They weren't where I thought they'd be today. I tried a few swims, including the sides of a couple of reedy bays where you sometimes pick up a better fish tight in to the stems this time of year. No sign of pike in the approaches to their spawning haunts, but I did spook a bittern which was hiding unseen among the vegetation before it burst from cover out and flew off across the lake - the first I've seen for a couple of seasons.
As the sun broke through the clouds after lunchtime, I headed for a deeper corner which used to be a banker spot.
Used to being the operative word, although I did tickle a few out last time I dropped in here from two screamingly obvious features, deep margins shaded by the trees. As the afternoon brightens up, I half expect to catch something, for no logical reason other than I'm quite enjoying what's turning into a pleasant spring day.
I start enjoying it even more when the float on the left hand rod bobs and slides slowly away. I give it a heave and after a brief scrap a twelve pounder's glaring up at me from the mat. Along comes a chap for a chat, who it turns out lives down the road from me.
We're still shooting the breeze when the float goes again. As it nears the surface, I can see it's a bit smaller. A pike that dwarves it briefly appears below it before it sinks away. I can't get the fish off the hooks and the bait back in quick enough.
Half an hour later, the float trembles and I wonder if it's the big fish I glimpsed. But it drops it before I can pick the rod up and find out.
Chap From Down The Road drops in the next swim for a bit, then comes over for a further chat. One or two people are fishing another water which used to be one of the best in the Fens for a couple of seasons a few years back. One's called matey to report a run-less day.
Driving home, this part of the conversation gets me thinking. Forty-odd trips for what you could reasonably have expected to catch in a weekend on the other place when it was at its peak. Perhaps the lean years help you appreciate the good ones. If it was easy all the time, would we enjoy it any more.
Twelve days of the season left. I reckon I can get out for around half of them. Time for a last look at the rivers and drains, before the dreaded March 14.