When Benno set the seeds for my return to angling, way back in July 2009, little was I to realise what a massive change would take place in my daily routine. Gone is the desire to trudge the same coastal path in search of the same seasonal visitors, on an almost daily basis. I now, instead, find myself concentrating my birding effort on the events taking place in the immediate area around our bungalow and am developing a growing interest in the "mini-beasts" which share my world. However, my life seems to have gone full circle and I have to admit that the majority of my waking hours are spent with fishing foremost in my thoughts.
|The best fish from my first season back. She weighed 19lbs 5oz (the third time of capture) and was catalyst to|
a number tackle changes, all of which were aimed at improving my bait presentation and bite indication.
I find myself analysing small details in my terminal tackle; seeking ways to overcome problems, improve bait presentation or bite indication. Although Carp, Perch, Chub and possibly Barbel will receive some attention in the coming season (June 16th onwards!) it is Pike that seem to be dominating my efforts. Since that fateful Loch Awe trip, in May 2010, I have managed to capture 32 "doubles" which, going by the other Canterbury & Thanet PAC members results, isn't too shabby. So I must be doing some thing right?
|One of my favourite pike - a superbly marked individual from the small drain.|
It weighed in at 14lbs 10oz and fought like a tiger (Feb 2012)
So what am I doing? Firstly, and in my mind a major difference from all my other pike angling mates, I don't use treble hooks! I used to be a Luton PAC member, way back in the 1980's, when Andy Windmill was the R/O. He and Alan Beat had developed a twin single rig, which they used free-lined, with amazing results. I used this set-up, but knew that free-lined dead baits were not particularly pike friendly and deep hooked fish could occur because of the lack of bite indication. It was, therefore, a great coincidence that Vic Bellars designed, and marketed (via Partridge Hooks) a double hook. A Japan Black finish, they were barbed and strong - with a couple of strokes of a file became razor sharp - perfect for casting baits with a lead attached. Hence much better bite indication, so it was this hook design that has shaped much of my current thinking. In 2010, I was unable to replace my VB doubles - I no longer lived near Amersham where a certain Fred Buller had his gun shop and these hooks were readily available. My brother Simon was to come to my assistance by purchasing some Pete Drennan "which-way" doubles in a size 6. Very similar to the VB, they are a barbless pattern - something that I was a little uneasy about. When I stick a hook in a fish, I don't want it dropping back out because it lacks a barb! (Shouldn't have worried - it doesn't happen if you keep a tight line)
|A Duncan Kay 1lbs 10oz T.C rod doing its' stuff out on the Worth Marshes|
The second thing which I feel has some bearing on my results is the use of very soft, through action, rods. As the majority of my pike angling has been on rather intimate venues, I don't see any point in using powerful rods, i.e. 2 1/2lbs T.C and above. The maximum cast is less than 20m and setting hooks at that range is simple. Pick up the rod, let the line tighten - wind down if you need to, then strike, job's a good-un! My rods are 1lbs 10oz T.C Duncan Kay carp rods. With these I have landed Pike to 23lbs+ and Catfish to 25lbs 2oz, plus a few Carp to boot. I have never had hooks pull because my gear was over-gunned; something that Benno experienced earlier in 2013 using Hyperloops on the RMC - he also used braid, which couldn't have aided his cause.
So this, quite neatly, brings me to another factor that I think makes a difference. I use mono for this short range stuff. 12lbs b.s. is perfectly adequate for most of the venues I fish; I would have no problem stepping up to 15lbs b.s. if the swim/snags dictated it. As mono has that elasticity, my soft action rods are never likely to exert the force to pull hooks out of a fish, should they make a powerful surge.
|Primitive, yet perfectly functional, one of my, 95 decibel,|
"home made" back-biter alarms
Bite indication is always best if a float is used - I will not argue against that. However, my concentration span is limited and therefore I rely on technology to replace my failing eyesight and lack of attention (plus the fact that I'd rather look at the birds and bugs than a silly orange float!).
The two types of alarm that I use are very basic models of "Back Biter-type" or "Front Runner" design. Both have their faults, yet are certainly effective on these smaller venues. My confidence in my ability to remove any hook from a pike is a factor in my angling - it is something that comes with teaching and the reason why every angler who wishes to fish for pike should become a PAC member. You should have the confidence to take charge of the situation and not be afraid of the fish, teeth, trebles and all!
|Not neccessarily the "perfect bait" but a factor in my confidence and that is a key factor.|
My final thoughts are with my bait choice. I have made mention, many times previously, that I buy my bait from the Westwood Cross Tesco's fresh fish counter. That's all I'm prepared to tell you - that I then colour and flavour, prior to freezing, my Herring, Mackerel and Sardine baits (individually wrapped in cling film) is a factor in my success. There are very few other anglers prepared to go to this length of preparation. Those that do deserve their rewards; I'd like to feel that I'm one of them.
|The best, so far, my RMC 20lbs 9oz pike taken on a dyed & flavoured 1/2 Herring.|