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Ronan's report

Wednesday 21st September, 2011

Im going to miss the autumn/winter pike fishing here in the UK this year..

When i first started fly fishing for them maybe 10 years ago, they were plentiful and big. Theres this one drain that i could pretty much guarantee a double every trip. The fishable stretch runs three miles past a dairy farm and through wide open crop fields. Hare's can often be seen rocketing across the wheat stumps, its a desolate yet pretty place.

The upper stretch known as "the bends" winds its rather narrow self the first mile from the car. It's quite shallow and usually surprises us with a couple of small "jacks" as they explode from their well camouflaged ambush points. We rarely fish the bends though preferring to keep walking to the imaginatively named "the wides".

The wides hold the bigger fish, its generally about 25 meters wide for the last couple of miles before hitting a "T" junction where the spurs narrow right up.

I remember one particular day, it was incredibly windy and not a great day for casting 6/0 bunnies. The wind was a cutting northerly that blew in my face and made my ears sting. I was happy though as west or east bound wind runs the length of the drain and tends to churn up the silt.

The clear water was dark and overcast skies made it look even darker and more menacing. The swirling waves were breaking up my watery window and the fly was only visible for a brief second until the next wave rolled over. The fishable bank is steep sided and covered in reedmace. It makes casting and line management tricky at best, damn right annoying at worst.

Every fifty yards or so the far bank reeds part to leave a pocket of clear water perfect for a long exploratory cast. In the centre of one of the pockets was a tuft of reeds that stood on it's own. The cast was a goodun with the 8" googly eyed perch fly slapping down just off the far bank. I let it sink down before starting the retrieve. Fast strips brought the fly right past the tuft and as it morse coded in and out of sight there was a bright flash and a hugh bulging of water where my fly was last seen.

As the line tightened i did my best strip strike and set the hook. The fish made every effort to torpedo itself into the reed beds on almost every run. Those that say Pike don't fight…i beg to differ!

Glimpses through the waves allowed me to see it was a sizeable fish and the bend in the rod confirmed it. The cork flexed as i tried to keep it clear and the thought of cold fingered knot's played on my mind. As i slipped my fingers under its chin the thick , robustness of a big pike could be felt.

It was a great fish that maybe weighed sixteen or even seventeen pounds, in mint condition too for so early in the season. After that fish we were spurred on to battle the freezing wind and were rewarded with one of the greatest days pike fishing I've ever had. It seemed that every hole held a fish, most of them were big too…the takes will live with me forever…it's not nick named "the water wolf" for nothing!

I've had Pike there on dries too, well not strictly "dry" but a new, fluffy marabou unleaded number. It landed lightly on the surface as i was paying out line from the reel. A Pike leaped clean of the surface after hitting my puffy, floating and dead still fly. Amazing to see..

Great fishing continued for the rest of the season with double figure fish regularly cropping up. Not just on this drain but most of the surrounding rivers and drains/canals, Its was a year of plenty.

Since then i have had some good days but they have never been the same, not like that year. Im not sure whats happened to them..

Poor water management by the environmental agency could be to blame, they started to let out lots of water during the summer allowing the weed growth to bloom in the warm shallow waters. Then never holding back any autumn rains, opening the gates as soon as it started drizzling. barely leaving enough water to cover the pikes backs.

Now we are finding that only small jacks are present and not in numbers either, where the big momma's have gone i will never know but i miss them…


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