Canterbury Tales part seven - The Transition

Wed 09 December 15


The transition from late summer to early winter seems to be quicker with every year with late September seeing darkness fall at around 7pm. One month later and its dark by 5pm and before you know it, the trees are bare,reeds and rushes are now decaying in the margins of lakes and rivers. The remaining weed in the rivers disappears with the falling water temperatures and lack of daylight hours and then, the weather systems arrive to fill the rivers and flush them through.

After the annoying leaf and weed debris has passed through we are left with a river that’s flowing properly,good conditions to trot a float and more room on the banks too, as the brambles and nettles die back down, yes winter chub and roach time is here as is the pike fishing.

For many years I didn’t really fish for pike, as my main involvement with pike was unhooking them for other people. Yes I had fished for them a few times and up to a few years ago my PB was a 14lb fish caught by accident. I cast a spinner at a nuisance fish of about 6lb that was attacking every dace and roach I hooked. It ignored the spinner but a bigger fish came from nowhere and nailed the little mepps ,it went 14lb and stood as my PB for a fair few years.

I remember a bit of banter on a forum back with a keen pike angler,I told him that I thought pike were stupid greedy things that eat anything and everything. His reply was “ _the big girls are not always easy, they need locating and if they not hungry,they wont eat” and as I started fishing for them how right he was. The thing is ,if a big pike has just eaten a substantial meal, say a 3lb plus bream, a jack pike or any other largish meal, its going to lay up and digest it and is not going to be too interested in a sardine or half a herring.

Anyway over the last few years I really have enjoyed the pike fishing, I’ve had a few over the magical 20lb mark, both from river and lake up to a PB fish of just over 27lb that I caught on a cold January afternoon from a local gravel pit. I clearly remember the first 20 like it was yesterday it went 20lb 4oz but as pikers will know,it looked bigger,big pike look huge, I weighed it on one set of scales ,20lb 4oz, I thought ‘no way’,must be bigger than that! So I weighed it on another set and found the weight to be correct. It then crossed my mind that the British record pike must be a creature of huge proportions.

At that time I was a keen barbel angler, I phoned a good mate to come and take some pics of my pike. I told him I’d got a 20 but didn’t say it was a pike,he turned up and as I lifted the net from the water he said “oh,its a pike mate”. After a few seconds I realised what he must of thought ,and fell about laughing.

Three years ago I started fishing a big gravel pit for pike, dead baiting mainly and a little lure fishing,the lake has a good head of pike but fish over the 20lb mark are hard come by. I know people that have fished it for years that are still hoping for their first 20 from the venue. I’ve had plenty of fun catching lots of pike to 17lb from the lake but I too wanted to catch a 20 plus snapper.

October came and conditions were still mild. I had a few trips to the lake and caught lots of pike up to 15lb 10oz but lots of the pike were a bit skinny, so I decided to leave it till after a cold snap, then have another go. Well towards the end of November a cold snap arrived,c old air temperatures, cold winds and night time frosts! It was time to prepare for another go, hope springs eternal and all that.

While stocking up on sardines at the supermarket fish counter I happened to notice a very small mackerel in the bowl of sprats,so I had a bit of banter with the bloke on the fish counter and he chucked the little mackerel in with the pack of sardines and told me it was a lucky bait. When I see him next I’ll tell him what a profound statement that was.

On my return to lake at the end of this first cold snap, the trees were now bare and the lake looked quite different to how it had just 3 weeks before. It was a coldish sunny day, with a chilly breeze. I cast out 2 rods with sardine hook bait and the 3rd was cast out with the little mackerel as bait. I had a couple of jacks on the sardines to start with, both being around of 8lb. Then I had a very slow take on the mackerel, I struck and set hooks into some very heavy solid resistance, instantly I knew I’d found a good’un!

the fight was mainly a slow plod sort of fight until I got the fish close in, then it flicked its tail and a strong determined run that smoked the clutch was under way. I then gained the upper hand and my 20 plus beast was soon at the bottom of the net, for the record she was an immaculate fish of 24lb 8oz and after pics were taken, I sat back and reflected on how many deadbaiits were used in pursuit of that happy moment in time.

The rest of the autumn has been spent on the river, the river needs rain to flush through the debris and leaves but as of yet the south east corner of the country has missed the huge amounts of rainfall that has hit the northern parts of the country. I’ve therefore just done a few little pike trips and some chub fishing .

The pike fishing has been ok with several fish to 17 lb being landed to deadbaits from a variety of locations,and its a similar thing with the chub with several fish in the 4 to 5.5lbs bracket which have fallen to spicy meat pro paste or my own cheese paste which I call the pink peril. Chub fishing with cheese paste is a method I really enjoy using, as cheese paste is so simple to make. It should have a consistency that enables it to withstand a cast but to also come off on the strike.

For my chub fishing I prefer to travel as light as possible. I use a little 8ft quivertip rod, 5 or 6lb line, with a few split shot and a size 10 or 12 strong hook. I simply rove the bank using the flow to bounce the cheese paste into areas where I feel a chub may well be. Plus on this sort of tackle the chub fight well and some of the bites can be violent to say the least.

as I write its heading towards mid December, I hope to be pike fishing on a new lake soon as and when we get some winter weather, and I might be tempted to get a few winter roach, as well as a few more chub from the river.

Good luck and happy Christmas to all and all the best for 2016 tight lines