Sunday, November 06, 2011

Something old, something new

Full of enthusiasm I was up and out well before light on Friday and soon had three baits in the water in a popular spot. There was a light mist hazing the distance, even threatening rain, but still warm enough to do without the bunny suit. There was little flow and the water was quite clear. All was good. Indeed it took less than half an hour for something positive to happen. The alarm to the mackerel rod gave out a single bleep which had me standing up to see the float dip and rise in just the same way a float does when a roach sucks at a maggot. Then it keeled over and began to move upstream slowly. I pulled the line free from the clip before the fish could feel any resistance, the float's progress speeded up and then it began to submerge.

It was at this point I made my fatal error. As I wound down to set the hooks I was telling myself I should be close to the water and not stood on the top of the bank. I felt the fish, dragged it halfway across the drain, then watched it spin and rid itself of the hooks. It was only a jack, a better stamp of jack admittedly but still only a jack. I knew I should have got myself closer to the water so the angle of pull was more parallel to the water than vertical. It's a lesson I learned many years ago. yet I didn't bother to follow my own advice... The day was still young and I was still confident.

Around nine or a little after the sun began to break through the mist and warm the day. A sparrowhawk hedgehopped over the far bank reeds and into a copse causing the smaller birds to twitter their alarm calls. The flow increased. I made a move. Then I saw an EA van on the bank. Minutes later I realised why. The weed cutting boat was making its way towards me. Great. Maybe the pike wouldn't have been put off by it's passage, they might even have been put on the feed, but the cut weed would undoubtedly create presentation problems. I packed up just a little dejected.

In my idle moments I'd been thinking again about refining my tackle. I've never really liked Aero Baitrunners for piking and had been considering switching to my old school 3500Bs. The line lay is poor but that doesn't hinder them for casting on the rivers for barbel. They're more compact than the Aeros, and more rugged. Just before they were discontinued I'd picked up two as spares in case my original pair ever wore out. This meant I could rig up  three P-5s I'm using with these reels. The only drawback being that I would have to strip one of the spools of 30lb braid. I didn't really want to do that in case I fancied a barbel session.

I could either try to find a used reel or track down a spare spool. On Thursday I had found a spool on the Ted Carter website and arranged for it to be put aside for me. This would give me two spools with 30lb Power Pro and three with 50lb. Excellent!


A consequence of having regained my pike mojo is that I am planning some sessions on other venues. One in particular has seen me lose a couple of rigs when the braid has been cut. This time round I'd approach them with mono, much as I detest it these days for pike fishing. But which mono? Time was it would have been Berkley Big Game, or latterly Nash Bullet. Big Game is a bit on the wiry side and Bullet is no more. I'd tried ESP Crystal briefly for barbel and in my limited experience found it okay. Good for hooklinks if that takes your fancy. I have no objection to a clear mono, it was always my preference in Big Game, so the Crystal would do me.

New (Diameter is as stated, not thicker to make it seem stronger.)
I was all set to pick up a spool of 15lb Crystal in Burscough Angling Supplies, where I originally bought the 12lb I'd used for the barbel (although I had bought it for bream fishing). They had none. What they did have was another ESP mono - Syncro XT. My usual 'tests' in the shop were passed. It was limp, smooth, fairly resistant to pigtailing when draw over my thumb nail under some pressure. It seemed to be quite abrasion resistant when dragged repeatedly across a rough edge, and it knotted nicely - again without pigtailing. There was also very little stretch. I parted with my cash and now have three reels spooled up with the stuff waiting for an outing.

Unfortunately I somehow managed to get a loop of line sticking out of one spool which would need the entire fill unloading and rewinding. The easiest way would be to walk the line out and back on again. I could have done that on the playing field, but the bank of a drain seemed a better location!

Sunday morning saw thick fog hiding my street when I woke early. I hate driving in fog, even short distances, and hate fishing in it even more. I went back to sleep. When I did leave my pit the fog was lifting. There was still a frost on the grass which didn't encourage me to get the tackle together. I did some work. The urge was too much to resist and an early lunch was had, the flask half filled and the tackle chucked in the car. By quarter to one I was fishing in bright sunshine on a drain that had been pumped down a good six inches.

The 3500Bs looked the part. I took the rod rigged with the dodgy spool of line and cast a 2oz lead as far as I could. Then I walked the other way to reveal the offending loop. I walked a long way. There's far more line on the reel than I'll ever need in any normal piking situation. It's not like I'll be using the reels for distance fishing, I have other reels for that. I made a mental note to mark my spools with some bright orange braid at something like 100yds, or maybe less, so I only top them up with the minimum required in future. When I did reach the loop it turned out not to be a loop at all. It was an untrimmed tag end where I'd joined the fresh line to the old I had left on as backing. I wound the line back on after trimming things as they should have been trimmed in the first place.

There wasn't much flow to contend with so fishing the far margin was easily done. As has become my habit I moved the baits around, moved back towards the car, and generally tried to make something happen. It turned more than pleasant when the light but cool breeze abated. The sky was cloudless and the sun bright. I got the binoculars out and watched four species of finch feeding on alder seeds. One bird was a greenfinch. Previously common they are in a noticeable decline around here. I haven't seen one in my garden for months while they used to be the primary devourers of the hempseed I put in one of my feeders.

I had a spot in mind to spend the last hour in, and the paternostered smelt was positioned more or less directly across from where I was sitting the two float legered baits to my right. I'd not been in place more than twenty-five minutes when the bobbin on the paternoster rod dropped back slightly and commenced twitching. There was no wind so it had to be a fish. I like to place my chair back from the edge so as to reduce the chances of me sky-lining and spooking fish in the shallow water. This means I can't always see my floats if the flat bank is above the water level. This was such and instance. When I stood up I saw the float had moved out from the bank and was coming towards me. I grabbed the landing net and pulled the line free from the clip when I got to the rod.

Remembering my cock-up last time out I made sure I would get a good angle on the fish before winding down. I tried to be as stealthy as possible getting down the ban at such close proximity to the fish in and readied myself to make the strike. At which point the bait was dropped. Maybe I'd been too clumsy and the pike had sensed my presence. The bait was only lightly marked, so I'm telling myself it was one of the multitude of three pounders. What had surprised me was that the smelt had been taken at all. It was far from cucumber smelling. I've never done much on smelts but they have worked better for me when smelling strongly of cucumber. You never can tell. By now the sun had set and the air temperature taken a rapid tumble. I fished on until dark without further action materialising.

The trudge back to my car was less than comfortable. Having got fed up of my leaky boots I'd remembered the Baffin's I bought a couple of cold winters ago. They'd keep my feet dry and warm. I'd forgotten how little support they give my ankles. The walk out had been bad enough, but on the way back my ankles were aching from the time spent moving rods and swims, and worse still one of my socks was migrating off my foot. I'm sure the Baffin boots are great for keeping feet warm for  people sat on skidoos in the Canadian Arctic. They're bloody useless if you want to walk any distance in them. I'm going to have to find some decent boots soon. Why is it that when something perfect comes on the market, like those Chiruca Canada boots, it gets discontinued and replaced by something inferior? It drives me nuts.