After a 4am start me and James headed south to the Test Valley and onto a beautiful little chalk stream, we'd been looking forward to it for a couple of weeks and had made very different plans. James headed off in search of grayling, I walked in the opposite direction in search of pike.
The pike here don't grow into large proportions, no twenties, in fact a scraper double is the upper limit - but I find it fascinating stalking them in the gin-clear water, watching them stalk & strike the bait and on a light lure set up they fight like stink!
Wobbled sprat was the method and it was brilliant watching them hit the bait, sizing it up and engulfing it. One cast was hit by a jack who instantly spat it out only for the jack right behind it to take it. Another one bombed downstream to take it inches in front of the one I was targeting - I wonder what happens when we can't see the bait?
In all I hooked 8 jacks and landed 6 of them, all except one could be unhooked without forceps. Sight fishing at its best. And some fish to add to the Predator Challenge; 5½lb, 3lb, 2lb, 6lb, 4lb and 2lb - a total of 22½lb.
There were a few showers throughout the morning and the water clarity was dropping, when I hit and landed a trout on a sprat it was time to put the pike gear away - next target was roach on the pin. I had already spotted a shoal while searching for pike - and it didn't take long before I banked an 8oz fish - I knew there were bigger.
And I found a couple, 1lb 1oz above and 1lb 0oz below - two over a pound! And another one about 4oz before I seemed to spook the shoal. James phoned and I told him I was into the roach - Batman couldn't have got there quicker!
Roachman was on the case, but they didn't want to play - I think it took over an hour or so until I heard James shout 'LUMP'. I went running with the net but it was all under control - what a fish, but I'll leave it to his blog. Shortly afterwards I got my chance, one of the big girls, but she shed the hook - I think the term sounds something like 'clucking bell'.
By now the heavens had really opened, it looked like the rain was set for the day - I left Roachman™ to it and went to find a grayling or two before the shallow water was too dirty to avoid the trout. And I did, landing half a dozen or so to just over a pound - and didn't get a single photo - jumpy, twisty bastards! Great fun!
Soaked through and running out of daylight James went after another shoal of roach he'd spotted and I went to catch a little jack I'd seen in a side stream - and it would have worked had I not tried to swing him in instead of netting him, only about ¾lb - but a pike is a pike.
All in a brilliant day. Thanks James, thanks Chris. The only question that remains: now that all my radiators are covered in wet fishing kit - where is my cat going to sleep?