With the end of the river season a mere matter of days away, I decided to head back out and rather than going after an end of season Chub or Barbel I instead opted to do some dead baiting, I must admit I don't do much predator fishing, as I usually enjoy targeting other species only, but it felt like time for a change and as the saying goes, a change is as good as a rest, so why not?
Rigs were made ready and dead baits were foraged forth from the freezer and I was all set to go. I arrived at the river later than I would have liked and was greeted by a dull murky day, with cloud blanketing the sky as far as the eye could see, but a day that held a hint of springtime to it, which was made more evident with the hustle and bustle of the various bankside bird life, which created a cacophony of calls and song, replete with the regular rap tap tap of woodpeckers intent on burrowing into many of the nearby trees.
I had brought with me some sprats and a handful of roach baits, my plan being to target one of the swims that I had done some roving in on my recent chub fishing trip, as it had some nice areas for pike to skulk about in, bushes, sunken trees and a steady depth with a slow flow, areas that I felt would be perfect for an ambush.
|Tea for two|
The sprat rod was cast out to a nearby sunken tree and the roach deadbait was flicked out to an area that had a tangle of floating weed and was more or less in the middle of the small channel that made up this part of the river. An hour had past and I was settling into pouring my second cup of coffee when the sprat rod let out a single bleep, I lifted the rod to feel for any resistance and sure enough I could feel some, so I decided to set the hooks, on doing so the resistance turned into a fish which hugged the bottom and slowly moved off, I am not sure how big it was but for the short time we were attached to one and other it felt reasonable, unfortunately the connection between fish, hook and angler was a very short lived one and it slipped the snap tackle, I said a few choice words and sat mulling the event over, before a recast was made, little did I know that this would be the last of any action on sprat for the rest of the day.
Lunchtime came and went and the cloud had vaporised making for a very pleasant sunny day. The roach rod which had been fairly silent up until now received a quick bite that thudded the top round, I wound down and struck and was met with a very lively resistance that kited downstream and back upstream and back down again, an outline of a pike eventually surfaced and as I drew it toward the waiting landing net it decided that it was time for an acrobatics show and proceeded to go on a multiple tail walking escapade. Eventually a nicely formed 7lb fish was resting in the net.
|Tail walking maestro|
Having not fished for pike for many years I have to admit at being rather happy with this fish and I speedily recast another roach to the same area and sat down to reward myself with a baguette and a cup of coffee.
It was late afternoon and I was beginning to wonder if I should have placed both rods out on sprats, just to see if I could get another take on one, when I had a slow steady take and was into another fish on roach, this time round it hugged the bottom whilst it sprinted about, but acted a lot more passive whilst being netted than the last, it was a nice looking fish of 6lb+ with a lighter tone of colouring to the markings along its back and an almost two tone colour, with the base of its tail a darker colour than the rest of its length.
By now I could see a growing trend of which bait the fish were preferring and it was undoubtedly the roach baits which were going down very well and this was further cemented when another run followed just as the sun was setting and another fish slipped the hooks, I must admit I was striking quite early on with all the fish, as I did not want to run the risk of deep hooking any of them.
This was to be my final run of the days fishing, it had been a very nice way to spend the final coarse fishing trip of the season and as the sun disappeared behind me, landing net and mat stiffening in the cold air of late evening, I packed up slowly and unwillingly, taking my time to say my goodbyes to the river, feeling sad and a bit unhappy to be leaving running water behind for the three month hiatus, but at the same time, looking forward to Spring and some stillwater adventures, absence does after all make the heart grow fonder.