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

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