Pike trouble cuts short River Whitewater tryout

August 25, 2020 at 4:31 pm

A month ago I joined a work party on Farnborough and District’s River Whitewater, the lower end, close to where it joins the River Blackwater, having been neglected and overgrown in recent years. One of the swims cleared looked ideal for the stick float and this week I made an afternoon visit to give it a try.

With a stile to climb, I left my tackle box and trolley in the van, travelling light with my rod set up in it’s ready to use bag, with essentials like bread punches, hooks and a disgorger in my bait bag. Knowing that I have caught plenty of perch fly fishing for trout in the upper reach of the river, I had brought a dozen small worms as an alternative bait to my usual bread punch.

Settling down on the bank, I soon found out that this was a bit of a parrot cage, with my twelve foot Hardy scraping the branches above my head, but I have coped with worse and finding three feet of water over toward the trees on the far side, began to fish. A couple of balls of liquidised bread were followed down with my float, with no response. Another ball over and the float trotted ten yards before sliding under. Strike, something there and I reeled back a small chublet.

Four more of these, then five yards down the float the float sank, more resistance and a better chub.

On my light tackle, a 4 No 4 float to a size 16 barbless hook, this little chub gave a good account of itself, as did the next small chub, that took the 7 mm punch of bread.

Next trot a roach had found the bread feed, and I got the landing net ready, but then, whoomph a pike took it, storming off downstream, before turning and swimming along my bank, shaking its head with the roach across its jaws. It was only about three pounds and swam into the landing net, but turned before I could lift it. I thought I had the pike beat, when it rolled in mid river, but it dived down toward a sunken tree downstream and cut through the hook line when I tried to stop it. Time for a new hook.

I threw over another ball of feed and cast in to it, the float sinking straight away. What was it, not a chub diving for cover, or a bouncing roach, this fish hugging the bottom with a dogged fight. It was a perch. Not for the first time, the bread had been taken on the drop mistaken for a small fish.

There were obviously perch about and after a few trots without a bite, I got out the bait box with the the worms. First time in the float sank again, this time with a better perch.

The perch were all over the river, some only five inches long, others better sized, needing the net, but it was good sport, the float disappearing out of sight each time, not knowing how big they were until the hook was set. I had only grabbed about a dozen worms from the compost heap and they were soon gone, so it was back to the bread.

After the pike I had continued feeding a few balls past the middle and I was pleased, when the float dipped, then held and I was reeling in a small roach.

Good news. I cast in again, the float went under and I was playing another perch, probably the best of the day. Another perch on the bread.

Another small ball over and I eased the float though again, a dip and a sink. This time it was a roach, a bit bigger and I netted it for safety.

They seemed to be back in the swim. I missed the next bite, but here was no mistaking the next, as a better roach put a bend in the rod. A swirl and the pike had grabbed this roach, continuing to swim upstream, visible in the sunlight. I was determined to get it in this time, back winding whenever it pulled away, following with the rod as it ran downstream, turning it back to the landing net, but the Hardy was too soft to stop it going under the tree and it snagged me below my keep net. I let the line go slack, hoping that it would swim out, it did, but deeper into the roots. I pulled for a break and got my float back, but it was broken. Pike seem to be the bane of my life.

That was it then, my spare floats were in the van. I had hoped to fish for another hour, but you can’t win them all.

Nothing big, but enough to keep me busy for 90 minutes. I had hoped for a decent net of roach, or a better chub, but better luck next time.