It doesn't seem that long ago we were fishing here... and it wasn't, as Gary and myself were here back in Feb and March... on the mighty Landridge.
With our plan to hit the pike fishing early we're now fishing this venue at both ends of the same year to see if the pike are resident here, or more nomadic, on this huge water.
Starting at the sluice swims we frequented at the end of last season, it's almost like fishing out of your motor, as the cars can be parked very close by. Dawn's just breaking as we settle into the same spots as we'd fished before, walking our tackle over and setting up.
Fishing three rods each, and using a selection of 'deads', including mackerel, herring, roach, sardine, we covered all the options available as far as distance, depth, and features, to find where the fish were.
As the first couple of rods are sorted, Gary whips out his flask of coffee and pours a hot brew for us both, very handy while we're getting set up, and before the cooker is up and running!
It's Gary who starts us off an hour or so later, as his alarm lets out a loud beep, and we watch as his line peels slowly off the reel. Feeling for the fish with the line in his hand, he waits until the pike has turned the bait before striking, and then it's on.
There's a spirited fight, but it's soon in the net. Gary ready's the mat, forceps, scales and sling, before I bring his catch over. We soon see there's a loose treble that's nicely tangled in the net from the pike's rolling about... so it's seconds to unhook the fish, and ages to unhook the net!
It goes 11lb 10ozs, and makes a good start to the session... must be time for that kettle to make an appearance!
The runs then come fairly regularly during the morning, it's me next with a 8-9lb'er, and then Gary with a 7-8lb'er, followed by another roughly the same size, then he lands a 13lb 2oz.
In fact his swim is the place to be it seems, as at one point we've just put one back, have another in the net, when yet another of his rods starts to go off... absolute chaos!
But all the fish are nicely hooked and take no time to return back to the water, with good bite registration the problems of deep hooking are very few and far between.
It turns out to be Gary's day, and he finishes it off with a nice 14lb 9oz fish, notable because of a yellowish marking on it's flank, meanwhile, I'm hoping my luck will improve as two of my runs end with the pike releasing the baits... but at least I don't have to make the tea!
Leave some for me mate!
We're back the following week, but this time we've moved further round the pit, to a couple of swims a few hundred yards away from where we were last week.
It's almost just open water in front of us, except for a small island to the left of Gary's swim. As we check the depth it soon become apparent that it drops off fairly sharply in front of us, before slowly rising back up to a bar that runs across in front of both of us, obviously coming off the back of the island.
Gary targets his bankside margin, one near the island, and a deep water spot, mid-way out. I haven't got access to the island, so put one of my baits up the side of the bar, then mirror Gary with one mid-water, and the other along my own margin.
And yes, I'm the first to get into a fish this week!
Picking up my favourite mackerel tail bait, after a quiet start to the session, I'm playing what feels like a reasonable fish, but once it's on the bank, we don't bother weighing it, as at best it might go 9lbs. But I've caught, and it's from a new area.
There's a couple of hours before we have any more action, but then there's a run on Gary's margin rod. After feeling the fish, tightening up, then striking, he's annoyed to hit nothing, as the pike has dropped the bait. I offer my help, saying how I thought it was me who usually missed the bites... I chuckle!
But half an hour later, when Gary's island rod goes off, it's him who's laughing, as he plays in what turns out to be a beautifully marked 15lb 2oz fish.
Yes, very nicely marked... with the same yellow patch on it's flank as last week... he's caught it again a few ounces heavier... it seems Gary's got a pet pike!
And just to confound matters even more, as we sit there enjoying a fresh cuppa, Gary's on his phone checking pics of our captures earlier in the year, and would you believe it... he finds a snap of the same pike!
So these guys, must stick around the same area for a while at least?
Gary also went on to prove one rod in the proper place, is worth more than five covering everywhere else. as his island rod brought him two more pike of 14lb 7ozs, and 14lb 8ozs, during the day.