Tuesday 29 November 2016

Autumn's end

A couple of proper hard frosts signify that autumn is at an end.  Even though I'm a lifelong Piker I hate the winter!  It's not the cold that does for me it's the short days and endless darkness.  The leafless skeletal trees, instead of vibrant greens everything is dull grey or muddy brown.  I'm forever having customers tell me that the crisp frosty frosty mornings are "Pike weather", I try to remain patient and explain it isn't that clear cut...

I've really enjoyed the fishing this autumn.  Early on the challenge of the special place was exhilarating and a welcome respite from a world going to shit around me.  I knew it would be tough and it didn't surprise me. I've said it many times before, it's not the fish its the fishing and when that float slides away...

More recently I've enjoyed more prolific fishing at another wild, out of the way water.  On one occasion the wind blew a hoolie causing chaos and carnage while Mr N and I fished in peace and isolation.  With the boat position in the lee of the gale we were confident and comfortable.  We don't fish together often but when we do a big bag of fish usually appears, as was the case this time.  The final weight would have been well into three figures and as usual Mr N caught the lions share of them.  That morning I'd opened the freezer and was knocked back by the stink!  At some point over the last couple of days it had packed in and my bait was unappetising at best.  Could Mr N's fresher bait have made the difference or was it down to his greater experience?  Then again it could just be the way it was on the day and on another things will even out.  It didn't matter to me at all, both of us boated good fish and as usual it was a thoroughly enjoyable day in great company.

A few days later the nephew joined me for a day on the water.  We'd both been socialising the evening before so an early start was never on the cards but still I had to wake Josh up!  For once the rain stayed away (mostly) and the wind hardly blew.  Circumstances saw us exploring water I'd rarely fished before and I really didn't know what to expect.  It all looked Pikey and interesting but nothing bothered our baits until we dropped weights in the third spot of the day when at long last a Pike showed an interest in one of Josh's baits.  Unfortunately a combination of inexperience and a small Pike saw the fish come adrift.  We had a couple more takes on the same spot but just couldn't put a fish in the boat, would it be one of those days?

Another move changed our luck or mine at least.  I was looking in the direction of a float above a smelt deadbait when it seemed to tremor, was that a take?  As I was wondering I noticed a patch of bubbles rise to the surface and then yes the float was definitely on the move!  After a short, sharp fight a nice, plump double figure fish was secured in the net.  We moved a short while later and this time it happened, Josh's float slid away and the strike connected.  The bend in the rod indicated a decent weight but the fish had managed to snag a branch and wasn't as big as we'd hoped.  The fish may not have been a monster but it had lovely colours and markings and most importantly the duck had been broken.  Josh had his first Pike for a few years was held up for the camera and he was made up.  He could have added another shortly after if he'd remembered to put the baitrunner on!

After that we had a quiet couple of hours before dropping weights for the final time that day.  As dusk deepened my bait cast to an overhanging tree was taken three times in quick succession and three nice Pike brought to the boat before the feeding spell finished.  It was properly dark by the time we made it back to the boatyard.  The day had been a success, Josh's fish was not the biggest of the day but it was definitely the one that we both enjoyed the most.  He's up and running now, the next target is to catch a bigger one.

Tuesday 15 November 2016


A midweek fishing window opened and it couldn’t be ignored.  There was not enough time to fish the special place properly but there is a viable alternative tucked away in the East Anglian countryside.  I was joined by nephew Josh who is on a mission to catch his first Pike for a few years and then hopefully a few more!  Over the last year he’s been out with me three times but so far the fish have avoided him.

The weather forecast was abysmal, it was set to piss with rain all day and we were to be fishing from a small, open boat.  In normal circumstances I would not have been at all confident in this kind of weather and if I had any sense I’d be on the bank under a shelter.  However given the nature of the water I thought we’d be in with a chance and the advantages of a boat outweigh a bit of falling water.

We arrived in the dark, and yes it was raining but not as bad as the forecast had predicted.  By the time I’d rowed into position it was light enough to set up without a torch.  We cast a mixture of baits around the boat then sat back with a brew to await the sunrise, which never really happened due to the filthy grey clouds that continued to drop annoying light rain on us.  Previous visits to this water had produced almost instant action but this was not the case today, had the shitty weather put the fish off?

Forty five minutes and another cup of tea later I looked round to see my float moving away, something had picked up a Herring and was gaining in speed.  Hooks set, the rod took on a decent curve and a nice Pike powered off.  It was soon in the net, unhooked and released.  First of many I hoped.  Another half hour passed and still the light rain fell.  Was it? Yes, the same float moved again and this time the rod hooped over properly.  A typical short, sharp fight ensued then another, bigger fish was in the net.  This was a scales and camera job for sure.  
 Time passed quickly and I began to ponder a move, should I stay or should I go?  A swirl and scatter of bait fish made up my mind.  A short paddle and we were on the spot in time to see two more fish strike.  Rods were quickly cast and we sat back, sure a float would go at any time.  I was happy with a couple of fish and was desperate for Josh to catch.  Cue the inevitable intervention of Sod’s law.  First of all another nice fish fell to a Smelt, followed a while later by a similar sized fish on a Lamprey.  Four takes, all to my rods, I assured Josh his time would come but no sooner was the Lamprey back in position and it was away again.  After waddling on the surface and allowing me to haul it back to the boat it dived and powered away, taking line and thumping the rod.  In the net it looked clearly the biggest so far, the scales agreed but not by much.
It was just after 1000, we still had six hours fishing ahead of us and I was still confident Josh would get his turn.  Privately I’d decided the next take would be his, no matter what rod it came to.  We kept moving and tried everything, including a bit of trolling.  The rain kept falling but the Pike just didn’t want to know anymore.  We fished on until darkness but the fish didn’t show, by the time we packed up the gear was thoroughly soaked and despite the best wet weather gear we were damp.  A day like this might put Josh off winter Piking for life but it hasn’t.  We’ll try again soon and he will get that Pike.