As of writing I now have the first two days of my 2012 trout season under my belt and keeping in line with my last post’s theme I didn’t bother trout fishing! It wasn’t a hard decision; trout by all recent reports are a bit picky depending on weather and insect hatches, not to mention they will get almost all of my attention in later months, pike on the other hand are hunting in the shallows getting ready for their upcoming spawning season.
Yesterday I had actually planned to go pike fishing but I slept in by a mere 6 hours so thoughts turned to somewhere a bit more local to chase an obliging trout or two. This was quickly rubbished by awful wind conditions when I got there so it was Plan C’s turn to deliver the goods. Plan C was piking on the canal, the fish aren’t particularly big but it’s local and there’s plenty jacks to give good sport… or so I had told myself.
After three hours fishing I only had one little jack to show for my efforts. When I hooked him, I thought he was a bit weak in the power department, being surprised how easily he came in. Turn out he had a fair excuse; someone’s had a go at his tail, quite possibly another pike. That was all I managed from the canal, not spectacular but a fish on my first day out all the same.
Today was a planned morning assault on the pike, ideally a sunrise assault but to be honest I’m not one of the best at getting up early. In fact, I’m dreadful! Although I did manage to get up this morning, my estimates of sunrise were a bit off and I got up about an hour or so too late!! Still, it was a stunning sky-scape when I was leaving.
The notion of “Red sky in the morning, sheperd’s warning” made an appearance in my mind but it didn’t put me off, I just re-assured myself that I was heading fly fishing and not sheep hearding, turned out ok… I arrived at the loch to find it flat calm, absolutely perfect conditions. There were 2 guys already there with bait rods setup but no fish to hand, that was at 7.30am. I set about working the water and it wasn’t long before the pike started to give themselves away, in fact, they were crashing all around for a brief spell but no matter what they didn’t seem interested. I decided it was time to deploy tactics that I remembered from my Pike book that a popper can be a deadly weapon in spring when the water is calm. I moved around to a different part of water and the tell tale bow wave of a spooked fish ploughed away from me, great I thought, no fish and now I’ve spooked one. “Time for the popper, at least it will be more fun to fish,” I thought.
As I was changing flies there was a good sized swirl about 50′ out from where the spooked fish had appeared to be lying. An immediately noticeable benefit to a popper compared to a massive streamer is they cast so much easier, a long cast is not a problem. I cast out about 65′, left the popper to sit static for around 30 seconds. I slowed tightened my line, then stripped it… Ploop… Ploop… BANG! The water just erupted and in the ensuing chaos the fish hooked itself, I love it when that happens!! Ended up being a lovely plump fish.
A few casts later produced a massive bow wave following the popper, then coming across it but no takes. Man that gets your heart pumping! Don’t know why he didn’t take it, obviously something wasn’t quite right. Other than that the only other action was a missed fish, came up for the popper but didn’t stick. The action totally died around 9.30am, confirming what my book says about the fish hunting most aggressively at first light. Have to say I was pretty happy with the result as I was only out for two hours and my first time popper fishing was a total success. Actually, I’d go as far to say it is probably he most fun you can have with a fly rod in this country, it’s bloody mental! Dry fly fishing for pike, what more could you ask for?