For quite a while I've settled into a home routine that has mostly ruled out Saturday morning fishing. The weekly shop has been taking precedence instead. A few weeks ago that all changed though when my wife booked us a day out at Cheltenham races and the shopping had to be rescheduled.
We took the plunge into online shopping as a one off measure and it was a success. So much so, that we've continued with it each week since. So, with Mr Ocado offloading our goods on Friday evening and the river in great nick, it opened up a Saturday morning window of opportunity.
With the weather having been cool, dry and settled I was really looking forward to some piking. The river level had also dropped down significantly and it looked bang on.
Tackling a new section I decided I'd be as active as possible to maximise my chances - 20 minutes per swim maximum, using 2 deadbait rods and twitching them regularly.
My first swim yielded nothing, but I had unwanted company when an otter showed up in the margin to my right. I just heard it initially, but then it popped up right in front of me and swam off to a far bank bush. Not the best start.
I moved few yards downstream, but couldn't settle and then went down another peg. Absolutely nothing, bar a cormorant that appeared out of nowhere and popped up mid river. No bites and too many unwanted furry and feathered predators, wasn't doing much for my confidence. An hour wasted.
I upped sticks and went several pegs upstream. Out with a smelt and then I began baiting up rod two. A quick glance up and the float was already gone. I thought I'd got the depth setting wrong but the rod tip was banging around, confirming a proper take.
A sharp strike and I was attached to something heavy. It stayed low in the water but didn't give me too much grief. When I raised it up to the surface in front of me, my jaw dropped when I saw how big its head was. One more run and I manoevred it into the net.
It was an immense deep bodied fish and when I lifted if from the water, I knew it was a pb shaker. The digital scales wouldn't settle fully, probably because I was shaking too much! I plumped for the lowest reading and then got a second opinion from my Avons. They agreed on 23lb 13oz and confirmed a new pb for me.
For reference the mat is 38 inches long and the net is the XL version of the Savage Gear folding rubber net.
I lost focus for a while after that, but eventually got back into the groove and managed to nick another one before close of play. A low double of 11lb 14oz. It was trailing several feet of line and the longest trace I've ever seen. The wire trace was split into two parts, joined in middle. Why it was so long and why it had an unnecessary join is anyone's guess.
Whatever hook or hooks were attached to the trace were well down its belly and I couldn't get to them. I cut the trace as low down as possible. Not perfect but at least it went back with less baggage than before.
So there you have it. A great morning for me and it was all down to a racing trip causing a change in shopping habits. Otherwise it would never have happened!
That's my piking done with for the season now. I'll be looking for chub and maybe barbel in the last couple of weeks of the season.