So, in line with my previous offering, I will attempt to offer an insight into the journey that I have experienced in pursuit of the Northern Pike (Esox lucius) and how I have re-discovered an enjoyment that had been lost. (See Steve Gale's comment on yesterday's post - I am not alone)
I would have been in my mid-teens when I caught my first pike, a small jack, on a live roach fished under a "Fishing Gazette" bung - complete with a shop bought snap tackle. The venue was Pixie's Mere, Bourne End, Herts - now right behind my brother Tim's house, except today it's full of carp and the tench and pike are but a memory to us old uns. It wasn't the size of the fish that mattered, it was the hunting instinct within, the quarry, with their unblinking eyes and razor sharp teeth, it was man against beast at the very base level.There would have been little thought, and great deal less skill, involved in that initial capture - chuck and chance being the best description of my methods. Pike are creatures of instinct and opportunism; sadly "they don't get clever, they get dead" (a quote from Jim Gibbinson) - once a population of fish are subjected to heavy angling pressure the results fall away in direct correlation to the number of fish caught. Quite simply - pike are unable to recover from repeat capture within a short period.
|A very modest pike from the Grand Union Canal, Boxmoor.|
|November 1981 - 20 lbs 3oz|
|A superb pike of 23 lbs 5 oz - Wilstone Res. 22.12.1986|
|My only 20lbs pike from a river. (08.01.1987 ) The River Thames - Mapledurham, Berks.|
Every thing in the garden was rosy until 1993! We had a Wrathall family holiday in Florida - Disney and the Keys (Barracuda), which I followed up (five days later) with a fortnight in Madeira fishing for Atlantic Blue Marlin (very successfully) I came back to the UK completely head-f*cked. How could I possibly get enjoyment from a pike, a roach or a tench after what I'd just experienced? Thus, eighteen years on a birding sabbatical! There were many other factors involved, none more so than moving from Hertfordshire to Kent with my job. Birds had always been a part of my angling, long before wine, women and work came into my consciousness , however, once I got to Kent birding became my primary pastime to such an extent that, looking back, I had become obsessed by it.
Something had to give! What a surprise - my first marriage became a casualty of this crazy obsession and, although the damage had been done, provided a much needed wake up call for me to get some balance back into my life. I met Bev and things slowly started to take shape - what I'd thought important became less so; my interest Kent listing and everything associated with it dwindled. I still birded hard, the Isle of Thanet (where Bev and I had started our new life) was to see the bulk of my efforts. I have many great memories of days spent around the North Foreland/Foreness coastline or stomping across the Minster Marshes - some very nice birds found for my efforts.
Bev and I had discovered the joys of holidaying in the Eastern Mediterranean and my birding became more diluted as a consequence. My fortnights in the sun provided me with enough challenges and avian excitement to ensure that Thanet quickly became very "samey" - I was in a very similar situation as when I'd arrived home from Madeira back in 1993. Benno to the rescue! Angling has always been my first love, those of my generation still think of ourselves as countrymen, akin to the shooters and fieldsport enthusiasts of yesteryear, many of whom were also superb naturalists!
|A "double" from that first trip back to Loch Awe - May 2011|
|Benno with a RMC pike of 16 lbs 9 oz|