Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sunday lay in, not a chance!

The EA website hasn't updated in a while so my river levels data is out of date. I figured that the river would be back to normal and decided on getting out for a couple of hours Sunday morning so set my alarm for half six. I was up and out in a flash and on to the river for 7am after intentionally not having any breakfast so that I would be home for around half ten at the latest aching for some food. I had to be home to take my daughter dancing and then me and my lad Jack and nephew Tom to the rugby. Emily dances for the Castleford Tigers Elites cheer leading team and me and the lads are mad on the Tigers and so we're there for her and the rugby. So there was never any way I was going to be out on the bank too long because rugby is the one other thing that I love. As it turned out, food and rugby could so easily have been left behind because today the fish were definitely biting. A bad defeat in rugby is like a blank on the river but you have to be there for the defeats to enjoy the good times.

I started off with the rainbow lip lure because it's been so good to me I can't see the reason for using anything unless it isn't working. A good twenty minutes passed without a sniff and the thought crossed my mind that it could be one of those days again. There have been far too many blank sessions so far this year but I put that to the back of my mind and concentrated on what I was doing. I'd been out for an hour on Friday but the river was really coloured and still had quite a bit of flow. I still managed to miss two fish though so they are hungry, just a shame that I managed to let them get away. I kind of blamed myself that day because I'd seen the fish coming and was hesitant in my strike. So today I kept telling myself to stay switched on and if a fish came up out of the depths and struck in the direction of my lure I was to strike straight away even if I didn't feel anything on the rod. I'd gone for a slow retrieve but constantly kept jerking the lure but not full on jerks it was more small ones and quite fast. The lure kind of suspends in the water and then jiggles and flashes and then suspends and jiggles again. The lip lure is a swimbait and the Savage Gear swimbaits do look life like. A few piker anglers seem to think they are too life like and stay away from them thinking a pike wants an easy meal so go for erratic actioned lures or flashing lures that might trigger the hunter within. But don't forget you don't have to just wind in these lures and make them look like a real life fish. With a varied retrieve and using your rod you can make these lures not only look exactly like a fish but also an inured fish. If you get time, practice with the lure in front of you where you can see what it does and how what you do effects it. Then go for that long cast and do exactly the same all the way in.

My slow, suspending, jiggling flashing, jerky retrieve did the trick. The lure was nearly all the way in and as I worked it passed a large boulder, where the water was still deep at the other side of it but only a few feet deep at the bank side of it, I saw a fish.
Now this boulder is a magnet for fish action. The pike follow in the lure, sometimes five or six feet away but the boulder often helps them make their mind up. As my lure begins to come up and over, it often triggers the strike but as Friday showed that can sometimes work against me. I'm often so engrossed in the fish charging up from the depths and trying to work out if in that flash of action the pike has actually managed to grab my lure I sometimes end up hesitating and missing the hit. All this action is within 10 feet of me so I can see everything but don't always feel anything on the rod depending how the fish strikes. This time I was ready and had decided to strike immediately and that did the trick. The fish was on and I had a fight on my hands. I knew it was smaller than ten pounds from what I saw of it but as I hit into the fish he decided he wanted to make a run for it and boy did he go. My clutch is set fairly tight but this fish was pulling line off my reel like mad. He must have gone a good twenty five feet up river taking line and at one point my rod was stretched pointing right out at the fish to try and prevent the hook pulling out under the force. I gained control and brought the fish in, chinning him out and quickly unhooking him and getting a photo or two before slipping him back, a fish of around 7lb.

So at least today wasn't going to be another blank and with the pressure off I could relax and fish. As so often happens in this swim, one fish can lead straight to another. I sometimes imagine the fish are coming in to the area in packs rather than alone. I cast pretty much where that pike had come from and did the exact same retrieve. Bang! I'm in again and this time it feels a bit better. Yet again this fish had hit in the same spot, just as the lure was coming up over the boulder. It's as if the pike knows he has the lure cornered and goes for the hit. We battled for a minute or two before I slipped her into the net. I knew I shouldn't have though because the lure was hanging on the outside of its mouth and as its head went in clean a hook snagged in the net which then made it impossible for me to pull the rest of the fish in. So with fish half in and half out of the net I had to quickly jump down and throw the fishes tail in the net. This could be a tricky one to unhook but as I got her on to the mat I managed to quickly get the hooks out of her mouth and the net and tangled lure thrown to one side to sort out later. I took a couple of photos and put her in the sack because I noticed we were both covered in mud. I then sorted myself out and took a couple more photos of her but having got home the clean fish photos were rubbish. I'll have to sort this peg out so I can get my gear out of the mud and I can come home clean for once.
I then had another fish follow my lure but this time I ran out of water. The pike followed up and over the boulder and as I got to the point of no return the fish turned away. It wasn't a monster probably another six or seven pounder but it did look quite long, if not wide. Then maybe twenty minutes later I had another pike follow and turn away exactly like before and if I were a betting man I would have said it was again the same fish that followed last time. Having made a few speculative casts elsewhere I got a knock but I couldn't tempt the fish to hit again. Another twenty minutes and then nothing until I hit into a fish and then as quickly as that the hook came out. Hard to tell anything about the size of that fish. The morning session was nearly over and I decided it was maybe time to think about packing up. I decided to wash my sack and unhooking mat as they were both full of mud and slime but left my rod made up for one last cast. I left the mat and sack to drain off and cast out the lure and would you believe it I was in again. I felt something hit my lure but struck in to nothing so jiggled the lip lure and the fish struck again. It was only a jack of about 6lb so I didn't bother with the photos etc and just got him unhooked and back in the water. I then had a few more casts and threw one right up river along the edge. It's a bit snaggy here so you have to retrieve at a decent rate. I hit something but struck at it without even thinking. Sometimes that can get your hooks free of the snag other times it gets them embedded in the branch. But this wasn't a snag at all and the fish pulled back. It shook it's head wildly which suggested it was a smaller fish but then it stayed low and the feel of my rod bent and the weight on the end suggested it could be another low double. The fish came out in to the middle of the water and I was ready for my first glimpse of it. To my annoyance the hooks came out. I hadn't put too much pressure on the fish, I never really do and guess it was only hooked somewhere on the outside of it's mouth. Usually the big fish engulf the whole lure and get hooked nicely while the smaller ones end up with the hooks anywhere on the outside of the face, and the lure half in half out of the mouth. What ever, no point guessing what it was because I'll never know.

It was well worth getting up on my Sunday lay in. Three fish in the bag and plenty of action to make it all worth while. I'm going to miss this bit of river when the closed season comes in. My mate Billy the blue tit comes and sees me every day. He's a happy chappy and always seems to sit in the same tree singing away. I keep meaning to take some photos of the wildlife but I'm always too busy having one more cast to think about the birds. Then again if I did take photos of all the birds I saw I'd never get any fishing done. It's surprising how many and how many different varieties there are in this little stretch. The ducks have now learnt that I have no food for them, the seagulls seem to have given up chasing my air born lures and the cormorants have learnt they're not welcome from my nasty glare at them. I see a massive gaggle of geese most days who feed on the fields opposite and I was going to get a photo of them coming off the fields on to the river but this time I only managed a shot of them up in the air miles from me. This is a fishing forum anyway! That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Unfortunately I end on a sad note. On the opposite bank were two lads with dead baits. I've seen one of them before there and never seen him catch. Today he managed a jack of roughly 6 or 7lb, hard to tell from a distance but as I watched he and his mate proceeded to drag the fish up the bank. It flapped around a bit and they struggled to get a hold of it until one of them decided to stand on it. They got the hooks out in decent time but then dunked the fish in the water to wash it like an old woman in the 1800s washing her clothes in the river. They took a few photos and put it back and It looked like it went away ok. I kept my eye on them and later one of them had another run and as he jumped up to get his rod I hoped he'd miss. To my joy he did and the bait came flying back at him. I do think they were there for the day though so I can only hope that was the last of the action for them. I'm not an expert and still learn things, often every time I go fishing or read something on the internet but it amazes me when you still see people like this about on the banks. Problem is today was a decent day and as I made my way home I spotted quite a few more anglers on the bank. Unfortunately the mild weather also brings out more and more idiots.

2012 pike tally
Total 14
Largest 17lb

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