Monday 25 March 2013


Here on an English spring Sunday the temperature is -2 and we have several inches of snow on the ground with more falling, it’s bloody horrible.  I’m usually pretty relaxed about the weather, we get what we get and it’s mostly shit but this winter has gone on forever, it’s become oppressive.  The Sunday newspapers report it is the longest winter for fifty years.  I can’t wait for spring, even ten degrees will feel like a heat wave and people will be smiling again.

It has snowed for the last 36 hours, the temperature outside here at 10:26 is -2*C yet still I sit here with an urge to go fishing.  I’m not going to go, that would be madness but still a snow fish photo is tempting and the landscape looks lovely with this covering of white stuff.  However it’s just so bloody cold that it’s painful to exposed skin and it just wouldn’t be fun.  Instead I stayed in the warm, listened to music, wrote stuff and got ready to go out gigging tonight.  Off to London with Giles and meeting up with Rob, Piking friends in the smoke to see “Wire” at a club near the river.  Despite a few mishaps which go with the territory we had a top night but by God it was cold crossing the river.

Ian Chillcott is one of the better Carpy writers and is another angler who isn’t afraid to speak his mind about things, Otters being one example and he’s right!  Although I have little interest in Carpy politics I tend to support the reasons he founded ECHO, it made sense to me.  However I can’t agree with his opinion in the latest issue of Carpology magazine, that ECHO is the “most influential single species group ever formed”.  Sorry Ian but that accolade has to go to the Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain which has been in the trenches for over 35 years and despite the occasional hiccup along the way, is now as active and relevant as ever. 

In East Anglia John Currie, Mickey Cox and all involved with the Norwich region have achieved what we all thought was impossible in getting the Broads Authority to stop, listen, think and review their dredging procedures on the Broads.  I’m happy to give the BA credit for this too, fair enough considering the slagging I gave them a year ago.  The Cambridge branch has long been successful under a succession of RO’s, most recently Wes & Jonno.  I’ve been to several packed, friendly rooms for a top speaker at Bottisham.  In Suffolk Jason Skilton is reviving the region and teaming up with Sean Ellis from Essex to help Pikers negotiate the future of fishing at Abberton reservoir.  This kind of thing and much more goes on all over Great Britain as it has since 1977.

More Information on these PAC regions here.

A day later the end of the cold weather is still not in sight, who knows when I’ll get back out on the bank or what I’ll be fishing for?  Here’s a more cheerful photo

Sunday 17 March 2013

Can we have some mild, dry weather please?

And so it came to the last weekend of a tough season.  It’s been grim North and East winds and cold, raw weather for weeks on end but by now it was raining.  The weekend forecast was equally grim, basically more of the same but getting even colder.  By the time I launched in the evening it had been raining for hours but I was undeterred.  On the water easily and after the darkest crossing I can remember I tucked myself away out of the wind for a few hours fishing with TMS cricket on the radio.  England fought back nicely in the test but no Pike disturbed me so I wound the rods in and crashed out for a few hours.
Awake before dawn, it was still raining and very gloomy.  I chucked the rods out again while I boiled the kettle and tidied the boat.  The light was just growing when one of my rods rattled off.  I set the hooks but there was little resistance still any Pike is welcome and a lean jack was unhooked easily.  This bonus fish saw no change of plan, as soon as I was ready I knew where I wanted to be.  A little journey on the engine and I was soon dropping four baits into a favourite place.  An Otter circled the boat only a few feet away hissing in my direction, I didn’t feel welcome.

However, previous experience told me I was in with a good chance in this general area.  The day drifted by with a couple of short moves but no Pike.  I kept active, twitching baits and trying to make something happen but nothing did.  It was still absolutely pissing down and the water was rising visibly.  It was high time for a rethink and a change of plan, a proper move was in order.  Only it would have been if the engine had obliged me by starting!  Which it didn’t.

The immediate forecast was manageable but a strong easterly and possibly snow was predicted for the following day.  No bravado this time (that’s another story…), the only sensible choice was to row back closer to base and get the boat in a sheltered position.  Easier said than done as most of the journey was against a freshening wind and the bloody rain (from which I now had no shelter), was unrelenting.   I arrived soaked to the skin through rain and sweat, I was totally knackered.  I chucked the rods out and made a brew then sat back to assess the situation.  Light was fading, I was getting colder, I was wet and uncomfortable but it was no longer raining.  It had in fact begun to snow. After a brief flurry of sleet it began properly snowing.  At this point I knew I was beaten for the day and for the season.  I packed up with freezing, claw hands, said goodbye then rowed back to the slip.

Sunday came round again and after a lazy morning I convinced Isaac it would be a good idea to venture down to the lake for a final Pike session of the season.  The weather was dull and gloomy with drizzle and a fresh southerly wind and milder temperatures than of late.  We shared three rods and fished three deadbaits along the marginal shelf.  The plan as usual was for a short session, I sat back in the chair to chill out but Isaac busied himself investigating the flooded margins.  He found an elevated position which gave him a good view of his float then discussed the possibility of building a den there but building materials were scarce.

Today the fishing wasn’t holding Isaac’s attention, the Pike have been far from prolific here this season and he’s already looking forward to catching Carp and Silver fish in warmer weather.  I kind of agree with him there…  I’ll have to get thinking of somewhere different for next seasons Pike fishing, somewhere he’ll see that float pop under a bit more often.  After some debate we reached a consensus that the Lord of the Rings films are better than Star Wars.  We also agreed it was getting cold and we’d had enough for today.  Walking back to the car I noticed a few green shoots poking through and there are snowdrops in the woods yet spring still doesn’t feel close.

When I got home I set about sorting the shed.  All the boat and most of the Pike fishing kit was put to the back and all the summer gear brought to the front.  I also discovered more evidence of the vermin that had squatted in my shed through the winter, more chewed bait boxes and an old holdall.  The poison done the trick in the end, he who laughs last…but next year, no prisoners.  I got on a roll and ended up rigging up my Carp/Tench rods and sorting all the kit out.  I’ve had enough of Piking for a while, it’s been a tough old winter that seems to have lasted about eighteen months.  Wherever I’ve fished this season it’s been challenging and Pike have been hard to find but happily I’ve found one or two of the right kind.  Now for something completely different.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Once more

Just one more weekend then my river season will be over. One more weekend of sleep deprivation, physical exertion, launching in the dark, getting covered in fish gunk, sleeping in the open air, eating out of the saucepan, getting battered by the elements, coming home knackered and generally having a fantastic time. Sometimes it’s tough and you ask yourself “why?” sometimes it’s rewarding, sometimes it’s exhilarating but it’s always beautiful.

So one more adventure afloat to go, which will bring an end to another interesting season. Once again the Pike have not behaved as expected. Plan A didn’t always work and Plan B only materialised late in the day. As ever I’ve learnt a hell of a lot and a few more ideas clicked into place. Just one more whacker to finish the season on a high please. Then six months rest before we go again…

Here's one from a year ago...