Hungry pike making up for lost time
WEST & FENS: Fry skitter across the surface as I aim at the far bank and the bait loops through the air in a clumsy lob, landing a good 10ft short instead.
I stick the rod on the rest and tighten down to cock the float, doing my best to make it look like that was where I meant to chuck it. Right in the middle of a tiddler shoal feeding on a fly hatch, as it happens, as the late Sir Jimmy Saville used to say.
Fifteen minutes and an arm wrenching scrap later, I'm unhooking a scraper twenty and Rob King's got 'if four-eyes can catch 'em anyone can' written all over his face, after doing the honours with the net.
The pike have been making up for lost time, binge feeding on the fry shoals. There's colder weather on the way, once an Atlantic low clears the Fens. I'm not sure if that's what's switched this particular fish on, but I'm not complaining.
As dusk descends on the flatlands, the surface is alive with roach and the odd swirl as a pike decides it's tea time. Find the prey fish and you find the predators, the adage goes.
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Rob reckons a small undead, fished shallow under a polyball would sort 'em out. I have another theory. Beneath the jacks, on the edge of the action, there might just be a better fish, attracted by all the activity and the chance of jack for dinner.
So it's big baits all the way, fished hard on the deck. Whole foot-long lamprey, flanks slashed with the hook cutters, to release a trail of gore. Dusk comes without another pull. Oh well, I shrug. At least I caught one.
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While some of us are catching the odd one or two – one mate reckons he's had the best start in ages, with a clutch of doubles – others aren't. One of the best pike anglers I know has racked up seven or eight blanks on the bounce, fishing the same part of the system.
We all have our theories when it comes to why this season's got off to another shaky start. Tonight's the time to bounce them off Neville Fickling, when he steps up to the oche at a King's Lynn PAC meeting.
It's hard to think of anyone who's had more influence on the face of pike fishing than Neville. More than 50 people turned out to hear Digger Moules' excellent talk last month. I'd be surprised if we don't top that.
Sometimes you need a bit of inspiration to drive you on, if you're a been there, done that but not caught much lately kind of piker. If you're new to it, or even thinking of taking it up, the meetings are a good way to get to know a few people and pick up a few tips.