Sunday, 20 November 2011
Piking in the Pink
With autumn so mild, I've been having a rethink of late and getting back to the fishing I love best. Or, to give you the other side of the tale, I've grabbed the fly rod again after getting bored stiff with dead baits. On short sessions on the canal I haven't seen my float drift away so much as my life drift away. The ensuing boredom and car smelling like a fishmonger's dustbin spelled time for a change. The right move, as a couple of enjoyable sessions have proven. Lots of hits, lots of fun and on today's bash at the Levels a lovely double figure pike that was a riot on a fly rod and reminded me exactly what I've been missing.
Joining me for this one was fellow pike angler Dave Smith, who also had a series of smash and grab hits from pike on both the Bridgwater to Taunton Canal and River Tone. The early morning was electric- and interestingly the fly proved king in clear water at the start, while it was Dave's lures which came out in front later on in slightly more coloured water.
Either way, we were both as happy as pigs in muck and when the action slowed we were just as captivated by the glorious autumn colours.
Natural beauty is a phrase that wouldn't apply to todays best flies though- the fish seemed to like loud best, a dash of hot pink to be precise. Slow sinking flies are spot on for the canal, but moving on to the river later on it was a clouser style, dumbbell head fly that did the honours- just one of several designs that will feature in "Fly Fishing for Coarse Fish". This "jig fly" pattern fishes really deep, ideal for teasing just off the bottom when the pike are sitting tight. It's also a great zander weapon.
Talking of the Tone, we had a great session but a bit of a sour start. I'm not one to turn the other cheek with rule breakers and the sight of an angler tackling steep banks with no net or mat (and a friend with a plastic bag) really got my goat. I asked this idiot how he ever hoped to land a lively pike on sheer banks- no answer, so I asked him to pack up and leave, which he did. I'm not even a Taunton bailiff- but until all of us start challenging such poor practise the result will be dead and damaged fish. Anybody turning up to a carp fishery with no net or mat would be sent packing- and the same should be true of pike anglers.
My little rant over, the afternoon was simply beautiful looking across the huge plains of Somerset. The pike gave us some big hits and the skies were so vivid I spent the rest of the day torn between fly rod and camera. The Levels really are at their finest in the autumn, the reddish land and golden last light such a stirring combination. Stunning scenery, great sport and a day to savour.