There are so many aspects of fishing that excite me and get the adrenaline running. One of these is visiting a new water, especially when that water contains fish bigger than any you have previously caught.
For me, the prospect of fishing a new water normally brings in the need for preparation and research but on one particular occasion I had only limited time for these; in fact, very little time to even think about the trip.
A good friend of mine, Giles, (of AT Products) had been given a ticket for a Yorkshire water he’d been telling me about. Apparently it contained pike to nearly 30lb! My eyes lit up and I wanted to know more.
He told me he’d managed to catch on his first visit a 21lb fish on a paddle-toad soft rubber lure. He intended visiting the water the following morning for a couple of hours before work and I was waiting to hear the magic words ‘would you like to join me?’
Giles was in good spirit and, soon enough, those six words fell from his mouth. ‘Sure thing!’ I responded.
I was buzzing merely at the thought of it and asked him a million questions in considerably fewer minutes!
All I needed, apparently, was to be at the gate for 6am with strong tackle – but not my usual clutter! I’m not sure what Giles was suggesting but I did set to work de-cluttering my gear ready for a short but effective piking session in the morning. That done, I got to bed early having decided to take with me one lure rod and one 10ft rod for free-lining dead-baits. I wanted to see which would be the winning combination and didn’t want to leave anything to chance.
At 5am the alarm broke what had been a fabulous night’s sleep and, most unusually, I got up fighting-fit and ready to face the day. I soon received a text: “Oi, Lobs! You up yet?’ followed by some friendly expletives! Giles was shocked to get a response and even more shocked to find me at the gate bang on time in the dark of morning.
We quickly got our stuff together and set about the short, dawn walk to the lake in beautiful surroundings. I don’t want to give too much away about this place but it is in Yorkshire, contains water and has various fish species in it – one of those being pike.
A very mobile approach was decided upon. Giles opted for an out-and-out lure attack whereas I decided to alternate between dead-baiting in any clear areas I could find, and lure-fishing.
I was incredibly excited to be on this water and watching the sun rise to the sound of birdsong was the most beautiful experience. The lake was alive with all manner of animals, birds and insects and, more so, fish! Plenty of small roach and rudd were surfacing and this made me feel the pike might be active too.
The first hour of swim-jumping saw little success until Giles managed a fish of about 5lb so we continued to rove the lake – but with no sign of any predatory action. My hopes of instant success had diminished and my despondency was heightened by the vast amounts of weed that made effective dead-bait presentation near-impossible.
With half an hour left I was thinking about breakfast and a nice strong cup of coffee. The sun was now shining down on the lake and conditions didn’t seem to be ‘text book’ for the capture of pike. On reaching the final bank of the lake I discovered that the shelf dropped off very quickly to around 16ft; furthermore, my swim appeared to be weed-free!
I flung my free-lined mackerel into this area – just off to the right – and began to sort out the line and the indicator. As I fiddled about Giles appeared and the usual abuse soon resumed. “Still blanking, Noddy? You couldn’t catch a cold if you tried, $£&%head!” and so on. I was about to turn-on the bite alarm when I noticed the line pull forward and then drop back. It happened again and I lifted the rod with the bale-arm still open to avoid any resistance.
“Has your mackerel come back to life through boredom?” Giles mocked, but I knew there was a fish there. Bale-arm closed now, I struck solidly into a very heavy moving torpedo! Giles came flying down the bank with words of encouragement now, and then possibly the greatest-ever battle with a pike ensued. That fish repeatedly stripped the 40lb braid from the spool, tail-walking and head-shaking, but my 10ft Sonik S3 stalking-rod and Tourno 8000S did a proud job of taming the beast.
Sheer relief was felt from both of us when the pike eventually cruised into the net. Never had I seen such an immaculate and big fish in the flesh. I was in complete shock and awe of this monster. It was not only the length of the fish that impressed me but its sheer width and depth! Was this the 29lb fish we’d heard of?
We quickly unhooked it using some very long forceps: I didn’t want my hands going anywhere near those ferocious-looking teeth! We let it rest awhile in the net while we got our breath back and found a good, flat area for the weighing and photographs. I felt like a kid again, like when I caught my first double figure pike from the Aldermaston Canal…just magic. The scales read a very kind 27.5lb, giving me a new personal best by over 6lb.
What an incredible short session and incredible water! A huge ‘thank you’ to Giles for the invite and for being an all-round legend of a fishing buddy – never a dull moment!
Until next time, all the very best.
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