With the Christmas nonsense over for another year January usually sees me with a little more time to fish but I'm not a fan of the short, cold days. Still a few hours on the water beats the hell out of sitting in the house twiddling my thumbs so when the opportunity arises then out into the cold I go.
My first trip of the new year was in the company of my nephew Ollie. To be honest it was no surprise that there was no sign of him when I called to pick him up, twenty year old lads like their bed! No problem, I woke him up and he scrambled himself ready and off we went. We still had the boat in position with five baits scattered before it was fully light. Methods would be the usual float ledgered deadbaits, Smelt and Herring had been consistent catchers in recent weeks and I also chucked out a Bluey. The gloom gradually lessened and the floats were clearly visible bouncing over the slightest of ripples, it was a pleasant day to be out, despite the murkiness.
The Pike have been switching on a bit later here in recent weeks so it was no surprise that takes didn’t come straight away. It was the regulation forty five minutes before my Herring was picked up and I found myself winding into a fish. The rod started to bend nicely but before I could really judge what was attached it became unattached, the fish was gone. Bugger, or words to that effect but I didn’t have time to be disappointed as another rod was on the go, a smelt cast along the near margin was on its way down stream. This time the rod stayed nicely bent and I could see a decent fish in the clear water, it didn’t do much and in no time at all I had my first Pike of the year in the net. This was a scales and camera job and with the hooks removed in the net I hoisted her aboard, the weight was recorded, a couple of quick pictures then she was released, none the worse for the experience. While this was going on Ollie had a fish swirl at a bait he was retrieving. His repositioned bait was taken within seconds and he was briefly attached to a Pike but this too came adrift, maybe a bit of inexperience?We stayed on the same spot for another forty five minutes or so before the first of many moves. Firstly it was further down the stretch where we sat fishless for 45 minutes. Next we began retracing our steps back upstream but our next move was rather an extended one. Just as I was getting itchy feet Ollie had a take and second time lucky he set the hooks into a nice fish. He’s not caught many Pike before so struggled to begin with but soon steered a fish of seven pounds or so over the net. Once again the hooks came out easily and after another photo opportunity this one was slipped back. Ollie had his Pike so it was mission accomplished for us both. Things were working out nicely, two takes each and one fish each. We decided to stay put a little longer and took the opportunity to toast a few sandwiches but by the time these were finished it was definitely time to move.
Next stop was back to my normal starting point, this time I took the boat to the opposite bank and fished the area from another angle. We’d only just got set up when one of my rods went sailing downstream. I wound down tight and felt another nice solid lump on the end. At first it felt like a good fish but shrank at the net, still it was twelve pounds or thereabouts so happy days. One thing I’ve noticed in the last couple of trips is that during the middle of the day we only seem to get one fish per move so didn’t stay on much longer on this spot. The next spot, just upstream yielded nothing but we were able to observe Roach topping further up and our next move was in this direction. As we dropped the weights down there were two Pike strikes with accompanying showers of Roach so our baits were sent out with confidence. At first nothing happened, I’ve come to expect, but after half an hour there were a couple more strikes. Shortly after these Ollie’s upstream rod was taken and he was into another fish. He looked a lot more comfortable this time and was soon steering his Pike over the net. This one was around nine pounds so he’d upped his PB a little.
After that we had one move short stop a bit closer to the boat shed but nothing happened here. We packed up by torchlight then rowed quickly back to base. For once the fish had been fair, we’d had three takes and boated two fish each. Better than that we’d chatted and laughed all day and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. That’s what fishing is about!
A few days later I was back in the boat, this time in the company of Mr N. We started the day fishing some of his favourite areas then we visited some areas that I have caught from but Mr N rarely fishes. We picked up fish in ones and twos throughout the day, I say we but in reality Mr N caught five or six while I had to settle for just the one. We only fish together three of four times a year and it's always a good day sharing experiences and opinions on fishing and just about every other subject under the sun. Speaking of which, we actually saw the sun today! My recent fishing trips have all taken place under a blanket of gloomy cloud.
In the days that followed I racked my brains as to a reason why I had been so thoroughly outfished. We were basically fishing the same deadbaits on similar float leger rigs, our traces at the business end were very similar. The first obvious difference was line; was Mr N’s mono less visible than my braid in the clear water? I began to think about using some kind of leader or uptrace, I don’t want to revert to mono as the advantages of braid are so great. In the end another less obvious difference became apparent when I though a little more about bait. As Mr N was catching steadily through the day it stands to reason that he was changing baits regularly. My only take of the day came to a Lamprey head fresh out of the deadbait bag. I think that when we dropped down in new swims Mr N’s deadbaits were fresher and smellier than mine and were therefore found quicker. In future I should change bait more often!