I’ve got nothing against pike at all. In fact, before I began match fishing I used to go pike fishing every weekend. However, in certain situations, they can be rather maddening!
Take last Saturday, for example. I decided to fish a match on the Fossdyke Navigation near Lincoln. The venue is renowned for its winter roach stocks, as well as some very big perch that are rather partial to a portion of lobworm.
While I was plumbing-up against the far bank, I felt a sudden bang on the pole tip. Then another, before I hooked a big fish – on a plummet! After a few seconds, a 3lb jack pike leaped out of the water, biting off my hooklength (and plummet!) as it did so!
I always start the match on lobby for an early perch, and shipping across to 16m, I lowered in a juicy 3in segment! Before the bait settled, I get a quick dink on the float that really put my heart in my mouth! Seconds later, the float began skipping across the surface, before slowly slipping under.
One, two, three, four…and whack…fish on! Five metres of elastic shuddered from the pole, and with the adrenalin pumping I quickly shipped back. However, as the fish kited towards me, I caught glimpse of a torpedo-shaped green back, before I angrily scooped a 2lb jack into my net – which didn’t count.
Towards the end of the match, I really fancied my chances of a big perch, and this time targeting one beside the marginal weeds. Again, I had the heart-stopping jab on the float as a fish grabbed my lobby, and whacked into what I thought was the match-winning fish I’d been hoping for. It stayed deep this time, just like a big perch would, and I was extra careful nursing it back to the top kit. But yes, you’ve guessed it, Essox number three came smiling to the surface with my poor lobworm clamped between its jaws!
I really have to get this one of my chest. I can't stress enough how much I detest wind. Have you noticed that all week you’ll drive over rivers or walk past lakes that are flat calm? Then, when Saturday comes and the fish gods want a giggle over old ginger nut here trying to hang on to 14 metres of pole in a gale, they whack the wind machine on!
It may sound crazy, but I’m convinced someone is in control of the gusts too. Have you noticed that after you’ve plumbed up, and often cupped-in some bait on the long pole, the wind decides to blow like mad? Or another grating occurrence is when there’s absolutely no wind at all, until the all-in is shouted. Just when you have to ship that ball of groundbait to 16 metres, a hurricane arrives from nowhere!
And, to make you look even more of a fool, the wind totally humiliates you in front of your mates. After fighting with six metres of carbon for five hours during a match, the wind machine is suddenly turned off when the all-out is shouted, leaving you with a swim as flat as a millpond! Of course, fellow anglers come down the bank to see what you’ve caught off the flyer, and you’re met with comments like: “Look how calm it is here…” and “Blimey, this isn’t fair, you’ll have been able to fish 16 metres all day here with no wind…” Yeah right!
Is it me, or do boaters always seem to drive right across your best swim? This is by no means a rant about boaters, because I believe that many of them try and do their best for us anglers. However, they just don’t get fishing!
If you’ve just started catching three quarters of the way across the canal, you can guarantee that a boat will come past, and thinking about your best interest, will nudge as far over the canal as possible to get out of your way. However, this is usually right over the line where you’re fishing!
On another day, you’ll be catching in the deepest water down the central track – but this time the boater sticks to the middle – that’s where he’s supposed to go right?
Then there are the nice boaters who slow down as they go past you – great stuff! However, they think that us anglers only ever fish straight infront of us on canals, and when they get five metres past (just about on that chopped worm swim you’ve been priming down your peg…) they give it the full throttle!
I cannot believe the cheek of some ducks nowadays. I swear they’re trained to respond to angling noises and movements. In a recent match at White Acres Fishery, I was at war with Melvin the Mallard. I was feeding casters by hand down the edge, and for two solid hours he was persistently diving down – no matter how much I scared him away! He was homing in on my hand movements when I went to feed, and if I scared him off I could see him glancing at me waiting for me to stop looking at him. As soon as I lost eye contact with him, he’d spin around and come back at me.
In the end, I placed my landing net on the sedge next to where I was feeding, and after I threw a handful of casters in, I’d shake the landing net to keep him away. Then he got really clever, and was sneaking behind the sedge where I couldn’t see him, diving down and popping up right in my swim, chewing casters!
I’ve never been so angry at a duck in my life! Just to feel like I had some kind of revenge on him, I went to the Chinese that night and ordered the biggest portion of crispy duck pancakes I could!
After the amount of time I’ve been fishing, these people shouldn’t annoy me…but they do. How many times have you witnessed a conversation where fishing has been brought-up, shortly followed by the question, “Well, isn’t it just all about luck?”
The fact of the matter is that the truth hurts – perhaps it’s a lot more about luck than we think!
However, after I’ve spent 10 hours during the week preparing for a weekend's match, splashed my wages on bait and tackle, and had endless phone conversations about how to present a rig, the last think I want to hear is someone totally oblivious to the sport telling me it’s all about luck!
I dread to think how many hours, days, weeks and more likely years of my life have been spent debating tactics, rigs, baits or practicing fishing. Luck certainly comes into it, but no, they don’t ‘just bite on the end of the line!’
This point is probably quite unfair, but it annoys me lots, so I’m writing about it! It involves carp that simply won’t stay still in your landing net!
By no stretch of the imagination do I expect fish to be happy about me catching them, but they could at least stay relatively still while I remove the hook. The worse kind I’ve discovered are those huge waddling old creatures, that nod their way into the net, and the as you go to unhook them, they go absolutely mental!
This process can go on for several minutes. It always seems to happen just as you get hold of the hook. The carp will kick, and you’ll have to start again. Then next time, it totally flips over and now you have to unravel the line and find the hook again. This time, it flips again, and somehow the hook has found its way into the net, and the carp and all your shots and line is wrapped-up!
It always seems to happen just when you don’t need it to – normally in the closing stages of a match when you’re playing catch-up and need to get back out and catch another lump. Just stay still, I’ll unhook you, and then you can go back in the water!