Friday, November 30, 2012

Hard Lines (The Ottergate scandal)

In my ultimate wisdom I thought the Barrow pike would be on the feed - how wrong I was. Two blanks, yes two in a row I can't understand it. Well thats two blanks unless your allowed count a frigging OTTER. Yes I caught an otter on a swimbait lure but more about that incident later.
It all started last week when we had deluge of rain, the river went up over four feet (see the previous post). It was starting to drop and was clearing well by Tuesday so I headed out first thing Wednesday morning to a swim on the main river. I'd only flung out a couple of ledgered deads when an otter appeared on the scene, it didn't hang around, maybe it knew more than me. I put in a few hours without even a touch. The only sign of life in the river were the crayfish which demolished a couple of trout on me.

I headed downstream to a spot where there is a large crease, it had produced fish before, but not today. After some time at a third swim a local pike expert appeared on the bank, minus his tackle. One of those unavoidable lengthy one sided conversations took place, with wispered word about how I'd only missed the big hen fish that feeds upstream every morning, not to mention the 21lb and 17lb'ers that are regularly seen too! (I should have got up earlier) At this stage I'd had enough talking.... and fishing. I made the trek back along the tow path throwing lures here and there as I went. None the less it wasn't a bad day to be out and its always a good suss to be adventuring down the river. However considering the weather and condition of the river the fishing was a bit of a let down.

So that was Wednesday!

Today Friday was a very odd  affair altogether. No rain since I was last out, the river is still dropping and gettting really clear. I had high hopes for a good session. Maybe I'm a bit OCD but I did all my prep, sorted the baits, lures, tackle and anything else I could think of. I must have thought I was going for the week- in hindsight I'm glad I wasn't. I even had a plan! and for me thats good.

A good few miles downstream from Wednesday's swim, I was at one of my favourite spots, baits were out early. It was one of those mornings when you could hear the morning traffic, the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the distance yet all was quiet and still in this riverbank world as the mist lifted and the sun crept out from behind the clouds. One of those mornings when you could almost anticipate a screaming run. Thats all it was- anticipation. After a couple of hours of this carry on it became glaringly obvious that the pike were not playing ball.

Unperturbed by this I ditched the dead baits,grabbed a fistful of lures and started to cover a few likely spots at various depths. Thats when my "friend" the Otter arrrived. Initially I chose to ignore it (as one does) but this one was unafraid, unphased by my presence. I continued fishing- as did the otter.

Fish breakfast.
It was getting rather embarrassing, the otter was catching alot more than me, occaisionally sitting in the water a few feet away munching Perch. The otter slipped under again and I got a knock, a short pluck... then again.... a thought flashed across my mind....NO surely the otter wasn't hitting the lure. This was ridiculous, or was it. I looked around for the otter but it was still under....then BANG! the animal surfaced with the bloody lure caught in its back!! Good God! I'd foul hooked an f***ing otter. Immediately I had visions of wrestling a snapping creature on the bank. I had 50lb braid and a heavy duty homemade trace on so I was good to go! I did not fear that I'd be broken off, the impliciations of an otter swimming around with a four piece swim bait in its back were beyond my imagination.
The animal went down taking some line off the reel, everthing was under control for the moment, when it came back up it realised it was still caught and decided to head straight for the far bank like a bullet! The rod went into a massive bend, the braid ripped off the reel. I was now sure it was all going to snap, the animal hit the bank and at that moment the hook tore from its skin. The lure, under the force of the bend in the rod was catapulted straight back at me, hitting me in the leg, lodging itself in my waders! "That was close", I thought to myself as the otter scrambled for its life up the bank and disappeared.

At this point I thought it was a  far safer option to get the deadbaits back out, have a brew and calm the nerves. Order had been restored, I was sipping coffee when low and behold the brazen otter resurfaced almost at my feet! I threw it a dead roach (one of Neville's best) which it gratefully accepted.
I packed up the gear and headed home for a cuppa.


Otter    1           Piker     0

And the Christmas Robin looked on!