Things have been pretty hectic in the last few weeks, with my father passing away (in his 98th year) while I was fishing in Cuba with my twin boys William and James, and a lifelong close friend Rod. That trip was a real success in every way, each of us catching many bonefish, several tarpon, plus a mixture of snappers, jacks and some half-decent barracudas, mostly on fly.
Immediately after our return we were involved in Dad’s funeral at Clevedon in Somerset, where he had lived for many years, and that in itself was a memorable event, with a guard of honour, Lord Beaverbrook representing Prince Charles, and a precision-timed fly-past by two R.A.F. Hawk jet planes; a wonderful send-off for a Battle of Britain fighter pilot – I am so proud of him!
Arriving back home, good friend Jamie Groom (who netted my record pike at Chew Valley Lake some years ago) suggested we join up for a spot of ‘drop-shotting’ at Rutland Water, and arrangements were soon made. We met at 8am, as days are short at this time of year, and were pleased to see that the weather was perfect, with good water colour, blue sky and very little wind. Jamie had fished there a week before with his brother-in-law, and enjoyed a rather unusual day, in that he never saw a single fish on his depth-finder screen! Despite this, however, he had one zander, a couple of perch, and four pike, two of which were 8” long, while one was an immaculate 22 pounder. This proved once again that you simply can’t tell what such a day will throw up!
This time, after motoring out into the reservoir, we stopped in a likely spot in 60 feet of water. Unlike Jamie’s previous trip, my screen was full of fish, mostly near the bottom, as was Jamie’s – to his amazement! Our drogue-less drift started producing action straight away, with a succession of ‘tap-tap’ pulls, and it wasn`t long before I was into a fish. I boated a perch of about 12oz, soon followed by Jamie getting one of a pound. That established the pattern, with endless fish showing, regular hits, and perch after perch (mostly very small) succumbing to our 3 and 4-inch rubber lures. We also had an occasional ‘Zed’ (our pet name for zander) ranging from a few ounces to four pounds, and a tiny pike of no more than 8oz, which obviously thought it was a three-pounder, judging by the way it fought!
It was all very enjoyable in the lovely conditions; but then something special happened. I was retrieving yet another small perch when I felt a jolt, and line screamed off my reel at an alarming rate of knots! It is hard to be sure, but I would say that thirty yards of braid disappeared in three or four seconds.
“A pike has snaffled your perch”, Jamie said.
But I thought it had been too quick for a pike, and suggested it must be a trout. After a lengthy and sustained battle, I caught sight of my fish and said:
“Oh it IS a Pike!”
Then I heard: “No, it isn’t – it’s a bloody great trout!”, and before I knew anymore, it was in the net. From experience I know that Jamie only needs a half-chance and the fish will be scooped up (it had been the same with my 40lb pike), so I was not really surprised, but I was still very pleased!
I guessed the big silver brute at eight to eight-and-a-half pounds but Jamie was convinced it was not far off double figures. The scales showed nine pounds four ounces – my biggest brownie ever – and a pretty one at that. After the customary piccy it went back with no fuss, leaving me with a face full of spray. I was one very happy angler!
Towards the end of the morning Jamie had an S.O.S. phone call from his better half. Two of the children were very sick and we had to call it a day. But what a great morning’s fishing it had been, and I am so looking forward to the next time!