That North Western SS4 now has a new handle. Although that was all I was asked to do it was easy enough to clean the blank up as the rings had to be refitted. Glass blanks always seem to clean up nicely - even if it does take a while to get the old polyurethane varnish off.
Sunday started with a foggy dawn with the promise of sunshine later. Perfect for piking. However I spent it sat in my car on the M6 heading for the Tackle and Guns trade show. If you ever plan to have two days fishing in glorious autumnal weather find out when the PAC convention and T&G show are being held. Never fails.
The tackle show was disappointing. There was one highlight that attracted a lot of attention. A huge tank full of pike and a few perch which was to be used for lure demonstrations. The fish were nothing more than props, but interesting to watch.
There wasn't much revolutionary on show that I saw. Fuji's new Torzite rings look very nice, and shiny, but are hideously expensive. A 40mm butt ring will set you back around fifty quid! Everyone seems to be jumping on the lure fishing bandwagon. The small lure bandwagon that is. It's clearly a market open to exploitation as it caters to people who want to catch plenty of fish regardless of size.
The best two items I saw were clamshell 'bits boxes' from Korum with compartments long enough to hold rig sleeves, and on the same stand Avid's bait and bits boxes - maggot tubs with a lift out tray and no holes in the lids.You could forget the bait and use them to hold clamshell type boxes to keep your gear together.
Watching those pike must have got me fired up because on Monday afternoon I ventured forth into a chilly wind. I'd barley got the baits in the water when the rain arrived. Not heavy but enough to make me put the brolly up and sit it out in one spot. Not my preferred method these days.Still, I had plenty of water in front of me to allow me to move the baits around.
What really put me off was the cormorant which popped up right under my rods. I'm not sure why but when there are cormorants about my confidence for catching pike plummets. There was prey fish still in the area because I watched a great crested grebe swallow a rather large roach later on. Despite the rain it was a nice enough afternoon, which actually warmed up considerably by dusk. The bunny suit had been superfluous for the walk back to the car.
The only times I got excited were when the gusty wind blew reeds onto the line making a Delkim sound. The floats never bobbled or dipped. If it hadn't been raining I'd definitely have moved at least once. After the minor success last time out this was a not altogether unexpected disappointment. I get the feeling morning sessions might be the best option until this month is out and the days are a bit shorter. Using that as an excuse I might have an afternoon roach session next!
"Can you put a cork handle on this?" At first glance I suspected the 'this' to be North western SS4 - 10ft of 2lb test curve fibreglass. With the shrink tube handle removed I was proved right.
The rings had clearly been put on by an amateur! Although it's not a full strip and rebuild I'll have to tidy the butt section up, and I think the joint needs fettling too. Daft as it sounds little jobs like this keep me interested.
Once more I managed to drag myself out of bed before sunrise. Only just, it was light enough to manage without the head torch by the time I was getting the deadbaits out of the cool bag. This time I had remembered the alarms, albeit at the last minute. Gradually my pike gear is getting sorted out.
A mackerel head got launched into oblivion while the other two rods float legered a lamprey tail to my left and float paternostered a smelt to my right. Both of those were fished next to close range features. By seven fifteen I was settled back in my low chair supping tea watching the clouds in the eastern sky change shape and colour like a lava lamp.
After an hour of ducks and geese noisily flighting in and out none of the floats had moved. Despite his grin even Fred was growing despondent. There'd been next to no fishy activity on the surface. One fish, probably a bream, had rolled well out. A few fry had leapt clear of the water, but not in any organised way as if being harrassed by a predator. The sun was getting high and bright enough to warm the day. A change of swim was on the cards - except I couldn't be bothered.
Something scurried in the undergrowth, most likely a rat that found me blocking its run. A flock of long tailed tits twittered their way along the hawthorns accompanied by a couple of blue tits. That sound and sight is one that always makes me think of winter.
With thoughts of an early finish in my mind I noticed the left hand rod tip was twitching. Surprisingly the float was lying flat. As I picked te rod up the float drifted ever so slowly down wind. I wasn't sure if it was a take, or if it had been and the fish had dropped the bait. Baitrunner off. Take up the slack and there's a fish on.
Well, it was probably a fish although it felt as fishlike as a carrier bag. As soon as whatever it was came into view in the clear water I was sure it was a pike. One that did nothing except tailwalk briefly before I netted it. Which I only did because there was a treble flying in an awkward place - the top hook being lodged in the corner of the fish's mouth. Once in the net the scrawny thing went mental!Still, a fish is a fish is a fish. Not having fought hard, or been out
of the water for more than a few seconds, the snake swam off without a
It was approaching nine thirty by the time I got another lamprey section cast out. Despite having kept the other two baits on the move, twitching and repositioning them at frequent intervals they remained unmolested. I hung on until shortly after ten, by which time it was starting to feel more like summer again. Back at the car I was glad to get the fleece off. Lacking any better options it looks like pike are on my menu for the foreseeable future. provided I can get motivated to get up in time - until the days get shorter I'm not so sure about afternoon pike sessions. You never can tell, though.
These last couple of weeks I've set my alarm for daft o'clock on a number of occasions only to wake up sweltering and gone back to sleep. The piking urge has been upon me but the window of opportunity between dawn and it getting too hot for a sweatshirt, never mind a fleece, has been very narrow. Three hours or less in fact. Today it was different for some reason and I was up and about before five thirty, taking my time making a flask and sorting out the rucksack.
It was cool enough for me to consider putting my overtrousers on to keep the chill out, but I decided to brave the elements.
Despite the mist trying to form over the fields and lightly rolling over the water it felt more like a spring morning than an autumnal one. Knowing that the deeper water would be free enough of weed to easily present baits that was where I headed.
Putting the gear down I reached into the bankstick pocket of the quiver and found only one had an alarm attached. A good job the rods were rigged up with floats! A mackerel tail went straight out as far as I could chuck it, a lamprey head to the right and a paternostered smelt to the left margin.
Some people don't start piking until the forts frosts reasoning that the water is too warm and the pike fight too hard for their own good. A better reason is that they are less receptive to deadbaits until then in my experience. It varies from water to water of course. Last year's efforts told me this water was one of them. Put it this way, I'd have felt more confident if the smelt had been something more lively. Alas that's not an option on this water.
I sat back and opened the flask, then got a camera out to photograph the dawn and the sunrise. It was while doing this I noticed that the mackerel float had fallen flat. I tightened down in case, but there was nothing there and on reeling in the bait there were no apparent teeth marks. Back out it went.
The day warmed rapidly. A hawker was soon on the wing. Two robins, one a juvenile, squabbled in the bush to my left, a chiffchaff sang repetitiously in a tree above, and a kingfisher perched briefly on a hawthorn bough overhanging the water. I drank more tea.
After an hour I repositioned the mackerel and lamprey baits, giving them further short moves over the following hour. Around nine I recast all the baits to different spots. Small fish were topping and bream looked to be feeding if the bubbles were anything to go by. The fleece was abandoned and my sleeves rolled up. It was turning into another hot September day.
By ten the motionless floats convinced me it was time to give up. I had expected I was making too early a start for the pike and that I should have stuck to my plan to fish for bream through this month and the next. I should really have carried on eeling, but I completely lost interest in it and the thought of bream isn't doing much for me either. If I still has it in me to spend full days sleeping on a bedchair I could pretend to fish for carp. At least that way catching nothing would be expected!
it was boredom that sent me out with a lure rod, a handful of lures and a landing net I knew I wouldn't use for an hour last night. The lake looked to be in fine early autumnal fettle. Pads starting to look frayed at the edges and some already dead and drifting. Haws bright red among yellowing leaves. A congregation of mallards in a reed-lined weedy corner. There felt to be a chance of a pike as the sun turned a rosy orange.
Needless to say the lure I clipped on was a Squirrley Burt in perch. It works, so I use it despite it having one eye! The shallows are still too choked with weed and carp anglers' lines to work a surface bait any distance, although there's no doubt there are pike in there. That sent me towards he deeper weed free areas. With plenty of lilies lining the margins it was obvious to chuck the Burt around their edges. In the third swim I tried, only giving it five or ten minutes per spot, the lure got hit by what felt like a rooter. There was a brief jagging and kiting of the lure with no weight behind it. A few more fruitless casts and I was on the move again.
I always have more confidence casting lures into sunlit water, so my hopes rose as I moved out of the shade. It was in a spot with a bit more surface weed, but with enough free water to get longer casts in, that the Burt got hit again. It was another hammer handle that managed to stay attached. So attached that I had to cut one of the trebles before I could return it.
Jacks of this size are all well and good for saving blanks, but they're a pain to unhook. With a finger under one gill plate you run the risk of getting a treble in it there being so little room to work in. With the back hook chopped up and no spares or split ring pliers with me I had to change lure. The only other Burt I had with me was a floater which needed working faster than I liked. I tried a Slippery Sam for a few fasts before clipping on a Funky Chicken spinnerbait until the sun set and the evening chill sent me back to the car. I know there are a lot of pikers who won't get the deadbaits out until there's a frost, but I might give it a go for the first few hours one morning this week. With my luck I'll hook a five pound eel.