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An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!

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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Hot August Night

It was 1987 and I was a mad-keen chaser of specimen fish. Basically I didn't have the required skill to discover and exploit venues for myself, so I chased yesterday's news like some headless chicken (with fishing rods!). Late summer/early autumn meant Zander fishing and the only fisheries available to me were the Fenland Drains of the Norfolk/Cambridgeshire borders. A Kings Lynn AC ticket was the key to access many miles of these waters and I spent many happy days exploring the various spots, all the while yearning to catch a "double". In the late 80's a ten pounder was still a very big Zander, catch one over twelve and you rubbed shoulders with angling's elite! I was close, having landed a 9 lbs 8 oz specimen, from Three Holes, in October 1985  so was now on a mission to add those extra 8 oz to my PB. It was the Bank Holiday weekend and, with three nights available, I had time on my side. I set up camp on The Cut-off Chanel, just outside Eley, and had a superb Zed of 9 lbs 2 oz on the first night - things were looking good.


I then spent the next twenty-four hours without as much as an eel bite. With just one night remaining, Sunday into Monday (the Bank Holiday) I decided a new venue was needed and, as Three Holes had provided me with a PB, my decision wasn't a difficult one. I think that I'd been to The Cherry Tree, in Welney, having lunch and a couple of light ales, then grabbing a nap in the van before, later than planned, arriving at the Middle Level and getting sorted for the coming night. No bivvy, just a bedchair under a brolly, the rods were positioned to fish my baits close to the far marginal lily pads. Traps set, there was nothing more to do than wait! I flipped the top off a French dumpy and offered a toast to the angling gods. It was 03.15 hrs when the back-biter sounded as something had just taken my small bream live bait. Picking up the rod I was convinced that this was my moment. I set the hooks and found myself attached to a very determined and powerful fish. Knowing that it was my first "big" Zander, I played it as if it were a bar of gold, frightened stiff of loosing my prize. Up and down the drain it powered, as I hung on with grim determination, this fish was going in the net however long it took. The fish began to tire and  I felt that my moment was almost at hand when the fish surfaced and my world fell apart! It had a bloody pike's head on it! It was a decent fish and I stuck it in an ET Pike Tube, but felt absolutely gutted. Why me? Why a pike not a zander? Another French dumpy and I drifted off into a troubled snooze. When I awoke, the sky was clear and the sun just appearing over the adjacent flat lands. Down in the margin was the pike tube, pegged out, containing that imposter.

A much needed reality slap!
It was only when I saw the fish in the daylight that I realised what an utter tosser I was! An absolutely magnificent, scale and fin perfect, pike, of 17 lbs 1 oz had blessed me with its' presence and I had lost the plot. Not my first pike taken during the hours of darkness, but it was the one that produced the wake up call. One of the most important lessons of my angling journey and, now, a very fond memory.


7 comments:

  1. We've all had one of these Dyl. Mine was a carp when I thought it was a Tench. Mind you, carp were a rarity in 1979 so that argg!lasted about 2 seconds.
    The funny one was when fishing the margins of a gravel pit one night for eels. Bait was a bunch of lobs on a size 2 hook & 12lb line. The rod was one my brother had made and it had an aluminium tube in the lower section to 'beef' it up. I was set to hit and haul. Anyway it got dark, I had a twitchy bite, and I hit and hauled. Even in the split second it took to lift the fish off the bottom, into the landing net and onto the bank, I could make out that the leading end was a little more bulbous than an eel should be. Turned out to be a tench of 7lb's 1oz. The hook was so bedded in I needed long nosed pliers to remove it.
    To this day I cannot believe that anyone has ever put a tench of that size on to the bank faster. It was obscene. I felt quite sorry for it.

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    1. Ric,
      I sometimes think that the fish are just as surprised as we are. That hit and haul tactic, designed for stopping eels, completely different to what we would expect to do should we be fishing for tench, bream, roach or carp. So you were mentally prepared for one species yet caught another. If only we had the ability to put "target species only" labels on our baits! - Dyl

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  2. Double fig zander still a sort after fish Dylan . Going the other way a mate of mine while eel fishing hook what he thought was a big bream played it hard .. only for a 9.10 eel to pop up ...his 1st over 9lb ..now he has had 4 .. all the huge he has caught ..all kited like carp no banging . They have the power to swim forwards away from you...

    Nick

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    1. Nick,
      Double figure Zander are common as muck in 2018, such is the level of illegal fish stocking of UK waters. In 1987, very few waters contained such specimens and, therefore, those that we knew about were a magnet for us speccy boys.
      As for 9 lbs plus eels - the fish of dreams. - Dylan

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  3. 3 Holes.Heard that was a spot.Just up the road from TT as it happens.

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    1. BB - have some very fond memories of time spent around Upwell. The late John Foster was the PAC Regional Organizer for Fenland and we had many wonderful nights out on the drains. They were fantastic times with some good fish adding to the experiences - some bloody good pubs out there too! - Dyl

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  4. Hi Dylan ..a mate has been on the canal again eeling ..
    1 eel .2.2

    2 pike
    12.6
    17.14
    Nuisance bloody pike 😁

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