Friday, 19 November 2010

Three Bad Blanks

Three bad blanks, does that make sense? After all, if we call a blank "bad", it suggests that there may be "good" blanks too but surely all blanks are bad. Well let's just say that some blanks are badder than others - and these three were BAD!
I don't blank often, indeed I've gone whole seasons without blanking at all but this year I've had a few. What makes these three so bad? Let's take a look.

Day one was a coaching day. Mark, a local guy, quite a successful lure angler, was struggling to catch pike on baits and so I took him out to try and help him. We fished two lakes, both quite close together, with a selection of deadbaits. We fished long and we fished short. There wasn't enough wind to try wind-assisted methods so we were stuck with static fishing. It was cold, very cold and if the fish weren't feeling it then I certainly was. When it's like that you can only keep on the move, casting frequently and changing swims when you can. I talked to him about "pinch points", checked over his tackle (which was good) and emphasised the need to keep on the move. The day ended fishless for us both and while he told me he had learned a lot I was disappointed we couldn't get a fish for him.

I'm enjoying the coaching a great deal and I know things aren't always going to go according to plan but this has been a bit of a knock. Thankfully Mark had his head screwed on and saw the day for what it was meant to be. So many people, it seems, confuse "coaching" with "guiding" which is not the same thing at all.

Blank number two was just horrible. Cold, wet and windy the weather was really against me from the off but that wasn't really the worst of it. I can't remember such a dark day anywhere. It never got light all day, it was just like a very long morning twilight followed by a very long evening twilight. I ended the day cold, miserable and soaked to the skin and was glad to get into my pit at the end of it. In between I fished as hard as I could on a water I knew well. I fished all the usual holding spots, including some at which I'd caught just recently but I never had so much as a twitch.

The worst thing about a day like this is that there's nothing positive to get from it. I couldn't tell you why I blanked, nor could I say what I could have done differently, it was a completely wasted day. I don't believe I learned anything and if I was to go back to the same place tomorrow I don't know what I would do to stop it happening again. Just one day closer to the grave that one I'm afraid!

Day three was different again. It was still a blank, though in vastly different conditions but there was one event that made this a blank among blanks. The sun shone, the wind and rain stayed away but unfortunately so did the pike. I was in my boat and I moved frequently, scouring the bed with my fishfinder seeking out the pike or failing that, their prey. I found plenty of prey fish but no pike and as the day wore on, swim after swim was getting crossed off my list.

Then, early afternoon I saw one of my floats dip slightly. I picked up the rod and it dipped again, then once more. The pike in this water tend to run with the bait so a finicky take like this one is almost always a very small pike, or maybe a trout. I waited a little while for the run to develop but it never did. At no time was the float pulled entirely under the surface, it just stayed rooted to the spot bobbing slightly. Convinced that this was a very small fish I wound down and struck. I knew at once that I had been wrong and that this fish wasn't small at all. The fight was unspectacular but dogged with line gained steadily but slowly. Once or twice the pike took a few yards of line from the tight clutch only for me to regain it inch by inch. After a few minutes the fish came into view. "That's a twenty pounder!" I thought. A few yards closer and I could see that this was a very good twenty and started to get quite excited.

Soon the fish lay on the surface in front of me, motionless and looking beaten. By this point I was aware that I was connected to something special. I've seen enough thirty pound pike in my time to know what one looks like and I was in no doubt that this was another, inches away from me. All I had to do now was get her into the net. I could see that she was hooked on the upper treble of the two and that the other treble on the trace was hanging outside her mouth.

I dipped the landing net into the water and still she remained unmoving so I started to apply sidestrain to draw her over the net. At this she woke up in spectacular fashion and took to the air, head shaking and gills flared. She landed with a crash, her head and the front half of her body inside the landing net and at once I thought she was mine but no...

...the loose treble snagged the net and with a shake of her head she tore herself free and was gone.

I'm gutted.

1 comment:

Paddy Pike said...

Well Eric, I found this a great read, And the weather can play on your mind, As for a bad blank, I did not think there was such a thing, I allways thought it was just Fishing, Then i got down the page to the last part of the story where you lost a massive Pike, We all lose pike, But to lose such a treasure, Well i suppose even i would call that a bad Blank, And i think we have all learned a lesson from your day, And that is Fishing will allways be Fishing, Hope everything turns out well for you and Mark on your next coaching day,
Best regards,