Many people in this country have to make decisions about the sport they participate in and whether it is safe for them to participate both physically and financially, in my experience a common one was during my rugby playing days when any of my mates that where self employed had to make a decision whether to play or not as injury could put them out of work and not able to provide for their families but a story i read this week around a Bailiff being attacked with a knife for asking for a licence made me ask myself the unthinkable question of, "is it safe to go out on the bank alone any more?"
For people who are unaware of the story i will write a short summary of the events. John Anderson, a member and bailiff of Burton Mutual Angling Association arrived at a local venue of his called Branston Water Park where he caught sight of two men described as Eastern European Appearance and aged 25-35 years old fishing and as he approached further he noticed they also had a carrier bag full of fish he then simply said "you are not allowed to take fish away from the water park" and proceeded to ask them is they where members. In Mr Andersons words he then said one of the men walked off behind him while the other went into his pocket for what he thought was to get his ticket to which he pulled out a Stanley knife and starting swiping at his face while the other man kicked him in the back so hard it knocked him to the ground and required him to be taken to hospital on a spinal board. After kicking him in the back the two men ran away leaving Mr anderson to be found by a passer by who called for an ambulance.
The subject of eastern Europeans taking fish had been done to death on nearly every forum out there and the normal justification for the taking of the fish is that its a different culture they come from where this is the norm but this is just taken the whole debate to another level and its totally unacceptable. Fishing is not a sport where we should have to watch our backs or be on the constant look out for fish being taken illegally from our waters and a normal everyday man volunteering to take time from his own fishing towards the upkeep of a fishery should only have to worry about falling into the water as a reason he may lose his life, not being stabbed!!.
Now after reading this i am sure you will all agree its not acceptable and some of you may say well Danny you are not a Bailiff so it wont effect you but many of the people in Warrington Anglers will tell you that the messages coming from the chairman of this club are that us as members are responsible for protecting the waters on the card ans should be approaching people asking if they have licences. Many people on the Warrington Facebook page stated they did not think this was acceptable and thought their money should be spent on a full bailiff team who bailiff waters in a group and not down to the anglers who it could put in danger, well here is the proof, in this day and age it is not safe!
Moving on i would like to talk for a second about pike fishing and a bit of information about people that are new to angling or this branch of the sport. Firstly, although dead baiting for pike is rather new to me the actual fishing for pike is not and as such i am quite confident both handling and being equipped with the right gear to deal with a pike on the bank. If you are new to the sport there are a few areas you may want to look at first and i have done my best to break them down.
looking to take up pike fishing or interested in just interested in trying to go for a pike:
There are plenty of great articles out there on the Internet that will teach you pretty much everything about rigs, baits and in some cases even locations this is all well and good but if possible you should try and go out for a few sessions with someone who knows what they are doing, this will teach you far more than any article will and you will find most of serious articles will advise you to go with someone who is experienced. No matter how much you read it will do nothing to prepare you for that unhooking that first pike.
Of course there are times when this just is not possible and in these cases i would advise attending one of the many evens the PAC run. I am in Warrington Anglers and at least once a year they advertise that the PAC are running events locally. A link to there website is here: http://www.pikeanglersclub.co.uk/
Being properly equipped to unhook a pike:
The saying in pike fishing that "the easy part of pike fishing is catching the fish the real skill starts when there on the bank" is so true, as i have said nothing will prepare you for that first pike and when it comes we have to be prepared. Firstly lets look at hard ware, before you even buy a wire trace your first purchases should be a decent set of forceps, i use the Greys Prowla ones as they lock once close giving you greater grip on the trebles, secondly is a set of good strong pliers the ones you get in tool shops will do and i use these for when the hook is in the outside of the pikes mouth or in the scissors as i feel they give me better manoeuvrability than the forceps, next is the some wire cutters, often only reserved for last resort but do come in handy when a pike is hooked awkwardly to get the wire out of the way to get a clean grip on the hooks and finally is an unhooking mat, i have a few pictures on here of pike with no matt and i have to hold my hands up and say i should have known better and now always carry an unhooking matt when pike fishing.
The next thing when unhooking a pike you need is confidence, you need to work quick and be firm and solid with your handling everything you do has to have a purpose and be done with confidence. Pike being such aggressive fish and having teeth have this name for being strong but in fact are one of the most fragile fish you will fish for. When unhooking a pike you may well have to go in or hold the pike around the gill cover, remember there is no other fish we fish for where we come into such close contact with a fishes gills, remember they are the equivalent to our lungs so be careful and work as quickly and calmly as possible.
Being properly equipped for piking Tackle wise:
I am not going to even mention wire traces as i would have thought that would go without needing an explanation but be prepared there are good and bad wire traces out there some will kink after one fish others will not. Good strong line is a must remember pike is like carp fishing you never know what size pike is taking the bait could be a 2lb jack but could be that 20lb fish of a lifetime and you need to be gunned for the 20lb possibility at all times i use braid for my fishing and of course a rod that's up to the job is a must as well i currently use two 2.5lb test curve rods.
Unwritten rules and Piking etiquette
There are a few rules in pike fishing that you wont see on any website or in any book and its good to be aware of them when going into this area of fishing. Number one it is not the done thing to ask people where they are pike fishing, many pikers put a lot of hours into their fishing and also respect the fact that pike don't take well to angling pressure, it is no coincidence massive pike that are caught from waters that are then caught a lot in a short period of time and are never seen again, this is because of angling pressure and they do not take well to it. This is not to say do not ask for help on pike fishing as most anglers will gladly help you with tactics and little hints and tips i asked a lad for help the other week but itis what you ask thats the key, a question like "hey mate nice pike what swim and venue did you catch it from" is not right but a question like "hi mate, i am new to pike fishing and i think i am fishing the same areas as yourself but struggling can you give me some tips on a good bait to start on"
the second is nothing to do with location but a genuine ask for a little help from which you can put in the hours to find the fish.
The second links into the topic above about the taking of pike from waters by Eastern Europeans. We can not tar all with the same brush as there are many from this country who legally take pike for the pot but it seems the area where there is confusion is in the number and size of pike taken, taking 5-6 pike a trip is not right and all the evidence points to these being from the eastern European backgrounds. We as anglers need to be aware that these people are just as savvy on the Internet side of things as anyone else and as such we need to protect fish as much as possible this includes not mentioning waters on posts, taking pictures that don't give locations away and also reporting any unlawful taking of fish the the EA straight away. I catch 6 pike in this update and i know them 6 pike went back alive had the locations been public knowledge and that was someone else catching those fish we could now be sat here with all 6 no longer alive, that is how drastic it can be and we need to do all we can.
I hope any people looking to start pike fishing find that useful and with that i would like to say tight lines for your fishing and move onto this weeks fishing.
Friday 10th - Pike fishing: Effort equals success
Before going any further on this i first have to thank all the people who have helped me over the past weeks, I wont go into mentioning names as i have already thanked these people in the conversations on or the threads they put comments on but again a big thank you, you all know who you are and the help is really appreciated and every bit of help you all gave all come together and helped me to enjoy these two sessions as much as i did.
Friday morning and a days leave booked, it was the fourth anniversary of my mums passing and getting away for a mornings fishing with my dad was the order of the day, away from it all and a chance to go fishing and talk over happy memories of mum. Approaching the venue their was a cold crisp chill in the air that saw the water still as a mill pond with the only ripple coming from a grebe working the far bank a sure sign there was bait fish in the area and a good place to start looking for a pike. Water craft is one part of angling you cant be taught and its noticing things like grebes and the fact the water is clear so to choose a bait that's appropriate for the conditions that can determine whether we succeed or fail as is normally the case with most venues whether they be rivers, lakes or canals there is a lot of water the fish can be in so we need to be in the best place we can possibly be.
A dead weed bed proved to be the swim and two dead baits where to be presented at either end hoping to entice a hungry pike to dine. The sun just peeping over the horizon, a flash of electric blue whizzing past the swim from a kingfisher and two red pike floats sitting lazily semi cocked there was no finer place to be right at that moment in time, we poured the first brew and settled in.
The coffee had only just been poured when the left hand float began to cock and bob and slowly move away in a scene reminiscent to the yellow buoy's in the Jaws film, i gave the bite time to develop as the float slip under and when it felt right i struck only for the rig to come back at me, not again i thought but unlike last time i felt no resistance so i knew i was still in with a chance so the bait went straight back out. It did not take long before the float was again on the move and i have to say the excitement of pike fishing is unmatched in any angling i have done as no other angling we do allows you that time between knowing you have a bite and striking to think i wonder how big this will be, such a rush and so addictive! The float submerged again and in the back of my head i head Mr Maddocks saying "you need to strike hard to set the hooks" well its safe to say this one did not evade capture. My first pike dead baiting was well and truly on, not a big fish by any means but put up a good account for itself, only a small jack of around 4lb which probably explained the problems hooking it first time if it was the same one.
The pike on the bank and unhooked i was just about to take the pictures when the second float slid away, it never rains but it pours i thought. I quickly put the pike in the landing net and put it resting in the edge while i played the second fish which was a proper feisty little guy that thankfully calmed down in the margin allowing me to chin the fish out, both fish unhooked it was time for a double fish photo, a dream start.
Both fish returned safely there watery home i could have quite easily left there and then a happy angler but the reality was i still had just over three and half hours of the morning session to go. The next fish came quite quickly and unlike the first two sail aways this bite was far more tentative with just a slow cocking of the float and the faintest of movement laterally giving it away, i was sure the fish was eating the bait on spot so rather than risk a deep hooked pike i struck and was met with a reassuring resistance and this fish felt better than the previous two weight wise but it lacked the fight of its smaller brothers. This calm fight allowed my dad to capture some shots as the fish was coming in for me to chin out.
To help us gauge weight we popped this one on the scales and he went 5lb 8oz
The pictures taken the pike was released back in and for me this is the best part of fishing, getting to see nature up and close, touch it and then see it swim away safe and well.
If you listen closely in this video you can hear my dad saying, going, going......gone this is in fact him talking about the other float still out so after this video was taken i literally stood up and struck into another pike, hectic fishing to say the least.
I was certainly in the right spot at the right time and this is where i say all those blanks are worthwhile as the hours spent blanking and trying different areas now come together to make the bigger picture and make these moments even sweeter. This next pike proved to be the biggest of the session at just over 7lb and it was actually this fishes lucky day as my capture led to the removal of a very poorly constructed wire trace from the inside of this fishes mouth. It was impossible to tell if the trace had snapped or if someone had caught the pike and cut their line but the trace was in pretty poor condition, either way my trace and this trace removed saw the pike going back strong and better for our chance meeting.
The final run of the session came after around a hour and half after returning the pike above and i think the commotion of so many pike being caught in a short space of time did not help but it did give us chance to have a good chat and catch up.
The session died from there and despite changing location a few times no more bites came. 6 runs and 5 fish i headed back to the car ready for an afternoons shopping floating on air, as the carp catcher so rightly says on his videos EFFORT EQUALS SUCCESS.
Sunday 12th January - Deadbaiting for Pike the hunt Continues.
Rising from my bed on a Sunday morning to go fishing will soon become the norm for me as a change of shift pattern for my partner means a change of fishing day for me, even to go fishing i find it hard getting out of bed on a Sunday so its going to be tough. The sleep cleared from my eyes and a good splash of cold water around my chops i was ready for a morning targeting Esox Lucius. The venue on the friday being free fishing is well fished so stocks of pike are known to be high for jack pike with a double figure fish being a rarity, a prime example of what the removal of large pike from a venue does.
For those who are not aware pike control their own numbers with the bigger pike eating the small jacks especially around mating season which see the big females often being unable to resist eating one of the smaller male admirers. Put this into numbers say a water can sustain 30lb of pike, one 20lb pike and say 2 5lb pike the bigger pike will control any more smaller ones coming through, you take that 20lb pike away and over the next years you will see on average 6 5lb pike that really cannot grow much bigger given the food available and you end up with a river, lake or canal full of jacks.
The sun rising over the horizon illuminating the sky with a deep red that only come with winter, my breath preceded my feet as i walked the bank to my swim with the sound of frozen grass crunching under my thermal wellingtons this is how i imagined winter piking to be and there was not another person in sight to disturb this most beautiful of mornings. I knew setting out that the venue i was heading to today would be a lot more challenging than Friday but i also knew that if i did get a run i was almost certain it would be bigger than any of the five from Friday, full of confidence i set my traps.
Again water craft would be key and it would have been easy to think the bait i used on Friday would score well but i knew that the conditions and probable size of pike would call for something more substantial and appetising and of course location would pay a big part.
The bait had not been in the water longer than 15 minutes and just as i was about to message a mate back and update the blogs facebook page the float twitched, i froze and slid the phone back into the warmth of my pocket. The fish on Friday had also gave me a sense of calm about this run, i guess it was the fact i had put my first dead bait caught fish on the bank that helped as i quickly reeled in my other rod, being alone and the chances that this pike could be any size i didn't want to the distraction of another run or worrying about getting tangled. The twitches developed into severe dips on the float as the pike picked up the bait and began moving away, taking the bait to its lair to digest in peace.
The rod in hand i willed the float to go under and away she went, a quick finger across the line to make sure it was still moving away and the time had come i reeled in till i felt resistance and struck hard. This time i knew i was into a decent pike as the fish took line from the spool and stayed deep hugging the bottom, as predicted certainly better than any of Fridays fish. The whole fight i was praying the hooks would hold and my first glance of the fish showed her to be a magnificent colour with deep green makings speckled with gold spots she oozed defiance as she used all that power and surface area of her fins to make hard lunges for the safety of the bottom, eventually her anger waved and she allowed me to slide her into the net and get a glimpse at her majestic beauty, 8lb 12oz i was one happy angler and well worth the early alarm clock wake up.
This proved to be the only action of the morning and despite a few venue changes the floats remained still and i left the bank around dinner time with a smile from ear to ear, what a weekends fishing, it was like someone was watching down on me........thank you mum :-)
till next time