Here we are again... and we're getting a few more frosty days now... so it's plenty of layers, and then squeeze into the cold weather suit!
With the cooler weather you hope the bait fish are starting to shoal up, and near them hopefully the pike. We know this area holds reasonable numbers, but we want to find out whether the bigger females have moved in yet.
So the baits are put out, and we give them the full menu, mackerel, herring, roach, sardine... how could they refuse?
Well they do, or at least for a couple of hours, until Gary's alarm breaks the peace and quiet! And a scraper double is soon on the mat. Not a monster, but a good clean fish, caught on his herring deadbait.
As the kettle steams away and mugs are readied, I'm starting to think whether this'll be another blank day for me, with Gary already off and running?
But not long after it's my alarm that's working hard, as line pulls out the clip and I'm finally away.
I'm really taking care to feel what the fish is doing once I've tightened up to it. I've dropped a couple in the last few outings, so I need to make sure the fish has the bait. There's a few nods and tugs, as hopefully the fish is turning the bait, then a good hard pull as the fish moves off.. I strike, and it's definitely on.
A good fight, it seems the pike are quite boisterous today, but I steer it into the waiting net. The time taken to hook the fish properly has worked well, as we find the trebles are mid-way across the pikes mouth, and come out fairly easily, it weighs just over 13lb. With beautiful markings it's a reasonable fish... and again the going bait is herring.
More tea brewing, and I've now got a grin on my face!
The grin then becomes a beaming smile as the next run, is again mine. These fish have definitely had their three shredded wheat this morning, as they put in some powerful lunges before submitting to the net.
This one goes 14lb 7ozs. And guess what, it's taken the herring too.
The day drifts on, and the action slows. During the early afternoon both of us have fish, but they're only jacks in the 7-9lb range, and the only curious thing being the bait... herring!
So that's five pike on the bank between us, all taken on the same bait, from different areas, when they had the choice of other normally favoured 'deads'... can you think why? We couldn't.
The afternoon wears on and as we're now thinking it'll soon be time to pack away the gear, Gary's furthest rod, which hadn't done a thing all day, rips off!
Putting a nice bend in his rod, this looked like it would be a good fish, and as Gary lifted its head over the edge of the net, we both knew it was. Unclipping the trace in the net allows us to get the rod out of the way, as we lift the fish onto the unhooking mat.
With forceps, scales and camera all ready, the pike's unhooked, weighed and photographed, and back in the water within minutes.
Gary's the one with the grin now - with a head on it the size of an average dog, if this pike had eaten a couple of good meals it would certainly be a '20' - but it's fairly empty, and only pushes the scales up to 17lb 14ozs, what a shame, but it's still looks impressive. And amazingly enough it's the first fish on a different bait.. a roach!
Yes, very nice, but stop grinning now and get that kettle on before it gets dark!