Tuesday 28 February 2012

Pikin' Tunes

Every autumn Mr Rob would post on the P&P forum, selecting his travelling music for the coming winter and inviting brother Pikers to do the same. Now this music is important, it sets the scene for the day ahead and determines what frame of mind you arrive at the water in. This season I think I’ve got my selection right, more on that later, but in seasons past I’ve got it badly wrong.

I love Happy Mondays but the ‘Uncle Dysfunctional’ album didn’t work at all. Likewise, I’m a massive fan of the Prodigy but they haven’t got me in a Pikey frame of mind so far, “Invaders must die” or “Smack my bitch up” don’t really accompany a day on the water. I’m quite partial to a bit of hip-hop but playing N.W.A. was a disaster, the fucking boat sank! Rich’s best season came with Led Zep in his motor and I love them but copying other peoples choices won’t work either. I struggled to get the right combination, you can’t force it – can’t think about it too hard, it just has to happen.

This Autumn I got it right, the sounds are personal to me, had me singing along and in the zone when I got on the water.

My first choice was brand new, the latest Red Hot Chilli Peppers album “I’m with you”. An internationally renowned band, which will need no introduction to anybody. If you like the peppers you’ll love this, everything you’d expect from them and more. Stand out tracks are “Brendan’s death song” and “Police station”. Both will go down as chilli peppers classics.

The next was “The essential Eels”. This band played the best gig I saw all of last year, a blinding set played by brilliant musicians. The main man is Mark Everett AKA Mr E, a superb songwriter. Some of his music is very dark, some has moments of euphoria and all of it has humour. "Novocaine for the Soul" brilliant!

Next was a classic, “Leftism” by Leftfield. A mid 90’s dance classic, real steering wheel thumping music, particularly the cameo by John Lydon on “Open up”. This was the soundtrack to a week in Ireland with Giles a few years ago...that is another story!

There is always a bit of reggae in the motor and this season it was “Talkin’ blues” by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Old, raw versions of familiar Marley classics, with some ‘Scratch Perry’ remixes thrown in. "Cold ground was my bed last night, and rock was my pillow too..."

I changed the music selection for the mid-winter period but fishing results were not as good although the Ministry of Sound XX collection really hit the mark. Now spring has arrived and I’ve reverted to my autumn selection again coincidently I’m back amongst the fish!!

Attention to detail. That’s one of the things I’ve managed to get right this season, doing the simple things right. Tackle, line, hooks and traces all razor sharp and top notch. Bait has been the best I can lay my hands on and a couple of brother Pikers have been kind there too. I’ve gone out onto the water in the right frame of mind, confident and relaxed. OK the music might not have put fish in the boat but it certainly hasn’t hurt.

Thanks to Rob for supplying the title

Monday 6 February 2012

Sneaking around

2012 has finally seen some ‘proper’ winter weather and as I sit here tonight the countryside is blanketed in snow. All very nice for a day of fun with the family but tedious when it stretches into a second day. If the current cold weather continues I may even give the fishing a miss this week, we’ll see. The trouble is, at this time of year someone speeds up the calendar and all of a sudden the season ends. Anyway, a few weeks ago I had a day on the water…

My third move of the day saw me row into a bay, one I like fishing and one I’ve caught Pike from at this time of year in the past and also one that fishes well in a North westerly wind. Why? I have a theory about that but… It may just be because this wind allows me to position the boat in such a way I cover water more effectively. It may be because I’m able to get really comfortable here in these conditions or it could be because….

Three float legered deadbaits; Mackerel, Bluey and Herring, were carefully positioned in open water downwind of the boat. On my fourth rod I used a leger rig and cast this upwind towards a snaggy area. Four baits that have caught me plenty of fish and in which I have loads of confidence. However, today I wouldn’t have minded a livebait wriggling away out there…

Legering from a boat is frowned upon by many Pike anglers as apparently it can lead to deep hooking. I suppose this could be true if the angler is fishing badly, not paying attention or even asleep. How many anglers, fishing in a cuddied boat and facing downwind, actually look at a float cast upwind? Many don’t seem to look at floats cast downwind for that matter and lets face it it can be difficult to scan three or four floats some times, unless you have the neck of an owl. Anyway, done properly there is nothing wrong with legering in a boat. Heavy lead and tight line, position the rod so you can see the tip and treat it as a stepped up quiver tip. Keep an eye on the tip and the line and if you have any doubt what so ever, wind down and check it out! Legering from a boat does not cause Pike any harm, bad angling does.

After forty minutes the line on the leger rod fell surprisingly slack so I picked the rod up, wound down and…felt nothing. I wound in and inspected the bait, were there teeth marks in the Lamprey? I couldn’t see any so recast to the same spot. Another hour past and I was considering my next move having written off the bay as a bad move when the rod tip tapped and the line tightened sharply on the leger rod. No doubt this time so I quickly wound down and bent into what felt a decent weight. The Pike did little, well actually the Pike did absolutely nothing bar wave a decent size head on the surface before being led into the landing net. A decent fish but when I lifted the Pike into the sladle I had a very pleasant surprise, not only was she my first Pike of 2012 she was considerably bigger than I had thought! A long fish with flawless flanks and a big head but loads of leeches tucking in.

The hooks came out easily and I snapped a couple of quick photos off before hoisting the weigh bag onto the scales which confirmed she was heavier than I’d dared think when I drew her over the net. I definitely wanted a proper trophy shot of this one but as I began to sort things out I heard the very unwelcome sound of an outboard entering the bay. I looked over my shoulder in time to see a boat approaching so quickly lowered the sladle back over the side of the boat. I hoped the boat would see me then veer off somewhere else but no. The occupants, all three of them were loudly disappointed that I was already fishing but instead of heading off elsewhere they dropped their weights a little way away. What should I do? I wanted a photo but didn’t want the new arrivals to see what I was doing. Should I just slip her back? No bugger that! I quickly got the camera ready and while the three noisy young lads were still setting up I discretely drained the sladle, hoisted the fish back aboard, clicked off one quick photo then slipped her back. She swam down strongly while my ears strained to hear evidence that I’d been caught in the act, none came. I glanced up to see the lads still busy tackling up and taking the piss out of each other. I’d got away with it and what’s more the single, rushed self-take photo came out well.

Having just boated a good fish I obviously wanted to stay in the area a while longer but I didn’t really want the other boat to gain too many clues from what I was doing. Maybe it was fortuitous that no more Pike put in an appearance that afternoon. After a while I grew tired of the “three men chavs in a boat” buggering about and making a racket. Luckily there was little wind today, as this boat definitely wasn’t big enough to cope with three people on a windy day. I hope they don’t learn that lesson the hard way.

That was the first and last action of the day and a happy angler made his way back to the slip.