I had all three rods cast in and in position by 6.10am, not bad when you consider that this water has a no fishing before 6-00am rule. I sat down to watch the water for signs of fish activity when I got one of those stomach pains that tells you to get to the toilet or else! “Great start” I thought as I climbed over the fence to get back to the rods, deed done.
The right hand rod had a drop back. I suspected a tench to be the culprit as I swung the bait back into the margin spot. I still had the right hand rod in my hands when the left-hand indicator rose to the top before the line pinged out of the clip and away it went. A vicious strike met no resistance but the coots scattered from over the baited area. I was pestered non-stop for the next hour by the little darlings, argh, I could kill the b******s.
At 7-30 I had a take on the middle rod which resulted in a fresh air strike (I’m getting good at these). On inspecting the hook it was obvious that a tench was the culprit as it had left a couple of its’ unmistakable scales on the point. The rig was experimental and so the missed take even though it wasn’t a carp was starting to sow the seeds of doubt in my mind as to the effectiveness of this rig. It looked good, the thinking behind it was good, but was it any good? I had the rod recast for 7-45am.
The coots left me alone for a while now, even though they were still pretty close to the left-hand rod. This can be a good sign on this water, as they seem to be scared to death of the bigger fish. Incidentally, the great crested grebes on this water are the carps’ biggest give away location wise. As soon as they spot a carp they bolt away from it at great speed.
The S/W breeze had picked up to a wind by 8-00am and brought great rafts of drifting weed with it. Normally I would drop the rod tips under water but was unable to do so as I was fishing over a close in weed bed that reached the surface. Fortunately this close in weed bed protected the lines from most of the rafts but one broke through at 8-15am and wiped the left-hand rod out. With the coots and the weed, this was the 5th recast of this rod so far this day! Recasting was difficult to say the least with the wind increasing in strength and just to make matters worse it started raining.
The light thrashing of the water to get the left hand rod in position seemed to have a great effect on attracting the coots back onto this baited area. The water is difficult enough but sometimes the wild fowl and the elements make the fishing nigh on impossible. Sitting under the umbrella watching the coots and ducks emptying your swim of bait while it’s chucking it down, comes pretty low on my list of enjoyment. I mean, I could have stayed at home and watched paint dry or the grass grow in the garden! Then, to make matters worse the swans joined in. I’m paranoid about hooking swans or getting them tangled in my line. So I spent the next few minutes sweating as they fed on the weed but right on top of my lines.
Fortunately I had no problems with the swans but the coots were a nightmare. I was hoping that one would hook itself, cruel I know, but this is the best deterrent for the rest of them that I’ve ever seen. Hook one and wind it in and you don’t see another one for hours, it’s great. I know I’m going on a bit about the coot problem but the main feeding time on here is between 8-00am and 10-00am with a lesser chance an hour either side of these times. The fish don’t tolerate leads hitting the water too much and with the swim being weedy, any major movement of the bait means big presentation problems and hence a recast.
10-00am went by as the coots kept up their relentless assault on my left-hand hook bait. Time was running out fast and my patience had run out a long time ago. I was contemplating packing up at 11-00am but decided to give it until noon. That now left me an hour and fifteen minutes, as it was now 10-45am. Five minutes later I had a single bleep and a slight movement of the indicator on the middle rod. I’d been getting these for most of the morning due to the wind but this one was different. I can’t explain it but you just know when it’s a take, don’t you? As I stared at the indicator the same thing happened again so I made a move towards the rod. As I did the indicator rose to the top and I stuck hard. Everything was solid as it usually is when fishing in and around the dense weed in this swim. I wound down until the line sang in the wind and I feared that the line might give. After a couple of seconds wondering if I had hit a snag, I felt a little kick and the object started slowly moving towards me. I suspected a tench covered in weed to be on the other end of the line until I felt a powerful lunge and then heard a crack!
The line was still intact and I couldn’t work out what the noise was until I tried to wind some line in. The reel stem had cracked half way through and as I tried to wind in the reel would start to twist to an angle of about 45 degrees to the rod! What to do? I thought about opening the bail arm and swapping the reel body for one of the others but thought that this would be suicide in the snaggy conditions. I decided to try and pump the fish in, this way I could keep the pressure on the reel stem down to a minimum but would probably end up getting weeded up more than usual as I let the pressure off to retrieve the line. The fish was obviously one of the bigger fish in the water as it was powerful but slow and a huge boil on the surface when the leader knot was nowhere in sight confirmed this to be so.
I managed to get the fish to within 20 yards of the bank without too much trouble when it decided that it wanted to get into the snags on my right. I had a few yards of space to play with but decided not to let the fish get too much of a head of steam up, so I applied maximum side strain in the hope that the fish would kite round to my right and stay well out of the way of the snags. The tactic was working perfectly until the leader knot rose to the surface with weed clinging to it. The next moment there was a swirl at the leader knot and the rod sprang back. I couldn’t believe it; I’d been bitten off by a pike.
Words can’t really describe how I felt at that moment. If you’ve lost a big fish you might just know what I mean. I normally take lost fish pretty well, it happens and it happens to the best anglers in the country but the circumstances that lead to that loss were incredible to say the least and beyond my control.
I fished on for a couple of hours but my heart wasn’t in it. I ended the session with a tench and a duck! It’s a few days now since I lost that fish and it still hurts but I’ll be back again for another go soon. Let’s face it, it can’t get any worse than that, touch wood.