Friday, 8 March 2013

Pike and Publishing

What is it about the River Wye and me? Every time I'd previously launched an attack on its pike population, the very fabric of the world seemed to conspire against me. This week felt little different, as I got held up by a road accident on the way through Hereford, followed by a bridge closure and then, just as I thought I might actually get there, the drizzle began and I was met with more "road closed" signs.  photo DSC_0090-2_zps2637adaf.jpg The river itself looked good though. I came to the spot I'd eyed up before- a great sinister endpoint on a bend, complete with gothic looking, leafless tree branches. As the rain kicked back in, the temptation was to hunker down with a bait rod out for the day. And yet looking into the depths, it struck me that the water was still beguilingly clear, the rain yet to cloud things up. Out came the fly rod; the right decision. With a fast sink tip, a big fly was getting right among the boulders where the bottom dropped away and I had that distinct feeling -as any angler has in their blood from time to time- that something would happen. After losing one fly lodged solid in a snag, I thought the same had happened again when the line stopped dead. This time something began a low, determined thumping across the bottom. It took me a few yards down the bank before I managed to stop the fish. Only by slow turns and what can only be described as an abusive curve in the rod could I bring the fish up. And then I saw it and froze. I had to scramble down a muddy bank on my backside, while the thing wallowed at the surface. She seemed to come in painfully slowly while my wellies gradually disappeared into the bank. Was this finally going to be the moment I put a Wye twenty into the net- or would they just find a pair of wellies and the word "help" scratched into the bank?  photo DSC_0083-4_zps6e30c811.jpg She was bloody heavy. I was elated and yet still bricking it as I took her in the unhooking mat and climbed along the bank for dear life. I just about clawed my way to more solid ground, breathing a sigh of relief as I found a better area to retain her safely for a quick weigh and a picture. At an ounce over twenty four pounds, this was my biggest ever fly caught fish! It took a 6" yellow and black pattern. Finally, after believing the place was just there to provide mud and disappointment on the pike front, I have my revenge on the Wye!  photo DSC_0051-3_zps8442305a.jpg Prettier and calmer waters had met me in Ludlow the day before, as I met with publisher Merlin Unwin. As well as a cheeky trot on the Teme, we were also there to talk books. There can't be many people who have met more characters in the world of fishing and country sports as Merlin. The riverside is always a great place for a conversation and I intend to get some of his reflections together for an article soon.  photo DSC_0056-2_zps4c633607.jpg The grayling didn't disappoint either and trotting with the pin was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours, accompanied by the rush of the weir. Amazingly, much of the fishing is free through the town centre. The biggest fish might just about have troubled the pound mark- but they made short work of maggots and just kept coming. The lines between work and play were pleasantly blurred on this occasion- and we also discussed a new book project for the coming months (but I can't spoil the surprise just yet!). I feel honoured to be backed by the people who've published great writers from Chris Yates to "B.B" over the years- and made "Flyfishing for Coarse Fish" not just a reality but a roaring success.  photo 9a204f77-c0f6-429e-b1f4-fa50df51b060_zpsd7ccb6d6.jpg Will coarse species on the fly ever enter the mainstream of fishing? It's already happening. There are now plenty of anglers as enthusiastic about pike as they are on trout. With the desperately cold temperatures earlier in the week however, I thought I'd have my work cut out guiding Lawrence Heaton-Wright to some decent predator fishing. Never mind the fish, it was a job finding ice free spots at first! At least the cold made for lovely clear water on the stretches of canal I'd picked. The highlight of the day was the sighting of a good fish that at first totally ignored a smallish, realistic pattern. Switching to a big orange fly did the trick though- Lawrence landed the fly perfectly within murdering distance and the pike did the rest, right before our eyes- SLAM! An inspired substitution you might say. Guesstimated at around eight pounds, this one proved to be the best of four well-earned fish on the day:  photo DSC_0024-5_zps120335bc.jpg

1 comment:

Jamie said...

what a cracking pike on the fly