Thursday, 13 March 2014

The last fish

Happy with my last big fish capture, the eighteen pounder, I didn't really make plans to get out in the final week of the river season. Monday came and went and I didn't even bother getting out. Working the 6am-2pm shift I could have grabbed some quality time but instead went home and cut the grass in the glorious sunshine. I think I forced myself to fish a few too many times during the winter and that's not me, I prefer to go when I get that urge. Tuesday was something similar, bright blue skies forecast and I had no plans.

My thoughts started to switch to what I would do in the close season and I was thinking of all the places I needed to visit. Some of the places I'd not been to in ages so I have no idea of where the fish will be hiding up. The more I thought about fishing the more it made me want to go. It wasn't too long in to my shift when I got the urge so text the wife to tell her I wouldn't be home while dark. With the clear blue skies I didn't fancy the river for pike, but thought I could may be give it a go a little later as the sun was starting to go down. So instead I thought about some perch fun, but for some reason I then thought about something completely different.

If I could find some perch, what about using a few as live baits? I'd spoken to Woody and suggested we do this before on a certain spot but we never had a good crack at the river and didn't get around to it. If I caught some I could use them, if not I'd just switch to the original plan of a last hour big lure session. I finished my shift but had to go home to get the bait rod and my bucket so it was about half two when I got fishing. Finding the perch might prove a bit tricky though.

Half an hour and not so much as pluck. I was travelling light in case I had to carry a bucket of water back, no camera and no net just a handful of kopytos and my pliers. Out of nowhere I got a tap on the rod and then the rod bent and I was playing a perch. It fought hard on the little rod but I didn't think much of it, and then as it came up I saw a nice perch which was about a pound in weight. I'd never caught such a big perch in this spot and couldn't believe it. I couldn't use this one, even though I knew a pike would have no problem swallowing it in one go. The fish went back and I cast around a few times again. Tipy tap, bang! The rod was bent again and this time it felt bigger, what the hell? I had no net and had to get right down on my knees to hand land this perch, which was easily two pound. You have got to be kidding me! I was only after tiddlers. Another half hour passed and finally I'd bagged a few small perch, five in total and I felt that was enough to give me a chance of a fish or two.

The bait rod was set up with a simple float set about six inch above my 18 inch trace. I wanted the bait to cover the swims but also knew that there are varying depths and a few snags about and didn't want to have my bait tangled up in a sunken branch. Much of the water is about six feet deep and so any pike would know the live bait was there, usually my lures only work that depth too and that works a treat.

The first bait went out on the edge of some fast water, just in the slack. It moved around a bit but never went to far, just perfect. I was using larger hooks than you might when dead baiting and my plan was to set the hooks fast on the smaller perch which were about five or six inch long. A simple meal for any pike. If the hooks didn't stick then it might be a small fish, I was confident any trophy sized fish would have the whole perch in their mouth and I could strike early. It wasn't long before I had my first bit of interest and the float slid under. I bent in to the fish to feel a bit of resistance and immediately thought it was a double. The video camera was rolling and when it came in to view I was happy, a nice fish which went fourteen pounds. I turned the camera off and it beeped once. Wait a minute, it is three beeps for "stop" and one for "record." Aah you tit you've missed the action.

Second bait back out and in the same spot. Again not too long to wait and it slid under. I wound down and hit it, but the hooks came flying back at me. Let's all say it was a small jack just to make me feel better. I never felt too much so will never know anyway.

Third small bait out and it was out quite some time. Eventually the bait died on me and so I quickly changed the rig a little to use the dead perch in a sink and draw method. Twitching it back In I thought I saw a shadow and then the shadow emerged in the distance. It looked a good sized fish, but I left the bait there for a while and it never touched it. I decided to leave the spot and moved further down, twitching the bait, sink and draw all over the swim. Nothing else happened so I used my last small live bait and after two or three minutes I'd had another pike at ten pounds. I was now left with a small dead perch and one larger perch of around a half pound. I had saved this larger bait, I was going to put it back where I'd seen that big pike follow earlier.

I lobbed the bait back in the same spot I'd seen the fish, well more where I thought I'd pulled the pike in from. My GoPro was mounted on my head mount but to save battery I had it on stand by. I knew now that one beep would tell me it was recording, no mess ups this time if the float goes. The float went under twice as the perch struggled but then it settled and just slowly drifted a few feet from the spot it landed in. About thirty seconds later, less than a minute anyway, the float went under and stayed under and they way it went under told me it was a fish. Especially since there was now a large boil as the surface water moved beside my float.

One beep, I was recording. A brief pause, I knew the bait was bigger so just gave it a few extra seconds. The slack line was taken up so I hand fed a little more off and as the line started to tighten again I decided it was time. I hit the fish and the hooks seemed to stick, at the same time I nearly went arse over tit on a log. I felt a bit of good force and then realised my net was fifteen yards up the bank and so made my way towards it, keeping my eye on the fish but not putting too much pressure on. Walking with the rod, a bit of tension on the spool and then the fish bolting in the other direction could end up with too much force on the hooks so taking it steady as I made my way to the net was a good idea I felt.  At the net I was now settled and concentrating more on what me and the fish were doing, testing my clutch every now and again. First glimpse at distance and the fish looked pretty good. I dare not say it, but it looked a high double easy.

I worked the fish closer, it saw me and turned away taking line. This one isn't ready yet so I patiently kept on playing the fish. As the fish came up again I saw the top treble in thin air, then caught a glimpse of the other treble. It was only hooked lightly and so I backed off the drag even more, slightly too much at one point. I don't like messing too much with the drag during a fight as you can over tighten or loosen too much which can cost you but I had no option but to play it safe. Another reason is I will then forget to set the drag and the next fish could be a disaster.

The battle wasn't explosive, the fish stayed just below the surface for most of the fight but gave plenty of strong runs and had me panicking a couple of times. I turned the fish and finally it was coming towards me. I dipped the net and pushed it out as I worked the fish in. A brief resistance from the fish but finally it was in the net and immediately I knew I had done a twenty. On the mat the hooks were already free so I just cut the line and lobbed the trace to one side out of the way. I wasn't going to be doing any more fishing tonight after this. No more baits, the sun was starting to go down and I had a definite twenty in my hands. I knew there was a bit more to add to that and the scales eventually settled at 23lb 8oz. I grabbed some photos and put the fish back in the water  and as I watched her sail away in to the depths I couldn't believe I'd done a twenty on my last fish of my last pike session of the season.

Don't forget to subscribe to my youtube channel. The video of all the action is nearly complete so subscribe to see as soon as it's released. Thanks!

Good luck to anyone out tomorrow, and I really do hope a few of you can drop on something special. You're own target, your own bundle of fun and hand full of joy. Good luck, tight lines and thanks for reading!


  1. Great report and tale Paul. Really enjoying reading it!

  2. Wow, what can I say what an end to the season (I bet you wish it was mid Feb!) Great stuff, no 20 for me this season but that only makes me more determined for 14/15. Drop me an email Paul when you get a chance as I would like to bounce a couple of things off you (not literally) if OK - Cheers.

    1. Can't grumble at that finish no Danny. Really lucky to drop on such a good fish. There's lads chasing a big fish that can't find one and I just drop on a beast. All you need is that bit of luck sometimes.