It was late 2011 and for various reasons I was not visiting Poole quite so much. I missed by boat and decided to bring it closer to home and put it on the river. Whilst I had caught a lot of pike I’d never caught a big pike, nothing over about 8lb so I had a new target – a 20lb pike and I wanted it on my light spinning rod just to make it more of a white knuckle experience! You got to try Pike Fishing River Ouse.
I decided on a spot near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire. I’d not particularly heard of any big pike being caught there but I knew the River Ouse was a prolific river for all species
Above: Nellsey being lowered down the slipway to its new home at Hartford Marina in Cambridgeshire.
I decided to moor the boat at Hartford Marina, a large marina which was a really nice spot. Within the marina was a pub with a deck that looked out on the marina – perfect! Let’s just hope the fish are here. I had no idea as nobody seemed to really fish it that much.
Above: The houseboats at Hartford Marina.
I kitted the boat out with everything I needed. It was built for the sea so the 15HP was a bit over-gunned for a small boat on the river! I couldn’t wait for my first trip out. It was a voyage of discovery. I had no idea what was in there!
Above: Fully loaded. The boat pulled up by the pub jetty. A quick pint and a bite to eat then back out on the water.
I tackled up my lure rod with a perch style rubber lure. I really got into the rubber lures, they are fantastic. You buy a selection of jig heads and then weave on the rubber lure of your choice. I bought a whole stack of these in different colours and sizes. I was enjoying this type of fishing. Years of lugging around loads of carp gear had taken their toll and in comparison this was great – just a small rod and reel, a selection of lures, an unhooking mate and a net. Super light, super mobile!
Above: Amazingly realistic in the water. My rubber bodied perch lure on a large jig-head.
My first trip out was in November. Temperatures were starting to drop but that didn’t stop me jumping in the boat and heading out across the marina not knowing quite what to expect. I did know that fish congregate in and around marinas. They like to rest up out of the main flow and frequently get an easy meal from the folks moored up in the large barges. For this reason the first areas I wanted to explore were in the marina itself.
I decided to cruise over to the far side of the marina and let the wind drift me across the marina whilst I fished. I was about to lift the lure from the water after a retrieve when a big pike came from under the boat, looked at the lure and then completely engulfed it! It was an amazing sight in the clear water. I struck and the rod hooped round and a hefty pike took off into the depths taking lots of line! After a number of powerful runs I had the pike in the net and it looked big! Amazing! I’d been fishing for less than 20 minutes and I might already have what I came for – a 20 pound pike!
Above: A proper crocodile! A few ounces over the magic 20lb mark!
I managed a few smaller pike that session also. I was visiting the marina regularly and nearly always caught fish. I never did catch one quite as big as that first trip but caught plenty of decent sized fish up to nearly 20lb.
Above: Another decent upper double figure pike.
One thing I always wanted to do was catch a pike on the fly. So I bought a 9 weight fly rod and some big flies. Keeping such a large fly in the air was tricky and took a lot of practise but after a couple of trips I was picking them up on the fly too! What a buzz. These fish were amazing sport on such light tackle, I was catching fish in the marina mainly but also up and down the main river by now.
Above: I caught a number of fish on a perch imitation fly. They are quite large and therefore fairly tricky to cast / keep in the air.
Above: Not far off 20lb and on a fly rod!
I was even catching them in the spring as things really warmed up!
Above: A nice spring time pike.
So what next? For a number of years I’ve wanted to catch a big perch. I saw one caught many years ago from the famous Savay Lake that was over 5lb and it looked massive. They look prehistoric when they get to that size. It had a mouth you could get your fist down. It’s been said that the perch is ‘the biggest fish of all’ and until you’ve seen a big perch it might be hard to understand what that means given that the British record is only around 6lb (small in comparison to some other coarse fish)! But they look huge when they go over 4lb.
Above: The Biggest Fish of All. Published in 2011 by The Perchfishers Group who’s president is well known angler Des Taylor.
I tried a number of ways to catch a decent perch – smaller lures, drop shoting and spinners with tiny spinners being the most successful. I’m not sure if my approach was wrong or if they weren’t actually there but I never managed to catch that big perch. Whatever I put in the water was grabbed by pike or small perch. The big perch will have to remain a target for another day.
Above: Small rubber lures I imported from the USA for perch fishing.
For a short time my boat was at Buckden Marina where I also caught pike. One afternoon whilst cruising around I came across a group of carp. I managed to actually catch one of those. A decent common carp taken from the river in a boat – not something to hear of very often!
Above: A decent sized common carp taken from the boat at Buckden Marina.
My boat is still at Hartford Marina in Cambridgeshire. At the time of writing I am targeting very large carp at a syndicate in Essex but I do hope to return to regular trips on the river again soon. Maybe I’ll catch me that big perch!