Tuesday, 29 September 2015

A perfect moment of good froggy fun.

My nose wrinkled up as I paused on the old bridge at the head of the lake and my inner monologue became an outer one even though no one was in the car to hear it. "Ah shit!"
It is literally amazing the carnage a flock of Canadian geese can cause. The flock of thirty or more which were currently ripping up the lawn beside the little forgotten lake had churned what should have been a clear shallow estate lake into something that resembled a run of the mill commercial pond, with their mindless munching. Still though I would persist as it was a warm late summer afternoon, I practically had the whole pool to myself and the thought of a hot blooded jack pike chasing down my lure was all I could think of.

I'd already walked from under the drooping ancient willow near the bridge all along the lawn and crossed the stagnant feeder stream at the head of the lake. For all my nosing and staring all I had seen was a shoal of ten small roach lipping tit bits that had collected along the dying lily pads at the mouth of the stream. Now I was walking slowly along in the darkness on the old path under the trees behind the island. Two months ago you couldn't even see the water for all lily pads that had sprouted in the shallow water. Now though autumn was only days away and the once tough round green leaves that hid the lake had lost their buoyancy and rotted, half sunk in the turbid water. 

Bar two perplexed looking ducks and a panicky Moorhen, the water behind the island seemed devoid of life until I passed behind a hawthorn tree which sprouted from the edge of the path. Stopping just in the realm of cover I peeped round into the weed. This was perfect two Jack pike floated still as stone, head to tail in a clearing in the half dead pads.

If one pike floating in the weeds was a prospect, I was sure this was a cert. Before I moved back behind the tree my mind ran an inventory of the lures in my back pack. Third box down...top row...in the forth section from the left. That was it, the only thing I had which I could pull through even dying weed without getting snarled up. Sure enough the amphibian equivalent of the eighty's sex doll, the weed free frog lure lay hidden under a small tangled mess of plugs in the exact section I predicted. Not wanting to lose this opportunity I dived straight in grabbing the whole section load of lures as gently as I could and feeling several sharp pricks of trebles as I did. Moments of violent shaking soon loosened the lures and the single frog fell onto the floor. As fake as it was I knew that this was all I had that stood a chance of attracting those torpid pike out of their trance.

Trying not to rush, I threaded the frog onto the clip and set the clever wire weed guard into place. Leaving my bag leaning against the tree, I pushed my net across the floor towards the edge of the lake, without  stepping out from behind the tree I leaned out with the rod. I knew casting such a light lure from high up the bank was a risk, but I also knew any movements could send the pike darting away in an instant.

With a determined flick the less than aerodynamic frog arched through the air, landing a good ten feet past the little pikes. Gently I tightened up on the line lifting it off the surface and began steering the frog on course towards the gap in the weed. Using some gentle lifts of the rod I, in my clumsy way, tried to imitate the movement of a frog as best I could. Three inches at I a time I dragged the frog closer and closer until eventually it rested on a pad at the edge of the clearing.

This was it I took a deep breath and pulled the lure into the kill zone. At first it was all real time slow motion as the smaller of the two fish just tipped forward and sank like a submarine out of sight. For a moment I thought it had all gone bad but then I tugged the frog again and the second jack turned slowly towards it. I pulled again, sure it would strike, but the fish paused as the frog stopped. So I pulled again and the water erupted as the pike attacked.

I'd hardly had chance to strike before my yellow line cut across the shallow water cutting through every lily pad as the pike ran away and I tightened down on it. The fight was never going to be a glorious one and even after we laid waste to a large ecosystem and the pike was in the net, I knew the most satisfying part of this capture was by far the strike.

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