Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Ambitions


This article was written in the late eighties so bear this in mind as I have tried to update it to put into the present tense.

You will have to excuse me but I do get a little philosophical at times and try and insert my experiences and observations from life and try and relate them what I see happening to some individuals in our pike fishing community. This article tries to explain why some pike anglers enter our pastime with a bang, make a noticeable impact, and then disappear without a by your leave.

I believe that individual and unrealistic ambitions are to blame as I will try and explain.

At present I am watching “Gone With The Wind” on T.V. and I am desperately trying to figure out what is going on. There are a group of people who are living a life of luxury, they go to war, lose everything and battle for years to get back to what they had in the first place. Maybe they put too much importance on the wrong things.

That`s easily done as even in pike fishing you have people who set themselves unrealistic levels of achievement and when they find it impossible to attain the ambition destroys them. They then pack in pike fishing altogether and spend a lot of time and money setting unrealistic objectives in other pursuits. They never change. It`s common place in life also, the ambition takes away the enjoyment and then destroys the person.

The first visible sign of this in piking is the angler who catches a big pike and then curses because it wasn`t a twenty. He replaces the enjoyment he got from catching the pike in the first place with his expectation. The end result I that his day`s fishing is a waste of time and discouraged.

An over achiever? No, he has by self-inducement turned a good day into a poor day and this can`t be right. Life is too short to be unhappy at not fully attaining your goals.

Maybe the people depicted in “Gone With The Wind should have sat back and evaluated what is really important in life and acted accordingly. It would have saved them a great deal of trouble.

I am not moralising but trying to explain why I think that the objectives you set yourself   should be put into perspective with the rest of your life. We have all met these people, fanatics who allow their ambitions to take over their emotions to a point where the catching of pike no longer enjoyable.

I usually evaluate what is important in my life whilst half cut and in a semi daze. I find really important things in my life become clearer. I spend a lot of time day dreaming as well, it`s been that way for a while now. It`s usually about pike fishing and it intensified during the 80`s when became aware of the battle to open Llandegfedd to coarse fishing and the opportunity to legally pike fish it. For many years I lived a stones throw away from its banks and watched it grow from a mediocre trout fishery into a premier coarse fishing venue.

I have been present when the then Welsh Water Authority tried in vain to remove the coarse fish from the water by netting. I was very aware of the battle to open Llandegfedd to the coarse fishing public and watched from afar when it produced those fabulous pike which will go down in pike fishing history. During the following Mach I had a days trout fishing there and was amazed at the change in attitude of the local hardened trout fishers saying that THEIR pike were the biggest in the country. From a Welsh trout fisherman that is equal to puling down the Berlin Wall.



I returned to Wales from Botswana eventually and Llandegfedd was open to the public at large and did manage to catch my dream pike, but this ambition didn`t eat away at me during my time away but took the form of a desire to attain and not a quest to achieve and to me there is a difference.

During this period and after getting married and proving I was a breeder my view of how pike fishing fitted into the rest of my life changed. It is still important to me but it isn`t the end of the world if I blank. I never get bad tempered at a blank or even losing a fish, - disappointed yes, but angry, never. My family and my work are now the center of my life with pike fishing a pleasurable interlude. That is why the ambitions in your life should be set at a reasonable level.

The setting of ambitions is a phenomenon in itself and they are always made when you are least able to fulfil them. You envisage battling through a tough, freezing cold Winter to catch monster pike whilst you are Tench fishing in July. How many times have you decided to go on a diet after devouring a huge meal? You foolishly make a New Years resolution to quit smoking, eating and drinking when you are smoking, eating and drinking. Not the best time to make promises to yourself which will drastically change your way of life.

I am at present lying in bed in a semi drunken state planning out what I will do when I return home to Wales. The tackle I will use, the waters I will fish, and the way I intend to fish for them, the big pike I will tame, and as I day dream I setting objectives which at the time seem so easy to make but not so easy the achieve. This kind of goal setting can be self-destructive as ambitions are like that, they can stretch you to peaks you you never thought possible, or they can drag you down so far that you never achieve anything near your potential.

Take me as an example, at 18 stone I will never ride the winner of the Grand National (unless the weight are drastically amended), or climb Mount Everest. These feats are beyond my reach and I have accepted that, but with fishing I can etch my name in pike fishing history. I can see it no, arise Sir Chris Donovan, one day unknown and the next famous. After all who had ever heard of Gareth Edwards before he caught the British Pike record? I rest my case on that issue.

In my working life I have few ambitions but the one that stands out above all the rest is my eternal quest to get through the day with as little exertion as possible. I share this with many, but with fishing my ambitions are clear, I want to catch a British Record Pike and I want to catch a Tigerfish.          As I am unlikely to catch a pike in Botswana (where I was living at the time) my second choice will suffice. To catch a formidable Tigerfish.

This ambition has laid dormant within me for many years so I will try an explain how this quest started and how I attempted to fulfil it.

It was a bitterly cold November morning in 1981 and I was fishing a local water with Peter Climo. He was in one of his happy go lucky moods when a local lad came up to us and was about to ask what we had caught. Pete blasted him

“We have caught frigging nothing, this water is frigging useless, so why don`t you frig off” or words to that affect. I was astonished as you don`t always find Pete in such a good mood. A short period later Pete suddenly cried.

“Look at this beggar, his teeth are on the outside of his mouth”

After the previous encounter I was afraid to look, but I eventually turned around to see Pete reading the Angling Times. In it Chris Dawn had written an article on Tigerfish fishing in Africa and the main photograph was the cause of his excitement. I eventually got the paper of him (the first time I had ever had to fight to read the Angling Times) and the sight of this creature made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. It was then I decided that if the opportunity ever became available to me I would catch one of these beauties. Africa`s most feared fully aquatic predator.

I think I blanked that day but I will remember that article which gave me what I now feel to be an attainable ambition. It is now October 1989 and I am in bed dozing (again) dreaming of catching a Tigerfish. As I drift off into a deep sleep, I sub consciously re-enact how easy this was going to be.  

The Kalahari Desert is dry and dusty with no rains for seven months. The wind and temperature are rising and everyone is waiting with baited breath in hope that the rains will come. I have decide to make the 1100km journey to fish the Tigerfish rich river Chobe which is situated in Norther Botswans near the then village of Kasane. The conditions for both fishing and driving should be ideal and I set off with great enthusiasm and expectation.

The kilometre’s roll by as I pass village after village, Kanye, Lobaste, Moropule and the larger town of Francistown before an overnight stay at Nata Lodge. I didn`t stay in Francistown as at the time it only had two hotels. One was called the Tati and the other The Grand – The Grand wasn`t and the Tati was hence my decision. The one thing that does strike you about this part of Africa is the distances between Towns and even landmarks. It is an enormous Country and you really have to take your hat off for the explorers how overcame the conditions to explore this then uncharted Continent.

I finally arrived in Kasane on the second day and was greeted by the usual snorting hippo`s in the distance. This area was full of wild life and the visitor wouldn`t be disappointed id wild life was their thing – mine was fishing. This area is also witness to the enormous damage done to the bush by marauding elephants along miles of destroyed bush along the banks of the Chobe River.

Back to fishing. My set up for the forthcoming assault on the local Tigerfish population was a small 8 foot spinning rod, a 30 pound wire trace on 20 pound main line culminating with a 4 inch spoon with a single hook. There is no point having multiple hooks as the Tigerfish`s mouth is 100% bone and the one hook gives you a better chance of hooking up (so they tell me).

The favoured method for catching Tigerfish is to troll from a small powered boat and at £10 an hour you had better catch quickly. I sett off with a guide four kilometre’s down stream to the rapids where the Tigerfish haunted the shallower water. Hour after hour we trolled the entrance to the rapids to no avail and just as my was running out a mighty Tigerfish struck the spoon. It dived and leapt out of the water on many occasions as I repeatedly struck to keep the hook in place. Yes, the rod bent like it had never bent before (I love that line). Yard by Yard this monster reluctantly neared the boat (I had to be quick as it would have cost me another tenner). Yes, I thought to myself, the culmination of nine years waiting was finally satisfied. I was to catch my first Tigerfish.   

 

 


This feeling of sheer joy wad suddenly shattered by a large bang. Had the line snapped??? No, I had fallen out of bed and banged my head on the floor. This had been a cruel, wicked dream with me as the victim. There was no trip, there was no fish, but there was still a desire and hope that one day I would be walking away from the river with my head held high and not as it presently was, entangled in carpet fluff. My ambition had not destroyed me, or my love of fishing, it had just entertained me and helped me through another sleepy Botswana afternoon. One day I will catch my Tigerfish and when it comes along, I will be ready. If not today then maybe tomorrow. I will enjoy catching that fish for the fun of it and the companionship of my friends.

So the next time you feel like packing it all in for whatever reason, remember those famous words from Scarlet O`Hara, who after all of her experiences and disappointments coined those immortal words

 “Tomorrow is another day”.

What she really meant is that if at first you don`t succeed, lower your self-imposed standards. It doesn`t hurt that much. If you don`t just relax and enjoy your sport then that is your fault and to coin another famous line from “Gone With The Wind”

“Frankly my dear, I don`t give a damn”

 I did eventually catch the first of many Tigerfish from the Okavango River in Northern Botswana a few years later and I hope you enjoy the photographs I have attached.

 Chris Donovan


Wednesday, 30 September 2020

In Pursuit of Pike with Lures




 An offering for our Pitster' pike lure anglers, it's aimed mainly at the folks who dabble or are thinking of dabbling. That having been said, the old dogs amongst us can appreciate the odd reminder that efforts can pay off. It's been rebaked' somewhat from an original mix printed elsewhere.

Some of us do it, some of us don't. Some of us use them pretty much exclusively, others not at all or only on very rare occasions. The gents' that don't, should consider adding “The Approach” to their skillset. Paying lures considerably more attention than just lipservice' can on occasion result in good rewards for one's efforts and the attention you might apply to the detail of your approach when using them can on occasion truly make your day.

The great majority of my piking season is confined to the October to mid March period, with only a rare foray or two outside of the that and only for specific circumstances, in a short “window” period. That's not to say you should confine yourself to the same, this is just what works for me these days. 

So, you get yourself a lure outfit, you get a bagful of lures and you get yourself out there and throw them all over the place. Well, it might work, it might not. There's certainly a better chance to increase yourprospects if you stop and just think about the “how and where” of what it is you are looking to achieve. Allow me to offer two examples of what a bit of thought and a particular approach by yourself can get you, they are only examples and I'm sure if more folks thought about using a particular approach on a particular venue, after giving it some thought, they could well reap dividends on the day. 

There was a venue which I was making an effort to familiarize myself with by walking it without any tackle other than a pair of glasses and a small pack. I did this for some time to try to get a feeling for the water and the different shore areas in differing wind directions and conditions. It was quite shallow in places with good water visibility. On some days the Glasses showed me surface activity by large fish, but they were out at range, well out at range in fact. In places it was just too dam shallow and it looked to be a case of “If they won't come to me I might have to go to them”. Careful investigation showed me that with the aid of a set of “chesties” and surfing boots I might just have a chance.

I wanted an outfit for distance work, that was the only way I was going to get a lure into the zone of activity that was spotted. During that time I imported a “Fox Terminator Elite Big Bait Spin”, in the 3 metre model and rated up to 168grams. It would prove ideal for the purpose, I believe this particular version might be out of production now? The rod was designed for fixed spool use, I paired it with a 5000 sized Shimano and began with 50lbs Power Pro (an old habit), soon changing to Suffix 832 and latterly Daiwa J Braid when it became available. Distance capability was all important in the circumstances and the thinner the diameter, well, you know the rest.

So, out “in” the water and well away from the bank, how are we going to control anything of the large economy size and get it back to that mat safely? Looking for a net capable enough for that “twenty plus” fish, I fell over the Fox Rage Speedflow, the NLN001 model. It turned out to be a very suitable choice, it floated on the surface out-of-the-box so to speak. Now I know one or two other Gents have lost this model overboard and it went down, I can only say that when parked carefully on the surface right next to me, it floated and without adding anything to it!

We were getting there. What was needed now was a Lure that was going to call out to the local Preds' and both advertise not only it's arrival (big splash) but went on to indicate it's direction of travel as they might come in looking for the disturbance, it should continue to advertise it's presencefirst by sound and then as they might draw closer by sight as well. It was the Joe Bucher stable that was chosen, specifically the Joe Bucher Topraider, a surface lure with a good reputation already established.So, with “Sight and Sound” taken care of, there was the added tweak of “Colour” for a lure they would first hear, then hopefully follow what they were hearing to investigate and then see exactly what was making the splashing that lured them in to the follow. There's a choice here of course, I went for what is commonly known as a “Baby Duck” pattern and I asked Mark Houghton to put his interpretation into acouple of the said for me. In this case the lure has quite a lot of yellow in it. Other patterns might well have worked, this was my particular lead choice. The underbody treble was changed out for a finer wire, the rear was left “as is”, no regrets there on occasions, as the underbody treble was the hook-up of choice for every fish that came in. I would add that you might consider changing the rear out for yourself, just for extra peace of mind perhaps.

It was certainly a new and different experience, standing chest deep and well away from the shoreline, getting as much distance as possible in order to get the “duck” into the zone of activity. It worked! On days when they were up for it I found fish around the mid teens were exploding upwards clean out of thewater straight under the lure being retrieved, spectacular stuff. I got the distinct impression that the real targets, the twenty plusers', were apparently eyeballing the Raider' and it looked like they were following it further and further in, in stages, along the line of travel. There were some occasions when standing chest

deep and the lure crawling within 20ft of me, a large head would suddenly explode under it and you saw the whole head slashing from side to side at the lure as it hooked up. These large fish did not completely leave the water as some others did nearer the start of a retrieve, perhaps they decided that with around just four feet of water where they came into, that they didn't need to. A new experience, fighting green twenty pound plus fish, at the same level as yourself and on a short line! But the approach worked, right “In yer' face” stuff. The best I did for the trial, which saw three low twenties, went a decent 21lbs 12ozs, so box ticked etc, method proved. Put in the back pocket for future reference.

The main focus however is always the winter river season and as you do, attempting to achieve the best result you can on the day. I do enjoy the deadbaiting', but lures should never be considered a poor second, each approach indeed can certainly have it's place and time on the day. I wanted to find a particular lure and approach that would in theory at least, offer far better potential than just the ol' “chuck it and chance it brigade”. I wanted a large rubber swimbait', one that would give me bags of movement per unit of distance being travelled, one that could be retrieved “low and slow” and still give plenty of action. It would be used solely “low and slow”, over and along a fairly clean bottom the lure being left to touch down on every cast before retrieved right along the bottom and indeed on the odd retrieve deliberately used to “bottom bump” on the way in. Mostly however if you felt it bump for a split second the tip was swiftly lifted slightly and only just enough to keep it running as slowly as possible.

Importantly I was looking for something to generate really good movement for distance combined with a slow retrieve, so staying “in the zone” for as long as possible.

After some consideration I found what I was looking for by returning to Joe Buchers' stable. I settled for the large 10” version of the now long discontinued (and as rare as rocking horse poo), Bucher's Fluttertail.

Depending how you work it, it can be up to 14” in length out there. However, even with the slow retrieve it has a really good action on the twin tails, specifically so! But it most certainly had quality issues and required some high maintenance to keep each lure in the best shape for as long a life as possible. Soft as butter was the original compound used in this lure. You needed to use the hot knife to drag them back to life from most good mauling's, however the big river queens didn't seem to mind too much, the action was the thing. Far too many of these lures were also cursed by the fault where the internal harness could split the lure body vertically on one side directly on the rear vertical harness itself. I also changed out the split rings for 50lbs rated and the trebles were swapped for finer wire. Leader went up to 100lbs Titanium and braid to the old workhorse of 100lbs Power Pro. Justified after big river spates, when you might find yourself some very large branches out in a swim. The rod stayed the same, so did the reel, only a spool of line was changed, easy.

The lure and the approach worked, it worked well, very well. There's always a “but” though is there not.

Out of production for around a decade now and “rare” don't cover it, don't forget the original production quality ran along the lines of “Could do Better”. Mend-it repair glue simply could not cope with that rear splitting, neither could the hot knife, over generous use of “Aquasure” on the split ensured it could get a few more fish for you. It wasn't pretty, but the big girls still liked it. We are looking at a rare to zero availability these days. However, for a short period back there all was not lost, as an enterprising Yank bought the Licence to manufacture Joe's Fluttertail' in another reincarnation. A complete overhaul was undertaken. A different and more durable compound was used for the body, total lure weight was tweaked upwards from around four ounces to about five, the internal harness was re-done and a range of new patterns were produced and Lo' the Fluttertail then morphed into the “Call Girl”, courtesy of an enterprising gent under the umbrella of “Guide Dog Tackle.” Unfortunately this appears to have been a relatively short venture apparently, as I believe the new range lasted for about two years only, before they too vanished and became as rare as the originals.

Along my regular stretches the Pike liked them, specifically, the larger fish liked them. Exactly the intention! They liked the original Fluttertails' and it appeared they saw no difference when the “Call Girls” were sent out searching for customers, that twin tail wiggle drew them in. It was good to see the twin tails working well right up to the rod tip and on that slow retrieve. The trial using that specific approach started off with a few fish hovering around the 18 and 19lbs mark, a promising beginning and one that showed the lure and approach did indeed appear to be working. Another visit and a few fish in the low twenties put in an appearance. The next “Lures” visit was in an early January, in very cold and calm conditions. It was an intended short session only, the first visit in the new year with this lure and this approach only. So............

Within no more than the first half dozen casts there was a solid “thump”, the rod hooped over and the lure simply stopped dead-in-the-water, for a second I thought “I have got hung-up on something”. I put a realbend into the blank. It was then that the tip moved just a little and I realised something large had turned stubborn on me. Solid pressure moved her and she really woke up. Eventually I was quite stunned to see her in excellent condition and weighing in at 27lbs 3ozs. Very nice indeed and it don't get better than that I was thinking, but it did and this was a very short session remember. After getting her back safely I switched off to relax with a mug of tea for a while, things had started well. I went back to it and moved upriver just slightly, about fifty yards, probably less. Same modus operandi, out goes the chosen lure.

Suddenly, just three casts later there's a distinct feeling of deja vu, I've been hit hard again by a right heavy lump, now when I first get a look at her the first thing to mind is that “stone me, I have the same fish again!” She was the twin of the first, well, a twin she indeed was but not the same fish! Another true river queen in great condition and going 27lbs 9ozs. Exact same lure, exact same method, same close area, two pristine big girls for 54lbs 12oz. I could have stayed, but after that Al went home, why spoil it, something to remember.

Would Al' have caught in either of the above planned approaches if a different lure had been used, perhaps, or perhaps not. The thing is the approach and lure to be used worked and well, in both examples given. The above are just offered as something of what is still possible if you can find the right approach and at the right time, a thing we all strive to achieve. The new winter season is knocking on our door, let's remind ourselves to use the day properly, don't lessen your chances on the Lures. Remember that day you set up well back from the bank, approached quietly and dropped the first deadbait carefully into the margin, whilst the second rod went further out, remember that twenty plus coming on the margin rod? So search the close areas and the margins first, both up and down stream on your bank, on the day you could well pick up a good fish doing exactly that, do it before you search more distant areas of your swim. Do not skyline.

There's a couple of pictures' embedded. Houghton's version of the “Baby Duck” (Nice one Mark) and a sister in a Perch pattern. Also take a long hard look at both the unused examples of Bucher's Fluttertail and Guide Dog's Call Girl. They are the same lure, but they have significant differences. Both will work well, at least they did so for me in the circumstances described. However the Fluttertail quite obviously suffered from quality control being off on Holiday for their production runs. Take a hard look at that vertical area around the rear hook harness. That unused original is a prime candidate for splitting, you can actually see it there, it would probably go during the first use. Some are okay, some are not. You have to wonder that just perhaps this may have been the reason for it's production ending. The revamped and renamed “Guide Dog” below it will last a whole lot longer.

The esox' pictured are both of the twins I encountered on the short river session described above, a cracking short trip, one not forgotten and would you believe that was not the last unexpected acquaintance I was to have with the larger of the twins, she was even heavier on the last day of the season in a slightly different area, on a different method. But that as they say, that is another story.

Good luck to all for the coming winter season and tight lines to everyone.

Alan Behenna

Friday, 18 September 2020

Pandemic Chubster


    Don’t worry, this isn’t a story about the large flabby appendage I have amassed on my frontage during lockdown, although I suppose that could be classed as a personnal best (PB) in some respects!

 So luckily, the Covid outbreak did not affect my pike fishing really, as I managed to squeeze in my final session literally two days before lockdown, and it provided three welcome fish of mid to upper doubles.

A nice way to sign off the season.

                                        

I was required to work throughout the outbreak. A prospect I initially had reservations about, but eventually realised I was appreciating the normality and routine it was providing. I spent the rest of the time on “House Arrest” clocking up the brownie points, helping out with the home schooling and spending time with the wife and kids on daily walks and bike rides. All the time though, in the back of my mind was if and when we were going to be allowed out fishing again.

I enjoy lure fishing for bass in the spring and summemonths but with weather, wind direction and tides being such a big factor in whether it’s even worth leaving the house, I was in need of a back-up plan, which in the few years previous had been half-heartedly chucking lures about my local river for perch and chub.

I’d had some success, but I wasn’t using the best set up and to be honest, I wasn’t taking it too seriously, so this year I vowed to change that, especially where the chub were concerned, and I used the time in lockdown to prepare.

Now, being a Northerner, parting with cash is not my favourite pastime, so I was on the hunt for a decent light lure set up that wouldn’t break the bank, and wasn’t utter horse sh**e.

The rod I found was a HTO Hooligan 5-25g rod. Now I knew nothing about this rod but research showed a few positive reviews and I use a HTO rod for my bass fishing which is an awesome rod, so I took a chance and clicked.The reel was easy as I had already decided on a Diawa Ninja 2500. I know a few people who use and recommend these reels and it was within my budget with a spare spool to boot which was a bonus.

The rod arrived and I was pleasantly surprised. It had a nice fast action and felt good in hand, one issue is that the butt eye was ever so slightly out of line but what do you expect for a £50 mass produced rod from china. I was sure it would have no impact on the function of the rod at all but it was a bit annoying. Luckily I’ve got a mate who is a very experience rod builder and he promised to rectify it if it ever got too much to bear.

I’d already amassed a collection of little jelly shads, grubs and critter baits from the previous years and had a few little crank baits but felt I needed a few more of these as I knew they were going to be more likely to attract chub, so I purchased a little set of cheap cranks from flea bay.

Now this will probably have some of you reeling in disgust, but I refuse to spend decent money on little bits of plastic that are destined to end up as decorations in the surrounding foliage, and as previously mentioned, I’m Northern.

Anyway, for just over £100, I had a half reasonable set up that I could “get a bit more serious” with. Knowing that my local river was not known for its specimen chub, a 5lb fish on a lure was a challenge but not an impossibility so the target was set and I eagerly waited in hope of the rules relaxing, before the June 16th.

And they were, so I got out for a few bass sessions seen as my club waters were still closed so they could adjust swims in adherence to the guidelines, but I was keen for the river season to arrive so I could try out my new set up.

The day arrived and I was out with my new rod and reel, which normally means a blank, but, I was like a kid on Christmas, and even better the weather was glorious. I’d had a certain backwater in mind as I knew there were chub there from the previous excursions, and it was a good walk away from the nearest access, so I assumed it’d get me away from the crowds. How wrong could I be!

The place was RAMMO!

Boats, canoes, paddleboards, swimmers, picnickers, every man and his dog, literally!

I couldn’t believe it, I’d hardly seen another soul in this area when I’d fished it the previous year but it was party central now!

It wasn’t the numbers of people there that annoyed me really though, they had just as much right to be there as I did, but there was total lack of respect and disregard for this beautiful place. Now I normally encounter litter on my river when I go there, and pick up bits at times, especially if its fishing rubbish giving the rest of us a bad name, but this was another level. Whole boxes of empty Stella cans lying about, takeaway cartons, burst lilos, carrier bags full of rubbish tied up and thrown in hedgerows. It was utterly depressing.

I had a few chucks but couldn’t handle it and went home.

I encountered scenes like this on two other occasions after that, including one where id managed to find a little bit of solitude casting from a ledge into a weir pool. I’d just missed a take on a surface frog and wasn’t sure if it was a chub or a jack, when out of the corner of my eye I seen a bloke slide down the weir, splash into the pool, swim over to me and ask “caught anything mate?”

“NO I HAVENT YOU CUCKING FUNT AND IM NOT GOING TO NOW AM I!?!” is what I thought of saying, but a simple “Nah mate” is what came out as I packed up and headed for home. After that, I decided to avoid the river for a while until the weather turned a bit or until I could get there at more unsociable hours.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and a few blank beach sessions and I’d put my stuff in the car and decided to drop on to the river after my night shift. I chose a spot I had found the previous year but the real reason I was going here was because it was closest to home so wouldn’t be too much of a struggle for my tired little eyes on the way home to bed.

I got there just as it was getting light enough to see and jumped out of the car into the surprising cold morning air. I got set up and decide to have a few chucks on a brand new fishing platform that had been put there curtesy of the Environment Agency and Angling Trust. I was flicking a little limtreuse spikey shad about when I had a take from a good perch of around a 1lb 8oz, maybe even two, but after five seconds of being on and a shake of its head it was gone. I’d seen the whole thing clear as day through the water, even in the dim light, and it was then I realised just how crystal clear the water was. This was going to require some stealth!

When the light got up a bit more, I headed to my chosen backwater pushing through the 6ft high nettles. I got to a spot of fast narrow water where a crouching underarm flick of about 5 yards in either direction was all that was achievable, and all that was required, first cast downstream  and after maybe two turns of the handle, Whollop, the lure was smashed by a chub of barely a pound.

Netted, snapped and released, I turned round and noticed a dark shape upstream of where I was. Another little flick in that direction and it was hammered again by a jack of about 4lb. luckily the hooks fell out in the net so it was released pronto.

Two for two! Both fish taken on the Shakespeare mini S, roach pattern.

After another couple of flicks up and down with no interest, I figured the commotion of two fish meant a move was in order so headed to another spot close by where I’d seen the grass had been trampled down so assumed it had been flattened by a previous angler. Access was from higher ground so I was pretty much on my belt buckle crawling through the grass and stingy’s to get to the bank. I could see a few fish of about 2-3lb milling about in a small pool so I flicked the mini S on their heads but they spooked and scarpered.

I moved up the bank about 5 yards where it was just manageable to cast into a pool where the stream enters and eddies round before rushing past again where I’d just moved up from. I tried a couple of little flicks close by which produced no interest so started flicking further into the pool. Line of sight to the lure was obstructed by the bankside vegetation so it took me a second to realise what had happened when on one retrieve the lure was stopped in its tracks, thinking I’d snagged, then the clutch gave way. FISH ON!

I bullied the fish so it couldn't run me into a snag as it looked to be a decent sized chub. A few spirited runs taking a bit of line ensued before it allowed itself to be netted.

4lb 8oz 

I’d matched my PB, on purpose, i.e. I was actually fishing for chub. Not like my previous best fish which had fallen to a  real eel a couple years previous whilst after a toothier quarry.Happy days, this was turning out to be a great little session, two fish in the first two casts and now a matched PB and all on mini S, roach pattern. Another flick into the same pool produced a pike of around 6-7lb, obviously attracted by the earlier commotion. Netted, unhooked, snapped and released it was time to head home, and due to the excitement there was no “noddy dogging”* during the journey.

          *this is not referring to some sort of sordid activity involving newbie anglers and sexual encounters in public places before all you dirty minded bar stewards comment.

A few days later I got back out for a few hours having decided to revisit the same area but push further through the undergrowth to try and find a few more likely spots. A gazillion nettles 

 I’d found a couple of spots and managed a few micro chub but hadn’t seen anything of any stamp. I then happened across a deep pool that was screaming chub. Access to the pool was at 6’o’clock, with the stream entering fast at 11’o’clock, eddying around and exiting at 2’o’clock.

I'd lock with a big overhanging tree directly opposite at 12’o’clock with a big submerged fallen tree snag at the front of it. It was not an unfished mark as I could see the imprint of a bucket seat in the mud so I took it as a good sign that it must be worth a try.

 I cast in all the likely spots but had no interest and saw no signs, but then an absolute pearl of a cast, right under the overhanging tree branches saw a dark shape take a bit of interest but then a flash of bronze as it decided against it. At least I now knew there was a good fish to be had there. I carried on for a little while longer but couldn’t tempt a take so decided to head back and have quick stop at one of the other spots before heading home. A stealthy crawl to the bank where I’d spooked the fish with the plop of mini S on the previous session and I could see them again. This time I decided a tiny little crank of about 2cm and as many grams may be less disturbing and may tempt a take. I checked my trace as even the slightest kink destroys the action of these lures as they’re so light. No kinks, I was good to go. There were 3 fish and I flicked the little crank to the tail of the middle fish. It turned to the sound of the plop, looked at the lure, and as soon as I gave it a twitch, Whollop, it smashed it. Sight fishing at its best, proper exciting stuff.

A short fight and it was netted, snapped and weighed at 2lb 12oz, not massive but even these small chub hit lures so aggressively. Happy days, no blank.

 Another couple of days later and the gear was back in the car with the plan of dropping in on the river, bleary eyed after another night shift.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the deep pool where I’d seen the interest from under the overhanging tree and the plan was to make my way straight there and try to tempt the fish properly this time. I got there as it was getting light  and didn’t notice any fresh bucket or boot marks so it seemed no one else had been there since I last had. I proceeded to cast to all the likely spots, stream entrance, under the overhanging branches and then up into the stream exit, but I couldn’t buy any interest.

I don’t know about anybody else, but I’ve found with lure fishing for chub, disturbance is the enemy, so I try not to make too many casts, so every hour in a swim I may only be actively fishing for 20-30 minutes. I know that sounds counterproductive as the lure needs to be in the water to catch the fish but I’ll make a cast to each likely spot then ill rest on my haunches for a few minutes, rest the swim and just watch. Especially if I’ve made a bit of a fluff cast and created some disturbance getting my lure back, I’ll just wait and watch for 5 minutes or so and let everything calm down in the hope I haven’t scared every living creature a million miles away. I apply this to my pike fishing sometimes too but not as much as I’ve found the need to while chub fishing.

 Anyway, I digress, I fished the pool for maybe an hour with no signs of life whatsoever so decided to go exploring again and push further on, but after climbing over a barbed wire fence and slipping down a steep muddy bank I decided I was a bit too long in the tooth to be getting leggers off any angry game keepers so turned back and headed to more familiar ground. I decide to stop off and have a go at one of the swims fished previously again, so headed to the fast flowing section where I’d had the small chub and the 4lb jack. After crawling down the bank and a having a few downstream flicks, I was rewarded with a fish of 3lb 5oz in my net after causing a right commotion in the shallow water during the fight and soaking me.


Blank saver

During the next day or two I was musing about what had been working, lure wise, and I noticed I’d only caught on light coloured cranks, silvers and roach style patterns, so I commandeered my missus UV nail varnish cooker thingy majig and got to painting a couple of my darker lures. I painted a spare perch pattern mini S as a white red head, and one of the cheap eBay cranks with a white belly, glitter grey sides and a darker grey top. I had to get out to try them so back to the same spot and straight to the deep pool.

The freshly painted Gary Glitter crank was up first but the initial casts to the likely spots produced nothing again. Casting to the stream exit was difficult as there was a high overhanging tree I kept just catching the edge of and having to yank out my line out of. Then another pearl of a cast  saw the lure fly past and keep my line clear of the branches, it flew right up close the reed on the far side of the exiting stream and landed with an inviting plop.

Three or four turns of the reel handle and an absolutely savage, lightning fast take had me thinking I had a pike on. It was staying deep, taking line and darting for snags. I kept pressure on and bullied it out of the snaggy areas until it came closer and seen it was a real chunk of a chub. I was convinced this was a new PB so was a little surprised when it only tipped the scales at 4lb 7oz. Oh well, still a good fish from my river, and gave a fight like a fish possessed. Was this the fish I’d seen take interest previously? Probably, although the pool is definitely big enough to hold a few decent fish so it will be re visited. I had another few casts but decided that the commotion had probably spooked anything else into hiding so moved back in the direction of the car.

I stopped at the trampled grass swim for a few last casts before heading back and managed to find another spot where it was possible to cast across the upper pool and still maintain a view of the lure. It left you a bit more exposed and spottable, but keeping a low profile I flicked Gary Glitter as close to the far bank features as I could. Fan casting from left to right, I got to the point where the pool narrows and the water speeds up to exit as a stream again. I cast to the far edge of this where there was a small island of flotsam caught on an exposed tree root. The lure plopped down just in front of this and I can’t even remember turning the handle before I saw the dark shape dart out from under its cover and mug the lure off the surface. It felt like another decent fish and after a great little battle it was netted and weighed at 4lb 4oz.

                                         

My luck was definitely in.

After this session I felt I’d pretty much exhausted the fishable spots and didn’t want to pressure the area too much in the fear of ruining it for future fishing, so with another backwater already in mind was planning my next trip out.

I’d fished the next area the previous year also but hadn’t actually managed a chub out of there, although I’d had countless missed takes on surface frogs.

A few days later and a few hours to kill, I’m on my way. It’s a fair walk away which I quite like as it normally stops the likely hood of anyone else being there.

I got to the first spot and was casting across the weir pool. I could see a snag pretty much right in front of me, a big tree branch that’d obviously been dragged down during the previous floods. I was casting either side of this and trying to get my lure to swim as close to it as possible without snagging. Gary glitter was back on and just swimming past the snag when all hell broke loose on the surface!

A big Chub leapt clear of the water but missed the lure, damn.

I had a few more casts but couldn’t tempt another take so I decided to move to another swim for half hour or so then come back. During this time the heavens opened and I was soaked to the bone, not just from the rain but from the soaking wet waist high grass and nettles I was pushing through also. The other swim produced nothing but a couple of micro chub with eyes bigger than their bellies so I returned to the weir pool again.

I ran Gary past the snag a couple of times again but nothing stirred. I had a change and thought maybe the Mini S would have more of a chance due to it diving slightly deeper, it may give the fish a bit more confidence to strike if it had spooked itself with the previous attempt.

Low and behold, second cast on the downstream side on the snag, I’d thought I’d caught on a protruding branch I’d not seen until a head shake and the clutch giving line told me different.

This fish ran me ragged, trying to dart back into its snaggy home, and then 20 yards across the pool to a load of overhanging trees and more snags. It was an awkward fight due to the location I was fishing from and I was convinced he was going to get me snagged or snap me off, but after a load more to’ing and fro’ing, he tired and allowed himself to be netted.

                                                

A chunky Chub of 4lb 12oz which is a new PB, by only 4oz, but a new PB is a new PB.

Again I was a little disappointed as I was convinced this fish was over 5lb, so I’m obviously terrible at guessing fish weights.

I tried a few more spots in this area but they were quite difficult casting, and there were a few which were impossible, even for a little underarm flick and landing a fish would’ve been another impossibility, so I gave up and headed home happy with my new PB and with a plan to return with my cast waders to try my luck in a few of the harder to reach areas.

At home, I’d started to making lures following a few tips and tricks I got from some likeminded folk on a well known forum (plug plug). I bought a few components and basic tools to get myself started and was enjoying the process of creating my own little custom cranks. My painting was pretty uncouth as I was still only using my better half’s UV nail varnish gear but the use of the foil tape on the sides with the added scale and gill plate details really made them look pretty good, even if I do say so myself.

                                     


6cm 16g crank & 5cm 6g surface beetle                     5cm 12g crank & 4cm 8g crank                                                                                           

I obviously wanted to get out to try them out and hopefully catch something on one, or all of them so I was deliberating about my exploits and I got to thinking about the original backwater again where I’d first had my luck. I was convinced there must be a few more fishable spots beyond the barbed wire fence so was an early session one morning, possibly before any angry gamekeepers or more importantly, their dogs, were awake. I had an early night and set my alarm for 4.30am with the missus looking at me like I had two heads! “you’re getting up at what time on a Sunday?" Needs must!

Now I’m not an advocate of fishing private areas or to simplify it “Poaching”, but also, I don’t understand or agree with how stretches of natural river can be owned by an estate or household to the exclusion of all others. And anyway, there’s always the get out of jail free card isn’t there ’’Me sprackens de non Anglais mate !’’

 So with the alarm silenced and a quick caffeine injection, I made my way, stealthily, to my chosen spot of transgression.

Arriving at the barbed wire from a different path this time I found there was no need to climb over it risking the safety of my most prized assets. The fence actually stopped a few yards back from the edge of the water and so could be negotiated quite easily.

I found a spot just past the steep slope I’d slid down previously where you could cast from a high ledge across the start of a deeper pool. There were enough features to hold fish but after a few casts to each likely spot, I’d seen no interest from anything. I could see quite a few shoals of micro chub which I never take as a particularly good sign as I’ve found they tend to stay away from the bigger fish. I don’t know if chub are cannibalistic but I’m sure if a quick flash of a side flank took their fancy, they wouldn’t stop to determine the species before engulfing it.

I could see a clear green area just through the trees further on so I pushed through and come out onto what could only be the very edge of the garden of whatever household owned it. Feeling a little apprehensive and naughty I thought “just a few chucks then ill scarper”, after all, it did look very chubby.

Well after a dozen or so casts fanning the area from my knees, not just keeping a low profile for the chub this time, I plopped the lure right on the edge of a snag on the far bank. I’d tried all of my lures at this point and was happy with the action from them, but now Gary glitter was back on, which was becoming my banker!

I noticed a dark shape follow it but turn away making me think it’d spooked, only for it to smash the lure from underneath and go berserk on the surface!

“Shhhhhh,dont you know I’m not meant to be here!”

Anyway, after a brief but chaotic fight she was in the net and I got a proper look at her. I knew it was a decent chub but this was big, and I know coming from me after my previous disappointments from fish guesstimations my word can possibly not be entirely trusted but this was definitely bigger than any chub I’d had yet, it had thick back more liking to a carp a really big head. I would say confidently this was my 5lb plus fish.

But as karma has a way of kicking you in the assets you’d successfully protected from the barbed wire, especially when you’re being a bit naughty, I got to my bag to get my scales for the all important weighing, and realised, I’d left them on the worktop in the garage where I'd used them to weigh a parcel I was sending through the post, which serves me right for being a downright dirty trespasser.

                                        

A few snaps and with the fish returned I made my escape with mixed emotions. Happy with the capture of such a great fish but annoyed at myself for such a stupid mistake in preparation.

I will finish off with admitting that I got brave again a week or so later. Another early alarm had me heading back to try and catch the same fish again in the hopes of confirming my presumptions with the scales, which were most definitely in my bag this time. The fish was easily identifiable as I’d noticed its left eye was bulging out like you see on saltwater fish after they’d been dragged up to a boat from a deep wreck or reef. No idea what could have caused it?

I made my way back to the scene of the crime but was met with a bit of perimeter modernization. The barbed wire fence had been extended by some way into the water.

Had I been spotted ? did they have cameras ? had I left some footprints?

God knows ? but I took it as a sign to close this chapter and push my luck elsewhere, and as little bonus, after trying a few “legal” spots on the way back to the car, I had my first fish on one of my homemade lures. Only a jack of around 3lb but it still felt good.

So in a nutshell, that’s the start to my 2020 chub season.

The hunt for an officially recorded 5lb+ chub continues and if it comes to one of the lures of my own creation, it will be all the more special.

Stay safe all and tight lines, over and out!

Joe Birch

Friday, 7 August 2020

Newport Taffia





On a recent fishing trip to the Cotswolds I met a few pike anglers from just outside of London and had a very interesting day sharing funny stories from previous pike days when I realised that a lot of the people I mentioned were not recognised by any of them. This left me to ponder on how a group of pike anglers generally known as the Newport Taffia could be unknown to a wised-up group of anglers as these.

Bearing this in mind I decided to write a brief article on these individuals who remarkably all came from an area less than a few miles square. This is made particularly significant due to the fact that there were no pike fishing venues of any worth within an hours drive in any direction.
It is important to note that the anglers in question, when at their peak, had very few books of any significance available to them, no internet or informative magazines. No fancy clothing or thermal boots at a time when we had real Winters, they just had instincts and a great love of this past time so misunderstood by the general public. 

Now the reader may not be aware of the name of these anglers so I will name them now in no particular order of achievement.
Bob Jones, Pete Climo, Phil Pearson, Paul Sullivan, and John Matthews. I don`t include myself in this group as I am a Cardiff boy who although born outside of the magic triangle, from the age of fourteen was brought up (angling wise) within it. The one thing that may explain this enigma is the fact that we were all members of Newport Anglers Association which was the catalyst that brought us all together. Inter school angling competitions also played a part which unfortunately no longer take place. So here goes.  

Bob Jones.

A teacher by profession who in the early seventies was one of the only anglers to have caught a thirty pound pike and carp. No mean feat considering the scarcity of carp in those days. The aristocrat of the group (I use the word group under advisement as these are not group people), he was the lucky one and nicknamed Golden Balls for some reason which escaped me as I write. A few occurrences come to mind when thinking of Bob from those days and one was the day when he had two twenties (using two live baits given by me) on a day out with me and Pete. 
On the way home we were sworn to secrecy and not to tell Phil or Paul when we had our weekly get together in a local pub. Pete and myself were in first and both stated that we all blanked, then Bob came in and said,  
Did “you hear I had two twenties on Saturday”. Unbelievable.   
His first 30 pound pike is a story in itself. John Matthews had arrived at dawn at the venue and was set up when Bob appeared an hour later and asked John (who hadn`t caught anything up until then) if he could fish next to him. John agreed and Bob cast his first rod out and within minutes his dead bait was taken and Bob had his first of his 5 thirties. From that day to this I haven`t witnessed John bank fishing with anyone else and may explain his hermit like behaviour in later life.                                                                                                           
I can also remember one Winter day when we were fishing a local water where I always brought a  small gas cooker with me to have breakfast. Positioning the cooker up wind so as the smell drifted down to where Bob was fishing I knew it wouldn`t take long for him to weaken and come to me with his begging bowl. I had the opinion that Bob was rationed meat at home.  True to form he sidled up and asked if he could have a sausage. I said yes and as quick as a flash and like Billy the Kid in a gun fight he drew a hot dog bap out of his pocket.     `Stick in there` he said. I wouldn`t have minded but it was already buttered.
Another memory from the past was when Bob and myself attended a meeting concerning the proposed closure of Llangorse Lake to all boats including anglers. This was an attempt to turn Llangorse into a nature reserve by local bird watchers stating that some rare threatened species over wintered the Lake, and it was a vital location for their survival. I represented the PAC and Bob represented himself which is not an uncommon occurrence.
The local bird watching `expert` enthralled the Lake owner and local councillor with his knowledge of these birds until Bob stopped him noting that the species in question were wading birds and the area he had designated for their survival was 14 feet deep and totally  unsuitable for these precious birds. Admitting that he hadn`t carried out any sort of depth survey we quickly agreed to a restriction around the Lakes perimeter approximately 50 yards from the bank leaving the rest of the Lake for the rest of us. It was the only feasible resolution considering the circumstances.
Without doubt if Bob hadn`t have been there with his wider range of knowledge I am sure fishing and all boating activities would have been banned to this day. It is his legacy, a legacy not many people are aware of and they should be eternally grateful. 

Pete Climo.

Pete worked at the British Steel Whitehead site in Newport and is the only one of the gang to catch a forty pound pike. This Llandegfedd pike was caught in a most unusual way succumbing to a small  spinner maybe intended for another species but none the less a fantastic fish form a man who first got me interested in piking and was a great help for a long time. For the life of me I can`t remember when or why we stopped fishing together. I think my emigrating had some thing to do with it and we lost touch for over six years. Peter is a direct individual not afraid to set you straight (in a nice way) but also has a sense of humour. He told me one day of a trip away when the local bailiff noticed that he had a small stone resting on his silver paper attached to the line for bite detection saying it was noddyish. The following day he saw the bailiff coming and from a bush behind where he was fishing produces a half house brick which replaced the stone. I think he used that method for many years after. Peter was also responsible for the statement that fishing with mackerel was like fishing with bare hooks which I think he lived to regret. He and Bob also couldn`t understand why we all went to Ireland when we could catch the same stamp of pike at home. I don`t think they really “got it” as unless you fish away from your home patch you will never realise the challenge presented by fishing these large untamed waters.It must be noted that Bob and Pete smashed the British eel record the story of which has been detailed in a previous issue of Catch Cult. Pete and Bob mainly fished together and this partnership has only been curtailed for non- fishing reasons.

Paul Sullivan.

A steel erector/draughtsman by trade he was for a long period Phil Pearson boat partner until one fateful day when he had a number of twenties from his end of the boat and Phil blanked. From that day they fished together but not in the same boat.  
He was part of the trip to Lough Corrib that resulted in a week that will forever last as one of the most production weeks pike fishing in pike fishing history considering they were fishing a vast Lough of over 20 miles long.
There was one trip when I noticed Paul fishing a area of Lough Corrib which was usually fully reeded with a 6 metre gap in it which had resulted from (what I assumed to be a gravel bar). We had noted this gap during a previous trip in earlier times and it was an area which produce many big pike despite only being a few feet deep. The one positive observation of this area made me develop the Route Theory which explains how pike hold up in the same areas on a regular basis and move from one area to another using the same route most of the time. What this break in the reeds showed that pike were using the gap to access shallower water behind the reeds instead of swimming through then, hence a spawning routes was identified.
Routes exist outside of the spawning period as do holding areas but usually away from the normally accepted spawning areas.
I fished with Paul from school days and were the first to venture to Ireland tench and bream fishing in the early seventies. He is even mentioned in Rickards and Webb`s book, Fishing for Big Tench, catch a big Tench from Lanesbourgh`s hot water stretch.
Venturing to Loch Awe with John Mathews one Winter they spent most (every) evening at the local pub and the one evening the landlord took a call from Trevor Roberts who asked if there were two Welshmen in the bar. The landlord said  `There are two blokes here, one has a stretched face and the other looks ninety`That’s them` Trevor replied. Sometimes words are far more explanatory than a photograph.   
                                                
John Mathews.

I get on really well with all my fishing partners and John is no exception after all, you never argue with a man who owns a shot gun.  We have had a few Irish trips of note and catching pike has nothing to do with it. Obsessed with my snoring which he describes as `frightening` (separate beds) and his futile attempts to drink more whiskey than me we still to this day get on well and really enjoy sitting in the bailiffs cabin at the Bob Small Fishery talking over the good, and sometimes not so good old days.  He was involved with the Irish trip described by Phil Pearson in Dave Horton`s Ultimate Pike which was the only trip to Ireland I missed during that pre-netting period that resulted in a monster at 38+ pounds. On one Irish trip a really strange thing happened when staying in Cornamona with Paul, Phil, Will Travers and of course John when I went to toilet one morning after a few others and noticed that there was a long, thin brown stain on the hand towel (which wasn`t there before, the stain I mean) as though some one had used to dislodge damp debris from their nether regions using the under sling method. I have recently discovered that this action is called `Flossing`.  Returning to the breakfast table where they were all sitting and I subtly mentioned my discovery and possible causes and waited for a response. It didn`t take long for John to stand up and race to the toilet, and I quickly followed only to discover the hand towel was gone. This will be forever known (and rightly) as the night of the brown stain. What a legacy.             

Phil Pearson.                                                                                                                                                              
Phil is a close friend of mine and used to work as a Refrigeration Engineer but is now retired. We still fish together (different boats) off North Wales every Summer and I have noticed a big change in his personality over the years from his fanatical quest for his chosen species to just being almost fanatical. He still puts in more effort than most even bass/tope fishing and I have rarely caught more in a day than him. Mind you that goes for most anglers.                                                                            He (and Paul) haven’t pike fished for over ten years but when he was, his attention to detail did border to me as mystifying. One instance that comes to mind was on arrival at the digs in Ireland he was distraught that his freezer door was slightly ajar and the tail fins of his mackerel had slightly defrosted. That always seemed a bit over the top for me but he did catch a lot more than me so he may have had a point, but another example of his attention to detail came on one trip to Mask with Chris  (from Hull) when I noticed in his `swag bag` that there were seven potatoes in there with felt pen writing on each one as follows. M, TU, W THU etc. He had actually identified the day of the week he was going to eat them. Solely on a pike fishing note I can’t imagine anyone pike fishing harder than Phil in his day as he sets sail before dawn and doesn`t get back until after dark no matter what the weather and if he doesn`t catch they just aren`t there.  

Phil was the first pike angler to my knowledge to embrace a more mobile method of angling using a boat and float trolling on the huge Irish and Scottish waters. Armed with a 14 foot Bon Witco Wyth, a Bow mounted electric, and a 40 horse outboard he would speed around the chosen water only fishing specific areas for a short while and then moving onto another area where pike would often attend. It was difficult not to be impressed with his results and eventually I adopted the same methods and success followed. This method has been successful on all the large waters encountered including Loughs Corrib, Mask, Ree and Lochs Lomond, Ken and Awe. Even Windermere succumbed to this method despite its generally huge depths in comparison to the previously mentioned waters.
Pike behaviour doesn`t change from country to country and is a constant especially when fishing large expanses of water. If you had to summarise what makes Phil different from the average then it would be that some people look at a mountain, Phil wonders what on the other side.              
It must not be underestimated the influence this group of anglers made not only on me but to a rising group of pike anglers to what is actually possible.  One forty, over thirty thirties and hundreds of twenties is a testament to these anglers who fished in different (some say better) times with no access to modern days technology or access to trout stocked reservoirs. This country has produced many fine anglers but you would be hard pressed to find another group of this type from such a small graphical area of population. Some may say, “Why is this recognition so important or even relevant to todays pike anglers”  In my opinion all sporting activities have history which has influenced modern day participants and pike fishing is no exception. From an array of individuals who have inspired by their commitment in this very specialised sport, generations have progressed year by year from the experiences of others and these anglers have made a generous contribution to angling in general and not just to piking.


From the 1800`s to today a selective group of anglers have been fascinated by pike as a species and from Lord Inveuries`s list to Fred Bullers Doomsday book and even the Notable Pike Captures list compiled by Neville Fickling we have all been spoilt with access to an insight into what is possible if enough effort is put in on the right waters and one thing you couldn`t have accused my friends of is lack of effort. 

So I hope the next time I meet on the bank side other like minded anglers they will have read this article and at least had some idea of what went before them and how modern day pike angling achievements are nothing new and that they have a lot to thank these old stagers for their contribution to pike angling as we know it today.

Chris  Donovan