Thursday 15th February saw me head to Pike Water 1 in search of …. errrr …. pike, of course!
The day was a little mixed weatherwise – sunny spells with a chilly breeze meant that when the skies were clear and the breeze dropped it was quite mild… and when the breeze picked up and the skies clouded over blocking out the sun it got real bone chilling despite the thermals and padded dungarees … and the various combinations of sunniness vs breeze levels gave all kinds of intermediate warm/cool combinations over the day.
Anyway, setting off from home a little after 0700 I was at the waterside, tackled up and, after spombing out a few loads of fishmeal based groundbait loaded with chopped sprat bodies and head, ready to fish by about 0830…. but before casting out the deadbaits I’d already set up my lure rod with a paddle tail shad on a jig head and so I spent 15 minutes or so just casting around the bay that are shown in the seconds and third pictures above… and (SPOILER ALERT!) I disturbed the only fish of my day during that exercise. I’d cast parallel to the bank up towards that scaffold platform but on the retrieval the lure snagged in submerged rocks midway between the platform and the tree and I was unable to free it from my casting position and so had to work my way up to the platform in order to change the angle of pull … and to do so I had to pass my rod from hand-to-hand around the tree … and whilst doing that a huge swirl ensued as a fish fled from the scene. A good spot for pike, and in fact, my PB pike of 20lb 12oz was caught in that exact same spot in 2012 … so I might have missed out on that. Anyway, a few more casts were made along that line, as were others just after packing the deadbait rods up for the day at 1500 but to no avail. Damage done.
From about 0915 I started fishing with the deadbaits, ledgered, using a needlefish popped up about 36” off the bottom and a sardine popped up about 50” with the use of balsa ‘logs’ … BTW I don’t use the commercial pop-up sticks, I just buy 1 metre lengths of 5mm round/square balsa from a hobby/craft shop and cut up into suitable lengths of 3”-6” to suit the various baits I use, far cheaper and more adaptable to your baits … Also I have narrower ones for use with smaller baits such as sprat and smelt and small coarse fish such as roach. All that needs doing to make them is to cut the balsa to length with a small hacksaw (or even a craft knife), round one end with some sandpaper to help insertion into the bait and to the blunt end of the stick tie a short length of braid with a loop tied in the end which is used to slide up the trace and over the hook when baiting up … the braid ensure that if the bait flies off the hook or a fish ‘steals’ the bait that the balsa is retained on the trace and won’t get ingested with the lost bait and cause problems. One other thing I do is to soak/wipe the balsa with fish oil – it adds a source of smell attraction but I do it mainly to waterproof the wood and protect it.
So, I fished these baits for an hour or so, winding in the line a turn of the reel handle every now and then to draw some attraction to baits but nothing …. so baits were changed, amount of pop-up lowered and re-cast … for another hour or so. After this baits were changed to scad (aka Spanish mackerel?) and fished static, tight on the bottom and again twitched back bit by bit at intervals … and again no joy… until I packed the bait rods in at 1500. And, as said previously, I did spend another final few minutes, fruitlessly, with the lure rod again before finally packing up and heading home. So I had a seemingly seamless continuation of the previous outing..
Hopefully, Liz and I (or just me, depending on Liz’s decision) will return to the pool of our previous session which was enjoyable for me and productive for Liz. Weather promising to be better – no frost/ice and several degrees warmer – so hopefully I’ll catch and Liz will catch even more!
In the original script I said that the pop-up sticks I made were generally of 1cm diameter – this was incorrect and would be far to big for baits of sardine size – although probably they would most likely be usable, and possible necessary, for large deadbaits such as whole mackerel. The standard size I actually use are half that – 0.5cm (5mm) and the text has now been corrected to indicate that.