2015/16 Pike Season

Hi and welcome to this my mini blog which is all about my pike fishing during the 2015/16 pike season.  This year will be my second full season directly targeting these fish and as with my main blog it will be a warts and all account of my pike fishing, the highs and the lows which are all part of our angling adventure.  The frequency of the updates is yet to be decided but i am thinking of publishing updates on a monthly basis to recap the previous months trips.

The updates will run on a scrolling basis so the the updates to the blog will always be on the bottom so if you are a regular reader of the blog then  scroll down to find where you left of last time and here's to enjoying the adventures to come!

Hopes and Aspirations....

Last season was a dream for me i caught over 80 pike and among them was some captures i never could have imagined in my wildest dreams.  A full recap of last season is here:http://satonmyperch.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-first-pike-seaon.html but in short it was a season that saw me learn from two experienced anglers and fish wise saw me breaking my PB twice and also creep over that magical 20lb mark, as i said a dream first season.

Last Season catching those fish was great but for me the experience of fishing with two seasoned pikers was the most valuable experience.  Handling pike and unhooking difficulty or deep hooked pike being a huge experience but also learning tactics and ways of tackling waters and not just casting your rods in and saying a little prayer but asking and understanding the thought process behind where they cast their baits and decisions they make i think has seen me get to a stage where i am confident in tackling waters.

So this season what am my hopes and aspirations? Well the numeric fun target this year is 40 double figure pike between three of us so i will be hoping to meet my quota of 10 doubles towards that tally for sure.  My other hope is to see Dave, a man i fished with towards the end of last year a few time and a new person to piking, catch his first double figure pike, i really hope i am there for that day he catches one.  On a personal note my hope is to try and utilise my water craft and knowledge built up through last year to scout out and find new waters of my own to fish.  A lot of my piking last year was on waters Garry and Ste had introduced me to as areas they had done well in and being new to piking i was grateful for their kind help but this year it would give me a great sense of achievement to scout out a potential new area and then use skills from last year to see what calls it home and maybe if i am lucky catch a few pike.

So as October approaches lets see what the future holds and where this fantastic journey into the world of esox takes us.

October 2015

Saturday 03rd October - The Journey Begins

A trip the previous week fishing the bolo for Roach had saw us attract the attention of a few pike and with nets over 10lb of prime river roach on the bolo there was no deciding where we would be going the next week.  I decided to take my bolo rod with me but i also packed a pike rod.  Very early on in the session pike where taking roach on the bolo line so i made the decision there and then to spend the day having a go for a pike. 

With 11ft of water in front of me i set the live bait at half depth and trotted it down the swim.  It was not long till the float slid out of sight.  giving the fish a few seconds and striking it was a nice fish from my first pike of the season and in such a depth a very deceiving one.  The fish on the bank i admired its lovely vivid green and gold markings before a quick photo.  A fish around 4lb i was off the mark in the first hour of the pike season.  The rest of the session i had 3 more takes but all spat the bait or pulled the fish off the hooks, way it goes but i was happy with the one pike from the river.

Tuesday 06th October - River Session

This day had been booked of work for some time and it was a session i had been looking forward too for a long time.  Garry, just off the plane from his holidays, was joining me on the bank and we both set off in the pitch dark both with hopes of picking up a pike or two.  The destination was the place i had caught my 20lb pike in October last year so the rewards where there if that session of a lifetime came along again but we also knew there was a healthy number of singles and doubles in the river as well. 
On the day i felt rougher than a bears backside as the beginnings of a flu type bug began to take hold.  A roach dead bait presented mid river on a ledger and a float fished roach just over the marginal shelf i was all set up and a settled back into my chair.  No sooner had i poured my first brew did the ledger bite alarm scream into action as a pike snaffled my roach bait.  Line coming of the spool nicely i gave it a few seconds before setting the hooks, again i felt the fish on before it came off! Gutted! a river you might only get one chance on and i hadn't taken it.

A good hour or two passed and i decided to move my float set up down the shelf up onto the marginal shelf to see if anything was hunting in the margins.  Sat back in my chair i set about making up a few rigs to keep my mind occupied.

As i did so my margin float bobbed and slowly moved off into the middle of the river.  A solid strike and i was into a fish that fought like crazy, the temperatures still up they are full of life, this guy fought all the way to the bank, a pike of 4-5lb i was happy to be off the mark.

That was it for me on the session, Garry picked up two jack pike through the day but with heavy down pours all afternoon i set about keeping dry and warm under my brolly and of course enjoyed the session on the bank, the socials are the best sessions for sure!

Sunday 11 October - Back On Old Ground..

I mentioned earlier about trying to scout out a new area for my piking but at this stage of the year i was looking to just get into the grove and a few pike under my belt.  A trip to a place we had done well towards the end of last season occupied my time on a lazy Sunday morning and as people all across the UK slept i began unloading my car and headed along the path to a spot i had spent so much time on last season and had so many happy memories of social sessions with Ste. 

The rods in i was like an expectant heron pacing the bank hoping for the rods to go.  Ste was due to visit me around 9.30am and i was looking forward to a catch up.  Not long before he turned up my margin rod slowly moved off, a real lazy take, it took an age to develop.  A strong strike led to a quite aggressive but short fight from a truly wild pike. 

Another single figure pike but i was more than happy i had got this one in and its a great feeling to get off the mark.  This season is not about numbers of pike or even catching pike of a certain size, my plan is to enjoy every session and what it brings.  This fish was the most unusual pike i have ever caught, it was two tone effect with one park really park and the other a ghostly white that in parts literally spilt the fish in two, a fish we will certainly recognise again if it shows its face.  The fish resting in the net till Ste arrived and did me a few pics i was made up.

A quick move to another spot we had a good old catch up about the season to come and Ste's barbel fishing session where he had smashed his PB.  As we chatted the dead bait rod cocked, bobbed twitch and slowly moved off into the middle before the fish came back towards me and stopped under my feet.  A lot of winding down later i struck into the fish and i was met with a solid hard thud and i knew straight away i was into a better fish which was not happy.  Tail walking on a number of occasions my heart was in my mouth and as much as i enjoy the fight and displays of aggression from pike, i wanted this one in the net as soon as possible and i was more than made up when Ste slid the mesh under the fish. 

At 10lb 3oz the first double of the season for me and i was over the moon, a fantastic mornings fishing and great company.

18th October - The First Session on New Spot

An evening on Google Earth searching for likely looking areas that i thought could hold pike i pin pointed a likely looking area and began to do some ground work.  Evenings and early mornings i spent watching the water for a half hour or so and seeing good numbers of silver fish topping in a tight bunch i was confident Mrs pike would not be too far away from this food source.  A evening after a river session spent with the pike rod and just a float and lead revealed a deep margin and a nice far bank shelf and the more i looked at the area it just screamed pike with plenty of ambush cover it just had to hold pike.  The more time i spent i guess there was only one way to tell and i pencilled in a Sunday morning assault on this new area.

Arriving under the cover of dark i settled into the swim for the day, i thought about a roaming approach but on this session i settled in one swim that had plenty of cover on the far bank and a deep margin.  A Smelt dead bait was loaded with pike pro oil and positioned right in the margin while i opted for a more mobile approach with my second rod to try and find the fish in the swim.  It did not take long for the first action as the far bank float slid away, a hard strike saw a jack of a round 3lb come to the top and spit the bait from its mouth.  The bait back in again it went away and again up cane the same jack pike, this pike would pester me all day and never see the bank.

3 hours into the session i was sat confident there was pike around and surprisingly optimistic given the lack of pike i had seen on the bank.  Pike fishing can be all or nothing at times and they can turn on in the blink of an eye and as i struck my far bank line and hit the small jack for the fourth time i let out a curse to the pike gods about this persistent chap.  As i did my margin pike rod bobbed once and then again and slowly moved off and the float slid away into the middle,  A hard strike and i was into a nice fish that kept deep pulling line from the clutch at will.  Slowly playing the fish up in the water i could see it was a double figure pike so i did not want to lose it.

Having had so many fish come off it was not a fish i wanted to lose and i was relieved more than excited when it hit the unhooking mat.  Nicely hooked in the top of its mouth the fish was unhooked and hit the scales at 12lb exactly, my second double of the season, i might have lost some but if the ratio of 2 doubles every 5 fish keeps up i will be a happy piker.

Caught on my new trial float by mike cootes made the capture even sweeter.  That was it for pike activity on that session and i left happy i had tried a new area i had scoped out and caught a fish and seen plenty of other pike activity.  This place really has captured me and i can not wait to get back on there for the next session.

Evening Session - Houston We have a problem...

A short evening session after work on the new spot resulting in a take within 15 minutes of setting up.  A slow move along the top and the float slid away, a steady countdown and strike saw the fish come up and the hooks come back at me, something is not right!  Looking at my set up i am using size 6 hooks, next trip we are rolling out the size 4's see if that makes a difference....

October 24th - Morning Session New Area

All week the lost fish on the previous session had played on my mind and i was so excited to get out and try to make amends.  Arriving on the bank in the dark i could feel a gentle breeze blowing that looking at the leaves all over the water had been with us all night.  Both rods set up the night before it was a case of clipping a trace onto my swivel and i was all set to go.  A mackerel jack was my first bait of choice and of course it had a liberal dose of pike pro.

I was so excited for this session and raring to go but the first two hour passed by in a blur and it was racing towards 9.30am.  Exploring this area i think is ke so i began moving the rods evey 30 minutes down the area in a leap frog motion and not long after casting i had my first take, a nice fight from a 8lb jack and it was another pike from this new area.

The pictures done and pike safely returned i recast my rod back out and near enough straight away it was getting attention, a few dips on the float and it moved off to the right, i grabbed the rod and my anticipation grew until the unthinkable happened and the run stopped.  A dropped run in this game and time of year you have no choice, you have to strike in case the pike is gulping the bait down on the spot, a thin air strike the result but the fish had felt no hooks and i knew it was around.  A quick recast and in no time the float was away again this time with much more direction and purpose.  A hard strike and it was on and i could see in the water it was well hooked.  A nice hard fight that you certainly wont get as the cold hits us in a month or two .  On the scales she went just over 9lb.

I fished on till noon with no more bites and i did not see another pike angler all day again but they are around and sadly this is noticeable by the amount of tackle i am finding in the pikes mouths.  The new spot has done me 3 pike so far in two trips and two have had tackle in them, one a massive sea hook to braid and the last pike here i managed to removed a set of trebles from inside the pike with line that looked around 5lb.  Not good and sadly will only end one way if they carry on, will keep my eyes open on the bank and mention about more robust gear hell if it helps them i will give them some traces.

October 25th - Social On the Wobble..

A morning social and with the clocks going back i completely messed up getting on the bank in the pitch dark with a tawny owl for company i had a wait on my hands.  A good 45 minutes later first light came and the rest of the party arrived at a sensible time.  With a live bait out each and changing between wobbling and dead baiting rod it was a session that would show how deadly wobbling can be.  Dave was first to get a fish on a live bait, a 3lb jack,  but it was a very quiet morning on the bank.  I pulled out my wobbling rod and pulled in my dead bait rod, a simple wire trace on the end of your line its as simple as it gets.   A hard thump half way in i struck instinctively and set the hooks and small jack my reward, a right battered fish.

Ste was next to catch a fish on the wobble and proving his pedigree as a pike angler it took him one cast, a small jack again but we where all off the mark and that is the most important thing on a social.  Ste then went for a wander and in true game keeper fashion he was walking the bank pike in hand, he does make me laugh at times how easy he makes it look.  As the session wore on we moved the rods in and had a good natter and a brew, leaving my wobbling rod smelt in the edge i saw the line go tight.  Giving the fish line i struck to set the hooks and the new savage gear wobbling rod had its second fish of the day, a great fight on a small rod i can only image what a double will be like, a fish of 8.5lb.

That was it for the session and we called it a day at 12 having caught 5 pike between us.  Pike on the bank on these sessions is always great but the banter and having a laugh with the lads is another huge part and it was a good session on the bank.

Sunday 1st November - Jacks Jacks Jacks

A cold crisp morning with a dense fog rolling in i was optimistic of a bite, it looked as pikey as a venue could be.  The new spot was my location and baits to be presented where a Smelt and Mackerel /jack injected with Pike Pro.  The First rod in i set about getting my second set up when out of the corner of my eye i noticed my first float sail away and as i grabbed the rod the red tip of the float descended into the depths, a pike of 5lb 4oz and i was off the mark within the first 5 minutes of the session.

Of course after such an early fish i was brimming with excitement and expectation of a good days sport as all pike anglers know that first fish lifts a huge weight.  A interesting talk with the bailiff added some meat to the bones of my hunch that this area could hold nice fish, time on the bank would tell and i am more than willing to put it in.  Madly enough that was all the action for the morning from this location and i decoded on a quick change of area for the last hour of the session that saw me dropping in on a real feeding window on an old spot with two jacks in as many minutes one on a mackerel dead bait and another on the deadly wobbled smelt method.  Three bites in a morning and 3 fish on the bank was the positive i took from the session.

 Monday 2nd November - Another Double on the Tally!!

A duvet day in work jumped on i was not going to spend it in bed and quickly was off into the night on a pike adventure with my good friend Garry.  Two baits presented two feet of a reed line hoping to attract the attention of any pike lying in wait for a passing fish.  My traps set i sat back and relaxed, today would not be a day of constant recasts, i was confident the baits where in good spots so i played the waiting game.  A early run on Garrys rod showed the pike where out and on the feed  but it was a good two hours later till my left hand rod went bouncing along the top of the water but then headed towards the reeds so i had no option but to strike early and thankfully this jack stayed on.

My second rod was in a spot that just had to hold a pike, a dark gloomy spot behind a raft of debris it just had to go and sure enough right before we where about to move locations the float sank away into the pike lair, such a special moment.  A hard strike and straight up to the top came a small jack that did not fight at all, in fact i have had harder fighting bream! My second pike of the day and it was a nice day off work.

With socials its important for me that you both catch and with that we decided to move to a new stretch where Garry had done well recently with a few doubles, a venue for me though i never seem to do well on, i say that my biggest fish from there is 17lb so i should be more confident, but i wasn't.  I put my rods in and expected the usual blank or small jack and to be honest lost all confidence, the floats where not going to go.  Confidence plays a huge part i feel in this game and it was no surprise garrys float went first and a nice 14lb pike was his reward.  The fish are here i thought, what am i doing wrong?  It then hit me i was spending my time here trying to mirrors Garrys approach to the point i was abandoning my ways.  I found a deep recess close in and i moved my baits right into it.

 It took a while but right on last knockings the float shot under and came up again and then bounced off along the canal, i was sure it was a small jack struggling to turn the bait.  A few seconds and then a hard strike the rod hooped over as the fish kept deep and after so many jacks it was great to feel the brute power of a better fish.  A number of hard deep runs that saw braid coming off the reel she eventually come up in the water, a deep short fish i was made up.  At 10lb 3oz it topped of a fantastic day with us both catching doubles, a day that got even better when we heard Ste had also been out and nailed himself a double as well, a great day for the group.

8th November - Wobblin' through the rain...

With the last gasp double on the previous session still pumping through my mind i hit the new area again with gusto on the Sunday Morning.  Armed with a dead bait rid and my wobbling rod i was full of confidence.  The rain arrived around 7am and there i was wobbling a smelt through the swim like a mad man, two sensible anglers up the bank took shelter under their brolly, i had no such luxury i wanted a pike.  My madness was rewarded at am when the smelts journey back to me was halted abruptly mid water and a small jack was my reward.

A hour later and with the rain still dripping down my back i was still wobbling away, i felt certain this was the method for the day.  At 8.42am my smelt again was hit mid water and again my prize was a small jack, two pike on the bank i was made up.

Awful picture, no unhooking mat and out of focus, this was for good reason though as while unhooking this pike my dead bait float moved off so it was a quick picture and put it back before quickly grabbing my dead bait rod, all action!!  A quick strike and as expected it was a better pike on the static dead bait, a fish of 6lb.

After all that action a quick brew was the call of the day and after it i was back at it, a massive mistake as i should have hit it again right away as there was an obvious feeding period.  There was no action at all then till 11.49am when my wobbled smelt left to die in the edge was taken and line began moving out into the middle of the swim.  On my light wobbling rod i gave the fish a few seconds and struck hard to set the hooks as i did the rod hooped over as line zipped form the spool!! With most pike you can give them some teddy on the dead bait rods up to around 7lb but on this light rod this fish was going to have to be played.

Run after heart stopping run and each time it came up it would angrily turn leaving only an oily vortex in its wake.  It came up and it was a sure fire double and i took my chance and scooped her up in the net.  On the scales she went 12lb 4oz and looking at the previous pictures she was a different double form this area.  The best fight i have had in a ling time and so much fun.

I dropped in an old spot on the way home and first wobble through in the clear water i saw a pike nail my smelt, a tiny jack but it made 5 fish on the day and one nice double, i was a happy piker.

11th November - A Quick Fire Pike......

My confidence sky high i felt confident of catching pike and took the chance of an hour and half slot and i expected to catch.  30 minutes in on the new area and my dead bait rod moved off.  A 8lb 7oz pike was my reward and as said my confidence was sky high and again a different pike.

12 November - Another Different Double!!

The next morning the kids where dropped off at nursery and my other half in work i hit the bank again for a few hours.  The same spot, this time i waited 2 hours for a bite and again it came on last knocking of the session as i was about to reel in and pack in.  It again came on the wobbling rod and as soon as i struck i knew i was into a double figure pike.  The light wobbling rod was in for its second work out in the space of a week and again she was up to the task, i guess this time i had a better idea of the rods capabilities.   The reel silky smooth  and a healthy bend in the rod i had the confidence this time to add pressure and turn the fish when i needed too, time had not also gave me an idea of the pike here but also the location of some major snags.  Another double at 13lb 8oz and the apart form its fat belly the other thing i will always remember about this pike was its lovely green and yellow spots, a lovely fish and third separate double from an area i had scouted myself, a great feeling. 

13th November - Second Spot New Area....

After the double on the last session and having fished the area extensively for a few weeks it was time to expand on this area and try another spot i had been looking at.  This area was popular with anglers for all species and i had heard of a few special fish coming out but as many of you regular blog readers will know, this is not the area that instantly attracts me, i like finding some peace and quiet away from the crowds when fishing and my pike fishing was no different.  I quiet Saturday morning i settled into the new area presenting a big bait close in and a smelt at distance on float ledger rigs i sat back and awaited events,

I ha the morning till around noon to fish and i did not have to wait long for some action as my float fished smelt was soon showing signs of a pike in the area with a few tentative knocks on the float.  Eventually the pike committed and the float moved off along the top and slid away, a hour and forty five minutes in the second spot and i had a fish of 6lb 7oz on the mat.

Another 45 minutes passed before my big bait on the inside moved off, a slow run giving me the idea of a bigger fish, a hard strike and a pike around the same size as before was up on the top and i could see the bait in its mouth, disaster for any pike angler as you know the hook hold can not be great.  Right as i was about to net the fish my hunch was proven right as amazingly the fish tail walked and spat the bait in mid air, if you going to lose a fish this is a spectacular way to do it.  Two chances in a short period and one pike to show i was a happy angler packing in a hour or so later. 

14th November - Tight Feeding Periods....

Fishing on my own and sussing out this new area i have began to notice a few patterns with the pike.  The bites do seem to come in bursts where a hour or so of inactivity can then see a hour or so of frantic action on the floats before it dies off again and a trip back to the second area went some way to showcase this definite feeding period. 

Arriving at the bank at 7am with the sun not yet up i was confident of a bite or two.  I sat patiently for the first hour and a half with nothing or any sign of pike around, i knew they where there though stalking in the murky depths.  The first rod to go was my smelt rod at distance a slow run developed and the fish started to head straight for a submerged snag, this saw me striking much earlier than i had hoped for and thus the hooks pulled.  A quick recast to the same spot and within 20 minutes the bait was off again only this time the fish moved towards me and thankfully the fish stayed on to the net and a 8lb jack was my prize.

As i was taking a picture of this pike i noticed my inside float dip twice and motor off so it was a case of quickly letting this one go and then picking up the other rod, a slow run that took a while to develop and a great fight, as they always are under your feet. An angry pike that i like to think was the one that got away the previous day when it tail walked, probably not though but nice to think so.

This was the last of the action and as above it was a case of a hour or so with nothing then a frantic hour of feeding that saw both my rods wiped out at one point.  Learning these feeding spells could be key as we move into winter.

15th November....Blank But Huge Problem Arises....

So with two sessions away from the main spot it was time to see if pike where waiting and i arrived on the bank just before sun rise as normal.  As i mentioned above i love my out of the way spots away from other anglers and the public.  Well two hours into the session i had two lads appear on my right and then a third guy come round to my left during the session, luckily a dog walker passed by and i made some idle chat, explained what i thought was going to happen and luckily they waited while i packed in and got back to car.  Now nothing happened, it might not have, but i am a person who's initial gut feeling is normally right and even so it was not nice feeling not safe.  It has put me off this whole area now to be honest, fishing watching my back is not what i see as fun.  Such a shame i guess time will tell how much i get on these areas now which is really sad!.

Big Mere Social..Not My Day....

So every year we visit a huge mere for a social session for pike.  Last year there was one fish which fell to Ryan but this year myself, Ste and Garry all headed back for another crack.  This fishing is a huge step up for me and long casts on popped up baits fished ledger style on bite alarms is a huge step up from my delicate under arm casts i have been accustomed to of late.  With Garry on my right and Ste to my left we settled in for the session ahead.

Garry hit the ground running with 3 fish on the bank before me and ste had cast both our rods in, it was a fantastic start that had us brimming with confidence.  Pike showing in front and bait fish it felt good for a bite.  Ste was next into a fish and i felt sure my alarms would go soon but alas it was not to be and it was Ste who banked his second of the day not long after.  I did but try changing baits and distances but to no avail, each time the baits come back clean so i guess i could do no more on the day, a place i can not wait to get back on and hopefully next time bank myself a nice pike.  That is fishing i guess but it was lovely to see the deer move in as the end of the day drew in and this stag being a stand out part of the day,

Saturday 21st November - Another Freezing Cold Blank :-(

A full day on the bank due the the rivers being flooded and me and Garry decided to meet up for a social.  A huge overnight drop in temperature from over 10 degrees to just above freezing i knew it would either see the fish go mad on the feed or we where in for a long blank.  I started on a spot i had caught recently while i waited for Garry to run a few errands, unfortunately the floats remained as still as the water around them.

A move with Garry to another area and the over night temp had seen the water lose all its colour, it was gin clear and for the next few hours we tried everything to get a bite but alas a long cold blank was the outcome of the session, the pot noodle above the only thing to warm the spirits.  I was on a run of three full sessions without a fish or even a bite.  Confidence was low.

Sunday 22nd November - Finally a Fish!

Blanks are hard but dealing with them can be even harder and it is how we deal with these and dont let out decisions become clouded that makes the difference.  The reality of this is you can be drawn into making huge changes when in reality what was catching before still works now and you just need to keep on plugging away at it and the tide will turn.

Severe drops in temp are never good but i have noticed that on still waters after around 24 hours the fish acclimatise and go on the feed.  Meeting up with ste i was confident of at least a chance of a fish.  It did not take long for the float to show signs of a pike around.  A few dips alerted ste and sure enough within 5 minutes my float was sinking away into the depths, finally a run!

Striking into the fish it felt good to be attached to a pike after hours looking at a motionless float.  She felt a nice fish staying deep for a bit.  Ste knew how much this fish meant and there was no messing around, soon as that fishes head was up and in his netting radius it was scooped up.  A fish of 9lb 7oz and a solid first step back on the pike trail.  As with any social it is never a good one till everyone has caught and 30 minutes later ste was having his pic taken with a pike, social complete!

Tuesday 24th November Soaked to the Bone Piking...

Arriving at a completely new area on Tuesday morning we had literally just unloaded the car when the heavens opened, nothing heavy but persistent.  The first few hours passed away with no activity on the rods so already soaking wet we decided on a move.

No sooner had we set up than Dave was striking into a fish that unfortunately spat the hooks.  It did not take long for Ste to get the next bite and it was great to see some steady action.  Its not often pike play ball as well as they did on this session as over the next 30 minutes the managed to pick out mine and daves baits from the 6 on offer.

We where made up to have all caught a fish, three anglers that get out no matter what it was testament to how bad the weather on the day was when we decided to call it a day at 2pm.  Dave was warm and snug in his gear but me and ste where like drowned rats.  These are the sessions where you earn those doubles later on in the year.  Great but wet day on the bank.

28th November - Fox Rage Pencil Claims First Double...

Converting my two rods over to the new Fox Rage Dead bait Pencils the night before the session i was excited to see how these performed.  I can say now a full review will be on the main blog soon.  The next morning i attached my wire traces in the dark and presented two baits in the margins hoping to fool a patrolling fish.  At 8.29am the left hand float slowly clocked and lazily moved out into the middle, so sensitive i could see every tug on the bait as the pike stopped to turn the fish.  A sure strike and i had my first dead bait pencil caught pike on the bank.

Not long after recasting i struck into another pike and straight away i knew this was in another league, staying deep and taking line it was a sure double.  Disaster struck though as the hooks pulled! I was gutted.  The bait returned and i prayed it would come back and when the float again moved off excitement levels went through the roof.  These levels i have to admit dropped slightly when upon striking a small jack came up in the water.

It took a further 2 hours for the float to go again, all fish coming on the same spot to the same bait.  A hard strike again saw the fish stay deep and put up a nice fight.  Taking line from time and tail walking i knew it was a possible double figure pike.  Please dont come off i thought time and time again in my head and it was more a relief than a feeling of excitement when i slid the net under her green and yellow flanks.  A 10lb 10oz fish it was another double closer to my target of 10. 

That was it for the session and i was happy to have come through those blanks and come come out the other side.  This pike was my 30th of the campaign and my 6th double figure pike, a nice point to leave this update.

03rd December: Back On The Trail....

Apart from my birthday on the 8th December the 3rd was the only day available for the whole month to get out in the week from work so i quickly jumped at the chance of a day on the bank.  I headed off to the spot i had fished the previous session and caught a double and hoped and prayed a few fish where still about.  Arriving at the bank at 7am i was peering through the gloom at the dead bait pencils willing them to lift and move off.

It did not take long for my first run and watching the line peel off the reel as the pike took the bait to its lair it looked like a nice fish as the float slowly moved away, jacks seem to move a lot faster, i think as there are other pike around.  A hard strike and i knew i was into a nice fish that felt solid.  It fought like demon.  Eventually sliding the net under her flanks i was made up to be off the mark, a fish of 10lb 8oz.

My 7th double of the season, 3 more to go will recognize this one next time with this scar, what from i don't know

I was buzzing after releasing the pike and as always with an early fish you then think you are in for a good day.  It took another 2 hours for the next take and again the fish was solid, in my head i though if this is not a double it will be 9lb 8oz.  a brief but fiesty battle and sure enough a fish of 9lb 7oz lay before me, she looked bigger than the double on the mat.

Dave joined me for the afternoon and proving how far he has come with hs piking he picked up 2 pike with me having a weird dropped run where the pike bolted leaving a swirl mid take.

5th December - Trusting My Gut Instincts

So with the rivers bank high i had another Saturday session chasing pike, i was making the most of these sessions as i knew the rivers would soon draw me back.  I decided to bite the bullet and try the area where i had run into trouble a few weeks ago.  Cast in i waited for the action to commence.  Light came and revealed the area to be gin clear and i could clearly see my baits even at range on the bottom.  Trusting your instincts is key in piking and if you do move you have to be confident in that change.

I decided to drop in on a spot i had done well in December last year, only jacks had shown but it was better than the stagnant floats in front of me.  I arrived at 10.35am and it took till 11.13am for the first run, only a small jack of 6lb 5oz but more than welcome, keeping the fish coming to the bank in this game is key as with the blanks comes pressure so i was keen to avoid that.

The pike returned and baits re positioned the float again went at 11.55am a slow run and then all of a sudden the pike bolted and the float zoomed off, only 10 seconds into the run i knew it was too early to strike but i had to hit it and i knew i would be striking against the fish.  A hard strike and up the fish came some 20-30 yards away.  A short fight and a small jack lay on the mat.  I gave it till 2pm after this fish but no more where showing.  A session that shows a short time in the right spot is worth a long time in the wrong one.

6th December - Dropped Runs in the Sun...

The next morning i met up with Ste for a morning session and we both had a strict 12 noon time we had to pack in for an afternoon with the other half.  The morning started off with a dropped run on stes rod and it did feel like a slow session from the outset with little activity on the floats and water.  9.30am and out the corner of my eye i noticed my dead bait pencil had gone and the tip of my rod was bouncing away.  Not knowing how long it had been gone i hit it straight away.

The bait in the scissors i was one relieved angler, mistakes do and can happen and i was made up i did not have a deep hooked pike.  A 8lb fish it was a good start.

Again a change of swims paid off for us as no sooner had we dropped in another swim was my rod off but sadly it again was another dropped run.  As i always say socials are not complete till we have all caught and thankfully the pike played ball with ste picking up two pike in the last hour.

Noon came and i we parted after another laughter filled social and i looked forward to my next session on my birthday.

8th December - In Search of a Birthday Esox....

A year to the day i head headed off in my car with the wind and hail battering against the car windscreen, this year has been equally as wet but certainly a lot warmer.  My target for the day was a pike on my birthday so i headed off to a swim i knew i had a good chance of a run.  Set up in the dark  had baits in place for first light.  Confidence in the swim and tactics is key in this game i am learning and can serve you well in making sound decisions and me trusting my tactics saw the left hand rod go off around 9.30am.  My luck was certainly in as the hooks literally fell out in the net, a nice 6lb jack.

Fishing swims you get to learn how they fish and when the bites will come and the mad thing is each one seems to have a different bite time.  10am came and it was time for a move and sure enough within 15 minutes of being in the new area i was looking down at a very small jack pike on my unhooking mat.

After releasing this pike i fished the swim till midday and then decided to visit another spot for the afternoon.  The water clear it proved a hard afternoon on the dead baits but i packed up on dark happy with the two fish in the morning, i got my birthday fish.

20th December - Pike Caught But Weird Behavior.....

Work commitments saw me struggling to get out on the bank for a week so it was the 20th of December before i next wet a line for pike.  I hit the same area i had fished on the previous session and awaited the early run that was becoming the norm here.  8.24am and the right hand float bobbed a few times, then a few time more and it must have taken a good 5 minutes to commit to taking the bait.  A strong hard fight from a fish that must have thought "why didnt i just swim off" and eventually a nice 6lb pike was my reward.

I always go out hoping for one chance and then after that i hope i take it.  Once one fish is on the bank you can relax into the session and i think this is an area i need to improve on as after a early fish i do relax a little.  The next run came around 9.30am and i had a dropped run.  The fish moved off slowly with a solid run then about a 5 yards into the run the fish bolted leaving a swirl behind and every silver erupted up as it did, weird i though why would the fish bolt like that leaving the bait behind.

A fish had been striking all morning down the bank so i decided to pull in one of my rods and get out the wobbling rod and three times through the swim it all went solid half way in.  The bail arm off i let the pike take the bait off before setting the hooks.  It proved to be a great move as i was rewarded with a fantastic two toned pike.

The fish released i sat back and enjoyed a few brews and really relaxed.  All the christmas shopping done it was a real kick back and relax session.  Another run came at 11.33am and i have to say although the pike went 6lb8oz on the scales it looked familiar to the pike i had caught at 8am that morning.

3 pike on the bank before dinner i had a few hours to go as i was out all day.  The pike went really funny in the afternoon as i had 4 runs and on each run they took the float around 5 yards and then bolted leaving a huge swirl behind.  On one occasions both rods went within minutes of each other with the same result.  Really weird and despite a few pike on the bank i left scratching my head.

24th December - A Morning Piking

So the day before christmas day and a days holiday from work i headed off in search of pike.  I was there well before first light and had my baits in position as the sun rose.  The swim had produced a early morning bite with regularity and it was of little surprise when the float cocked and moved off around 8am.  A little earlier than the normal 8.30am run though.  A pike around 7lb and the average stamp for here and easily recognizable again by the legion around its mouth.

A move of swims and in this swim a bite normally comes in the first 30 mins of casting in, this time it was almost instant and proves the saying a second in the right spot is worth more than the 3 in the wrong one.

27th December - A quick trip to the banker swim....

This trip i decided to be stringent with my timings, two hours in the first swim i knew should produce a bite and if not it was straight to the banker swim.  The first swim was really strange with a bit of activity on the water but no takes.A move to a swim that is becoming a banker for a run proved its worth with a early 6lb fish.on the dead bait rod.

It was not until last knocking a pike struck some fry on the far bank i got my chance for another fish.  Out with the wobbling rod and second time through bang a pike hit it mid water, a few seconds to turn the bait and i set the hooks, a small pike to end the session on and i left a happy piker.

6th Jan Taking My Mind Off Dentist Trip...

From the age of twelve i had played rugby leave, some fantastic times where experienced but one regret was a game where i chipped one of my teeth at the front.  It has has work done on it on numerous occasions but does have habit of coming out and with a huge fear of the dentist i was no looking forward to the appointment at 12.30am.  I decided to take my mind off it by joining up for a morning session with Dave.  My plan to fish till 10.30am and then get off.  The session started off in style with a 8.30am run producing a pike of 8lb.

The next hour and half we were in prime bite time and coming up to 10am i felt like the dreaded trip was looming large.  I knew i had a fair drive home and i needed to be off as soon as possible around 10.30am so you can imagine my mixed emotions when at 10.20am my right hand float slid away.  I gave it some time before setting the hooks and the rod hooped over as a nice fish kept deep.  In the net dave recognized it as a double he had caught a week or two earlier, double number 8 for me of the season.

I was resting the pike in the net when daves other float went and after a feisty fight we had a pike each in the net and it was utter chaos.  Ste then appeared to help with a set of trebles deep inside the pike and managed to remove them and while doing so dave also picked up another pike, 3 pike in a 10 minute spell.  We had a pike in each net and it was an ideal time for a quick pic.

I left dave to it for the rest of the day and raced home with him taking another pike later on for 5 pike in total, nice days sport.

10th January - Just one Chance

Still buzzing from the previous session, or the drill afterwards, i headed out and full of expectation i set my traps.  As 8.30am approached so did my anticipation of a run but "bite time" came and went with out so much as a twitch on the float.  In fact 9.30am and 10.30am came round and still nothing.  I only had the morning and just as i thought time was running out my perseverance was rewarded with a small jack pike.

12th January - Too kind for my own Good???

A day booked of work i met up with dave for a social session.  We had done well the previous week but today was a different day altogether as we got pelted with wind, rain and hail from the off.  Dave had a early run that came off during the fight around the normal bite time of 8.30am but the whole morning had a strange feel about it with hardly and pike striking or small fish topping.

At 11am we opted for a move, a spot that normally produces quick result if the pike are there.  Nothing again for me but as dave picked up his rod he connected with a small jack that came off right at the net.  Soaking wet through and lost two fish it was proving to be a miserable day on the bank.  We decided on a long walk to another swim, a wrong choice by me, it was so open we got battered by the wind and rain for a good hour. 

2pm and we decided to stick it out in the first swim where we knew we had fish on us.  I decided on a change of bait and presented a whole mackerel on one of my rods.  It did not take long before this rod was away.  One bait in the middle of other baits that had done so well all season.  I promptly landed a pike of 6lb8oz.

As soon as this pike was released i decided there and then in my head that if one of my floats went in the remaining two hours i would let dave had the run.  We had both sat a suffered in the rain all day and anyone who has been on a social with me knows my saying "im happy when we all get one".  Anyhow long story short 3pm my rod goes off again and i say to dave you have this one mate, he politley refused and said it was my fish but i persuaded him in the end to take the run.

A short but hard fight later a huge pike og 18lb9oz lay in the landing net.  I admitted right there and then on the bank i had a mixture of feelings, i was made up for Dave and his new pb but i was also kicking my bad luck in the one run i give away being a nice guy turns out to be a fish of the season.

As the afternoon wore on and my thoughts come together common sense also kicked in and you know what "thats life" i will fish for many more years for pike and this is just one fish, there will be more for us all.  I can not change who i am and how kind natured i am, it was me who told him to have the run and my own fault it happened.

  It gave me huge confidence to know mine and Stes hunch about this water holding a special fish was right and all three of us now had still water pbs to be proud of.  This fish is also a just reward for all the effort dave has made and how far he has come this year, it is a fish he deserves for his enthusiasm and effort.  Well done mate, not long after returning the fish i landed a pike around 8lb just before dark set in.

16th January - Madness Pure Madness in the Ice..

I honestly thought when writing this diary the challenge would be writing about all the blanks but this year the blanks have been few and far between, touches wood.  This session i woke up and headed out the door and the cold hit me, my car was froze and even driving to the water in my thermals i could feel the air nipping at my nose.  Arriving at the water she was covered in ice all over.  I walked all around the venue before i found a 10 yard gap that had been kept ice free by some ducks.

For the next 8 hours i fished a holes in the ice hoping to pick up a pike, trying to keep my confidence up with thoughts of the people in iceland catching huge pike through the ice i remained determined.  The whole water froze it meant i shared my clear water with a kingfisher.  The highlight of this day for me was seeing this bird at such close quarters feeding and being so quiet i think it got used to my presence, he did better than me.

Some blanks fly bye in the blink of an eye, i have to admit this was a long hard day on the bank.  My rucksack testament to the conditions i sat through.  You cannot win them all but i had done all i could to get a bite and that is all you can do.

24th January - What a difference a few days makes..

So there i was in the same swim i left covered in ice a few days earlier.  To show how mad this winter, if we can it that has been, the temperature was a barmy 10oc.  I felt confident hitting the bank but it was slowly drained as the 08.30 to 10.30am bite time passed without any action.  A quick move in swims and no sooner had i put the bait in than a small jack pike was in the net!  You will have to take my word for this one as when i was about to take the picture i got the message my i phone was full so rather than keep the pike retained i put it back.

To show how funny pike can be a move of only one swim saw fortunes change dramatically as my float fished smelt was soon wolfed down greedily by another esox.  20 minutes in the right spot producing two jacks.

This seemed to be the only action i that swim so i leapfrogged the swims through the morning hoping to find another pack of hungry pike.  The last hour of the session came and a group of fry started topping right down the other side.  I decided to quickly jump on this and hoped it had also attracted to attention of the pike.

This move proved to be a good one as the last hour of the session produced 3 more jack pike to 8lb.

The biggest of these three pike at 8lb had a huge bite scar on it, a close run in with a big girl and a sign the better fish where around this area at one point.

26th January - Jacks Jacks Jacks..Pike Soup 3 hours of madness

With the action so frantic on the previous session i just had to get out again and a few days alter i was again on the bank.  The temperature was steady but more importantly the water clarity was perfect.  A tinge of colour would see the pike hunting out dead baits i felt and on the bank at first light i was confident of a fish.

Writing about sessions like this is so hard as you catch so many its hard to describe how the session was.  Normally the bites come in spells but on this session it was frantic beyond belief.

Casting my first dead bait rod in on a sardine, still frozen, i turned to add a trace to my second rod, i grabbed the rod and as i did turned to check my other float, GONE!!  A run already, i knew the bait had not been in long but i had no idea how long the run had gone for as the float was completely gone, a quick count down and a hard strike and it was a lucky start with the pike in the net and one treble on a slither of skin keeping the pike on.

The pike released i put the bait back in and again set about setting the rod up, again i turned round and again the float was moving across the top of the water, another run, i literally could not get the second rod in!! Another small jack and two pike in as many minutes.

The pike returned i was determined to at least put a trace on my second rod and i must admit i was watching the rod like a hawk,  You can imagine my excitement when i again noticed the fox dead bait pencil dipping as another pike picked up the bait.  This pike really did mess around before committing but its hunger was its downfall and i was buzzing, 3 pike on the bank in 15 minutes!

After this pike i did finally find time to get the second rod out and a celebratory brew was enjoyed.  The pressure off the session i sat back and awaited the pike to decide just how good an afternoon i was going to have.  Half an hour later and my my next run came, again on the faith full smelt.  This was one fat jack pike was certainly on the feed!

 I sat back and thought what a great hour i had experienced and how suffering that blank i the snow mad this one so sweet.  Then left hand rod moved off and my reward was a nice upper single pike.  Keeping me on my toes i released this pike and as i did so the other rod was off.  Two pike just before hour and half and i enjoyed some lunch and a cuppa.

A nice ham sandwich settling nicely it was time to cast back out and i like earlier on the rod did not take long to go.  To this point it had been jacks and quite short fights so you can imagine my excitement when i struck and the fish kept deeper.  I was hoping for a double to show up and thankfully this one was that fish.  A scraper double at 10lb3oz but it filled the unhooking mat nicely.

Between this pike and packing up at 4pm i had two more jack pike and was over the moon with the session.

This just shows how pike fishing can be, some session its like a pike is not even in the area and then another you get 14 pike in two sessions with the second session producing 9 pike in just under 3 hours!!  Pike fishing this year really has been about reinforcing lessons i learnt last season.  I left the bank buzzing but still hungry for that upper double.

"Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy"

The saying above is one i base all my angling around.  I may not be the most prolific angler on the bank or be the angler with all the gear but one thing i do have is determination.  I will get out no matter the conditions or how little the chances of catching a fish are, i think the main blog is testament to this.  Not all people have this trait i have learned through my fishing and i guess that shows in their results.  For me, when i get the grit between my teeth on catching or learning a certain part of angling i go at it 100%.

A upper double was what i was targeting to round my season off nicely and it was going to take time on the bank ti be in with a chance.  To out numbers against it, to this point i had caught about 70 pike, of them 10 or 11 where doubles and none where upper doubles so you can see the odd i was working with of getting a pike over 15lb.

If i wanted it, it was going to take time on the bank and determination so i booked a full week off work.  I knew full well i could fish a full week and still not catch one but if i did i also knew i would be leaving the bank having done all i could to catch a nice upper double.  Sometimes you can put all the effort in and it just does not happen, at least then you know you did all you could do and sometimes that is all you can do....

First Session First Bite..

Waking up on the monday morning i remember feeling a huge sense of "i was wasting my time" the baits i had where a bit on the small side and to this day i can not put my finger on it.  I loaded the car and even travelling the roads to the venue i still felt a sense of unease.  Arriving though i remember seeing the colour of the water and my hopes then completely reversed it had a slight but of clarity but was holding a nice colour.

Smelt was my bait of choice and casting my first bait out i quickly turned to set up the second rod.  Before i could the first float was off and away and my first run of the week, my first chance was here.  Striking i hit thin air, i cursed and cursed again i knew i needed to take all my chances this week.  I cast the bait back to the same area and set about getting the second rod in position.  No sooner had i done this than the first rod was away again.  I struck and instantly knew i was into a double figure pike as the fist stayed deep and felt an ok fish.

It was only when after a minute or so and i had not seen the fish and i felt an ache in my arm i though this might be the one.  She came up and the huge boil as she moved off confirmed she was the one i had come for.  That horrible part of any big fish was here,  i knew my prize was on the other end but by this time she was boiling quite far out.  Come on!! i thought please come into the net.  She came close in and i took my chance and in the net she went a huge fish.

Early morning and a decent drive from my mates Ste's i gave him a call and like a gent he said he would be right there to do me some pics.  The sign of the good man he is.  The fish in my carp weight sling i rested her in the pike net in the margins ensuring the mesh was off her gills so she could pass water over them to lying down i ensured she was upright.  In no time Ste was here and a quick weigh on the scales, she went 17lb 11oz, i was buzzing.

Thanks again to Ste for the fantastic pictures and taking the time to come out to take them.  Returning the fish a firm handshake and a pat on the back from a man who's record speaks for itself in the pike world, a well earned pat on the back and i was buzzing.

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