The alarm went off at 06:00 as usually for a winters day fishing and I was soon up, showered and down stairs doing the morning chores whilst preparing the days hot food.
I was out of the house whilst it was still dark and on my way to my favourite water. As I drove through the country lanes a realisation that the two toes on my right foot were throbbing with pain. This was all due to a trip on the unfinished paving where the bins are kept, which I should have finished in the summer.
This pain was not a good sign and if it was this painful driving, god knows what it would be like on a mile walk. So as I pulled up into the car park, I decided that a stationary days fishing was in order as close to the car as possible or as others call it "armchair fishing".
Now normally, I would sneer at anglers who don't put the effort into a good walk to a distant swim, but when your in pain for whatever reason, swims near the car are useful. But this was not any old swim. This was "the" swim that had been gracious enough to yield me a 20lb some 18 years ago.
I unpacked the car and walked the short distance to the swim, careful not to trip up in the dark. The sun was just starting to poke its head about the horizon and even with the westerly wind, it started to feel warm with the sun on my face.
Three rods were soon cast out, two straight ledger rigs and one short range float ledger, which was baited with a popped up bluey tail. With the rods out and the sun rising, the local bird life started to wake up too. Two little grebes were diving in the margins under the rod tips and I was amazed at their small size and speed as they dipped and dived about.
In the distance, a pair of Goldeneye's were diving along with the Grebes and Tufted Ducks. So while, they were all getting breakfast, it was time for the first cuppa of the day.
08:30 came and went, so with no signs of life on any of the three baits a recast was in order. As the baits were all still in good shape, they were just recast to similar positions. The margin rod was within hand throwing distance, so in order to spice up the scent trail, a hand full of chopped fishy bits was scattered along the wind lane that the bait was sitting in.
09:30, and the wind died back and the sun was shining, so with nothing showing they were due a recast again. the first rod was soon back out, but there was to my right a click, click noise from the middle rod, as I glanced over the float was starting to dip below the surface and the bait runner was starting to click, click at a steady pace. I walked over to the rod and picked it up. The bait runner had stopped, but the float was still below the surface. Had it dropped the bait?
With that thought still fresh in my mind the bait runner whizzed into life again and I could see the float just below the surface moving away from me. I disengaged the bait runner, wound down and lifted the rod into the running fish.
The rod hooped over and a fish was on. The curve in the rod didn't slacken, I was into something good.
In the grin clear water, I could see the shape of a nice size pike, definitely a mid to high double I thought. The pike stayed just below the surface all the way to the net and soon she was coming over the cord of the front of the 42" landing net and into the net. She then started to thrash about in anger.
I unclipped the trace and moved the rod away, before lifting her up the bank the short distance to the unhooking mat. This was a good fish, but how good?
She was lightly hooked in the scissor and within seconds she was laying unhooked in the folds of the net. The weigh sling was wettened and she was lifted into the sling. Without doubt, at that very moment, I knew she had hit that special mark. She was a 20lber.
As I slid her in the sling, attached the scales and lifted her clear of the ground, the scales soon settled on 22lb 4oz, minus the wet sling, she went 21lb 10oz. I done it!!!! The first fish of 2012, the best fish of the season so far and the fish that had ended my blank run at seven. She was my second twenty from this water which is a an amazing achievement.
I managed to get someone to take a few picture of me and her together, before I took her vital measurements of length (101cm) and girth (47cm). I rested her in the net for 10 mins in order for her to recover in the cold, clear water and when she had her strength back, I lowered the net and she swan away back into her home. She did stopping briefly to give me a wink before disappearing out of sight into the depths.
The rest of the day was uneventful, with no further runs coming to my baits, but it didn't matter, not today, because today a truly beautiful pike had grace my net with her presences