For all you hardcore fly fishing fanatics, what I’m about to tell you may induce vomiting, nausea and in some cases extreme hysteria. Last weekend I ventured out to a lake somewhere in Yorkshire and sat for hours in a chair enduring sub zero conditions watching a float. Yes, the pike fishing illness has spiraled out of control.
The prep for such an undertaking is worse than any trout fishing excursion. I had to go buy some snugly winter bootees and some deadbaits then smuggle them into the freezer without being spotted (the deadbaits, not the bootees) then spend an hour sorting out tackle I would need. I also filled up a deep Belfast sink with water and proceeded to see exactly what my float ledger rig looked like underwater and what happened when the bait got moved etc.Not so different to pratting round with dries in a small tank of water I guess, which I have done before. Then I had to dig out the ‘Fox Stalker’ predator chair, a load of warm clothing, discover my special microwave-activated soup flask doesn’t fit in the new microwave, make sarnies, find rods etc
I was plotted up in my comfy chair with a half mackerel in the water by about 9:20 which is good for me. I had a bite alarm on the front bankstick and a drop-off indicator on the rear one and my unweighted pencil float cocked perfectly. Let’s get it on!
An hour later I’d had no interest so brought my bait back in and now it was defrosted I could ram a pop-up foam stick down it (this venue has weed even in winter). 30 mins after re-cast the float took on a jaunty angle. Hmmm. I stared intently. Another twitch, then a beep, another beep. Right, I’m having this! I simultaneously reeled in and struck and the fish was on! A splashy fight ensued followed by a really nicely marked pike on the mat.
I put on another bait and recast. 30 minutes later I had a series of ‘bobbings’ on the float then it lifted and lay flat followed by a series of beeps. I was in again. This fight was less fierce but a lot more ‘solid’. When I eventually netted it I saw I had my biggest ever pike, probably about 10lb. I treated the fish with much reverence – out of the net and onto mat, hooks carefully removed and out of the way, . Finally, phone camera out …and it slithered off the mat at great speed back into the lake before I could get the shot! Aaargh. My heart sank but I had to put it out of my mind. By this time Stu had turned up and was on the far bank, pity he’d not arrived earlier!
Out went my rig again, this time a smelt. Stu eventually turned up and asked me what sort of indication I’d been getting with these fish. “Well” said I “the float laid flat and there was a beep….beep beep..beep” at which point my bite alarm again went beep….beep beep..beep! “Just like that!”. Another fish on, which turned out to be a plump little pike of maybe 6 or 7lb? Thoughts welcome!
A fourth and final fish fell to the same smelt just as light was beginning to go. What a day, what a rush!
Hearing that bite alarm go, and seeing the float moving around, is just as exciting as watching a dry fly get taken off the surface by a trout, feeling a pull to a nymph, or having a lure piled into. It’s the same feeling. By God it was cold though, reminded me of a day I spent at Raygill about 20 years ago when I was so cold I briefly contemplated pissing in my waders for a brief moment of glorious warmth.