I have laid aside business, and gone a'fishing.

Izaak Walton

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Picnic in the basket...

Went out with JT again and again we went in search of the Pike. As ever, scruffy joined us.

The first venue was a canal and very soon I was reminded that I needed to buy myself a pair of decent boots. The canal bank was full of mud and the inevitable dog mess.
Me last pair of Hunter wellies didn't last long and didn't provide much support for the angler who chooses to scramble, in a chubby and wheezy manner, over walls and fences and hills etc. etc.
I think Hunters have gone down the banks.

So, I've ordered a pair of Dubarry boots. Very pricey, I know, but they will (hopefully) last me for the next ten seasons or more and provide support to ageing ankles.

Anyway, we saw nothing in the canal and nothing seemed to see our fly's for they remained untouched. JT managed to snag the far bank and had to leg it down the bank, over a bridge and crash through someone's chicken pen. He's very athletic when the call comes in and, despite his age and girth, he crashed over a wall and barbed wire fence like a middle-aged bullock that's drank far too much Stella.
He saved the fly but in the event we didn't grass a Pike.

Moving on we found ourselves in a very urban setting and another canal running through a busy city. We raised a few eyebrows as we crossed a busy road in full fly fishing gear - waders, boots, rods, bags, net - and Scruffy.
We descended to the canal bank only to find the stretch we wished to fish had been drained to reveal the cracked muddy shelves cradling a slim channel of dark muddy water.
We carried on and raised some interest from a few jacks but no proper takes.
Finally, surrounded by onlookers - bored or otherwise, we quit the venue and headed off to another destination where we both felt sure we'd find Pike.

A moments reflection, dear reader.
Me fishing career has, so far anyway, lasted some forty-odd years and during that time I have always preferred to enjoy some form of lunch at half time. In golden, far-away days my dear old mum would make me a packed lunch with a flask of hot tea. (God bless you, Mum). I'd put the tupperware box inside me old wicker basket and, shouldering my old rod holdall and fold-up deck chair, I'd toddle down the road to catch the bus to Lymm Dam.
Time waits for no man and these days I will sometimes seek the succour and comfort of a handy pub, if the location allows. But what's to be done when the chosen venue is miles from any form of hostelry.

Well, I've discovered a solution in the form of an old fashioned picnic basket. It can be loaded with all sorts of nosh and booze and it comes complete with all the necessary crockery & cutlery to rest and chop up your grub and glasses to drink your wine from.

As I handed JT a chicken leg and a glass of Chateaux neuf du Pape, a chap appeared with a very handsome dog. We soon learned that the chaps name was Neil and the dogs name was Tess. Neil sat with us and told us of his own fishing adventures and it seemed only decent to hand him a glass and pour him a drop - with beaded bubbles winking at the brim...

Scotch eggs and chicken legs and a reasonable selection of cheeses, all washed down with a bottle of the red left us replete and, with purple stained mouths, we fished again. Sadly, and despite some considerable effort, the Pike had simply buggered off and chose not to pay us a visit.

Our very last venue of the day always reminds me of a victorian park lake. And in my minds eye, in days gone by that's exactly what it might have been. On sunny Sunday afternoons a virile young man would row his sweetheart over to the far bank for a moment of soft canoodling. Only for the dream to be broken by a loud and intruding shout from the bank; come in number 23 your time's up!
Descending through a small copse we met a very smart lady walking her dog. She reminded me of my schoolboy crush - Alexandra Bastedo. Phew...

At the death, JT managed to bank a small jack. The pike from this lake are always quite pale and anemic and this little blighter was no exception. He also bore the scars of battle as a large stabbing wound was visible across his mid-flank. A diving cormorant, maybe? Anyway, he was soon returned to fight yet another day and at this final small victory JT and meself decided to call it a day and so we made our way back to the motor.
A small beer each seemed an appropriate way of toasting a great day. Not much sport but meeting new people and the very lovely Tess made it all very worthwhile.

The hamper had proved its worth and will be packed to the gunnels come our next adventure.

(Acknowledgements and apologies to the spirit of JK)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pike on the Fly...

My chum, John,  had communicated his recent interest in fishing for our old friend Esox with the fly. Intrigued I got in touch with him to arrange a day together in pursuit of Mrs Pike before she got too frisky with Mr Pike - it being early March.

We travelled through blizzard conditions and heavy traffic before finally arriving at our destination - a windswept canal. The snow joined us on the bank and was soon blowing almost horizontally covering both our backs with ice and slush and freezing the old mitts.

We began casting large flies to the far bank - or in my case, halfway to the far bank. Mercifully the snow subsided and the wind dropped and a weak sun warmed us and then the Pike appeared.
I've caught me fair share of Pike before, up to 24lbs, but catching a pike on a fly rod is a different kettle of fish. We were using suitably beefed up gear - 9 foot, no.9 rod and lines - but the bend in the rod and the direct contact through the fly reel was very exciting.

During the day and over three venues we both managed to bend into high doubles as well as some hard fighting jacks. We broke for lunch in a nice pub and shared a bottle of reasonable Merlot.

All in all a tremendous days sport.