With the rivers having been in almost continual flood, one of my favourite lakes having 15ft of water drained from it for repairs and another still 5ft down on normal levels it's been a bit quiet over recent weeks. I've had a few trips out landing a couple of perch to about 1½lb and a handful of pike to about 11lb so when the river started to fall a couple of days ago I decided on a trip. The anticipation meant I had very little sleep and was raring to go at 5am. On arrival I was very happy to see the water relatively clear with a tinge of colour, although it was pushing through quite fast... good conditions for this river.
I arrived at my favourite swim at first light and my big softbait got walloped on only the second cast. It felt like a decent fish but with a big headshake and an underwater flash of the fish it was off! Not a great start but at least the fish were up for it. I fished a few more swims then came to another favourite. Although the water was pushing through there is a small slack of a couple of feet against the bank and with the level quite high the vegetation meant the pike had plenty of spots to lie up and ambush from. This proved to be the case and within a few casts a good fish hit the lure hard. After a good fight she was in the net and was in perfect condition. She weighed in at 18.09lb which was a very nice start to the day.
I had a few more casts when an old chap arrived at the top of the swim, obviously wanting to fish it. We had a quick chat and I said I'd be moving along soon so he was welcome to it. As he started to set up it turned out he's been fishing this river for over 50 years and was a mine of information, a really nice fella, named Ken. I'd caught the fish within a few feet of me and there was still a big chunk of water I'd not covered so flipped the bait out again, further downstream. As it got closer a fish hit it hard and on striking into it it was obviously a good fish. It got closer and came to the surface where we could both see it was long, wide and deep and the lure was completely inside it's mouth. It seemed beat but as I reached for the net it decided to tailwalk, thrashing it's head from side to side, and as it did so the lure came flying out at me! I was left shaking and gutted. We both estimated it to be at least 25lb. By now a lot of pleasure anglers had turned up and swims were very limited. I fished on and managed another about 10lb or so, but the loss of that fish was still stinging. I eventually got back to the same swim and was having a chat with the old fella, who was catching roach, dace and bleak almost every cast but every now and again a pike would shoot out and nick one off his hooks on the surface. After about the third time he asked me to have a chuck in his swim to try and catch it. After a couple of casts a good pike followed the lure to my feet then disappeared into the depths. I made a short cast and as the lure hit the surface at my feet a big mouth appeared out of nowhere and smashed it, sending a spray of water everywhere. Unfortunately the hooks didn't find a home and an inspection of the lure showed that it had just grabbed the tail. Ken started to fish again but a few minutes later the pike nailed a roach he was winding in, attacking it like a broaching submarine.. very impressive! Once again he asked me to have another go for it and on the first cast downstream it hit the lure. This time she was hooked and after a few powerful surges she was in the net. Once on the bank her true depth could be seen and she was deep, but not that long, and on the scales she went 20.12lb, making up for the earlier lost fish.
I carried on and the light was fading fast by now but I decided to stick it out. I got to a swim I'd not fished as a coarse angler had been there all day and flicked my lure out, letting the current swing it into the bank. A couple of turns of the reel handle and another fish hit it. After an brief fight she was in the net and it was another good fish. Much longer than the earlier fish but her belly was completely empty. On the scales she came agonisingly close but after weighing her twice I settled on 19.15lb. Just one small roach and she'd have gone over the magical 20 but no matter, still a great fish. It was pitch dark by now so instead of setting up a self-take photo I let her go.
All in all a great days fishing which hopefully won't be the last if the rain stays away.