Friday, 7 November 2014

Tough Times After such a High....But Come Through...

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you well and your nets wet.  Well what can i say but a huge thank you to all the people who went out of their way to contact me, comment on the blog/Forums or via social media to congratulate me on the capture of my first 20lb pike, thank you all so much and it was great to hear from people who had read my blog for a long time and shared the highs and lows to that point.  I have always wanted my blog top be a true representation of my angling and the pike fishing has been a prime example of that, from casting out and blanking on the first of January this year when i first cast a dead bait out for pike to that point has in reality been a short journey and i have been fortunate to hit a mile stone so early on but boy has it been a steep learning curve.

In this update i hope to cover the time after the capture, my emotions and how it made me feel towards my angling and it may surprise you the emotions i went through.  I also hope to cover a little bit on how to unhook pike and work around the business end of a pike and also go back down memory lane to my early fishing after a recent trip home.

The reality of hitting a milestone........

As i mentioned in last weeks blog a huge part of my piking over the years, whether that be live baiting or dead baiting, has been searching the waterways hoping to see just what a big pike looks like as it breaks the surface of the water and comes into my landing net.  On the 15th October i got my wish and while i was unhooking the pike, taking the pictures and letting her rest in the net i was pumped with emotion and buzzing and made a point of making sure i took every moment of the short time i had with this pike in as it was a long time coming.  

The pike released i sat back in my chair and it was a good 20 minutes before i cast back in, eventually i did and then i sat back and experienced the most unusual of feelings, one one hand i was tingling with excitement as i though "Jesus, Danny your new Pike Pb is 21 pound" but on the other i felt sadness as the realisation hit me that i may never ever beat that personal best again, never experience the excitement of a new PB Pike and most of all i felt lost as my fire and drive had been to experience that moment when a big girl comes up through the water and the sheer feeling of terror as you realise what you are attached too, well, this had been experienced.

I was sat there with two rods in the water and the next hours till i had the next run passed by in a blur and i really could not have cared less if the rods had gone or not at this point.  Garry often comments on how wired and on edge i am when piking as the slightest breath of wind on the float gets me up and walking the bank so to go from starting the session wired to being so unmotivated was a strange experience. 

I also felt i had missed out a huge part of the progression of my piking by not experiencing what an upper double looked like and it would have been nice to go from 15lb to say a 18lb and then break the 20 but i guess that's a perfect world and we definitely do not live in a perfect world.  Strangely enough the next two fish did little to change my demina.

I have said many a time on this blog that having pike anglers around you is such a blessing, comradely, for help with piking but also advice and strangely enough it was a conversation a week or so later whilst sat beside a huge mere that got me my mojo back.  I was sat speaking to Ste, himself has caught many big fish over 20lb and even 30, i asked him straight out did he feel a lull after his first 20lb fish and just to hear that he did and it was normal made me feel so much better and he was right in the next few days the bug bit again and the urge to get out was there. Thanks mate.

Unhooking Pike....

I am never a person who writes this blog preaching about how to fish but i do try and involve as much information as possible about the fishing i do as rigs, type of tackle and how to unhook a pike are easily the most common question i get emails about.  Pike have a fearsome reputation for being aggressive biting machines when on the bank and i think, like the perch, this aggressive nature both in and out the water can lead to people thinking they are quite harden fish but the reality could not be further from the truth.  This little section here about simple unhooking technique is simple aimed at people reading my blog who might want to try for a pike themselves from reading it and hopefully this little inclusion will help them when that first pike is on the bank. 

Before you even cast in make sure you have an unhooking matt set up and your tools for unhooking close to hand.  Believe me from experience of fish escaping the net in the margin while you search for your gear, you want that fish out of the water and unhooked asap and having your matt and tools ready set up means you can lift the fish straight out and onto the matt after capture to unhook immediately.

Unhookimg the pike
So the pike is on the mat, there are many ways people unhook pike but the way i do it is to kneel down with the pike between your legs so your are straddling the pike, this will keep the pike still and free form flapping off the matt.

If you turn the pike over onto its back and lift the gill cover like shown above you will see there is a bony recess on the inside of the jaw, if you place your hand here you can get a grip on the pike, but be careful not to be too aggressive as there is a thin layer of skin as well in this area as shown in the pic below, only a little pressure and you can see my fingers.

If you the pull slowly back towards you the pikes head will rise towards you and its mouth will be open wide and you can begin to see where the hooks are as shown below. 

As you can see doing it this way the pikes mouth is open wide and you can see there is plenty of room in there to work.  Some pike are quite active on the bank and you can tell when they are going to flip as they tense up just before so you can almost prepare yourself for it.

Staying Calm
It is so easy when you get that pike on the bank for the adrenalin of the capture to take over and if the pike is deep hooked it is very easy for panic to set in but the best thing to try and do is remain calm and work methodically around the fishes mouth. 

I also wrote a little on this subject early in the year so if you are looking at fishing for pike for the first time check out this blog here:

Memory Lane..

Earlier this week i was back in my old neck of the woods where i grew up as a kid and it brought a tear to my eye as i walked the route me and my dad walked so many times to go fishing when i was younger.  We would walk up to the local canal normally with our rods still set up, much to mums disapproval of them being on the stairs, up through the lights and up these steps to the canal. 

Walking up these steps i still got the same sense of excitement as all those years ago as i knew at the top of them i would get my first glimpse of the canal.

In those early days i always remember setting up at first light with the sound of a wood pigeon in the trees, it was just part and parcel of it. As was the choice of destination, no apps then to tell you a hour by hour report it was a quick look at the sky and from that you where either fishing the open length or under the bridge.  Happy memories for sure and a licence i will be buying next year so i cant wait to get out and relive those memories of spiny perch and bronze bream.

on to this weeks fishing....

From Ecstasy to Frustration....

After the capture of my new Pb pike i thought i would be riding a wave of confidence and would hopefully build upon that to continue to pick up pike steady but the reality was far different.  The next session out was the Saturday after catching the pike and i naturally found myself sat in the same swim i had caught in on the Wednesday.  My tactics where exactly the same as the previous session but for 5 hours i sat behind motionless floats.  Normally i would have stuck it out but i found myself moving locations to another spot where a mixture of ramblers, drunken youths and the one run i did get coming off  putting an end to a sorry day on the bank. A day with so much expectation was met with a cold hard reality of a blank, the closest i got was a badly mouthed roach bait.

The next session out was a afternoon into evening session with Garry where we planned to see what potential lay in fishing into dark.  We arrived with enough time to set up and have our baits in the water for a good hour or so.  We then moved over to a spot where we hoped the pike would be lurking as the depths deepened.  We certainly can not be called for not putting the effort in as we stood in the dark till around 8pm hoping for a chance to come to one of us crazy pike hunters.  A nice evening with some funny moments involving people not accustomed to anglers being around at that time.  The realty again was that the rods remained motionless.

The next session came on a gruelling weekend a few weeks back when it seemed the whole world was against me.  Trouble with my job and a strange noise coming from the bonnet of my car that just screamed "MONEY" was met with me needing to get out on the bank. I should not have bothered.   The session in its entirety saw me getting stuck on bottom 4 times and straightening out the hooks, loosing one complete set up and then resetting up only for my float to tangle around the line right by my reel so after setting up it needed to be set up from scratch again.  Enough was enough at that point and i gave in and went home, three trips and three blanks and i hadn't a clue where my next bite was coming from.

Learning to Ledger for pike.....

The next session out was with Garry on a location we had caught well on recently.  We had a session planned for the coming weeks on a big mere where ledgering was the only option at ranges of 30 to 60 yards.  Ledgering for pike is something i have only ever done once and that was on a a short sesison with Garry a week or so back and in reality it was the rod going rather than an alarm that alerted me so this was little test for a proper ledger session for pike.

In reality the set up for ledgering is even easier than the float rig but the real art to learn here is knowing when to strike as you have no float for indication and to judge how far the pike has gone with the bait and knowing when to strike all comes form experience and feeling the pike on the other end.  The simple ledger rig is literally a lead and a trace where you would normally tie your hook length for carp fishing with a buffer bead and a low Resistance run ring to reduce resistance.  My delkim alarms i had bought for carp fishing had remained motionless all season so i hoped and prayed for a single bite on them but with 3 blanks under my belt i was not confident at all.

Within seconds of setting up Garry had a run under his feet, a solid run but it was so weird when he struck nothing was there. I have never ever seen anything like it as the float was moving as he struck, weird. It proved the pike were feeding though so my levels of confidence improved.  It didn't take long for the pikes interest to be regained and it was Garry who put the first fish of the day on the bank, a great start.

From this early run till 10am the rods remained eerily quiet and it was while enjoying a brew on Garry's peg i heard my alarm screaming off and the tip was banging away.  I got to the rod and gently reeled down the line and felt for the fish taking line solid, line peeling off i struck and was into a fish.  The water was deep so the fish felt really big as i played it and i was sure it was a big fish.  The fish came up and it was a jack around 5-6lb.  The fight on the ledger was completely different and the fish did feel bigger and much harder to get in.  The blank streak broken with a nice pike i was over the moon.

The fish returned i set about re baiting the rod as the bait had come off in the fight or was in the pike belly.  I re baited and cast back out and rejoined Garry on his peg.  I don't know how long i was sat there but it didn't seem any time till the rod was off again and this time the fish did feel a better fish and put up a great fish as it came in with line tearing runs and plenty of action under the tip.  She looked every part 7lb-8lb fish but it wasn't until i lifted her out i thought maybe a double as she weighed a bit.

She went 9lb 9oz on the scales so just under a double but two pike in no time.

The fish again took the bait so it was re baited and returned back to the spot and i set about recasting my other rod.  It was while setting the bobbin on the rod the other rod screamed off again and i struck into a fish that felt nice but did not feel right as i could feel the head shakes suggesting it was not well hooked. Half way in the fish come off with a violent head shake, i was gutted as you always feel with any lost fish but with so much activity surely i would get another chance.

It took another 15 minutes before the rod screamed off again and i gave line only to strike thin air and bring back a bare set of trebles and no bait, weird!  In the space of an hour i had 4 runs on the Leger but little did i know then that was my lot for the day as my rods remained silent all afternoon despite numerous recasts.  Right on last knockings Garry's ledger rod beeped into life with a really cagey run one beep, gap, another beep, gap, then beep as it roared off.  Striking he hooked into a pike right in the middle that fought like mad all the way in, slipping the net under our fourth pike of the day it felt like a fish well earned us both sticking it out in the bite less afternoon and we left happy anglers with four fish added to the tally.

Huge Step Up.....Step too Far??

A few days alter was the trip to a mere and it would involve us casting 30-60 yards on ledgers into a mere that as we approached looked huge, easily the biggest span of water i have ever fished.  Wading out to put my bank sticks in the dark it was a place full of atmosphere and you could tell it held some special fish.   The sun just rising over the trees offered a perfect opportunity for a picture.

We were just all about settled in when Ryan hooked into a fish right in the margins, a place we had all written off and on the float as well, hats off to him for sticking to his guns as on this trip it certainly worked. The smile on his face showing just how happy this capture made him feel.

The next hour Garry had a dropped run and i had a few occurrences on my rods but being new to ledgering i was unsure if it was weed on the line or a run, they certainly where not the screaming runs of the session with Garry. 

Dinner time came round and in my haste to get out the house i had left a cup behind so it was improvisation time for me and i must say a brew from a cut in half pot noodle cup is.......absolutely disgusting!  Two pike came out to a guy up the bank but that was it for pike action on the day.  A tough place indeed and certainly a step up and i really did feel daunted by the whole place and i was certainly out of my depth for sure.  An experience i am glad i have done but i think it is something that will be the odd session for me rather than the normal for at least this year while i am still learning.

Well that's just about it for this week i am still a bit behind with the blog so there are a few nice captures to come but right now i am looking forward to a mornings pike fishing tomorrow and a days trotting with my uncle on Sunday which will be a welcome change form the piking.

Till next time

tight lines



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