Sunday, 28 February 2010

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Almost everybody I speak to is in agreement; this has been a terrible winter for fishing. Weeks and weeks of rain swelled the rivers and dirtied the stillwaters but when the rain left us it got even worse with ice and snow dominating December, January and well into February. I crossed over the River Ribble in mid-January and was astonished to see it flowing with more ice than water and quite unfishable. In the north, most stillwaters of less than a thousand acres have frozen at some point and even the very big ones have had a lot of ice.

So it was on our final trip to Blithfield for the season. Joe and I fished on the saturday but found it very hard, once again there was little in the shallow water and we caught nothing on lures or baits there. I managed a low double figure pike on the awful slow-trolled soft plastic in 45ft of water but it was to be our only fish of the day and we were not alone, many others blanked or caught little. We usually stay over in a cheap hotel for the saturday night but I had been unable to get anywhere to stay this time so we travelled home.

Next morning we awoke to a covering of snow and after loading the car we made the long tortuous journey to the lake, a distance of some sixty miles. It took far longer than usual due to the weather and when we arrived we were greeted by the sight of yet more ice and snow. The corner of the reservoir where the boats are moored was completely frozen over and with many anglers being unable to make it, the day was postponed until the following saturday. The reservoir should have fished well on this second day. It was later in the year than we usually fish and the fish had had a week's rest but the low temperatures remained and the fishing was as poor as I've ever known it there. We blanked totally as did many others and while there were a couple of good fish caught, it was only a couple.

So what's all this about a light at the end of the tunnel? Well I don't only fish at Blith and in between those two awful days I actually did ok for a change. I managed to squeeze in a day and a half out in the boat, ignoring the dire weather predictions (which turned out wrong anyway) and had a thoroughly good trip. Day one saw me settle into a swim I knew well and in which I'd had lots of good fish in the past. This particular lake had been fishing badly for some months but I knew that if the fish were going to feed anywhere, they would feed in this spot. I wasn't to be disappointed and it was only ten minutes into my session that my float legered bluey was picked up by a scraper double. "A good start" I thought to myself but there was more to follow.

Half an hour later, I had a sardine taken by another low double and a little later still I caught a 19lb 2oz fish, again on a bluey. This was turning out to be a good day but the swim went rather quiet after that so i moved on and did a little sounding, trying to find somewhere new. I have detailed charts of the water but they don't always show everything up and I find that I can sometimes discover a new feature by travelling slowly and watching the sounder closely - and that's just what happened. I found a huge clay mound, way out in the lake and some twenty feet shallower than the surrounding water. Naturally I had to give it a go and sure enough there was at least one fish sitting there as I pulled in a fifteen pounder.

I moved swims again a while later and took a thirteen pounder from a spot I knew well, again on a deadbait but was a little disappointed to lose another one which took a replicant fished deep. The day was wearing on and so I moved one last time to a spot that was new to me. Here I missed a run on a float legered bluey but I rebaited and cast to the same spot and had another run within a few minutes. This was almost certainly the same fish and went a very creditable 16lb 2oz. So the day ended with six doubles, three of them over 15lbs and the best 19lb+, a good day's fishing by anyone's standards. What would day two bring?

I was quite exhausted after my busy day and so went to bed early only to be kept awake at times by the rain hammering down outside. I was keen though after my good day and so awoke early and got out on the lake for first light. I couldn't fish all day as I had to be home at a reasonable hour so just opted to fish the morning. I wasn't too worried about that since it usually goes quiet after 11 o'clock or so and I would have around four hours fishing before then. First stop was on the clay mound I had discovered the day before and once again, there was a fish sitting there, a fourteen pounder which picked up the legered mackerel quite early on. No more runs came in that spot so i moved on to the area where I'd caught the nineteen the day before. I decided to try a little deeper this time and so anchored up in a slightly different spot and put the baits out. Before long my legered mackerel tail was away and I pulled into a fish that was obviously heavier than anything previous.

The pike fought strongly and made several good runs against heavy pressure but my tackle is stronger still and there was to be only one winner and I soon had her in the net. Superbly conditioned with not a scale or a fin out of place this pike went 26lb 7oz, my biggest of the season, I was delighted with this pike but it wasn't over yet. The bait was still in good nick so I whacked it out back to the same spot and after an hour or so, it was taken for a second time. After another super fight I found myself looking at my second twenty of the day, a fish of 20lb 11oz.

Yes, things are definitely on the up!

1 comment:

Steve said...

Great blog, and what cracking looking Pike those are.