Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Pike, perch and prawns

Unlike other sports, one of the really fantastic things about fishing is that it appeals to all ages. If you get the bug, it doesn't matter whether you're six or eighty six. What is the best age to be an angler? There is something magical about taking youngsters fishing. It always takes me right back to my own childhood, so it was my great pleasure to host for Michael Pryor and his son Raphael at the weekend for a spot of pike fishing. A hearty walk was in order, with flies and lures dropped into every likely corner.
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I loved their enthusiasm, which was certainly called for on a testing day, not to mention Raphael's laughter and endlessly entertaining questions (typical example: "Could a pike of 100 pounds eat one of 99 pounds?"). It turned out to be one of those days where we only had a few chances- and some dodgy luck, especially with a nice fish of around five pounds lost at the net for Raphael. If anything, this only seemed to fuel his enthusiasm even more. By the close of play he was casting like a pro and still marching on in search of bites. If one day I have a son of my own I only hope he is half as keen and such great company as this.
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Otherwise, I've been back on the trail of perch. I had an enjoyable session with Russ Hilton at Simpson Valley, which seems a great little mixed fishery at the moment, if a bit of a drive on the backroads. I'm doing an increasing amount of mixing methods, by which I mean putting a pole to good use, but stepping tackle up and using quite big baits. Prawns are one offering I've never really given a fair trial, so I persevered with them this time.
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Usually in February, I'd be trying the deep water on a small lake- but with it being so mild lately, the perch have been turning up really close to the bank, or typically just where the water deepens. It was to be a fun session, but also another one of near misses. I was getting so many false bites at one point, I switched to just a small piece of prawn and the culprits were revealed. Not only did I bag a three pound bream and one or two nice roach, but this rather handsome hybrid. Not a monster perch, but some very welcome variety:
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After enjoying some good bites I then threw down the gauntlet a little and fed heavier, with chopped worm and prawns. The real regret was a solid perch that fought well and came off just when I was getting the upper hand. Russ fared rather better than me with a brace of two pounders (I'm sure he'll enlighten you on his excellent "Tales from the Towpath" blog shortly if you take a peek). My best fish was somewhere round a pound and a half- but was at least proof that prawns have more uses than cookery. Actually, it was an absolutely perfect looking creature, a real pin up of a perch! I think the day I get tired of seeing these is the day I give up fishing:
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As for the most random sight of the day, I'm still rather puzzled as to this rather strange use of a gentleman's neck tie. Is this of significance to someone? Perhaps a marker for an angler's favourite swim? Is it art? Or did someone simply find it lost and helpfully hang it on a tree for its owner to find? I have zero idea. Not really my colour though.
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