Wednesday, 14 March 2012

CLOSED - Fish some place else

No I didn't pack in fishing after I caught that superb 22.5lb pike last week. I wanted to get back out on the river and get as many minutes of fishing in as possible before the closed season came. But I got struck down with tonsillitis, boy is that a killer. My temperature was sky high, my throat closed up so all I could eat was ice cream, but then that was after three days of not eating at all because I was so ill. Would you believe I even lost 16lbs in weight. I know, I haven't even got 16lb spare to lose in the first place. It knocked the socks right off me and I never got out to fish again until just this week, in fact Tuesday was my first outing. That doesn't leave me much fishing before season end. Working the afternoon shift and starting at midday gave me at least a few hours but even now I'm still not 100% fit so couldn't force myself to get up at the crack of dawn and instead opted for a steady 9am start after sending the wife and kids off to school.

Not much time to fish so it was straight on with the rainbow lip lure. Let's not mess about trying things, let's just catch a fish. I had one follow, a lightening fast strike from about 6 feet back with the pike missing the lure. The speed it hit though was tremendous and probably the fastest pike I'd ever seen, had I hooked in to that one it would have had me water skiing surely. Nothing else happened and after three quarters of an hour I was watching the bird life, insect life and anything else passing me by. I kept spotting a fish or two taking something off the top but couldn't make it out. At least there was fish activity in the area, but I was starting to wonder if in the time I'd been away the pike had gone in to spawning elsewhere. I decided to switch to a lighter set up and see if I could get a perch or chub from the swim. Worth a try, the water was so low I wondered if possibly the pike were not feeding. I realised that I needed to get some light braid for this job. I was using a reel with some mono on and couldn't believe how bad lure fishing is with the stuff. It's so stretchy and springy and you are nowhere near as tuned in to what is happening with your lure. I did get a couple of knocks but right now I still couldn't tell you if it was a fish or submerged branch. Next time I'm lure fishing with a light set up I'll have some braid on this reel.

I gave it up as a bad job and switched back to my 88lb braid, the stuff you can pull a car wheel in with and not worry about losing a lure, and I have pulled in a car wheel, stacks of rubbish sacks full of mud, some good chunky tree branches, a deck chair and half a rusty oil barrel. Still, this barge rope is much better for telling what is happening on the other end of the line and when you strike you're immediately in to the fish. And it wasn't long before I was in to a fish. A quick hit and I hook a pike, rod bent and me trying to figure out what it's intentions are but before I get a chance to do anything else the hook pulled out. It was a decent fish, probably a low double at least and it left me half smiling half cursing my luck. But I'm still smiling from last week and even though I think that was probably my only fish for today I take the miss on the chin and carry on.

13lb pike on rainbow lip lure
 It's after 11am now and i've not got too long before work. That was my chance of a fish from a quiet morning of fishing. I decided to quickly fan cast the area again one last time. A few casts later and I feel the thump of a fish and react instantly seemingly setting the hooks this time. The fish puts up a good scrap and as she comes closer I'm happy to see it's another low double, in fact it weighted 13lb so not a bad fish at all. A nice bit of girth to it which every fish this last month has had and that's great to see. Plenty of healthy, fat fish which should go on to spawn soon and keep the cycle going.It also shows that despite the presence of cormorants, merganser, grebe and heron about there's plenty of food to go around to feed a decent pike population. How long that will last though I do not know. A fellow angler and forum user posted yesterday he'd seen an otter just a couple of miles down river from me. Oh shit, this is bad.

15.5lb pike on rainbow lip lure
The fish goes back nicely and a quick glance at the clock shows me I've still time for another cast or two and again within no time I feel a good old thump on the lure. I never thought it was going to be another twenty but the slow steady fight and the fact I couldn't get it's head up in the water for quite some time I knew it was going to be a decent fish. As the battle went on and I got the fish close in I could see it was another fatty so decided on the net for safety. Another gorgeous fish and an even bigger belly on it this time helping the fish tip the scales at 15.5lb. A good end to a slow session but it also made me go away thinking what could have been had I stayed longer. Would that have been it for the day or had the fish turned on to feed and I was missing out on a monster session? I'll never know of course, maybe I should have booked a day or two off work just to fish, never mind. It's also amazing to think that this pike virtually represents the weight I lost while I was ill, quite scary to be honest!

Yes, it just dawned on me too. I need to think of something else for my self take photos. They're beginning to look the same every time. But what do you do? I'm always thinking about the fish, a quick couple of snaps and then get it back in. It's only when you get home and have a look that you realise what you did. But, on the plus side, the self takes aren't too bad. Imagine that fish is another twenty and this time I've no one around to help me take photos. At least I can be pretty confident that the photo will be not too shabby, that I'll be in the right place and not half off shot and I can do all that without putting too much extra stress on the fish. Job done then, practice makes perfect I guess.

Spring is on it's way
Wednesday, the last day, a sad day. Nah not really. I've had a good stint and some decent results, lots of fun and some cracking fish. Me and the river are due a rest. The fish will be spawning soon, everything else is starting to spring in to life and when I get back to this peg in a couple of months I won't recognise it. I'm looking forward to that time already but in the mean time I'll get out and explore a few other venues and get a few jobs done around the house to keep the missus sweet.

A fourteen pounder?
The fishing itself was a bit slow. Not much sign of anything except for me pulling my lure over a fish and pulling in a scale. I always wonder what the fish could have been when this happens and I'm not knowledgeable enough to be able to know from the scales what fish it was, but I'd rather not know than foul hook one and have to drag it in. Of course that sometimes happens and you can't always help it, but I'd rather it not happen to save a fish having the trebles embedded in it's side and me trying to yank it in sideways. I kept at it and soon I felt a hit, but no it's a stick. It's funny, for a brief second you're convinced there's a fish on until you finally realise when the stick breaks the surface. So back at it and soon I feel a better thud on the line. Striking in to it and I think I'm in, but the fish is charging straight towards me. I can feel the fish, but have to wind at super speed to keep up. The lure comes in to view on the river bed but the camouflage of the fish is well and truly hiding it from view. But wait, the water here is only a few feet deep, I should be able to see the fish by now. I raise my rod to find I've hooked a rock. It wasn't a fish swimming towards me but the rock swinging my way under the force of gravity. I chuckled to myself.

I carried on fishing sticking with the rainbow lip lure which has done me so well. Today I'm not even bothering with any other lure. If I didn't catch anything and was using another lure, I'd be blaming that lure and cursing. If I stick with the rainbow and still don't catch then so be it. At least I know the rainbow works having caught over 80% of my fish using it. Since this lure is now discontinued, I'm going to have to master the art of repainting it in the rainbow pattern otherwise my catch rate might suffer!

15lb on rainbow lip lure
I drifted off in to wild life watching and had to snap myself out of it. Some hits are unmissable as the pike engulfs the lure in a massive hit but sometimes you have to be ready to strike in to the smallest of knocks. You have to concentrate on what is happening and I always try to watch my rod tip, watch my line and try to feel at one with my rod so that at the slightest knock I can react. Watching the lure as it comes in close and also watching directly behind the lure to see if I can spot a predator following. You can't always see them, they're so camouflaged. Sometimes the first thing you see is the flash of under belly as the fish strike. Well this time I never even saw that, but instead as I was jerking my lure in and the lure had got in to sight, I saw my lure suddenly take off to the side. I never felt anything, I never saw a fish but the sight of my lure going sideways in the water instead of toward me made me strike. Wowsers what a commotion. No wonder pike are often nicknamed "crocs" this one went in to a barrel roll. It rolled and rolled and rolled and ended up with my line right round it's body, tangled in the treble hooks and then wrapped round and round again. What a mess and the fight hadn't even begun. Every time I tried to pull the fish in it unrolled and every time the fish tried to fight back it rolled again. I managed to get her close enough to reach out with the net and get her in. It wasn't easy but I got her untangled without fuss, I guess she was dizzy because she never gave me any trouble. A quick weigh showed the fatty was 15lb. A nice fish to finish my stint on the river. Remembering my photos now all look the same I thought about trying something different but only ended up with my fingers in the way of the fish.

I've enjoyed my river piking. It's not always been easy and I've had plenty of tough blanks but on the whole it's been a success story. I've managed to catch plenty of fish, quite a few doubles and even set a new river pike pb of 22.5lb. I've learnt plenty about river piking, at least on this bit of river, and have a better understanding of lure fishing through out the year. I've also realised that I just want to lure fish and that I don't want to sit for hours behind an alarm in a bivvy. Part of the thrill for me is trying to coax a fish out, often seeing the take or miss even and the buzz I get from that is what drives me on. No longer is it about catching bigger fish, it's just about fishing and enjoying it. Tight lines!

2012 pike tally
 Doubles 11
Total 21
Largest 22.5lb


  1. Great way to see out the season and those are some lovely looking fish, they look in tip top condition and with some beautiful markings.

  2. Thanks Mark. Every fish has looked in tip top condition, which is really pleasing to see.