Friday, November 27, 2015


Feeling perkier than yesterday's relapse into the world of phlegm and endless coughing I decided to have another short pike session this afternoon, despite the promise of rain. The method in my madness was to see how the repair I'd made to one of my brollies would fare. Not long after the warranty ran out one of the seams pulled apart near the boss resulting in drips. Mostly I used another brolly because of this, despite this one having fibreglass ribs and weighing less.

One one of the forums I use someone I know in the real world mentioned they had used spinnaker tape to repair a tear they'd made in some waterproof clothing. I Googled the stuff and ordered some from Amazon. It's not cheap stuff, but it's intended for repairing sails on yachts. It's certainly sticky, and surprisingly thin. I put a piece on either side of the brolly a good few weeks ago. This was its first outing. Unlike the repair attempt I'd made previously using gaffer tape this one hadn't come unstuck. It's early days but it looks hopeful. If it does last there'll be a few patches on my bivvy next spring!

Arriving in the dry at half past one I dropped the herring tail saved from the previous session in the margin, the lamprey head got chucked out a fair way and a fresh smelt lobbed out mid way. The sky was overcast but bright, the wind light. Even so the rain didn't take long to turn up. And with it came a stronger, and slightly chilly, wind. A sparrowhawk made an appearance, probably in search of the numerous fieldfares which had been perching watchfully high on the hawthorns.

I had almost finished my second cup of flask tea when the sounder in my pocket began to burble. The herring float was dipping under the surface and the rod top pulling over as I drained the last of the tea and grabbed the net. The fish was taking line steadily as I picked the rod up and turned the reel handle. This wasn't a jack, but it wasn't a monster either.

Despite a complete lack of any desire to swim away from me there was enough weight to the fish to keep the rod bent. Once in the net the bloody thing woke up. It was lively on the bank too making what should have been a simple unhooking job take a bit longer. The scales proved my guestimate to be correct. A shade over ten pounds of skinny pike.

Although the herring tail had been hanging out the side of the pike's mouth as I wound it in it remained attached to the hooks so I was able to salvage it, tie it to the trace and swing it back out.

The rain set in for the duration, but the wind eased off. It wasn't particularly heavy rain, and at least the day was quite mild making things less dreary than they might have been. I moved the baits about now and then in the hope that I might provoke some interest. It was not to be. The sky had darkened bringing dusk earlier than the other day. The opportunistic session came to an early end at four fifteen. With more rain forecast for the next few days it was nice to get a fish under my belt before it arrived to deter me. With a bit of luck I'll be up for more piking when the wet weather goes away.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pike therapy

Today I made the effort to get my arse into gear and go fishing. I even planned to have my main meal ready at lunchtime so all I'd have to do when I got back was make a snack. Despite my meticulous preparations I managed to forget my new woolly hat. I'd removed my old one from the rucksack, but not replaced it with the new one. Thankfully although there was some north in the breeze the day was reasonably mild and my tatty baseball cap kept my head warm enough.

Thinking about it leaving the new hat behind might have been a good move as I was giving a new pair of boots their first fishing outing. Two new items on one session would have been a sure fire blank inducer!

Were there a Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Boots I'd be banned from keeping them for life. I never look after my footwear. I don't willingly abuse them or anything, I just neglect them. Not only do I wear my boots for fishing, I put them on to tramp around with my camera. Salt water when I wear them to paddle about at the beach when I'm out with my camera probably does them no favours. As a consequence the leather always ends up cracking and letting in water long before I have worn the soles out.

Last winter I just about managed to keep my feet dry, but a few dew laden mornings this summer saw my socks getting damp. It was time to stump up for new boots. I could wear my Muckboots, but I prefer an eight inch leather boot. Mostly because I can't drive in wellies and am too lazy to swap from my 'day boots' to wellies when I get to where I'm fishing and swap back to go home. Boots on as I set off and straight out of the car to the swim. Old habits of fishing popular waters and having to beat the hordes die hard. Time will tell how long this pair last. If I get three winters out of them it'll be par for the course.

I wasn't sure how a clean Fred would affect my luck either, after he'd had a bath (i.e. spin in the washing machine and tumble drier...) a couple of weeks ago. As it turned out none of this voodoo resulted in a blank. Although one small jack that took a liking to a headless joey mackerel wasn't what I'd have scripted it was better than catching nothing. As soon as the float wobbled it was obvious a small fish was playing with the bait. The float hardly moved and just a few ticks at a time were made by the baitrunner.

Once more there wasn't much to see in the way of birdlife. A small flock of goldfinches twittered as they fed in an alder. A sparrowhawk made a close flyby, agitating a blackbird as it reached the other side of the lake. An indecisive flock of fieldfares flew over heading west, turned and flew off and out of sight in a north easterly direction.

After an hour and a half I moved to a spot where I could cover more water. One bait in close, one to another feature and one out into more open water. Nothing happened apart from a reed stem catching one of the lines and making the remote bleep in my pocket. With half an hour of light left I repositioned all three baits to places they remained until I packed up in the dark.

Not the most successful of sessions in terms of fish caught, but one which renewed my enthusiasm and cleared my still snuffly sinuses a little. One thing that the session reminded me was that I need to restock the freezer. There's not a lot of choice in it at the moment. Not that I'm sure the pike in this place are too fussy. It's just nice to have a selection of bait sizes if nothing else.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Not long after my last post I called in at my local tackle shop for some reason. Either to drop off a repair or gather some tubes for despatching rods. Anyway, 'someone' was diseased and unable to speak above a whisper. A couple of days later my nose started dripping. Then the sneezing started. Sleep was interrupted at frequent intervals by snot collecting at the back of my throat making me wake up choking. Just when I was feeling better the cough started, accompanied by the loss of the will to do anything at all. I thought I was over it but no. The continual hawking up of phlegm commenced and is only now abating. That's why I haven't been fishing for a while. Of course, the weather that was warm and windless has turned wet and windy now.

In between the endless cups of tea, nose blowings and Strepsils I've been getting on with work.  One lovely little job was to re-ring a couple of Loch Tamers belonging to 'a well known pike angler'. The first part of the job was to remove the repairs he'd made. I've seen worse ring replacement jobs in my time.

One thing was for sure, these rings weren't going to fall off! Meaning the highlight of this task was removing the whippings which were braided line liberally soaked with Superglue. A hideous combination to take off.

The other rings cleaned up remarkably well, which meant that altering the spacings didn't leave too much of a mess. Which was a relief.

Now, do I get the pike rods out again, try for the roach or go gudgeon bashing when I get a free (dry) day (or few hours)? I haven't caught a gudgeon for a long, long time and quite fancy swinging a few to hand. Even if it's only to hear them squeak!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Piking again

It's been combination of work and lethargy that's been keeping me away from the water for a while. After my Railway Pond carp campaign came to a quick end I've been struggling to to find an incentive to catch fish.

There was a brief dabble at starting an evening roach campaign. Trouble was the roach didn't want to join in and I gave up after the one session. Forgetting the hemp to put in my feed didn't help my confidence and I really should have fished a spot that's produced before instead of one that has never thrown up a roach for me.

Eventually the cold turkey got too much for me and this afternoon was set fair. No rain, not too cold and not unseasonably hot. As soon as play at the test match finished for the day I was on my way to the Blue Lagoon armed with the pike rods still set up from my last session in March, and the same carrier bag of deadbaits I'd thrown in the freezer back then. There didn't seem to be much point in putting any new baits in as what was there looked good enough for three hours fishing.

Luckily enough the swim I had last fished for pike was free. Not surprising as I couldn't see anyone else fishing! The beauty of braid is that knots don't deteriorate. The traces hadn't rusted over the summer so I hooked a bait on each one and cast them out. Jack herring to the left, a headless joey straight out on a decent chuck and a rather freezer burned lamprey tail in the right hand margin. There wasn't much avian activity. A noisy wren in the reeds was about it until a great crested grebe arrived in it's dull winter plumage matching the grey clouded sky.

I'd kept the weight down in the rucksack by leaving the flask at home and just having a bottle of water as it wasn't cold enough to need a warming brew. The quiver was similarly lightened by leaving the brolly at home. I'm sure it's those two items that weigh me down most.

After half an hour I twitched the distant bait. Fifteen minuets later I recast all three. It was only a matter of a few more minutes until I noticed the right hand rod top knock, the float bob and begin to move under the overhanging hawthorn. The baitrunner was knocked off and I wound into a pike which felt a bit like it might be a decent one, particularly when it pulled the P-5 right over. Fish always feel like they fight harder when they have enough depth to dive straight down under the rod tip rather than having to run away rom you in shallow water.

Once in the net I wasn't so sure about the size of the fish. In the sling it looked on the skinny side, managing to spin the needle round past the nine pound mark but not much further.

It was almost time for a move, so I did. The two baits which hadn't been taken were still in good enough shape and the herring again went out to my left, close in, the macky hurled as far as I could. Then I got a fresh lamprey head out and dropped that hastily in the right hand margin as something was playing with the mackerel.

By the time I picked the middle rod up the bait had been dropped. I retrieved it to find it a mangled mess. Not too mangled to use though. I found some solid flesh to stick the end treble that had come free in and belted it back out whence it came. With the float cocked and the 'runner set I wound in the lamprey to position it more to my liking. Only I had to swing it back out quickly because the macky was on the move again!

This time I connected with what felt like a small pike, and so it was. As is often the case with small pike it proved to be more trouble in the net than on the end of the line. Despite being lightly hooked the thing had to be untangled, and the trace was a mess that took some straightening out. With everything back to normal I eventually got all three baits positioned where I was happy with them.

After an hour I was contemplating a move. There wasn't much to move to and I thought the light would be gone quickly. As it turned out the light stayed good enough for another hour. I should have made that move because the floats didn't.

There are still leaves clinging to the trees that a good blow will soon shift. The lily pads are well on their way out. A flock of fieldfares flew over towards dusk. The haws on the bushes will be under attack from them soon enough round the lake. Despite it being twelve degrees it's beginning to feel like winter is on its way now. More piking, or get the roach rods back in action? Perhaps I could travel light for pike when the weather is set fair and a brolly won't be needed and go roaching when the forecast is doubtful? Or perhaps lethargy will get the better of me again!