Waters in the Fens
There are no short cuts in the Fens these days, no alternatives to getting on a water and trying different areas until you bump into a few fish. As rising fuel prices and the recession hit home, I curtailed my travelling and spent more and more time on the waters controlled by King's Lynn AA. The Lynn book gives you access to the Ten Mile Ouse, Middle Level, Relief Channel and parts of the Little Ouse and Cut-Off Channel. That's five very different waters, all steeped in pike fishing history, which took me several seasons to explore and start catching decent fish from.
I compare notes and results with a handful of people. Sometimes we fish with each other, sometimes we keep in touch by texts and phone. We tell each other a few porkies, pull a few strokes and the skullduggery sometimes raises a laugh, at other times it has you looking over your shoulder worried your mates are going to rumble you. I guess the point of this is it's best not to take it too seriously, so it still ends in smiles.
Most waters have good areas. When they wrote Fishing for Big Pike in the late 1970s, Barrie Rickards and Ray Webb called them hotspots. Finding these - and either keeping them to yourself, or among a select few mates - is the holy grail of pike fishing in the Fens. Sometimes, these areas (or swims...) keep producing for a few seasons. More frequently the word gets out, they get hammered and the fish melt away.
One of the twenties I caught last season was shared by at least three other anglers. We all caught it within a few yards of the place where it took my bait in November, on a water which got quite a bit of attention at times. Plenty more fished that swim and didn't catch it - mainly because for reasons best-known to itself, this particular fish liked to lurk in close, tucked in tight to the margins, where no-one fishes.
A mate who knew where I'd had a fish ounces under 26lbs fished the same swim a couple of times and eventually had one almost the same size. Had your 25:12 out, he texted. When I looked at the picture, it was clearly a different fish.
We went back together, either pike would have been something to write home about towards the end of the season, as she swelled with spawn. Neither graced our nets again.
To sum this up, there are no short cuts. Pick a water or two you like the look of and keep at it, trying different areas - whether this is leap-frogging the rods in time-honoured style, or using the car to make bigger hops. Some waters go through phases where the pike come on the feed at different times. On some it's towards the end of the day, when the prey fish become active. On others, it's first thing.
Above all, keep on troshin' - as they say in this part of the world. Dreams can and do come true out there in the watery Fens. And once it gets into your blood as a pike angler, you'll come to love your fishing like I do.
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