This is where, under high pressure, we have no wind and heavy cloud and cool temperatures that barely change from day to night, with no frost.

I have mentioned such weather in the past. It usually occurs in November or February and the fish seem to feed really well in such weather, or at least they do for me. I have caught some really good fish in periods of anti-cyclonic gloom including my personal best winter carp and my personal best river pike, both being well over 30lb. Therefore this week I dropped all my planned carp fishing ideas and set off to the Thames for some river pike fishing.

My mate Gary is an all out pike angler, he glazes over when they are mentioned, and he had already been fishing the Thames for them since the end of October. The usual area we fish on the Thames is very moody and despite it fishing well in this weather pattern, the pike also like a bit of extra water. Unlike last year the rain has been a little short in supply so apart from two big pike of 26 and 23lb Gary has only had a handful of jacks. Therefore he had been looking elsewhere and one day back in October we two sat in the usual pub one Saturday and poured over a detailed map of the Thames from Henley to Kingston looking for other areas that looked similar to our usual area near Windsor.

After an hour or two and a few beers we had come up with a few possibilities and I left Gary to investigate them whilst I carried on with my carp fishing. One day he phoned to say he had caught a big pike from one of the areas on his first visit, a 27lber in fact; this was interesting especially as he had lost a good fish as well. His next session produced just a jack but the session following produced three doubles. So with the weather looking good I joined him on his latest attempt.

I drove over to Garyís house in the pre-dawn gloom and we loaded up his car for the hours journey. Although I knew where it was on the map I had never been there, so when Gary finally parked his car down a winding lane that seemed nowhere near the river I wondered where we were going. It was then another 20 minutes hike across fields before at last the river appeared in the gloomy dawn. When we got there I could see why he had picked that spot, there were three large willows half fallen in the water creating large bay-like slacks, and behind the third willow was the outlet from a small feeder stream. Even to my eyes it looked good for pike.

Gary had brought both live and deadbaits and we fished one each - the livebaits he had caught from the Thames so we were not transferring fish - they were our favourites. Plump roach around 4 to 6oz, deadbaits were small herrings, another favourite. With the four red floats positioned around the trees and outlet we sat back in the cloudy dull scene, it was going to be one of those classic days when the light barely improves and it gets dark by 3pm, perfect for pike.

However, it was not until well into the morning before Garyís deadbait grew legs. After a good scrap I netted a long looking double for him, just over 15lb; a good start though Gary was concerned. There were no fish topping like he had found on his prior successful trips. We were just discussing this though when the float on my livebait slowly dipped away and after a few seconds I pulled in to a powerful fish. This one knew how to use the river and knew where the branches of the willows were. It was a bit touch and go whether it would snag me at one point, however like most pike it eventually gave up and I slid a good fish into the net. It was a plump lovely coloured fish weighing 18lb 3oz, a really lovely Thames example. Gary had found a peach of a spot again, mind you he spends most of his time walking the Thames so after all the duff ones he has tried a good one was bound to turn up.
I was just returning the pike when a guy came striding across the field with a shotgun under his arm. I had not really thought about permits and wondered now if perhaps we were poaching, however the guy greeted Gary by name and I was introduced to the owner of the land. Gary had apparently had seen the area first from the far bank and had spent an hour trying to find a way in. Eventually he just knocked at the farm next door and had been granted permission to fish there, for him and only one other person at a time. Nice one, what you donít ask for, you donít get!

No more pike came along in the afternoon but as darkness fell, at last fish started topping and within ten minutes Garyís livebait was away resulting in a superb scrap with the pike charging out across the river a couple of times, it looked like another big one and indeed it was, 21lb 4oz, quite long with an empty gut; without doubt it has the chance to grow bigger. We had just put that one back when my livebait went, a shorter fight and a shorter fish, a low double. Darkness was now on us and we had to leave as we were not allowed on the land after dark. As we passed the farm the light was on, so we knocked on the door to say thanks. We were invited in and sat down by a roaring fire and the next two hours passed chatting fishing and farming over a few home made beers. I could get used to that, now I know why Gary spends his life pike fishing!

Have fun!