Wednesday, January 30, 2013

An old school twenty

For the first time in ages I drop the rod, stretch my aching arms and look down at something worth catching in the folds of the landing net, as I unclip the trace to unhook it.

I knew it was a good fish as soon as I banged the hooks into it. I'd almost forgotten the thrill of that first glimpse, after you've pumped it back towards you. First the stop knot, then the float, then the trace, then you see it and start worrying you're going to lose it.

I bungled the first attempt as it surged away from the net in a v-wave, but the hooks stayed in as its tailwalk turned into a half-hearted belly flop, for reasons which soon became clear. On an old school day, I'd caught an old school twenty. Just for once, I'd got it right.

Old school, weather-wise. As in temperatures on their way up and holding in a stiff south-westerly. Old school pike-wise, as in get on after a thaw and they'll be feeding if you can only find them.

I did eventually find some around lunchtime on the third water I tried. Two jacks in two chucks, as I poked the baits out towards a feature.  Then I had a jouble - long and thin, I weighed it out of curiousity and it went 9lbs dead.

Three pike to 9lbs in an hour's not to be sneezed at, the way my season's been going. While I'm patching up the raker rash the nine did to my knuckles, another float goes and it's a low double with a flying hook. I chin it, still bleeding, and decide to turn the hooks out and get my cuts sorted.

Once I've finished being a total girl, a highly unusual thing happens. The float goes and I smack into something which fights back. It takes what seems like ages to pump it back towards me from 50 yards or so, to the point where it's plodding around under the rod top, before it throws a tailwalk which ends up in a belly flop and I steer it into the net.

It's a twenty at last - as in at long last, as in nearly a year since one graced my net. One hook in its scissors, snicked out in a trice. As I slip it into the sling, I notice a slightly obvious feature of this otherwise healthy-looking fish that's clearly not gone short of a decent meal judging by her ample girth.

Barely 40 inches* she still goes 22lbs 4oz. But she's missing the top lobe of her tail, which is clearly going to make her an easily-identified individual if she shows up again. She looked a young, well-proportioned fish otherwise. Young, but still old school for me.

**Barely 40 inches, I stuck a tape measure alongside her but it curled up as I did a couple of quick pictures on the mat, so I made her around 38ins. You can clearly see the missing tail lobe.

Look at the gut on her too. Slight swelling towards her back end, as her spawn ripens. But the bulge behind her pectoral fins shows she's not been going short of a good trough or two.

Great fish, thrilled to catch her.


  1. Big congratulations matey! I'm pleased you're dogged perseverance paid off for you. Great write up and fantastic fish!

  2. Nice one! Hopefully the inspiration I need to get out after one

  3. At last a decent fish Chris. No Trophy this time, but many memories.

  4. Well done four eyes

  5. I recognise that tree Chrissy boy

  6. Very well done mate, there is a 30lb coming you way?