Gradual improvement as roach start feeding again

Chris BishopWEST & THE FENS: Things are looking up at last, though there haven't been many out on the banks of late. A slight increase in temperatures (allegedly) has got the roach feeding again on the Ouse at Ten Mile Bank.Chris Bishop

Things are looking up at last, though there haven't been many out on the banks of late.

A slight increase in temperatures (allegedly…) has got the roach feeding again on the Ouse at Ten Mile Bank. Swims around St Mark's Chapel are producing. Double figure nets of silvers from the Little Ouse, and roach and bream are showing at Shepherd's Lake.

Pike anglers have at least started getting a few runs over the last few days. On both occasions I got out, the fish came on the feed with a vengeance for an hour, before everything went dead.

When this happens, I never know whether to put it down to fish which have been present all along switching into feeding mode, or pike which are actively foraging about arriving in the swim. Who cares as long as they end up in the net.


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An impulse buy bait, in the form of some launce from Hunstanton Tackle, achieved a six out of six rating, with a fish on every one of these giant sandeels, which in more than 30 years of pike fishing I've somehow never got round to trying. Most pike anglers stick to their old favourites like smelt, herring and mackerel. Sometimes something a bit different works, whether it's what you stick on your hooks or how you present it.

What they seemed to want the other day was a bait fished off the bottom. I was getting sail-away takes fishing six foot deep over 12 or 15ft of water, while nearby legered baits were ignored.

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A bait fished up off the deck can be seen from further away than one hard on the bottom, so maybe making the baits more visible helped the pike find them.

A few mild weeks and they'll be at their heaviest as spawning draws near. During milder winters, I've caught a spawned out fish as late as the end of February.

Will we finally be repaid for such a dreadful winter by seeing spawning set back a week or two, meaning the fish will be at their peak weight in the final days of the season..?

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