I love autumn and it is probably my favourite season of them all. The colours of our landscape and countryside at this time of the year are second to none in my opinion and whilst every season brings its own beauty this is normally my favourite time of the year. Temperatures begin to drop along with the leaves and this change also kills the weed in our water systems. Both these factors then contribute to pike displacing and beginning to move to their winter haunts and to feed up for the oncoming winter. Well that’s the theory anyway but this year it’s certainly been a strange October indeed. In fact I was sitting in my garden on the 30th October and it was like a summer’s day. As for rain well it’s been practically non-existent and our rivers have been extremely low, almost as low as I’ve ever seen them.
These strange conditions have made for a very challenging fishing month for me and with other responsibilities in the form of family and work meant that I couldn’t actually get a full days fishing in for the whole of the month.
Still I prefer to always concentrate on positives and if you look hard enough there normally is one and I often think that short sessions encourage me to be more focused as when I tend to have all day I relax a little because you feel like you have more time. Still I think I managed 11 sessions in October and none over five hours and out of them I suffered only one blank. One blank isn’t bad and in my defence it was a last hour of light attack but I do hate blanking. One of the best things about angling is that it means so many different things to so many people and whilst some are all about big fish there are others who can take it or leave it.
For me I only ever have one target and this is don’t blank. I’m not out to break records, chase known fish or even fish the going waters of the day and this was certainly proved this month by turning down four different offers of fishing Chew Valley reservoir which truly is an exceptional water and continues to throw up big fish like they are going out of fashion. For me I love rivers and river pike and that’s where my heart lies. There’s something very special about them and the pike that inhabit them whilst not being monsters they have my full respect for surviving in a wild and extremely hostile environment and reaching the size they do naturally and whilst combating predication, drought, floods and of course anglers amongst other things. Size isn’t everything as I’ve told my wife for the last 21 years! That said of course when you hit a big river fish it certainly becomes everything as the water moves and the world stops.
Early on in the month I had a couple of follows from possibly the biggest river pike that I’ve ever seen and reflecting upon this event now possibly the wariest to. I lack the vocabulary to describe the range of feelings and emotions that this had on me but it could probably be summed up in word that being frustration. Especially as I’ve targeted this fish again a few times but to no avail, still at least I know where she lives now. That word frustration would probably describe my whole month really as I had my chances and I then proceeded to lose three twenty pound plus river pike. The first was on for a split second then shook the hook and this can happen especially in lure fishing although one then berates one’s self for not sharpening hooks etc. as the mind screams if only this, that and the other. The second was on for about 20 seconds but managed to take me straight into a weed bed and as she tried to get in deeper I saw that large flank before the tension pulled the hook again. The last one was the strangest as I fished a swim that has always screamed a big pike but has never produced one in the years I’ve been fishing it. I cast a Fladen “softy” Conrad into it and just I was about to lift it out to cast again this large river pike bolted in and took the lure. I was actually standing in the river and had her thrashing in about a foot of water at my feet when the lure just pinged out… AAARRRGGGHH I threw the rod down and grabbed her like a fool on the flanks and she just shook me off and bolted straight back into the deeper water again leaving me dazed and confused. They say the worst part of losing good fish is that they tail walk across the back of your mind forever and this is certainly the case and I haven’t quite got over this series of unfortunate events yet but I’m working on it albeit slowly.
Still as luck would have it I’m a consultant for Fladen which is a great honour and one that I don’t take lightly and a trip to Fladen HQ to pick up some new fishing goodies and samples to use and test was excellent therapy and certainly softened the blow, well a little at least.
In amongst the goodies were to cracking spinning reels which really excellent quality and that I couldn’t wait to try out. These reels are the Maxximus F-13’s with aluminium spools and 13 ball bearings. They aren’t cheap but are still great value and built to last as spinning reels mine especially will certainly be tested and guaranteed to do some miles.
One of the reasons I got on board as a consultant with Fladen (and there are many) was because I was so impressed with the range of products that I could use in my own area of angling which is predator fishing. I was oblivious that this range even existed or was so varied and there really are exciting times ahead. Of course the fact they also cover also disciplines of angling was certainly an added bonus and one of the other products that I have been so impressed with is the braid. After a bad experience with some poor quality braid once it’s something that I would never advise anybody to take a risk with and for years I stuck with a couple of popular brands only. With reservations due to my bad experience I’ve been testing Fladen’s braid for nearly six months now and hand on heart I absolutely love it and it hasn’t let me down once. Again the range is quite varied and definitely competitively priced and it’s vital to have faith in your gear and I certainly have faith in this. If you haven’t tried it then I can’t recommend it strongly enough and I will be doing a full in depth product review of it in the future, but check it out!
Now of course new fishing gear means new fish and that’s always been one of my mottoes or excuses anyway and I loaded up the new reels with 67lb Fladen braid and hastened off to the river at the first available opportunity. It’s probably worth pointing out that often people question that strength of braid usually with comments such as “you should give fish a sporting chance” but in my opinion it is necessary when predator fishing for a number of reasons. Firstly I’m not about giving fish a sporting chance and if I do want sport then I can always loosen my drag if it’s safe to do so. Of course this sporting chance can mean a prolonged fight and I prefer to get my fish in quick rather than exhaust them. Secondly I never want to lose the fish of a lifetime because I’m under-gunned. The nature of rivers are that they full of dangers that include snaggy swims and powerful currents and you really do need the option to bully fish at times. Thirdly whilst all braids can be very abrasion resistant they all can fray. If my 67lb frays then it’s down to 33lb but if I was using 20lb braid and it frayed then I’d be down to 10 which is unacceptable. There are no excuses for leaving hooks or lures in these beautiful predators so please please always use good strong gear that you are confident with.
Another highlight of this October was taking my boys out for a bit of lure fishing if no other reason and I’m sure every parent can relate to this but it gets them off the electrical devices for a while at least. My two lads aren’t mad about fishing but hopefully I’ve taught them enough that they might take it up one day and this half term they both did good using Fladen’s Maxximus Attracta Spinners and the Conrad “softy” lures which really are simple to use and both of which have climbed high on my own go to lure list and are certainly worth checking out.
So whilst October has been a challenging month it’s still been great fun and that’s what fishing should be all about in my humble opinion. I took a friend Julian out for his first go at pike fishing and he caught a couple and that was great to see and share those moments with him. I’ve fished with my children and I’ve spent some time enjoying our countryside, coast and rivers alone but never for one moment lonely oh and caught lots of predatory fish including wrasse, perch and pike.
I’ve enjoyed putting some Fladen products seriously to the test and through their paces and I’ve certainly enjoyed the results. Whilst I’ve missed opportunities I’ve more than continued to enjoy the beautiful game that is predator fishing and I would like to say a huge thank you to Fladen for their continued support. Now bring on November!