Monday, 2 March 2015

Fly Fishing for Esox Lucius

Sounds like something from Ben Hur or Gladiator but as all you fishy people know its Fly Fishing for Northern Pike.
Ive been wanting to get out on the river for a few weeks now but with the Grayling spawning and not quite able to drag myself to fish a stocked stillwater just yet, the opportunity arose yesterday after chatting to my long time friend Martin for a few hours on the river chasing Pike with a fly rod!

A whole new experience for me as my only encounters with Pike were many years ago when I used to fish the match circuit abroad and the Pike always followed the roach which was on a 2lbs mainline with 18m of carbon pole attached to it, never did manage to land them and the roach, well lets just say they never seen the keep-net half the time either.

We arranged to meet at 1000hrs this morning at a pre determined lay-by..... hopefully better than the last one he took me to....full of used rubbers, and we arent talking about rubber artificial baits either. Thankfully when I arrived Martin was already there and no signs of any rubbers.

The first thing that had to be sorted out was....The silly hats! For some reason these folk from West Yorkshire, Lancashire, Merseyside, Staffordshire and a few other counties all like to wear silly hats. I had a reputation to keep not only for North Yorkshire but for Scotland.

I gave Martin the opportunity to have a photo call with my dignity almost intact but the baseball cap got thrown back into the depths of the boot of the car.....best place for it.

Down to the nitty gritty, casting a size 18 dry fly upstream for trout & grayling on a 5# split cane fly rod it certainly was not especially when you get handed a VHS cassette box? This wont fit in my fly pocket I thought!

The flies were almost the size of my hand and these were the smaller ones.

This part of the river was new to not only me but also Martin, so it was hit or miss if we were to find our quarry or not, we had barely started fishing when the skies became grey and pretty much that was it the visibility was down to about 40m, the wind was howling through and the river was pushing white horses upstream.

It was grim to say the least and the only way to get out the wind and driving snow was to turn your back to it whilst it blew through, to say the wind was cold was an understatement!

Now Ive heard about winter piking but this was taking the biscuit.

We pushed on and the snow showers came and went off & on, and we covered a vast amount of river with nothing to show, as I said to Martin, taking the rod for a walk if nothing else.

We stumbled over what I would only describe as an anchor buoy for the QE2 which was duly presented to Martin...his needs were far greater than mine.

We decided to give it another half hour then call it a day as we had seen no fish, the weather wasn't exactly being kind to us.
At long last I heard the cry from Martin, got one, and a few seconds later the first hard earned Pike of the day was on the bank.

Not a large fish by Martin's normal standards but a very welcome sight on a very difficult day.

I'm still convinced it might have something to do with the silly hat!

You wouldnt want to stick your fingers down there

within 10 minutes of Martin taking his fish it was my turn to hook up with my first Pike on a fly, not a large fish by any standards but a very welcome and hard earned one, Martin being the good ghillie that he is, graciously  climbed down the steep mud bank to capture it in the net.

A couple of my more traditional fish pictures

before finally being shown how to handle the pike for a pose picture.

a small but perfectly marked proportioned Pike and my first on a fly rod.

And that was it, time to call it a day and get back to the school run for Martin and home for me, My first experience of Pike in many years.
Yet although  a wild, wet & windy few hours a very enjoyable session with good company, good banter and all my fingers intact......more than I can say about Martin's, but that's another story!!


  1. I have never ever caught a pike despite many freezing days trying. Now I'm really jealous! They eat Pike on the continent. The Germans do a dish called Hechtklößchen which is really nice.

  2. Tom, I tasted Pike whilst serving in Germany, It was OK but I prefer to see the fish swim away myself....lol, just a baby but great fun on the fly rod and something totally different for me.

  3. Nice write up George. The conditions looked absolutely hideous (as did the Pike's teeth).

    Do you bother much with your old friends Mr Chub and Mr Barbel nowadays?



    1. Hi Dave,
      I took a year off from the Chub & Barbel as i wanted to concentrate on getting back to the fly fishing, however I have earmarked a few nice spots on some of the rivers that I will be trying out in the new season, after all I still have over 20kgs of dry barbel mix bait in my attic....lol


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