The end of the week came and, as I was working down at Rothley again, I returned to the Soar to lick my wounds and hopefully get a fish on the bank. Obtaining more bait had been a real problem in the week. All the local shops had run out of suitably sized deadbaits and promised deliveries hadn't materialised. All I had was a packet of eel sections, a couple of smelt and some sandeels left over from Wales. However, on the plus side, the weather was extremely mild and overcast and, after slipping and sliding down the new access track, I got to the river to find it looking bang on and devoid of other anglers. The sandeels actually looked like a decent bait mounted up with the heads snipped off, so they went on one rod while I alternated smelt and eel sections on the other. My confidence in the sandeel seemed to pay off when the rod with it on started nodding a short while later. However, despite the line fizzing off between my fingers, when I wound down there was no re-assuring weight of a fish on the other end and the hook came back empty. Unbelievably, the rod tops remained stubbornly still after this. It was not until well into dark and just as I was contemplating packing up when the sandeel rod eventually went off again. Thinking this was definitely my last chance, I went through the routine of knocking off the bail arm, feeling the line being pulled out between finger and thumb, before winding down to........nothing. It was a beaten and dejected angler that made his way home that night!
Didn't think I'd be able to fit a session in this week but, when an opportunity arose, I made the mad dash to the Trent at Sawley after work, getting there just before sunset. There was a stiff wind blowing into the snag pit, so I moved 'round to the next swim - bit more sheltered and no snags! I'd managed to get some deadbaits since last session, so it was a small, whole roach on one rod and a lamprey section on the other. The rods had been in literally minutes when I had a very positive take on the roach rod. Hit a heavy fish and, from the head-banging, knew it was a good zander. When I got it the net I was thinking (hoping?) scraper double, but didn't have time to reflect because the other rod roared off as well! Hit another, heavier fish which made several powerful runs before rolling into the net. Not another zander unfortunately, but a mint, mid-double pike. Left them both in the water while I got the scales and the camera ready as quickly as possible. Weighed the zander first. Not quite a double, but at 9lb 11oz it was a new personal best.