It has been another very frustrating winter here in the UK. My beloved River Nene is, as I write, bank-high and the colour of Ovaltine, as it has been constantly since the end of October. All very similar to last season, in fact.
It drives me half-crazy to know that those pike are out there waiting for me yet I can’t get at them because of the foul conditions! Fortunately, unlike last year, the gravel pits haven’t flooded to any degree, so at least I’ve had somewhere to fish, although I must say without any huge success.
Son James caught some decent fish from Southview Lake when he was visiting recently, estimated at 12 and 15lbs (above) so, as the weather was reasonable, I thought I would give my little boat ‘Sneaky’ its first outing of the year and try my luck with the fly. On arrival, before unloading the boat from its trailer, I walked down to look at the water. I was delighted to see that it was pretty clear and in good order. I sped back to the car and lost no time in making up my tackle – my favourite TFO 10-weight pike fly rod with Orvis Mirage reel loaded with a D I3 slow sinking line. I also clipped on a brand new red/yellow fly I had just tied. Max, my black lab, doesn’t care to be apart from his Daddy, so in short order we set sail together for some slow drifts across the lake.
Nothing happened for some time but I was confident and, when we arrived at a usually-productive corner, sure enough a 10lb pike in good shape slammed into the fly. After a spirited battle it was duly boated. (It’s always good to land the first fish and “get the skunk out of the boat”!)
The very next cast I was in again and an 8-pounder succumbed to the new fly, followed soon after by another nice fish of about 9lbs. There must have been a few grouped up in that area.
A heavy rain shower stopped play temporarily so Max and I beached Sneaky and made our way back to the car for a spot of lunch. When the storm had blown through we resumed operations, but I had to work hard for the next fish. It flashed at the fly as I lifted out but then took solidly next cast in the same place. Slightly smaller than the others, at 6 or 7lbs, it was in just as good condition and put up a good fight.
I’d persevered for some time after that when, despite the fish not coming as thick and fast as earlier, my good feeling was rewarded. I hooked into what turned out to be my best pike of the season so far – a lovely fish of exactly 18 pounds. It was a gratifying end to a great little session and a wonderful way to christen my new (favourite?) fly!
(P.S. If you’re wondering why I’m wearing different clothes and hats in the two pictures, it’s because the big fish was a recapture and I didn’t get a picture of it this time. Honest!)