The Tuesday swim finally got the pike season off to a good start with a short session down in Sussex before some ‘proper’ Guy Fawkes celebrations in Lindfield. The lake I fish is a 300 year old mill-pond with a small head of frustratingly hard carp to catch, large tench, perch, rudd and some rather big pike.
Driving down from London I kept my tackle to a bare minimum, fishing just one rod a Chapmans, Dennis Pye 700, Cardinal 66, pike bung and some oil injected sprats (two handfuls for a pound in Roman Road market). As my kit was to the bare minimum my scales were a small set of Salter spring balances that measure up to 20 lbs but I’ll come to that later!
Arriving in Sussex the weather was warm for November but felt like a typical Guy Fawkes night, over cast, some light mist and a smell of bonfires in the air. The lake has a few regulars taking advantage of the warm autumn weather and trying for a final carp of the season. The lake was moody, grey but dappled with orange from the freshly fallen leaves. Casting out the yellow pike bung next to a bed of thinning lily pads, the float settled nicely drifting close to the pads, an ideal spot for an awaiting pike. After an hour and a few re-casts my float dipped a few times and then moved slowly against the wind, waiting for a more positive take the float then sat idle, another five minutes passed so I wound in to find no bait. I thought at least something was stirring beneath the slate grey water.
After a few casts elsewhere I returned to the same spot and thought this time I shall strike a little earlier if the same thing happened… thankfully it did! Again the float bobbed a couple of times (only pike bungs have this distinctive bobbing action due to its bulky body) and then moved away, this time I struck. At first there was some resistance but only slight, then an instant heavy surge resulting in a white form as the belly of a large pike took to tail walking about thirty feet out. After this the pike made a few lunging runs off to both sides of the swim trying to take me into some fallen trees close in, but after applying considerable side strain on the Chapmans rod the pike started to tire. As I retrieved the landing net another powerful surge resulted in the flaring of gills and some more aerial acrobatics but slowly I gained full control and eventually netted the monster.
After un-hooking the pike I got the scales out and watched as the spring balanced bottomed out at 20 lbs with a thud!
Looking at the photo now, my un-hooking matt measures exactly 36 inches, adding another 5 inches for the tail I estimate it to be 41 inches long, so looking at Fred Bullers pike conversion table which is only a rough guide this pike could have a mean weight of around 25 lb? The pike was quite solid in build so who knows what weight it actually was, either way I was very pleased.
The 20lb balances have now been shelved for such trips and my larger 44 lb version are now in the tackle bag!
Update: It turns out that while sorting out the tackle bag two days later I have left the said item, the 20lb scales on the bank, so this mistake shall never be repeated!
Update II: Said item found by fellow angler!