Monday, March 10, 2014

Pond and pike

Those noisy frogs have been busy fornicating. As a consequence there is a lot more frog spawn in my pond than last year. I thought it was all over and done with at the weekend, but when the sun shone today they popped their heads above water and started chasing each other around all over again!

Usually they all crash dive when I set foot anywhere near the pond, but a couple didn't today. Instead they tried the 'if I don't move I'm invisible' trick, allowing me to take some snaps with my new 'fishing camera'. The other day when all the frogs had done their disappearing act when I approached the pond I caught a fleeting glimpse of a newt wriggling down into the weed. One of these days I might get a decent sighting of one. They're elusive beggars. Unless they're dead...

Like most compacts my new camera is pretty good for close up stuff, and the results are perfectly adequate for blogging. It was due a chance to photograph a pike or two.

The sunshine was so warm through the back windows that I was down to a t-shirt for the first time this year. Despite the moaning cold weather pikers saying their seasons are over the day seemed pikey to me, and I thought there was a chance of a pre-spawn pike or two. Out of the sun there was still a chill. With it only going dark after six thirty there was no rush to get the gear together and I hit the water around three thirty. I had packed a different lure rod this time. I had a feeling I'd been bumping pike off because the rod was too soft. I'd been using the lighter Trickster because it was the only version I have (having sold my original heavier model) and it fitted in the quiver neatly. A suitable rod for smaller crankbaits and spinnerbaits but not my ideal jerkbait rod. I broke out the trusty Axiom 7013.

I started out chucking the inevitable perch pattern Squirrely in a few swims before moving to one where I thought the deadbaits might have  a chance. Before settling down I had a cast past some snags and almost at the last minute a lively scamp nailed the lure - and stayed hooked! With the camera living in my fleece pocket it was simple to take a couple of 'action' shots. With a blank averted I put the lure rod away and sat back to soak up the sun.

Despite my confidence the swim I'd chosen didn't produce anything in the first hour. It was decision time. Head for a banker swim or try a fresh one. The bankers have got boring so, with nothing to lose, I moved to a swim I hadn't fished before and chucked the smelt out to the reed line and dropped the lamprey head in the margin to my left. I was just about catching the last rays of the setting sun, a notably cooler feel in the air, whiling the time away playing with the camera taking pictures of the lure rod propped up against a bush and checking the floats between shots. Hang on. There's a float missing!

To my amazement the smelt float was on the move. When I picked the rod up the line was slack so I flicked the baitrunner off, turned the handle to engage the reel properly and wound down. What happened next was a a bit of a surprise. Before I could raise the rod to drive the steel home line was stripped from the clutch! What had I hooked?

The run didn't last long and I was soon pumping in a decent feeling fish that started to spin. Was it a big early eel? Not so. Even more confusing was the small pike head that popped up. It looked like it might scrape ten pounds, but it felt heavier.

As soon as I lifted the net and saw the pike side on it was obvious where the confusion lay. It was as fat as a pig. Built like a trout water porker. I had a pre-weighing guess that the scales confirmed. Fourteen pounds and an ounce or two. Just like the jack it was carrying a few leeches.

Shortly after recasting with a fresh smelt, and while messing about with the camera again, I heard a baitrunner whirr briefly. I checked the smelt float but that was stationary. There were ripples coming from the margin float. That was all. I left it a few minutes before checking the bait. I couldn't see any teeth marks on it. A dropped take from a rooter? Or maybe a liner from a margin cruiser looking for a place to spawn? I'll never know.

The sun set forming a thin band of orangey red low in the western sky. To the east half a moon had risen high in a clear and starry sky. Time to pack up. On the road back home the gritting wagon was out. Cool nights and leeched-up, lard-bellied pike, make me think there's still time for a few more before the bream and tench rods get an airing.