The dank cold morning started to brighten slowly, damp icy air caught my breath as I headed for the first swim. All the time the river flowed silently beside me, like a quiet slightly unfamiliar friend. I couldn't help it but my eyes kept scanning the water, I was looking for a sign or a signal of where to go but the river did not speak, it just continued to flow, low and clear after the unseasonal dry spell. A feeling crept slowly over me, I was uncertain, almost doubting myself. My time away from the bank had left me a little unsettled, the river now seemed like a vast endless flowing wilderness, could I read the water, could I bait up the right swims. I was on my own, no one to consult with or to talk up the confidence levels. Just me and the river.
In hindsight I was a lot more content once I had the baits out and happier still an hour later when a well rounded fish of about 8lb or 9lb came to the net. My confidence levels soared when slightly smaller fish hooked up ten minutes later and was happy to pose for a small video clip with me!
I wanted to cover more ground, eager to capitialise on the feeding spell. I headed downstream to another swim, its a featureless stretch of river which doesn't evoke confidence, you have to have balls of steel or be stone mad to sling your baits out here as it looks nothing like a pike swim but nonetheless I had met fish here before. It was a gamble but with only one more swim in mind I thought it worth an hour or so. That hour passed uneventfully, I was getting ready for the next move when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a rod tip twitch, the alarm remained silent, it twitched again and then two solitary blips. I wound down a touch and waited... I pondered what was going on, no screaming run, then I felt it, the rod twitched again, I struck but into nothing! I checked the bait and had it back in the exact same part of the swim in seconds. I was playing "cat and mouse" with fish! I repositioned the other rod at the bottom of the swim and happily played the waiting game as the river watched on. About forty minutes later, the rod which produced the missed run earlier signalled the arrival of a fish with an almost unnoticeable twitch, it barely moved, not even a blip. I was intrigued to say the least as the pike gently mouthed or pushed the bait about. One more subtle twitch and I finally felt her move off. I struck, all was good. Such an incredibly gentle take from such a hard fighting river pike. A pristine mid double came to the net about ten minutes later.
As I watched her kick off into the depths the rod at the lower end of the swim gave a blip, I scrambled up the bank and witnessed the gentle twitch style take once again. A moment seemed like an eternity, two equally spaced blips and she was slowly on her way with the bait. A far more stubborn and agressive fish this time. I had visions of fighting a submerged supermarket trolley with a life of its own. As it came to the net, it turned out to be not a trolley! but a low double with a a lot character.
I could have so easily stayed and fished on but the school run beckoned. I couldn't believe it, four fish, two of those doubles and a missed run.....
My unfounded doubts and uncertainties had vanished as quickly as the chill of the early morning air. Maybe my quiet friend the Barrow had been speaking to me all along perhaps I'd just not been listening. We were on the same wavelength, in tune with each other once again.