Like a good mate Gary had been hard at the live bait catching and in the bucket he unloaded from the car were twelve fit and fat roach and five half pound perch, just what a pike female pike wants for her dinner. The trudge across the fields in the half-light was, as ever, a finger wrenching ordeal with far too many items hanging from each digit. A day on the riverside in February is not a nice place so creature comforts are handy.

Soon the tiny gap in the trees on the far side of the last field appeared and we dumped all the gear and crept through the undergrowth. Gary pulled back the big dead tree that we positioned across the back of the swim to stop unsuspecting eyes spotting the swim itself and one at a time we made our way to the swim. The swim itself opens up on the banks of a small off stream from the Thames itself and the clear area of bank is around ten yards long giving access to the actual entrance on to the main river and half a dozen snags in the stream, a perfect spot. What makes it more perfect is that the water varies in depth and the banks are lined with dead reeds, the pike have used it as a spawning spot for at least 15 years.

As more light appeared we saw a few fish top and a large swirl, the pike were there in numbers, we hoped. Soon paternoster rigs were positioned, two in the crease between river and stream and two by snags. An early run is not often encountered but after only fifteen minutes my roach live-bait by the crease was taken and the float moved off. Moments later I pulled in to the pike and battle commenced. I could tell immediately though that it was a male and sure enough I soon netted a pike around 9lb. With that one placed back and another roach out in the crease I sat back.

We chatted for a while and nothing else happened until one of the biggest perch by the snags was taken savagely. The float just dived under and line poured off the reel. I followed the direction of the pike was taking downstream down the stream itself. With a larger live bait I waited a little longer before pulling in to it. This one felt a bit better and the rod bent well over. Halfway through the fight the rain began to fall making it a little unpleasant and Gary called out from under the brolly asking if it was a good one. The pike was staying very deep and it was hard to tell but I forced it to the top and saw it roll, a large reddish tail flopped over, I called over to Gary to let him know it was a good double at least so he made his way over with the net. The pike charged a few times up and down the edge and I steered it away from the snags. Finally it came on top with its mouth open, it was indeed a nice fish, maybe a 20lber. Gary scooped it up and we lay it on the grass.

It was a typical river pike, long and lean but with spawn in her she was a little plump. The big perch was still in her jaws attached to one treble but the bottom hooks were nicely attached at the side of her mouth. A simple flick with the forceps got them out and I moved it across to the wet weigh sling, on the scales she went 19lb 2oz, a real result. We had a good look at it and Gary recognised a red mark on her belly as a fish he had caught before in years gone past but could not remember what size it was then. Soon I lowered it back in to the water and it sidled off.

The rest of the session was a bit slower but in late afternoon Gary’s roach was taken twice in half-hour. The first produced a lovely mid double of just under 17lb and, with the day almost gone, a hard fighting nice female that took over half-hour to land as it would not come back into the stream after it had charged out to the main river. Most of the fight was with Gary holding the rod right out beyond the last tree in the swim with the line going back and forth. It was worth the effort though as the pike weighed 21lb 15oz, there is honesty!
We returned two days later but the rain fell most of the day and apart from a 4lb male we blanked completely, but that’s pike fishing!

Have Fun!