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Chasing toothy creatures! 14 Mar 2016

Well, last day of the Grayling season (which was woefull this year due to the rain) and I had an invite from Adam Stafford to go try my hand at Pike fishing. I had been tying some big flies for my trip to Slovenia later in the year so was well prepared, or so I thought. I packed up my loch style rod a 10’ for #7 as well as the usuall river gear. Adam wanted to meet early and we were to be accompanied by Zek Klietz who had been out the previous day to scope out the likely spots that pike may lie. We were to meet for 0630hrs which was, not a biggy for me as I am only about 45 minutes away at that time of the morning anyway. Introductions complete we drove down to the riverside and started to tackle up for the pike. That’s when I got the first clue that I may be slightly undergunned for the job. Adam proceeded to set up a 10 weight with an intermediate line and the biggest fly I think I have ever seen it looked about a foot long and it was not even wet yet. Undeterred I began setting up my #7 and noticed that Zek was setting up a similar rig to Adam, the fly may have been slightly smaller. Adam kindly set up the business end of my fly line with some 40lb test tippet (it was nearly as thick as my fly line…lol) and a wire trace. I was keen to try one of the articulated flies I had tied and was fairly confident my trusty rod would be able to cope with the large tungsten dumbell eyes.

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We walked along the river the first anglers on site, I mean what other maniac gets up this early to go fishing! We walked
past some typical Chalk Stream water which although not crystal clear it held the promise to be so. The bottom also looked ideal habitat for Grayling and already I was regretting not bringing a bugging rod with me. As we walked on the river soon changed in character to longer deeper runs where the bottom was no longer visible. As we arrived at our starting area it had the appearance of being a perfect habitat for an ambush predator. There were big overhanging banks where the water was deep and murky. Trees had let some branches lean into the water on the far bank lending, even more, cover to these apex predators. Reports of huge pike up to 30lb had filtered down to Adams' ears and it was all very exciting. I watched Adam for a short while throwing this huge fly across to the far bank then retrieving in slow and twitchy movements to entice any waiting pike. I soon followed suit a little bit upstream from him and realised immediately that my rod was not really up to the job. I endeavored to persevere the casting becoming more of a lobbing action than that of the gentle art of fly fishing.

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Adam kindly let me have a go at his rod and it was easier none the less it took me a few casts to get used to wielding such a beast. The fly in the water was a bit special and certainly something to behold, it pulsed and darted with every small movement of the rod. I was keen to get a photograph of it in the water and passed the rod back to Adam. As I moved to get into a position where I could get the shot my leg shot down through the soft riverbed and I found myself up to my ging gangs in the mud. After clawing my way out we decided to move downstream a bit more to a narrow bridge crossing the river. Adam had again passed the rod to me and I was hitting the far bank and working the lure back trying to cover all the water. Zek who was on the bridge had spotted a pike in the margins so I passed the rod back to Adam who went to entice the fish to the bank. With Zek spotting from the bridge there were cries of its coming yes, yes ….eh no! Frustrating but that can be said of all fishing. Feeling rather guilty that I was using Adams kit I decided to hand his gear back and persevere a bit with my own kit. I did manage a little interest from a pike but after several seconds of the fish staring at the fly as it fluttered back down through the water column, it swam off rejecting my offering. I wandered back up to where we had started and was pottering about when I heard Zek send up a cry of PIKE ON! This was his first Pike on the fly and he was elated, it was around the 4-5lb mark and looked in good health. After watching it swim away I decided to walk back to the car and try my hand for some Grayling. This is when I noticed how busy the fishery had become I must have passed a good half dozen anglers mostly trotting maggots downstream some fishing a float. Really pleasant folks who were happy to stop and chat fishing. It took a while after all the gassing but I eventually got back to the car and my Grayling gear. By this time the others had joined me and we were heading up another part of the river. I was now armed with something I had a bit more confidence fishing. The first few runs I tried produced nothing at all. Adam and Zek were moving off to deeper darker stretches. I eventually found quite a good feature where the water had been funnelled to increase the flow. Fishing on the edge of quite a skinny platform only my second chuck and the rod buckle over, it was either an outstanding Grayling or a decent Brown Trout. I know what my money would have been on and it would have been a safe bet. The trout fought like a Trojan and it nearly had me off my perch and into the river as I tried to net it. A stunning fish of a little over two pound bodes well for a great season ahead. 

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I pottered a bit more not really fishing properly one eye on the time as I would have to be off to do the school run soon. I caught up with Adam and Zek who had not faired so well up until now, we chatted a bit dipping in here and there. When we came across a really promising looking bit of water Adam had made a perfect cast and was just saying he could not have done better when everything locked up, he was into a good fish. Zek scrabbled for his net and I my camera. The fight though frantic in those first few seconds was short and soon the beast was in the net. Now for you hardened Pike anglers a 13lb Pike might not be all that but I am a lad that gets excited about 20cm Grayling! It was an absolutely stunning creature to look at perfectly fit for purpose. We took a couple of quick snaps before sending it on its way none the worst for wear. With that, it was time to head back for a spot of lunch morale high from Adams capture.

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We had a bite to eat while shooting the breeze talking Mongolia and Slovenia, both trips eagerly anticipated. Time was running out for me though and I wanted to have a few more chucks for the Grayling. I picked up some small specimens, nothing to write home about but perfectly made nuggets to keep me going until next winter. I am going to invest in a proper rod for fishing for Pike, It was really great fun and if we get the same kind of winter we had this past year then it may be the only option to get out fishing. So only a half days fishing, still better than none. I hope to be out a lot more in the coming months and get back to my bread and butter Loch Style fishing roll on Rutland!