It seems a long time since the last Pike coaching event, but it was only back in October. I had been itching to get back on the bank and do some piking but the weather had been awful for months. With heavy flooding and dangerous banks to contend with, I hadn't done any pike fishing in months, and now the Pike season was drawing to a close for another 6 or 7 months.
At last the weather was taking a turn upwards and bright weather and light winds greeted the start of the week leading to the event. A chance for the banks to dry out a bit and water levels to return to somewhere near normal before the big day.
On the Saturday morning I arrived at Northlands Park, Basildon at 7am to find very high pressure and bright weather looming. After the weather we had had for the last 3 months this was great…..but it’s lousy weather for piking. A lowish pressure front and overcast would have been ideal, but it wasn’t to be.
There were 25 helpers for the event, plus photographers, marshalls, 3 people catching live baits and admin to book everyone in and make sure they were where they were meant to be. The PAC had received a grant to get people qualified as coaches and this was the first event for some of them to practice what they had learned, get out on the bank and coach under the watchful eye of some level 2 coaches.
We were also joined by several members of the Polish Anglers Association who were lure fishing on one of the lakes. Met a couple of them for the first time last year and they turned up mob handed this time. A great bunch of guys and a priviledge to have them helping out. We were also joined by Radoslaw Papiewski, the Building Bridges Co-ordinator for the Angling Trust.
We had 23 youngsters booked in for the morning session and 37 for the afternoon. There had been more but we had some drop out a couple of days before the event.
The coaches went off to sort their pegs, set up gear and get ready for the day ahead. The weather was getting warmer and the air pressure was rising steadily. Things were looking tough. The bait catchers, Dave Milton, Martin Roessler and Rob Grant were knocking out 2-4lb Bream rather than the little roach we needed, but they did catch plenty of bait as they worked hard to get a result. Dave, Martin and I are on the Committee of ECADG and are also Directors of the Professional Anglers Association.
The morning session started with a bang, one of the coaches getting his student into a fish within 3 minutes and two more losing fish in the opening minutes. But as the pressure rose, the fish went AWOL and the fishing got harder and harder.
The fish didn’t respond too well to the pressure on the lake and a lot of people were getting finicky bites. Several times people reeled in to find bite marks all over the bait but they hadn’t had any indication, or the pike were hitting it hard but grabbing the tails of the bait and ripping it off the traces.
Everyone worked very hard to get a result and by midday they had landed 12 pike and lost several more. A well earned break and Pete McRobert had excelled himself in providing bacon and sausage rolls and tea for everyone.
The afternoon students arrived and were allocated to coaches and so we started all over again. Howard Lloyd, who came all the way from Southport near Liverpool had finally found the fish and was proceeding to empty the water with 4 fish in an hour, 2 at once.
A few more people were catching, but a lot were still getting tricky bites and missing fish.
There were a lot of coaches failing to get a pike out in the difficult conditions, but the fish seemed to be holed up in certain areas and where one was caught, there were more.
Finally the day came to a close, plenty of fish caught, loads lost or missed, traces tied, knots learned and rigs practiced. A variety of rigs were demonstrated, from simple float rigs and ledger rigs through to paternoster and sunken paternoster rigs, and one dubiously called the “Dyson” rig (apparently because it cleans up!!!!! The bloke blanked by the way)
A great day and special thanks to the lads from the PAC for coming along to help out teaching, all done free and for the love of their sport, Oli Harwood and Dan Thornett for taking all the photographs and putting up with Sean Ellis and myself driving them mad all day, and Anna for running the admin desk and making it all look easy…….and keeping me in order!!!!!
Roll on the next one.