Sunday, 24 March 2013
Devon PAC Fly & Lure Match
Spring still felt a long way off for the annual Devon Pike Anglers Club match, held on a day of biting easterly winds. Credit to the intrepid half dozen anglers who fished the event, whose spirits were scarcely numbed by the sort of conditions which could see the Easter Bunny die of hypothermia. Nevertheless, the cut retained a sombre beauty for a roving session. Both flies and lures were permitted- and I always find this an interesting contest of different styles- and you could say the same about the characters fishing! Would the superior vibration of the lures steal the day in less than clear water? Or would the slow, subtle spell of the flies appeal more to pike rendered sluggish by a dip in temperatures? The rules were simple- a main prize for angler with the most pike, plus a pair of little sweepstake awards for the biggest and most pathetically tiny pike on the day. After about an hours fishing, a more relevant question seemed to be whether we would catch anything whatsoever. Our contestants searched and cast their way undeterred, while canny old fox Peter Higgins nabbed the first fish at the rear of the group, by running a pike fly tantalisingly through those near bank spots the rest of us had forgotten. Soon afterwards, Adam Moxey added a jack for the lure boys, while our 2011 winner Ian Woodason kept getting his spinnerbait whacked without getting any purchase on the jaws responsible. We switched artificials and moved swims. Cold hands were rubbed together. We shared obligatory nods and "bloody cold isn't it?" conversations with passing onlookers. The hits came in little spells, usually when we escaped the muddy stuff and found one or two clearer areas. Perhaps the greatest result of the day was a well earned score by Pete Wilkins and James Sherlock, who both managed to land their first ever fly caught pike. Out of the blue, James then took a shock lead in the contest. From casting practise on the strip of grass outside my flat, he had reached the pinnacle of success... well, sort of. The pike were scrappy little gits but hardly epic sized. "It really works, doesn't it?" were the exact words of our new convert, who I think had previously assumed that fly fishing was just an elaborate way of decorating trees with pike flies. So much for your local guide then- I was playing catch up, one of the last to get on the scoreboard with a one pound jack after a series of frustrating hits and misses. It's an interesting phenomenon, but we've had the same thing in previous events where the weather was bitter; pike willing to grab, but perhaps not doing so with their usual aggression and not getting hooked as a result. The unluckiest man of the lot was poor Ian- who got a stack of bites but not one fish hung on properly. That said, he did find this rather fetching gold jerkbait in a tree, which was a real bonus: Who would prevail in the final hour? It was tight, with James Sherlock making it a hat trick of pike on the fly. I thought my carrots were cooked, before something gave one of my clouser style flies a proper thump as it came up the near shelf. This time the eight weight wasn't so much tickled as walloped over- and a fish of five pounds, the best of the day, hit the net: Another little jack for me and the match was tied at 3-3 by the final whistle. An entertaining score draw you might say. It was too bloody cold to play any extra time in any case. It had been a terrific little day out, fished in good spirits and a respectable tally of nine pike overall. The flies had the edge on this occasion, perhaps due to the cold water and less than kamikaze mood of the pike- and a fairly slow retrieve worked best. That said, the lure boys can count themselves a little unlucky not to have stuck a few more in the net.