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Pike on the Fly - A Story

This was written some time ago now, , , , ,please enjoy.



I didn't need a lot of tempting. Not only was the offer of a day on a trout water fishing for trout and pike very appealing, it also meant an overnight stay at Mr Grey's house, and that meant home cooked meals by Mr Grey's wife, and unlike at home, you always got pudding!

Mr Grey had access to a club water a few miles away from his home and had tempted me up from Bristol to the Midlands with an offer of a free guest ticket, and a nights hospitality. I had yet to wet a line this season, but Mr Grey had assured me that the lake was fishing well and he and Mr Hardy had caught the previous week. Some very large pike had been spotted skulking in the margins on his previous visit, and the plan was to fish for these with fly, and also try and catch a trout or two for the table.

I arrived on the saturday morning. Mr Grey had a few chores to do before we set off to the water. He'd taken an few orders for pike flies over the week, and as he tied to order there were a few to finish and pack off before the mid day post. We sat chewing the fat and drinking tea in his studio as he set about his work. I was amazed at the deftness of his fingers as he created little works of art on his vice, stopping only to take swigs of tea from his mug, or to point out idiosyncrasies in the materials he was using. So different from traditional trout patterns, they have to be large enough to present a good target in the water, and yet light enough to cast with a fly rod. I couldn't wait to see if they 'did the business'.

We set off to the lake. The weather was changable, wind was a little blustery and there had been a few showers in the morning. I was hoping they would hold off until dusk. I'm a bit of a fair weather angler I'm ashamed to say, but once I'm on the water I find it hard to leave. This could mean getting very wet, and the possibilty of catching a cold. . . . . . . or man flu . . . . . or swine flu . . . . . or even worse, no fish. . . . . .

We tackled up at the van. We'd decided to target trout to start, so I strung up a team of buzzers on a 6# floating line. Mr Grey went for a sinking line and nymphs. It's always good to try something different when fishing as a team. It can mean the difference between success and failure and there is always the opportunity to follow the lead of the successful method should one of you fail. It's also gentlemanly.

Mr Grey soon set into a fish. A rainbow of about 2 lbs slipped easily into his net after a short fight. Another followed soon after, a touch over 2lb, I was starting to think I'd picked the wrong method but I soon set into a fish of my own and shortly after I had a rainbow of about 3 1/2 pounds on the bank. My first of the season, and the biggest of the day so far. I was a happy man.

We stopped for a cup of tea. As the take home limit was two fish per person Mr Grey decided to switch from trout to pike. He quickly changed to an 8# rod and line as I sat and watched but then started to hunt his pockets and bag. 'What you lost mate?' I asked.

' I haven't brought a bloody trace ' he said with exasperation at his own oversight.

' Let's see what we can use ' I said, and started to hunt through my own bag and pockets.

We found some 8lb leader line. It was the strongest we had. It wasn't ideal but, as he only planned to fish a short leader, strength didn't matter too much. Theres plenty of flex in a fly rod to cushion the impact of a run, It was just the teeth chomping through the line that could cause an issue. Mr Grey always used non-anodised hooks which would rot quickly should he get broke so that wasn't a problem. So he tied it on, and added an orange headed floating pattern. Fished slowly across the bottom he should pick up the fish in the scissors. . . . At least that was the plan . . . .

I moved back to my own swim as he started to fish. Whilst I had taken the biggest fish I was still one short on numbers and I wanted to get even before moving on to the pike. It was starting to get dark and I knew I had maybe three quarters of an hour to bag my limit.

I'd just made my cast when I saw his rod bend. 'You in?' I shouted.

'Yes mate' he said with glee, 'Pike!'.

'You want a hand with the net?' I asked. 'Not yet' he said, 'She's nowhere near ready'.

I quickly reeled up my line and placed my rod on the bank. I moved back to his swim and watched him play the fish. He'd make a couple of yards on it and then it would slowly put pressure back on and move away. It was staying deep and heavy just over a shelf in the deeper water. When it started to move there was no stopping it. There was going to be no bullying it in on this tackle. The reel ratchet kicked in when it was making the runs.

'zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzz z z'

I saw it boil.

At that moment I thought there is no way he is going to land that. Not on 8lb leader.

No way.

Not happening.

It was huge, and it was holding heavy, Every time it was teased over the shelf it would shake its head, and dig its tail into the water like a paddle, and slowly make its way back down into the deeps.

But it was tiring, and so was Mr Grey. It was going to be a question of who would tire first. If the leader held. If the leader held. . . . . It couldn't possibly hold. I found I was holding my breath, waiting for the line to go slack as it gave way under the sharp teeth, frayed into ribbons under the pressure and the pikes needle filled jaws.

Mr Grey lifted his rod. The pike slid wearily back onto the shallows. I grabbed the net, there was only going to be one chance at this, and I was going to have to get this right.


Netting a fish for someone else is an honour, but it is also frought with peril. I can only liken it to taking a penalty in football. You want to do it and you want to do it well, with 'aplomb' as John Motson might say. But should you mess up, should you miss your chance you not only carry the weight of your own failure, you also mess up for other people. The guilt is immeasurable. I couldn't take a penalty, not even if my life depended on it. Not just because I'm rubbish at football, but also because it's too much pressure. If it was just my own failure and self loathing to contend with I could handle that, but carrying guilt, that's a whole different skillset.

When taking a penalty a footballer is trying to get a small ball into a large net.


I looked at the landing net.

It was tiny.

We hadn't come prepared, and the short handled landing net was proof of this. It was about 10 inches across and just over a foot long. It was perfect for scooping up small fat bellied trout, but for landing long mean pike it was useless. I contemplated grabbing it's tail, but it moved so fast in the shallow water it was out of the question.

I bent under Mr Grey's rod and put one leg into the water. The net scooped under the tail of the fish. Three quarters of the pike were outside the net and it just nodded its head, flicked it's tail and started to move back off to the deeps.

I'd missed it, but Mr Grey was still attached. 'Sorry mate' I said.

'Dont be sorry' he said, 'just get the net over it's bloody head!'

The pike was moving back in, I got both my feet in the silty water, not caring I was getting wet. I could feel it seeping into my boots. I didn't care. I just needed to net that fish.

I scooped the net over the top of the fish and saw Mr Greys rod go slack. That's his line broke I thought.

I pulled back on the net, back towards the bank. The pike's head was in the net and that was all. The rest was hanging out of the back, but I had it, I had it on the bank!


The lure was right in the scissors. I think I broke the line when I netted the fish. It was on for about 20-25 minutes, and we guessed the weight at about 20lbs.

It was caught on an orange floating lure just fished off the bottom on a 4 foot leader with a sinking line. Fished with short twiches to give it life. If I was going to attempt this again I would use either a trace or 50lb Nylon.

I would also take a bigger net.


Mr Shakespeare

Author: Ben BEECH
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