However, it would seem, at least for the time being, that the tide has turned, and a little bit of luck Is coming my way.
Dave (Wilkins) has been busy of late-working too hard as usual and not getting enough fishing done,not that he's been missing much. But, he decided to set aside a couple of hours this morning for a spot of piking on the river.I finished my shift and then joined him at about half nine, at the bottom of the stretch where we were greeted by the rare, and impressive, sight of a hare working the opposite bank.
The tide was an 'easy' 4.7, HW approx 1030 Greatham, the river carrying very little extra water was, by now , an almost Ideal clarity, and, despite the air temperature being quite low, clear skies and bright sunshine made things very pleasant indeed.
Starting at the sluice we slowly moved upstream along the stretch but by one o'clock, when Dave had to leave to attend to domestic duties,nothing had stirred.Ordinarily, I would have called it a day too, but the morning seemed to have passed too quickly,the sun was still shining,and I had plenty of top quality baits left, so I decided to hang on a little longer.
Jan was fine with this. Usually when I say I'll finish fishing by lunchtime, It means I'll be back for tea!
With the river to myself , I set about methodically moving along, hopping the bottom rod every 15 minutes or so, 10yds at a time, in the hope of putting one of the roach right on the snout of an Idle pike.
The take finally came around half three,just when I'd arrived at a swim where Pulborough match ace Paul Holden had been troubled by pike whilst feeder fishing back in the summer.His experiences had been in the back of my mind for quite a while.
First sign was a slight twitch of the float which I Initially Interpreted as the bait becoming agitated.Perhaps a pike was in the area. I picked up the rod and waited for what seemed like an age, but was probably thirty seconds before it twitched again.
Still not sure of the identity of the perpetrator, I continued to wait, and eventually (ten seconds later)the float began Inching slowly upstream which was my signal to tighten into whatever was on the other end.I was met with something very solid,and a strong lunge ensued as the pike felt my resistance and successfully stole some line.
With the heavy gear, and the welfare of the pike the priority, the battle was all over within a couple of minutes and, as I slid the net under what was obviously a very big pike, the hooks fell out complete with, what appeared to be, an undamaged bait which I re-cast to the same spot immediately.The pike must have just been holding the fish lightly in its maw. A stroke of luck and certainly, the most delicate of takes that I've ever experienced on a roach bait.Usually they try to pull the rod into the river.
I quickly transferred the pike into the tube(superb bit of kit),submerged it in the shallows, tethering it with the rod rests, and gave Dave a call, who Immediately offered to return to the crime scene, and take one of the best pictures I have of a pike.-top bloke! After the ritual weighing and snapping,I slid her back easily, coating myself in mud in the process.It was certainly a sight for sore eyes watching her glide off in to the deep water.Big pike are impressive creatures indeed.
She came in at 24lb 10oz but was not a stranger to me, being easily identified as the same pike I caught almost exactly two years ago, at 26lb 6oz, just a few yards downstream.Interestingly, although she is now generally in better condition, she's still carrying the remains of some tail wounds that were pretty fresh looking back then, and has probably reached her ceiling weight .
Whether she's resident in the area,or just moved back at this time of year, we'll never really know, but Dave and I must have fished this stretch a couple of dozen times between us over the past couple of seasons, and although we have had some big pike, she's not been among them.
A pike of this stature is a rare capture on the river and always an angling thrill.All the blank sessions, and the wait for the river to get in trim pale into Insignificance when a fish like this comes along.I'll be on a 'high' for a few days yet but...hopefully,I'll personally never tangle with her again-a third capture would destroy some of the mystery.