Finally, the floods have receded on my local river pike venue. Bursting over the banks and chocolate coloured with ice-bergs rushing past is not conducive to a decent day pike angling, but at long last, standing at the river side, the water is fining down nicely. Although there is still a fair bit of snow lying, the temperature has risen dramatically from minus nine or lower, to a bearable zero degrees, a vast improvement to say the least! Surely the pike will have to feed now after two weeks of being forced to lay low? This is a very tough water often producing blank sessions, but rewarding as it rarely produces small fish, in fact I have never taken a fish here under double figures.
I use my traditional open lough boat on this venue as it gives me the freedom to search out bait fish with the sounder, a great indicator that pike will not be far away, then pull in to the nearest stretch of bank to dead bait in comfort. On this occasion, I thought I would try out the pair of JRC J4 carp rods to see how they worked out with regards to throwing a dead-bait, and hopefully land a decent croc!
With bait fish located, opposite a suitable stretch of ground, I soon had the J4’s rigged and perched on the bite alarms. Using float-fished paternoster rigs, I find it easier and greater presentation to fish the rod tips as high as possible, keeping the line out of the flow and allowing direct contact to the bait for a very sensitive set-up.
Realistically, I was asking a little too much of the J4’s in banging out a twelve ounce roach dead-bait along with a four ounce lead, but they just about managed. They are excellent carp rods, but a little soft for this kind of "extreme" piking. The Cardinal Free Runners took the extra weight in their stride and later proved to be excellent pike reels.
Morning past by, cold and un-eventful, leaving me thinking I should have stayed in bed! However, early afternoon produced the first run of the day, with a decent ten-pounder soon resting across the un-hooking mat. This was great fun on the carp rod and excellent to see a double after enduring weeks of rough weather. Quickly un-hooked and returned, it was closely followed by a larger female that pushed the scales round to the sixteen pound mark, a cracking fin and scale perfect example of an Irish river pike. This fish came on my old Dictator pike rod and fought hard to avoid the net, it would have been lovely to have taken it on one of the J4’s.
Happy with the brace, two runs and two landed being an excellent result on this normally tough venue. By four o’clock, and thinking about packing up, one of the Delkims screamed out, signalling that another fish had taken a fancy to one of my over-sized roach dead-baits. Three runs on this venue is a red letter day, and bending the J4 into the fish as it headed upstream, I knew instantly that this fish was larger still. Although the rod struggled to cast such a large bait, the "through" action and reserve backing of power handled the pike well, eventually bringing it safely to the net.
Clocking in at twenty four and a half pounds, she was another notch to mark up on the specimen post. What a perfect end to a bitter cold day, especially when I was beginning to think I would have been better off staying in bed. Proves the point that despite the harsh conditions, if you’re not in, you can’t win!