Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Silver linings and a blue moon

Early January...

It was hard to believe that the dark Prymnesium clouds would have a silver lining but I suppose it has had the effect of getting me off my arse to go looking for interesting fishing.  Google earth is a brilliant start but the Ordnance survey shouldn't be ignored either.  The doorstep Piking just doesn't float my boat so an hour in any direction will do for now.  Old haunts, previously unknown or overlooked, some with history hopefully others without.  Then there are whispers and hints of which I'm fortunate to hear.  Search and research is pretty effortless to begin with but at some point you have to go out and have a look.  When having a look I like to take a rod or three with me too!  Some of these visits have been blind and just catching a Pike is a result but sometimes it makes sense to set the bar a bit higher.

Heading into the weekend the stars looked likely to align.  The weekend would still be mild and windy with a shower or two.  However from Monday, the first cold snap of the year was predicted to hit us.  Pikers know this is the time to fish but add the New Moon into the mix then some of us get even more excited.  With this in mind I decided to fish a water I hadn't fished since 2000/01 when I'd managed to catch a big Pike in the autumn.  My final visit that season had also been memorable, for a personal best Cormorant, (don't ask...)   Fifteen years later whispers of decent Pike had turned into a distinct murmur.  Two separate, credible tips from Roach anglers jogged my memory.  I had time to fish so given the conditions it made perfect sense to head to a water that gave me a chance of a whacker. 

Over night my bloody sinuses were giving me too much grief so the only option was to get up even earlier than planned.  I pottered around the house slowly getting ready and slowly feeling better and left home in plenty of time.  My soundtrack was ‘Electroshock blues’ as I wound my way through twisting country lanes but would you believe I got stuck behind a bloody bin lorry?  After that I was held up by some plank who couldn’t get their car to go quicker than 33mph.  I arrived at my destination later than expected despite the early start. As I unloaded the car I couldn’t help thinking things didn’t look right.  I hadn’t been to this water for a long time, it really had changed…  Then it dawned on me, I was at the wrong lake.  A few minutes later I entered the right car park and started unloading again.  There were two other cars alongside me and sure enough they were fishing two of the spots I’d ear marked on Google Earth. Things had to get better and they did the other anglers were carp/campers, I don't like sharing with other Pikers.  

The roach anglers had tipped me off as to where the silver fish should be so I headed round to the far side. The info was good and I was pleased to see small fish topping in the growing light.  I set up as quietly as possible and soon had a couple of baits out; Half a bluey float legered close in on the left and a paternostered smelt on the right.  As usual I then rigged up the lure rod and used a springdawg to feel around the swim.  I had a sharp drop off a rod length out then a steady slope into 14 feet at about 30 yards.  As time passed I recast the bluey a bit further and moved the paternoster around, the Pike should be up for it today, had they read the script?  A Robin hopped around in the bushes beside me but I didn’t have any food to hold his attention.

Two hours in I decided it was time for a move so wandered further along the bank to an area where the lake narrowed into a bay.  This felt right and also gave me enough space to put a third deadbait out after the plumb around with the lure rod.  Once again I float legered half a bluey to my left, about twenty yards out in ten feet of water.  My paternoster rig was whacked out towards the bay, I would twitch this back towards me over the next couple of hours.  When I’d finished with the lure rod I pinged another smelt across to the far side using my third rod.

The wind picked up, the sun poked through for a while and all looked good.  I felt sure that the fish would be willing to feed if I could put a bait close enough to them.  I had to keep on the move and find the fish; two hours in each spot should be enough.  When the paternoster rig had been twitched all the way back I rebaited with a mackerel and cast it further left.  By the time I’d completed twitching this back again it would be time to move.

For once I didn’t see the waggler float tilt and slide away.  I was starting to tidy away my gear when I was alerted by the micron sounding and the float had gone, something was moving off with the bluey.  I quickly wound down and pulled back into a solid weight which immediately moved to the right and went straight through another line.  This felt like a decent fish and it certainly wasn’t going to roll over and into the net.  She did not want to come up the shelf and twice powered away causing me to unwillingly give line.  Eventually the fish came into the shallows and a large head and long mottled flank revealed itself, my first Pike of 2016 straight in the net no messing!  Looking down in the clear water I could see that this was a good fish so left it secure in the net while I got the mat, forceps, scales and camera ready.  Everything went to plan, quick and easy.  The scales read a pleasing weight and I managed a couple of decent shots with the self-timer.  A quick look before releasing revealed a lean, spotty fish with few blemishes from a previous capture.  I was a happy man and didn’t mind the soaking I got when she powered out of the shallows.

I had a bit of a tangle to undo but that didn’t matter, I soon had all three rods fishing again and was sitting back with a mug of tea and a smug grin.  My two hours were up but it would be sensible to sit it out on this spot for a while longer, even though I’d had a good fish I was greedy for another.  Having spent most of the last decade Pike fishing from boats I’ve got into the habit of moving swims regularly and now I’m back on the bank I’m keeping this up.  Early in the afternoon I moved again and picked a swim where roach had topped early on, this also happened to be half way back to the car.  The only excitement was a swirl close in, the cause was soon revealed as a Little Grebe which splashed away noisily.  As the afternoon waned the skies darkened and light rain began to fall.  I’d planned to stay well into dark but the rain was getting heavier and I could still see the floats as I began to pack up.  The forecast had said ‘big fish’ and for once a Pike had read the script.

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