Friday, July 20, 2012

Big pike, small amount of watercraft

I was like the proverbial dog with two dicks when I caught this pike. This was partly because it came down to a snippet of watercraft, a throwaway remark that's put me onto the odd decent pike in the Fens ever since I noted it down for future reference.

We all know location's half the battle. If you can't find 'em, you can't catch 'em. But a few years ago, I heard an interesting take on that one that departs from the usual find the prey fish and you find the pike advice.

It's all down to the plants that grow along some of the rivers and drains. Where different varieties grow along the margins, the one to look for is Phragmites australis - aka the common, or Norfolk reed.

While different varieties of plants grow along our waterways - like reedmace, sweet grass, clubrush and branched bur reed, Norfolk reed has a unique characteristic that helps hold pike in a roundabout way.

It's hollow, for starters. That means air can pass down its stem, providing oxygen for bacteria living around its roots - which in turn digest rotting plant matter, which would otherwise silt up the margins.

A veteran Fen angler once told me he looked for swims where Norfolk reed grew and fished tight to it for zander at night. His theory was it attracted them - or rather the small fish they fed on - because the water tended to be that little bit deeper where it grew.

That helps pike too - well, this one seemed to like it. In fact the spot where I caught it has a spit with reedmace growing on one side which has silted up, and Norfolk reed on the other where there used to be three or four feet of water off the stems.

I fished the reedy side, as opposed to the reedmace-y side.

Click here for more twenties from the Fens, NB work in progress.

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