Since being asked to join the team at Baitbox/Pikepro, I’ve not really had much chance to actually go out and do any pike fishing, so I planned a session at Derby venue, Marketon Park. Run by The Earl of Harrington’s AC, it’s a water where I’ve had success when carp and bream fishing, but so far, the pike had eluded me, despite hearing stories of others catching; isn’t that always the way?
The weather forecast was for freezing fog, and by the time I arrived at the waterside as dawn broke, I couldn’t see very much, aside from a covering of ice over half of the lake. On my previous visit, I’d missed a run from a particular peg on the car park side, so set up two rods, and dropped a roach hookbait close in, under a tree, and cast the other out towards the margins of the island, again, close to a fallen tree. I’d been there about an hour, slowly getting lower in my chair as the freezing fog coated everything with a thin sheen of bitterly cold condensation, when a bleep gained my attention. The rod tip was moving, and line slowly peeled forth from the spool as a fish moved away from the cover of the island tree, so I left it for a couple of seconds, lifted the rod, and promptly missed it! Whatever was there had escaped, and to make it worse, it had made off with my popped up roach hookbait too! Pikepro pop up traces make mounting a hookbait far less complicated than some other methods I’ve seen, so I quickly hooked another roach on, and flung it back towards the island where it settled nicely on top of some dying weed. Perfect.
Another hour passed, and this time it was the near margin rod tip which was twitching as the bait was lifted. This roach deadbait was much bigger, in an effort to lure one of the bigger residents, and I hadn’t really expected it to be taken. For a few seconds, the rod nodded, and then stopped. I left it, and a minute later, it happened again, and the indicator rose slightly; still I left it, hoping for a full blooded take… It didn’t happen, so that was two potential fish I’d missed, so I was a little disheartened, especially as that was the last bleep from either alarm for some time…
I like fishing this well managed park lake, and after announcing my presence on social media, it was nice to find a friend who came by to prebait a few spots (don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone!) and share a few ideas for an hour or two. I always make an effort to get a few clues from anglers who know the water better than I, and although Ian is a regular carp angler, he still lets me know where he has spotted pike; very useful! Whilst Ian was watching, I pulled off one of those miracle casts, the kind of cast which lands within centimetres of the target at about seventy yards, and the one you can look back and pretend you meant it, when the truth is, it was a fluke, (shh!) but landed perfectly between the branches of the fallen tree; a perfect ambush point!
I slowly tightened up to the lead as I didn’t want to move the bait at all, and prayed that the pesky swans wouldn’t decide to swim through the lines. After a while, Ian had to depart for the school run, and I was left to contemplate packing up as the darkness crept up on me. I began to pick up the sundries, leaving the rods as long as possible, when suddenly, a series of twitchy movements saw the drop off fall away, and line slowly (very slowly) move through the rod rings as my wonder cast was picked up! With delicate bites, I always try to pinch the line between forefinger and thumb to see if I can feel the fish, and I could definitely feel something on the other end! Clicking over the bail arm, and sweeping the rod skywards, I at last connected with a fish! It felt very heavy, but as I know the water is weedy, I wasn’t convinced it was big fish until I could see it. As I played it at range, it felt very unusual; not the normal head shaking thump of a pike, but still a heavy lump… then a series of sharp rattles on the rod tip, and I thought I’d lost it! Fortunately, the trebles held, and the pike, now feeling a little lighter, started to move towards me as it tired. A few minutes later, and a double figure fish was safely netted, laid on the mat, and the trebles released. I cleared my rod, line and net away from the mat, and prepared to turn the fish over for a better look. Unbelievably, it had teeth marks in it! The heavy weight I’d felt was obviously a much bigger female which had taken a fancy to an easy meal, and clamped onto my fish! My capture was in good condition though, a little cold with an odd leech attached, so had obviously been lying on the bottom, but an application of carp care cream was given to the missing scales and teeth marks, and the fish released to swim away strongly.
I packed up in the gloom, and walked back to the van as the mist descended once more, happy with a fish when it looked as though I was going to be beaten again. It was nice to use my new supporters tackle and bait, and get a result, and I have to say that the pop up traces are definitely a much easier way to mount a bait above weed or other muck, so why not check them out? Simple and effective, like pike fishing should be.