It’s fair to say I couldn’t wait for our return trip to fly fish for Pike on Blagdon. If you’ve read the first post then the second trip had a lot to live upto. Of course the fish have been targeted everyday since our last trip a week previously and would therefore probably be a bit more skittish. But, who cares? It’s not often you get the chance to target the fish of a lifetime and I couldn’t wait to get back down there. I knew we’d catch some fish and we did.
It was going to be an interesting day as there were some good anglers on and my only concern was that they were all going to target the same area where we caught last time. It’s surprising how small a water Blagdon is when there are a few boats on and i’ve never been one to jostle for position to get the best spots. Sure enough the majority of the boats all headed for that particular area and although we didn’t feel particularly comfortable we stuck it out. An hour came and went and although i’d had a pluck and a fish on very briefly it was all a bit slow. We’d not seen a fish caught yet and then BANG!! Something hit the fly and it was game on. I can honestly say i’ve never had fish fight as hard as these. Everytime I got it up near the surface, down it went again. It went round the back of the boat, in front of the boat, under the boat, everywhere you can imagine. It looked a decent fish too and after what felt like an eternity it was finally in the net. It looked a good upper double but not a twenty as I was hoping but I was still a happy bunny as it weighed in at 17.8. At least I could rest a bit easier knowing that i’d had a fish and avoided a very expensive blank.
It was obvious today was going to be tougher and it was to be expected, so after drifting the area a few more times we decided to up sticks and fish a different area of the water. Guy and Adam were the only boat in this particular area and as we got nearer we could see that they were into a fish. When we caught up with them and asked them what they’d had, it turned out they had caught several fish during the morning upto 29 pounds. It appears we had cocked up fishing the area where we caught previously but you can only go on past experiences and there is no point in crying over spilt milk, as they say. We set about drifting the shallow water and I opted for a sink-tip line in the shallow water fished on a 9 weight. Pretty much straight away we were both into a few fish but they weren’t particularly big being into low double figures. The sport quickly tapered off though and before we knew it we could see the other boats heading up towards us so with that in mind we headed off back down the lake to where we started off.
When we arrived back at where we started there was only one boat there and we decided to stick to this area for the rest of the day hoping that the Pike would switch on at some point. As we fished through the “dead zone” we managed to pick up a few small fish which kept us entertained for a while, especially as you could see the fish come and hit the fly as it came over the weed but I wanted that big fish and I knew it wasn’t going to come by doing what we were doing. Once the novelty of catching the smaller fish had worn off we headed back out into deeper water and with three hours left before we had to be off the water we needed to try and pull a rabbit out of the hat. I got the impression that the fish weren’t really up for chasing the fly like before so it was going to be a question of getting the fly down and trying to get it in front of a fish in order to induce a take. The problem with that is, when you know time is running out you’re very reluctant to give the fly the extra time to get down to the required depth. As hard it was I let the fly sink down as much as possible. Within a couple of casts in the deep water I had a very tentative take. It was a bit weird really and just felt like someone had gently pulled the end of the fly line. Not a jolt or a bang like you would normally get and it’s really hard to describe, it was almost as if the weight of the fly and fly line were pulling the line back out of your hands. A few strips later and everything locked up. It was a fish after all but it was a bit of a strange fight. The fish wasn’t pulling back very much and there was a couple of head shakes so I presumed it wasn’t a very big fish until it came up to the surface when I realised it was another 20lb fish. I could see the fly in it’s mouth briefly before a couple more head shakes and it threw the fly. What a bastard!!!! The fish had taken me completely by surprise by basically swimming up towards me and lulled me into thinking it wasn’t a very big fish. Feeling a tad dejected, I picked my jaw up off the floor and hoped that wasn’t how my Blagdon experience was going to end.
We had a couple more drifts but didn’t have any more takes and what was noticeable, was that we hadn’t had any follows off fish that day. I definitely had more takes than on the previous trip and now with a couple of fish lost it’s easy to think that after a couple of weeks of being fished for they had wised up and were taking the fly a lot more tentatively.
We set off on another drift out into deeper water and realised i’d gone all day without going for a pee and thought I would take the opportunity to really let the fly get to the bottom while emptying my bladder. We were fishing in eighteen feet of water so by the time i’d unclipped my life jacket, unzipped two jackets, unclipped my bib and brace, found my shrivelled up walnut, relieved myself, put my shrivelled up walnut away, clipped up my bib and brace, zipped up two jackets, clipped up my life jacket then the fly should be well and truly on the bottom.
I picked up the rod, stripped the fly a couple of times and turned to Andy to say “wouldn’t it be funny if…….” BUFFFFFFFFF!!!! Something nailed the fly with such savagery that it nearly ripped the line out of my hands before I got chance to finish my sentence. What I wanted to say was “wouldn’t it be funny if I picked my rod up and there was a fish on the end?” but I never got chance. Second strip and the fish caned my fly. The fight was on and the rod was being pounded by the fish on the end. Most of the rod was pulled under the water as the fish went on powerful runs under the boat. I don’t know how many times the boat was spun round by the fish and thankfully we didn’t have a drogue or anchor out or it could have all ended differently. The fish just wouldn’t come up and it got to the stage where I was wishing the battle was over. The rod was almost bent double and I managed to get the fish near the surface before it streaked off and tail walked trying to shed the fly. We both knew it was another 20lb fish and it’s fair to say I was starting to kak myself a little. I could see the fly and I just wanted the fish in the net. A couple more deep lunges and I finally managed to get some sort of control on the fish. I managed to turn the fish when it got to the surface and eventually managed to steer it into the net. Once again the depth of the fish was incredible and knew this was over the 25lb mark. I removed the fly, which was in the scissors, and it came out easily making me realise how lightly hooked this fish was. On the scales it was went 26.8 and I was made up to get another 20lb+ fish from there. But what a jammy sod I am when I think about it. I mean, what are the chances of that happening? I bet that fish watched the fly sink to the bottom and was looking at it thinking “WTF is that?” Then when I stripped it back a couple times it must have thought “i’m having that” and nailed it. Things like that don’t normally happen to me but sometimes you need a bit of luck and i’m glad that lady luck was shining on me that time.
We did a couple more drifts out into the deeper water but didn’t get any more takes or fish in that area. As there was only about ninety minutes left we moved slightly further down towards the dam wall. Unfortunately the wind had completely died down in the afternoon making drifting virtually impossible. We settled on an area where we took a brace of 18’s last time out. First cast in, Andy was into a fish and I hadn’t managed to get my line out yet. Just as I was getting the net ready the fish inexplicably shook the hook. We were hoping that the fish were switching on and both of us really wanted to bag a couple more fish each before we had to be off the water. We both cast in before Andy was into another fish. Just as I was saying “is it a good un?” my line tightened and I was into a fish. It was like deja-vu with it being identical to last time we fished this area. Andy was getting ready to net his fish and I was doing battle with mine trying to get it’s head up when my line went slack and the fish was off. The big man did manage to net his fish though which turned out to be a mid double.
With three fish on in three casts we were both thinking we were getting into a feeding frenzy and expected another take pretty quickly. Oddly enough though it didn’t happen. We had another move and with literally five minutes to go I had another take but it didn’t result in a hook up. It’s funny how fishing pans out and how things don’t materialise as you would expect. I ended the day with nine fish again and that ended my experience of Blagdon water. What an experience it had been though. I don’t think anyone can complain about getting three fish over twenty pounds in two trips as well as numerous big double figure fish. When we got back to the boat jetty one of the other anglers we were out with had a colossal fish weighing 37.6 aswell as Adam’s 29 pound fish. The fly is probably the least effective way to catch Pike but has to be the most satisfying way to catch them. As I sit here and recall some of those battles, I can feel my shoulder start to ache almost as if i’m back on the water tussling with one of those big fish.
Has the book of Blagdon Pike on the fly ended? I don’t think so, I think this is merely the first chapter in what will be a bestseller. I just hope I get chance to contribute to a few more chapters in the years to come.