I wouldn’t go as far as saying I’m struggling with my pike fishing at the moment, but it seems to be quite a while since I had a big one – i.e. a fish over 20lbs. It’s early in the winter, I know – there’s plenty of time – but I couldn’t help recalling a time when they seemed to come to me far more readily.
One particular afternoon stands out in my mind. It was about five years ago when I had access to a deep gravel pit in the Nene valley (sadly no longer!). This was the setting for my first 30 pounder on fly tackle – a momentous occasion – so was a place I always visited with an air of excitement. It was a Saturday and my regular fishing pal, Bob Church, was going to watch Northampton Town Football Club (of which he is president); so I had the day to myself.
The forecast predicted that the temperature was due to drop 10 degrees overnight, which I thought was a good sign. I believe that fish seem to know these things far better than we do, and considered they may well have a feeding spree prior to the impending cold snap. I also wanted to check that my little bait boat was working, having not been employed for some time, and I had some lovely fresh herrings to try, purchased from Aldeburgh beach the day before. (Sally and I head across there fairly regularly, staying at the lovely White Lion Hotel, which I recommend highly.)
It was midday when I arrived. I spent a few minutes chatting to Mattie and Ken, a couple of pals who were carp fishing on an adjacent lake, before setting up my two deadbait outfits. It was only then that I discovered the battery on my boat was completely flat! I considered going straight back home but, not to be outdone, I hurled out my Aldeburgh herrings as far as I was able, and sat back to await developments. I did not have to wait long.
I had no sooner fixed the drop-back indicator on my second rod when there was a “bleep-bleep” on the first one. Looking across I could see line peeling steadily off the spool. I wound down and lifted into an obviously decent fish, which, after a good battle, turned out to be a pristine fish of 22lbs 8oz. I sacked it up and went to fetch the carp boys for a photo.
“Christ you haven’t had one already?” I seem to recall was the response, and they kindly obliged, Ken never having even seen a twenty pounder before.
I was well pleased, and having carefully returned that fish, I rebaited with another herring and turfed it out once more. Almost unbelievably, in less than 10 minutes the second rod was away and solid resistance on tightening up told me that I was attached to another “lump”! This was too good to be true and after some five minutes I was able to chin out a second immaculate pike, which turned the scales to 27lbs 2oz.
Mattie and Ken were in disbelief when I summoned them for a second piccy… Two nice twenties in an hour! I was floating on air and settled down to what was left of the afternoon.
“Whatever is Bob going to say?” I thought to myself in a pleasant daze, only to be interrupted by the scream of the indicator on the first rod again! It surely couldn’t be another biggie, but the fight was even better than the first two and the scales eventually showed an amazing 23lbs exactly. I just didn’t have the heart to fetch the boys yet again, so I took a photo myself, packed up and went home to celebrate!
Events like that don’t happen very often, but the very best of it was to come when Bob phoned later. The conversation went something like this:
“Did you go this afternoon?”
“No good, I suppose?”
“Just three “twenties”
“Yes – 22, 23 and 27”
Another long silence.
“You’re kidding me?”
“No, really I had three twenties – all on herrings.”
A third long pause.
“Well f*** me, and I was at the bloody football!”
…”AND they lost!!!”
I couldn’t contain myself, I’m afraid – he was so cross!
Anyway, being the fanatic that he is, Bob begged me to go there again the following morning, which I gladly did, but the forecast had been correct – it snowed – and the moment had passed. We blanked.
It just goes to prove that you have to take your chances. Neither of us caught much throughout that cold spell – the fish only started to oblige when the weather had warmed up again.
Anyway, a happy memory indeed. Here’s wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and similar success in 2014!!