Friday, March 22, 2013

A Red Letter Morning...

Its been two weeks since I last walked the Barrow's towpaths, Its not that I didn't want to be fishing but the "real world" was calling and for a change there was much work to be done. The barometer was rising yet the temperature was only tipping 1.2 deg C. when I pulled the backdoor behind me.
The dank cold morning started to brighten slowly, damp icy air caught my breath as I headed for the first swim. All the time the river flowed silently beside me, like a quiet slightly unfamiliar friend. I couldn't help it but my eyes kept scanning the water, I was looking for a sign or a signal of where to go but the river did not speak, it just continued to flow, low and clear after the unseasonal dry spell. A feeling crept slowly over me, I was uncertain, almost doubting myself. My time away from the bank had left me a little unsettled, the river now seemed like a vast endless flowing wilderness, could I read the water, could I bait up the right swims. I was on my own, no one to consult with or to talk up the confidence levels. Just me and the river.
In hindsight I was a lot more content once I had the baits out and happier still an hour later when a well rounded fish of about 8lb or 9lb came to the net. My confidence levels soared when slightly smaller fish hooked up  ten minutes later and was happy to pose for a small video clip with me!

I wanted to cover more ground, eager to capitialise on the feeding spell. I headed downstream to another swim, its a featureless stretch of river which doesn't evoke confidence, you have to have balls of steel or be stone mad to sling your baits out here as it looks nothing like a pike swim but nonetheless I had met fish here before. It was a gamble but with only one more swim in mind I thought it worth an hour or so. That hour passed uneventfully, I was getting ready for the next move when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a rod tip twitch, the alarm remained silent, it twitched again and then two solitary blips. I wound down a touch and waited... I pondered what was going on, no screaming run, then I felt it, the rod twitched again, I struck but into nothing! I checked the bait and had it back in the exact same part of the swim in seconds. I was playing "cat and mouse" with fish! I repositioned the other rod at the bottom of the swim and happily played the waiting game as the river watched on. About forty minutes later, the rod which produced the missed run earlier signalled the arrival of a fish with an almost unnoticeable twitch, it barely moved, not even a blip. I was intrigued to say the least as the pike gently mouthed or pushed the bait about. One more subtle twitch and I finally felt her move off. I struck, all was good. Such an incredibly gentle take from such a hard fighting river pike. A pristine mid double came to the net about ten minutes later.

As I watched her kick off into the depths the rod at the lower end of the swim gave a blip, I scrambled up the bank and witnessed the gentle twitch style take once again. A moment seemed like an eternity, two equally spaced blips and she was slowly on her way with the bait. A far more stubborn and agressive fish this time. I had visions of fighting a submerged supermarket trolley with a life of its own. As it came to the net, it turned out to be not a trolley! but a low double with a a lot character.

I could have so easily stayed and fished on but the school run beckoned. I couldn't believe it, four fish, two of those doubles and a missed run.....
My unfounded doubts and uncertainties had vanished as quickly as the chill of the early morning air. Maybe my quiet friend the Barrow had been speaking to me all along perhaps I'd just not been listening. We were on the same wavelength, in tune with each other once again.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Barrow Muscle Cars.

I've not fished the river for a whole week (six days to be precise), withdrawal symptoms were well set in by today. Living so close to the river is real a double edged sword, it would be very easy to spend a lot time on the bank and yet when your not there the mind often wanders as to what you might be missing!
I've been watching the river like a hawk, checking the level and colour everyday whilst on the school run, still no rain, things were looking good. If my memory serves me right, the river has not been this low and clear since last June. I couldn't resist it any longer, I was off out to get my Fix.
Heading to the swim there was a distinct touch of spring in the air, no coat or extra layers required today. I quickened my pace!
Two ledgered deads were the order of the day, the usual routine,  one popped up the other hard on the bottom. Ninety minutes in and an alarm burst into life, not a screamer of a run but a take of sorts. Fish on!...Oh.... Fish off... I left the bait in for a few moments longer hoping the fish may slam it out of frustration if nothing else but no joy. I cursed myself and the fish, if the truth be known.
I brought it in to see if there were any signs of the encounter. Once again it was all proper horror show, slashed like a Romero movie.

Things then went decidedly quiet, I moved everything around, changed the baits but the swim still appeared to be void of fish. I moved upstream and put the coffee on. I needed to cover some ground or water as the case may be. A 30g WaterWolf Scud float was now patrolling the new swim, third trot through, it bobbed and disappeared, that was the last I saw of it for some time. Through the braid I could feel the fish chomping on the hooks and rig, this was not a good sign yet some how all remained secure. This was one angry mother! A superb hard fighting river pike, this high octane fish was like a muscle car on a quarter mile strip... At will, she ripped line off the reel at very high tension quite a number of times.

By the looks of this of this old girl, she has seen her fair share of action in the past. She was very lean compared with other recent fish, clearly she has not been feeding up perhaps due to previous captures. She also carried a number of small cuts and nicks on her lower flanks and back. She had a noticable lesion or bacterial infection at the neck of her caudal (tail) fin. This could be due to stress or mishandling. I also wonder due to her condition and wounds was she maybe a post spawn fish, were the jacks nipping her whilst jostling for position (could some of the Barrow pike have spawned already). Looking at my "self take" timer photos she reminds me very much of a "summer pike". Tonight she swims, I hope she feeds up well and finds a place of refuge to make a full recovery.

As I mentioned at the top of this post, I'd not been on the river for about a week or so. I dug out a bit of old software one of the days (Windows Movie Maker) and put a few bits together, I suppose its a bit of  a look back at the season and blog so far. I think it turned out alright, Give it a click and let me know what you think.