Sunday 5th March 2017
It was an early start as the alarm went off at 5am but a cup of coffee later and the pike rods were loaded into the car in readiness for the day ahead. I stopped off and picked Adam up before we carried on to our drain of choice for the day and when we arrived the conditions looked ideal with a tiny bit of movement and a bit of colour in the water, things looked reasonably promising, for the morning at least.
Unfortunately we were both well aware of the weather front that was making it's way in throughout the day but we were out there anyway and hoping for a result with the river season rapidly drawing to a close. It was almost a year to the day that I visited the same spot and had two 20lb+ pike within 15 minutes of the rods being in the water. At 26lb 2oz and 20lb 14oz, a similar result to this would have been more than welcome early on so we could pack away and head for home before the strong rain and wind which was forecast arrived!
(Two 20lb pike in 15 minutes from this time last year at 26lb 2oz and 20lb 14oz.)
Unfortunately, days like that don't come around too often though and a couple of hours in, the rods we're still sitting motionless after two or three re-casts on each. The clouds were darkening, the wind was strengthening and our peaceful morning of calm weather was rapidly coming to an end. Out in the middle of the Fenland fields we had nowhere to hide other than under Adams trusty old Supa Brolly and with the barrow covered outside and everything else thrown in with us, we had to well and truly batten down the hatches!
An hour or two went by and the conditions of the drain changed dramatically, along with our enthusiasm for the rest of the day and the persistent wind and rain had absolutely battered us into submission. The decision was made that as soon as it eased even a little, we would pack everything down and make a run for the car before heading to the local cafe for some lunch and to re-evaluate our plans for the rest of the day.
After filling ourselves up with an all day breakfast each along with a nice, warm cup of tea, we headed down to a little spot that neither of us had fished for about 3 years. The area had produced three different 20lb+ pike for me in the past as well as one for Adam and we knew down there that we could also fish from the comfort and dryness of the car which, with more heavy rain and strong winds forecast, was a blessing in itself!
We pulled up alongside the drain and although the water was very low, our spirits were much higher after our bellies had been filled and we had managed to thaw out a little from the morning. With about 4-5 hours of light ahead of us before we had to head home for the day there was hopefully still plenty of time to get a pike or two on the bank and the rods were out once again baited with a mixture of mackerel, roach and herring.
It wasn't too long before the first rod was away and after a short scrap a little jack pike of around 7-8lb was in the net and that raised our enthusiasm even more for the afternoon ahead. We were both using very basic ledgering techniques with a Fox Rage run ring sliding freely up and down the mainline onto a buffer bead and a twin treble 49 strand wire trace of about 20" in length was tied on the end. Baits varied between joey mackerel, mackerel tails, roach and small herring tails and it was the herring tails that had produced the first fish of the day.
(A nice little jack to start the day.)
Once a quick picture had been taken and the fish was returned to its home, another bait was mounted onto the trebles and underarmed back out. The wind had started to pick up again at this point and we could see the bands of rain moving accross the nearby fields around us. The alarms were giving out regular single bleeps with each gust of wind but a quick flurry of 3-4 bleeps soon got my attention and I was down on the rod and bent into my second fish of the day shortly after.
As soon as I had hit into this one it was clear that it was a much better fish than the first. It was staying low in the water and putting a much fuller bend in my 2.75 TC Fox Predator rod. Another couple of minutes went by and Adam was on hand to slip the net under what looked like a very decent fish indeed.
Once unhooked, we zeroed the scales as best as we could in the strong wind and settled on a weight of 17lb 8oz. She was looking very battered and beaten up as well as feeling very empty so I'm guessing she had spawned not too long ago. I held her up for a couple of quick photos before slipping her back and I was very happy with how the day was starting to turn out and another fish was chalked up to the small herring tails.
(A very battered looking pike of 17lb 8oz but one that made the day.)
No more than 20 minutes later one of my other rods was away. This time it was the one baited with a large mackerel tail so it was likely to be another good fish and on lifting the rod, it was clear that was the case. The fish hit the surface and i recognised some very familier looking red marks on it's back, the very same red marks from the 17 I had not long returned in fact! She was unhooked once again and as she was obviously rather hungry, i let her keep the mackerel tail she was after and walked her a little way down the drain to return her away from any of our rods in the hope that we wouldn't see her for a third time!
Jamie then popped down to see us both for a little while and about ten minutes after his arrival i was away again with another little jack pike, the same sort of size as my first. What was a rather bleak looking day to begin with was turning into quite an enjoyable one, despite the testing conditions we were faced with.
Not long after that rod was re-cast, a large band of rain was edging ever closer to us and as Jamie made his escape back home and Adam and I got back into the shelter of the car, it absolutely tipped it down for a good 45 minutes. We were both sat there praying that the rods stayed motionless and thankfully they did!
The day was quickly coming to an end and with the wind and rain starting to become more persistent and the light levels dropping rapidly we weren't far off heading for home ourselves. I managed one more small pike before we left and unfortunately Adam lost one right at the death but we had turned what was a very dissappointing morning into a great afternoon.