My good fishing pal and ebay whizz-kid, Ryan, recently located some cheap float tubes and asked if I thought we should give it a whirl. At the time it seemed like a really good idea. In Ad Swier`s book, “Passion for Pike”, there are many accounts and photos of anglers using these float-tube contraptions, bending into pike and having a wonderful time and I could easily picture us doing the same. I have access to some great venues, several of which would seemingly be ideal for taking to the water in this way, so the tubes were duly purchased.
Plans were made to have a go at a six-acre estate lake in Bedfordshire and I was keenly looking forward to a bit of pike fly fishing in this novel way. Everything started well and we pumped up the “float-boats” to what seemed like a suitable capacity. We donned our chest-waders and threaded up the rods. I took my time but Ryan, who does everything (including eating!) at breakneck speed was ready first and couldn`t wait. He backed into the lake amongst the reeds, while I watched with interest! He hadn`t got very far when his flippered feet got slightly bogged down in the soft silt and down he went in a shower of spray and with a muffled shriek! I nearly fell over laughing at the comical scene and even if he had been literally drowning I doubt if I could have been any help, as he floundered about trying to regain some balance and composure! He then announced with dismay and a few terrible oaths that water was going down the back of his chest-waders! This set me off again and it was some time before I was recovered enough to get in and help him up, with great difficulty I might add, due to his waders being half-full of water (in addition to the fact that he weighs 18 stone to start with!).
What I haven`t mentioned is the fact that, on this February morning, there was a bitterly cold North wind blowing. At such times a load of freezing water around your nether regions is the last thing you really need!
Looking back I should have twigged that we hadn`t put enough air in our new acquisitions, but no, senility held sway and I figured that if I backed in slightly further along the shore where the bottom was slightly more gravelly, then I would be O.K. All went well until I gently lowered myself down into the water, watched eagerly now by a shivering Ryan, only to find to my horror that I too was being swamped from the rear, and rapidly getting a wet backside!
I managed to get back on my feet in a flash and tried to step forward, completely forgetting that I was wearing flippers. Now it was Ryan`s turn to roll around in convulsions of mirth, as I plunged head-first into three feet of icy water. There was a “pop” as my life-jacket exploded into action and this spun me into the sitting position, where I continued to become increasingly wet. I expected no any assistance from the now helpless Ryan and none was forthcoming, so I crawled up the bank like a worn out toad, where we laughed and screamed like schoolgirls for some minutes!
The rest of the story is rather academic, but to our credit (stupidity?) we regrouped, put LOADS more air in our chariots and took to the lake again! The damage had been done, however, and although I did manage to catch a 7-pound pike, we were too frozen to make much of a job of it.
As son number two famously said years ago, after a not too spectacular day: “Still, another good lickle memory!!”… and it`s one we shall not easily forget!
Will we try again? Of course! If at first you don`t succeed…