Time For Some Cold Water Predators...

Well the past couple of months have been rather busy and all over the place for myself with holidays, birthdays and weekends away, as well as plenty of other commitments here and there, so my fishing time of late has been a little sparse and sporadic to say the least and subsequently why there hasn't been much posted up on here for a fair while!
During the second week of October I did manage to get my last night of the year in on the little day ticket water I had been fishing from the end of September onwards though and although things didn't go exactly to plan, I still had an enjoyable session, even if it were rather frustrating.
I had the Monday afternoon booked off work and the original plan had been to head straight over to the lake and get myself set up and fishing in daylight, which would have been quite a novelty at the time, having had to set up under the cover of darkness every other night I had been down there!
A couple of days previous, I had been speaking with Adam however and it turned out that he had the Monday off of work as well and so it was soon decided that once I had finished, we would head straight out with the light lure gear and try and get ourselves amongst a few perch before I headed off at dusk and over to the lake.
True to form with how the weather has been this Autumn - It was absolutely chucking it down all afternoon!! Thankfully this first bit of rainfall brought some much needed movement and colour to the water however and it seemed to do the fishing a world of good also. In the course of about 3 hours of walking and chucking lures about we ended up with countless perch as well as 15 small zander for myself and another 7 falling to Adams rod as well.
Although none of the zander were overly sizeable, with the biggest going around 3lb or so, it was great fun on the ultra light gear and a refreshing change to have a few bonus fish to go at in times where the numbers of underwater predators seem to be rather rapidly declining around the Fen rivers and drains, in stark contrast to the number of predators above-water which seem to be rapidly rising...
As dusk fell, the lure rods got packed back away and after a quick stop at the chip shop on the way through town, I headed off to the lake with plenty of anticipation and confidence for the night ahead. Once I arrived I found the lake completely devoid of anglers and I soon made my way round to the swim I had fished the week previous, which had produced a very welcome, low 30 mirror.
Two rods were soon under armed out, both baited with little 15mm AminoEster pop-ups and with a couple of handfuls of free offerings scattered around each, I began to get the shelter set up behind the bankside vegetation to help keep myself tucked away from any early morning passers by that may be drifting up and down the gin clear margins once the sun started to rise the following day.
No more than an hour or so later, my right hand rod slowly picked up tight and I was away from the same spot that had produced the 32 the week before! With my confidence in the new bait already sky high, this made it heighten even further still, but unfortunately - my hook hold didn't have the same amount of confidence that I did!
After a few seconds of slowly easing the fish back through the little weedbed out in front which the 32 had also gone through, the sickening feeling of unbent carbon and a slack line soon came over me and the offending rig was wound back in amongst a cloud of frustration and disappointment.
The rod was soon recast onto the spot but I felt I had more than likely blown my chance in this particular area, as from past experiences, they don't tend to hang around there for long once you've alerted them to your presence unfortunately...
Sure enough, as the sun started to rise, and I began searching around nearby for any signs of life - it seemed absolutely devoid of any whatsoever and my suspicions were all but confirmed. I decided to wait it out until around 9am, just in case they returned, but the extra time spent there proved completely fruitless and I reeled the rods in before doing a few laps of the lake to try and track something down.
After my third circuit without a single sign of activity I had all but lost hope of finding anything worthwhile to fish for on the carp front before I had to head off so the carp gear was packed away and the light lure rod came back out again to see if I could save the blank with a switch onto a completely different species as I knew there were rumoured to be a few nice perch in there, as well as plenty of pike which went up to well over 20lb.
It didn't take long to hook into my first predator as I jigged my little 6cm Lemon Tiger Spikey down the near margin. On my second cast a small jack pike of no more than about 2lb shot out of nowhere and absolutely nailed itself. After a great bit of fun, he was soon in the net and returned again to fight another day and grow a little larger!
Another three small pike soon followed over the next hour or so, going up to around 4lb at the biggest but the perch were definitely not forthcoming so I decided to start working the lure a little slower, keeping it pinned down near the bottom for a longer period of time. Unfortunately this proved a little hit and miss presentation wise as there was still a fairly healthy covering of silk weed across the majority of the bottom and I often found myself getting caught amongst it on the retrieve.
Around half an hour had gone by without any further action and I was very close to calling it a day with time starting to run a little short before I had to leave and all of a sudden the line went solid again. Thinking I had pulled into yet another bit of weed I slowly began to load some steady pressure up on the rod and things began to move once more - just not in the direction I had expected!
The line started kiting around to my left and then began pouring from my little 1000 size spinning reel as what was obviously something far bigger than what I had intended on catching began to make its mark on proceedings!
Around 5-6 minutes of worryingly bent carbon later, I finally got a glimpse of what had been leading me a merry dance during that time and it was a rather large pike which I would've estimated at around high doubles, if not maybe even scraping into the low 20's! I could see my little Spikey hanging right on the edge of her mouth and I knew that I was going to be incredibly lucky if I were to see her hit the back of the net.
As she powered off yet again, sending my tiny little spool into overdrive and putting an alarming curve in the 2-8g Prism rod I was rather ineffectively wielding, everything suddenly shot back, as it had done the previous evening on the carp gear and I was left reeling in a slack line with a rather sad looking micro jig head which had been bent out beyond repair.
Suffice to say, that just about finished my fishing off for that week and with a family holiday over to Spain the following weekend and a weekend away to Alton Towers for the little ones birthday treat the weekend after we got back, no lines were wet for around a month or so.
My next venture out came around two weeks ago when I had a morning fishing the 20 foot drain with the aim of getting into a few pike and perch once again. I had one rod out with a roach livebait on and then I had my trusty little Prism on hand for a few perch whilst I was waiting.
Due to the heavy rainfall we endured towards the back end of October and into November, the drain was absolutely bombing through as the water was getting pumped away and it was chocolate brown in colour so it was hardly ideal conditions for the predators. As it had been my first chance to get out for a while, I stuck at it and persevered through however and with even more rain falling, cold winds blowing and the aforementioned uninspiring water conditions I didn't hold out too much hope of any major successes.
Once I had finally got the livebait rod sorted and in position, I began catching a few small perch on the lure rod to keep myself warm and active. Not long after I had started, I made contact with something which was obviously a fair bit larger and with a few more teeth as well as my rod sprang back almost as quickly as it had arched over and with nothing but a small swivel and a short length of bitten off 10lb fluorocarbon dangling from the end, I found myself tying up another trace and mounting another Spikey onto a little 5g micro jig head so I could carry on trying to catch a few more stripeys.
Although the livebait rod still sat there motionless, the pike were obviously very active and well on the feed as there were several large swirls as shoals of small baitfish were sent flying from the water as they were fed upon and all of a sudden the little Prism bent over rather familiarly, but equally as alarmingly once again, as something fairly substantial made it's way along my right hand margin.
Holding on for dear life, with my ultra light gear pushed to it's limits, I slowly began to make an impression on what was attached to the other end and with the rain still pouring she finally surfaced for long enough so that a net could be lifted around her and both myself and my poor little rod breathed a rather large sigh of relief.
As I lifted my prize for a few photos she was obviously still very much full of life and as I lowered her down onto the waiting mat to save any possible damage occurring her head shot back up again and clamped down on my waiting thumb which wasn't quite what I had hoped for but as it's the first time I've had it happen in well over 20 years of pike fishing, I suppose I can't complain too much!
Once safely returned I then had to try and somehow stop the bleeding and with nothing but my old deadbait hand towel in the rucksack, I had to make do and rip off a section to wrap and tie around my thumb. Not the most sterile and hygenic of solutions I'll agree, but I had to work with what I had available!
The final hour before I had to head off and pick the little one up from school produced a fair few more small perch along with a couple of nicer ones up to around the 2lb mark before I was hit by yet another pike, which bent my only remaining jig head out beyond recognition and brought an end to my angling for the day.
A week or two later I was heading out with Adam again and after our original plans got changed, plan B then changed also and we settled on having a day dotting about a few different locations for the perch. We headed out to our first location at around 6:30 on the Sunday morning and as it was a new venue to me, I wasn't too sure what to expect.
After a couple of casts under a nearby bridge, I found a small area that seemed to be holding a few small perch and then on the 5th retrieve of the day I hit into something that felt a fair bit better. Thankfully, it wasn't another pike, but a very respectable perch which fell two ounces shy of the 2lb mark and not long after this Adam followed up with another half respectable perch which i'd guess went around the 1lb 4oz'ish area.
After a great start and a few more small stripeys we began moving a little further along but all we seemed to be able to find were more small ones and a whole lot of weed.
The rest of the day was spent chasing around all over the place, with very little success unfortunately. In fact, the actual amount of time we stayed and fished anywhere was very minimal. A lot of the water we knew and fancied for a few bites was taken up by matchmen and the couple of new areas we tried didn't provide us with anything too inspiring so although we had an enjoyable day, with a very good start, it did kind of fizzle out a bit towards the end.
Adam did manage a small zander to finish on however and although we'd have maybe liked a little bit more from the day on the fish front, a day out on the bank with a good mate is always one which will be enjoyed. The plan for the next couple of weeks before the kids break up for Christmas is to get the deadbait rods out and have a proper go for a pike or two, to see the year out with. It's looking like it'll be a completely new challenge to me on an area of water which i've never even set eyes on before, let alone fished, so it'll be interesting to see what I can make of it and what results may or may not be had.