Well after more blanks that I'm sure he'd like me to mention (he is after The Monster) Roger left the pike gear in the shed and went after a Wye barbel today. Two bites, two fish, the first was seriously deformed as you can see from the photo above - but it still fought like stink and went 6lb 7oz, the second a hard fighting 9lb 3.5oz... Top stuff!
With the closed season rapidly approaching and a big project on at work time is currently at a premium... So hopefully photos will appear as we catch fish and I'll add the post later. Weekend posts below... Right, back to work then...
Taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather I journeyed to Blenheim Palace as a guest of Sean from Fishmail. An early start meant we were on the water before 8am and it looked great. The only problem was a frost last night - a frost in the middle of a warm spell isn't good news for fishing.
We started off trolling four different baits spread out behind the boat and worked our way down the side of the lake. On the return troll I had a run on a sprat just outside the boathouse. My first Palace pike, about 6 or 7lb. If one is feeding surely there are more.
With renewed confidence we trolled around the lake, stopping off in likely looking spots to try static dead baits and lures. But our efforts were met with only a couple of dropped runs - still, we were the last boat off the lake.
The sun had shone and the views were great - a fantastic way to spend a sunny Sunday! Thanks Sean.
It would be quite nice to leave the post at that and let the photos do the talking... But that's not in my nature...
Myself and Dan headed to the river to fish the last hour of daylight and the first hour of dark. Luncheon meat was the bait and barbel were the target.
I had a bite first cast, the moment the bait hit the water, and waited for the fish to return. Dan had an inquiry on his bait after a couple of minutes and waited about 15 minutes before the rod tip started to bounce about - a perfectly timed strike resulted in a 3lb 8oz chub.
I cast again and had another bite the moment the bait hit the water, there was no way the luncheon meat had time to hit the riverbed. Third cast and I was ready - cast, plop, strike - fish on! Cracking fight in the clear water and a 6lb 10oz barbel, job done!
We fished on for about an hour, both ledgering and free-lining but that was the end of the action. A great couple of hours fishing!
Back to Penton Hook in search of pike and it was an expensive start to the day. On route I crashed my bike into a gate smashing my landing net pole into three pieces and worse still, breaking one of my pike rods - one of the most expensive rods I've ever bought...
I should mention at this point I have a book for sale, it's called Jack's Pike, it's very funny and only a fiver... Probably need to sell a couple of hundred copies to replace the gear broken in the crash :)
To the fishing. The water looked great - but it always does here. Darren and I presented sea baits in the usual 'banker' swims both float-fished and on the lead. But no runs materialized. And a regular dog-walker I spoke to informed me that he hadn't seen anyone fishing for a couple of weeks - not a good sigh.
By lunch time we'd covered half the island and hadn't seen a sign of a pike. Time for lunch, the traditional Penton Hook sausage sandwiches - except Dan who had the blow-torch and the supplies hadn't turned up. Darren couldn't help as he had brought raw bacon and brown sauce... Dan if you're reading this feel guilty!
I cast a float-fished sprat to a feeder stream and it wasn't long before the float bobbed and drifted away. No fight at all in the water, but when I got it on the unhooking mat it was a different story. A hunchback 7lber.
A new sprat was cast to the same spot but I wasn't happy with how the float was holding, I wound it in and there was a swirl behind my bait, it made me jump out of my skin but I saw a larger pike sinking back to the depths - possibly a double.
The next cast was soon met with a bob on the float, I struck and was met with a small scrappy pike about 3lb. I thought I'd found a shoal of fish, but an hour or so later realised it just seemed to be the three, and the bigger one didn't make another appearance.
We fished on around the island making a complete circuit. The wind and rain were making bite indication virtually impossible, and after one more suspected run each, and no more fish we packed up as it was getting dark. Two more pike on the scorecard.
When myself and Darren decided to get weir permits he told me he never had any luck with pike. I thought how unlucky can you be with one species? But his prediction seems to be coming true, we are fishing the same baits (from the same bag) and fishing the same spots. The only difference between our fishing is I'll swap over to a float wherever possible, but most of the pike here have come to a ledgered bait.
I have had a lot of luck this season, hopefully it'll continue through to next season. I wonder how my luck will hold when competing with Darren on carp or barbel, species he has had a string of monster fish!
After ten trips my Penton Hook scorecard looks like this:
I've just finished preparing the dead baits for the forthcoming trip to Penton Hook. While in the middle of cling-film-hell I had a phone call, an annoying sales call, but I seem to have stumbled onto a way to get rid of them quickly:
Sales Girl:Hello, can I speak to the home owner please? Me:Yes that's me, Captain Richard Superman the third... Sales Girl:For f*ck's sake - hung up.
I hope they recorded that one for training purposes!
Well two more sessions on the Wye over the weekend, one day was spent glued to the spot where the Monster lives, and one day spent exploring. Not a run between us. It was very cold and there was snow and salt in the water, but we had to try!
And that's it for this season on the Wye, my worst yet with only 3 pike landed with a best of 13lb 4oz. The river hasn't fished well this winter, not for us anyway - except Steve. Steve's best was 20lb 14oz (6 fish), Paulos' best 17lb 0oz (2 fish) and Roger's best 16lb 8oz (2 fish)... But Roger is still fishing, and those pike have got to feed at some time!
And this is the snag that cost me the Monster on Thursday, no match for Roger, a grappling hook and some rope! Closing the gate after the horse has bolted but hey...
A couple of hours piking on the Wye this afternoon, and it wasn't looking good. Both myself and Roger had been ledgering sprats for a couple of hours with no interest. I decided to try a float-fished sprat over a snag about a foot from the bank.
After about half an hour the float bobbed, then remained still for a few seconds before hammering down. I struck and realised I was connected to a good fish - unfortunately the pike had gone through a snag beneath my feet. The most frustrating fight then look place as the pike headed out to open water while all I could do was wind her back to the snag... Hard going and no fun at all.
Eventually I had her beat, and she lay in the water still connected to the snag. I knew she was a personal best, but was she THE fish I've been chasing for 20 years?
I pulled her and the snag over the net, and as she was about three-quarters of the way in the f**king line broke!
I seriously think it's going to give me nightmares!
Well I wasn't one of the lucky few this year, my name wasn't pulled from the hat in the most exciting draw of the pike anglers calendar. But like a lot (most) pike fishermen I've been following the catches in the angling press, forums and anywhere else I can find any info. And what a year it's turning out to be.
There is a chain of thought that it's shooting fish in a barrel, but it's a bloody big barrel. It's fair to say that the skills acquired through thousands of hours on the bank count for very little here, but the pike are big and everyone with a golden ticket has a chance!
And having been lucky enough to fish Chew once before, I can say it's the most exciting place I've ever fished. You know that feeling when the pike-float bobs and slides under - it's like that, all day.
This week has been hailed as the best-ever week of UK pike fishing, with a string of 20 and 30lb pike, topped off with two 40lb plus fish from the venue.
And I love this story in the Angler's Mail about a guy named Mark Even. Mark turned up at Chew with a PB of 14lb, his first fish of the day upped it to 17lb, and by the end of the day his new PB was 41lb 8oz - now that's a days fishing!
Will I be applying again next year? My letter is already written...