04/11/2020 - Pre-lockdown piking

Writing this now in our second "lockdown" we've already received the good news that angling is one of the few recreational activities allowed to continue under the new restrictions. As long as we are sensible about the distance, it seems that we can still travel to do so as well. However, earlier in the week I was grappling with the consequences of the tier system and what that meant in terms of where I could and couldn't fish. Having finally got some respite for a few days from the intolerable high winds we've been experiencing, I was keen to get out somewhere.  

Ideally I would have liked to try out my new Drennan Acolyte 14 ft float rod on the grayling population, but my local River Derwent was out of bounds, being just the wrong side of a Tier 3 boundary. In any case, it was also at an artificially high level due water being released from Ladybower Reservoir to create some capacity for the winter, so the debut of my new toy would have to wait. Instead I dusted off the pike gear, raided the freezer and headed off to the River Soar near Kegworth. Day was forecast to be bright and sunny and there wasn't a cloud in the sky when I arrived shortly before sunrise. River was looking good, but what shocked me were the dense beds of floating pennywort, which were present as far as I could see. 

Walking upstream I was relieved to see that there were some fishable gaps and soon had a couple of joeys soaking in the near margin. Waited for an hour for the first indication on the downstream rod. The float was dithering around for so long I thought crayfish were responsible until it finally submerged. Had a fish on briefly before it decided to head under the nearest bed of pennywort. Couldn't bully it out, so slackened off and let it swim out of its own accord. Tightened down again and promptly pulled straight out of it! Rebaited then decided to leapfrog both rods downstream. Had just re-positioned one and was walking to get the other when I looked back to see that the float had already disappeared! Managed to get the hooks to stick in this one, although another late dash into a weed bed meant quite a bit of "salad" ended up in the landing net. 

Carried on leapfrogging downstream, losing another and landing three more - all small and barely hooked. They didn't seem to be really having and it appeared that I had to land a bait on their heads to get a reaction. When I did the reaction was immediate, but the rest of the time I was staring at motionless floats (apart from when I was duped by the bleak shoals pecking at them!). I was therefore trying to decide if  a move to another section for the last hour would be worthwhile when the Canal & Rivers Trust hove into view with their weedspraying boat. Was good to see that they were taking some action to control the pennywort, but they had effectively wrecked the near margin in the process, so my decision was made for me. 

Jumped back in the car and made the short hop downstream. With time limited before afternoon work Zoom calls beckoned (God, I hate them!), I set up opposite some boats, dropping one bait down the margin and the other just off the back end of a barge. Had just got settled when the bailiff arrived, although the fact I was "not Polish" seemed good enough for him as he didn't actually want to see my club book! Was just having a chat when the indicator on the margin rod hit the back rest with a clunk. Normally I would have been watching the float and would have been on the rod and feeding out line at the first indication. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the rod the float was lying ominously still, the bait having been dropped and the chance gone. 

"Oh dear!", I thought to myself. Bailiff must have been a mind reader as he hastily took his leave at this stage, so I changed the mangled smelt for a roach and popped it back into the same spot. 
However, it was the other rod that went next, the responsible party heading under the boat with his prize before I dragged him kicking and screaming to the net. Eked out the last few minutes without any further action and headed home under a mackerel sky, fitting given I'd four out of the five fish on joeys. Bit of a slow session, but in the process I had found a deeper hole that I'd previously been completely unaware of and one that was worth a look at in the future, possibly for an elusive Soar zander. 

As for the lockdown I need to re-assess my options, bearing in mind that there's plenty of people who have not been fortunate as us anglers and have had to give up their recereational activities for the month. Time to sensible I think.

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