Saturday, 21 January 2012

River Piking

I have been an angler now for over thirty years, and in all that time I have never attempted to catch river pike. I decided to put that right and spend a day on a day ticket stretch of my local River Nene.

My plan was simple, to fish a single rod and spend twenty minutes in each likely looking swim. Hugh Tempest Sheringham wrote "A float is pleasing in appearance, and even more pleasing in it's disappearance".  Like Sheringham I like to use a float wherever possible, so I fished my deadbait well over depth with the sliding float lying flat on the surface.

During the course of the morning, the appearance of my float was indeed most pleasing and three times I became even more pleased as it slid downstream submerging as it went. None of the pike were leviathans, the largest being perhaps eight pounds.

Like many rivers nowadays I had the stretch to myself and the wildlife. This part of Northamptonshire is a stronghold of the Red Kite.  I watched one of these magnificent birds soaring up and down the valley in the strong winds. It wasn't hunting but seemed to be just out enjoying the windy conditions.

Unfortunately my day was cut short mid afternoon when my landing net broke, the metal thread connecting it to the landing net pole had sheared. As the banks were not suited to chinning a fish out I called it a day.

Although I have spent many days in the past piking on stillwaters, and been lucky enough to catch a sprinkling of twenties, frankly I find it all a bit boring! For me, winter fishing is all about rivers and after 30 years I think I have finally found a way to enjoy catching pike. Next winter I will target a twenty pound pike from the Nene.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

X marks the Spot

For the river angler January to mid March sees the best of the fishing with most species in prime condition. Chub are my favourite target, but I have also had some of my largest roach, dace, perch, grayling and barbel in these last couple of months of the river season.

I am never in a rush to get on the riverbank at this time of year, and it was late morning before I arrived on the banks of the Upper Welland. Although overcast and unseasonably mild I suspected the clear low water would provide difficult fishing.

I scaled down my hooklength to 4lb fluorocarbon as the river was so clear, and only needed a single swanshot to hold station when fishing to the far back. As there are a few decent Perch on this stretch, I decided to bait up with lobworms and reserve the cheesepaste for after dark.

As expected I fished the first four swims without a bite, although I nearly hooked a fully grown labrador. The dogs idiot owner threw it's ball into the river just off my rod tip, which was naturally retrieved. Thankfully the labrador somehow avoided tangling itself up in my line.

The next swim down was a deep hole where one has to poke the rod through a gap in the trees. Here was a deep eddy which Mr Crabtree would have marked with an X for perch. I missed the first bite, the bobbin rose slowly to the rod, bream thought I. Two minutes later another slow and deliberate bite resulted in my largest small river bream to date at 7lb 1oz.

This was followed by an altogether different bite, the bobbin rising in a jerky manner. Perch thought I , and a nicely conditioned perch of 1lb 7oz was netted. The next perch fell off which as I expected killed the swim.

My next swim was a massive flood raft, Mr Crabtree would have marked this with an X for chub. As expected a chub resulted and a good one too at 4lb 14oz. It had the length of a five but was hollow. Revisiting three of the swims I fished earlier through dusk and into the darkling resulted in three further chub to 4lb 8oz.

What a lovely day on a delightful little river,  I somehow think that Mr Crabtree would have approved.