Tuesday, May 15, 2012

When Phil nailed the Secret Pike

"Listen, I know where it came from," I can still hear myself telling Phil as we compared notes on a water we used to fish over the phone.

As in the thirty that came out from the least likely swim on the whole river. The bit everyone passed by without a second look. As in the Secret Pike - the big fish nearly everyone thought came from somewhere else.

It was late autumn, back in the days when this particular bit of a certain river had fallen well and truly off the radar. It was past its prime, a runs water which did doubles and the occasional low-twenty according to the grapevine. One or two of us knew different. We knew about the Secret Pike.

"It was definitely from there," I said. "It's been out two or three times, from the same spot every time. Same spot, as in spot the size of your kitchen table."

"That right..?" says Phil. "Interesting." Fast forward a few days and the phone goes at work. "Chris..? That's Phil. I'm down the river. Got your cameras on you..?" Might have. Why mate..?

"Had a day off mate. Nice day, so I went down the river with the dog. Chucked the baits in where you said. Then I caught it. It's in a sack. Any chance of getting down to take some pictures..?"

An hour later and I'm looking at the huge tail waving in the carp sack in the margins. Phil heaves it out, sticks it on the scales and it goes 27:08. I'm looking at it through the viewfinder of my old Nikon, thinking it's probably the most gorgeous pike I've ever seen.

The Secret Pike's fin-perfect. Assuming it is the Secret Pike and not its stunt double. I do the well done mate bit as I watch it go back. I kick myself as I walk back to the car, because I could have had the day off. Not to mention why did I bubble it. As in d'oh - why, oh why did I tell Phil..?

But the jealousy passes as I drive back to work, because I've shared a secret and Phil's shared the Secret Pike with me - even if it's just through the lens of the camera.

If the picture looks familiar, it's the one that's appeared on PAC membership leaflets and adverts for the club for several years. Phil caught it in 2004, before life and fishing took him to pastures new.

When I found the pictures on an old laptop, they took me back to the Secret Pike and some of the days I spent trying to catch it, before it melted away into the mist. Happy days.

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