Fired up by my new-found ability to catch chub I was back on the river on Monday fishing a new swim. I'd also packed my float rod as I fancied trotting a maggot with the water so clear. This proved to be a frustrating move. I'd loaded the old 501 with fresh line and couldn't make a decent cast with even a four BB Loafer. Like a fool I'd put the whole of a hundred yard spool on the reel. By the time I'd realised the solution the light was starting to go. I fancied a move. The gear was packed away and I headed to my usual spot to find the two favoured pegs occupied. The first two casts with the feeder rod saw crushed maggots from a spot mid way between the two 'hot' pegs.
Because the river had been warming on Sunday and was getting warmer still I had put two barbel rods in the quiver. I was falling between two stools really and not fishing either the tip or barbel rod well. On darkness the angler fishing upstream left for home so I dropped in his peg and concentrated on the tip rod. It took a while for bites to materialise, but they did eventually. The idea I had for improving my feeder rig worked to a degree, but needs modification. I caught three chub, two small ones and one about three pounds before I called it a night at half past eight. I had to be up early to go and steward a pike match - of all things.
I set the alarm on my phone for 6.00 and my bedside alarm clock for the same time. The phone went off first and after shutting it up I checked the clock which read five. I was confused. Then I realised I hadn't changed the time on the phone when the clocks altered! Back to sleep. I awoke again, before the alarm and looked at the time. Five past five. The blooming clock must have stopped or something. Digging my watch out it read five to seven. Damn. Then I put my glasses on and had another look. Five past five. I'd had the watch the wrong way round. When the alarm finally did go off it was at six o'clock...
The match was to be fished with deadbaits and lures only. I didn't expect much to be caught so my plan was to sit by my car sorting out my chub tackle; removing line from the 501, tying up PVA bags of pellets, making another adaptation to my feeder rig and so on. Within seconds of the 'all in' there was a shout for a pike to be weighed. Off I set with the scales and Steve, my co-steward, with the clipboard. Before we'd logged the first tiny pike another two shouts had gone up! This set the scene for the day. We hardly got any rest having to dash round the lake, about fifteen acres and a good fifteen minutes walk to do the full circuit, at all too frequent intervals.
I did get to sort the tackle out eventually, but every operation was interrupted by a call to weigh a fish. In the end we logged sixteen or seventeen pike - my weigh sling had more pike in it in one day than it had in the last four years!
I'm no fan of pike matches, but this one (which I have helped steward in the past) is well run. The fish are retained in the angler's landing net until a steward arrives when it is weighed and returned. Most of the participants know what they are doing and those who are less experienced are willing to take advice. It's also a match run as much as a social event with teams travelling from around the country - the same old faces every year by all accounts - and they are there as much for the get-together in the bar the nights before and after the match. There's not a lot at stake financially so runs aren't left to ensure the pike are hooked.
Once the 'all out' was called I was in my car and off to the river, arriving just after dark. There was one angler on the bottom peg and as I knew who it was from the van in the car park I went for a chat with him before setting up. He'd had a few barbel and said I could drop in his swim as he was due for packing up. He landed a barbel as I was talking to him, a fish of six or seven pounds - his best of the session.
With his rod out of the water I stated arranging my gear in the swim while he packed his away. Then I cast the first rod out with an 8mm crab Pellet-O. Before Eric had sorted all his gear out or I had got my second bait in the water a chub of three or four pounds had hooked itself! Once I was alone I put the thermometer in and noted the river was even warmer than Monday.
Action wasn't hectic but in a little under three hours I landed another chub of a similar size to the first one, an eel and three barbel - the biggest just on eight pounds, the smallest of maybe two pounds trying to drag the rod in as I was packing up completely tired out and ready for my bed. All that walking round the lake was more exercise than I'm used to these days.
When I got home I found an interesting slug on the garage wall.
A batch of rod blanks has just been delivered. I'll not be fishing for a few days now. Probably just as well as I need the rest.