Tuesday 26 January 2016

Silver linings and a blue moon

Early January...

It was hard to believe that the dark Prymnesium clouds would have a silver lining but I suppose it has had the effect of getting me off my arse to go looking for interesting fishing.  Google earth is a brilliant start but the Ordnance survey shouldn't be ignored either.  The doorstep Piking just doesn't float my boat so an hour in any direction will do for now.  Old haunts, previously unknown or overlooked, some with history hopefully others without.  Then there are whispers and hints of which I'm fortunate to hear.  Search and research is pretty effortless to begin with but at some point you have to go out and have a look.  When having a look I like to take a rod or three with me too!  Some of these visits have been blind and just catching a Pike is a result but sometimes it makes sense to set the bar a bit higher.

Heading into the weekend the stars looked likely to align.  The weekend would still be mild and windy with a shower or two.  However from Monday, the first cold snap of the year was predicted to hit us.  Pikers know this is the time to fish but add the New Moon into the mix then some of us get even more excited.  With this in mind I decided to fish a water I hadn't fished since 2000/01 when I'd managed to catch a big Pike in the autumn.  My final visit that season had also been memorable, for a personal best Cormorant, (don't ask...)   Fifteen years later whispers of decent Pike had turned into a distinct murmur.  Two separate, credible tips from Roach anglers jogged my memory.  I had time to fish so given the conditions it made perfect sense to head to a water that gave me a chance of a whacker. 

Over night my bloody sinuses were giving me too much grief so the only option was to get up even earlier than planned.  I pottered around the house slowly getting ready and slowly feeling better and left home in plenty of time.  My soundtrack was ‘Electroshock blues’ as I wound my way through twisting country lanes but would you believe I got stuck behind a bloody bin lorry?  After that I was held up by some plank who couldn’t get their car to go quicker than 33mph.  I arrived at my destination later than expected despite the early start. As I unloaded the car I couldn’t help thinking things didn’t look right.  I hadn’t been to this water for a long time, it really had changed…  Then it dawned on me, I was at the wrong lake.  A few minutes later I entered the right car park and started unloading again.  There were two other cars alongside me and sure enough they were fishing two of the spots I’d ear marked on Google Earth. Things had to get better and they did the other anglers were carp/campers, I don't like sharing with other Pikers.  

The roach anglers had tipped me off as to where the silver fish should be so I headed round to the far side. The info was good and I was pleased to see small fish topping in the growing light.  I set up as quietly as possible and soon had a couple of baits out; Half a bluey float legered close in on the left and a paternostered smelt on the right.  As usual I then rigged up the lure rod and used a springdawg to feel around the swim.  I had a sharp drop off a rod length out then a steady slope into 14 feet at about 30 yards.  As time passed I recast the bluey a bit further and moved the paternoster around, the Pike should be up for it today, had they read the script?  A Robin hopped around in the bushes beside me but I didn’t have any food to hold his attention.

Two hours in I decided it was time for a move so wandered further along the bank to an area where the lake narrowed into a bay.  This felt right and also gave me enough space to put a third deadbait out after the plumb around with the lure rod.  Once again I float legered half a bluey to my left, about twenty yards out in ten feet of water.  My paternoster rig was whacked out towards the bay, I would twitch this back towards me over the next couple of hours.  When I’d finished with the lure rod I pinged another smelt across to the far side using my third rod.

The wind picked up, the sun poked through for a while and all looked good.  I felt sure that the fish would be willing to feed if I could put a bait close enough to them.  I had to keep on the move and find the fish; two hours in each spot should be enough.  When the paternoster rig had been twitched all the way back I rebaited with a mackerel and cast it further left.  By the time I’d completed twitching this back again it would be time to move.

For once I didn’t see the waggler float tilt and slide away.  I was starting to tidy away my gear when I was alerted by the micron sounding and the float had gone, something was moving off with the bluey.  I quickly wound down and pulled back into a solid weight which immediately moved to the right and went straight through another line.  This felt like a decent fish and it certainly wasn’t going to roll over and into the net.  She did not want to come up the shelf and twice powered away causing me to unwillingly give line.  Eventually the fish came into the shallows and a large head and long mottled flank revealed itself, my first Pike of 2016 straight in the net no messing!  Looking down in the clear water I could see that this was a good fish so left it secure in the net while I got the mat, forceps, scales and camera ready.  Everything went to plan, quick and easy.  The scales read a pleasing weight and I managed a couple of decent shots with the self-timer.  A quick look before releasing revealed a lean, spotty fish with few blemishes from a previous capture.  I was a happy man and didn’t mind the soaking I got when she powered out of the shallows.

I had a bit of a tangle to undo but that didn’t matter, I soon had all three rods fishing again and was sitting back with a mug of tea and a smug grin.  My two hours were up but it would be sensible to sit it out on this spot for a while longer, even though I’d had a good fish I was greedy for another.  Having spent most of the last decade Pike fishing from boats I’ve got into the habit of moving swims regularly and now I’m back on the bank I’m keeping this up.  Early in the afternoon I moved again and picked a swim where roach had topped early on, this also happened to be half way back to the car.  The only excitement was a swirl close in, the cause was soon revealed as a Little Grebe which splashed away noisily.  As the afternoon waned the skies darkened and light rain began to fall.  I’d planned to stay well into dark but the rain was getting heavier and I could still see the floats as I began to pack up.  The forecast had said ‘big fish’ and for once a Pike had read the script.

Saturday 9 January 2016

Pikey paranoia

There has been a bit of heated discussion in the strange Pikey internet world lately, this in itself is nothing at all new, nor for that matter is the subject; Publicity and Pressure.  Recently a photo of a big fish was published with no venue named, no weight given and no clues in the background, but it seems that to some even this is too much info.  We all want to guard our fishing but I think that is taking it a bit too far?

Anyone who’s ever read my nonsense will know I very rarely mention a water by its name and what might not be quite so obvious is the photos I post aren’t usually the best ones at my disposal, they are often chosen and in some cases altered, so as not to give too much away.  There are people out there who have a good idea about where I have fished in recent years but I put up won’t be telling them anything they don’t already know.  The reasons for this are obvious and have been said many times already anyway.  As far as Pike fishing goes I find it difficult to blog anything much at all without giving too much away.  I still keep a diary, because I enjoy it but I can’t blog it and this is a problem shared by many Pikey writers.

But on the other hand I love reading anecdotal pieces and there is a real lack of genuine contemporary Pikey literature, compared to Carp angling for example.  Every month top Carp anglers are publishing well written stories of their latest escapades and adding to a legacy of writing.  Yes I know Carp are different to Pike and impossible to kill but on the other hand they are not so different.  Pike can be big and impressive creatures and from my own experience it takes a whole lot more effort to catch one than it does a Carp.  In general Pike waters are a lot more interesting places too, usually larger, wilder and more scenic.  There are some excellent writer/Pikers and in general I’d say the average Pike angler has a few more brain cells than most carpers.  Pikey writing could be even better than the wealth of literature available to Carp anglers, if only they weren’t so bloody fragile.

John Watson’s original 1991 “A Pikers Progress” is one of the most popular Piking books and is certainly one of my favourites (and he borrowed the title from Dave Lumb?).  One of the reasons for this is Watto tells all, giving all the locations away almost to the yard.  This without doubt adds to the stories as the reader almost feels he is in the boat with the anglers as it all goes off.  The Piking world has changed a great deal since then and it is impossible to imagine anyone writing about Pike fishing in this detail again.  Thankfully we do get occasional releases of inspirational Pikey stories in book form, most of my favourites over the life of this blog have been produced by Stephen Harper.  However really good Pikey writing is rare amongst the monthly magazines these days which is a shame?

So it’s a classic Catch 22 situation; writing about our Piking risks the fishing itself, not writing about it and so much ‘history’ could be lost.  We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.  However there may be a way round this.  I’ve always kept a diary and although I don’t blog much about Pike fishing, I still write it up for my own amusement.  Maybe I could turn the clock back five or ten years and put up my diaries from those times?  Or then again, from a purely selfish point of view, what do I have to gain?

On another, similar forum thread there was a comment that derided the use of google earth making the whole business of finding Pike waters too easy.  The writer harked back to the good old days where we had to work hard poring over Ordnance survey maps… I’m not entirely sure if this one was a genuine moan or a brilliant piece of irony?
Too much info??

 Fishing time has been scarce lately but I have managed a few short trips with a lure rod to a place where you could literally nail a £20 note to a tree.  I’m not sure what this water holds but I have established there are plenty of silver fish about.  And some Pike.

Friday 1 January 2016


So it’s that time once again, I’m sitting here thinking where the hell did those twelve months go? The truth is they flew passed because it was a bloody busy year. Lots of good stuff and some not so good. Looking back I wonder that it all fit in one year and I wonder how we got through it with some sanity intact, or did we? For me fishing is often therapy, escapism, headspace whatever you call it its almost always pure pleasure.

My Pike fishing in 2014 was as enjoyable as I’d ever known it and this continued into the New year and right up until the river season finished. I managed to catch good fish from three different waters which included my first twenty pounder caught from my home county for a long time. When I checked I was surprised just how long. Then came spring and the Broadland Prymnesium which has been covered at length, the system has been devastated and my fishing may never be the same again. My Pike fishing this autumn has been slow, partly because of what has gone on in Norfolk and partly because I’m spending my time scouting out ‘new’ places to Pike fish. More about that another time? Probably not. What has become apparent is if I want to continue to enjoy the type of Pike fishing I’ve become used to then I have to get out of my comfort zone, for a while.

I fished ‘The Marsh’ for five years but this year I gave it a miss and I have to say I missed the place. The waters I fished during the spring and summer were nowhere near as pleasant and relaxing. I did manage to catch loads of fish including a few Carp and a solitary Tench. The fishing was interesting but not enough to inspire me to do the same again next year. For the last three seasons some of my fishing has been on more popular waters than I am used to and without the Marsh this percentage grew. I’ve reaffirmed what I already knew, if anything I’ve become even more anti-social. I have a couple of other waters in mind for next year and if it all pans out I may even be spoiled for choice. I’m not thinking too far ahead at the moment because it’s still winter and as yet I haven’t caught nearly enough Pike.