I've been looking for new areas of the river recently, without much success if I'm honest, with only a couple of missed fish so decided a long day would be in order. The plan was to fish a stretch I've been trying for the morning then go looking for new stretches for potential.
The alarm went off at stupid o'clock, 4am, and a bleary eyed me stumbled out of bed. I arrived about 6.15am and was fishing at 6.30. I had the whole stretch to myself at this point which is the benefit of going so early. I fished most of the best looking, and so most fished, swims without even a follow and I started to question whether the stretch held many fish. I made my way upstream to the last half dozen swims and after fishing a few of them came to a non-descript swim which was so shallow you could see the bottom with only one small tree to the right of the swim. This tree only had a couple of feet of water under it so I wasn't expecting too much.
I pitched one of my favoured big lures just past the branches of the tree and it landed with a big splash. I hardly had time to engage the baitcaster before a decent pike flew out from under the tree and smacked it. I struck and the pike leapt out of the water and spit the hooks! This all happened within less than a second of the bait hitting the water. Several seconds of enthusiastic questioning of the parentage of the fish followed before I gathered my composure. I re-set the stingers on the softbait and under-armed the lure a bit further out from the tree... two winds of the handle and the pike came back for another shot. This time the hooks went home and after a decent fight she was in the net. I left the fish in the water in the net while I got the unhooking kit, scales and camera out and it was obvious she'd got some strength back when I lifted her out. I opened her mouth with one hand to see where the hooks were and sure enough they were in the same position 90% of them are with this hooking arrangement, 2-3" back in the bottom of the mouth with the front stinger hanging loose. This is where it got interesting as she shook her head and somehow one of the points of the spare 3/0 Owner ended up firmly embedded in my finger, past the barb! I've seen this happen to other lure anglers, even very experienced ones, but this is the first time it has happened to me. With the fish tensing up I didn't have time to think so just ripped it out.. luckily it came out first time but the blood was flowing. On the scales she went 15.07lb and was in perfect condition.
I carried on and fished the rest of the stretch and managed one more jack, but missed a very small one and lost an upper single. By this time I'd fished every swim on the stretch at least once so decided to get some lunch and go for a recce on some other stretches.
Off I set with just a vague idea of the areas I wanted to look at. I found a stretch I thought/think is day ticket but after walking a couple of miles of overgrown banks it was obvious that it wasn't really suitable pike habitat.. very shallow and fast with hardly any ambush points. I cast a few lures in one potential area which was slightly deeper and slower but to no avail. I walked back to the car, which involved an exhausting walk up a steep hill. By now I'd been fishing for 10 hours and walked about 5 or 6 miles. Undeterred I found another stretch which had a bit of deep water close in but there were a few anglers fishing there already. They were complaining that all they could catch were eels, and big ones! Personally I like eels and spent many years chasing them as a youngster, sometimes alongside the legendary John Sidley who lived just down the road from me. The "eels" info was stored for future reference and off I set to another stretch. I've fished this stretch before from the opposite bank and although very pacey there were some interesting slacks and eddy's which needed looking into on this bank. To cut a long story short I fished all the likely looking spots for just one jack and one more missed before exhaustion, stinging nettles and the biting insects got the better of me.
Overall I fished for 13 hours and walked about 10 miles for 3 pike. The disappointing thing was not finding much in the way of new stretches with good potential.. so the search goes on.
And remember.. be careful out there kids! Playing with sharp pointy things can be painful!