West & Fens Fishing: Only a few more days to land that pike that got away
I had a game plan when I hit the pits. Get in the approaches to their spawning areas and see what's about.
Baits lobbed tight to reed lines and the entrances to shallow bays went un-munched, the only sign of life being a mega-rare bittern which burst from cover and flew off across the lake.
So I started moving swims and dropping into deeper water to see if I could find some pike. When a float eventually went in the margins of the deepest part of the water, I nailed a scraper double.
Fifteen minutes later, I found a smaller sample on the end. As it came into a view, a much, much larger pike briefly appeared beneath it.
Perhaps she already had this male in mind for a mate. Perhaps she homed in on its distress signals – one angler who's forgotten more about pike than I'll ever know used to let jacks thrash about a bit under the rod top, then drop a big bait in to see if it would tempt anything attracted by the commotion.
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As soon as I had that jack off the hooks, I did likewise with the biggest bait I had. Come on baby. Come to four-eyes. When the float trembled and bobbed, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. But whatever it was had dropped the bluey before I picked the rod up. You win some, you lose some.
After a dreadful winter, we've only got the next week or so to pin our hopes on pike-wise. I'll be at it until the bitter end.
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The new report into cormorant predation by the Angling Trust makes for fairly harrowing reading.
Numbers have increased 15-fold since they were made a protected species in 1981 and munch their way through 3m pounds of fish a year.
Worst of all are the accompanying case studies – rivers denuded of silver fish, fisheries and tackle shops closing down, people losing their jobs. One lake in Norfolk which has an over-wintering population of between 85 and 100 has been given a licence to shoot six of them.
The evidence is all there in black and white. Whether anyone will listen is another thing.