The pike pool

Many years ago when I was aged 13, a friend and I used to fish together. He lived on a farm near Lechlade, Buscot to be precise for anyone who is familiar with the upper Thames. His father was a great shooting buddy with Lord Faringdon, who had several lakes that only occur in dreams. As I was bestest buddy of the son of the bestest buddy to Lord Faringdon, it enabled me to go fishing with my bested buddy at one of these dream lakes.

We were fishing for roach and bream, and had a pike rod set up just in case. We were catching plenty of roach and bream, but the pike float had refused to budge. My friend decided to play a trick on me, he slackened the clutch right off and pretended to strike. Hearing line peeling off the reel I grabbed the landing net and rushed over to him to find him in fits of laughter at my expense. As he was still laughing the line picked up and started peeling out, which after a very crudely fought battle resulted in the biggest fish that two thirteen year old boys had ever seen, 20lb plus at least.

Now, my friend had a swimming pool which hadnít been used for a couple of years, and not wishing to return our prize catch, we ran across the fields back to the farm, jumped into my friendís fatherís LandRover and drove it to the lake. So there we were, two thirteen years olds that could barely see over the dash, swerving down the public highway for about 2 miles. We had a 40 gallon drum in the back of the LandRover. We filled it up, put the pike in the drum, drove back to the farm and introduced it to the swimming pool.

We had thrown the 40-gallon drum into the pool, which became the pikeís home The pike became an instant attraction; all visitors had to be introduced to it. It lived in the swimming pool for about 3 years, surviving on fish purchased by my friends mum.

The story doesnít end there, the swimming pool was one of those big round ones that are fabricated out of fibreglass, and my friendís father had sold it. So we had to get the pike out.

We drained the pool to about a foot deep and pursued it with a landing net, the pool was about 10m diameter and the edge was about 4 inches wide. We shuffled around the edge but the pike was faster than we were so it was a fruitless pursuit. In the end I managed to manoeuvre the landing net 3ft from the pikeís nose and my friend knocked the pike on the tail with a bamboo cane. The pike at the speed of a missile went into the net and the next thing I knew, I was flying through the air into the pool! Score was 2 for technical and 8 for artistic technique.

The story ends happily for the pike as he was put into a Thames backwater near Kelmscot, where I hope he lived happily ever after. My friendís father never did ask how we got the fish back to the house, even when a friend asked him why he didnít wave back when he passed him on the road.

Niece Salmon

It had been a long hot summer, and we had made the annual pilgrimage to the outlawís house near Cardigan in Wales. The pain was made less by the fact that my father in-law owned about a mile of the river Teifi. The stretch that he owned was the first bit of fresh water, with no falls or any other feature to stop the salmon from doing this mile faster than Roger Banister. I had been fishing there for 7 years with no success, but it is a beautiful river, and the alternative of making small talk with the out laws was not appealing.

So off I trotted to the river accompanied by my 8 year old niece, and started to fish and answer the barrage of questions about why the grass is green and sky is blue. Anyway, I hooked this salmon 20 . I have never hooked a salmon before, I am a matchman, I think a number 18 elastic can stop a train, this was a new experience for me.

There was a grassy bank for about 50-m with trees hanging over at each end and this fish had me sprinting from one end to the other for about 40 minutes. I think the salmon was getting board of this game so he tore off down the river, the line was disappearing from my reel and the overhanging tree blocked my path. I desperately jump into the river chest deep to continue the encounter. The salmon stopped, I waded over to it, the salmon was now at my feet, but I had left the landing net on the bank, about 75 m away by now. So desperately I tried to grab it by the tail, this gave it new energy, a force never witnessed by a matchman. It would have left Cambell stood still. My clutch couldnít compete and there ended the encounter.

Dripping wet I walked up to the house, the whole family was there. Excitedly I told my story; there was a lot of chin stroking and cries of pinochio. I finally reached the end of my story, there werenít many believers in the crowd, until my niece piped up and said, " Yes mummy, and you should have heard the language".

Smashing Time

I was fishing a winter league on the Slough arm, a couple of years ago. Not a lot was being caught, but I was flying, fish a chuck. I was clearly leading the section with 10 points in the bag. Every bank runner came by and told me to keep it up, I could be in for a third place. The final whistle went and I smugly packed away my tackle and waited in anticipation for the scales.

I lifted my anticipated 10 pounds of bits out of the water as the scales arrived, but all that was in my net was a lonely 12-ounce stripy. The disappointment turned to anger and then into rage. This was a brand new net, £40 worth, to replace the net that the rats had eaten through the previous week, and they had just done it again. It wasnít just the value of the net, but the lost prize money and the barrage of mickey taking I had to endure. I was mad. The tackle got thrown back into the shed, and I spent the next few days consoling myself.

I decided to do some DIY, the following weekend, I couldnít afford another net, so putting up shelves was forced on me. I needed a saw; I walked up to my shed carrying a piece of 4 by 2. I opened the shed door and heard a squeak coming from the net bag. Now I am mild mannered kind of a person any more laid back and I would be horizontal. But the sound of squeaks coming from my net bag induced a rush of emotion, rage. Rational thought was not me at this moment in time.

I battered my net bag with the piece of 4 by 2, there was mayhem inside my bag, and I beat it and beat it. Until all the squeaks had stopped. Carefully I opened the bag to view the carnage, one, two, three, four. Five, six, seven Eight rats in total, success to me. The victor.

The rats still had the last laugh, the carnage included one very broken flask, two ABU 507ís with special hammered effect spool covers, Shimano AX 2000 with an interesting shaped bail arm and the need for only one reel securing ring. This was all coated in a mixture of hemp oil, leam, and super cup.