Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A late start, and a late finish

I woke before the alarm sounded at five thirty. I had two places in mind to head for and one demanded an early start. Undecided as ever I lay there pondering which route to take, which swim to head for, what to do when there. I must have nodded off because the next thing I knew it was past eight. oh, well, I'd do some work that needed sorting. That didn't take as long as expected and by the time I was eating the sandwiches I'd prepared the night before to take fishing the day had turned out warm and sunny. If nothing else I might as well head to the local water and play with my camera, having a new remote release to get to grips with. The baits could be in the water by two. And so they were.

Treble lashed to tail root with elasticated thread
I've seen plenty of doubles and a few twenties caught on smelt over the years, but my success with them has been dismal. I guess it's the one big fish I have caught that keeps my buying them every now and then. In the hope another twenty nine might snaffle one out of sympathy for me throwing money away on them! The smelt I had bought were small ones which I chose deliberately for use on the paternoster rod. As with all soft baits I tied them to the trace with red elastic thread. The colour doesn't matter, although I knew a guy who used to swear by red wool for tying his deadbaits to the trace.

I had no sooner sat in my number two chair (which is sufficing until I either get the Nomad repaired or find a replacement) than the bobbin dropped off the line on the lamprey rod. The result being, as has become customary, a pike of around three pounds! I hadn't blanked and yet another afternoon fish had been landed. This pike was unusual in that it was missing it's right pectoral fin. This looked like a birth defect to my untrained eye. Pike seem to cope quite well with missing fins. I've seen a few with missing pelvic fins.

It was less than an hour later when the middle alarm sounded as the bobbin dropped off and the float started moving. This was unheard of. Two runs on deadbaits in the afternoon? When I wound down to the fish I knew it wasn't the three pounder again. Not only id it have weight, it didn't want to go in the net. More than once it did that thing that only pike seem to do of surging away just beneath the surface, pushing a big wave ahead of them while giving the impression they might go airborne at any moment. Great stuff. when she was eventually in the net I left here there while I readied the scales. Once weighed she was sacked while I set up the camera. As chance had it I had been attaching the remote when the alarm made me look up. So getting that all working didn't take long. Four or five quick shots and back went my first double since March 2008. Not a big fish, but one that has whetted my appetite for catching a few more this winter. For the first time in ages I remembered what appealed to me about pike.

The lack of a flip-round screen isn't much of a loss for self-takes. I frame the shot using the unhooking mat as a guide. Take a shot of me pretending to hold a fish, check composition, reframe and recheck if needs be. Using a hand-held release as I did still doesn't sit well with me though. This is mainly because I can't hold a fish properly when one hand has finger and thumb gripping the release. A lot of people seem to manage okay with this arrangement, but it's not for me. I feel like I will have no control over the fish if it gets lively which is why I prefer to operate the release with my foot. I'll have to rig something up to make the release foot operable.

By now I was in a fluster so I had a brew before tidying the chaos up and rebaiting. When I came to rebait I found, not for the first time, that one of the Eagle Claw trebles was mangled. This hasn't been caused by playing the fish, but by twisting the hook free from a tough hold. I'm sure the hooks aren't going to let me down, but if they get knackered by unhooking then I'll be going back to strong Owners.

A fresh joey was put on a fresh trace and recast to where the second run had come from and I settled back to listen to England getting hammered in the final one day match in India. Even with alarms and bobbins I scan the floats when they are being used. The mackerel had been out for fifteen minutes when I saw the float start to move a split second before the alarm bleeped and the bobbin dropped. This was silly. Alas the resistance was minimal when I wound into the fish and a small jack was soon skimmed across the surface, unhooked (without damage to the trebles) and returned. The last joey in the pack was cast out and the other baits moved around the area.

I'm beginning to wonder if these afternoon fish are afternoon fish at all. I have long held to a theory that pike can be caught outside their expected feeding spells simply by putting a bait in front of them. What can be considered 'morning waters' might not be. It might just be that by starting fishing in the morning all the pike in a swim get caught before noon leaving none to be caught later on. I'm not sure this is always the case. Things aren't always as we think they are -even when the obvious answer is usually the best one. If it does have any merit then it would explain my recent afternoon catches from what I have always thought of as a 'morning water'. I remember convincing myself two other waters were 'afternoon waters' - even though I never fished them in the morning!

Despite high hopes of a dusk pike I had no more runs before packing up in near dark. Hunger was gnawing and I wanted to get home to my sausage and mash. Pulling into the drive I thought about sorting the gear out after tea, but the baits needed to go in the freezer so I unloaded the car straight away. The sling and sack were hung on the washing line then I went to get the net from the quiver so it too would dry out. Net? What net? Bugger, I'd left it behind...

There'd be nobody around after dark so I hastily cooked and ate my sausages before jumping back in the car armed with fresh batteries in my head torch and traipsing to the swim, where I found the net at the first attempt, and heading back home for the second time. If that had happened when I was younger I'd have done it differently. I'd have set the alarm for four and gone in search of my net armed with rods and bait. Given the morning's performance with the alarm I doubt it would have worked.