We have to thank Pete Felstead for organising today, he should know how much we appreciate his hard work and congratulations to Alan on what I know is a hard-earned fish of a lifetime and thanks for letting me use the picture.

What an absolute old warrior of a fish that is. It takes a special kind of genius to cast into a canal and then watch his mate catch a near ten pound zander on the same lure from the same spot ten minutes later. It takes a very, very special kind of genius, just a fortnight later, to fish through a swim without a take that another mate then catches a two pound, a three pound and a four pound perch from. On that basis, I reckon a thirty pound pike is on the cards for anybody fishing near us in two weeks time. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

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From the water’s edge

April 2014 - Always the bridesmaid

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Regular readers will be aware that these days, I am somewhat ambivalent about pike. I admire them, but am not that interested in catching them. I find fishing for zander and perch far more absorbing.

But, every year Pete and I make a special exception, we join Pete Felstead and the Three shires chapter members of the LAS on a local reservoir. These days it is a season ticket only water, but ten years and two weeks ago, whilst fishing there on a day ticket with Bob Tweedle, we bumped into a couple of dodgy looking characters who were also lure fishing. One of them was Pete and we have been fishing together pretty much every week since that day.

We have had some fantastic pike fishing here over the years, but it is one of those places where I find that the day is mapped out in the first hour. Some quick takes and a good day is on the cards. Relentless, fruitless casting at the horizon can just as quickly spell a day’s hard effort for minimal results.

In truth we no longer have the right mindset for pike fishing and a half-hearted last minute selection of a few more-pikey lures is the sum total of my preparation. This water to the best of our knowledge has produced hardly any worthwhile perch. The reason Bob and I first went there was that I had heard on the grapevine that some two pounders were coming out (in those days that was a big fish) but talking to regulars on the bank suggested that these were both rare and invariably the product of a seventy-plus yard cast with blockfeedered maggot.

In all the time we have fished there, and bear in mind that Pete and his mate fished it week in and week out on a season ticket, we never caught more than half a dozen in a day and those were generally around 4-6 oz. The largest either of us had ever caught or seen might have gone a pound.

First down to the water, we started on the dam wall and fished it all the way across to the middle where a tench angler was bivvied up and then abandoned the concrete for the opposite, natural, bank.

We never had a sniff on the wall, but Pete quickly lost a jack before catching a three pounder several casts later in the same place. Same place, same fish methinks, but you never know. Looking back across the water, we saw somebody netting a similar sized fish and I said to Pete that it looked a bit perchy to me. I don’t why I thought that, it must have been two or three hundred yards away, but it was a good sign and we pressed on with renewed interest.

It was a lost cause really. Neither of us had another take, so toward lunchtime we headed back to see what was occurring elsewhere. En route we bumped into Pete F who reckoned a two pound and a three pound perch had been caught from the dam where we had started.

We figured that since this far end of the dam was unoccupied it had to be worth a bash. I changed to my smallest lure, a 3” kopyto, and started to fish it slowly dropping it to the bottom, at regular intervals and immediately I started to get takes. Stupid, irritating, definite but un-hittable takes. Every time my lure approached the dam apron, the line would start tugging and the lure would be pulled down the hook. One fish hung on long enough to embarrass me before falling off as I swung it to hand - a 4 oz pike of all things. Hardly what we wanted and after Pete had caught a small perch shortly afterwards, the takes died away completely. It looked like we were in among the stripeys but that they were of a size that we have always caught there.

We upped sticks and went back along the dam  to see what Alan Brown and Shaun had been up to. Alan had caught perch of well over two pounds and a clonker over three. So that was two three pounders from the dam now. Everybody else had broken for lunch so we slipped in alongside them and made a few tentative casts. Alan had been drop-shotting and there was no arguing with the results. Like me he is or was unconvinced, but results like that take some over-looking. It looked like we had missed the boat, because none of us could buy a bite while we were there.

 

I would expect there to be a good chance that a shoal of perch, no matter how large or small to linger or pass by again sooner or later, but in the thirty minutes or so we fished alongside him they certainly didn’t. By now old age had kicked in and we retired injured (backs aching like mad) and left for dinner.

Later that night I had a brief, to the point e-mail from Alan. Below this picture, it read, “Just after you left, 4 lbs 2 oz.”

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