I feel I'm running out of time on my Pike Challenge and my best bet is going to be heading back to my home turf River Wye. At my current average I need another 21 pike!
The problem is the floods, I've been monitoring the river levels via the EA website and as soon as the levels drop below the 'pike line' I'm going to head back - if it happens before March 14th... 48 days left!
I do have a couple of trips planned with James, and if I get a mid-week day off work I'll be heading to The Hook. Bait freezer stocked, kit cleaner and tidier than it's been for years... Come on the Weather Gods..!
"Can you keep an eye on my rod while I have a look at the next swim" - I said, I was only away for two minutes, but it was enough time for Paulos to hit this fish on my kit... He said he felt guilty... I'm not sure I believe him!
Day 1 (Sat)
We arrived but the river was in the fields, no fishing today, we were hoping for a miracle - or at least saying a prayer to the weather Gods. Water levels were dropping...
Day 2 (Sun)
Bank high and virtually impossible conditions, but we hit the riverbank anyway... It was a long shot, no fish but at least we managed to wet a line!
I did take a bunch of photos but to be honest I'm sick of looking at flood photos.
Day 3 (Mon)
Water had dropped back another 2 or 3 foot revealing a few slacks. Hopes were a lot higher today!
It was about 3 hours and a few dropped runs before Paulos connected to a fish, the pike we were after, about 5lb - both of us were delighted.
About an hour later, after no further action, I decided to have a look for another slack. I asked Paulos to keep an eye on my rod while I had a look at the next swim.
As soon as I left I had a run, Paulos did shout but I signaled him to hit it - we didn't want a deep hooked pike. A 16lb 12oz pike (top photo), I picked the wrong moment to step away!
I cast back out and was rewarded straight away with another run... My turn... A 3lb jack!
Next up Paulos was into another double, great fight and a 16lb 1oz pike was in the net. A brace of mid-doubles in pretty crap conditions. Top stuff!
I had my chance to add a double to the bag, losing a good fish to a hook-pull - it wasn't my day!
The brief feeding spell was over, but we still fished on through the rain into the dark - great result in those conditions.
Day 4 (Tues)
The river rose about a foot after we left but a frost overnight saw it back to about the same level by the following morning.
It was still cold, unsettled and I have to be honest I didn't really fancy it, but Paulos couldn't fish and Roger has been rendered a spectator with a bad leg - he's been out for a month or so, and the rest of the season. My train back to London wasn't until this evening so I hit the water - you can't catch them sat at home!
Restricted to the same few slacks I had runs on ledgered livebaits and deadbaits, aggressive hits but the pike (or whatever) were almost instantly dropping the bait - weird.
I did hit a fish on the tiniest of runs, a good scrap and a nice double - which as it slid over the net I recognised as the 16lb 1oz pike from yesterday - it's been a tough few days, I'll take it!
I had a 'quick' amend to an illustration this morning so I postponed my trip to the Wye until tomorrow. And as it turned out it was a quick amend - about 10 seconds - so I grabbed a tin of sweetcorn and headed off in search of a floodwater chub.
Trying a few swims it was about an hour before I had a bite, the rod ripped round and a fish shot downstream against a tight drag, and just as I convinced myself it was a barbel it jumped! A surprise brown trout, my first one ever on sweetcorn, a real beauty and at 3lb 11oz it would have been a PB if it was in season.
With the swim trashed I moved a short distance downstream and it wasn't long before I had another bite, target species this time and it looked well over 4lb as it dashed around in front of me - until the hook pulled - agghh!
Half an hour or so later another ripping bite, great fight and another sweetcorn trout, a long thin fish that went 3lb 4oz - where were they in the summer? Oh yeah, I hardly fished!
I continued my trip downstream as I fished into the sunset, but only got the odd knock here and there, the chub weren't on the feed today... But it was nice to catch a couple of fish in less than ideal conditions.
The trout were handled with the greatest of care and spent less than 30 seconds out of the water - I couldn't resist a photo.
Note to self: Explore this water thoroughly with fly-gear and polaroids in the summer!!