Ben­wick’s a banker for

Your lo­cal ex­pert this week is TOM LEGGE

Anglers Mail - - Front Page -

East Anglia re­gional Where to Fish colum­nist Tom Legge vis­its the tran­quil

Old River Nene at Ben­wick, in the

North Cam­bridgeshire Fens, in search of pike.

SOME of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries as a kid are the ar­rival of ‘pike sea­son’. It started on Oc­to­ber 1, and in all hon­esty I re­garded it more with dread than ex­cite­ment.

Dad would ar­rive home from work the evening be­fore clutch­ing a big, smelly bag of sprats. Early next morn­ing, with frost lay­ing thick on the ground, we’d set forth armed with broom­stick-thick cane rods, fat cork bung floats and a lethal

To avoid snag­ging car up­hol­stery with made-up rods in tran­sit, I cut a slot in the side of plas­tic cam­era film can­nis­ters from the pre-dig­i­tal era. I tuck the tre­ble hooks in­side, ease the trace wire into the slot, then snap the can­is­ter lid firmly shut. look­ing gaff to do bat­tle with this fear­some foe. One morn­ing I caught half a dozen pike. The big­gest was a six-pounder, but to me, aged around six, they all looked huge and scary.

Match fish­ing be­came our main fo­cus in fu­ture years, and I was pretty re­lieved to leave the pike be­hind.

But what goes around comes around, and for the past 15 win­ters pike have been a ma­jor part of my angling ac­tiv­i­ties.

Of course, there’s no sep­a­rate pike sea­son th­ese days. Gaffs have thank­fully long been out­lawed. And global warm­ing has well and truly con­signed frosty banks in au­tumn to the dust­bin of his­tory.

Nev­er­the­less, Oc­to­ber’s ar­rival in­vari­ably prompts me to dust down the pike kit that’s been sit­ting in the shed. And by the month’s end I’m rar­ing to get stuck into some ac­tion with the toothy crit­ters.

2 I favour wag­gler­type pen­cil floats for dead­bait­ing on shal­low Fen wa­ters, set around a foot overdepth. But for freerov­ing live­baits I pre­fer fat, in-line floats set well off bot­tom, some­times im­me­di­ately above the 18 in. wire trace.

■ The Old River Nene at Ben­wick is nor­mally good for plenty of runs from preda­tors at this time of year, as well as be­ing a pop­u­lar match fish­ery.

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