With no rain either it was not the best of conditions but I had to go out. I rang my pal Gary and we set off for some pike fishing on the Thames. Since I had been with him last back in late November and early December there had hardly been any rain and the river was low and clear. Gary had been a few times but with no big fish to report although the jacks had at least kept him busy. It was better than nothing so we set off.

We wanted to get some action from any size pike so we set off to the stretch near Windsor that had a large weirpool as one of its many features. Eighty yards after the weir there is a large bay that acts like a huge back eddy. The power of the water from the weir has created a huge ledge and just off this ledge in 20 feet of water the pike lay waiting for any dead or injured fish to get washed in.

We arrived together at the huge gate and thankfully Gary remembered the combination to the lock, I certainly didn’t! Then another quarter of a mile across bumpy fields; we parked the cars by an old pumphouse before finally setting off on foot across the grass to the river. We just about heard the weir, it was so low it was really quiet. Through the morning gloom, at last we reached the high bank above the bay. The set ups were easy, just float legered deadbaits, small herrings, and smelts, the favourite, not because they attract more fish, just because they are easy to use. We had tried livebaits below the weir before but there are large numbers of small pike here so they are just a waste of good roach really.

After half an hour we had four floats nicely positioned in various places round the bay, alternately, Gary’s, mine, Gary’s and mine. It was my central rod that went first, the float moving a few feet out into the river before disappearing. I like to use centrepin reels in this spot because the casting is easy and the deep water mean the pike just lunge around instead of trying for snags and it's great fun. After a few moments I wound the centrepin fast to catch up with the pike and pulled into it. The rod settled into a nice curve and the pike started its predictable battle. Before long it broke surface and we saw it was a long fish of perhaps 10lb. It is not easy to net the pike from this spot, as the water is far below the high bank but with two it is okay. Gary lay on the grassy bank and leaned down to net it. On the grass indeed it was a nice plump pike of 10lb 12oz, a nice start. The fish was freezing cold. Ice in fact was still formed just up to our left, amongst some trees where the river water had dropped. After a quick bit of admiring I went a few yards up to the weir and slipped it back. On with another smelt and the float was back dancing in the current.

Gary was next in, an hour later, when the rod to the far left just disappeared. This spot always produces the bigger pike for some reason - probably because there is a large hole there, probably formed when a tree fell down and the hole was where the roots were. There is a line of trees in the water here so it is logical. Anyway, soon Gary was indeed fighting with a better fish that used the current well, soon it was ready for the net as it showed it's snow white belly. Gary expertly guided it into the net held in my outstretched hand and I hauled another double ashore. This one was a lot plumper than the last and had a real crocodile head, the hooks as usual came out real easy and it weighed 15lb 3oz. That was the biggest pike we had caught from that swim for years and typically, a lot better than ones Gary had caught recently from spots more likely to produce high twenty pounders. As he held it up to the cameras the sun shone through the bleak freezing cold cloudy day and it looked a real picture. Soon it was back in its very cold home.

Despite the sun, it was a really cold day and every time a slight breeze blew up it seemed twice as cold. One more pike fell around midday to a herring on my other rod but I doubt it would have made 6lb. Two more blank hours followed before we called it a day, our plans to stay to dusk just not feasible in the cold weather. It had been a great day as usual though. We had chatted about old times and plans for the future, I may even get Gary back out after those carp again this summer!

I personally am itching to get back out there after carp and hopefully some warmer weather will arrive soon.

Have fun!