I decided to take one float/feeder rod for the Grayling and one Pike rod. We bought a nice selection of baits for the Pike, Mackerel, Sardines and Sprat and a pint of Maggots and a few loaves of bread for the Grayling. I loaded the car the night before as I really didn't fancy doing it in the early hours of the morning.
The Alarm sounded and I rolled out of bed to the dismay of my Girlfriend, "it's way to early to get up" she said. After persuading my brother to get out of bed and picking up my father and youngest brother from their house we hit the road. The weather reports suggested wind but no rain.
We arrived and were greeted by the lively and extremely helpful river keeper Stuart and his dog. He told us the biggest pike to come out so far this season was 19lb 4oz and may Roach over the 2lb mark had come up to 2lb 13oz (there are 3lbers there if you know where to find them). He advised us on which swims to fish and we went our way. Me and my Father headed off in search of Grayling and my brothers went off in search of the freshwater crocodiles.
We arrived at the swim advised and began by trotting maggots, the pace was spot on although the river was a little shallow. After trotting for perhaps only ten minutes the heavens opened and we got absolutley soaked. The trees were trembling, the line began wrapping itself round my centrepin and the rings of the rod like a Boa Constrictor and I had to stop ths method as did my Father. I swapped tips on my rod and moved across to ledgering for the Grayling and whatever else fancied a pair of succulent red maggots.
After a couple of minutes this method appeared to be paying off as my father landed several Grayling to nearly 1lb. I followed suit with Grayling to 12oz and a Brownie of a 1lb 8oz. A quick call to my brothers and they had a Jack Pike of around 5lb between them so fishing for us was fairly slow.
The rain seemed to get heavier and my clothes were clinging to me, my nose was running and I was getting rather cold. We decided to have a break, regroup and decide what the next step would be. We all decided to go for the Pike for the rest of the afternoon and continue in similar fashion the following day. We all sat in a line, 4 swims 4 anglers and 4 rods; surely one of us would catch a Pike I concluded? My assumptions were correct and my Fathers Pike rod twitched for a few seconds and then arched around. He was into a good Pike by the looks of things and it fought for a good couple of minutes before surfacing. Once netted we all witnessed perhaps one the fattest Pike we had ever seen. In the Bristol Avon a pike of this length would struggle to hit 10-11lb.
After a weighing and discounting the weight of the landing net the pike registered a weight of 15lb 8oz. A great start to my father's piking session. The rest of the afternoon and into the evening faded into dusk and it was time to head back to our lodgings.
On the way we were diverted to Salisbury District Hospital as my youngest brother fell ill and was being sick profusely with sharp pains in his stomach. We guessed it could have been food poisoning and after two hours and a bottle of painkiller in his blodd stream later he was out and the conclusion was most likely a dodgy Turkey sandwich.
We were staying at John Searl's The Swallows cottage; it's a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle and is only about a 20 minutes drive from Britford so ideal. Not only that but we always end up in his house recounting fishing stories, looking at his cased fish on his walls and I even ended up fixing his computer for him. I was rewarded with a signed print of a Tench for my troubles; suffice to say I was more than pleased.
I rose at 6:20am and got the frying pan on the go, sausages, bacon and egg are the only way to start a fishing session. I woke everyone else up by simply turning on the lights in their rooms and walking back out again; mean but fair. After wolfing down our sumptuous breakfasts we packed ourselves back into my car and hit the road for Britford once more. Were we going to catch or fail?
The conditions again looked spot on and we started where we left off the previous night on the carrier. In 2 hours we managed one Jack between us, the same pike my brother had had the previous day!!! We decided that it was time to get back onto the Old River. My brother had one to 19lb from this stretch the previous year (see below) so anything aprroaching this size would be fantastic.
We fished in pairs with my brother and me fishing one area and my youngest brother and Father fishing another area about 150 metres further along. My Father struck first with a cracking Pike of 16lb 8oz and we caught in quick succession with a couple of 10lbers between us.
Me and my brother had a couple of knocks each but things went quiet so we moved about 50metres up to a likely looking spot. After wondering up to photograph my fathers 16lber I found a perfect little swim with a dead tree in the water, it screamed Pike so I settled there and my brother fished about 20 metres further along. I was fishing perhaps 20minutes when my rod signalled a take, to twitches and then the rod heaved round. I struck and everything went solid. I thought I had hooked the bottom but it started moving, it was a pike and it was definitely a PB (my previous best was only 12lb8oz so fairly easy to beat) it held firm but i was well equipped with a strong 2.75lb tc rod and 15lb bs line. After a couple of deep dives the Pike came in fairly easily. To me this fish was massive, a very long Pike and also quite chunky which seems to the norm along this stretch.
The scales settled on 19lb and it as I had guessed it smashed my old PB and what a stunning fish it was. I believe it will definitley top 20lbs judging by the chunkyness of the Pike my Father had caught and there is most likely a 30lber hidden away somewhere.
Not to be trumped, my father shouted out that he had hooked into a "big" pike and my little brother confirmed this by saying "it's bigger than yours". After weighing the fish we decided on 18lb 4oz so not quite as big as mine but a great brace of Pike for him in around 1 hour.
I didn't feel the need to cast in as I was over the moon with my Pike, I was confident I couldn't better it but the angler in me took over and after 15minutes I got bored and cast out another sprat. The weather was now settled and it turned out be a nice last hour to our fishing trip. I caught one more Jack Pike of around 6lb as I reeled in my dead bait and we called it a day and trip.
To conclude it was a great weekends fishing with 9 Pike being caught and 6 of those being doubles. I would highly recommend a trip to Britford and hopefully see you on the bank sometime.
LAA - Britford - More Info
John Searl's - Swallow Cottage - More Info