Wednesday, June 13, 2012

End of ban bodes well for pike fishing in the Fens

The red light flashes on the engine house, as the pump fires up with a puff of diesel exhaust. The bank beneath me trembles, before a torrent of water pushed up from the land drain courses into the Ouse sending a tinge of silty water downstream.

A mate once had two twenties here, like peas in a pod, within 10 minutes of dropping a bait just off the slacker, where water pouring in from one of the numerous land drains in the area has scoured the bed of the river a couple of feet deeper.

I've given it the odd go over the last couple of winters, but the pumps have stood silent more often than not and the pike seem to have melted away. Another slacker swim on a nearby water, where even I could catch pike in years gone by, has gone the same way.

In a roundabout way, the picture sums up what autumn and late season in the Fens should look like. A time when there's usually water everywhere, and the rivers and drains are doing the job we've spent three centuries adapting and building them to do, carrying water away to stave off a flood.

Last winter was the driest for yonks. Spring saw a hosepipe ban imposed, amid widespread drought warnings. Then we had three months' worth of rain in a few weeks and the ban's been lifted. And all bets are off regarding what the weather's going to do over the rest of the summer.

I'm starting to get optimistic about the autumn now. This could be partly down to the fact that when you haven't been pike fishing for months, you tend to remember the rose-tinted days when you had a good haul or a decent fish or two, rather than the run of blanks.

It's also down to the rain. For my best-ever season was when we experienced above average rainfall, and the rivers were coloured and running through from the word go. We might have to endure a hotter-than-average July, the papers say.

There again, the long-range forecasts have got it spectacularly wrong so far, so I'm not going to rush out and stock up on Factor 40 and Pimms. Well, I might get some more Pimms in, but you can drink it when it's raining too.

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