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A SESSION FULL OF SURPRISES!
OTHER than a short spinning session last week, I had not managed much fishing for about a month.
It was therefore no surprise that when my friend Greg phoned, asking if I wanted to join him for a pike fishing session, I instantly said yes! The even better news was that he had caught quite a few big pike from the venue a week before so he was confident of a good day.
Greg kindly picked me up from my house and drove to the river, it was only 6.00am and we were on our way; I was super excited! We arrived just as it was getting light and walked across the wet grass to the river, I had forgotten my fishing boots so now had soaking wet work shoes!
To brighten my spirits, the first thing we saw when we looked into the water was five to seven carp, all sat by a pipe in the water. I fed them some maggots and then set up my rod, Greg kindly offering to let me have first cast. I just tied on a size 8 hook and hooked two floating and then 5 real maggots, just to try and make it sink slowly. As I lowered my bait into the water one of the carp spooked and disappeared off downstream. There was still a substantial mirror and also a ghost carp in the vicinity of my hookbait so I left it there.
All of a sudden I noticed the line gradually tightening so I struck and a tiny carp flipped around near the surface. I was gutted; I had hooked the smallest carp in the swim! It looked about 3lb in the water but as I brought it up towards the surface I realised it was not a carp, instead my freelined maggots had been engulfed by an enormous perch! All of a sudden it became a mad rush to get the net ready and climb down the slippery bank to net the fish.
Once in the net I lifted it out the water and passed it to Greg who carried the fish up to the mat. I slipped around as I tried to climb back up the steep bank, half gutted about missing the big carp but half trembling with excitement because this was the biggest perch I had ever seen!
On the scales it went 3lb 4oz, a new PB perch! It just shows what great bait maggots are, and they have accounted for many of my fish this year.
After this perch the carp swim was ruined, they had all swam away into the depths although I hope to return one day to try and catch one of them! We walked further downstream and found a swim we could do some trotting in to try and catch some livebaits for pike fishing. As so often happens, the catching of bait proved harder than expected!
I trotted my float down the swim probably 100 times before anything happened; my float just bobbed ever so slightly before continuing downstream. I decided that whatever was down there was not feeding confidently, so I upped my feed and kept maggots trickling through the swim feeding on almost every cast.
Eventually the float went under and I hooked a fish, it held station in the flow and gradually moved upstream. My line was only 3lb breaking strain so I was gentle and took my time. When the fish broke the surface I thought I had a chub but then the red fins became apparent. All of a sudden this fish went from being a chub I wanted to land, to a roach I desperately did not want to lose! Another few terrifying moments later and I reached out with the net and lifted it around the fish. Greg and I were blown away by this fish, especially as we were only trying to catch some pike bait!
It was a 2lb river roach, the holy grail of angling and I had it in my hands. I can’t really describe the feeling but it was certainly a brilliant moment! My previous PB was 1lb 12oz from the Hampshire Avon but as I released this fish I realised just how old and wise it must be. It swam back into the deep channel of this small river as Greg and I cheered and grinned.
‘Now it’s time to catch some pike bait!’ I said. We tried closer in and managed some small roach which were perfect.
I caught one small jack, but on Greg’s pike rod his float pulled under all of a sudden and as he struck a big perch came up to the surface! This was the first time I have seen perch taking baits intended for pike as normally it is the other way round! Greg’s perch was over 2lb and he was understandably very pleased.
The leaves in this area were turning a lovely yellow colour and it gave the session a beautiful autumnal feel. We even saw a kingfisher fly past 4 or 5 times which always makes me smile. As I soaked up the scenery and enjoyed watching the squirrels climbing up the nearby oak tree, I continued fishing back on the float again with red maggots.
I caught a succession of perch, only one of them being under about 1.5 lb. I was blown away by this stream’s fish, it was not easy and we had to work for the bites, but the fish were there!
We noticed the sun was setting fast so we decided to have one last go at catching a pike. Back in the swim where earlier in the day I had caught the perch from, I dangled my rig off the edge of the bank into the deep hole. Two seconds later a pike came from beneath and launched itself out of the water with my bait in its mouth. It shot off down river almost ripping the rod out of my hands.
Because of the quick action I had not set the hook properly and seconds later the fish came off. Greg mentioned that pike are not very clever and so there was a chance that it might come back. Sure enough, a few minutes later the float bobbed away and this time I managed to land the pike. It was near to 10lb and completed my days fishing nicely!
My thanks go to Greg for not only taking me fishing but also kindly driving me to the river. And yes, I am still practising hard with my driving…
SEE THE CHRISTMAS DOUBLE ISSUE FOR EXCLUSIVE PICS OF CARL’S BRACE OF PBS!
THE CARL & ALEX BLOG RETURNS HERE NEXT FRIDAY,DECEMBER 13.
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