When I was put on the waiting list to have my gall bladder removed in late 2021 I was told it would be a simple keyhole surgery and I'd be back home after no more than 24 hours, and back in action after a couple of weeks or so. The date finally came round in October last year. As the pike fishing where I've been going for the last few years never seems to get going until November I reckoned I'd not be missing much of it. I'd even got a new set of P-3s built up ready after liking the length of the P-4s I used last season but finding them a bit undergunned for the odd time I wanted to punch a half mackerel to the middle of the pit. For playing pike they'd been great but I prefer having rods that will cast anywhere I want but might be a bit overgunned for playing fish than the other way round.
The first thing I aksed a nurse when I came round was 'When can I go home'. The answer was not reassuring. 'The surgeon will be round to see you soon.' Then I noticed what looked like aquarium airline coming out of my side to a plastic bag with blood in it. That couldn't be right for a simple procedure. Sure enough when the doctor appeared he told me things hadn't gone to plan and they'd had to open me up. I'd be stopping in for about a week. The next revelation explained why I was finding it uncomfortable and painful to adjust myself in bed. I had a dressing on my belly that was over a foot long!
To cut to the chase there were 30 'staples' holding the wound together. I'd not be able to drive for a fortnight and recovery would take longer than I'd anticipated. After the fortnight was up I was more mobile and drove to a sheep sale. I thought I was 90% back to fitness but after a couple of hours I was feeling a bit knackered. It wasn't until late January that I actually felt up to hoisting a rucksack and rod sling onto my shoulders and tramping round the pit.
When I did just that I headed for the furthest swim on a day that felt promising. The swim felt right too and I did what I rarely do and sat it out in the one place until after dark. I never had a sniff. With three brand new rods I suppose a resounding blank was inevitable. How many blanks would I need to endure before the curse was lifted?
A fortnight later I was back, this time I had the place to myself and seeing a nice breeze rippling the surface thought it worthwhile setting one rod up to drift a bait.
At 5.20 the far right hand float wasn't where it should have been. When I wound down, however, there was no pike attached. A dropped take. I don't get dropped takes! The lamprey head was hardly marked, but they are pretty tough so that wasn't unexpected. Twenty minutes later the far left hand float started heading away from the bank. I was on it like a shot and this time there was definitely something more than a sardine on the hooks. A lily pad and stem. Another dropped take. I never get two dropped takes!! The sardine was lightly toothmarked. It was still castable because not only had I found a good hook hold in the backbone I'd also tied it on with red bait elastic. Still it was pikey activity. I determined to stick it until half six, then head to the chippy.
By now it was dark enough to see the starlights glowing. It's a lovely sight. It's even better when you see one of them wobbling from side to side, which is what the middle one did with just ten minutes to go to home time. A quick strike connected with what was obviously a pike. A small one, but a pike. A pike that decided to grow a bit and put a bend in the P-3. Not a hooping bend, but definitely a bend. In the net it looked like a high single. I got the forceps and weighing kit ready while the pike rested in teh mesh of the net in the margin. The forceps weren't required as the pike had unhooked itself. The scales said I'd under-guesstimated slightly. Being lean, and somewhat tatty, it could weigh more in good nick.