Session 11 – Trying For Pike Again

Thursday, 25th February, I headed off on a pike fishing session at the same venue as my previous session – which had been 16 days previous! Seems that circumstances dictated for various reasons  that I couldn’t get out earlier and although it seemed an age since my last waterside ventures I hadn’t realised that it had actually been so long and thought it had been more like 10 or 11 days!

Anyway, tackle sorted and lightened from previous visit and with bait and, remembering last session, barrow loaded I headed off from home at around 0730 arriving at the venue’s car park around 0810.

Barrow was a godsend and, although a couple of short breathing stops were needed en-route I reached my planned destination – which was the one intended for the last session but due to fatigue never reached.

No capybaras spotted either!! LOL!

Anyway, for various reasons, the day was not the most enjoyable day for me… Firstly, I’d recently had a lot of almost sleepness nights in a row and even the overnight preceding the trip it had gone 0400 when I fell asleep and the alarm to get up, get ready, and get out went off at 0545. Then the forecast had said heavy overnight frost and daytime temps rising to 2C and so I donned my padded bib’n’braces for extra warmth – and actually the temps were quite mild even at 0800 due to a clear sky and the sun rising, and that coupled with the exertion of barrow pushing soon made me over-warm – so warm in fact that my specs constantly misted over and I couldn’t see where I was going… and on arrival the swim was like a sun trap in the trees with me facing directly in the sun and effectively feeling like a sausage under a full grill… so there I sat tired, fatigued and heat exhausted for most of the morning.. and probably those reasons I was almost totally unco-ordinated and along with niggling tackle problems too I took an age setting up and first casts were not made until 1030… and by 1200 I was trying to force myself to stay until at least 1330. But a bit later the temps dropped, the bib’n’braces were discarded and I got slightly more envigorated by chatting to a fellow member and eventually stopped until the planned 1500 finish…

Anyway, as to the fishing – I’d cast out the depth sounder around the area in front of me finding a level 18’ of water at casting distance and sloping up to 3’-4’ about a rod length out… so firstly I threw out a few balls of crumb containing blitzed sardine and mackerel as an attractant rubby-dubby in the intended fishing area and then straight ledgered two baits – one a small ‘jack’ on a single size 2 hook on the 18’ level , the other a sardine on the rise at around the 11’/12’ depth mark. And there they sat, except for a few minor twitches made to try to attract the attention of any marauding predators, until 1400… untouched.

At 1400 I decided to change the sardine bait to a fresh one and to change its presentation slightly – and the new bait had a balsa pop-up stick pushed into its guts and stooped so that it sat around 2’ above the bottom. But an hour later when I decided to tackle down still no indication of interest had been noted.


Water temperature was measured at a constant 6C all session.


ScreenHunter_08 Feb. 27 17.18

Session 10 – Pike Fishing – A Tale Of Burdens, Capybara And The Usual Blank

Tuesday, 9th February, I headed off on a pike fishing session on one of my club’s pools…IMAG0047However, before leaving the house I made an important, and as it turned out, disastrous decision. I’ve been cutting down on tackle and I thought I’d reached the point whereby I could get away without the barrow and carry my tackle to the water’s edge. *** WRONG ***! Firstly, I hadn’t considered my shoulder shape – ie they are curved downwards – and so to keep straps (bags/holdalls, etc) on I tilt the carrying shoulder up… ok, fine if only one item but if you have two then you need to use both shoulders BUT then by raising one shoulder the other one drops? And one of the items slides off… so, carry with the straps crossing the chest you say – yeah, great, then strangulation occurs in the pincer movement of the straps around the neck… AND I actually had 3 items with shoulder straps to carry anyway – rod quiver, main tackle shoulder bag (still quite heavy in fact due to the pike tackle – 12” pliers and cutters, a number of 2-3oz leads, 1.2 litre flask, bag of fruit – and a Korum mat bag (unhooking mat cum bag) containing my Shakespeare stool/chair and weigh sling. Also I had an insulated hand bag for the frozen deadbaits. Anyway, this water is a fair distance away from the car park – and due to the carriage problems most of it done in a ’carry half the tackle 200 yards, go back and  get the rest and carry that 300 yards, go back and get the first lot and move that up and drop, then frog leap the second lot along,…etc…etc’ until I reached where I wanted to be. Well, actually, NO, irt wasn’t… I wanted to be further round the pool but gave up and selected a second-best option. AND that was the easy leg of the trip – the downhill arrival – the harder bit was the uphill journey back that required more stops and more leap-frogging…

MORAL: if water/swim > 100 yards from car then take the trolley/barrow!!

Actually, the barrow, fully laden with what I carry now (even with my Big Daddy recliner high back chair), feels as if there’s nothing on it these days as I used to have 3 big bags full of stuff, buckets, boxes and other stuff.

Anyway, the journey from the car to the swim on the pool was enlightened somewhat by spotting a capybara…



Lat.:      S  Long.:     W  
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…hopping up a hillside to my right… at first I thought it was a coypu but that has a long rat-like tail and my spotted creature had a small (almost like a docked dog’s) tail. I would have photo’d but as said before I was well weighed under with tackle and my camera itself was within my tackle bag … and my mobile in a pocket in my waistcoat under my jacket… and even if I’d the camera in hand my the time I’d have switched on and focussed it would have been well over the top of the hill. But I know what I saw 🙂

And so… I eventually arrived at where I was to fish albeit not where I had intended originally, cast out the depth finder and ascertained the depth gently shelved out down to 10’ or so 3-4 rod lengths out and then level at that depth further out… and I also noted fish at about half depth being detected…

Two ledger rods were assembled and fished with bluey’s, sprats, jacks and pollan from 0900 – and twitched and jerked at intervals, re-cast in different areas, etc… and one rod was fished with a pop-up ball at varying depths between 18” deep (ie ball on surface and bait on 18” wire trace) and pulled lower at 10-15 intervals by tightening up gently until the bait was 18” off the bottom…..however, not one sign of interest was seen and at 1330, with a very cool breeze having arrived, I tackled down and started on my multi-stage trek back to the car…

The next outing is planned for Friday 12th Feb… and as the forecast weather reckons a high of 2C … and as Liz has decided to spend the time with her sewing machine … I think it will be a few hours for me lure fishing on some stretches of the canal that I’ve not visited previously.

Session 9 – Canal Perch And Pike Fishing…

Sunday, 7th February, with the forecast having been reasonable – and weather actually being reasonable on the morning – I headed off to a stretch of the Staffs-Worcs Canal for a couple of hours at a location recommended by a friend and master angler. I‘d not fished this stretch ever before myself so it was a new experience for me.

The canal, as I arrived at 1000, looked very inviting along its length and I headed to the particular area where I’d been told I would stand a good chance of connecting with a good pike – the informant telling me that when perching he quite regularly has to snatch his lure away from the resident pike there.

I didn’t make my usual mistake of fishing along to my destination as that way, quite often time passes quickly and you never arrive where you wanted to reach or do so with limited time available and on this session I wanted to spend as much time as I deemed necessary in a relaxed way and thus work with a clear head unhurriedly and ring all the changes in presentation and areas cast to in order to maximise the chances of a catch.  And I could spend a few minutes at each of  the other likely spots I’d passed by on the walk back. So the rods remained folded down until I arrived at the destination… and actually a little beyond.

On the walk up I met a young lure angler heading back down towards me… a few words exchanged about the fishing… at that point he was on a blank session…

I had two rods set up:

  1. A 9’ 20g-90g rated lure rod on which I had a baitcaster reel loaded with 30lb braid and 30lb wire trace and a Savage Gear 13cm (21g) perch patterned soft 4-Play lure…
  2. A 6’ 2g-20g rated lure rod with a small fixed spool reel loaded with 6lb braid and terminated with 18” of 6lb mono to which a small red jelly lure was mounted on a size 8 hook with a single SSG shot placed at its nose for weighting. No wire trace on this setup as to have used a wire trace would have killed the lure action and this rod was meant for purely for mini-jigging for perch.


So, first casts were made at around 1030 with the larger lure rod, actually in an area a little further along from the directed area in order to get the baitcaster reel set up correctly for the lure in use and to get myself ‘warmed up’ with it – it being only the second outing I’ve had with this reel and the initial outing, although it went well for quite a time, eventually culminated with a bird’s nest. However, a few casts with the baitcaster rod later and I was happy with its use and so I followed up with a few with the light lure rod … however, neither combination resulted in any action at all at that point.

So I moved on down to ‘the swim’ I had intended to fish and spent 40-45 minutes there casting and ringing the changes as planned but it appeared that Mrs Esox had packed her bags and gone on vacation to the Trent & Mersey Canal…as seems to be usual whenever I come calling… 🙂

One cup of coffee later and I was on the move back to the car stopping off and having a few casts with mainly the ‘perch’ rod but a few with the larger lure rod too… nothing came to the larger lure rod but several plucks in several areas were felt on the ‘perch’ rod and one small but pristine conditioned perch did get landed…



Due to the missed plucks I did try moving the hook on the lure further back in order to try to connect with the ‘tail harassers’ but I was unsuccessful.

Anyway, by 1300 the wind had picked up a fair bit making casting of the light lure a bit difficult – and it was also a cool breeze and numbing my fingers with cold – plus I was, by that point, only a hundred of yards from the car anyway and so decided to call it a day – and I had only intended to be out a couple of hours anyway….

Session 8 – Pool Chub Are Targetted … But The Pike Jinx Continues…

Thursday, 4th February, I decided to try a bit of general coarse fishing – hoping for some good chub in particular – on what is my usual pike pool…

I arrived at the pool’s side at around 0830, threw out some feed in the form of a few balls of my usual crumb mix with added maggots and then tackled up and prepped my equipment and laid out my ‘station’ ready for action…

I used 2 ledger rods – 8lb main lines, small free-running weights, and a size 12 hook on one rod baited with worm/maggot cocktail throughout the session, whilst I used a size 8 on the other which was baited at times with paste of mainly wholemeal bread flour/blitzed cucumber – the thinking for this is that when pike fishing with smelt, a cucumber smelling fish, then generally, at least at this particular pool, there is a lot of interest in those smelt baits by chub and several have actually been caught – and also cheesepaste and prawn.

[I also read some time ago of someone who also reports improved pike results by storing his non-smelt deadbaits in blitzed cucumber puree.]

And so it came to pass that I made my first casts of the day at 0900 – and first action was at 0950 when the worm/maggot rod was the source of a slow bleep as line was taken very slowly. A strike met a firm plodding resistance and I thought I had hooked into a good bream – but when the fish broke water it was actually a pike of around 3.5lb-4lb and was duly netted and placed on the unhooking mat. And then the ‘pike curse’ took effect – as I uncovered the mesh of the landing net from over the pike’s head it flipped its body and did an incredibly good impression of toothpaste leaving its tube after being driven over by a No 7 bus being driven at 90mph – and so it rocketed out of the landing net, sliding off the unhooking mat and on down the bank back into the water and the 8lb line to which it was attached had no chance to hold it back… so no actual weighing could be made and no photo… and no chance to admire…

And after that very little happened until I eventually tackled down at 1500 – about 4 small tugs on cheesepaste, 1 small tug on worm/maggot and nothing at all on the cucumber paste or on prawn.



0900             Air: 10.3C    Water: 7.5C
1000              Air: 12.1C    Water: 7.5C
1100               Air: 11.9C    Water: 7.5C
1200              Air: 11.9C    Water: 7.5C
1300              Air: 12.0C    Water: 7.5C
1400              Air: 11.4C    Water: 7.6C
1500              Air: 12.5C    Water: 7.6C

Air (Max/Min):         12.7C/10.3C
Water (Max/Min):       7.7C/7.5C


ScreenHunter_07 Feb. 05 08.11

Session 7 – Shropshire Union Canal – Pike Fishing On The Float

Tuesday, 2nd February, saw me on the banks of my club’s stretch of the Shropshire Union Canal with my canal pike float fishing gear – 3lb TC rod (actually a Ron Thompson Sea Bass rod), 40lb braid main line, 30lb wire trace and a size 2 single hook – I was intending to use small  baits on this session – and did so – but I did carry other traces suitable for larger baits in the event I needed them. Weight on the line was a Grey’s Prowla Quick Change type – 8g – and the float was a medium size ’30 Tackle’ traditional type pike bung. I did originally start with the small size bung but found that the weight was marginally too large and that that float slowly sank but the medium was perfect with about ¼” of the bung above water. Tackled up this way meant that if I had have desired I could have easily switched to a ledgered bait by simply removing the float via its slotted side…

And so, I arrived at the canal a little after 0815, and parked by the bridge at which the club’s stretch commenced and thus was at the water’s edge within 1 minute and, as I carry my rods ready made up, the first bait was in the water within a further two minutes… and I elected to use a ‘jack’, injected with about 2-3ml of an emulsion made by dissolving lecithin (emulsifier) into 80ml of water  and adding 15ml of mixed oils (cod liver, lamprey – and a fish oil mixture used to distract our ferrets when claw trimming) plus about 5ml of ‘Predator Plus’ additive and giving a good shake.

The water was crystal clear – and remained so all day long as boat traffic was almost negligible – the only watercraft being a rowboat type craft with an electric motor with an old guy – and which insisted on travelling along the canal 4’ from the towpath side… being kindly I like to think he was an in-the-know-angler really and keeping away from the far bank where I was placing my baits at that time… 🙂

[I use an emulsified oil mix in preference to ‘raw’ oil for a couple of reasons … (a) it preserves costly oils by turning 10ml of the concentrate into 100ml of working solution … and as pike can sense small quantities then there is no need for super strengths… and (b) oil in itself is immiscible with water and thus the smell/flavour as it leaches from the bait will be confined largely within the drops of oil that escape from the bait and which will generally will rise towards the surface developing a cone shaped area as it does so ie the point of the cone is at the bait with the larger base area at the water surface – thus most of the attraction is away and up from the bait and so pike at near the floor of the water will get very little sense of it… however, emulsion, made up as an emulsion is, of water enclosed oil micro-droplets act very much as water itself does in general and thus is more compatible and miscible and will spread outwards in all directions from the bait rather than only upwards… thus this in itself also maximises the pulling power of the oils and probably more than compensates for the lesser quantity used….

Thanks to John Watson’s ‘River Piking’ video for this tip]

Anyway, I fished the first spot for 40 minutes casting at intervals to different areas – far bank, under the bridge itself, boat channel, etc, etc and then elected to move on – and I did the move every 20-45 minutes to different interesting areas along the canal probably covering 1/2 mile or so before packing in at around 1330…

Result? Not a single touch all session…..again… 🙂

However. I would have stayed another hour or so had not been for an overcast into the far bank shrubbery… as usual with 40lb braid getting the tackle back intact was no problem BUT when it freed itself the end tackle catapulted over the canal and wrapped itself around the rod blank – in two places, hook and weight at one point and float and intermediate line a bit further up – and so it was a devil’s own bird nest and would have required a cut-and retackle, so I decided, taking into account the lack of action – and the cold fingers too – to pack the gear up, drop it in the car and bring it all home to resolve the issue.

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