A Little Local Knowledge Goes A Long Way

We arrived at the private syndicate complex around 7am and began to ferry the gear from the car to the bank, considering there were only the two of us, it seemed that we had enough gear to fish for a week rather than just an overnight session. However, half an hour or so later we had begun to get the rigs set up, and organising the swim. Everything was laid out to hand where it could be easily located in a hurry, and the first baits were cast out into the deep water, and we sat and eagerly awaited the first screaming run of the day. We were using single Sprat and whole Herring baits for Pike.


A couple of hours had gone by, and now instead of the bright sunshine that accompanied us on our journey to the lake, the sky had become overcast and the wind had picked up. So we retreated into the shelter of the bivvy still awaiting that first run.

Another couple of hours passed, and I was well into the book that I was reading at this point, when the complex owner startled me by suddenly appearing around the bivvy and asking how we were doing.

After explaining that we had been sat there all morning without a single bleep from the bite alarms, the owner of the complex was very surprised. He exclaimed that where we were set up was a ‘hot spot’ for Pike, and that as we hadn’t had a bite in the few hours that we had been there, we weren’t likely to get one there at all. It would appear that the fish had moved into the more shallow areas of the lake to spawn earlier than was expected.

Nothing for it but to try to locate them. The Sprat baits were hauled in, and the lure rods were set up, and we all set off around the lake in search of the elusive Pike.

The owner was the first to get ‘hit’, bringing in a jack between one and two pounds, which was subsequently unhooked in the water and sent about it’s business. Next was my turn. After trying a range of lures, finally I had some interest from a Pike of around four pounds on a spinnerbait right at my feet. Unfortunately, the Pike seemed only interested in nipping the lure rather than biting it and so this one got away.

A few more swims down and the owner was in again unhooking a four pound ‘ish’ Pike in the water again. So we had found the fish!

With that, all the gear was moved to the opposite end of the lake. Most of which was packed into the owner’s car and shifted that way, but being in too much of hurry to collapse the bivvy, we decided to walk it down still erect – in hindsight, we would have collapsed it!

Anyway, once the gear had been set up for the second time that day, out went the Sprat deadbaits, and within two minutes we had pulled one of them back in attached to it was a small Pike of around four pounds again. Things went quiet for about half an hour after that.

Suddenly the right hand alarm bleeped. We froze awaiting the second bleep, sure enough it came, and that was followed by brisk run. Following the advice of the lake owner I grabbed the rod with the bail arm open and let the fish run a little way – ensuring that the fish was not just mouthing the bait and dropping it. The line was ripping off the reel at quite a pace now, and so I flicked over the bail arm and struck. I was in to a BIG fish, however it dropped the bait. When we pulled in the one foot long whole Herring bait to inspect it, it appeared that I had just lost a fish that was probably over twenty pounds, as the Herring had one tooth mark just behind it’s head, and another just in front of the tail. Needless to say the Herring was cast out to the same spot – just in case! At this point all I had to show for this trip was another ‘one that got away’ story.

Luckily though, the runs throughout the rest of the day produced fish between four and seven pounds, until my colleague struck into a screaming run at about nine pm that night. After quite an energetic fight, the Pike was beaten and netted. She was carefully laid out on the unhooking mat, and the hooks located and removed. When she was weighed she came in at just over fifteen pounds. The fish was carefully placed back into the water and we watched her until we were happy that she was comfortable again. She sat at the bank for a few more minutes before cracking her tail and with a big splash she headed off out into the lake once more. At last a decent fish we thought, and proceeded to celebrate.

That was it for that night, except for one or two single bleeps that produced no runs all was quiet again until the morning.

About six thirty am the left-hand rod bleeped. I watched and waited. Bleep again, Bleep Bleep, Bleeeeeeeeeep STRIKE…

The cold soon vanishes when you're playing a fish!The cold soon vanishes when you're playing a fish!

I was in, but I had no idea of the size of this fish, at first I thought that it was tiny as I felt no weight on the line. She was swimming in towards me, seemingly matching the pace of the reel perfectly. I got my first look at her at the same moment that she caught her first glimpse of daylight, and she decided that she wasn’t ready to come in just yet, turned, and headed straight for the bottom – almost taking me with her. The rod was bent double, and she was stripping line from the reel for some way. Eventually, she tired and was brought to the bank for unhooking.

She weighed in at sixteen and a half pounds – a personal best fish for me and the biggest of the trip. After the obligatory photograph was taken, she was gently lowered back into the water where she recovered quickly and swam off into the depths.

After this a couple more ‘little ‘uns’ were brought in, and also a couple of runs were missed, but not much else appeared to be happening – so we had breakfast!


Just after nine thirty am the owner re-appeared to see how we were getting on, congratulating us both on our doubles and me for my pb. He stayed for a chat before heading off. As he drove away from the lake the right hand alarm went off again. My colleague was there in a flash and was soon enjoying the best fight of the trip! The fish was at the surface quite quickly, and even gave us an example of how it could tail-walk.

This fish we didn’t weigh, however it was probably between ten and eleven pounds. The two anglers that appeared out of nowhere during the fight had a good look at the fish, and agreed the weight before she was slipped back into the water.

And that was that for the trip, no more bites and no more runs. We packed up around midday, happy in the thought that we had had three doubles in the space of fifteen hours and, more importantly, we'd had a damn good time. All that remained to do was to collapse the bivvy, and clear up the swim, taking great care in leaving with everything that we had arrived with and headed home happy anglers!

This trip was a first for me in many ways; it was the first time that I had ‘bivvied up’ whilst fishing. It was also the first time that I had used bite alarms, rather than relying on watching Polaris floats for bite indication, and it was also the first double I had ever landed. Some anglers will tell you that having all that equipment makes no difference, others will tell you they couldn’t fish without it. I for one enjoyed using it, as it meant that I could sit back and relax whilst fishing, something I find hard to do whilst keeping my eye on a float. As far as catching fish goes, I think that there isn’t much in it between a bobbing and th
en disappearing float, and the bleeping of the alarm, so I certainly wouldn’t say that one way was better or worse than the other. All I would say is that if you prefer to sit back and relax and enjoy your fishing, these bite alarm gizmos are quite a useful piece of kit – I certainly will be using them again anyway.