Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Pit by David Vassiere

The Pit

 The 2012/2013 season was tough for a lot of anglers all over the country, the seemingly never ending rain, interspersed with snow, and up and down temperatures made it a testing winter for all us pike anglers, and even though some caught consistently some really struggled, I was in the latter camp until I decided on a new direction and challenge and really tried hard to get to grips with a large pit I had previously struggled on.

The pit in question is a large pit set in the middle of the Norfolk countryside and covers some 85 acres but has limited access due to being very overgrown, it has an average depth of 14 feet with the odd deeper hole and shallower area, but due to not being able to get a boat on the water all this had to be found out with the aid of a marker float, the water is absolutely gin clear and the bottom is covered in thick weed growth.
I had fished the pit on several occasions in the past but had really struggled with only a 3lb jack from a dozen visits, and to make matters worse the few other people fishing it where not catching either and had no idea what fish stocks where present, this knocked my confidence and I eventually drifted off onto the other pits on the complex and the other anglers drifted off as well and the pit was left relatively unfished for a few years.

Anyway back to the story, up until December 2012 the fishing on the rivers and drains had been slow, not helped by the amount of flood water coming through, and the constant deluge of rain all together made the fishing near impossible, and though the odd double to 17lb had put in an appearance the fishing was slow and I was quickly losing interest in it.
It was during the Christmas holidays that myself and my mate Roger got chatting about the possibility of giving the pit a recce as we had both had enough of struggling on the drains and rivers.

 So on December 27th we headed for our first trip down there, first light found us all set up with 3 rods out each with an array of baits cast out, but there was already a problem, with all the rain we had, had the pit was 3-4 feet higher than usual rendering nearly all of it inaccessible, but we decided to persist as you just never know until you try, anyway, the surface was flat calm and there was a variety of waterfowl everywhere, it was in a word bliss.
We were unsure as what to expect for the day, but we both agreed just to catch would have been a bonus as we were very much fishing blind and it was almost a chuck it and chance sort of attitude.

Just as the sun crept over the horizon behind us one of my microns let out a single beep, I watched the drop back intently and it just slowly dropped back, not 10 minutes in and my large mackerel head cast about 40 yards out had been picked up, we were both shocked at the instant response, and though I pulled out of what felt like a good fish we were never the less in good spirits for the rest of the day. 

Soon after this the same rod was away again and a low double came to the net, the fish had some vivid markings and was in mint condition, probably down to almost zero fishing pressure and the clear water.
The morning passed by with two jacks and another low double to my rods, whereas Roger only managed 2 dropped runs, which was strange considering he was fishing the same as me and using the same baits. 
At some point around midday we noticed that a few baits we had discarded right in the edge in 2 foot of water had gone and as there had been no waterfowl near us meant it had to be a pike responsible, Roger not being slow in coming forward soon had a half mackerel in the edge and not 5 minutes later it was taken by a fish of 15lb which turned out to be the biggest of the day, I added another jack and low double in the afternoon for good measure, we left in high spirits as what to expect in future trips down there.

I was back a few days later on my own as Roger was unfortunately unable to join me, and though I only had an afternoon to fish felt confident as there was a strong southerly wind blowing into the area that I wanted to fish, the pike where on the feed as well as I ended the day with 6 fish to 17lb 4oz and at one point it was difficult to keep 3 rods in the water such was the nature of the feeding.

I returned again 2 days later on my own once again, and though I am aware of not over fishing a spot I was guilty of going over the top, as I'm sure we all have been when we have been struggling then dropped onto some good fishing, anyway I fished hard for the day and again the fish where very obliging, managing 7 fish from 10 runs including 3 different 14lbers, the fish seem to average mid doubles in the pit, but the amount of food fish present leads me to believe that in a few years’ time some of the doubles could grow into bigger fish.

A few days later I was back again, this time with Roger as I had obviously kept him updated as to what I had been catching and he was keen to get down there, the conditions were perfect again and this time we managed to get an equal share of the pike, though he again caught the biggest of the day I certainly was complaining as new fish kept showing up and the doubles seemed to outnumber the jacks which made for good fishing.

I once again returned on my own 2 days later but had decided to fish a new area, the area in question was the entrance to a large bay and though the bay was strictly no fishing you could fish the entrance, though due to the high water levels it meant spending a cold day in waders,, the bay was very weedy and shallow and one rod was cast into it, one rod was cast into the slightly deeper channel in the middle and one rod was cast to the drop off, it was the rod in the deeper channel that produced the three runs which resulted in a dropped run and a brace of 13lbers which was a decent return for my efforts.

I gave the pit a rest for a few weeks after that trip as the rivers and drains had started to fine down and I was determined to take advantage of that, as it happened we only had a brief window of opportunity as soon the snow came down and slowed the fishing right down, I'm glad I did drop onto the rivers though as my only 20 of the season put in an appearance and as it came off a very hard venue I was over the moon, that was my only fish from that window of opportunity as soon the snow came and the fishing died right off and I didn’t even bother with the pit.

Two weeks later the snow had melted though the temperatures hadn’t improved and the rivers and drains where once again coloured, high and running hard which rendered them unfishable, so despite the biting easterly I headed for the pit with very little confidence, once again Roger and myself made the long walk round and were soon fishing in the reliable area and the fish were on the feed, which surprised us both as the water was bloody freezing, I managed to recapture Rogers 15lber from our first trip from exactly the same spot in the edge on the same old half mackerel, though this time she had put on some weight and went 16lb 4oz and was the biggest of the day, I added 3 other doubles that day and Roger had 3 as well, all in all it was good fishing considering the unfavourable conditions.

A week or so later we decided to fish a night on the pit to see if the bigger fish fed at night due to the clear water, we arrived just before dark on the Saturday and got the rods cast out, there was a nice breeze blowing and there was decent cloud cover to keep the temperatures up, an hour or so in though and the breeze died and clouds dispersed and the temperatures plummeted, this was not good as the weather had predicted a mildish night of 6 degrees so we hadn’t bothered with bivvies or sleeping bags, we forced ourselves to continue despite the cold but come first light there was a problem, the whole pit had frozen solid, anything we tried to break the ice failed so we went for a wander to try and warm up, soon though the sun got on the water and a south easterly wind picked up and the ice started to melt quickly. 

In the afternoon a few pike turned up, Roger taking the best fish of a little over 15lb, we felt this just rewards for our determination and left a pair of happy pikers, later that evening on the news we had discovered the temperatures had dropped to minus 9 that night, I vowed there and then to never fish another night in the winter.

We returned again a few days later still hoping for a big fish, but by now the constant cold weather had started to affect the fish and the sport had slowed right up, the usual dozen runs in a day had gone and I only managed a solitary run for a low double on a long range half mackerel, Roger faired a little better with a jack and 2 low doubles, one of them being a fish with have called the mug as she just wouldn’t leave us alone.
I then once again gave the pit a rest and ended the season on my favourite river, its somewhere I always end the season and a nice fish of 16lb brought the curtain down on a very challenging river season.

Soon the pit was calling me again as it closed at the end of March for fishing and we were both hoping to get a big fish just before they spawned, the conditions were perfect with a strong south westerly putting a nice chop on the surface, we have found these to be the best conditions on there, and though fishing into such a wind is not nice we are more than prepared to do it for the fishing is always good when we get these conditions.

The day was a success with a lot of fish turning up, I managed 4 fish to 15lb, while Roger had several to 15lb as well, but the day was most memorable for Rogers other half Kayla, who joined us for the day and was duly rewarded with a new pb of 16lb 4oz.

We planned to have one last trip the following weekend, and had arranged to meet up and with a friend of ours there who had struggled to catch much the previous winter, we had promised him a good days fishing as the weather was forecast to be perfect again, we awoke early in the morning to get there for first light, but all was not well, and that was me, I knew as soon as I woke I was ill but tried to ignore it as I was desperate to fish, we arrived and early and walked round to the swims, but by this stage I was feeling really rough and had no desire for the fishing.
I tried to soldier on but in the end I had to throw the towel in and leave, I was disappointed as I was confident of catching, and was even more disappointed when I received a phone call from Roger later in the day, and he recounted the day’s action to me, they both finished up with several fish to 17lb, the fish were really on it that day, possibly feeding up prior to spawning, to say I was gutted would be an understatement and I had already hatched a plan to fish it the first weekend in April, despite the fact the lake was by then closed to fishing.

We turned up early that morning for what would definitely be our last session on there until the following winter, it certainly didn’t feel like April though when we turned up as the thermometer in the car read minus 6 and we were not sure what to expect action wise, confidence was further knocked when we turned up to find the water level had been dropped by 2 feet to try and get the sunken islands uncovered for the birds to nest on, anyway we soldiered on and struggled, we had the odd finicky run we  put down to the fish either spawning or being right on the verge of spawning and therefore not really interested in food.

The day wore on the sun came out and it developed into a nice day and eventually Roger managed a proper take on a long range half mackerel, which we have found to be the most reliable bait on there, the fish weighed 12lb or so but was the length of a fish double that weight, whether she had just spawned or was an old fish we don’t know, but there was obvious signs of her being recently grabbed by a much larger fish judging by the size of the jaw marks, this has given us confidence for next season that there is a real lump in those 85 acres of water somewhere, just after that capture, to our despair a couple of jet ski’s turned up and we knew that was that for this season on there.

The jet ski’s showed a total lack of care to our presence and despite us occupying a very small area of the pit then persisted in running over the area we were fishing, this was clearly done on purpose and despite venting our feeling they continued and needless to say it ruined the fishing and we moved onto one of the other pits on the complex.

So there we go, the season up until December looked bleak for me, but by always having a backup plan you can catch fish even where conditions seems terrible, if it hadn’t been for the pit I probably would have given up by the new year, and though nothing really big showed up it was a new challenge and has fired me up for next winter on there.

David Vassiere

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