The Jack and the Knave
An almighty swirl out in the middle.
THERE’S something about autumn that makes us want to go predator fishing. There’s a bloke that I know who doesn’t fish for anything else. He puts his rods away when the weather warms up, and dusts them off again when the kids have gone back to school.
I usually have a few outings with him in the cooler months, but like a lot of predator specialists that I’ve met, you never quite know where you are with him. He’s got a way of looking at you that’s like a pike looking at a roach.
One of the reasons for going fishing with him is the access he has to private waters. Over the years he’s knocked on strangers’ doors and asked if he can fish their lakes, and in amongst the rejections and angry dogs he’s secured some gems.
One lake has some very big pike, and he’s the only person allowed to fish it, apart from occasional guests, such as me.
On a recent visit I opted to fish with lures and rove around, while he set up in a reed-fringed bay to fish deadbaits.
I started along the bank from him and began casting a large, silver Shakespeare Big S plug in the margins. I was trying to get my plug as close to the vegetation as I could, and then the inevitable happened and a cast went slightly astray.
The plug landed in the water okay, but only after it had gone over an overhanging branch, leaving the line lying across it.
I flicked it a couple of times, but the line wouldn’t come off, so I decided to reel in slowly across the surface and try to inch it back over the branch without snagging the hooks.
I had only moved it a couple of feet when a pair of jaws shot out of the water and grabbed the plug, neatly freeing the line as the branch bent down when I struck.
A jack pike of about 5 lb was responsible, and I felt grateful to it for saving my lure, which was firmly in the scissors and needed forceps to take out.
My host put it in his landing net to recover in the margins, and I carried on along the bank, casting the plug to likely spots.
A few minutes later I heard a swoosh as he struck, and an almighty swirl out in the middle of the lake that sent spray into the air and ripples rolling across the whole of the surface.
I hurried along the bank, expecting to see a bent rod, but he was swinging in his float and end tackle.
“That sounded like a big fish,” I said.
“Yes. Bait came off.”
I noticed that his landing net was no longer in the water.
“Did my pike go back okay?” He didn’t reply for a moment. “It swam off strongly, yes.”
It was then that I noticed his treble hooks, which he had adjusted on the trace to be about 18 in. apart.