Wednesday, 21 October 2009

From Drain to Drain

A busy old time of late- so many plans, so little time. But when I can't decide on which, I usually opt for somewhere quiet. Such was today's plan for the Levels. Conditions were poor though- bright and sunny. In my writing I'm probably as guilty as anyone else at identifying the best conditions- but more often than not we're not at liberty to pick our free time and so the conditions choose us!
The King's Sedgemoor Drain was very slow. As dead as my herrings in fact, although I covered a lot of water and was probably the only one roving outdoors hoping for darker skies. Plenty of pikey spots covered, but pikey spots do not always equal active pike. A quick move was in order and I fancied the pretty South Drain (above), a water I'd admired but never fished. Another long walk led to just one bite and a shy one at that. The line hardly moved before I struck and something screamed about twenty yards off! A ballistic fight and a very long fish of twelve and a bit pounds. The pike are still skinny, angry customers- and with the awkward banks here all I can say is thank goodness for unhooking mats.
Otherwise, I have been enjoying other business, including my new found role as a bailiff for Exeter and District AA. I asked to see the permit of one oik walking along HOLDING A BLOODY FISHING ROD who said "I'm not fishing". He was either carrying out some kind of surrealist mime then, or was the world's worst liar. Either way, he was politely told to bugger off and not come back without a permit. Some people!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Rocket from the Cripps

Sunday, boring Sunday. No encouragement required to shoot off to the Somerset Levels again for some more pike finding. Had a look at The Huntspill, South Drain and Cripps River (which isn't actually a river) today. The best bit? Taking a long walk and seeing nobody in sight for hours. The closest I got to being harrased was a herd of very curious cows, who seemed intent on studying my fishing tackle and eyeballing me.
The Cripps was particularly enjoyable- shallow as a boy band and very weedy. Deadbaits were a dead loss frankly, but a quick throw with soft lures got some interest. It was one of those days though- lots of jacks, few properly hooked. Partly because it was so weedy I took the treble hook off the suspending Storm Shad they took a liking to.
The pattern seemed to be little clusters of pike with long empty spaces in between. Finally though, one pike stayed on, taken by dropping a deadbait in front of a fish that followed a lure in but wouldn't take. An utterly ballistic fight too for a fish of five or so pounds, a very skinny brute that looked in need of a few more roach for lunch.
A long way from being a red letter day then- but what a fantastically peaceful place to roam. And on the walk back I saw the unmistakable shape of a barn owl swooping over the trees. Magical.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Lessons from Cider Country

Fishing is an odd sport sometimes. You don't always get what you deserve. Sometimes you can fish for just a few casual casts and get a result; next week you put in maximum effort for very little. Which has been the story of the last week.
The Somerset Levels looked prime for a long walk and hopefully a few pike on the Kings Sedgemoor Drain. I love these drains and long venues- not convenience fishing, but rewarding for those prepared to search far and wide. Sadly it was one of those days when conditions looked perfect but only a handful of jacks were prepared to have a look- just the one made it to the bank, from perhaps a foot of water by a bridge, literally right under the rod tip.
Otherwise, the only real lesson was courtesy of Rob Darby, on the dangers of cider and falling down wet steps the day before. In the above picture you might be forgiven for mistaking the lad for a pikey hobo, rather than a pike fisherman.
The only other action (or lack of it) was a trip to a very soggy Chew Reservoir. The trout were surprisingly absent to fry patterns, and the pike not especially active either with just one jack and two other knocks on decent sized pike flies. The water level seems alarmingly low at present, ruling out some of the usual features, and some areas seem muddy too. Perhaps no surprise that all the bites came on brightly coloured offerings. What a foul day too! My kit is still drying out as I type this...