A cheerless and freezing cold Sunday afternoon in February, a light rain is steadily falling but there isn't a breath of wind. As conditions go it doesn't seem to bad, emphasis on the word seem here, but the cold is penetrating. The venue is a land drain about ten yards wide at the widest and the level of the water has been adjusted by pumping judging by the black tide-mark on the trimmed reeds in the margins.
Ominously there was no sign of predators at work or of the silver fish showing on the surface but out went the baits, a smelt to the left and a small mackerel to the right. Then it's time to meditate to the sound of the gentle rain hissing on the water and pattering on my hood.
After an hour of moving the baits around nothing, not a single touch, so a change of bait and on goes a still slightly frozen roach on each of the rods. Ten minutes later the float in the middle of the drain goes under with a clearly audible plop. I can see it running along under the surface then after moving about five yards up it comes back to the surface, I wait a minute or two just in case, then I reel the bait in to find that the roach is completely undamaged. Baffling.
As dusk approaches I have two more runs, one on each rod, and this time the pike are on for a couple of minutes and then they simply let go of the now mangled bait. I saw the first of these two fish, a pike of about seven pounds and the second never showed itself, it just stayed deep making big swirls on the surface. That makes it ten fish hooked and 'lost' in the last month.
I'll be back.
But only after making up some new traces and sharpening the hooks.