Thursday, 31 March 2016

March 2016 - Just In The Nick of Time

As another SENPAC piking season begins to draw to a close we have enjoyed a half-reasonable month of fishing. There will be a few of our number who extend their seasons by travelling north from our Tyneside base and those journey's have, in the past, been rewarded by a special fish or two so it's not impossible that I will have some success to report in next month's missive but for the rest April is usually the month to earn brownie points on the domestic scene before attention is focused elsewhere on other  quarry.

March is always a busy month in the SENPAC camp and traditionally gets under-way with a trip north for some of our members to the Lake of Menteith. This year was no exception and we had two boats filled by RO Mike Bell and Dennis Fearon and Joint RO Bruce Turnbull alongside Dave Gardner. This was the PAC's first attempt at a lure and bait event when we were denied the use of anchors. It was a less than successful arrangement, much as had been experienced by the Scottish Pike Anglers Alliance back in November last year. Particularly so on our visit because of the difficult weather conditions of swirling, sometimes quite strong winds which just served to make boat management difficult and effective fishing almost impossible. Catch returns overall for the day were poor as a result and there was a little discontent evident as the day drew to a premature close for many.
Dennis Fearon

 Mike and Dennis caught pike a 12lb'er each, Dave and Bruce struggled to avoid the trout, Dave boating the only pike, a modest jack. I think that it was widely agreed that a re-think will be necessary, either on the part of the fishery management which up to now they have robustly resisted or failing that on the part of those that are fishing the event as far as tactics go. Baits and lures fished from an un-tethered boat are a challenge too far if the weather is in any way un-sympathetic.
Mike Bell

As for the rest of the month's fishing I'm pleased to be able to report that a few nice double figure fish were reported by our members, principally from waters north of the border and of course our 2015/2016 Club Trip Champion was crowned after our final trip of the season which was also fished in Scotland on a very windy, very wet water in Dumfries and Galloway.
Paul Proctor's 15lb-2oz Fish

 Some of the details, well, Paul Proctor reported a 15lb-2oz  fish and Dave Greally went one better with a very elegant pike of 18lb-4oz over which there was some debate as to whether it had spawned or not. Dave also secured the Trip Championship a couple of weeks later by not catching anything on the last trip such was his domination of the events previous!
Club Trip Champion With His Elegant Pike
All of which provided our Newsletter editor with lots of pictures for this latest edition which no doubt made a nice change. However a good proportion of his efforts were put into a somewhat belated tribute to the late Fred Buller OBE who, as you will no doubt know, passed away back in February.

 As an angler, historian and author he had a big influence on a lot of SENPAC's members who are "of a certain age" and reference to the volumes of The Domesday Book of Mammoth Pike was un-avoidable for our editor, the fascinating tale of John Murray's Kenmure 72lb'er, an almost "local" fish for us, being used to illustrate the dedication and effort that Mr. Buller committed to his work. If, as yet you have not had the good fortune to enjoy Mr. Buller's writings then try this.......................... 

 I'm sure you will enjoy the read.

 As I suggested earlier, April will probably be a fairly quiet month for SENPAC, we have our fishing socials to look forward to, The Golden Maggot Match in June and The Summer League Matches in July and August all of which feel a long way off at the moment so for me it will be a couple more Piking trips before I turn my attention to the boilies and bolt rigs! Our April meeting will take place on Tuesday 26th at the Northumbrian Piper, if you feel that you would like to learn a little more about pike fishing why not call in for a chat. We don't bite, honest.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

February 2016 - No Shortage of Effort - Very little Reward

February can be one of the more difficult month's of the piking season on the waters that we fish, water temperatures would be expected to be at their lowest with moribund fish hard to locate and the activity of March as the drive to pro-create kicks-in still to look forward to. That is assuming that you can get a bait in the water with ice an ever present threat in these northern climes.

February 2016 hasn't been like that. Water temperatures have rarely dropped below 45 degrees, weed refuses to die back and the activity amongst the smaller jacks has remained at Autumnal levels. Most of our members have enjoyed days of multiple catches of fish in the 4lb - 6lb range whilst hoping for something a little larger. It is those larger fish that seem to have done a disappearing act on virtually all of our venues during February, the biggest fish reported being a 12lb'er which was as fat as butter and looking like it would be ready to spawn in a matter of days. The generally held view amongst our lot is that if ever there was a year when the fish spawn early then this could well be it. I guess that this suggestion is supported to some degree by the sustained level of activity amongst the smaller fish in the areas where we would begin to fish about now in the hope of intercepting the larger fish as they gather to spawn. Needless to say we are determined not to get caught out by the possibility of an early spawning and a lot of effort is already being expended in selected areas, so far, as it says at the top of this post, with very little reward.

We eventually had to give up on our planned region outing to a Yorkshire river.Whilst water levels gradually settled in the early part of February the banks were a bit of a nightmare with the debris and mud that was the residue of the prolonged flooding of January making things very difficult and potentially worse than difficult and with poor reports from those hardy souls who did give it a go we eventually succumbed and headed to a reliable stillwater due west of our Tyneside base. Eleven fish between the five members who made the journey went some way to convince us that we had made the right decision. So that saw us back on schedule as far as our club trip competition is concerned and it was at the very end of the month that we once again headed north and west this time to Dumfries and Galloway for our planned February outing, the penultimate trip of the season/competition. With an equal split between those that caught and those that didn't it was Dave Greally's two fish that moved him clear at the top of the competition table meaning the rest of us will be playing catch-up (again!) on the final event of the season. Hey-ho, it's a good job it is all a very light-hearted affair, much more to do with the craic than the catch.................honest.
Trip Champion Elect - Dave Greally

Our joint RO's, Mike Bell and Bruce Turnbull attended the fish-in that was organised to mark the passing of our friend Shane Patterson back in February 2015. They joined 14 other PAC stalwarts from the Hull, Teeside andDarlington/Durham Regions at the Hull and District A.A. complex at Brough. Our thanks go to Clive Melhuish and Jim Taylor for all their efforts in pulling the event together and of course to our hosts for providing the venue. Donations and a raffle raised £173 for Diabetes UK, Shane's adopted charity and that sum was boosted to £323 by money donated by another Yorkshire fish-in organised by LO Mark Green. All in all a fitting way with which to remember a good friend, just the sort of event in which Shane would have been in his element.
Shane Would Have Been In His Element

And what of March, well a few of us are once again looking forward to a day on the Lake of Mentieth, celebrated by our Newsletter editor on this month's front cover.

 We have our trip championship finale to look forward to and a lot of other piking besides as the season approaches its' climax, so a busy month no doubt. All of which will be reviewed and hopefully celebrated at our Region meeting which will take place at the Northumbrian Piper as usual on Tuesday 29th March 2016. Perhaps we will see you there?