After having my arse handed to me at Chew it was back to my usual haunts yesterday. It was freezing cold at first light with the temperature at -0.5°C and a hard frost covering the ground. The river had again dropped a few more feet and the water was gin clear which aren't good conditions.
I started off and on the third cast I felt a quick bump as a pike hit the lure but I think it only grabbed the tail as the hooks didn't go home, but it was an encouraging start in the conditions. Unfortunately that was the only action for several hours apart from a low double following my lure in 3 times but not taking it.
Lunchtime was approaching before I finally got a proper hit and a feisty fish about 11lb was landed. I was happy with this fish in the conditions but made my way back to the car fishing all of the available swims. As I neared the car I got to a swim I'd not yet fished, and which happens to be the swim my biggest fish from this stretch had come from at 24.12lb last year. It's a tricky swim as there's a tree lying on the bottom parallel to the bank that's about 60ft long! I'd lost plenty of lures on this tree last year before the water dropped and I could see what was down there. I made a couple of short casts and bought the lure over the tree. On the third cast the lure came close in, clearly visible in the clear water about 15ft from where I was stood when a big fish shot out of nowhere and engulfed the lure. I struck and with a big splash she was hooked. I could see it was 20lb+ so when she went in the net first time I let out a big sigh of relief. I secured the net and got my scales and camera ready, and asked the coarse angler in the next swim to come and take a few trophy shots. With everything ready I lifted the net and as she left the water she seemed to grow! She was a stunning fish in perfect condition and had been feeding really well. I laid her on the mat and noticed that the hooks had come out in the net! There's such a fine line between catching them and losing them sometimes.
On the scales she went 26.04lb and to say I was happy is an understatement. I sat down for a coffee and a fag and grinned like an idiot... this is what it's all about for me; seeing a big pike hit a lure up close and feeling the power and aggression of the strike.. it never fails to impress me.
I carried on and fished the rest of the day without a sign of a fish, apart from a small jack that followed the lure in but after a fish like that it didn't matter. Can't wait to get back again now.