Monday, 13 November 2017

Pike Fishing: A Session of Memories, A Session where Rumours of Monsters become reality....

Saturday, a day of the week I would normally be setting out on another river adventure with my uncle chasing the elusive shoals of dace, roach and chub that reside in the north west corner of England.  A phone call the night before and my uncle sounded like death warmed up.  Fishing was off the agenda and for my uncle Saturday morning, this week at least, the heady smell of lemon from his lemsip’s would be replacing the usual fermented unmistakable smell of the hempseed that lay beside his fishing box.

The past few weeks my uncles lad Harry had been on the bank with me learning to pike fish so we agreed to another session chasing the mysterious esox Luscious. To this point he had done fantastic in learning to handle pike on the bank and what it involved in catching them.  This learning curve had seen him bag a 3lb and a 7lb pike in his last two trips.

5am and as I made my way downstairs for a strong brew to wake me from my pre fishing trip restless slumber I could hear the rain tapping onto the windowsill from a hole in the gutter, its repetitive rhythm of drips alerting me to damp conditions awaiting my venture outside.  The kettle groaning as if bemoaning my request for a warm beverage i glanced out of the kitchen window at the pitch black darkness in which only the outline of a large fern tree could be seen arching in the breeze.

If possession is 9 tenths of the law then preparation is certainly 9 tenths of the art of fishing and rightly so I had little to do with the mornings prep bar choosing which fish to offer Mrs Esox from my bait freezer.  A session earlier on that week had left me with a few open packets of smelts and herring jacks so I loaded the bottom of the bait cooler with some fresh unopened smelts and sardines and placed the old opened smelts and herrings on top. 

The old fish mobile loaded I began to make my journey to pick up our Harry, my windows misted up I wound down my drivers side to allow me to safely leave the street.  Blob...Blob.Blob as I pulled off could only mean on thing that overnight drop in temperatures has seen the pressure in one of my tyres drop.  Like a  dog that has just stood on a thorn I ambled and plodded my way to the garage pleading with the fishing gods the Air Machine was still alive, to my delight she was and then tyre was given a quenching boost! Such fine lines can see sessions called off, only at the end of this fisherman’s tale will this become important.

The journey to the venue with our Baz in tow the radio politely alerted all normal people in the world to probably stay in doors as storm Brian was due to hit the North West.  Like all fisherman the urge to keep going is much stronger than worrying about such things as storms and further into the dark we plodded, the headlamps on the car almost Hansel and Gretel like illuminating the bread crumbs to the water.

The session was all about continuing our Harrys development, I had shown him the basics of piking, it was now time for him to make decisions himself and learn from decisions he would make.  A float ledger rod had been set up for him and on this session he would be baiting it up and deciding the placement of his bait in the swim.  I was in super lazy mode so out went a ledger rig on a bite alarm with a fox back bite arm, bait wise it was a whole herring from one of the opened packs.  Yellow, shriveled and still possessing the hook marks from a previous session where it had been out for a few hours.  My other rod was on a pencil float fished float ledger style and on this I would be presenting the humble smelt.

The baits out and the dark angry skies over head we awaited the arrival of a pike at the dinner table.  An early few knocks on Harrys float alerted us to a pike in the area and two dropped runs only went to confirm a pike was in the area.  A cast over the area and jagging the smelt around the swim would either entice the pike to confidently take the bait or spook it completely.

Thankfully the latter was not the case and a few minutes later his float confidently sailed away.  A huge lesson in how cruel piking can be was played out as the pike spat the bait after a few moments playing the fish.  We replaced the bait and an air of that float being the epicentre of all our focus did follow as we eagerly anticipated the hungry pike return.  The vigil was soon broken by the piercing sound of a delkim alarm and a pike that had come across my herring dead bait.

A countdown and a hard strike and I was connected with a pike that was not happy at its meal being disturbed.  Aggressive head shakes it was a relief to slide the net under the first pike of the session, a nice upper single with a full set of gnashers.

The pike blogged and released we sat back and put a brew on, an act that was surly to entice a pike to dine.  The steam rising from a whistling kettle was like music to my ears on a damp windy morning. The calmness that comes with a pike on the bank is quite surreal as the excitement and sense of anticipation before its capture almost lifts.  A calmness that was soon broke by baz running to his rod as his float trundled confidently across the surface before disappearing into the gloomy depths. 
Learning from the mistakes on the previous take he set the hooks and played the fish, a fish that angrily kept deep.  I knew inside he was into a PB and a potential double figure pike and talking him through the fight we slipped the net under a double figure pike.  The question now was just how big his new PB would be. 

13lb on the scales and a beaming smile looking at them he was proper made up, if a little cold.  We places the pike I the net to rest and so we could get prepared for a few pictures for him to remember the day by.  Our celebrations where short lived as my delkim alarm broke up out chatter, a screaming run so violent the rod tip was bouncing away. 

With a fish in the keep net I decided there and then I would have to hand in the pike.  A hard strike and my 2.75lb test curve rod hooped over solid as a decent fish stayed deep.  Plenty of head shaking I knew I had a fragile hook hold at best, a thought that sent shivers down my spine the longer the rod stayed bent over and the fish kept deep.  Long hard runs as the fish realised the predicament it was in.  I loosened the drag and tried to coax the fish closer in and it worked as the fish glided in under my feet.  In the semi clear water I caught a glimpse of her, a big fish she was long with a huge head!

I knew there and then I was in a bit of a predicament, I had a fish in the net that under normal circumstance I would have just released to land this one but that fish I knew held a special value, Harrys first double and a fish I knew we had no pictures of for him to remember the day by.  A long hard battle was played out with the fish going on long hard powerful runs that just ate line from the spool I eventually got her up to the top and quickly I took my chance, sliding my hand under her chin I had a solid grip and lifted out a huge fish.  Lightly hooked she was soon unhooked and placed in the net to rest before a quick weigh, 19lb on the nose!! A fish of a lifetime from the venue I was on and braving storm Brian had paid off with over 30lb of pike in the net resting.

On the mat they looked amazing, both in fantastic condition and been feeding well.  The 19 had a huge head and was certainly a fish that in February will be over 20lb mark.  A quick photo and video for the blog and she was returned back.  I had heard many rumours of these fish, many claiming to have caught them but no pictures to back them up.  I knew there and then I had returned one of the true ghostly monsters, a true fish of a lifetime.

The session was not over there with a first for me late on with me getting a run on the wobble rod, a good 2 hours later and our harry’s 13 had recovered and was back on the feed!! Madness and a first for me as I have never caught the same pike twice in the same session, crazy.

The session coming to and end it was a pleasure to share this session with our Harry, a session we will talk about for years to come no doubt.  It showed everything that is so magical about fishing for pike, that float goes or that alarm starts ringing you just never know what monster could be on the other end,  a session of memories a session where stories and rumours of monster fish became reality.....

till next time

tight lines