It was 6th November 2011 when I made my first cast into the "North Stream" (I don't actually think that this is the correct name for the venue - but it is how we have come to know it) out on the Worth Marshes. It was a wonderful venue, clear, clean water, obvious features and, most importantly, neglected. Almost the perfect combination for any pike fishery.
My efforts over that first season were to confirm that pike did, indeed, inhabit this wonderful little drain but, also that, the "apex" predator, during that period, was a specimen of 19 lbs 5 oz (max weight over the five visits to the bank, she made, during this campaign.) After a two year lay-off, I have made the decision to give the fishery another go - after all my first experiences were very positive and enjoyable. My thinking being that the venue requires effort to get there, the access road is now closed, thus requires a hike of nearly two miles. The only pike anglers likely to visit the fishery have got to be serious about their sport - not a goon with a set of trebles and a, shop bought, dead bait.
This approach is also based upon the fact I knew that (in 2011/12) there were five pike over 10 lbs in the venue; there were also several fish, in the 7 - 9 lbs class, with potential to grow bigger given the right conditions. Nothing is better, for pike growth, than neglect - and my return to the venue has provided very encouraging signs on that front. My first session was a 100% fish free event - although I happily accept that my approach had more to do with this outcome than any other factor. Back again, yesterday morning, this time armed with three Duncan Kay rods fitted with Matt Hayes centre-pins - fully braided up; with newly tied traces and Drennan/Vic Bellars double hooks. My bait being mackerel and herring (Tesco had no sardines on Friday?) - coloured and flavoured to my own recipe.
I leap frogged my rods every 40 minutes to cover as much of the drain as my limited time allowed - I had just one take. Inspecting the bait after the event showed that a small pike had picked up my 8 oz mackerel tail section and rejected it at the first sign of resistance. The fish in this particular drain were always rather tentative feeders, although the larger fish tended to be a little more tolerant of my "big" baits and line clips, than their smaller brethren. However, small pike are not why I make the trek across the marsh - I am really looking for one of the fish that had provided me with such a learning experience during my first season back in the hobby. I will only need to get one to be able to gauge whether or not, this is a project worth pursuing.
The growth, or lack of, will easily be calculated by the use of photo matching the fish - pike markings are like human finger prints; each individual having their own unique pattern.
So why my "niggling doubts"? In the back of my mind is the knowledge that I'd achieved almost instant success during that initial campaign - the pike responding to my dead baits from day one. I also know that the fishery took a bit of a hammering in the following season - something to which pike are particularly unsuited - to quote Jim Gibbinson "They don't get clever, they get dead!" So the fact that there were some very dubious pike angling techniques being used, there were also Eastern Europeans on the venue. They were there to fish for the table, not something with which I agree, but can't argue against. The removal of coarse fish is theft, not poaching (that banner only applies to game fish - members of the "Salmo" clan) and there is very little that can be done about this particular issue. Proof of ownership being the first, of many, flaw in any prosecution attempt.
So I am wondering if the main reason for the neglected state of the venue isn't so much to do with access and more to do with the fact that the guys who'd previously pike fished there now know that there are very few individuals remaining in the fishery. I am going to give it my attention until the end of the month - then it's back down to the RMC to look for that most elusive beast - another canal 20!