Saturday, 28 January 2012

2011 summary

Since I wasn't blogging last year, and my fishing this year hasn't really kicked in mainly to do with the river up and down like a yo-yo, I thought I'd share some of last years captures and stories sprinkled with a bit of my angling past. 2011 was the year I got my pike mojo back. I spent a lot of my youth pike fishing with cheap lures using an old float rod (seriously!) and had plenty of fun. I'd spend my late summer evenings using mainly small surface poppers on some shallow local flood ponds. The takes were awesome and the buzz was fantastic. I had a few doubles, which wasn't bad for a self taught lure fishing lad in the days before the internet information highway. I even to this day haven't beat my pb of 27lb pike. A fish which made me rethink all my own fishing "laws" since it went against all I'd thought was right for that water. Today many call it the witching hour or similar but to me, that last bit of light at dusk just never produced anything, not one fish. Luckily that evening I persevered even longer and was rewarded with a monster of a fish. I'd spotted a commotion in a corner of the pond, and the only way to get near it was to wade through some reeds. I launched a cast where the fish had surfaced and my popper had only just hit the surface and the fish pounced. A ten minute or so battle commenced (float rod! lol) finally finishing with me waste deep in the water lifting the fish out since my net just simply wasn't anywhere near big enough. Second lesson learnt, need a bigger net before finally the third and final lesson, take a camera! Gutting, I have no record of that fish.

Crock incoming!
Marriage, kids and the lot came and my fishing was put to one side. I  managed to get back in to it about five years ago where I'd spend my summer fishing puddles for carp and the rest and then a little bit of the early spring fishing for pike. A couple of years ago I managed to catch my largest photographed fish, a 22lb pike.

My mate Sam persuaded me to take him pike fishing since he'd never been before. Our first outing took us back to my old ponds where he broke his duck and caught a little jack on half a mackerel, celebrating with a nicely pond chilled beer. We went back the following week and after a long day of nothing we decided on one last try on the opposite side. I cast my bait out no more than 15 feet and before I could finish having a "Jimmy Riddle" my float was bobbing away. Sam asked if it was a good fish and I said it felt like maybe a low double and then as I said those words off it went. Head down and that impressive tail powering away I soon changed my mind. For a moment I thought about my pb, and as the fish came close I knew it was a good one but just not quite a new record. Still, I was over the moon. It was the biggest fish since being back fishing and finally I'd got a good fish on photo. 

22lb pike falls to half mackerel
We carried on fishing face full of cheezy grin and the very next cast Sam had his very own pb fish. Not a monster but he was well happy with a 10lb fish. It capped off a great days pike fishing and we went home chuffed to bits.

A steady few years passed with me fishing for anything. Learning my trade as I went along and just enjoying my days out. Sometimes I'd get out all day, other times I'd go months without getting out. Last year saw me get on the bank much more and fishing my local river I decided to try the lures for pike. It was late summer, around July and August and it was perfect time to get back in to the crocs. Catching pike after pike, I started to get the buzz I remembered as a kid lure fishing. The thrill of the take, seeing the fish up close tracking the lure, crashing in to it, turning away at your rod tip it stirred something inside me to the point where all I want to do now is go pike fishing.

Summer tench on the waggler
I've had some great days fishing for all sorts over the last few years. I would never say I'm anywhere near the best, most knowledgeable or tactical but I can usually catch a fish. I'd bagged 140lb of carp to 10lb on one pond on a day the locals were all packing up and going home early, that was a huge thrill since I'm no match angler. Bagging up on summer tench while catching the rays was a lovely way to spend the day. Even trotting a few maggots down some fast water to catch some silvers gave me lots of enjoyment. I still had on my list that I wanted to target barbel and also get back to fishing for chub, which was another of my favourite fishing memories as a teenager. But in between all this, I cast out a lure. I hooked a pike, and then another and another. For me there was nothing quite like it and it seemed to be always edge of the seat stuff, even if I wasn't catching. Try a cast here, there, change the lure, change the retrieve change the depth, where is that pike laying up? It seems like a constant adrenaline fuelled search for pike and it had me hooked even more than I was hooking the fish. Late last year I seemed to make the permanent switch to just pike fishing. My tackle box shrank and instead in it's place a lure bag. I scoured the lure porn on a night and by day I was casting them in to every spot trying to catch a toothy critter.

Jack and a jack
Jacks 17lb pike
On occasions my 10 year old lad will come with me. He's not quite got the bug like me and is more warm weather fisherman. Sometimes when I'm stood in the freezing cold I think he's got the right idea. He grabbed a few small jacks and was a happy chap indeed, but all that was to be surpassed when he battled and won a cracking lure caught 17lb river pike. That's me holding it on the right, he wasn't quite ready for holding it. I would guess he'll have to put some hours in now to beat that pb but then you never quite know what is lurking in the depths and sometimes it's just being in the right place at the right time. He'll be out as the warmer weather kicks in so watch this space to see if he can repeat or beat his best.

Over the few remaining months of late summer and early autumn I pretty much stuck to the same few swims and probably totalled around eighty fish all on lures. There were plenty of fish around the 7lb mark, two had upturned pug noses but the rest all seemed good quality fish. The opposite bank is often fished and I see fish being pulled out regularly and despite quite a bit of pressure from the locals I'm glad to report that I never pulled in a fish with hooks or traces embedded. Hearing and reading the stories on the net this is something pike anglers seem to have to put up with which is a shame but so far, touch wood, my bit of river isn't suffering the same fate.
19lb river pike

To add to the smaller jacks I also managed a few doubles. Quite a few 12, 13 and 14lb fish were caught totalling about a dozen or so but the prize of them all was a superb 19lb fish. My biggest ever river pike, but then I only started on the rivers in late July of last year and never fishing for them before on a river, ever. Having previously set a steady target of a river twenty, catching the nineteen so soon gave me great hope and is the reason I keep venturing out in gale force winds and swollen rivers. On the whole so far the colder (not that cold is it!) days haven't been anywhere near as productive as late summer. I'm sticking with the lures for now for most of my fishing but have stuck in the odd dead bait session now and again. The hardest part of the river fishing now is the battle with nature. Every time you turn up the river is up a bit, down a bit, raging through and it's much tougher to even find a spot to fish but it's all part of learning. I'm in no rush to catch the twenty but if I could just get a decent run on the river I'm certain the fish are fattening up well and there could be a monster fish just waiting to be had. It's what keeps us going isn't it, the unknown, the dream fish. Happy hunting!


  1. Found your blog today, and signed up to follow. Whilst I'm mainly a fly fisher, the thought of tench on a float really sounds wonderful.

    Maybe see you on the river one day?

  2. With 10 inch of snow on the ground today, those summer tench seem so far away right now. Best thing about those tench is it's a place that is hardly fished at all. Proper wild tench and they put up a right battle.

    I'll have read of your blog in the morning. Just got in from the snow but do love a pike blog. Never fly fished for them but it does look a top sport.