I did however, managed to fish with my boyhood piking hero prior to Christmas, but we'll leave that story for another day, but is has left a lasting impression on both of use that's for sure.
So to the New Year and a new venue. I've been mulling over these old gravel pits for sometime. They are to say neglected and its a battle to even get to the waters edge some days. Buts its an adventure and in this day and age, I need abit of adventure to keep me from going doolally.
I arrived at the pit after a causal dawn of getting up. All the gear etc was actually ready, but with the howling wind blowing a gale out side, it didn't seem right to venue out two hours before dawn.
The drive was taxing with a couple of fallen tree's to contend with and I arrived at the gate in the half light. Unsurprisingly, I was the only car in the car park and probably was the old person in a few years to actually park in it.
The pit was full to the brim with muddy brown water. It took a fair amount of paddling along the path before finding a couple of spots where I could get rods out in. So with some advice from my piking god still ringing in my ears, the first two rods were cast out even before bank sticks and alarms have been setup.
The morning was warm for January, but the water was freezing and I wasn't expecting to see much surface activity for the silver fish. The pit have a moody potential about it this windy day, so with the rods out, bank sticks and alarms now setup, the first brew of the morning was in order.
I decided to fish two rods to start with, one on a drifting Roach under a float, set just a foot off the bottom, to be fished along the margins and the second rod was baited with a half Bluey, popped up off the bottom on a running ledger rig.
Looking up at the sky, the strong winds were bending the tall trees over like springs, the clouds above them were being whisked passed at a brisk pace. The clouds were dark and moody, some have heavy rain in them or was it to be snow or sleet.
The tea was made and after twitching the Bluey back, the float on the second rod was skipping off into the over hanging trees. I usually, play fish by back winding, but due to the snags, it was to be a hit and hold type of day. After a scrappy fight the first pike from the pit was mine, nothing huge, but a very health specimen. The roach was still attached to the hooks, as the Pike spat the lot out in the net, and the Pike was returned .
After untangling the trace plus roach from the net, its was cast back out, but alas I'd not ensured that the chomped Roach was properly attached and whilst the float landed in one place the Roach flew high and wide.
The discarded Roach was replaced with a tied on Sardine and positioned in another lightly ambush point. The Bluey was recast into a different area of the pit on the far side and the kettle was back on.
The morning passed by with more strong winds and the occasion rain shower which eventually meant the new brolly was put up to shield me and the gear from the prolonged heavy rain.
Lunch was consumed, and rods recast. The Bluey had soaked for four hours with no attention, so it was put to one side and replaced with a bloody Lamprey section. As it was slow, the third rod was setup, a float ledgered Pollan positioned in a deep hole. The Bluey, was chopped up and scattered around it for added attraction.
The wind was starting to subside, so the drifting sardine was starting to be abit static, so with nothing much happening on the other static baits, I decide to put some life in the dead bait. The Sardine was switched about so the top hook was in the head and the second in the flack, so in affect a wobbled bait under a float. This was to be cast out to likely looking holding or patrol areas and twitched back.
The first cast was over to an old lily bed, the sardine settle after the cast and soon I had it twitched back. As it came into the margins and the bait dropped, the float twitched and started bobbing at the surface, this soon resulted in the float sliding under the surface and a short but hard fought scrap entailed. A angry Pike was netted and after removing the hook and trace from the mouth, I decided to weight it. It was deeper that then first. The dials when around and a 11lber was returned. Another short fat pike, I was staring to think this place has potential, if the juniors of the pit were little fatties.
With the low double returned, and a fresh bait on under the float, I started to wondering if the lifeless other rods where abit of a waste of time this day, but they were rebaited and recast for the last hour couple of hours of the day. I fished on casting the float out into several area's in between the other rods, but nothing materialised. So I returned to the area where the double had struck. The Smelt hadn't even settled before it was away and I wounded down into a fish which ran into a heap of overhanging brambles. The line went tight for a few seconds and then came free. The rig came back to be minus the pike and 90% of the Smelt. With it being late in the day, I thought I'd blown my chances of a third fish from this new venue. So with the fresh Roach back out, I decided to pack up the other two rods.
With the light fading fast, the last cast thought was upon me. All my kit apart the unhooking gear and landing net was packed away, but I decided that a last grasp cast was called for.
The roach was cast to the far bank so I could cover as much water as possible, I then twitched the bait back allowing it to pause for a minute or two in likely areas. The float was about a third of the way a back before it started to twitch. Wind? No. The float twitches reassembled a live bait under the float and unless this Roach had performed a miracle and had come back from the dead, it was be taken by a Pike.
The twitching turned soon turned to movement and the float skipped across the surface, and soon it was sliding under. I wound down into a solid resistance. The pike fought well, but with very strong snag fishing gear on, the Pike was soon in the net. Looking slightly bigger, I did decided to weight. It was just under 13lb, so a nice end to the taster session.
With the light very much in the decline, the pike was returned to the icy water and I packed up the last of the gear before heading back to the car. My walk to the motor was met with a chorus from a pair of Fieldfares, a sight and sound I haven't heard for a while.
Tightlines & Happy New Year.