As I compose this entry on the evening of the 29th, we are experiencing the first significant rainfall for quite a while. What effect this will have on river conditions is unknown at this time but I'm hoping that it will simply freshen things up a bit. This winter has certainly been the driest I can remember in the fifteen or so years that I've been regularly pike fishing on the venue and, these favourable conditions have allowed us to fish with some regularity although results thus far have been somewhat mediocre.
My first trip of the year was to a favourite bend and, in quite bright sunny conditions, produced just one take and a pike of 11lb 5oz
The following day I returned with Dave and the day's action all came to his dead baits. Several takes resulted in some dropped baits, an eight pounder and finally this spectacular fish of 23lb 4oz- our first 'twenty' of the season and biggest pike so far.
Here's a link to Dave's blog https://ahookinmytrousers.wordpress.com/2017/01/07/esox-at-last/
By the final week of January air temperatures had reduced quite significantly with regular morning frosts but, remained consistently low in the following days. Although a sharp drop in temperature usually means difficult pike fishing, In our experience, once the plateau has been reached, they will feed again and , if the light conditions are favourable, with some vigour.
The forecast of fog on the 25th meant I just had to go despite the fact that , for most of the session, the tide would be flooding , which is less that ideal. I didn't bother with an early start but just followed the tide up, mid morning, to a swim that provides 'kind' flows as the tide pushes in,
Placing my rudd bait just a yard or so from a sunken tree saw it taken quite quickly by this 16lb 6oz fish...
I decided to stick around and see if any more pike were present and this was indeed to be the case as , within the hour , in exactly the same spot , my float slid away signalling another take. I connected briefly with the pike but it managed to steal the bait, and slip the hooks so, after re-baiting with a roach, I cast again . Literally within seconds, and before I'd even set the rod In Its holder, the float shot off again but, this time, I managed to hold on to the fish, and an 11lb 6oz was successfully netted-almost certainly the same pike had returned for a second meal.
Intense action indeed but that was to be the end of it in that swim. The tide had turned to ebb and it was time for a move downstream.
I had to wait over an hour in the chosen swim before my rudd was snatched- a very gentle bite that belied the culprit's size-a superb fish of 19lb 2oz and my biggest of the season .
A productive session indeed but there was more to follow that week.
The next day I set off again heading upstream again ,with the tide, but not quite as far. Literally within minutes of dropping in my first bait-indeed before I'd even set up my second rod, I had a take which produced a 12lb 10oz pike...another good start.
Shortly afterwards my bait was taken again by what I estimate was another low double but unfortunately that one slipped off.
A change of location produced almost Immediate action in a fifteen minute feeding spell with a 9lb fish, followed by a dropped bait, followed again by a 10lb 5oz pike all from exactly the same spot in the swim.For most of the day the sky had been clouded over but cleared considerably following these captures. Read into this what you wish but that was the last pike I saw that day.
The following morning I was out again with Dave joining me for the outing. Although initially very cold the weather had turned quite mild during the day and we hoped that our dead baits would be sufficient to attract the quarry.
We had to wait until well into the afternoon, and after the turn of the tide before contact was finally made but, again, It was more than one fish from a particular location.
My roach were taken by two pike of 10lb 2oz and another fine fish of 19lb 2oz which gave us a rather tense moment when it took a liking to our back anchor rope. Luckily Dave cleverly wielded the landing net in time, and just before the hooks let go which had both bent under the strain.
What is baffling us once again however, is where the smaller pike have got to , particularly over the last two years whilst we've been using the boat.
I've now taken over thirty pike since the beginning of this season, and over half of them have been double figure fish and above , the majority of the remainder being high singles in the 8-9lb class. This is following a similar pattern to last year but quite different to past seasons when we would contact a high proportion of 'jack' pike particularly when fishing live baits. Who knows.