Heart over head

I ventured out on Saturday afternoon for my first, much anticipated pike trip of the year. With time at a premium, I decided to head to a stretch of the Wye not too far from home with the plan to rove around in an effort to find some near bank slacks in which to submerge a sprat.

With the river fining down after a prolonged spell of high water, the weather overcast, calm and relatively mild I was confident of making contact with a pike. By the time I’d picked up a bag of big, silvery, fresh looking sprats from the insanity that is Tesco on a Saturday afternoon I was itching to get on the river.

Silver sprats - what pike could resist?
Silver sprats – what pike could resist?

My route up the Wye takes me through the Forest of Dean. I love going into the forest at any time of the year – but in the dank autumnal gloom it takes on an especially atmospheric personality.

A few minutes before I was due to reach the river I passed an old pool that I’d heard held pike. It’s an under fished, secluded water that is gin clear and moody. I stopped the car there and then, turned around in a lay-by and parked up by the pool.

Anglers often talk of these sudden instinctive moments – moments when we change our pre-planned course in some way. Perhaps as anglers – folks who generally spend a lot longer out in the wild than the average individual – we are more in tune with the environment and can ‘feel’ these things – a sixth sense of sorts… or perhaps that’s a serious load of bollox!

Either way – I really fancied the pool and as I made my way down to the water I was already playing out the scenario of watching a pig pike charge from the near bank cover to grab my bait.

Pike pool?
Pike pool?

I rigged up my favourite, rather battered old Drennan pike slider float – one I’ve had for years – and cast out a sprat, before slowly twitching it back across a weedy bay. I honestly thought I’d get one first cast…

Three hours, seven or eight swims and no bites later and I realised my gut feeling wasn’t going to pay off today.

I waited for the pike to emerge from their snaggy home in search of an easy meal - but they never did...
I waited for the pike to emerge from their snaggy home in search of an easy meal – but they never did…

Author: tescovalue79

Age: 37. Work: Marketing & communications. Like: fishing, art, ITFC, good music, bad pubs.

9 thoughts on “Heart over head”

    1. Hello Monty.

      I can’t say I’ve ever eaten a sprat to be honest! I can imagine they’d be good fried up though…

      They certainly looked the part wafting through the water, but the pike didn’t think so!

      I hope the new role is going well mate?

      1. It’s playing havoc with my angling.But I do have three weeks off at Christmas,so I hope to get a fair few trips in.And that age old battle of a four pound Perch ;-0

  1. Hi Ben, enjoyed reading the last few posts, the barbel trip you had was almost a carbon copy of a session of mine though I had crazy weed problems, even back leading made very little difference, constantly moving end rigs and lots of hooks blunted, thank goodness I bought a hook sharpener otherwise the box would have been emptied in a couple of hours,
    The river was perfect on Sunday and you didn’t choose wisely with that one ! We have all taken the wrong route when we should stick to what we have had in mind, a few years back I stopped on the way to the Kennet to look off of a bridge and got chatting to a guy trotting for roach, twenty minutes or so later I went off to the intended spot , when I got to the river there was someone in the swim, and yeah he was slipping the net under a twenty eight pound pike, when asked how long he had been in the swim he responded with “only five minutes ago”!!!
    The sprats were a bit of a surprise, never had much luck with them, the jacks seem to love those, saying that a large mackerel on the weekend was somehow jammed in the mouth of a three pounder that had eyes much bigger than his belly,
    That river twenty should be just round the corner if the high pressure stays for a bit longer and the river drops a little bit more,
    Regards Mark

    1. Hi Mark.

      Yes the Wye was really up the day I was there, but I knew the mild weather (seems a long time ago now!) would have the barbel moving around. I struggled with the leaves as well – I was fishing barely a rod length out with six ounce feeder – any further out and it became impossible. Good fun all the same.

      I should have gone back there for the pike trip. Oh well, like you say, we tend to make these snap of the moment decisions. If I’d had a pike it would have been a successful decision and you can’t win them all.

      In terms of sprats, I’ve always really liked them, especially on rivers as they look like dace. They aren’t very selective and I’ve never had a big pike on them, but they were always a good bait on the Suffolk Stour.

      A Wye 20 would be awesome, hopefully something to aim for when I get a bit of time, and of course weather conditions permitting. Have you had any good pike from the Wye before Mark? And any luck with those perch of late? I’m desperate to have a go for them soon!

  2. Hi Ben, not been perching since the last go, might be worth trying the place where I went, there seems to be a larger head of fish there, it is very open though, and if there is any sort of wind you will know about it !
    All tactics are welcome there and the water becomes more clearer than the other pool, lures could really work well including drop shotting which seems to be really doing well on some waters,
    Sunday was perfect for fishing but could not go due to the missus going Christmas shopping, why does that happen, when you are tied up with something else, that seems to be one of those few days during the winter when the conditions are perfect ?
    As for the pike, I set a target for at least one river twenty per season, I’ve been fortunate to have made this most years in the last decade with a couple in a winter, I used to fish one on dead bait and one on live bait, but through selection only fish dead baits now, big ones though and nearly always on the bottom popped up, use a 3oz block end feeder packed with sponge and good quality oils, this really makes a huge difference, as the pike in the river really use there sense of smell to move up from downstream to find the baits, always fish in one swim for ninety minutes to two hours, as fish can show up quite late, I used to give a swim around and hour before moving and found on a few occasions a fish would take just prior to lifting the rods, also fish close in and cast one rod as far downstream as the swim will allow, and when reeling in do so very slowly, this will add one or two bonus fish, if the river is really low put one out into the middle, again big baits with oils, lastly the hooking of the crocs is a contentious one, I am trying single circle hooks this winter after seeing these in action on YouTube and every fish was hooked in the scissors, I will let you know the results but they have to be better the two size four trebles, no striking required just tighten up!
    I would love to say this weekend seems good though work is in the way again, may pop down to the pond you had that bream from, for a bit of lure fishing as this has produced monsters, ( I did have one, but it’s not the same as the river)
    Cheers Mark

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