Saturday, 23 February 2013


Yes you know the score, no blog for several weeks means no fish on the bank, or at least, not many. The turn of the year marked a turn in my fortunes and in keeping with many people I've found 2013 pretty difficult so far. the weather's not helped with rain, snow and frost conspiring to keep the fish down while I've had a lot of things going on that have prevented me from getting out fishing. The river's been up quite a lot with all the rain and at the times when it was just right, I've been tied to the house. Meanwhile the big lake's been fishing very poorly with many people reporting blanks.

Nevertheless I hitched up the boat last week and towed it up to the Lakes through ice and snow. I was to spend a day with Neil Titley, a police officer from London way who won a day's fishing with me under the PAC's introduce a friend scheme. Now regular readers will know that this never goes well, whenever I take a guest out we fail to catch. The fish might be feeding ravenously the day before, but on the day I take out a guest they clamp their mouths shut and refuse to feed.

So it was once again, I took Neil out early in the day in thick fog and really needed the GPS on the sounder as visibility was down to just a few yards. We fished lots of good marks that have produced m,any times for me in the past but we never had so much as a pluck on baits or lures. Neil's good company and at least when the fog cleared he got to see some of the stunning scenery that the lake has to offer but I couldn't hide my disappointment that we failed to get a fish. I'll have to take him out again when things improve.

I got down to the river for a few days this week and had mixed fortunes there as well. I try to fish somewhere new every time I go and so I bought a day ticket for a stretch which I'd not visited before and resolved to spend the entire first day on it. The track down to the river was pretty bad but the 4x4 made it ok and I was pleased with what I saw when I got there. This stretch was a good mix of fast and slow water with plenty of places for the pike to hide away and some pretty obvious swims and I was delighted when I took a nine pounder on just the third cast of the day.

I was using some of the new 9" Fox Replicants again but now I've chopped the back hook off them after my incident with the twelve pounder where the hook came out through its eye. I've caught plenty of pike on lures with just a belly hook so I wasn't at all worried about hooking the fish but just two casts later I had a hit right by the bank and failed to hook the fish. It was a mid-double, maybe fifteen pounds or so and it had appeared to have taken the lure well into its mouth but when I pulled into it, the lure came out again.

A short while later I had a similar experience when another fish of around the same size struck close to the bank. Once again I pulled hard and again saw the lure fly free. As if that wasn't bad enough it happened a third time but this time it was a much bigger pike, well over twenty pounds. I had this one on for a few seconds, just enough time for it to give two big lazy rolls before the line fell slack and my fish was gone. I couldn't understand what was happening. I blamed the lure, it must be just a bad hooker, I unclipped it and slung it in the box vowing never to use it again but the replacement lure didn't get taken by anything else all day and I ended up with just the one pike.

Next day I fished more familiar territory but the river had fallen a little overnight and the colour had dropped out of it. This had killed the fishing and the most I could manage in a full morning was a jack. I broke off for a bit of dinner and a cup of tea and decided to fish another stretch many miles downstream where I figured there might be a tinge of colour in the river. I was soon at the waterside and was pleased to see that I was correct, there was a little bit of colour here and I set to lashing the water to a foam. The lure I chose was an old style Euroreplicant with a size 3/0 treble attached to the belly and no back hook once again. I've caught a lot of pike on this particular lure including some big ones so i was well confident in using it.

After six or seven swims I hadn't had a fish but then I settled in a very awkward, steep swim with a slack behind a little bush. I dropped the lure in and drew it slowly back towards me. As it reached the surface, a big pike shot up from the depths, engulfed the lure and came right out of the water in the process. I struck but incredibly the lure once again flew out of the fishes mouth and struck me in the face. The pike, which was easily 20lbs plus, shot off across the surface. I cursed and cursed. I checked the hook, it was ok but I sharpened it up anyway. I soon calmed down, settled down in the swim again and cast the lure once more. It wobbled its way back to the bank but just before it reached it an upper double figure fish emerged and gulped it in. I struck again and AGAIN failed to hook the fish WHAT WAS HAPPENING?

I dropped lure back into the swim and it was taken on the drop! I pulled into the fish, got a couple of kicks out of it and the line fell slack. I could never remember such a run of lost fish, I was absolutely devastated at it all and I just sat down and buried my head in my hands. That was when the answer hit me. This awkward swim was forcing me to fish from a high bank. The other stretch had been all high banks. I was just pulling the lure out of the fishes mouths because the lure didn't have a back hook!

I changed to a Savage gear Rattle Shad, flicked it out and immediately caught a jack, and then another jack. How many fish were in this nonedescript swim was anybody's guess but they seemed to be stacked up like breeze blocks. I dropped the lure in again and an eight pounder took it. Well these weren't big fish like the ones I'd been losing but at least they were getting hooked properly. Next cast I hooked yet another pike and this one was a little better at 17lbs 8oz. A nearby angler took the picture and he commented that I had some blood on my face, doubtless from when the lure hit me earlier.

That was it, no more fish came my way from the swim and I had no takes from any other swim either. I decided to stay over and fish the bush swim again at first light but the night was cold, very cold and in the morning there was nothing there to take my lure. I fished hard all morning for just one jack and then broke off for a bite to eat and a brew. It was twelve o'clock and I was running out of options. I packed all the gear away and decided to fish another short little stretch before heading for home.

There are just four fishable swims on this stretch, the water is very pacy and any fish that were there had to be hugging the bank out of the main flow. The first swim I fished was very turbulent indeed and I knew there was just one spot to place a lure, a tiny pool of still water no more than six feet across. I flicked out the lure, turned the reel handle twice and the rod was bucking in my hand. The fish was thickset and muscular and weighed 16lb 7oz. No more fish in that swim so on to the next. here I immediately had a low double which fought like a tiger. Swim three didn't produce but I had a single figure fish follow the lure again and again. I finally had just one cast in swim four and picked up a jack, the last pike of my trip.

Here's to the next time, whenever that may be.

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