Monday, 9 July 2012

Love Affair

Jason Skilton

Nearly that magical 20lber (19lb 12oz)
There are lots of special times in my life for various reasons, whether it be the births of my nephew and niece, the death of my father and of course my wedding day. These are the dates which for special reasons are remembered, treasured and in some cases mourned.

In 1979, the vale in my village was flooded to make way for a 400 acre reservoir, and this was a day that was to start my long lasting love affair with fishing.

The first time I remember being interesting fishing was when a boy in the village hauled a 20lb+ pike in a wheel barrow, into the local school. This large pike, "he claimed" he had caught from the reservoir the day before, but the smell suggested otherwise.
This fish was in the eyes of a seven year old a colossal fish. With its mouth full of teeth and its sheer size, a sense of terror filled the shoes of the other kids in the school (wimps), but not me, it just filled me with awe and excitement.
Upon returning home, I searched in vain for the fishing rod and tackle my late father had kept in the loft. After some searching, I managed to find the gear and attempted to rig the rod up with the thick string like line from the spool and tie on one of the fluffy hooks to the end of the line.
With this in hand, off I trotted to the reservoir to hook me a monster.

After a couple hours of fishing, I returned home empty handed, dejected and demoralised.
Mum saw my sad face and offered some consoling words to me “never mind J, I not sure they even have trout in this reservoir”, trout, I was after pike! The rod, reel and tackle I had hunted out from the loft was in fact fly gear, my father was a fluff chucker after all.
After that experience it wasn’t until I was 11 years old and at high school before the fishing bug came around again. For years I had used the banks of this vast expanse of water as my play ground and on one particular summer’s day when I was biking around  I came across about 50 anglers gathering on the banks of the water, they all had lots of gear, rod bags, net bags, seat boxes and flashy clothing. Who where these men and what where they up to?. Of course i now know they were drawing their pegs for a club match.
After a while of watching from afar, they all trudged off with there gear to their pegs and started to set up. Some had very long rods with out reels, some had rods with white tips and some wandered about with shorter rods. Each one had they own set up up with different logos and brands on their gear. Shakespeare, Diawa, D.A.M to name a few.
A whistle was blow and then the anglers started chucking balls into the water at various distances and they started to cast their various types of rods into the water.
The angler closest to me, was fishing a very long rod and was starting to catch small silver fish and put them into a large long net. Fish after fish came to him and each one was expertly unhooked and placed into this net. The angler next to him was into the action too, but he was catching larger fish, less often, but small plate sizes brown fish with lots of slime on them. I soon became transfixed with these anglers i could see that they were trying to catch more than the other anglers on the bank.
Upon returning home all I could talk about to mum were these fishermen and their impressive catch rate.
The Christmas of 1986 was a special one. That morning I raced out of my bedroom and into the lounge, there was a long thin present under the tree. Upon opening it i discovered it was a D.A.M rod, a pirate reel and an assortment of line, weights, floats etc. I also had been bought a beginners book of fishing to go with it.

The three piece rod was soon assembled, reel attached and after consulting with the fishing book, line thread under the bale arm and through the many eyes on the rod.
I wanted to go down to the reservoir that morning, but mum suggested that it was too cold for the fish and I had better wait until the summer.
The months slowly passed but soon enough the magical 16 June 1987 was here. I ventured down the road to the reservoir with tackle bag, rod and the bait (mixed colour maggots bought by my mum from the local tackle shop). There were lots of other anglers down that morning and i soon nestled in between some of the other pleasure fisherman. I had rigged up the rod with a float and hook and after "cough cough" a couple of attempts the float was cast a few feet into the water. After a few minutes the float twitched and soon went under, I struck as hard as I could and a small roach came hurtling out of the water, over my head and landed on the bank. I rescued the fish and pinned it to the ground and saw the hook in its mouth. What now?, consult the book, but before I had chance to find the relevant section on “unhooking”, one of the other fisherman was upon me and soon had the small roach unhooked and back in the water.
 I re baited my hook and cast it back into the water and again the performance was repeated, but this time the fisherman showed me the correct way to strike, unhook and return each fish. I think I must have taken up a lot of his time, but he did not seem to mind. That first day inspired me and most weekends over the summer of 1987 were spent down on the reservoir catching small roach, perch and the occasional skimmer.
Match fishing didn't suit me

Over the next few years, my fishing evolved and it didn’t take me long to start upgrading things. First was the reel, this got changed for a Diawa DS1650 reel which had rear drag as opposed to the front drag pirate reel. Then, a new quiver tip rod was bought a Shakespeare combi wand (it could be made into three different rod lengths, by mixing up the sections).

Come the end of the summer term of 1988 I started to find friends at school that were also into fishing. Darren was a sea angler, but dabbled in pike fishing, so with his knowledge we ventured to his lake to catch pike just before the start of term.
Bait was sprat mounted on a shop bought traces and the trusty D.A.M rod was put into action as the pike rod. We fished for most of the day and caught a number of pike ranging from 4lb to 13lb and completely enjoyed ourselves. Darren was a good angler and he had read several books on pike and his dad had expertly shown him how to unhook pike and return them safely (it’s easy when you are shown correctly from the start).

First pike, guess the weight!
That autumn after catching numerous amounts of fish from both the reservoir and Darren’s lake, I decided that I wanted to catch pike from my home water. So one autumn morning after devouring the fishing bible and ensuring mum had bought be a mixture of sprats and Mackerel, i ventured out in search of pike. I headed to one of my favoured spots, tackled up and soon had a sprat out under a float. For what seemed like ages I watched that float and just as I was giving up all hope of a capture the float bobbed and the reel began to spin out of control.
After what seemed like a battle to the death the pike was landed and expertly unhooked, picture taken on the 35mm camera and returned. I was so excited by the capture of this pike that i found my self remembering the dead one the boy had brought to school two years previous and it was some time before i realised that I had forgotten to weight it.

Soon I was  fishing regularly over the winters for pike and  i was becoming accustomed to capturing pike from the reservoir. Rods were upgraded to Diawa 2.75tc carp rods and this is where I started to read a lot more pike books and the weekly paper Angling Times. Titles loaned out from the libaray and ones received as Christmas or Birthday presents were Big Pike – Barrie Rickards, Predator Becomes the Prey – John Bailey and of course Mega Pike – Eddie Turner. These books I still have today and still in most cases make perfect sense.
My first twenty from this water came in 1992. It was a cold December day and I was fishing one of the car park swims with my new season piking partner Simon.
A nice early season mid double

Now Simon was a couple of years older, and compared to my captures to date was inexperienced in catching pike as he was more into mudpigs in Essex. But he had a car, with his car and my local knowledge we travelled around my reservoir and others including Abberton for the next two season fishing for and catching pike.
Simon had only been fish with me for a couple of weeks and we had been sharing our successes on the reservoir, our season was going well with a number of pike going up to 19lb. But that was all about to change.

We arrived at the chosen swim and proceeded to set up up our gear at the waters edge. We soon had a couple of baits in the water and we started to catch some of the smaller pike. At around 9:30am, the optonic started to bleep, and looking up the float was gone from sight. We both raced to the rod and saw the line peeling from the reel. I closed the bale arm and struck only be to be met with a solid resistance. The drag started to click and was soon spinning, I dare not increase the tension as the line at the time was Maxima 12lb breaking strain(as recommended by the expert anglers) was singing in the cold air.
After an age, she surfaced and Simon almost wet himself, “What the hell is that” he yelled. “It’s a monster”, a monster maybe, but it was tiring I thought. Simon went to slip the net underneath her and she motored off, this happened on a couple of occasions before he finally slipped the frame of the net under her. She was ours!!!!!

Returning a beauty late in the day
My first 20lb plus pike
Soon she was unhooked, weighed and sacked whilst we got the camera gear ready. She weighed 22lb 8oz and was in mint condition.
After that capture we carried on fishing the water for the rest of the season and the next.

As both of us grew older Simon got into carping a lot more and spent the majority of his free time on pits in Essex.
I think from memory, it was because bigger carp were easier to find and soon he stopped coming out pike fishing altogether.

I continued to fish for pike and managed to fish other waters now that I could drive and had my own wagon, but the lure of my home water was always there.
After a few years break from fishing, due to beer, women and work. I came back into fishing and continued to fish for a variety of species.

I still fish this reservoir today, not because it will give me lots of 20lb or even a 30lb pike but because I enjoy just being there. It’s in my blood, and the place fills a huge proportion of my mind with many happy memories and thoughts.

From time to time it does throw up a few 20lb’s like the 21lb 10oz caught in January. So it still has some surprises left.

Jason Skilton

No comments:

Post a Comment