River Kennet - Speen Moors
1230 - 1600
Bright and sunny start followed by a heavy shower. AT 5-7ºC. Forgot to take WT!
1 Pike; 15lb 3oz (!!!). 4 Perch 1lb 9oz and 3 smalluns. 2 Roach. 2 Dace. 8 Gudgeon.
Rather hoped that the weather would have held to what we'd had in recent days (mild and overcast). Bright sunshine and a sudden drop in temperature is not what the angler ordered and I ummed and ahhed all morning about whether or not to go. However with opportunities somewhat diminished for the next couple of months at least (yes a job at last!) it was a case of you won't catch owt mooching about at home. So rather than the canal I thought I'd have a wander round Speen - drop into a few favourite spots and with ½ pint of maggots left over from last week was sure to catch something. The plan was then to spend the last hour of daylight trying to winkle out a perch or two from a couple of spots that used to be very productive (but have been less so for the last couple of seasons).
Part one went as planned, fishing one of the weirs I had 3 of the perch including the bonus 1lber - but was somewhat gudgeoned out. I was really after a chub so moved down to the APFA swim but only caught more gudgeon! Then who should I meet - but Rusty who was just finishing off a bread based blank in the larger weir. I walked back with him and dropped into a swim en route which quickly produced another perchlet, followed by a roach - and after Chris had bade his goodbyes, 2 dace and a further roach. Having arrived and fished the first couple of hours in bright sunshine, the skies suddenly blackened and for 20 minutes it absolutely tipped it down. I very nearly packed up there and then - but a bright line on the horizon signalled that it was to be just a shower so it was off to the 'perch' swims....
The low water levels didn't fill me with much anticipation but I thought fading light should encourage any fish to feed. The first swim produced nothing and I'd made around ½doz casts in the second swim when the float bobbed once and just slid away purposefully. I wasn't prepared for what happened next. I struck and realised in an instant that this was no perch. Pike love lobs and are a bit of an occupational hazard when perching - and I was seriously out gunned by this beasty! My record on landing pike on worm is pretty good providing you have hooked it clear of teeth - however I really didn't expect to get this one in. The initial strike had turned it away from danger only for it to shoot off down stream in the current. Again I managed to turn its head and headed up stream. In the shallow water I could see it clearly - and realised it was going to be a challenge for my 24' pan net - however on its next pass I placed the net behind it and it turned tail and shot straight in with the current.
A really fine fat specimen hooked in the outside of the scissors - how lucky is that. Tis my biggest ever worm caught pike - beating the 14lb I had 2 years ago, my biggest ever from Speen, and my biggest since my PB of 18-10 in Feb 01. Landed on a size 8 to 6lb mono and my trusty Harrison float rod!
Having photographed and slipped her back I returned to my perch fishing. Alas the perch weren't in residence and the next 2 bobs of the float both produced crayfish - so whilst there was still some daylight left I decided it was time to call it a day!