Pike among the red fins, spoil a red letter day at Braybrooke fishing lake

February 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Good reports from friends of catches of roach, rudd and crucian carp, drew me back for a second visit to Braybrooke Community Nature and Fishing Club’s Jeans pond. Almost hidden by trees, this quiet little haven sits within a recreation ground, surrounded by a crowded housing estate north of my local town, where the recently formed community club, have been successfully working to regenerate a once neglected area, for the benefit of all.

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Warming winds from the Caribbean brought spring time temperatures on this February afternoon, although it also meant swirling gusts that rippled the surface in all directions. Four slices of liquidised white bread and a slice for the bread punch, were all I needed for a few hours fishing, setting up my pole to fish 8 metres out at peg 13. Lucky for some?

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Dropping a couple of small balls of bread either side of my float, I expected the usual instant response of the float sinking out of sight, but it needed a couple more balls and regular casts to allow the 5 mm pellet to slowly fall through the baited area, before a very welcome dip of the float brought the first of many roach to my net.

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It may have been a slow start, but I was soon in machine mode, cast, allow float to sink, strike, feed the pole back and break down to the last two metres to net, or swing in a fish. It was all roach, some five inches, some up to ten inches, but the rhythm was the same, the pole elastic taking the strain of better fish like the one below.

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Then it happened. Feeding back the pole, I’d just released the top two joints, when a pike grabbed the roach I was bringing in. The elastic stretched out into the pond, as I tried against the strain to reconnect the extra lengths of pole to be able to control the pike. Too late, the float pinged back, the line cut by razor sharp teeth. The hook link had been 2.6 lb line to a size 16. I now tied on a size 14 barbless to 4 lb line. If the pike took again, there was now more of a chance to land it. Feeding a couple more small balls of bread, the swim gradually built up to speed again, then a small roach was snatched off the hook, as it was being brought across the surface. The pike was back. The swim went dead.

I’d invested an hour of fishing time, plus bait to the swim already, so fed again, only for a nice roach to be seized. This time the pole was at full length and the pike dived away against the weight of the pole, before letting go of the roach.

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A lucky survivor, the roach had been grabbed across it’s lower back, causing minor damage to each side around the dorsal and anal fins, although the hook had ripped the mouth. It went into the keepnet for safe keeping, showing no signs of the trauma.

It was time for a cup of tea and a sandwich, while I considered the pros and cons of  continuing in this swim, but the thought of landing this unseen leviathan kept me going. Once upon a time, in the long distant past of my youth, I would have set up a heavy float, with a treble hook rig and cast out a roach as a live bait, until the pike took on my terms, but with live baiting banned at Jeans pond and a different enlightened mindset, I decided to soldier on.

It was a slow start again and the roach seemed to have gone, rudd having moved in, taking on the drop.

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Shallowing up, I was back in the groove once more, these rudd being clonkers, although there were a few lipless wonders among them, evidence of barbed hooks and poor handling.

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The best of this bunch was a golden rudd, again without an upper lip, that fought well against the heavy pole elastic.

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Possibly twelve ounces, this rudd and his friends were ¬†building a respectable weight in my net and was hoping to top ten pounds, before the afternoon was out, but whether it was the sun sinking into the trees, or Mr Toothy the pike, I don’t know. The bites dried up. The other anglers around the pond were packing away their gear, but I was not ready yet and balled in the last of my crumb. With no bites at four feet, where I had been catching the rudd, I slid the float up two feet and went back down for the roach.

It was all systems go again with two, or three ounce roach every cast, then lifting a roach up on the strike, the elastic pulled out again. I lowered the pole to the water to take off the tension and waited for the pike to turn the fish, but it hadn’t read my script and kept going to my left. I put on two more lengths of pole and followed it, the elastic stretching deep into the gloom of the pond, while my carbon pole was taking on a dangerous curve. It was stalemate for a while, before the pike turned back toward the bank, shaking it’s head, before surging across in front of me to stop for a sulk. ¬†Convinced that I had the better of this still unseen fish, I was tempted to lift the pole, but was restricted by the alder over the water. Keeping the pressure on, the float came to the surface, then was gone again with another run. Ping! The hook line had gone again, cut like a knife.

I finished off my tea, then tied on a new hooklink to find the roach still there. I doubted that the pike would back after that and felt that at least I had taught it a lesson, although my heart was not in the session any more and packed up after a few more small roach.

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As I pulled my net from the water, the sound of many fish splashing, then the weight as I lifted it out, made me think that I had reached my target 10 lbs, but the scales tell the truth and they settled at 8 lb 8 oz. In the circumstances, a really good weight for the cost of a third of the price of a 40p Tescos white loaf.