(Click the Photos below to enlarge them)
Setting off to collect John (aka Esox) at Stafford in torrential rain on Friday morning the 8th February at 10.30 am, I was reminded of the old propaganda advert "Is your trip really necessary". However, we were heading for Wraysbury and two things were paramount. Firstly the chance to fish 'Wraysbury 1' on Saturday, until recently home of the mis-named Mary, a male carp that held the British Record at 56 lbs for a long time. Sadly, recently deceased, His demise was even reported in the US press!
Secondly, to support the MacMillan Cancer Relief Charity, a cause close to my heart where we would be fishing 'Wraysbury 2'.
The weather improved and we arrived at 'Wraysbury 2', to research as best we could the Lake, (Gravel Pit a more apt nomer) in time for Sunday's Big Day!
Finally, via mobile contact, we found the correct combination for the car park lock and entered a very soggy car park. All information for the lakes can be found by clicking on www.rmcangling.co.uk , but basically Wraysbury 2 is a vast under-fished day ticket water of some 160 acres. However, the combination listed on that site is LAST years and as we struggled to find the new number for access, thoughts crept in of the ever present Zippy curse!
They got stronger as we decided to check in to our pre-booked Travel Inn some 12 miles away. John 'Esox' Howard, is one of the most clear thinking, questioning and instructive anglers, it has ever been my pleasure to meet. I will end this paragraph with one simple, never to be mentioned again statement (all tied up with the Zippy curse) A Navigator He ain't!
75 miles later we safely arrived, got booked in and were raring to go, so headed back to meet Alan Stone and friends. Alan lost his mother to Cancer 6 years ago and has devoted his leisure time since to raising funds for the victims family support team of Macmillan Nurses. He reached £38,000 with this Pike sessions record total and I stand in awe at the often decried and thankless efforts he puts in.
Welcoming John and I as 'them bloody norvrners' were Alan (in the photo), Chris and Andy, three warmer guys you could not wish to meet! Having collected a few other stalwarts, who had traveled distances to fish both 1 and 2 on Saturday and Sunday, we made our way back to the 'Key only' locked syndicate water of "Mary's" Wraysbury1 (£200.00 p.a. if you are interested!, see RMC site under syndicate waters.)
The following facts I found interesting, during our chat , as the other guys set up bivvies, or fixed up their vehicles as a sleep in - Lake 1 , a worked out Gravel Pit, directly under the Heathrow flight path is 120 acres in size. An S.S.I. site (designated a Site of Special Interest by the Government) it cannot have concrete or artificial peg structures introduced as it must remain as natural as possible. However a limited number of good flat pegs do exist.
- We could not go to the local pub in cars, as any sign of tackle in our car, would lead to an immediate break-in and theft! We were advised that if we MUST go for a pint, to leave the car unlocked to avoid the inevitable damage! but to accept our gear would be missing. Alan related to two instances on the bank whereby anglers using a boat, echo sounders and dropping dead bait in clear gravel free areas, had set up rods, rowed out to the baiting site, only to turn round and discover a figure on the bank, cutting lines and making off with both rods and reels!!! The fishing in London is certainly different. And finally, Mary having been discovered dead, was placed in a sack and rowed out to be buried in the water facing the swims we were fishing!
We quickly elicited the great hearted support of Alan, and he kindly took our gear in to his large van and Slept with it to ensure it's safety overnight! He kindly repeated this the next night as well!
John and I returned, tackleless , to our Hotel (this time taking the 'short' route, it was 12 miles only ) and waking at 5.00am, made our way back to the Lake, via Lake2 again as we greeted further arrivals from all parts of the Country.
The convoy, after greetings, set off to 1, and by 7.30am we were setting up in a large, double swim, fully sheltered by trees and bushes, with a lighter than expected breeze, blowing from behind us. John on the right as usual, (I'm deaf in my left ear) quickly set up a marker rod and we found a good drop-off to 12 feet in front of us, a weed bank ahead and a clear patch some 20 yards out. Interestingly, I had a close-in deep gully to my left, dropping quickly to some 18ft. John's experience and speed quickly saw him set up and cast out his 2 rods, using small Mackerel on one and Smelt on the other.
It was then that the old curse started to come in to play once again as he discovered he had forgotten to fill the water bottle! However, with Saint Alan close at hand, he wandered off to find the necessary water.
My 1st rod went out into the aforementioned gulley, baited with a medium sardine, injected with Mackerel oil. The second carried a small orange Spratt, popped up slightly with a cork 22m pop-up and finally the 3rd, loaded with a Lamprey section was cast straight ahead, further than the others.
The time was now 8.20 a.m. and I sat back with anticipation as only can be maintained for the first 20 minutes of the day!
It was enough! Within 10 minutes, I had a Classic run! Such was my attention, that I literally saw the rod tip pull round slightly and give a small shake as the drop off Indicator became detached and fell to the floor! The buzzer sounded a harsh shriek and the line hissed through the rings, stopping as I reached the rod! I carefully grasped the line and inched it in and Yes!, I could feel a small movement! As the line tightened a 2nd time, I lifted the rod, turned the handle to click off the free running spool and struck!!
A little bit too quickly though as the free spool had not clicked completely and very little resistance was felt until the strike was almost at the summit of its arc.
I believe if I hadn't have listened to Newt and not had on 20lbs Power Pro braid, the stretchiness would have allowed the Pike to escape there and then. However, the next movement was a lunge for freedom, and I allowed a few yards of line to backwind, whilst assessing the size of the Fish.
Then it dawned on me - no John to assist in landing! 2 other rods with line trailing out into the water! A tree and bushes growing out to my left and around just 4 feet of water-width in a narrow channel, leading out between my second rod and the tree!
I then of course pursued the logical course of action and rather than bully the fish in, (instinct), or give it lots more line (It could swing round with line and tangle the other lines in front of me) I adopted the next best solution - I stood and screamed 'John' at the top of my voice!
If you ever go there, you may discover as I did then, that the Heath Row flight path is never quiet. You live continuously with the droning of an approaching plane, The crescendo of it passing overhead, or the diminuation of the parting engines, quickly being added to by the next approach!
So, John had no chance of hearing me and only luck would have him return in time as the North/South verbal swap, had already reached England Selection Proportions!
So, gritting my teeth, I applied some pressure vertically, to bring her straight in to the 4 ft area, clear in front of me! 3 or 4 minutes later, when the shaking had started to subside at the vicious diving response she had made to my attempt, I tried again. This time she responded and within a few seconds I caught sight of her as she turned in about 3 feet of clear water 15 ft out , but thankfully directly in front of me. She looked enormous!
The next problem came to me, The Net? Where was it? I had expected it to be used by John and he knew where it was! Glancing behind, I was relieved to see it standing, leaning against the bank, Net uppermost! BUT with most of the pitched Brolly between me and it - I had to have it!
So, extending the rod high in front of me, both arms outstretched, I gingerly back wound as I slowly inched my way round the Brolly.
It must have been the most accomodating fish in the lake, as it stayed practically stationary, in relation to the other rods, as I finally reached the point where I was able to click on the anti-reverse and relying on the clutch, reached out and took the net in my left hand and moved back down to the waters edge. The rest was almost anti-climaxic. I knocked the top (middle) rod sideways out of the way, lowered the net into the water and at the 2nd attempt, slid the net around my new personal best Pike!
Wrapping Johns huge 42" Specimen net around the Fish securely, (praying the hook wouldn't catch) I lifted the fish into the much clearer area between our 2 pods and laid her gently just covered by water.
Scrambling quickly up the bank, I moved past the tree that obscured our peg and thankfully was spotted waving immediately.
The large Raffle got underway at 4.50pm, just after the Presentation, where we learned that Alan's hard work had raised £1623.00! A good result and a record for the Pike day but only just.
John and the London Lads arrived, complete with the Macmillan Banner, and the Fish was quickly unhooked, Weighed at 15lbs 10ozs and photographed before being quickly returned to the water where I watched her glide away almost lazily into the depths in front of us.
The curse finally reared its head of course, when during the photographing, John discovered that my New Digital Camera, wouldn't work as the Batteries had failed! I had new batteries, but rather than cause the fish stress, extracted a promise from Alan to e-mail me a copy of his, with which he has faithfully kept his word. He needn't have captured my look of pain as John explained the problem lol!
What else can I say? Nothing left! Of the 12 or so Anglers who fished that day, only 3 more fish were caught!
At 10.30, a very nice guy, Kevin, from a swim facing the wind on the other side of the car park, eclipsed my weight with a fish weighing 18lbs 6 oz (A personal best for him from the water and his 21st since October). Later a 10 lb and an 8lb fish were caught from the end of the car park swims.
We went back to the hotel that night, having moved camp at 4.00 pm to set up for the main day on Wraysbury 2 on the Sunday, tired but satisfied.
Sunday dawned with an unexpected mildness and very little of the forecast wind. I drove onto the Car Park before 6.30am and pulled in to the side only for the car to sink in the mud and become stuck fast again!!!
Deciding to rely on the 100 or so bodies to push us out, John and I made our way to a double peg that reeked of Pike and happily set up again.
Of the 100 Anglers that fished that day, 2 Pike of 4lbs and 7lbs were caught, both nowhere near the lower car park pegs1.
At 4.30pm, we were packed , free, (Thanks guys) and parked up on the decent surface, just off the main road.
(Click the photos to enlarge them)
Both Geoff and I won small prizes, but poor John seems to have an acute case of the curse.
Arriving back at Stafford, We commented how well the weather had treated the actual event, but got its own back as we drove through rain for 120 miles.
If you get the chance, I urge you to visit Stoney's friends days, there are Barbel days planned for July, Yateley for Carp in September, BUT with the brilliant Sponsor forms provided for us between now and Elvington, lets make the 'Northern Fish-in' the one they use to compare them all!