Monday, February 25, 2013

The Phantom Menace.

I'm scheduled for work all weekend so it was either fish today or not at all (today sounded good). The "Motley crew" were called up for duty, Frank the plasterer, The Biker Piker and myself. The venue as always, one of the three sisters, our dear friend - The Barrow.

We were at the swim and ready to rock n' roll by about 10am, surprisingly enough about twenty minutes later my alarm burst into life, it let off a slow string of blips as it registered the first take of the day. The angry jack went ballistic as it attempted to shake the hooks but to no avail, he came to the bank.

We covered water by leapfrogging downstream every forty minutes or so. Thats when events took a strange turn. All was quiet, my bite alarm sounded again, three slow solitary blips...nothing for a moment... then a savage take, the rod jolted, the bank sticks dug in, everything shuddered as an almost endless amount of line blistered off the reel, the alarm almost burst into flames....... a large fish kicked up a cloud of mud and weed. It was gone as quick. I was rattled, shaking and of course gutted. I brought the bait in, it had been sliced and diced, proper Chain Saw Massacre style. The game was up, there was a large predator in the swim!

David Muirin of East Coast Fishing
This series of events was repeated numerous times throughout the day to all our rods, hard fast takes yet all were dropped as quick as they'd been taken, sometimes the baits returning undamaged, looking almost untouched. I had visions of a phantom pike lurking in the depths striking at our baits! One particularly vicious take (the whole lot nearly ended up in the swim) was witnessed by angler and blogger David Muirin of the East Coast Fishing Blog. We were in awe, we couldn't believe the sheer intensity of the run and more so that it didn't result in a fish. We wondered if maybe a local otter was playing silly buggers in the swim but having said that, we didn't see one all day. No ducking n'diving, no rustling in the margins, not even a trail of tell-tail bubbles! Nothing! If there was an otter about he was operating with more stealth than a Lockheed F-117.

Whilst driving home the series of dropped runs played on my mind. An otter? I didn't think so but it couldn't be ruled out. Pressured water? More likely... its getting late in the season, have the pike in this stretch of river seen it all before and now know a baited rig when they hit it... hot potato syndrome. Lower resistance rigs and smaller hooks could be an option. One other thought crossed my mind, maybe they're just getting giddy! Perhaps their minds are just not on the job. Are they thinking about "other" things... They are in the last phase before spawning now, were they grabbing the baits out of instinct but with no real interest to feed? Yet many anglers would say the pike will be feeding up well before going to spawn, so who knows what really happened today.

One thing I did know, was that I'd have to go back to the river to find out. So not the most productive day but certainly interesting, highly entertaining if not a tad frustrating. Between the three of us, one fish to the bank, two fish lost, seven or eight of those dreaded dropped runs and one large elusive "Phantom Pike".

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