Still coughing, but well enough to fish, the end of the frosts have not meant easy pickings, but at least you can now do away with ice breaking and just fish. What we sometimes forget though is just how much longer the water takes to warm up after an icy spell.
First stop was Tiverton Canal near Sampford Peverell, just for the safe bet of an afternoons sport really. An interesting session too, saved by polarising glasses. The water was utterly clear and still pretty damned cold. The benefit of this was that the pike were there to spot- catching them proved a tantalising, frustrating game. Most of these pike, lots in the small but sporting three to six pound bracket, were very still and not especially hungry. Even dropping a bait right on their noses bought no reaction in perhaps three quarters of target fish!
Eventually, I got my first taker- not the most enthusiastic character, but prepared to accept a small bait; my staple bigger offerings were flatly ignored. He must have spent a good ten perhaps fifteen minutes to make his mind up, nose onto the bait for ages before hoovering up a sprat. No more than six pounds, but very welcome.
The next take came from drifting a small bait past a visible fish. This one sidled up lazily as if to say"oh well, a little snack won't hurt..." A little bigger too. The typical reaction from an excited local followed-" cor it's massive. How big?" Nine pounds exactly- a decent Tivvie fish though on a tricky day, where perhaps a dozen other stalked fish were totally unmoved by my efforts.
Next stop was Spires Lakes near North Tawton, after big perch. Thought I'd discovered the perchiest swim of the lot, with over four dozen stripy critters to worm and maggot- but none bigger than about six ounces! Then came the moment of truth- a slow bite on worm section and a wallowing, thumping fight on the pole. I was sure this was the king of all perch when.... this bloody great big orfe came into view. Nice to be surprised I guess, but not really the target. Livebaits may have done better, but it's a method I dislike and is against the rules in any case.