So the whole Christmas bollocks has come and almost gone. After several days of being house bound by convention, weather, guests, food and booze, cabin fever was looming so I dragged Isaac out of the house and pointed the car in the direction of a favourite lake. He chose the music and we rapped(?) along to NWA. It was early afternoon before we got the boat away and out into a stiff westerly wind, I made a decision to explore a new area which just happened to be sheltered! We began fishing with a couple of deadbaits each around 1330.
As we were short on time we moved every thirty minutes but after three moves it was beginning to look like we’d be unsuccessful. Still it had been a nice couple of hours chatting and laughing with my son, there’s rarely such thing as silence, let alone an uncomfortable one. The conversation has changed in recent times, whereas a couple of years ago we might be discussing which of the Marvel avengers was the coolest (For me, Black widow AKA Scarlet Johansson, Isaac preferred Iron Man), today we debated which member of NWA was the best rapper (Ice Cube - unanimous).
The best way to induce a take is to make food or drink and sure enough with the ridge monkey toasting sandwiches, one of Isaac’s rods was on the move. He picked up the rod and done the necessary while I switched off the stove and got it out of the way. Isaac enjoyed a tug of war with a Pike which punched well above its weight but was soon alongside the boat. I reached out for the trace but a head shake threw both the bait and a load of water back at me. After a bit of a wind up we decided a hand on the trace meant it counted and Isaac was in the lead. This lasted for half an hour before one of my floats was on the move, in contrast this fish hardly fought at all and I was a little surprised to see a decent sized head appear. This was soon unhooked, admired and returned, the score was leveled.
With the light beginning to fade I reached for my head torch which wasn’t where it should have been, in fact it was almost certainly on the shelf at home. With this discovery there was no sensible option but to pack up a little earlier than expected. The wind had dropped considerably by now but it still gave me a work out on the way back to the slip.
So that was my last fishing trip of 2017 and at this time of year I usually type some bollocks about the fishy year about to pass but once again it’s all too predictable. I fish a handful of waters for Pike and catch my share on most however, at my favourite place I have to work dam hard for a few takes but you know which I enjoy the most. My warmer weather fishing is in a similar vein, trying to catch big fish from difficult waters but I just don’t find the time to put in the required effort and consequently catch bugger all. I really should pick waters that suit my short session approach but I’m an angling masochist.
I've been a highly antisocial angler for many years but this changed a little in 2017 as I shared boats or bank swims with nine different people this year. This made a change and I'll probably do more of the same in the future, assuming other humans can put up with me.
Every angler has a ‘one that got away’ story and most of us have several. I can remember a few from around 1981/82; there were a couple of big gravel pit Pike, what would have been my first double figure carp and a huge Chub that snagged itself in the near bank foliage. I’m not sure I’ve landed a bigger Chub to this day. Since then I struggle to remember anything really haunting, I can think of a couple of big Pike, one of which was at the net cord but I’m usually pretty philosophical about these things. There have also been a couple of big Pike in the net that had no business being in there. This year I added another memory that will last.
I’ve done a lot of lure fishing over the years and caught plenty of Pike on this method, in fact I caught so many that I actually became bored of the chucking lures. In hindsight I did most of my lure fishing on waters that were prolific but held very few BIG Pike. I can remember catching a nineteen pounder from a drain on a springdawg and also seeing a bigger fish follow and drift away… But days like this were very rare. I’ve done far less lure fishing over the last decade, in truth I enjoy relaxing behind rods more but over the last couple of seasons the lure rod has come out more often.
On this particular day I’d been moored in a reedy bay for forty five minutes or so and as is often the case I picked up the lure rod to try and wake something up. So I commenced casting a spinnerbait around, carefully avoiding the lines and after a few minutes I was running out of options. I cast along the reedline with the line cutting through the outlying stems and began to mechanically retrieve. From nowhere came a big bow wave and swirl, I thought there was a tap on rod tip then nothing! I kept turning the handle and before I had a chance to think it hit for a second time, slack-lining me and was gone before I could react. I stood with my mouth open with the spinnerbait dangling, scratching my head and the fish took for the third time! It stayed on long enough for me to get a clear view of a long fish before throwing my lure back at me with a head shake and shower of spray. As you’d expect, the Pike didn’t reappear and after a few vain casts I recommenced my head scratching.
How big? Obviously I’ll never know but I’m sure it would have been a lure caught PB. I didn’t tear out any hair or vandalise any tackle but it would have been highly out of character for me to not swear. Yes I was disappointed but once again philosophical and now, a few months on, it is one of my best fishy memories of 2017.
The last fish of 2017...