Predator Blog Part Eighteen


Al’s Travels

What a month! This trip started way back on September 17th packing and preparing the camper van full of the necessary tackle and equipment needed for such a long and versatile fishing trip, which meant virtually everything including the kitchen sink lol.

The trip started off driving up to Northern Ireland from my base in Boyle Co Roscommon Eire to perform one of my slideshow pike talks for the pike angler’s club of Great Britain (PAC) region 43. Colin Rutherford is the busy R.O (regional organiser) of this big region.

The night was a wonderful success held in an excellent venue in Fivemiletown, over 60 attended including some young piker’s coming all the way down from Belfast to attend the show.
Jackpyke kindly donated top raffle prizes on the night which raised some quality funds for this strong and well ran region.

A few hours after the slideshow/talk I was boarding the ferry to Scotland at Belfast port with bleary eyes, and I soon got my head down for some much needed sleep. Next thing I knew we were docking and getting ready to off board, setting my sat nav for Harelaw fishery in Renfrewshire near Glasgow.

Harelaw is ran as a trout and pike fishery, and Alex Cairnie runs the pike side of things there and I was kindly invited to have a go. Now this is a tricky shallow venue being located at a high altitude and being very exposed to the elements the water temp can change rapidly and put the pike down for days on end. No fish like sudden water temperature changes and this puts the fish off the feed until things settle down. When I arrived it was warm south westerly though and it looked quite inviting, unfortunately the weather and temps were stale and no changes were forth coming to nudge the bigger pike present into feeding. In 2 1/2 days I managed to catch a load of small pike on dead baits.

My plan was to return here on my way back home in mid October for another go, hopefully by then the temps would of dropped and the bigger girls would be on the munch? Next port of call was the annual PAC convention held at Harrogate, this year was a relaxing and most pleasant day out for me, as last year I was one of the guest speakers there and so not so relaxing. What a great day it was, meeting lots of like minded pike anglers and looking around the pike tackle stalls which were all very interesting and a few tackle bargains were found and bought. Guest speakers this year were Des Taylor, Brian Ingram, and George Higgins all three speakers were most entertaining in their own dynamic way.

Next on my trip was some barbel fishing on the river Trent near Newark, the water was low and clear on arrival, and speaking to the bay-lief the river was not really on and hadn’t been for a while. This fitted in with the weather and temperature patterns that we were experiencing at the time, warm and un-changeable conditions equals a low feeding scale. Big baits were out and evidently some match boys were having a few barbel on maggot and caster, the specimen boys were struggling with just odd fish showing during the night with the bigger baits. I decided to sit it out though with my specimen gear and hope to get lucky.

in short I didn’t get the luck I needed despite moving upstream I ended up with just some chub for my efforts.
I’m learning all the time about this river, and I know now where I should of tried in such conditions, I’ll be back next year with a new plan of attack.

Next on my agenda was my school 30 year reunion! What a great night it was too seeing and speaking to many of my school chums from years back, I’m glad to say that most of us turned out to be quite respectively as well, but there was a lot of hair loss and weight gain/loss with us lads, and the girls looking a whole lot better lol

Next on my agenda (when I recovered from my hang over lol,) was a call in on my Sponsors, Neville’s for some Luce baits and Jack pyke for some more raffle prizes for the PAC slideshows I had arranged to do later on in my trip. After stocking up the camper freezer with quality bait I headed south to Bedfordshire to Jack pyke and then on to some pike anglers in the south of England that I arranged to meet, Blair James York is an interesting character he studied at Sparsholt fishery college, he had prepared a wicked roast dinner, thanks Blair.

Then on to Lionel Mills, a dedicated and prolific piker with some lovely captures under his belt from tidal rivers no less, another interesting evening was spent chatting about pike angling. With bleary eye’s yet again I set out late for the long drive to the Norfolk broads, I managed to get to Newmarket before needing a power sleep! A few hours later I arrived at the car park next to the river and decided to get my head down and catch some bait in the afternoon to then pike fish the evening and night. Nick Peat was all ready there and fishing and I would get the latest news from Nick when I saw him later on that afternoon with John Gobel.

The story was the same, slow going a few doubles landed and quite a few blanks. I decided to fish different, I would fish lives in such warm unchangeable and dour low feeding scale conditions, helping to provoke a take from a bigger pike. As the week went on, fish to mid doubles were caught but the big girls were just not showing up.

Nick kept moving around with limited success, but eventually a 22 showed up this was an encouraging catch and spurred us both on. I decided to move down stream into the coloured water after a chat and meet up with “pike catch of the century man” (45.08) again John Gobel, what an amazing fish and captor that was, talk about inspiring catches! John said it’s still sinking in lol

I carried on catching doubles on lives downstream in the tidal area, and lost a possible scraper 20 at the net late afternoon. The next day John and I had arranged some boat fishing on the system, and although the fishing was slow I really enjoyed Johns company and with Johns help I even managed to catch a low double.

The day after next we decided on meeting up with more fishing in the downstream area, with fresh bait caught we were all ready at first light. Not much happened I think John managed a low double before the dreaded boat traffic started up, we were then forced to fish down the sides only, in the afternoon boat traffic had nearly ceased and the tide that had been rising all day so far was becoming to its top, I knew that on the turn of tide is a prime time for a run and a possible better fish. At 14.40 the water stopped flowing, a I quickly recast my two baits, one I cast upstream of John into “new water” and the float disappeared within a second of it settling. A strong parallel sweep of the rod felt a good solid resistance of a better fish, and after a few short runs we were looking in the net at my first 20 + er from this venue. She weighed 21.10 and was a clean fish. I was very delighted to say the least, the first off a new venue is always a special catch and one I will cherish for ever. Thanks John for your company and help mate.

Next was more PAC talks at Cambridge, Thames, and Bedford, then a long drive back to Scotland for some pike fishing. I was to meet up with long term friend and now angling film maker Sergio. Basically Sergio would like some pike fishing footage in Scotland for his next Sky series. Unfortunately the weather had already turned to the cold north east chilling the waters so fast that the fish were off the feed. We managed 1 low double, and some trout for our efforts, but a plan was made for more filming in November at Chew and again in the spring. Harelaw fishery is very exposed but has it’s own unique beauty.

Back in Ireland now and it’s been non stop rain, waters were very low so the rain was needed, I’ve been preparing the boat and tackle and should get out in the next few days and all next week. Watch this space……………

First day out piking back in Ireland and I catch a lovely 23.08, what a great start of the season after a slow UK trip.

Tight lines

Al Rawlings


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