Tuesday 24 March 2020

Shit or bust

I left the boat yard with a fresh westerly lumping the water, it was uncomfortable until I turned the corner.  The sky was gloomy but at least it wasn't raining, a rare thing indeed this Pike season.  A while later I was pulling the boat into the reeds in a favourite bay with previous spring time form.  Friday 13th, this would be my last trip to the special place for a while.  March is often shit or bust, most recent seasons have seen very tough fishing but every now and then it all falls into place.  I guess over the years about one March in three has been good?  Three good deadbaits and a live had been positioned around the boat, March more than any other time can be a waiting game.

The bay was unresponsive and by lunch time it was all change, the wind had swung and dropped, the sun was actually peeping furtively from behind the clouds.  I'd also changed swims and was fishing a spot that I rarely visit, an area that mad Neville Fruitcake had told me he'd once caught a whacker from.  As the swim was one I'm not so familiar with I twitched the baits back a bit every now and again, learning as I went.  At just after 1400 I was pondering another move but the float above a recently twitched Lamprey which had been cast parallel to the reeds caught my attention, had it showed signs of life?  Yes the float was causing a wake and as I reached for the rod the baitrunner began to tick.

The strike met with a thump and a head shake, small fish?  As I gained line a good weight could be felt on the line, not a small fish!  This Pike did nothing except hang and allow me to pump it back to the boat and straight into the net.  It was a good fish but not the monster that haunts my dreams.  Still big enough to require the scales and as I'm getting more efficient at self takes the camera came out too.  It dawned on me that this fish also represented a personal landmark from the special place, who'd have thought it when the addiction first took hold?

The rest of the day and the one that followed passed in pleasant conditions but no more Pike happened upon my baits.  I'm confident I was mostly doing the right things in the right places but March is often shit or bust.

And that as it turned out was my last Pike of the 2019/20 season.  I had planned another trip on a stillwater, to get rid of the old baits but events have overtaken us and that won't be happening now.  As things turned out I would have certainly settled for the fish that I managed to get in the net this winter but I'm rarely completely satisfied.  Autumn seems a long way away at the moment...

I am certain that I could go fishing tomorrow, not get within fifty yards of another human and spread no harm to anyone.  But it is only fishing and as much as I may crave the immersion in the countryside and the angling conundrum, staying away is the right thing to do.  For the first time in a long time, all of our waters will benefit from a closed season.  It's my nature to be frivolous but not today, stay safe, do the right thing, be lucky.