|14lb 8oz of freshwater shark, with a liking for sprats|
This venture comprised the first step in our Exeter Canal campaign. Next week we're planning another go, on a different stretch. Eventually we'll settle on somewhere and give it a protracted effort with assorted deadbaits, and see what happens.
By the way, if you're a birder reading this, please excuse the slightly arcane terminology. I realise that plugs, spinners, twitched sprats and deadbaits have no place in the birder's lexicon. In case the context didn't give it away, they're just things you chuck in the water to tempt pike to come and join you on the bank.
Pike have serious teeth and are truly impressive creatures. As we watched the fish swim majestically away it was difficult to appreciate that this fearsome predator is actually quite vulnerable to careless handling and needs treating very gently on the bank. In my youth it is probably fair to say that the majority of coarse anglers viewed pike with contempt and it was not unusual to come across the occasional dead one, callously killed by some ignorant idiot. I'm glad to say I never felt anything but respect for pike, and though I didn't often target them specifically I was always up for an opportunist dabble if one appeared in my roach swim, say. Like this fella...
It's the summer of '76 and the earliest photo I can find of me with a pike. The fact that it was taken 40 years ago is very sobering. A lot has happened in that time. On a personal level, my specs have gone from cool and optional to quite the opposite; my hat, from silly to...er...to red.
And what about the bigger picture? Well, on a normal workday I will often listen to Radio 4 as I toil away, so I was mighty glad to be fishing last Wednesday because Radio 4 would have been wall-to-wall US presidential election that day. Trump, Clinton, up-to-the-minute news and analysis...I'd have been bored rigid. In the summer of 1976 Gerald Ford was the incumbent. Ford had fallen into the presidency when Richard Nixon resigned following the 1974 Watergate scandal (which is, incidentally, younger readers, where we get all our 'xxxxx-gate' event-of-infamy terms from) but lost it to Jimmy Carter in the November '76 election. After Carter the US populace decided they would like a retired Hollywood actor to lead the free world for eight years...
I think I caught a few pike during that period also.