Time to try out old stamping grounds

It's amazing how much places change over the summer months.

When you don't visit a water between March and September, the first pike fishing trip of the autumn sees last winter's stamping grounds still overgrown with greenery.

There's a swim cleared by a bloke who loved an old pit so much he moved into a caravan beside it. When he returned to the land of bricks and mortar a few winters back, he left enough room for two pikers, eight rods, a dog and all the usual creature comforts on what was once his al fresco veranda.

We caught there too, setting the world to rights over bacon butties washed down with Earl Grey tea.

Now it's like the jungle in Avatar. Hacking a big enough gap in the reeds to poke a couple of baits out left me sweating like Gordon Brown on election night.

'There's pike here boy,' I told the dog. The dog looked at me like I'd finally lost it, cocked his leg on a rod and jumped into the lake to escape the toe of my boot.

I was starting to think he might have been right after all, when a float dipped and stayed just beneath the surface.

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Up it popped before I could sweep the rod back and introduce it to Mr and Mrs Treble. Bait tooth-marked, no cigar.

Elsewhere, things have been picking up. Tench and bream have been showing above the railway bridge at Ten Mile Bank on the Ouse.

But be warned it's a clear and fickle river, which needs rain to really get the fish switched on. One day, someone sacks up. The next, you blank.

Further upstream, the roach have been responding to seed baits. There's still the odd elder bush if you look in what's left of the hedgerows here and there.

Roach just love 'em in the brief few weeks they're about. Listen to the old boys on the river. Tares are nearly as good.

The roach on the river can still be the stuff of dreams, with a 30 or 40lbs net on the cards when they're having it.

When's the operative word, but that's the Ouse for you. You just never know when it's going to produce – all you can hope is you're there when it does, although St Mark's and the straight below Modney Bridge are among the time-honoured roach spots.

Pentney's been having an indian summer on the carp front – even if the weather hasn't – with a 32lbs specimen and a 28lbs fish out, along with plenty of low-20s and doubles.

Cabin Lake remains the runs water. But is that because most flock to the Barbecue Swim and Dead Man's Bay.

Up on the coast road Springside's still going strong after a cracking summer. Blowy days are just the job to get the bream going on there.

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