Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Full Circle

As the 2009/2010 season drew to a close I had hardly fished at all, missing the entire months of November, December and January due to the first lack of enthusiasm and motivation I had encountered during my time as a pike angler. A combination of work and personal issues had meant that after a couple of sessions early October,  it was mid February before I again wet a line and at this point I had an extremely modest season’s tally of just six pike under my belt from the handful of fishing sessions ventured upon. I wouldn’t have returned to angling at all that season had it not been for my new partner asking why I didn’t want to go any longer with a mountain of fishing gear in the garage and photo’s of pike all over the house. She pushed and pushed until I eventually agreed on a short session with her which resulted in a total blank.

We fished together a few more times on venues that had been kind to me in the past but things did not go too well. ‘It’s your sport I thought you knew what you were doing?’ She teased me, ‘you’re not very good at this’ was another comment which really only served to motivate me to prove her wrong.  Maybe she intended to have that effect all along?
One day I received a text informing me of a friend’s capture of a decent fish, as we were very close by, we went for a look and as we gazed upon a lovely 21lber I said to her ‘that’s what a big pike looks like’. ‘Is he a better angler than you’? She countered as we walked back to the car.

Monkey off my back
Enthused by the 20 we had just witnessed we returned home and grabbed some gear and visited the scene of my greatest moment in pike fishing some 6 years beforehand, for a short afternoon session.  Runs were forthcoming immediately but bizarrely the first four I somehow missed, striking into nothing, an affliction I had not often previously encountered. Whilst feeling slightly embarrassed I tried to explain that I really did know what I was doing, but must be a bit ‘ring rusty’. A few more barbed comments were delivered by my partner and as I look back I realise that it was first class banter, although it didn’t feel that way at the time.  Shortly afterwards, would you believe it? The 4th rod that I had made up for Lynda was away.  She made no mistake with her 1st fish of any description and soon a nice nine pounder was safely in the net.  As I am sure you can now imagine she found this quite amusing.  Salvation was to come for me however as shortly afterwards the float belonging to my left hand rod which I had cast some 10 yards upstream in the nearside margin suddenly appeared in front of me travelling at a rate of knots its view having been slightly obscured by our shelter, although I had been checking upon it every few minutes, the strike was met with a solid resistance and a short pike quickly came into view, it was drawn into the landing net, and upon trying to lift the net out of the water  it dawned on me I could have something a bit better than I had expected. A short but incredibly fat pike of trout water proportions was unhooked and weighed at 18lb 6oz! Result! The monkey was off my back.  Photographs were taken and we retired home for the evening.

At home basking in the warm glow that only a good pike capture gives, I formulated the plan for the following weekend which would be the last of the river season. Naturally a pre- dawn return to same spot was decided upon. It was the last Sunday of the season and four rods were cast into position in darkness.  As  the sun came up over the horizon on the far bank, I noticed that the water was far more coloured than it had been the week before.  I had in the past discovered that this spot had not fished well when the land drain upstream was discharging its contents into the river. It didn’t feel right and although over the years the area had been very kind to me, it was the last fishing day I had available that season and I didn’t want to waste it. We decided to pack away the gear and move toanother nearby venue.  This second venue looked spot on but after an hour or so no runs was forthcoming. 

I had over the previous few seasons been fishing a land drain some 10 miles away without a lot of success. I had caught fish and they had been of a good average size, all over 15lb in weight but captures were isolated and a lot of rod hours had been fished for each capture, my best from the venue weighed 19lb although a friend had caught a 21, and I suspected that the water held bigger pike. Fish were nomadic and long stretches of the 12 mile long drain seemed completely barren. I had in my possession however some photographs of fish to 26lb caught by other anglers from the water over the years, a stamp of fish I yearned to catch.

As we struggled for a run on this much easier water my thoughts turned to the drain, it was the last weekend of the season and we were blanking, knowing that a run if it were forthcoming it would more than likely be a jack or double at best, I began to feel that we should instead be on the drain, where a blank would be likely, but we were more likely to encounter a better stamp of fish should we be so fortunate as to receive a run. I consulted my partner and we agreed on another move to our third venue of the morning.
After the short drive we arrived at my favourite swim and I wasn’t surprised to find it vacant as the drain was not heavily fished and access not easy. I had previously negotiated an arrangement to park on private land, and had never before seen another angler in the area.

We set up and fished, after an hour or so had passed I heard a vehicle on the drove and shortly afterwards was surprised to see 4 men with rods climb over the floodbank, they asked me if I had caught and I truthfully replied nothing, I asked what they were fishing for and they informed me that they were fishing for anything but would happily give me some live baits if they caught anything. They then asked if any barbel were present in the water which amused me as they obviously had little knowledge of the fenland drains. They seemed quite rough, traveller types and bearing in mind that there were miles of unoccupied drain either side of me I was a little disappointed when they set up some 30 yards away. Unfortunately they were not very quiet and I started to get a little agitated with the intrusion to my peaceful morning.

Salvation was to shortly arrive in the form of a dog walker who approached my swim from the opposite direction to the anglers. He stopped for a quick chat, overlooking the anglers upstream of me and asked if they were foreign?  I replied that they were English and had only just arrived ,but they were making a racket and I was considering a move. He then informed me that he had earlier in the week whilst walking his dog seen an angler unhooking a pike weighing around 24lb in a swim some 400 yards downstream, and gave me a landmark for swim identification.

 I thanked him and after weighing up the move for all of about a micro second decided to leave our new found friends and had the rods and gear packed up and after wishing our neighbours the best of luck for their session began the walk downstream.
It was our fourth swim of the morning and it was now about 11.30 the sun was high in the sky and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. It was warm and I was sweating buckets on arrival, quickly tearing off my cold weather clothing and looking at the swim. The water in the drain was very clear and I considered that our chances were very slim. To the right of the swim in the nearside margin was a large overhanging tree, its branches were touching the water halfway across the water, and an amount of debris had collected up against the branches, it looked a good place for a pike to lie up.

I gently under-armed a half mackerel as close as I dare and was relieved to see the float and bait land unmolested by the spiders web of branches right under the canopy and in the exact spot I wished for. I then cast the other two rods into open water, one to the middle and the other to the far bank. All three rods were then clipped up to audible back biters and I made a mental note to myself that if one were to go I bet that it would be the one under the tree.

My other half and I then lay on the floodbank with the sun blazing directly on to us; it felt as though summer was just around the corner it was so warm and pleasant. She put her head on my chest and content with the world I began to dose and dream of the triumphant moment when I would finally catch a fish weighing over 20lb’s from this challenging water.
After a while a high pitched noise interrupted my peace, for a short while it seemed dreamlike before I realised this was no dream, the noise was for real and in a moment, without consideration for my partner I was on my feet to see that the float under the tree had disappeared and line was peeling off the spool. Aware of the potential for problems due to the branches and possible roots under the water I was on the rod in a flash and gave the fish maximum side strain to try and get her out from under the tree, the rod initially took on an alarming curve but the fish turned and was soon being played in open water. I caught sight of her in the clear water and remarked that I thought it was an upper double when suddenly the fish surged off with alarming power taking braid from the tightly set clutch.  And I thought to myself that perhaps she was a little bigger. The fish soon began to tire and was pulled into the net that Lynda had at the ready.  Lynda tried to lift the net from the water and couldn’t manage to.  At this moment I realised that surely I had my much longed for twenty from this water that I had struggled so much on. The net was indeed heavy, the pike was laid out on the unhooking mat and the trebles removed easily from her scissors.  She was then weighed and photographed. At 24lb 4oz she was at the time my second biggest Fenland pike, a feeling of pure elation swept over me, and there and then I asked Lynda if she would marry me? She agreed to but not until I had caught a pike weighing 30lb. My enthusiasm for fishing had returned, but unfortunately I had run out of season. Rather than wait and hope for the brace it seemed fitting that we should wrap things up at 13.00 and celebrate over a pint in a nearby pub whilst looking at the cased pike on the wall, a monument as to the waters former glories.

The fish I has caught actually matched up to a photograph that I had obtained of a 21lb 12oz pike caught earlier that season.  It was the smaller half of the brace caught by the angler, and I wondered if the 26lb fish that I also had a photograph of would perhaps fulfil my dream of a 30lb pike and my lady’s hand in marriage.

I was at the time blissfully unaware of how much better things would get over the next two seasons on the fishing front. The fish that was at the time my first twenty from the water is now my third biggest from the venue, and although I didn’t know it at the time it was to be the start of a very productive period for me on other waters too.
Did I keep my promise to Lynda? Well let’s just say I returned from the jewellers several hundred pounds lighter the following week! She seemed quite pleased when I said we would set a date when I catch my first 30, deep down I knew this might take many years to fulfil if at all, but I wanted to tempt fate.

The season came to a close, at a time when my motivation had returned in full.  My doubts about the venue, and Lynda’s regarding  my Pike fishing prowess, were both vanquished, but I was to have to wait until the following October before I could quench my now insatiable thirst for pike fishing, and quench it I did, but that’s another story.
At the time of writing having achieved my long dreamed of 30+ pike I look forward to my wedding in a month’s time.

Tying the Knot

Having been divorced once due to my love of pike fishing it seems quite fitting that I will soon me marrying for a second time with pike fishing having played a very significant and positive part.

Since the time of writing the previous paragraphs Lynda and I married on the 16th of August 2014 with several inspirational pike anglers also being present for the wedding. 
A moment shared
Much of my fishing time currently is spent with our young son Lucas who is showing much of his father’s enthusiasm.  I no longer yearn for the day of my first thirty, or indeed personal best. Preferring instead to concentrate on developing my young apprentice’s enthusiasm for the sport, I look forward to a time when he is desperate for his own pike fishing goals and they can be accomplished together as father and son.
After recounting this tale to a famous and accomplished pike angler on the banks of Chew Valley Lake he replied ‘The Lord works in mysterious way’s’.

Tight lines


Jonathon Myles