Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Battleship - Nathan Edgell

 Picture this scene, 6am in early January, there is a light frost which crunches underfoot. It’s cold but bearable, the chilly air however still bites at any exposed part that you’re brave enough to let show.  

By the light of the moon that gazes down you can just make out the dark silhouettes of some distant farm buildings. Most of this part of the world is still asleep; it is (in my opinion) the best part of the day.

Then you see her, wild, powerful and yet strangely alluring, in contrast almost gentle and inviting as she passes under the bridge. The river, a strange and veiled world that is constantly changing and moving that only a few special and very privileged people ever get to really know.

Today she is a little higher than usual due to recent rain, but the water is running reasonably clear now with just a slight tinge of colour, conditions then are almost perfect.
As you climb the rusty old five bar gate the sense of anticipation grows, the excitement builds and the adrenaline levels begin to rise, because down there where the river cuts through the disused and forgotten water meadows, just three fields away lives the “battleship”.

For those of you who don’t know I’ll share this secret with you.

The “battleship” is an old, wily mid – upper twenty pound wild river pike, which owns approximately a 100m stretch of this Southern UK River.  All the creatures that inhabit this part of the world know of her existence. Otters know better than to try their luck here, herons avoid this stretch like the plague and the cormorants don’t dare to come within half a mile.

The “battleship” as I affectionately named her has earned her fearsome reputation and twice has eluded capture by yours truly, both times have left me shattered, almost suicidal and close to tears.

Now although my pride hates to admit it, it’s true twice she has bested me, but it’s not just pride that insists she gets her comeuppance. The fighting qualities of this river pike are second to none, I’ve had thirty pound pike roll over when caught and have reeled them in practically deadweight.  This awesome “battleship” is a warrior of the highest order, clever, calculating and a fish that is in a league of her own. A question I ask myself often is would I swap this wild fantastic river fish for a trout fed 35lb reservoir fish and hand on heart I can honestly answer no. To a find a fish like this in a neglected and over looked spot is part of the whole adventure and experience. Pride yes, but I consider it more of my duty to bring such a worthy adversary to submission.
What follows is a detailed and accurate account of my third encounter with “battleship” for such a battle is worthy of a tale recorded in its own right and one that will stay in my mind for the rest of my days….

Leaving home a few hours before dawn I headed up river about a mile to a Pool that I knew contained Dace and Roach in the winter. After an hour of trotting maggots down into the Pool I had managed to obtain 3 large Dace and 2 Roach of a decent bait size. By this time I was already frozen and the steady drip that appears every winter at the end of your nose had once again begun to drip. It was however a beautiful starlit night with a dark blue velvet sky and far off in the East I could see the first stirrings of dawn. The mile walk with the bucket got my blood pumping again and I was warm as I arrived back at the car, I put my livey rod in and withdrew my weapon of choice my trusty old favourite pike rod.
Only the day before I had spent an hour in preparation cleaning and greasing the reel, meticulously checking the braid and I’d attached a new trace and razor sharp size 4 treble, all for this very morning.

So I was now armed, prepared and as I arrived at the aforementioned rusty five bar gate I gazed down river & had a good feeling about the chances of finally taming the “Battleship”.
I headed down through the disused water meadows, all the time the sense of anticipation was growing and by the time I reached the boundary of “Battleships” territory I was intent, focused, confidant and had completely forgotten about the cold.

The area of river I was about to fish was a shallow stretch of a Southern Chalk river that was probably no deeper than 4ft-5ft in any area, the area that I knew this fish favoured was the margins. There was a tree with its lower branches extended into the river causing a natural obstruction and for about 20m from the tree down there was calm slack water and a good straight margin that appeared to be hollowed out underneath the bankside vegetation for about half a metre. It was here that I had hooked this fish twice before and both times she had evaded capture and had left me feeling frustrated and demoralised.

With extreme caution I softly crept towards the tree and crouched down in the grass, the sun was just appearing on the horizon and it was now first light. I removed my bag checked the drag on my reel and selected a large Dace live bait. This i attached to the hook through the mouth and I then slowly and with as much stealth as I could manage crept towards the bank trying not to make any noise or cause any vibrations.
I dropped the bait in with a resounding clunk & I didn’t have to wait long, in fact in what must have only been a few seconds and by the time the Dace had righted itself a bow wave had emerged from the margin about 10m down river. Something was coming, something very big, as I watched mesmerised a huge head appeared, the mouth flared open and engulfed the Dace in one. For a split second I was in shock and awe, I hesitated as reality slowly hit me, then I came to my senses wound down the little slack there was and I struck hard. For an instant time stood still, then all bloody hell broke loose. The “battleship” on feeling the hook and strike instantly broke the surface with a somersault twist-head shaking manoeuvre that nearly won her freedom again. This time though I was ready I instantly pointed the rod tip towards the river and braced myself. The huge river pike hit the water with a large splash that soaked me and instantly she switched tactics. Getting her head down and she set off on a surging powerful run towards the tree and Oh my God what a fish it was a clever move I hadn’t expected. 

Within a blink of an eye she reached it and I had to stop her from going in deeper to what was literally snag city. Placing my hand on the reel to counter the drag I locked it up, it was make or break time. As any Pike Angler who reads this will understand there’s an awful sinking feeling you get when you feel the braid being rubbed against underwater snags, it’s like a jarring, vibrating sensation and I was positive that this wily clever “battleship” was doing it on purpose. Applying side strain I felt a few more knocks then everything went solid. Anglers know what that means and my heart began to sink whilst my mind was berating me for allowing her to reach the tree.
As I applied more pressure my heart fell further as nothing was giving, I could still feel her shaking and I had a vision in my mind of her rubbing that braid furiously on the sharpest root or branch down there. Then suddenly there was a strong “twang” that vibrated up the braid and I feared the worst as the line went slack. However miraculously she was out and still on and I noticed part of a broken branch surface under the tree and silently thanked the Fish Gods that I hadn’t lost her. As she moved out from the tree she bolted for the middle of the river,  the power of this angry wild Pike was phenomenal, she paused in the middle of the river and I could just see and feel her head shaking as she fought to shake the hook. I started to bring her in towards the bank twice she resisted and took back every inch of line I gained. At times my reel screeched but eventually she began to tire and slowly I gained line and finally managed to get her head up to the surface before getting her over the net. Yes; at last I had her defeated, I lack the vocabulary to describe that feeling of elation that you get after such a battle, my adrenaline was pumping as I gazed down at my prize.

The “battleship” weighed in at 26lb 9oz which I was surprised at as I thought she was more near a thirty. However disappointed I was not and then I spent a good 5 minutes with her in the net allowing her to recover whilst I marvelled in the beauty of this magnificent wild creature that had really earnt my respect.

At last I released her back from whence she came and with a flick of her huge tail she swam off towards the tree and disappeared from my sight, to sulk and fight another day.

The joy of fishing for pike for me is an amazing experience and I’ve been truly blessed to have many experiences like this one. Catching Pike like this is special and I feel truly honoured to have many memories of adventures just like this one. “Pike thrive on neglect” so go where is neglected and find your own “battleships” and I hope you have as much fun in doing so as I have and continue to do.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Interview with Rob Shallcroft

Pike Pool - Hi Rob, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for the pool, I'm sure many of the pool siders will enjoy this. Ok, your known for many things on the Pool, ex editor, zander and pike catching machine and a music lover. But why is your forum name Emma Hamilton?

RS - No worries, I've always skipped on reading interviews in magazines as i find them boring, just don't ask me what my favorite color float or bait is !. Besides all my waters are flooded out and i'm bored! I've been using the forum in it's two or three incarnations for yonks. I was Horatio Nelson for years, then when the forum last changed and i had to sign up again, I went for Emma Hamilton, Nelsons wife. I like reading about Nelson as i can remember on a school trip staring up at Nelson column and being a Pompey lad, there's that connection with the great man.I like the forum and have stuck with it, i don't "do" other forums just the pit.  

Pike Pool - You've have had some amazing predator captures including some stunning pike from your local rivers, but which one had the biggest impact on you?

RS - Probably a fish that I saw when i was working in a fishing shop in Portsmouth when i was a teenager. A bloke brought in a 29lb fish he had caught from one of the Chichester pits. Folk were always bringing in sea fish to be weighed on the shops scales as the shop in those days had a competition and prizes for the biggest fish of several species. This pike looked huge, well it was bloody huge ! Shame he'd killed it. I'd never caught one, as i was full on into carp fishing at the time on the Chichester pits , so i started chucking the odd herring and spoon about on one of the carp rods in the winter and started to catch the occasional pike myself. Carp and tench had the biggest impact on me , i fished for them for nearly 20 years and apart from chucking out the occasional herring on a fourth rod i didn't fish for much else.

Pike Pool - Zander have featured in your angling for the last few seasons and you have amazed a good number of double figure zeds, what would you put your success down too?

RS - I live close to two rivers and a canal that "do" the odd double figure zander, it's a simple as that really. We all know we can not catch big pike or zander if they are not in the waters we target. I've traveled much further for my river pike fishing in the past so its been nice in recent seasons to be closer to home. I've fully focused on zander and have hardly fished for pike for three or four years. Ive done the occasional day on Chew (that has to be done!) when they've come up and the odd social pike trip here and there but not much. All my eggs have all been in the zander basket recently.

Pike Pool - You have a number of mates in angling and always seem to have time for angling, music and family, but if you had to give one up, what would it be and why?

RS - What a weird question Jason ! It took me 30 years of trying, to give up the fags. I did that in Nov 2012 and still miss lighting them up when fishing so i wouldn't want to be giving anything else up if i can help it. My girls at home are the most important thing in life, fishing comes second, they wouldn't agree with that at past times in my life though, to be fair. Ive pushed it a bit at times, specifically the river pike fishing and it has got me into trouble on a couple of occasions and I brought that trouble home, that's a big regret but i'm older and wiser for it and wont make those silly mistakes that i once did just for the sake of catching a silly wet fish.  

Pike Pool -  One of your other passions is Pompey, if you were a professional footballer, what position would you play?

RS - I'd be a goal keeper. Hopefully not too much to do and i'm good at observing stuff from a distance. I'd be happy doing that. Plus in one half i'd be able to chat to a few mates in the Fratton End and piss the away fans off in the Milton End with a few great saves or giving them the moon and the finger. I've seen my club win the FA cup, play AC Milan in Europe and I've watched them in all four divisions, if we carry on current form i'll be watching them in the Conference next year. I can handle the ups and downs of supporting my club, it is a bit like my fishing, tough times don't bother me too much, if you keep at it, likely it'll come good in the end because it's not a race, eh ?

Pike Pool - Music plays a big part of your life, what tunes are currently on you play list for trips to the bank?

RS - Angling and music have been the two consistent escape things in my life. The music and traveling to see bands has been the thing my wife of 20+ years, Una and I have done together. Rather like I look forward to the next fishing trip, she looks forward to the next gig and that's something we can both share together. We have tickets stuck on the fridge for Modern English playing in London in June and the Stranglers in March playing in Oxford and New Model Army in Bristol in April. It's the Stranglers 40th anniversary year and we must have seen them over 20 times over the years. We book a hotel and make a night away off it, I do like to spoil my dream girl ! 

Current tunes in the fishing wagon are last years Public Image album their first for a decade and it's simply brill. Last years Nick Cave album Push The Sky Away is a great piece of work too, as is Public Broadcasting and their album, Inform/Educate/Entertain.   

Pike Pool - You've gone fishing with Steve Bown (aka Billy Two Fish) and the boat is sinking, the only way to save you and the boat is to throw something over board, is it to be you record collection or Steve?

RS - The record collection. I'd be able to replace that. If we were sinking in a boat together i am sure we would phone John Cahill and Mick Hastings for advice, as they have got valuable experience in that very situation , lol !

Pike Pool - You have caught some amazing predators, but what drives you to keep getting out there?

RS - That's easy .Fishing is my escape from a busy 40-50 hour a week job stuck in a factory where i can't see the light of day .I like the bloody mindedness and physicality off it all, especially the river stuff. If I had my time around again I would not fish and i'd have done something like rock climbing or mountaineering as I've read a lot about that stuff and have big respect for those boys and girls, but we didn't have any rock faces living in Portsmouth City as kids ! We did have moats built in the City by Palmerstone in the 1800's and we could catch fish from them, that is where it all started for me. Anyone who knows me and has fished with me would tell you I'm one of the most bloody minded anglers they know. I'll share a beer afters and a few social trips during the season, but 90% of my fishing is solo, so I am very set in my ways and inflexible. I don't like fishing with anyone else too often, because if i'm honest I don't particularly like sharing the fish! That's sounds pretty selfish, but it's me being honest and I don't hide the fact. If there's a good'un to be caught I want to catch it ! Fishing off the bank and being mobile, if you fish with someone else who knows what they are doing, your'll walk twice as far for half the fish and I just don't want to do that! So, I go fishing most weeks, always have done for 30 odd years, and I bore them out ! I do like to set plans with mates, share stuff and set targets on the rivers I fish and unless the rivers are flooded and proper messy, I'll get out there and go. I am pretty consistent in my approach and catch my share, so i'm happy enough in my fishing soul.    

Pike Pool - Every angler has developed something to make life easier on the bank or boat, what has been you favorite innovation?

RS - Crikey I dunno. I fish pretty simply to be honest. Predators can be caught on simple rigs and methods, especially if they are not hammered by other anglers.Simple equals efficient in my fishing. I catch my own baits and chuck them out on hooks where i think a good'un might grab one. I suppose the only thing i do different to most is that in the last 15 years of predator fishing, i have never gone fishing and sat in a chair. I just never take one, I don't have a chair on my boat either, i ripped them out as they get in the way ! Probably the best big innovation I've seen in my time as a help in my fishing has been the mobile phone tbh. 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Interview Dave "Lumby" Lumb

The Pike Pool – Hi Dave. Many thanks for taking the time for an interview, it’s very much appreciated. 

So Dave Lumb or Lumby, you are known to most specimen anglers as a master rod builder, specimen hunter and photographer.

But what we want to know is, who is the really "Lumby"?

The Pike Pool - 
What is your earlier memory of angling?

Early years

DL - I'm not sure it counts as angling, but when I was four or five, I guess, on a holiday with my parents In Ross-on-Wye we unexpectedly bumped into my Dad's sister and her husband who, for some unaccountable reason, bought me a toy fishing rod. It was just a metal rod with a black plastic handle, built in plastic reel and two or three plastic rod rings. The reel was loaded with wiry mono and there was a red and white plastic float and a shiny hook.

As with all small children (and grown men!) I wanted to play with my new toy straight away. I'm sure my parents thought it wouldn't keep me amused for long and a bit of silver paper from my Mum's cigarette packet was put on the hook as bait for me to 'fish' with in a stream, no more than a couple of inches deep with the bottom clearly visible and not a fish anywhere in the vicinity. But I sat there, cross-legged on a concrete paving slab - the stream ran by the side of a footpath. That was the first time I uttered the words know to all anglers, "Just five minutes more."

Back home after the holiday that rod and reel became a favourite toy and I would play with them for hours. Even though I didn't go fishing again until I was about eleven. 

The Pike Pool - Who introduced you to angling and why?

DL - My first 'proper' fishing was done on another family holiday, this time with my Mum's cousin and family. The two sons were older than me and both into fishing. So that I could join in on the holiday, my parents bought me a rod and reel. 
To them, who never had any interest in angling (my Dad was a horse racing fanatic and golfer) a fishing rod was afishin grod. Again they didn't expect me to take to the sport and a white, six foot, solid glass spinning rod and bottom of the range reel were bought from Woolworths. The problem was we were going to stay outside Girvan in Scotland and the fishing would be sea fishing!

My two abiding memories of the holiday, from a fishing perspective, were watching my regurgitated salmon paste butties floating down tide of the charter boat we'd gone out on as the land disappeared from view when the boat was in a trough of the mountainous waves, and my soaking jeans sticking to my legs when we were left to fish off Ayr pier and the heavens opened!

None of this put me off fishing though. It wasn't long after that I started coarse fishing close to home, without much success, but plenty of enthusiasm!

The Pike Pool - After you caught the coarse fishing bug, you were bought your first setup 
by your parents, what was your first fish caught and can you remember what it weighted? 

DL - I had actually caught a couple of very small sea fish on that first boat trip, a tiny 
codling and a couple of mackerel on feathers as I recall. The first coarse fish came after a
couple of blank sessions fishing bread when I switched to maggots on the advice of an 
'old' angler and caught! 

My first fish wasn't the usual greedy perchlet, but a tiny bream that would have made a good live bait for perch. After that it was gudgeon from the drains and perch, roach and eels from the canal when fishing with other lads from the neighbourhood. Solid glass spinning rods and Black Prince reels. Kids today don't know how lucky they are with the gear that's available now and how cheaply!

The Pike Pool - As well as a master rod builder, your also known for you photography, but what got you hooked on the photography?

DL - I wouldn't say I'm a master rod builder. I think Jim Gibbinson said in the '80s that rod builders should really be called 'rod assemblers' these days! The photography goes back almost as far as the fishing. I was given a toy camera loaded with black and white film when I was probably six or seven, no older. I think the whole camera got sent away when the film was used up and the square prints came back bound with a plastic comb into a booklet. 

I vividly remember photographing a wild rose in a hedge near Ulverston with the camera, and my great disappointment at how tiny it turned out in the print. When I was eleven I was bought an Instamatic - which I took fishing with me as well as on holidays.

I really got the bug when I started A Level art as we had to do a project on architecture which required taking photographs of local buildings. My indulgent parents bought me a SLR. A Zenith E, which was what a lot of photographers of my age started out with if they couldn't afford a Praktica! I started to buy photography mags, do my own black and white developing and printing, and it went on from there.

Still out in all weather
The Pike Pool - You have been on many angling groups over the years and have become an honorary member of most of them, but what do you think is you biggest angling political achievement?

DL - I'm not sure I can think of one. Being involved in starting the LAS wasn't really a political achievement, the LAS is a social organisation. Perhaps getting the PAC involved with the SACG/SAA and getting them to try to do more for pike fishing was something of an achievement. At the time pikers, including myself, saw the SAA as doing nothing for piking. I went along to a meeting and spoke my mind. It became plain that they didn't do anything because pikers (PAC) never asked them to. That was when I realised  how predator anglers wants and needs differ from almost all other anglers, some of whom would quite happily support bans on our methods as an appeasement to outside bodies. This is why it's so important for predator anglers to have seats at all the relevant political tables. Our voice has to be heard in the right places. We need a bigger say within the AT.

The Pike Pool - You have a fair few angling mates who turn up from time to time on your blog, Duracell Bunny and Gord Burton are just two of them. Out of the two, who would you prefer to be stuck on a deserts island with and why?  
Fred watches over the rods
DL - Gord would be useful on a desert island because he can catch fish anywhere, so we'd never starve. However, unlike Fred the Barbel Bunny you can't put Gord in the rucksack when he won't shut up!! So I'd settle for the starvation.  

Pike Pool - On the subject of needing mates, you get on well with Neville Fickling, how did your paths’ cross?

DL - I'd been aware of Neville ever since he appeared on the back of Angling Times with a record zander (the same issue my name first appeared in small print on the Kingfisher Guild page as it happens), but we first met through PAC when I was joint conference organiser and he was on Trevor Moss's Tackle Shop stand. He was listening to The Archers on the Friday evening when the stall holders were setting up. Anyone who likes The Archers and cricket can't be all bad!

The Pike Pool - Many, many know you and your rods, but what is the quirkiest rod you have ever been asked to build and for who?

DL - I can't recall them all off the top of my head. A fourteen foot drifter rod isn't particularly quirky, nor is a set of Loch Tamers rung for distance - for carp fishing! Probably the most unusual was a 10 weight, single handed fly rod that had an extension handle enabling it to be used as a spinning and float fishing rod.

The Pike Pool - Back to the angling, you are known mostly for you pike and barbel, but you have caught loads of different species. But which one has meant the most to you and why?

DL - I've been lucky enough to fluke a few good fish here and there, and also be put on to one or two waters where fish were of big average sizes by friends. For this reason my one double figure tench means the most to me because I found the water myself, and in the first three years only saw two other anglers fishing it for tench. And one of them only the once. The downside was having to pretend to be a carp angler! A ten pound tench doesn't raise many eyebrows these days, but it was the work I put in to catch it that made it so satisfying. Like a lot of anglers I also have a soft spot for tench - they were the first species I targeted using 'specimen tactics', and the subject of the first article I got paid for. Oddly, once I'd caught that double I lost interest in the water, and tench for a while. But this spring I've a new tench goal - to catch an eight pounder close to home. I have a short list of waters drawn up. And no, Eric, yours isn't one of them!

The Pike Pool - And finally, is there one species of fish that you still want to catch to a 
specimen size or are you just happy being out there? 

I never set out wanting to catch fish of a certain size, only hoping to do so. I'd like to catch a two pound roach and beat my eel PB by design (that one took a boilie during the 'lost 
year' when I took up carp fishing...). A pound dace would be nice too. But if they don't come along, I'll not be losing any sleep over it.

My aims at the moment are to catch the biggest fish I can without travelling too far or fishing long sessions. I popped out for an afternoon this week and caught three pike in four hours, which was very enjoyable. The biggest was a few ounces under eighteen pounds. If you're catching fish, of whatever species, that are bigger than the average for any water on a regular basis that has to be fun. Some of my local waters have really improved in recent years compared to when I first fished them, and when you start to look around it's surprising what can be caught from unassuming waters. I couldn't face fishing commercials all the time but they can be worth a dabble now and again. Apart from big perch there are oddities like orfe to be had, and there's a sturgeon not far from home that I  might have a try for - just for a laugh. The biggest problem with commercials is avoiding the stupid carp which seem to eat anything you use for bait!  

The Pike Pool - Well, thank you Dave for this insight into you life and passions. I do hope 
the experience hasn't been too painful!!!

DL - I think I've survived.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Give n Take - Dave Horton

Fishing is different things to each of us and can even be different things at different times to some of us too?  I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m often driven almost entirely by a desire to catch another BIG pike but I can also see that it’s not just the fish that make the fishing!
Fishing (in this instance piking) is about so much more than catching fish but it is without doubt the fish that are the catalyst and indeed the cement that often holds together or occasionally shatters all the peripheral factors that it brings to each of us.

I am by nature quite a social animal and suspect that this fact has even had some bearing on the kind of job that I do for a living?  For without doubt the Fire Service relies heavily upon team work and camaraderie and I like to think my fishing does too.

As I sit and reflect upon approaching 30 years of piking now, I can see that the brother pikers and the mates I’ve made through piking are as important to me as the piking itself.
I’ve met Fire Fighters the length and breadth of the country and in having done so I’ve concluded that there’s a kind of “generic” Fire Fighter and the same is pretty much true of pikers.  It’s no surprise to me then that I find common ground with most of them.  I genuinely like my brother man and when it comes to pikers I generally bloody love em!   Ofcourse there’s exceptions but on the whole pikers are my cup of tea.  

My immediate group of piking mates comprises of a nucleus of old stalwarts with peripheral individuals coming and going over the years.  Some of them simply drop out of piking but still remain friends and some of them apparently never grasp the fundamentals of friendship and loyalty and once their cover is blown get dropped by the wayside (Snakes).   You see relationships, not just fishing ones, rely heavily on compromise, respect, loyalty and give and take and unless there’s fair play they are doomed to failure!  My oldest (literally lol) piking buddy is the long suffering Adrian “MR K” Kisbey.  Ade and I found each other as strangers on the banks of a local gravel pit 25 or so years ago.  Where the gift of a few excess Livebaits won me a friend for life!  In the early days Ade worked long hours and rarely fished anything other than weekends but where we could marry time up we did and he regularly financed a lot of our fishing.  Raising a young family on a Fire Fighters minimal wage saw me in a position where all I had to offer in return was my time, my seemingly boundless enthusiasm, drive and an occasional uncanny knack of locating good fishing!  It was a good combination and to this day MR K is my most frequent fishing partner.   Our personal situations have changed over the years and our relationship has had to evolve.  These days I’m in a healthier financial position and our roles have altered a little with Ade having retired and having more time on his hands.  It’s clear then that the give and take in fishing, doesn’t necessarily have to be the fishing itself.  That said the wheels do tend to come off if one of you encounters good fishing and decides for no other reason than greed to indefinitely exclude the other!  Ade and I have over the years exchanged some excellent fishing and here I’ll relate a couple of fruitful transactions that have helped keep our wheels turning.  A decade or so back Ade and I managed to find ourselves divorced from our long term wives within a year or so of each other.  At that time Ade put a roof over my head for upwards of a year whilst I found my feet and together we slowly came to terms with our new lives.  Much self-analysis, abuse, seas of tears and a few laughs here and there cemented further our friendship.  I’d become single first and as such was ahead of the game in as much as after the best part of two winters out of fishing I started to find the inclination to pick up a rod again.

You’d think that with all the extra time on your hands and with no one to answer to anymore that you’d fish more frequently but my experience is that this is simply not the case!  In truth when you’re depressed (and we both were) it seems that the things you enjoy most elude you soonest and seemingly take the longest to find again too?

Despite our varied lack of interest in anything fishing related, Ade and I couldn’t help but be intrigued with rumours in the local pub of a BIG pike having been caught from a local river.

To cut a long story short I decided I’d go check the rumours out and bugger me if I didn’t go and catch the fish at my first attempt (all 31lbs of her) on the first occasion that I’d been fishing in almost 2 years!  This fish was the catalyst that got me back into fishing after my self enforced break and was also to help Ade find his way back too!

A year later, In, identical flood conditions, I caught the self, same fish for a second time, this time weighing just 8 ounces less.

The Give!

A further year later and the piker in Ade was by now waking up and he was making infrequent yet concerted efforts to try track this same fish down but it simply wasn’t happening.  It took flood conditions to create the ideal conditions for location and capture of this fish and when 2 winters after I’d first caught her, these conditions arose again, I figured that if she was still around that she’d be ripe for capture?  There’s no merit in catching the same fish over and again (even 30’s) in my mind so I certainly wasn’t going to try to myself (My own little self imposed rule is that I’m happy to catch a BIG pike twice before I won’t target it any more) but I decided to try help Ade do so instead.   Armed with a bucket of the right stuff, Ade with a single rod and me with the net we set about tracking her down.  I honestly felt that if the fish was present that it would take the bait within minutes but when 15 of them had passed I started to conclude that she was no longer alive?  Leaving Ade in position I set off to see if there was another more likely looking spot for him to fish and I’d only been gone 30 seconds when he called out to me that he’d seen the BIG pike chase the 1lb live bait to the surface and take it!  Moments later we were photographing Ade’s first 30!

I’m not trying to kid anyone reading this into believing that I’m the most selfless or benevolent piker in the world and rest assured if I hadn’t already caught this fish twice I’d have been trying to again alongside MR K.  Further to that I don’t mind admitting that often when I’ve encountered good fishing, I’ve generally milked it a bit before I invite anyone else along but always without exception Ade finds himself included eventually and it works just fine for both us like that!

The Take.

The give and take in fishing doesn’t then necessarily pertain to fishing alone but it is ofcourse important and often does.  So when, some years later, whilst fishing a 20 acre gravel pit, Ade was fortunate enough to a 32lbs fish, he was magnanimous enough to give me the heads up too!  A fortnight later (there’s something in this time scale if you ask me) Ade and I set up together in the same swim from which he’d caught his recent 30 and fortunate as I often am I was to land a fish, Late morning, that was just a few ounces smaller than the one that Ade had caught recently.  Unsurprising, we concluded that I’d caught the self, same fish?  Elated, I down loaded the pictures from my camera that evening and was to become even more elated when it came to light that I had infact caught a different fish from Ades!  Naturally we were both excited by this fact and the rest of the winter was spent by each of trying to catch the fish the other already had but that as they say is another story.

More Give.

The predecessor to this forum saw me meeting, on line and inviting a complete stranger by the name of Darryl (The Baddie) Kirkbright out for a couple of days fishing.  The Baddie, it seemed was struggling to catch that all elusive 20 pounder and I at the time had access to a bit of drain that quite literally held upwards of a dozen and what’s more I’d caught most of them!  Sympathising with his obvious plight I contacted him through the forum and invited him down for a bit of easy fishing. I hope I don’t offend Darryl when I tell you that when he arrived at mine he wasn’t quite what I expected.  For some reason I’d got it into my head that I was going to be taking out some skinny little youngster that had little or no life experience let alone fishing experience.   How wrong can you be? 

The man mountain that is the Baddie roared into the yard at the Fire Station where I live and work in his Range Rover and covered from head to toe in tattoos, all 20 stone of him swept me up in a bear hug and for the next 48 hours we never experienced a minutes silence – he was and it was great company!   We had a few jars, a bit of supper and bedded down early so that we could make a dawn start the next morning.  Excited as he was I found him perched ready on the couch at 4 the next morning in readiness for day one of our trip.  60 odd miles later, we arrived for first light at the drain and set about getting him to the going swim.  I’d chosen not to fish so as to give the Baddie the very best chance I could for at times pike do seem to find me irresistible?  To cut a long story short The Baddie had a field day!  My memory isn’t what it was but if I recall correctly he caught a dozen or so fish over ten pounds that day and best of all one of the resident 20’s showed up for him too!  It was it’s fair to say “Mission accomplished!”  We could easily have stayed put for day 2 but I really wanted to give the Baddie a crack at another on song venue I was fishing at the time and day two saw us arriving at the mighty Abberton Reservoir.  With the Baddies 20 of the day before tucked under his belt I chose to fish too and we set up side by side in a going area.   When fishing Abberton it’s very difficult to do anything above and beyond the next man but being able to cast a good distance is a BIG advantage and make no bones about it the Baddie can cast!  That day he out cast and out caught me and with no help from me what so ever he promptly caught his second 20 pounder!  I don’t know who was the more elated (oh yes I do)!

Fishing aside the Baddie and I got on like a house on fire and kept in touch on line from then onwards.

More Take.

The next spring the PAC organised a fish-in at the The Carp Societies, Horseshoe lake, Oxford and by way of thanks the Baddie was good enough to book the pair of us in for a little social.  
All expenses paid, I wasn’t about to turn him down and besides I looked forwards to meeting up again.  It was again a 2 dayer and for us atleast the first of these was uneventful.  News did filter around though that the opposite side of the lake was producing a few good double.  Armed with this knowledge I set off at dawn the next morning with a wobbling set up to see if I couldn’t turn something up?  My wobbling set up is really just my free roving float fished live bait set up because I like the try make the float plop whilst twitching the bait back and ofcourse you also get to see what’s going on if and when a fish takes.  Cutting another long story short I’d covered a few hundred yards of bank and could see that I was raising a few glances as I headed towards the static anglers as I repeatedly cast out my pound plus deadbaits when lo and behold I had a take!  I personally think wobbling is a bit like lure fishing but has the added bonus that the pike hang on to the free meal they’ve intercepted?  I felt the obvious take, opened the spool whilst I readied the net and wound down to a good resistance.  Minutes later the Baddie turned up to photograph what to this day remains one of the prettiest 20lbs pike I’ve ever caught.  Thanks Baddie!

I’ve got more anecdotes like this, that highlight the necessity for “Give n Take” but I’m mindful of the length of this piece already so I’ll hang on to them for a bit and perhaps contribute a follow up to this for the Pool in the future my piking brothers?

Dave Horton