Thursday, 13 October 2011
Murder on the Levels
A long slog over the last two days have left me with creaking legs and aching shoulders, but plenty of enjoyable fishing. The Somerset Levels have been especially beautiful, in their own muddy kind of way. I might make loose plans with fishing and writing, but so often it's the little detours that entertain most. As is the case on the fish filled, "flat as piss on a plate" Levels, the more you look, the more you find. Supplying sketchy directions and even sketchier banter was Bridgwater's own piking Pole, Seb Nowosiad (who is also popular with cows).
I've often teased him in the past about his dogmatic loyalty to fishing his special jigs to the exclusion of other lures, but on this occasion I also learned the danger of letting him dip into my own box. Armed with a Kuusamo spoon, the bugger proceeded to hook and land three pike in the first forty minutes of the day! Not bad going.
We began by drain hopping then, but things only got really exciting as we approached a little, unnamed channel however. It was certainly pretty; one of those many, cute and weedy little culverts, just like somebody dug a boggy channel, chucked a load of fish in it and then time forgot it even existed. What started as a cheeky cast quickly became an adventure in it's own right. The first encouraging signs were clouds of fry, amongst sporadic weed growth and no more than three feet of water. I decided to get revenge and poach one of Seb's lures and on the very first cast, a little jack pike walloped it from under the far bank.
The next hour or so was utter havoc- pike bulging everywhere in the shallow water, slashing at the lures, missing the lures, sucking in the lures, cartwheeling clear of the water. The biggest of the lot from this Lilliput sized drain was probably not much more than four pounds, but I can't remember the last day I had so much fun.
There's just something special about shallow, clear water that makes everything a little more thrilling, more direct. The fish can't plunge deep when hooked, and so simply fly off along the bank, shaking and jumping like maniacs. You also notice the difference when fish are seldom bothered by anglers- unlike the "one hit wonders" of pressured waters, these critters will attack repeatedly. In the course of just one cast and retrieve I watched one jack grab at Seb's lure just after it landed, then nip it again, before following another few metres for an epic final grab, destroying the thing in a blur of gills and teeth!
We finished the day exhausted from about six miles of mud, hundreds of casts and a stack of trigger happy pike. The stand out lure of the day by a Somerset mile was a Kuusamo Fat Professor spoon, which has a beautifully lazy wobble, finishing the day rather more toothmarked than at the start of play.
If only other types of fishing were as guaranteed to quicken the pulse- but alas, it was not to be with my other trip, in search of a late season salmon, on the Lynher. My brother Ben is well and truly addicted, but I can't make my mind up yet: is life too short to fish for salmon, or too short not to fish for salmon? A bit of rain should have helped us, but only one fish was spotted, a grilse of around 5lbs which was unimpressed when we turned up, both flies and spinners drawing a big fat blank.
In spite of their idiosyncrasies, pike really are comfortingly predictable by comparison and I'm looking forward to the winter, with night fishing a current area of interest- if only to squeeze the odd session in around other commitments. Organisation is a must in the dark though, and bite indication can be tricky- hence I've been testing some of Greys LED Nite Floats- I'm no tackle tart, but these are great fun to watch.
I've been enjoying playing with the camera for dusk photos as much as the actual fishing of late- and a "Pike Fishing by Lamp Light" style Angling Times feature is on the way soon.