Blimey, yet another river season is drawing rapidly to a close. After the drudgery of January and February, March is an optimistic month with the promise of spring just around the corner. It also offers the final 14 days for the coarse river anger to wet a line before an enforced three month sabbatical.
Sport can be fantastic over the final couple of weeks. Of course the weather does have a bearing on things, but even when it’s cold (and it often is in March) things just feel more positive. Perhaps it’s that little spell of extra daylight or those first, subtle signs of the warmer weather to come.
One end of season adventure particularly stands out in the memory. It was actually quite unsuccessful in that I lost what, at the time, would have been a personal best pike.
It was probably 1994/95 and I was on one of my favourite Suffolk Stour pools with a good mate, Pig. We fished one rod each, float fishing sprats and sardines in the margins. I remember the day was mild and the river in perfect condition, having fined down after a long spell of being in flood. Bites came consistently throughout the morning and by midday we’d had perhaps five or six fighting jack pike between us.
The afternoon was uneventful until another mate, Nathan – an expert angler, turned up and had a cast with one of our rods. Of course he immediately nailed an amazing fish of 13lbs, far bigger than anything Pig or I had ever caught. By the time we’d unhooked, photographed and carefully returned the monster, dusk was rapidly encroaching. I lobbed out the last remaining sprat exactly where Nathan had hooked the leviathan. Amazingly, the float slid away immediately and I set the hooks into another pike. This one felt different – more solid than the splashy jacks we’d landed earlier. After a while I managed to lift the fish up in the water. It was then we got a glance of the pike sideways on, with the sorry sprat hanging limply at the side of her mouth. She looked enormous. I frantically heaved the rod upwards in a crude attempt to draw the pike towards the net. It was at that moment the single treble hook popped out of the pikes mouth. She lay quietly on the surface for the briefest of seconds, before casually sliding back into the depths.