Winter piking is now in full swing and by the first weekend of the month I had managed 2 trips and blanked on both. The aim of this winter is just to get my hand back into pike fishing as I've not done much for a few years and seem to have misplaced/lost/sold a lot of the bits and bobs such as floats and traces, as each trip comes and goes I'm stocking up on stuff that I want and need as I discover a use for them. I'm also getting more and more into lure fishing, both for pike and ultra light's for perch and this is set to become a large part of my fishing as I can fit short sessions in after work on a Friday now that I'm working nights.
The first Saturday of the month saw a return to the Calder system with my mate JD, this time though we decided to target the river although it didn't go exactly to plan. As we were hitting the river I knew we would need to move about more to find the fish so with this in mind I dumped some of the gear to loose some weight. A quick look at the weather and the heavy brolly was promptly dumped from the rod bag, what a mistake that was! Thanks Mr weatherman. I arrived by the river at dawn to be met by a torrential down pour that saw me sitting it out in the car for half an hour or so.
I had arranged to meet JD by a place we know as 'The Scary Bridge' I say we but it was actually named by JD who is a bit of a girl and not too keen on walking through it. It's an old railway bridge that is still used but rather than walk along or over it there is a specially constructed walkway that runs through the middle of it, a bit like a tunnel. Its dark, it smells and its full of dog shit and graffiti but its the only way without driving a couple of miles to reach known fishing hot spots on both sides of the river.
I was there way before JD so decided to bounce a bait around a couple of eddy's under the bridge on a simple float rig till he arrived, an hour had passed and I had nothing to show when I saw JD climb the stair well into the bridge on the opposite side. Now for some fun I thought. I waited until I could here his footsteps above me and unleashed a barrage of pebbles at the side of the metal bridge, just then a a train thundered over head too! He came running out the other side like Usain Bolt and spent the next 5 minutes coughing and retching before coming out with some excuse about last nights beer. I almost fell in the river laughing at him.
Once we had composed our self's we moved up stream to a massive deep nearside eddy surrounded by trees and bushes and all the flow over the far bank. Two swims occupy the area and it looked the perfect place for predators to hold up in. If I have pike fever this year then JD also has perch fever and both of us targeted out chosen quarry in that same area. After a couple of hours things were not looking promising so we upped sticks back over the scary bridge and down to where the canal and a side stream enter the river.
JD flicked lob worms around the mouth of the lock and I positioned two dead baits in the river, one down the crease from the side stream and one in the mouth of it. Soon though it started to rain again and I was cursing the weathermen. The sun soon came out though and we sat it out till dinner time but alas nothing showed to either of our rods here either and with thick black clouds looming we headed for the cars and some dinner.
Over dinner we discussed what to do, the fish were not playing ball in the river and at the advice of the weathermen I had dumped the brolly. With this in mind we decided to try a new bit of canal we had both fancied, we chose now to try as it had two low road bridges we could shelter under from the heavy rain showers. As we walked along the tow path and emerged from the second bridge a large swirl on the surface indicated pike were present. Bit of look there then. I quickly grabbed the lure rod and dropped a number of different lures on its head but after half an hour I think all I achieved was to scare it off.
I chucked one rod out with a dead bait on in the general area of where we saw the pike and was just about to get the second out when I saw JD land a small perch on his light lure outfit, I watched for a while and after 2 more decided to get in on some of the action. Currently my ultralight selection consists of a set of tiny real looking fish as opposed to shad types and I managed to catch a coat, a lump of ply board, an old landing net and bend the hooks on two lures, really you couldn't make it up and when I bother JD for one of his jig heads all I did was hook the bottom! I soon got bored of that and went back after the pike. After half and hour of chucking bigger lure around I managed to loose a brand new Savage Gear real eel to a snag despite using 30lb braid. Feeling deflated I sat it out and drowned some dead fish in the hope of a pick up. Of course after such a day it never came.
I took the Mrs out on a date Saturday night and with the little one at the mothers I sneaked a quick early morning session in on the Sunday, I headed back to the new length but this time opted to fish the middle of the short section just to see what was about as we had seen pike at one end and at the other is well, lets just say you could put a sign up saying fish here and I will be trying it out over the next couple of weeks.
As I only had 4 hours I kept things simple with two float fished dead baits, one down the middle and one just off the far bank where there was still 6ft of water. I started with a smelt on one rod and lamprey section on the other with the plan been to try different baits after an hour. I also had with me some herrings and sardines. It made no difference though as I never had a touch or saw signs of fish. On the way back to the car though I stopped off at the far end and my suspicions were confirmed, lots of fish activity both big and small.
On the following Friday I had planned to fish here again for a few hours after work but the weather was horrid so I retreated to bed for a quick nap before picking Lil up from school at dinner. Afterwards the weather perked up a bit so off we trotted down the cut for an hour. The wind was blowing straight down it though and after half an hour the little one had had enough.
Friday before Christmas saw me out on another stretch of canal with my mate Martin, ultra lighting for perch. again though the weather was not too good and the strong wind was blowing right down the canal. My shoddy selection proved rubbish as ever as Martin landed the odd small perch, even after begging one from him all I caught again was the bottom, at least I'm consistent and the bits of wood, twigs and leaves save a blank! On leaving though I was gifted a few little bits and bobs that just require jig heads and also a nice ultralight lure rod that I can use just for perching , cheers mate.
Whilst out Christmas shopping I dropped into Bobco in Leeds for some pike goodies too and then paid a visit to Mark Kelly for a large selection of jig heads, both for these and the other bits and bobs I had acquired. Of course Christmas was looming and I had made my list, thanks to the little sister for this collection below which consists of Relax kopyto's, Berkley minnows and a Savage Gear perch kit.
Saturday between Christmas and New year saw me out for the day, JD was to join me later once his wife had done emptying the shelves of the supermarket like the rest of the fools buying enough food to feed a small army. The Calder was up a couple of foot but only holding a bit of colour so once again I started on the river and again in another area I had not fished for pike. A lock cutting directed some of the flow away from the bank making a large slack on the inside, the crease headed out mid river and the floating barrier which stops the boats reaching some downstream rapids had created a large raft just below my position.
My first rod was cast out a few rod lengths onto the crease with a float paternostered dead finishing things off and the second rod, a float ledgered bait was dropped into the deep near side slack. I had been fishing half an hour when a couple of Eastern Europeans appeared on the bank behind me, glaring at me in disgust as I was obviously in the spot they wanted. They dropped in below and I scoured my swim for signs of set lines, tethered rigs and nets tied to the bank. All was clear but I did wander why they were taking it in turns to pace up and down behind me! Anyway after an hour they left and went up river.
The hours ticked by and despite a couple of bait changes I yet again failed to tempt a Calder pike, I piled the gear back in the car, went for some dinner and dropped onto another stretch of canal I have not yet fished although me and JD walked down it last time to fish further along past the next bridge. Right I though, not much happening of late so IL try something different. I don't ever recall me properly ledgering a bait for pike, always having some kind of float or float rig attached so I decided to ledger a bait over to the far side of the basin leaving me free to flick a second bait here there and everywhere on a float rig. JD was due too and I was hoping he would catch me a few lives.
I cast a mackerel tail over towards the far bank wall just short of some under water weeds I had seen from the bridge above and clipped on the rear indicator with the bail arm open. Having not fished this way before it took me a few attempts to set right in the strong wind. I turned around to get my second rod out of the bag and my alarm let out a series of bleeps and I turned to see the indicator lift. I passed it off as the wind as it had now stopped making any sound and the indicator was still. Two more bleeps made me stop what I was doing and I watched as the indicator pulled up tight and the alarm wailed, the line failed to pull free of the clip though but I grabbed the rod, wound down and struck into thin air! The fish clearly got fed up of my set up pulling its free meal back out of its mouth and dropped it.
I cast back out with a fresh bait on but this time made adjustments to the indicator to make sure it would pull free and also moved my rod forward so the head was right against the reel spool rather that sat under it. I didn't get chance to test it though as I never had any more interest. JD arrived and I'm starting to worry about his rubber fetish now, I hoped he was going to catch me some lives but rather than a box of maggots he had his box of rubber and some lobbies. We sat it out till dark again but nothing fell to our rods, at dusk though a pike swirled right under my rod and charged around on the surface chasing fry waving its tail about as though it was giving me the two fingered salute.
That is my short lived Calder pike campaign over with for a couple of reasons. Firstly it would seem that like many town and city free fishing areas it has been done to death by EE's, everywhere you go along the river and canal banks there's empty Fladen lure packets from the local B&M store, piles of Polish beer cans chucked about, the charred remains of BBQ's and the people them self's sat fishing in favoured spots almost every day. Odd trips will be made now and again I suppose but its not a place IL be pike fishing with any regularity.
Secondly I have been fortunate to find a water not too far from home that would seem to hold a decent head of fish and concrete evidence of 20 pounders along with the odd old rumour of something very special. I had been discussing a number of waters with a well known Yorkshire piker for a while and had intended on giving said water a go anyway and the required club book came my way at Christmas by way of a gift from the Mother. I have been for a wander around a couple of times with the kids over the last few weeks to see if anyone was fishing and on my last visit we spotted 6 pike up to maybe 8lb cruising the shallows so when my mate Martin asked if I fancied a few hours after work on new years eve I couldn't say no.
Yesterday I met up with Martin in the car park before dawn. As it was only to be a short trip I opted to try out my new Savage Gear pike lures, some soft 4play's and reel eels while Martin messed around with bits of fluff on the fly rod. JD was to join us at first light but seemed to have got lost. It was still pitch black when we made our first casts and on only his 3rd or 4th Martin was in.
And as for me, well I carried on like normal. First I landed part of a car bumper that took a soft 4play and soon after a landed a ball of line entwined around some twigs and a really rubbish looking pike lure, it was attached to a wire trace but why some morons pike fish with 8lb line at the most beats me. Luckily it wasn't attached to a fish. On the plus side Martin was happily trying to land half ton boulders on his fly rod. He left me too it after a couple of hours as he went to bother some perch on a stretch of canal.
I opted to get out of the wind and moved around to one of the other banks and had a bit of a wander around, up the sides this lake is quite shallow and required a fair cast to reach any depth from the bank although wading should put you onto a few fish in the warmer months. I then came to a sizable bay that looked to be a bit deeper. After a few chucks I had a follow from a fish that then just sat looking at my lure, I re cast and brought it past its nose a few times before it slowly sank away again. I moved on but then had a phone call from JD who had dragged his arse out of bed and come for a look.
As I made my way to the car park end I passed the bay again and saw the same fish poking out from the weed, I put on a reel eel and worked it towards the fish, as it got close a bigger fish of around 8lb appeared from the depths and almost grabbed it, I jigged the eel around a bit and recast to come over the fish again but it spooked and shot off. The first fish was still sat there though. I made a couple of passes then got as bored as the pike did so bounced the jig head right on its nose a couple of times before it sulked off in disgust.
What the hell do I have to do to catch a fish these days????
With that I headed down to JD and had half an hour down the bottom end in the deeps again before heading home.
Roll on 2014, happy new year and tight lines to you all.