I fancied a bit of a change the other day and not long after fancying that change, the idea of catching a big old crocodile of a pike on the lure crept into my head. With the rivers still off colour and the canals not really fitting the bill, I pondered a few lakes until Napton reservoir came to the top of the list.
Napton with its deep clear water, should rightfully hold a few nice fat pike in my mind, and I have heard it's produced the odd kipper here and there. In the past it has proved its metal with lure fishing and tossed up a red letter day with a mass of perch with a good helping of jacks sprinkled on the top.
But being a large open lake perched on the side of a hill it is an unforgiving place to be in bad weather. The fishing too can be unforgiving, with the whole lakes fish population seemingly turning off for unknown reasons. Due to this I sought information from Dave Cook, a regular fisher at Napton, to its condition. Unfortunately he hadn't been much lately, but was going the day before me and said he would happily pass on any intel after his visit. Turns out it was clear and high in level due to the rain, but nothing had come out on the day. Undeterred by this I thought maybe by keeping mobile and covering as much water as possible using slow moving soft lures, I might be able to convince even a small pike to rouse itself to attack.
It looked just right when I arrived not long after first light. A bitter wind whipped across the lake rustling the reeds in their winter colours from side to side. On the clear water a huge flock of tufted ducks were gathered along with the coots and seagulls. Two grebes repeatedly dived along the reeds and their presence boosted my confidence further.
Sadly though it turned out to be one of those days when you feel you have done everything right and still you can't make it happen. Even in the wind my casts were sending the lure far out enough to make me confident I was covering good water. The lures I began with were so subtle that not even the most clued up pike could see fault with it. I worked them at a snail's pace, quickly, slowly and even erratically over so many different areas that I had to have come at least close to a pike, but still nothing.
In the end I think it was just one of those days. In years gone by I may have tried to conceive some idea of why I wasn't catching. Nowadays though I realise that sometimes that's just the way it is and even if you try you can't make fish bite. Strangely I didn't feel down by the lack of fish and seemed to quite enjoy being out on a wintry lake on a clear chilly winter's day, and why not, as it's been a terrible wet winter so far.
One thing I did find very interesting whilst I walked the bank was a huge flock of unknown birds which were swinging around over the lake. At first I thought they were just a flock of wood pigeons looking for a farmer's field to destroy, but as the passed overhead I could see they were bigger than pigeons and had almost square cut wings. For some reason I think they might have been some kind of wading bird like oyster catchers, but I have only ever seen them in ones or twos, never in hundreds like this.
I can't see this poor session deterring me from going back to Napton as I really think there has to be some good pike swimming around under those waves and it is one the few nice clear reservoirs in my area where you can go and bank fish into the closed season.