I have been getting pretty desperate lately to visit my best friend’s fishery near Stafford, for several reasons. Firstly to see him – we don’t get together nearly as often as we used to in the “good old days” as, despite being almost as old as me, he finds himself with second wife and two relatively young sons. Secondly, to see if the carp have woken up after their winter sleep; and last, but not least, to see if my tame pike would put in an appearance after not being fed (by me) for many months.
Although that beastly bitter North-East wind, which has been fairly constant for as long as I can remember, was still very much in evidence, it was sheer joy to load all my bits and pieces into the very homely log cabin, and to make a leisurely start setting up my carp rods. I had brought with me a dozen roach in my livebait container, and my first job was to lower the inner perforated cage into the pool directly in front of the cabin. I was quite dubious as to whether or not ‘Pikey’ would show up after the long cold Winter (they say that fish have no memory!) but in less than an hour, to my delight, there she was – fins twitching gently and eyes fixed on the imprisoned roach! How do I know it`s the same fish? Do you know of a pike that stares up at you from a distance of two metres with no intention of moving off despite any noise or disturbance which may occur? I killed one of the baits, tossed it in and she had it in two seconds! It was her alright, the only change was that she had grown quite a bit and now must weigh 13 or 14lbs – an impressive sight in the gin-clear water!
Having set up my carp rods and ‘clipped up’ to ensure casting to the exact required spots, I took my customary walk around the 40 acres of paradise with Max. While he snuffled about in search of rabbits I just took in the scenery: green buds starting to show and daffodils lining the rides waiting for some sun to open up their petals – “it won’t be long now”, I said to them.
We made our way back to the hut where I helped Ken bait up his rods – like Bob he suffers with Parkinsons Disease, and has problems with anything fiddly. Ken doesn’t bother with P.V.A. bags, clipping-up etc and launched his single boilies to various positions in the lake, while I gave Pikey a second roach and put out my own baits. The carp didn`t seem impressed by all my ‘precision’, but while we were making a brew one of Ken`s rods roared off, and after a long battle I was able to net a fine Mirror of 27lbs 4oz – a wonderful start to the season!
Other than a couple of very small pike I managed to catch on fly, nothing else happened, and having dined royally (if I say it myself!) on rib-eye steak, sausages, sauté potatoes, fried onions and baked beans, I pulled my rods in for the night while Ken set off to spend the night at home. At my time of life I don`t relish the thought of getting up at 2am in the cold and battling a big carp for 20 minutes, and prefer to settle for a long, snugly uninterrupted snooze!
Morning came, still dry and very cold, but after a hot cuppa and a good wander around the estate with Max, out went the rods again, this time slightly more centrally in the deeper water. Pikey was still there, so I fed her one more roach and released the rest to fight another day. When the weather warms up small rudd will be plentiful and she might get a few more!
In mid morning I had an unexpected run on a chod-rigged “pop-up” followed by a long, hard fight, and I was almost disappointed when the immaculate mirror turned the scales at exactly 20lbs. Nevertheless, it was a good result and a good omen for what is to come as the weather finally warms up!