Wednesday 29 November 2017

Winning a Pint Back

You might recall that Rob and I have this little angling contest going. The biggest fish of each species caught during 2017 earns a pint. The balance is still leaning Rob's way at present, but earlier this week I managed to nick one back...

The pike campaign has been a bit of a slog, with loads of eel aggro and very few pike. We've both chalked up several blank trips since we started back in early October, and feel that the venue is beating us up a bit. Mind you, with Rob doing a few overnighters he does manage to hear the odd bit of gen from other anglers and it sounds like we're not the only ones finding it tough going. The worse thing about not catching much is the feeling also that you're not learning much.

Anyway, back to the pints. Pike-wise, Rob has two 16-pounders to his credit this year, whereas my biggest is 14:08. I say 'is', but I mean 'was'...

23lb 8oz of exceptional jam

So, my second 20lb-plus pike in less than a year, and a different fish too. In fact, they were caught more than two miles apart, which kind of illustrates the challenges (and potential) of this amazing water.

In a way I'm a bit gutted for Rob. He's put in way more time than I have, and really deserves a big 'un. Doesn't mean I won't savour that pint though...

Friday 3 November 2017


Since the previous post I've made a few attempts at writing another but just dried up. And the longer I leave it, the harder it gets. The problem isn't lack of material but rather the opposite. Where to start...?

Anyway, filling a twelve week gap with one post is impossible, so here is just a small bite...

Rob and I have begun another winter pike campaign on the Exeter Canal. We've caught a handful thus far, including this one from October...

14lb 8oz of muscular sardine-eater. I wonder what happened to its tail?

Rob has caught the biggest at 16lb, but unfortunately I wasn't there and so the photo is just a poor record shot on the unhooking mat. Rob has been fishing right through the night mostly, and I've usually been able to join him until late in the evening at least. We have been absolutely plagued by eels! Occasionally they've managed to hook themselves, but mostly they just give you twitchy bites and shredded deadbaits. I did weigh one of the bigger ones, but at 1lb 15oz it was hardly a specimen. Rob deliberately caught an eel of 3lb 6oz on worms back in the summer, so I've no hope of winning the pint for largest eel at this rate. Anyway, I have no idea how to avoid the eels while the water is still warm enough to induce them to feed, except to fish more in the daytime. Unfortunately though, free daytime hours are at a premium!

Night-fishing for pike is probably underexploited. For Rob and me it's simply a practical way to maximise fishing time, so it's interesting to see what we might catch after any other pikers on the water have gone home for tea. That said, so far the only other pikers we've seen have been the occasional lure fisherman. When winter arrives properly I expect we'll see a few more.

Sea deadbaits have worked well for us, and we've tried lots: sardine, mackerel, herring, bluey, sprat, smelt, etc. To be honest I have confidence in any of them really. And in angling, confidence is key. Before I sat down to write this post I loaded the bait freezer with a freshly-delivered stack of deadbaits. Just in time too - the eels had nearly wiped us out!

I have one or two other angling projects planned for the coming months. Plus there is running. Yes, thats right. Running. And cycling of course. Birding? Well, there has been some birding, but not very much. And no, no Hawfinches. None at all.