Back home, late Friday, I've just starting to recover from this years' ordeal of wind, rain and living rough, so very typical Scottish highland ambiance - although a drive across to Gatwick to pick Bev up wasn't as straight forward as it should have been; a two hour delay meaning that we didn't get home until 03.30 hrs this morning. My body aches and I am still in need of some kip, but hey-ho, there's always work to look forward to !
|Home from home - my CK "Bunka" bivvy passed the test with flying colours. In spite of torrential rain,|
in varying wind strengths, not a single drop of water made it inside.
It was another very successful sojourn to Kilchurn Bay, Loch Awe with a total of twenty-five pike over 10 lbs (best fish weighing 19 lbs 7 oz taken by Luke) between us. Quite a few "back-up" fish in the 6 - 9 lbs class and even a few out on the lures for Benno, Luke and Simon. For some reason I haven't kept detailed notes of all the fish - probably because the weather was so horrendous that we were confined to the bivvies for long periods and we didn't get the fish recorded as it was landed, so things just got overlooked. All the "doubles" were written down, yet not the bait they fell to!
|I'm certainly showing signs of living rough - a nice pike and a bit of|
product placement! Let's hope that Dragon Carp appreciate my endorsement ?
"Get one of these bivvies and you too could look like this!"
We were, once again, fortunate enough to spend some time in the company of Davie Robertson (Central Scotland Pike Anglers) and exchanged opinions on many subjects relating to the pike angling on Loch Awe and the attitude of many Scottish anglers to these magnificent fish and the surroundings that they are found in.
Our time together was cut short by a family bereavement, but there are plans to get up to Scotland in 2015 to give a talk to the guys of CSPA offering our opinions on the subject of pike handling / welfare and the task of educating the casual anglers into respecting the environment that they fortunate enough to have free access to. Litter is a massive problem around the shores of Loch Awe, as is the amount of discarded fishing line and wire traces.
|Luke in action, once again, Benno waiting with the net.|
We were better equipped, than ever before, to cope with the challenges of this magnificent fishery and our acquisition of a "DOMETIC" (not a mis-spelling of domestic) gas freezer proved to be a real bonus. We were able to keep our dead baits frozen for the entire period and this ensured that we caught fish steadily throughout the week. There were a few things we did, this year, that will remain untold, not because they were illegal, but we have no desire to give advice to casual anglers which could result in more pike being left trailing lines and/or stitched up by barbaric hook rigs and ridiculous methods. The lads involved with CSPA have a massive job to do if these practices are to be overcome - education is the only way and there is a huge void to be filled because of the casual approach by many anglers visiting the lochs. The mentality is based around camping at the lochside, lighting fires, drinking as much Buckfast, Scotch and beers as possible and slinging a rod or two out because there's always a chance that a pike will fall for the bait. Tales of lost rods and smashed gear are abundant, these guys having little clue as to the damage they do. We took additional hooks out of many fish during the week - the direct result of inexperienced/uncaring angling practices. The resultant debris was collected together and hung in the tree next to my bivvy (prior to being burned!) where it became known as "The haul of shame!"
|Four treble hooks, from two separate sources, an assortment of leads plus two pop-up balls.|
All taken from the throat and stomach, of a mid-double, as witnessed by Davie.
Where, in modern pike angling literature, do these rigs feature?
Nothing I can do, or say, will halt this but, in a rather simple way, this blog will have raised the subject of Scottish pike welfare into the consciousness of others, maybe someone out there has ideas that could bring the debate to a wider audience - or is it that there is a core of Scottish contempt for their natural heritage in keeping with the blatant persecution of birds of prey by certain sections of the population?
|The Haul of Shame - all of this was removed from the pike that we|
captured during the week. That coil of red mono-filament line was about 10 m
long. Careful inspection, of this image,will reveal many trebles, bait tags, buoyancy foam and
cheap swivels/links. The state of Scottish pike fishing in 2014?
Sorry for the moaning, but pike welfare it is a subject about which I have very strong opinions. I have been involved with pike fishing since the late-70's and, yes, I made mistakes and had to learn my trade. Joining the (Luton Region) Pike Angler's Club of Great Britain was the best thing I ever did. I came into contact with other, like-minded, anglers and helpful information exchanges became part of the learning process.
|Magnificent sporting fish which deserve more respect by a section|
of the anglers who visit the shores of this wonderful fishery.
The holiday was a fantastic experience, yet somewhat spoiled by the realization that pike angling in Scotland is still the "poor relative" of the game fishing fraternity and these superb sporting fish are subjected to barbaric methods of guys who place very little importance on fish or environmental impacts of their actions. It's not all doom and gloom; there was a Scottish boat angler who came into the bay (his boat was called "Mallard") and asked about where we were fishing and did we have any objections to him fishing further down the bay? He was a dedicated and skilful pike angler who, stayed overnight, caught a good number of fish - returning them to the loch with the minimum of fuss - it's the same old story of a minority (although not that small) spoiling it for everyone else.