Thursday, 6 March 2014

When pike fishing goes bad

I can laugh now, over 24 hours since it happened, but at the time it wasn't so funny. You don't realise how close sometimes you are to success or failure when out on the bank. For me it was a big fail at a time when there was a big chance of a massive success. It's the time of year serious pikers are out and about trying to land one of the fatties, for me it was kind of like that. I do love a huge pike, a river twenty to finish in style but I don't go out all guns blazing for one. I don't book time off work, I don't hammer the top venues, scour the country or sit behind three rods I pretty much do as I always do and that's just go fishing. Whatever I get is a success, though I will admit that yesterday I took an extra rod. I figured there wasn't any harm dropping a bait out while I cast around with the lures. I had a few hours to kill anyway before work so rather than just being out a couple of hours I could stay on the bank longer this way.

It started slow, nothing to show on any method but eventually I had a little glimmer of hope in the form of a jack following the lure. I then had an even smaller jack have a lightening fast attack of the lure and it seemed to bounce off as fast as it hit. The bait rod wasn't doing much so I took to giving it a twitch and a wobble, changing the ledgered float set up to just a float. The bottom is quite snaggy and so I didn't want to risk my baited trace getting snagged up so by using a float I could keep it off the bottom. Not too long in and it seemed to work, I had a pike grab and then let go, may be it felt my resistance I thought? Then I had a pike take a swipe at the bait and it missed completely. Things were looking good and I felt it was only a matter of time. I flicked the bait out again and slowly worked it in, this time leaving it a little longer just on the drift after a wobble and then all of a sudden the float went under. It wasn't a huge bait, just a herring, so I figured I needed not leave it long at all. If it was a jack and I missed it then so what but if it was a lump then there was no problem it could take the whole bait in in one go. I tightened up and then bent in to the fish. The thing went mental and chewed up all my swim, fighting well above its weight which I knew was a double but nothing massive. As I unhooked it on the mat I noticed it only had about a quarter of its tail left, so how the hell it put up such a fight I don't know.

Bait back out, a few wobbles and then I left it to just sail around suspended about two feet under the surface, well clear of snags and I got the lure rod again. I cast up along the edge where it is a little shallower and where I wouldn't chuck a bait for fear of it snagging up. The lure had only just hit the water and I turned to see the float slide under, so I quickly pulled back in the lure and grabbed the bait rod. Same again, no bother waiting, just hit it and as I felt resistance I was happy it wasn't a jack. It fought well but not in the same league as the quarter tail pike earlier, but this fish was much bigger, mid double at a guess and as I netted it I noted it was a chunky thing. It didn't have the big jaw line of a proper lump just a small head, and was more a "jack" that was in good condition. I say "jack" but I know it probably was a female, just not one of those big girls. Had it been a big girl in that condition it would be well over twenty.

It lay in the net on the mat, one treble in the roof of the mouth and the other just caught in the net. The flying treble was a bit close to the pikes eye so I quickly got it free of the net and moved it to one side so I could get a hold of the pike and get the other treble out. The pike didn't thrash around, it just moved it's head to the side once, and I felt it. I felt the hook go in. No time at all now to do anything but act sharp and I'm so glad I know where my gear is. I needed the side cutters, I needed them fast before this pike woke up, shook its head and me too while she was at it. I had the hook cut in no time at all, and before the pike moved again and so at least I was free from her. I focussed only on the fish, getting that second hook out and the trace well away from us both. It came out easy and even though the fish was a lump I decided against a weigh and a photo and put her back in the water. She swam off strong with what seemed like a smile.

I looked at my thumb and there was a bit of hook bend showing. The rest was embedded in my thumb, barb and all. The camera was set up so I switch it on, I knew at least Woody would get some pleasure out of this. I knew this would hurt and since it was in my right hand I would struggle to get it out as I'm right handed. Holly cow this thing wasn't going to move one bit, and no matter how much I yanked I couldn't get it out. I've seen the various techniques on youtube before but I'd already messed this one up by cutting a good lump of the hook off and as I pulled and prodded more it finally dawned on me that this hook had gone in straight, though that was after I attempted to push the hook point back out through my skin and then realising I couldn't bend it far enough round. Oh yeah, there was also the moment I realised I wasn't moving the hook at all, just bending it, that hurt.

If you like to see people squirm watch the video, it's just me in pain. If your stomach turns at the thought of it stay clear, though there's not too much blood and guts.

So it was off to casualty I would go. I had what seemed like loads of gear to pack away, I knew I should have just brought the lures. I had smelly fishy clothes on, three layers and decided that I would sweat my nads off in hospital for four hours and annoy everyone if I went like this, plus I had no change in my pocket for parking so first off I went home for a wash and change and then finally got to the hospital about an hour later. I can't fault the hospital at all, I was out in less than two hours after a chat, an x-ray and then the hook pull. I was given a local anaesthetic for the pain. The nurse came in to check if I could feel anything, and to be honest I wasn't bothered anymore. I'd felt loads of pain while sat in the waiting room, still having a faff and a tweak to try and work the hook out while I waited. Not one usually for sitting and waiting for things to happen as you all know, I'm a lure man. So I just told the nurse to get on with it. She got a good hold with the pliers and then started to yank and pull. I could feel that but to be honest the anaesthetic had kicked in and I only felt a small amount of pain. She yanked and pulled and then all of a sudden it was out, that was easy I thought but when I looked the hook was still there. More yanking and pulling and after a while I thought it was never going to come out, but then finally it did. The blood started now and it was like a fountain for a while. A good clean up, a tetanus jab and a pack of penicillin to help fight off infection and I was on my way home with a chuckle. Yes it's funny now and feel free to have a laugh at my expense. I'll not wish the same on anyone but it will happen to some and some of you will have already got the T-shirt. But for those that still have managed to avoid a calamity such as this, make sure you have all the tools you need. What the hell would you do if you didn't have a set of cutters at that point, the point five seconds before the pike starts to thrash around? I guess it might have saved the nurse a job, who knows?


  1. I know how that feels mate, Luckily mine was in the back of my hand where the skin is abit softer and i managed to get it out myself. That moment though when you know you've done it and your first thought is 'if this pike thrashes now its gunna smart abit'
    You could almost hear your thought processes when you kept pausing lol

    1. I think the thought process mainly consisted of one word, that sounds like luck.