Wednesday, 11 December 2013

False dawn

The plan was set about a week ago when Neil rang me to see if I was up for a trip on his boat. We hadn't been out together in ages and so it was always going to be a yes from me, plus there was a chance of some decent fish now it was time for serious piking. However I warned him that my recent form would no doubt throw a spanner in the works somehow even though it all looked perfect for a good day out. Then just two days before our planned trip it must have chucked it down up in the hills and a sudden surge of coloured water came flooding down. We predicted the level wouldn't be far off but there was no way of knowing if the colour had ran out until we got there. Plus the weather took a little turn and the mild 7-10 degrees was replaced with not much over freezing. Since we both had the day off work we went for it anyway. A chance to catch up and have a laugh, at least we knew that part would be spot on even if the fishing gods were against me.

Arriving at Neil's top secret, new little sneaky launch we set to building up his portebote. However, not so easy despite having done it a few times with him in the past, as it was still pitch black with a hint of mist and fog about in the air. It would be some time until we got the boat in that water, hopefully with all the pieces in the right places, and by that time we reckoned there would be enough light to be out on the water. After a bit of faffing we were ready. Neil nearly had a fail moment when he tried to open up the folded up porteboat and his wooden support slipped, and we both chuckled at the thought of him laid inside the boat all folded back up on itself. More chuckles as we struggled down a rickety gang plank not far off covered with ice. Had it been a couple degrees lower it just might have been us both on our arses. The boat was loaded, the light was starting to win the battle over dark and we were off for some fish.

We set off on a little troll. There was some colour in the water and even though it wasn't quite light enough to see perfectly we knew we were going to be up against it, maybe a foot of visibility. Bright lures with a lot of movement and vibration might be the thing to stir up a hungry pike and we both put on something orange. We'd maybe only gone about 200m when there was a thump on Neil's rod and he proclaimed "I'm in, a fish". Great start, I pulled in my rod and as I was doing so Neil was suggesting it might be just a jack but then within a few seconds, "hold on, it might not be bad this one" and so I reached for the net just in case. We both waited to see what would surface before finally we spotted the fish, a good sized pike and a double at least. It gave a couple more head thumps and then a sudden mad last crazy dash as it neared the boat. I had to pull the net away while Neil hung on as it thrashed around. Once it settled he turned it's head and I scooped it up and it then went mental in the net. What a start, a very fat 16lb fish. This one had certainly been munching and even better, it gave us great hope for a few more fish in what initially looked like tough conditions. 

We trolled a bit more with nothing to show so we decided to drop a few baits in the first deep hole with bait fish in it that we found. The depth was a steady 11-14ft but we knew there were a few holes that might have some fish hiding up in and then when the river bed gave way to 30ft of water and some huge balls of bait fish in we were eager at the thought of what monster might be lurking. We had three bait rods out between us, one each both with red floats and a third one had a bonus yellow float, which we were going to take turns on if it went. Neil had a herring or sardine on one rod, a lamprey on another and I had a macky tail on the other so we had plenty of options for any fussy eaters. We even had the odd jig with the lure rod while we waited, jerking soft plastics up and down in the depths. It was cold and quiet before eventually we saw signs of a pike. Just off the main current, over 30ft of water, up popped a pike to the surface almost like a whale coming up to breath. The arch of it's tail breaking the surface before disappearing below again. We commented on how we didn't expect to see that. With so much water below us and so many fish why wasn't that one down there with our baits? I cursed myself for removing my surface lures last night as I tried to pack light. 

By now Neil's bladder, similar to that of an old woman was telling him he needed to have a slash, but he'd made the fatal mistake of not packing that essential bit of kit, the piss bottle. When it's nice and sunny and the water is nice for swimming in, you can brave it and stand up for a slash if needs be but when it's like this, there's no way you're risking slipping in the drink with ya todger out. I had a couple of bottles in my bag, one was a small coke bottle but Neil swore blind that he'd never get his tally whacker in the neck of the bottle, but I knew mine had already shrunk to a size that would easily fit. Luckily for big cock over there, I had a bottle of Oasis (well the cheap corner shop version as I'm from Yorkshire tha nors) and so I set to necking it so he could refill. That was granny bladder sorted for an hour, so we could now get back to serious fishing once again. 

Moving off to the next spot, trolling on the way to the first ball of bait fish we could find. It wasn't long before we dropped on a huge ball of fish and so again we lobbed the baits out but again nothing, except one half hearted dropped run on Neil's bonus rod. I decided to take it upon myself to make something happen and so started lobbing a small replicant about as we sat waiting. Half a dozen or more casts and then finally some action, though not on the lure rod. My float gave a couple of solid bobs and then it was away. I hastily reeled in the last few meters of line in so I could grab the bait rod when I spotted a mass of line attached to my lure. First thoughts were "which dick heads line is this?" before finally realising it was this dick heads line that was attached to this dick heads float. More chuckles, the run I'm having you have to laugh. 

Having given this area a good crack we moved on though this time we decided to throw a few lures in a spot we know that often throws up fish. First cast and I had a bump, nothing solid and thinking back maybe it was something like a perch or chub having a crack at the lure. Whatever it was it didn't hit again and neither did anything else. A couple of spots tried with the baits before finally securing the boat under a bridge. Three rods out and two lure rods in between. Neil managed to get his lure wedged solid on the bottom first cast and then somehow managing the same with a bait rod, so two lines stuck on the bottom. We gave it ten minutes and then set about getting the lines in to sort his two rods. The bait rod was sorted pretty quickly once we manoeuvred close but his lure rod was attached to something rather substantial. The 80lb braid comes in handy at this point and you can usually bend the hooks out or break something off the snag but this thing wouldn't budge. Eventually there was movement and Neil was bouncing a possible dead body on the river bed. We got the line close and I began to haul it up, whatever it was. Turned out it was half a metal fence that had been embedded in the silt. We moved off and fished another couple of bait fish filled holes but again with no luck.

The sun was now starting to get low in the sky and we had probably half an hour of fishing left so settled on one last spot, tying up next to a pontoon. We'd now given up and knew we had to call it a day to give us time to get the boat sorted out with the last bit of daylight. I was desperate for a slash so climbed up on to the pontoon for an easier pee, no more faffing with the piss bottle. Then it all went in slow motion and visions of a massive fail flashed before my eyes. The pretty sturdy pontoon had a slight angle to it as my weight made it shift from one side to the other. It was only the tinniest of angles, but add to this the wet wood it was made from and add to that the slimy moss that was covering the wood and I was like bambi on ice. At the point I was stood trying to find my polish sausage in my pants, my feet started to slowly slide and there was only one place I was going, head first in the freezing cold water. I managed to twist and flip and turn and half fall my way to safety. Holly crap I was nearly in then and more chuckles were had, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Back at the launch we had the boat away just in time for the last bit of light gone and we jumped in the car and cranked the heater on full. It had been a really cold day, our first proper cold session and one which made the summer boat fishing seem so far away. What a pity we didn't get anything else after that super start, a real false dawn on the fishing front but for enjoyment, despite the cold it was a reet good day!


  1. Nice write up Paul, i had to laugh getting a mental image of you falling over with your polish pecker hanging out! and your right Neil defo has a weak bladder, all the times ive been on the boat ive never actually had a piss, where as Neil is constantly asking for the bottle! Top tip by the way on a cold day, piss in a bottle then keep hold of it (with lid screwed on) makes a good hand warmer!

    I feel for you at the minute after reading your last post, then with todays results, like yourself ive had a terrible few months that seems to be peaking all the time, like yesterday everything seemed to just go wrong when all i needed was just one fish to keep me happy. Two takes and two fish came off!! We both know it will turn around at some point and it will be time to enjoy a run of fortune and good sessions but its so frustrating when its not your turn and its a struggle to just catch something!

    1. cheers Matt. I'll turn it around at some point. Got to keep battling on as otherwise I'll just be bored at home. You know what it's like anyway, still good fun when you're out with a mate.

  2. Sorry about the lack of fish Paul, but it still sounds like you had a good day and like you say, always good to get otu with a mate and have a laugh, if nothing else! It will come good before long buddy.


    1. cheers Glen. I'll get there mate, I'll soon be knocking out twenties every week! lol