Pike match surprise

Mon 25 November 13


I was very kindly invited to fish an annual pike match on the St Ives Fishing Complex, near Cambridge this Christmas break.
Organised by Dave Little who can normally be found bagging carp on the local rivers supported by Mad Baits and Vardis Tackle, Dave also likes to have a dabble for a croc or two!
On the 27th December having left the family in Yorkshire (a few day earlier than they expected) I chucked the pike gar in the van along with my chosen Bait Box baits…… Lamprey and Eel sections and headed to the lake.

The weather across the UK had been shocking for the past couple of weeks with heavy rainfall and strong winds. Due to this, the match was moved from the Lagoon Lake over to Shallow Pit. The 27th was no exception to the recent weather reports with gale force winds blowing across the lake, creating large white horses on the water. We were very fortunate that the rain was going to hold off for the day.

On arrival I met up with Gordy Howe’s the owner of www.stiveslakes.com and Dave Little to hand over my entry money and then head off to my chosen swim.
The rules for the match were fairly simple, pay your prize money, fish two rods only, any fish caught witnessed and released and the biggest pike of the day would win! Prize of the shield and pot of money!!!

Unfortunately the weather had put a few of the regular tendees off so there were only seven of us competing (less money in the pot!). The proper anglers…… Dave Little, Shane Lucas, Harry Carrick, Lee Pridmore, Aaron Cox, Liam Daley and myself all battled with the elements for the love.

Now Shallow Pit was on my hit list to try and catch a 20lb Stillwater pike. I was made up that the venue had been changed. I was feeling pretty excited and couldn’t wait to get my baits out. Completely unprepared I had to set up both rods on the bank in my chosen swim which was right in the face on the wind. Not a fun process but I thought this would be the best area for one or two fish. I had also heard of a very large fish being caught recently from this area!!! Research is always key to my fishing!

I finally got both baits out by 9.30am and eventually managing to get the rods set to avoid false indication from the white water. With rod tips submerged 1ft under the water and the bait runners set just light enough to allow little resistance but enough to stop the wind pulling line off the spool, I was fishing effectively and as comfortably as possible! My set up was very simple.
2 × 3lb tc soft action carp rods
2 X Bait runner reels
Mainline 30lb Ultima Vertibraid
Drennan sliding pike floats
2.5oz distance leads
Drennan wire trace material
Size 6 Drennan semi barbed trebles
Indication was through my bite alarms, the floats were submerged to avoid the line causing false indications, a method which has worked very well.

It wasn’t even 10 minutes and my left hand rod gave a couple of bleeps and then screamed into action! With the reel engaged I lifted into a hard fighting pike and I was in the game! A fine fat 8lb pike, a fish that had just put me into 1st place and made me a very happy man. Aaron was in the swim next door and came to weigh and witness it and got a couple of good snaps.

It wasn’t long before Dave turned up in my swim with the second pike of the match. Only a small fish of 4lb but still good news that the pike were feeding, even in the shocking conditions.

Still with the winds increasing I kept moving the baits around hoping to locate another fish. At around 11.30am I had a pick up on the right rod from around 7ft of water towards a reed bed. I struck into it feeling a good weight on the end. Sadly with two shakes of its head the fish had managed to throw the hooks.

I rebaited and re-oiled the baits syringing Hinders Tuna Oil into the Lamprey section. Lamprey is an incredible bait which contains a huge amount of scent through oils and blood. Like with glugging boilies for carp adding oil to your bait can only add extra attraction to it.

With my bait re-positioned on the spot I had had the run from and the other back on the snag to my left I decided to sit it out hoping the fish I had lost would revisit. An hour later I had a couple of small indications from the right hand rod and then the reel went into melt down! I struck and was instantly connected to a decent fish. Fishing with braid for pike certainly allows you to feel their every movement and certainly gets my heart racing.

I gave a whistle and then shouted to Aaron who was in the next door swim to come round. “You got one Andy?” he shouted, “Yes and it is @@@@@ massive!” I responded. It didn’t take Aaron long to appear and I soon had an absolute beast in the net!!!!
I did a little celebratory dance then had a cheeky little look back in the net which was resting in the water allowing the pike to recover after an awesome battle. I prepared the unhooking mat, camera, scales and weigh sling before moving the fish into position to unhook and then weigh and so on.
As I lifted the net I realised for the first time that I might have a new PB and the biggest pike of the match and all from the lake I was hoping to target for a 20lb pike. The pike had already managed to throw the hooks into the net and so was very easy to deal with. Then the big moment….. The scales settle beautifully on 21.12lb smashing my previous best of 19.1lb. I was over the moon and couldn’t wait to tell as many people as possible!!! With a couple of snaps done the pike went back very confidently to fight hard for another day.

The rest of the day dragged a little bit for me as I could not just sit back thinking I had done it. There was always the chance a larger fish could be caught….

Aaron managed to get a 12lb pike mid afternoon but that was the only other fish to come out for the rest of the day.
I was a little shocked at what had happened on the day. A new venue and a new PB but also an incredible event which has been running for over 20 years for which I felt very privileged to have participated in!!! I shall be returning next year to try and hold on to the shield but shall also be bringing some surprise prizes.

A huge thank you to all that took part and for Dave Little’s organisational skills and Gordy Howe’s for supplying the venue. But more importantly for Liam Daley (the previous winner) for awarding me the sacred shield.

The day did not stop at the pike match, there were a few too many beers shared and some serious (ly bad) dance moves thrown down and some serious hangovers to boot the following day.
Roll on December and 2014s Xmas Pike Match!!!

Andy Loble



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