Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Thank you Carol.

The start of 2008 has been dogged by wind and rain. The wind in particular has prevented me from getting out in the boat quite a few times already this year and when Carol Kirkwood gave this week's forecast on the BBC my heart sank. Strong winds were set to sweep across the country yet again - but for a change it was going to remain dry, for a day or two at least.

Unable to get afloat, I took advantage of the dry conditions and got out on the river yesterday. The plan was to fish two rods, one with a livebait fished under the planer float I've been developing and the other a float legered deadbait. I had a couple of stretches in mind and opted to split the day, fishing the morning at one stretch and the afternoon at another. I couldn't fish too late as Mrs Edwards and I were attending a concert in Manchester in the evening so I decided that the morning session would last until eleven o'clock and the afternoon session would last until three.

It was a nice start to the day, clear and cold but with a blustery wind (just as Carol had predicted) and no need for any umbrella. I positioned the planerfloat rig first, setting it to catch the current mid-river and then whacked out the float-legered sardine right across the river into a deep slack. I did have a bit of trouble keeping the leger rig's float on the surface. It was a long cast and despite the use of a Gardner Skyliner to keep as much line as possible off the surface, the current was catching it and the float pulled under. I eventually opted to tighten up to the lead and rely on the tight line and baitrunner to signify a take should one occur.

Stay or Go?

The morning passed uneventfully, neither bait being troubled by a pike, and at 11, I dutifully stuck to the plan and reeled both rods in ready to move on. When I did so, I was surprised to discover that there were several deep slashes on the flanks of the deadbait - it had been mouthed by a pike!
Now I was in a quandary. Should I stay and hope that the pike could be tempted to pick up another bait or should I continue with the plan and move on? I opted for the move and loading the gear on my back, I tramped off to the car. It was a ten minute drive to the other stretch, followed by a fifteen minute walk to the swim I wanted and by the time I had got myself installed with the two rods out, it was around mid-day. I was soon glad I hadn't waited any longer in the first swim as another angler arrived just after I had got set up and it was clear he wanted the swim I was in. The other angler was fishing for chub and after a brief chat he elected to drop in a few yards below me.

I spent the next hour working the planer float this way and that across the river, searching out the various little features I had in front of me trying to find a pike. The float leger rig had been swung out about two rod-lengths and while the float was clearly visible this time, I decided to set the rod on an alarm with a drop-off bobbin as well just in case my attention was distracted.
I continually tweaked and amended the position of the planer float and at one stage after doing so, I looked out for the other float and it was gone! The bobbin hadn't dropped and the alarm hadn't uttered a beep but the float was nowhere to be seen so I picked up the rod, tightened down and struck.

My God!
All went solid at first and I did wonder for a moment whether I was snagged. Then slow ponderous thumps on the rod told me that this was a fish - and a big one at that. I pulled hard and slowly the creature came up until I could see it through the clear water. "That looks over twenty" I thought to myself. The fish opened its great mouth and started to shake its head violently, trying to rid itself of those annoying hooks, but the hooks stayed put. I was sure by now that this was a twenty pounder but what happened next changed my mind in an instant. The fish went absolutely mental and came flying out of the water like a rocket, tailwalking halfway across the river and landing back in the water with a mighty splash.

"My god", I thought "It's huge!"

The pike jumped again, then ran across the river out of sight in the deeper water. Steady pressure told on her though and before long she lay before me, beaten and ready to be scooped up in the big net.
I hauled her onto the bank and saw at once that the hooks were just nicked into the scissors. She would have got away if she had fought just that bit harder. I flicked out the hooks and hauled her up in the weighsling.

31lb 15oz said the kindly Avons. What a pike, if it wasn't for Ms Kirkwood I'd probably have spent the day catching doubles in the boat. Thank you Carol!

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