Sunday, 1 January 2017

New Years Eve

Three weeks since my last chance to fish and with the housebound hell of Xmas over I was itching to get the rods out.  Thankfully this year I managed a couple of extra days holiday and for once could pick my day.  I had intended to fish on the Friday but it was a cold raw day and the forecast following was much milder and in my mind better. For once I had a reasonable nights sleep ahead of a days fishing and I was filling the flasks by 0600 looking forward to a fun day ahead.  Isaac was joining me today but first I had to prise him from his bed.  This he did without complaint and after tea and a biscuit we set off into the dark.  The head-torch was still needed at the boat yard, firstly to equip ourselves with several layers of clothing, Isaac looked like a real tree Michelin man, then to sort the boat out.  We were soon loaded and away and without a visible sunrise the gloom gradually lessened enough to be treated to the sight of a Bittern flying parallel and soon overtaking us.

As we made our way downstream we chatted about the day ahead.  In the past Isaac's winter Pike fishing has been short sessions on waters that can be tough at the best of times.  Today we could expect more prolific fishing and I assured Isaac that he had a good chance of beating his long time PB, a nine pound fish caught on a lure from a fenland river.  He didn't seem convinced...  Whenever I fish this water I always begin at the same spot and today was no exception.  It is a consistent area so I suppose I fish it first, before anyone else can but I really should be more flexible.  By 0745 we had five rods out with a variety of deadbaits in prime positions, now it was just down to the Pike.

Forty five minutes passed and I was telling myself I definitely should have fished somewhere else, it was fully daylight and all of the floats were glowing out but not actually going anywhere.  There was nothing showing either, no swirls or showers of silver fish and I began to feel anxious, it would be sods law if today turned out to be a duffer.  Then all fears dispelled as Isaac's float cast upstream began to move towards the margin.  He picked up the rod and almost fluffed the strike but the fish was on.  It's been a while since he's hooked anything substantial so was out of practice and made a few mistakes but his luck was in and the first Pike of the day was netted to smiles all round.

The cloud was breaking up allowing the occasional spell that could almost be considered bright.  The day was the mildest for a week and a light south westerly rippled the surface, it was looking good.  Another half an hour passed and I suggested a move.  We were half way through tidying up when a ticking baitrunner sounded the alert, Isaac's same rod was away again.  This time he done everything right and it was soon clear to me that Isaac was attached to something substantial.  A gill flare on the surface revealed a long fish with a big mouth and Isaac couldn't quite believe what was happening.  It was in the net without too much trouble and with both of us looking down at a long, large Pike that would obviously obliterate Isaac's PB.  "I can't believe I've just caught that!" he said.  Unfortunately it was then that things began to get complicated.  

Isaac's hooks came out easily but I noticed another trace disappearing down the throat.  A steady pull brought a tangle into view, not just one trace but a second set of hooks too.  After a bit of teasing and turning I managed to get these out and we left the fish in the net to rest for a bit, thankfully the fish seemed OK.  While the fish rested I got the scales and camera ready and inspected the ironmongery I'd removed.  One of the traces had a couple of yards of line attached as you would expect, the other trace appeared to have been cut above the top treble.  All the evidence suggests inexperienced or uncaring anglers have been fishing.  The former can be educated but the latter should be made unwelcome.  With the Pike looking strong in the net I quickly lifted her into the weigh sling and onto the scales which revealed Isaac had almost doubled his previous PB.  After a couple of photos we slipped her back and thankfully she flicked her tail and cruised away.

Despite catching a good fish I decided to continue with the plan and move anyway, in hindsight this was possibly a mistake, another big Pike could well have been on the cards.  A while later we were settled again.  As usual after a move I was alert, expecting action quickly but by now I should know the Pike will make us wait until the anticipation and optimism has started to melt away.  Once again it was one of Isaac's rods, this baited with a smelt.  The float sailed downstream but the bait was dropped before Isaac made contact.  Within minutes the recast smelt was moving again and this time Isaac made contact and got into a proper tug of war with his third fish of the day which completed his first ever brace of doubles.

It was great seeing Isaac catch three nice fish and he was delighted.  The most important aim of the day had been accomplished and now I was desperate to catch, just one fish would be enough for a perfect day.  With a healthy 3-0 lead Isaac became confident enough to indulge in a little piss taking at my lack of success which provided more motivation.  Thirty minutes without action meant time for another move.  Time continued to pass, my son upping the wind up, surely I'm not going to blank?  Just before noon and was that?  Yes!  My float was away, a Pike had picked up a bluey.  At first the fish felt small but had run quickly towards the boat and when the rod bent fully it started to kick a bit.  Isaac netted her for me and I was on the score sheet at last.

We headed back towards the boatyard with one more stop planned.  I had an area in mind and this was confirmed by a couple of swirls and roach showers.  We stopped and set up quickly, naively expecting instant action again but the show seemed to be over.  Maybe we'd spooked the fish?  Would they return?  It was interesting to note the silver fish, the first I'd seen all day and in a different area yet again.  At this point of the day the sun actually came out and was visible for a few minutes, this hasn't happened often when I've fished lately.   I've become used to being pelted with rain this season and gloomy looking clouds were creeping up from the west.  After an hour without a fish we decided we were happy with our lot and enough was enough but float trolled a couple of rods back to the boatyard just in case.  A while later as we pulled onto the main road the first spots of rain hit the screen, perfect timing for once.

Fishing wise 2016 can be summed up simply and quickly by splitting the year into thirds.  The first four months went well and I put some good fish in the net.  The next four saw me almost failing to catch anything of note and all and the final four I was back to catching nice fish again.  My successes included Pike, Roach and more Pike.  I failed completely with Tench and Carp.  As always I thoroughly enjoyed it all.  The places I've fished have been a mixture, one water is relatively new to me, another is an old favourite that I hadn't fished for a decade and then there's my familiar Broadland haunts.  I don't expect things to change much in 2017 but you never know.  Here's my favourite fishy photo from last year.

In October of this year I wrote about travelling and included the following words; "These journeys have ended in ecstasy, despair and every emotion in between.”  A few days later I was fishing in Norfolk when a phone call brought horrific news.  I could never have foreseen such a desperate journey home, knowing a young angler had lost his life in a terrible accident.  A few weeks later another, older angler lost his long battle too.  Families and friends are hurting but we will remember them with a smile when we fish.  Fishing soothes the soul, a few hours of escapism by the waterside hunting down wet slimy fish, keeps us sane in a mad world.

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