As promised in my previous post, tonight I am writing about my attempt to land a prehistoric predator this summer. I’m talking about Britain’s biggest game fish, the elusive and simply fascinating Northern Pike (Esox Lucius). Fly fishing for these amazing creatures is nothing new, but a lot more people have been taking up the challenge in recent years.
I’ve always been drawn to Pike, I lure fished a lot for them in my early teens. There is no denying the fact that they are just awesome! I began by splashing out on a new outfit. After a lot of research I went for one of Redington’s new Vapen Red rods. The chosen model was a 9ft 9wt, and I coupled it up with a Sage 2200, the 2210 (9-10wt) in black and blaze to be more specific. For lines, I went for the best I could afford and purchased a pair of Rio’s pike and musky lines. The intermediate and a floating line, both 9wts to balance the outfit. I’ll be reviewing this gear in a later post, there’s so much to say about them!
I fished a handle of venues throughout the summer, but most of all I gave the river Parrett a real good thrashing. I fished dawn, day and last knockings. All of it was in vain, with no sign of fish. But are there any fish there anymore? The Parrett has been under a hell of a lot of pressure lately and the fish stocks are definitely suffering from it. Annual flooding will have undoubtedly displaced the fish, and now that the flooding is over the Parrett along with one of its tributaries, the Tone, is being dredged. So there is a lot of disturbance, but on this particular day, as I step onto the banks just up stream of Oath Lock on the Langport Angling Association beat, my hopes were high and there are fish everywhere. Small silver fish rising to a hatch of black gnats, perch following my pike flies and the occasional crash heard in the over hanging trees, there have to be Pike here? Surely? Never the kind of person to be discouraged, I began fishing. I started by using a large Fulling Mill Perch pattern, heavily dressed with EP fibres. This pattern pushes a lot of water, has a good silhouette and a little flash, so I always use it as a seeking pattern and if I get any other clues as to where the fish are then I’ll switch to more specific patterns. Searching the depths I moved onto a floating line. Perhaps the fish needed waking up? Poppers were popped, streamers were stripped and even clousers were whipped out! I fished hard, covering every likely looking spot. With the lack of action, it gave me time to think about the outfit. I was hucking some big flies, 20cm at times and my wrist never tired, the handle never rubbed and the blank never failed me. I was chucking 20 yards of line off one or two false casts. Just a stones throw from the Parrett is the Sowey River, a man-made flood relief channel for the Parrett. This piece of water always looks in immaculate condition. Deep, slow, clear and loads of reed beds. Unfortunately I’ve never had the pleasure of fishing it. An age-old problem of access to land and fishing rights, oh how it bores me. I’m yet to find out who owns that piece of water, but I bet there are some cracking fish in there!
|Where the Tone meets the Parrett, the flooding in 2014.|
(Image sourced from www.westerndailypress.co.uk)
|I wish... (Image sourced from Instagram).|
I also targeted pike on the river Culm, a tributary of the Exe. There is a free section where I like to fish for coarse fish on the fly and is very popular with pike anglers. I fished the large stuff as usual, but spent more time using small salt-water flies. My search for pike was painfully drawing to a close, and after a few little Perch had chewed on my white and chartreuse clouser minnow something much heavier ate my fly, a dead weight followed by a quick head shake and the dream was over. I’ll never know what that fish was, a large Perch? A Chub? The Pike that had eluded me for so long? But isn’t that one of the best bits of fishing? It’s these moments that keep us on the water!
The famous J. R. Hartley wrote, “patience expects to be rewarded”, how very true that is. We are all guilty of feeling like this at times, I really did feel that I deserved myself at least one or two Pike for my efforts, but that isn’t how it works, we all know that. Although I wish I had locked into Mr Esox, I am far from discouraged by my experimental outings for Pike, and I’ll continue chasing them come rain or shine. Lets just put it down to youthful enthusiasm and impatience, but in the long run my angling skills and mentality will have only benefitted from my first season chasing Pike.