Sunday, 10 March 2013

Not With a Bang

This time last year the waters were getting warmer, the fish were on the feed and I was bagging up wherever I fished. What a difference now that we're in 2013! Two days on the big lake this week produced a jack and a low double for me while Denis got nothing at all. The surface temperature was still only four degrees, the temperature at which turnover takes place and the temperature at which there is no thermal stratification. In other words, it's four degrees from the bottom to the top with the same temperature prevailing at depths from 2ft to 200ft. This has been the situation now for some weeks and it's resulted in the fish being very difficult to track down. Thermal stratification has the effect of concentrating fish in big deep lakes and we rely on it far more than people realise. When it isn't there, the fish spread out to all areas and all depths and the fishing becomes hard.

Tomorrow's trip has been put on hold since the forecast predicts 20mph winds and a daytime temperature of -2 C. I'm keen, but I'm not that keen and I can cope with another day in front of the fire ok. We have several more days of freezing weather (but less wind) after that so I might get out but then mild weather is due to hit the UK - just as the rivers close to coarse fishing - typical!

Notwithstanding the poor weather I've been active in other ways just recently. We at Region 31 of the Pike Anglers Club have staged our first coaching day for 2013 with Prince Albert AS being the host club. It was a great day with 31 people, mostly children, being taught various pike fishing skills. It never ceases to amaze me that the things we take for granted in pike fishing can be so difficult for beginners to pick up. Tying a stopknot is something we do as a matter of course but with unfamiliar, cold little fingers it becomes an enormous task, one which many youngsters really struggle with.

Days like this are really important vehicles for getting the message across about pike and we take great care to stress how important it is to use strong tackle, avoid leaving baited traces in the water and handle the fish with great care. Only one fish was caught on the day, hampered as we were by ice which covered three quarters of the lake but the boys went away happy and I know we will see some of them on the bank in years to come.

Another little project that I became involved with was the Pikeathlon. Steve Davison and Shane Patterson have been touring mainland Britain fishing a different water every day for two weeks in aid of Diabetes UK. They've been sponsored of course and they've employed a team of guides to host them in each PAC region that they've visited. I was their host at region 31 and I racked my brains to think of a local water where I could take them where they might have a chance of a pike or two. We aren't well served with pike waters around here and i took them to the River Mersey, once the most polluted river in Western Europe but now far cleaner than it was.

We started the day with a hard frost but soon the sun rose into a cloudless blue sky - not the greatest of conditions but hey-ho! Steve took the first fish on a lamprey. It was just five pounds or so but it brought a sigh of relief from me - I had guided them to a fish which is more than some regions had done. We moved on to another stretch and Steve soon hooked into another. The bend in the rod suggested that this was a much bigger one but the hooks soon pulled free so we never got to find out how big it was.

Soon we moved on to yet a third area and Steve had a run very quickly which resulted in a pike of 9lb 8oz - the biggest fish of their trip so far. Shane then went on to miss a good take before catching a five pounder to round off the day. Several Region 31 PAC members came along to wish them luck at the end of the day and I sent them on their way up the motorway to Bonnie Scotland and better fishing.

The weather needs to warm up, and soon, or this season will be ending not with a bang, but with a whimper!

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