Sunday 19 February 2023

Up the road

Friday would have been perfect for a trip north but it was my only opportunity to see Maddi for her birthday so no contest, maybe had I known Isaac was going out all day I’d have gone on Saturday but…  Instead I had to settle for a few hours on a local stillwater, keeping my head down because…  It was a dull, mild day with only the gentlest breeze from the west, reasonable conditions but not ideal.  I travelled light as it was a bit of a hike and started off on the southern bank fishing a float legered herring and a float paternostered mackerel.  I twitched them and moved them, shallowed up the float above the herring to allow a slow sideways drift but tempted nothing.  After two hours I decided it was time for a move.

I fought my way through the brittle undergrowth to the far end where I’d be a little exposed but could always plead ignorance…  Here with a bit more room I cast a smelt on the paternoster rig long to my right and twitched it back towards me every few minutes.  On the other rod I continued drifting a bait under the float, this time a mackerel.  When this bait had travelled as far as was likely I slowly retrieved it, sink and draw style which is a method I don’t use enough these days.  After ninety minutes of this I’d pretty much covered all the water in front of me and it was looking like a blank was on the cards.

I sat back with a brew, scheming and steaming.  I don’t fish this place very much because I don’t like to fly under the radar too often and at this point had run out of ideas.  Maybe a lure would have changed things but I’d left them at home.  By noon I was just killing time but it was then that the drifting float slid under.  I wound down quickly and hooked a Pike but there was little resistance and I was soon unhooking a Jack in the margins.  I recast with a mini bluey, a bait that doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as effective as the bigger ones cut in half.  This drifted nicely and eventually settled on an area of shallower water.  Here it remained for a minute before the float jabbed and started slowly moving away.  By the time I’d picked up the rod all movement had ceased, I wound down to no Pike and retrieved a baitless trace.

On with another bluey and cast to the left, off for another drift.  I gave it half an hour more then started packing up, the paternoster first then as I slowly retrieved the drifted bluey I felt a tap on the rod tip.  I gave a yard of slack, the float was moving steadily away so I wound down and set the hook.  Soon I had a second Jack, slightly larger than the first and this was chinned out and returned after a quick twist with the forceps.  Four hours in the quiet countryside, watching Egrets and listening to the birds singing and a couple of Pike.  I’d enjoyed myself but time is running out and I need to do some proper Piking.


For the first time in weeks the weather came good in time for my days off, I would definitely be loading up and heading north.  Then a slight hitch meant delaying the trip by twenty four hours but if anything this made things even better.  A spell of clear skies and over night frosts had ended and I fished on the second mild day, the first double figure temperature for over a week. 

The day was mostly cloudy but the sun poked through more often than had been predicted, a light westerly kept the water rippled, all I needed to do was find some fish.  This I managed to do in my second swim of the day, I’d just twitched a herring and a minute or two later the float slid away.  The fish felt solid and the bend stayed in the rod to begin with but straightened a bit towards the boat.  Still a gorgeous double figure fish, dark with big yellow spots made all the effort worthwhile.

The day was pleasant and I spent it searching both new areas and familiar ones without success but as always the bird life was distracting and interesting.  By mid afternoon I was back close to where I had caught the fish but an hour here didn’t produce.  I did notice four Grebes were continually working the same area so this seemed like as good as anywhere for my seventh and last stop of the day.  After only twenty minutes here a float was on the move but it had stopped by the time I picked the rod up.  I wound down to nothing but something had made off with my bluey!  Another hour passed and with the light gradually dimming I was struggling to see the floats, even more so when one of them disappeared.  A small Pike soon found itself in the net, two in a day is a result up here in these times.

I fished on for another hour, enjoying the surreal feeling that comes from being in the dark in the middle of a large expanse of water.  Nothing else disturbed me but I was more than content as I cruised back to the slip.

Friday came around again, I was up at the crack of 0530 to meet up with Mr P with whom I’d shared a hilarious and productive day this time last year.  The highlight of this was a PB Pike for Mr P but I warned him we’d be pushing our luck to expect the same again this time.  We were comfortably fishing from a large wooden boat by 0715, the day promised almost perfect weather for this time of year; double figure temperatures with a fresh westerly, all we needed was to find some fish.  It took just half an hour before my herring cast parallel to a reedy margin was on the move.  Soon a small but perfectly formed Pike was in the net where it helpfully unhooked itself.

The day was spent making short moves downstream which enabled us to cover the stretch thoroughly and we caught fish regularly.  Herring and mackerel accounted for most of the fish and once again smelt produced bugger all, I think I’ve bought a dodgy batch.  Most of the fish came in the morning, the afternoon was slow as is often the case here.  Maybe the sound of laughter scared them off?  I had high hopes for a fish or two at last knockings, with the light fading and silvers topping it looked spot on but nobody told the Pike.  By the end we’d had four takes each; Mr P converted all of his but I managed to drop one, the biggest might have made double figures had we bothered to weigh it.  The days are long again now and I was knackered by the time we finished but it had been an enjoyable day in good company.

There’s less than a month now, the weeks pass quickly at this time of year and river time is running out.  From now till the end of season there’s only one place I want to cast my Pike rods but only if the weather doesn’t ruin my chances, I’ve learnt that lesson.

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