Things of late are going well... very well! I find myself centre of that wonderful place where I chose to fish the right place on the right day, and fish well. My results on this little streak are more than pleasing In fact as Jeff put it the other day on this weekly blog for TCF http://www.tcfmagazine.com/weekly-blogs/item/1061-jeff-hatt-weekly-blog I don't seem to be able to put a foot wrong right now.
Even an impromptu trip to the river a few afternoons ago, where all I had as bait was a few manky maggots and some remnant lob worms, filled my soul with joy as I caught nine stunning virgin river perch from a tiny pool, aside a fast run high up the Avon. Not one was so small as not to satisfy, and all nine were maybe a pound to a pound and a half . The sight of each gorgeous one lying amongst the fading autumn grass caused me to exclaim my joy aloud, even though no one could hear.
But I now find myself eager to return to the lake and that eagerness is filled with trepidation and maybe a fear of impending dread, that my return to this featureless monster may finish up with me again cursing as I shake my fist at it like an old croan, after it has slapped me down.
Pike, my target, grow large and can abound if found. How large they grow is anyone's guess, as fish hide in this lake uncaught for years. The problem is that the lake is huge and shallow and this makes the window for capture small. Once anything more than cat ice forms on its surface, the silver fish and pike undertake a tandem migration into the nature reserve. Yes, a few stranglers remain here and there, but most hide tantalisingly out reach of all anglers.
The lake had changed drastically since I was here last. Summer gone, the lake wears a different outfit which is stark yet still inviting. The trees that line its banks find themselves in various states, some already bare whilst others still cling to their red rust leaves, some remaining ever green. Work I see has been carried out since I left. Gone are some trees, their stumps visibly sawn through, whether pushed down by wind or just felled to make room. It matters not as new generations wait ready to fill the spaces. The edge of the water is no longer carpeted in pads but instead holds rafts of rotting foliage waiting to decay and drop their nutrients to the bottom ready for next year. Banks too have a covering of leaves which I kick up in the air like a child as I trudge along against the bitter wind.
I have followed that age old advice to fish on the end of the wind and as I head to my spot I am glad of my decision. The still clear water looks very life less indeed, though I am not so foolish to fish with it smashing into my my face. Instead I find a spot behind an odd bush that never seems to lose it leaves and secrete myself hidden away. Waves move right to left and I know this will help by imparting movement to my baits. But I also know that staring at the moving water too long will give me weird bending vision when I look away to still land.
Hunkered down hidden away I watch my floats bobbing around and hope that one will spring to life. Those first hints that a pike is on your bait translated by a buoyant float always gets me going; the float does a deeper bob than normal, and if in still water, you see the ripple suddenly emanate in rings outwards.
And soon enough it happens, as my left hand float dipped deeply once before heading off across the lake. What happened next must have looked so comical. I set my feet firm in the ground as the fish tightened up on the line. The rod in hand I clicked off the free spool and wound down before striking hard expecting some serious resistance. Then a sub pound jack pike nearly came flying out of the water as all my strength and my heavy rod removed it from its damp home like a match angler would whip in a small bleak from the river. Red faced I reeled the poor fellow in and separated him from the 2oz roach he had engorged.
Feeling a little foolish I began rebaiting. Whilst doing so I looked up to see my second still fishing float gone. Not wanting to be so over zealous I this time took up any slack in the line until I could feel the fish moving away. A much gentler strike met no resistance at all this time as the bait was removed from its bite.
A while later my two floats again bobbed around and confident of more action I sat ready. Another run soon materialised again on the left hand rod. The float ran off then popped back up ten feet from its original spot and stayed there until I wound it in to find a few tiny gashes in the side of the bait. Perplexed but still hopeful a bigger one might be around I recast.
That rod had not been on the rests more than a minute when the float began shooting off again. This one I hit early and hooked. Believe me when I say a one pound jack pike puts barely a bend in a three pound rod. Amusing as this was, the fish I was after was at an estimate at least twenty five pounds bigger than anything I had caught and I was getting the feeling that if she was around these little fish may not be.
A move later I was on the edge of where the wind hit the water. One bait cast into the ripple and the other in the still black water. For the rest of the morning my eyes flicked from one float to the other always expecting one to be gone when I looked back. But neither did!
It is hard to feel let down by my decision to return as I know what I am trying to catch will not be easy as I am trying to find a large needle in a hay stack full of much smaller needles. But the only thing I must be mindful of is not to become like old Ahab over this giant pike I have seen. It might take many years to chance upon such a fish in the lake again so it is just a case of keep trying until our paths cross again.