Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Autumn's end

A couple of proper hard frosts signify that autumn is at an end.  Even though I'm a lifelong Piker I hate the winter!  It's not the cold that does for me it's the short days and endless darkness.  The leafless skeletal trees, instead of vibrant greens everything is dull grey or muddy brown.  I'm forever having customers tell me that the crisp frosty frosty mornings are "Pike weather", I try to remain patient and explain it isn't that clear cut...

I've really enjoyed the fishing this autumn.  Early on the challenge of the special place was exhilarating and a welcome respite from a world going to shit around me.  I knew it would be tough and it didn't surprise me. I've said it many times before, it's not the fish its the fishing and when that float slides away...

More recently I've enjoyed more prolific fishing at another wild, out of the way water.  On one occasion the wind blew a hoolie causing chaos and carnage while Mr N and I fished in peace and isolation.  With the boat position in the lee of the gale we were confident and comfortable.  We don't fish together often but when we do a big bag of fish usually appears, as was the case this time.  The final weight would have been well into three figures and as usual Mr N caught the lions share of them.  That morning I'd opened the freezer and was knocked back by the stink!  At some point over the last couple of days it had packed in and my bait was unappetising at best.  Could Mr N's fresher bait have made the difference or was it down to his greater experience?  Then again it could just be the way it was on the day and on another things will even out.  It didn't matter to me at all, both of us boated good fish and as usual it was a thoroughly enjoyable day in great company.

A few days later the nephew joined me for a day on the water.  We'd both been socialising the evening before so an early start was never on the cards but still I had to wake Josh up!  For once the rain stayed away (mostly) and the wind hardly blew.  Circumstances saw us exploring water I'd rarely fished before and I really didn't know what to expect.  It all looked Pikey and interesting but nothing bothered our baits until we dropped weights in the third spot of the day when at long last a Pike showed an interest in one of Josh's baits.  Unfortunately a combination of inexperience and a small Pike saw the fish come adrift.  We had a couple more takes on the same spot but just couldn't put a fish in the boat, would it be one of those days?

Another move changed our luck or mine at least.  I was looking in the direction of a float above a smelt deadbait when it seemed to tremor, was that a take?  As I was wondering I noticed a patch of bubbles rise to the surface and then yes the float was definitely on the move!  After a short, sharp fight a nice, plump double figure fish was secured in the net.  We moved a short while later and this time it happened, Josh's float slid away and the strike connected.  The bend in the rod indicated a decent weight but the fish had managed to snag a branch and wasn't as big as we'd hoped.  The fish may not have been a monster but it had lovely colours and markings and most importantly the duck had been broken.  Josh had his first Pike for a few years was held up for the camera and he was made up.  He could have added another shortly after if he'd remembered to put the baitrunner on!

After that we had a quiet couple of hours before dropping weights for the final time that day.  As dusk deepened my bait cast to an overhanging tree was taken three times in quick succession and three nice Pike brought to the boat before the feeding spell finished.  It was properly dark by the time we made it back to the boatyard.  The day had been a success, Josh's fish was not the biggest of the day but it was definitely the one that we both enjoyed the most.  He's up and running now, the next target is to catch a bigger one.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016


A midweek fishing window opened and it couldn’t be ignored.  There was not enough time to fish the special place properly but there is a viable alternative tucked away in the East Anglian countryside.  I was joined by nephew Josh who is on a mission to catch his first Pike for a few years and then hopefully a few more!  Over the last year he’s been out with me three times but so far the fish have avoided him.

The weather forecast was abysmal, it was set to piss with rain all day and we were to be fishing from a small, open boat.  In normal circumstances I would not have been at all confident in this kind of weather and if I had any sense I’d be on the bank under a shelter.  However given the nature of the water I thought we’d be in with a chance and the advantages of a boat outweigh a bit of falling water.

We arrived in the dark, and yes it was raining but not as bad as the forecast had predicted.  By the time I’d rowed into position it was light enough to set up without a torch.  We cast a mixture of baits around the boat then sat back with a brew to await the sunrise, which never really happened due to the filthy grey clouds that continued to drop annoying light rain on us.  Previous visits to this water had produced almost instant action but this was not the case today, had the shitty weather put the fish off?

Forty five minutes and another cup of tea later I looked round to see my float moving away, something had picked up a Herring and was gaining in speed.  Hooks set, the rod took on a decent curve and a nice Pike powered off.  It was soon in the net, unhooked and released.  First of many I hoped.  Another half hour passed and still the light rain fell.  Was it? Yes, the same float moved again and this time the rod hooped over properly.  A typical short, sharp fight ensued then another, bigger fish was in the net.  This was a scales and camera job for sure.  
 Time passed quickly and I began to ponder a move, should I stay or should I go?  A swirl and scatter of bait fish made up my mind.  A short paddle and we were on the spot in time to see two more fish strike.  Rods were quickly cast and we sat back, sure a float would go at any time.  I was happy with a couple of fish and was desperate for Josh to catch.  Cue the inevitable intervention of Sod’s law.  First of all another nice fish fell to a Smelt, followed a while later by a similar sized fish on a Lamprey.  Four takes, all to my rods, I assured Josh his time would come but no sooner was the Lamprey back in position and it was away again.  After waddling on the surface and allowing me to haul it back to the boat it dived and powered away, taking line and thumping the rod.  In the net it looked clearly the biggest so far, the scales agreed but not by much.
It was just after 1000, we still had six hours fishing ahead of us and I was still confident Josh would get his turn.  Privately I’d decided the next take would be his, no matter what rod it came to.  We kept moving and tried everything, including a bit of trolling.  The rain kept falling but the Pike just didn’t want to know anymore.  We fished on until darkness but the fish didn’t show, by the time we packed up the gear was thoroughly soaked and despite the best wet weather gear we were damp.  A day like this might put Josh off winter Piking for life but it hasn’t.  We’ll try again soon and he will get that Pike.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Some photos

It's not all about catching fish...

 I've been trying for a Bittern photo for over a decade then almost got one...
then they were like buses!

The Pike come along when this is blue.

Monday, 10 October 2016


I've made the journey north literally hundreds of times, I know every bend and every bump, I drive on auto.  I know when to put the foot down and when to ease up. Even so there are times on the journey that I'm deep in thought and don't know where I am.  I'm on the right road, that is all.

A good soundtrack is essential, sometimes an audio book but normally music played LOUD.  Tonight I have the latest Red Hot Chilli Peppers disc in.  I love this band and I love the new album, I suspect it will get a good few spins this autumn but there is half a dozen other discs to choose from;  Soulwax, Eels, Led Zep, Leftfield.  On the way home I'll listen to something different, something to reflect my mood, celebration or commiseration.  These journeys have ended in ecstasy, despair and every emotion in between. 

 The weather forecast promised North Westerly wind and heavy rain but as I cruised north the sky was clear although lightning threatened in the west.  Will I make it onto the water ahead of the rain?  It will be a big bonus if I do!  Where can I put the boat in these conditions, if it gets rough I need to be as comfortable as possible on the first night.  Getting damp won't cause so much trouble on the second night.  Where will I go on the first morning?  What will the weather be doing? What are my options?  Shit!  Momentary panic, have I remembered everything?  Yes I checked off my list before I left, chill...

My musings are always interrupted on the way to Norfolk, at some point I will need to stop for a piss. A sign of age I expect but anyway as I know the route so well I have a couple of lay-bys marked down for the purpose. These are back from the road a bit so a little bit more discrete, wouldn't want an interruption from the boys in blue would I? I need to go early tonight and the closer I get to the lay by the more I need to go. By the time I see the ironic P sign I'm wincing but just as I approached the lay by a car pulled in! Fuck it, keep going! My mind tells me I can't piss, my bladder discomfort eases, it's a miracle! Funny how the mind works. Next lay by and I’m shuffling in discomfort again but bugger me another car pulls in ahead of me! Hammer down the dual carriageway and finally, just as I’m about to explode a lay by oasis appears.

Back on the road, still dry and clear but the foreboding clouds to the west can only be getting closer.  The second half of the journey is more comfortable, the peppers go round again and by the time I’m in Broadland the sky is still clear but mist is forming.  I take it easy as I approach my destination, the roads are tricky and getting stuck behind a slow vehicle won't make much difference now.  I Park in the usual place, open the door and hear the Tawney's straight away, but no time to admire as I jog to the boat and take another desperate piss!

The routine at the slip is easy now, tried and tested by hundreds of launches.  It's still clear and dry and I'm going to get out and set up without being rained on! Everything loaded and ready, I head out into the darkness...

My Pike season has begun, despite the annual onslaught from the anti autumn Piking brigade. These people hide behind a facade of "fish welfare" but it's mostly a case of; "I'm busy catching Carp/Tench/Barbel so no one should go Pike fishing before I'm ready". I've covered that on here before, fuck 'em. If anyone should need a reminder; http://fishingsgreat.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/first-frosts-cobblers.html

Now comes the frustrating time for a blogger, time to dip below the radar for a while.  I may pop up again from time to time, or maybe not.  So as I'm unable to show any Pike, here are some Cranes.
PS.  It was Leftfield on the way home, read into that what you will.

Thursday, 22 September 2016


Where has the month gone?  Not much of it has been spent on the riverbank that's for sure!  Early in the month I had neither the time for an over-nighter or motivation to fish a short session.  When I looked at the calendar I realised my summer fishing was practically over and I really needed to spend a day reorganising the shed.  Stuff that won't now be used till spring goes to the back, bags unpacked then packed again.  Rods rigged, knots tied, hooks sharpened.  The Pike gear is now ready.

Saturday 17th was the unofficial start to the pike season, the annual PAC Convention, held at Kettering conference centre.  As ever it was great to catch up with people I only see once or twice a year and good to make a few new friends.  I've bought a bit of kit recently, a new bag for the boat for one and today picked up a few more bits and pieces.  Boat rests from Neville, boat biters from ET.  I fancied buying a book and had a chat with Mr Harper but forgot to have a proper look.  Mr Lumb was in good form as ever.  The evening saw a steak, a few beers and some good Pikey chat with old friends and new.  

Thankfully I survived the Saturday night unscathed and arrived home in plenty of time for a trip to Norfolk.  I had a plan to revisit a spot I'd caught Bream earlier in the year and put a bit of bait out to try and hold them.  Once anchored up I fished brown crumb and crushed hemp in a feeder with corn and maggots on the hook.  Bites were regular so the feeder was recast often, meanwhile I was catapulting pellets over the top.  The Bream didn't show, the bites were hard to hit and I only managed a few Roach and Rudd.

The other reason for going was to have a look around and get an idea of how things look for the season ahead.  It's Pike time and for the next few weeks I'll just be doing my thing in a place I love, come what may.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Fizzling out

Isaac and I arrived at “Ted’s Place” around 1800 on a roasting hot August day.  We had a look around but once again I failed to find any fishy clues so ended up settling for the same swim yet again.  My thinking was twofold, firstly we had plenty of room and secondly I knew this area had received a bit of bait on a fairly regular basis.

Isaac fished with maggots on a whip while I set up the bivvy and everything else.  He was catching Rudd right from the off which kept him amused while I did all the chores, including raking out a load more weed and muck.  I fished with three rods, a couple with chod rigs, one baited with fake corn the other a pineapple pop up.  The third rod had a tutti boilie on a heli rig.  I scattered a couple of kilos of pellets around the area as well as a bit of Maize and a few boilies.  Now it was a waiting game.
Meanwhile Isaac and I amused ourselves by looking at the stars, eating sausages and making each other laugh.  A frog hopping around in the bivvy caused amusement too.  By 2030 the wind had increased to a moderate Northerly, there was no rain forecast but we could see lightning on the western horizon.  I made sure everything was ship shape just in case.  The wind rustled the reeds and whistled through the willows making natural night music.

My main motivation for night fishing this water is to have everything in position ready for fish to hopefully feed in the early morning but I was getting a few liners which gave me hope.  By 2230 we were both in our kip bags, Isaac’s chatter slowing down as tiredness took over.  Around 2330, just as I was starting to feel drowsy an alarm shrieked as the heli rig ripped off, before I’d got out of the bivvy a second rod was screaming too.  An irate Swan bristled in my swim but it wasn’t as pissed off as I was.  I recast all three rods then got back in the kip bag to wait for morning.
 I was up and awake at 0540, closely followed by Isaac who after watching the sunrise recommenced hammering the Rudd while I recast the rods.  Would this be my morning?  The wind had eased considerably, liners started up again and from time to time a few patches of bubbles erupted.  I felt I had a chance but time was short as we had to be away around 0800.  We dined on sausage sarnies again, cooked without any spitting or splashing in my new ‘Ridge Monkey’ toaster.  This was the first time I’d used it and was impressed. Still the odd patch of fizz appeared and the line twitched occasionally but we ran out of time.  An hour later we were at my daughter Maddie’s school as she collected her GCSE results; she made me a very proud dad indeed!
 Fishing wise summer seems to be fizzling out with little to show for my half-hearted efforts.  I may have another chance to wet a line for Tench and Carp, one decent fish would feel like a nice reward but who knows?  September is almost upon us, almost time to start sorting the Pike gear out. 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Never the same twice

I arrived around 1930 and after walking the bank and seeing nothing I decided to fish the same swim as last time.  It was a hot sunny day but the westerly wind was fresh and rippling the surface making it was impossible to see any fish in the time I had.  I raked the swim then baited up with three kg of mixed pellets and a tin of hemp.
The evening was nice with a spectacular sunset but due to the fresh wind and a harvesting combine it wasn’t exactly tranquil!  The wind was causing regular beeps on the alarms but at least one was a liner and there were a few Rudd showing on the surface.  I’d been toying with the idea of using my cheap and spindly rodpod but I hate these things so for some reason opted for a three rod buzz bar which was even less stable than the pod would have been.  I may have to spend some money soon…

The harvesting finished at 2230 and the sound was replaced by that of the wind in the reeds and trees.  Most of the places I’ve fished in the past have responded to a good blow but will this water?  Will the Tench and Carp move onto the banquet I’ve laid out for them?  The morning would tell me…

After a few hours’ sleep in the bivvy I rose at 0500 and recast all three rods.  Once again the chod rigs had worked in keeping the baits clear of weed but nothing had picked up the bait, as yet.  I recast all three rods and topped up with a few more pellets and boilies.  If anything the wind had increased and a good chop was rolling down the water.  Last time I’d been transfixed by the signs of fish on a calm, clear lake but in these conditions bubbles or indeed anything else would be difficult to spot.

Still I sat and watched the water and enjoyed watching the sun rise along with the bird life; There was a Kingfisher zipping around, I saw an Egret on three occasions, Yellow Wagtails landed on the floating weed and all the usual suspects flew in and out.  Two hours passed and it seemed like my best chance had gone so I began to experiment a little.  Casting a lead around revealed a couple of harder bottomed areas which would enable me to use something other than a chod rig.  I dropped a heli rig with a short hooklength baited with maize and dropped a handful of freebies on top then replaced one of the other chods with a float rig.  This didn’t last long as no matter what bait I tried it got hammered by silver fish before it hit the bottom, I was catching Roach on Maize!

Around 0830 a big patch of bubble erupted and I began to receive a few liners again.  For the first time this trip I actually felt like I was in with a chance.  However that was as good as it got the session fizzled out as the breakfast sausages sizzled and the final day of the test match started.  A bit disappointing fishing wise but still a great way to spend a summer evening.  I’ve still got a lot to learn about “Ted’s place”.