On the water just after 2pm, a later start than planned but we were going to fish into the dark. We were met by a seal, one of the features of tidal fishing I suppose, and hoped he hadn’t spooked the pike and zander.
To cut a long story short I had a run first cast; a pike about 4lb lost at the net, I blame the net-man (even though it wasn’t his fault). And a run on the last cast; a beautiful, fat, very hard fighting 9lb 11oz pike to end on - tough day!
I did have another run during the day; the float slid away, I struck, looked like a zander but was fighting far too hard - pulling the boat about. Quite a surprise to see a kelt had hit the livebait - a ropey looking bugger, but I hope he survives to come back another day.
Meanwhile James is having rotten luck, unusual for him - I wonder if that will massively turn around by his next blog post?!
Back on the tidal thames in search of predators, and after a lot of hard work bait fishing, we were loaded up with minnows and mini-dace hoping to winkle out some perch and zander (and pike, I know they'll take a small bait).
James had brought along one larger dace and started off trying to find a pike - and it wasn't long before he had a run. Looked about 17lb as it surfaced by the boat before spitting the hook - had we made a mistake with the small bait?
We both lost zander but I finally got one to stay on the hook - my first river zed - 5lb 6oz - and what a beauty. Green stripped back and blue in the pelvic fins - in this gin-clear water they are much prettier than their muddy puddle cousins.
It was to be my only predator of the day - but I'm still delighted, a tidal zed brilliant! I did land this clonking gudgeon while bait fishing, me and James agreed it looked over 2oz but we didn't have mini scales - ah well. I put it back, this one wasn't going to be bait!
I haven’t been fishing for a couple of weeks - a long time for me. After my last trip out chasing pike and grayling I returned home where I’m normally met by my cat, eager to sniff my kit, hands and most importantly the net - but she didn’t appear.
On one of the sofas she was breathing rapidly and unable to move much. A long night and I phoned the vet the moment they opened, an emergency appointment followed by a very long four days in an oxygen tent - but unfortunately they couldn’t save her.
I know to some people ‘it’s just a cat’ but I’m gutted, I miss her greatly, I thought we’d have a least another 10 years together. Nothing to do with fishing but as she occasionally appeared on here and in Jack’s Pike, and meant so much, I couldn’t resist a few photos.
"I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint you" said the man behind the counter of the tackle shop when he glanced at the bait tub in my hand, "we haven't got any maggots".
He went on to explain that the course fishing season opened on the first of November and he'd sold out, we weren't the first fishermen he'd disappointed! "It's the same every year" - ummm - OK!
Me and James looked at each other - how could it not have occurred to him to double his maggot order and make more money this week? Bit of an error there...
Options were limited, he had worms... but you're not allowed to use worms... red sweetcorn it was then. I really don't like using sweetcorn for grayling, a difficult task just got harder.
The red corn smells lovely, looks great and the trout love it - but I lack faith, and grayling fishing without faith in your bait isn't ideal - especially in bright, warm conditions.
James has faith - his PB fell to a grain of sweetcorn, the yellow variety, but sweetcorn was a banker to him. Which is probably part of the reason he did so much better than me.
It was a lot of hard work - I only landed one grayling, the 1lb 7oz fish above, best of the season so far, but I'm hoping to better it soon. Wonder what I'll be using for bait next time?
I had a back-up plan to add a new river double pike to the list, and a friend of James' was getting bugged by one downstream. James was first to try and tempt her - but soon went back to grayling...
I took over but despite watching a mid-double try and nail one of Neil's grayling I couldn't talk her into hitting a deadbait. But when I launched a smelt into the tail of the swim it was hit almost instantly.
Brilliant fight (athlete pike in that fast water) before she was ready for the net - James had the pike net - so a couple of attempts getting her in the small net before resulting to chinning her out...
And my hand managed to find the treble inside her mouth - but it was barbless and a bit of blood signals the start of pike time for me. An 11lb 10oz Frome double to save the day! Brilliant!!
The trip ended with me and James finding a beautiful stretch of river as the sun was setting, something to explore next time - but next time will be with faith - and maggots!