We have had snow on the ground now for a full week, I am certainly not a fair weather angler by any measure but it has been absolutely freezing. What’s a fly fisher to do – I needed my fishing fix and I could only think of one place to get it – out on the river.
A ring round some contacts got my buddy Paul Richardson from Wychwood Game Tackle, and I a day on a Hampshire chalkstream – somewhere seldom fished for pike.
The water is running very high and clear and we would be lucky to see a + on the temperature gauge but I needed to flex those casting muscles.
Tackle for the day was simple – a 9’ 9 weight Farlows Saltwater Series fly rod and my trusty old Sage fly reel loaded with a Teeny 350 fly line. Because it was so cold I felt it was important to get the fly in front of the pike in the high, fast flowing water and the Teeny is perfect for this.
On the end I looped on 3’ of 30lb Seaguar and an 18” bite tippet made of Rio Knottable Wire. This is a great product – easy to tie with simple knots, strong and very resistant to kinking.
My fly selection was a mix of homemade and Fulling Mill pike flies. To get the depth I spent the day fishing with a Silver/Gold Sparkler pattern with a pair of large lead dumb-bell eyes. The pike in this stretch of river don’t see much action so wouldn’t be too fussy about exact pattern. A pair of long nosed pliers for unhooking, a salmon sized Mclean weigh-net, an unhooking glove and am unhooking mat completes the kit.
Oh yes – sorry I forgot – loads of warm clothes!
How did we get on?
After a few exploratory casts and a walk along the bank we found our first group of fish. At this time of year the jack pike (small males) are looking for love. Unfortunately this comes in the form of a big female capable of making her suitors dinner if the fancy takes her! From an anglers perspective this can be a good thing as you can identify the areas worth a cast very easily.
Pike are lazy predators at the best of times. On a cold day they will be in the slacks lying up close to the bank , a structure or weed bed. My first fish of the day was upstream lying into the bank absolutely static. I made a cast and bought the fly in close to the fish.
Fortunately, another smaller jack saw the fly at the same time and came racing over to intercept it. As the fly came to the target fish I used a trick that has caught me lots of pike in the past in similar conditions – I just let the fly drop to the bottom and waited. The pike lazily sidled over and gulped the static fly up off the bottom. Great to watch.
As the day went on Paul and I added three more fish to the bag, nothing massive – the biggest a low double but with conditions against us a great result. We will be back again before the end of the season to get one of the big girls on the bank! What a treat to be out and fishing again.
Hope you enjoyed the read! Thanks, Allan.