areas were painfully shallow and not worth a cast so I covered ground quickly.  I arrived at an obvious feature that had produced a fish on a previous visit and sure enough it did so again.  I’d have been tempted to think it was the same one but if anything this was smaller.  Still it was the last river Pike I’ll catch for a while and mission accomplished for the day.  I reached the top of the stretch, passing a Chub angler who had reason to smile.  Should I retrace my steps with another lure?  No, back to the car with the Clash on the stereo and home to a warm house.

 Another Pike season comes to an end, I think this is the 34th consecutive winter for me and I have enjoyed it as much as I ever have.  I’ve been fortunate enough to catch a few this season but the fishing hasn’t been easy, it’s been challenging and interesting all the way.  I keep enjoying my Piking because I choose the waters I fish carefully, they need to tick three boxes; 1 - They must be nice places to spend time.  2- The fishing must be interesting. 3 – There should be the possibility of a whacker.  This past season I managed to tick all three.

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