08/03/2022 - Snappers and sore knuckles

Could have done with coming a week ago for me, but at least the spell of dry weather we are experiencing now means that the local rivers will be fishable for the last few days of the season. However, with some fining down quicker than others it still meant that I had to think about what I want to achieve in the limited time available. 

With the Dove and the Derwent still a bit high for my liking I settled on another morning pike session on the Soar where the fresh, Easterly wind would at least be at my back. Having learnt from dropped baits and lost fish on the previous session I tweaked my rigs, incorporating some low resistance run rings on the lead link, and tied on new traces made up with some new, extra "sticky" Mustads. I'd also come across a video by a very successful Danish Pike angler called Jens Bursell about his "skating hook release rig" here, developed in order to increase hooking efficiency. Basically the trace is attached to the deadbait using bait spikes so that the trebles remain free. This means that a casting link must be used, so perhaps more suited for fishing stillwaters where you are sitting out for a big 'un. However, the principle of reducing the number of hookpoints buried in the bait looked sound so I decided to incorporate it into one of my traces as a trial. 

After a bit of experimentation in the garage I decided that I would head or tail-hook the bait as normal with the top treble, but the bottom treble would be free and, as I didn't have any bait spikes, held in place with size 8 with two prongs snipped off and opened out to 90 degrees. Tension would be provided with an elastic bait band so that the trace lay nice and straight along the flank of the bait.  Suitably armed I therefore headed off this morning, having  first scraped the ice off the windscreen of the van. However, the sun was already rising into cloudless sky when I arrived, so it promised to warm up provided I could stay out of the wind. 

Walked up to the start of the straight and soon had two baits out in the near margin, a smelt upstream and a lamprey on the experimental rig downstream. Was fairly quiet for the first half hour with just a couple of lady crews out for an early morning row to disturb me, the blades of the second boat cutting the water within inches of my floats despite my polite remonstrations.  Despite this, a few minutes after they had disappeared back upstream, the downstream float bobbed a couple of times and started to trundle off. My strike was met with some token resistance before the responsible jack allowed itself to be pulled straight into the waiting net where the hooks promptly fell out. 

He was also kind enough to give me back my lamprey section, so it was re-hooked and sent downstream again. Had a repeat performance on the upstream rod a bit later - another jack and hooks spat out in the net again. Seemed they were just holding on long enough for me to land them! Moved downstream and was just in the process of positioning a bait over on the far bank when I was honoured with a phone call from the one and only Dai Gribble, former Drennan Cup winner and the best angler I know. My bait therefore ended up sitting in mid-river instead while we discussed the highly immoral subject of feeder fishing for grayling (effective too!). Was therefore surprised when the float disappeared within about 10 minutes and I had to hastily hang up. This one was properly hooked with the half mackerel well down its throat but, from the point of view of my experimentation, was unfortunately on the normal trace. 

In between waiting for bites I was treated to a raptor-fest, including four buzzards, two kestrels and a red kite  - the closest I've seen one to home yet. Moved downstream again, this time placing a smelt out in the middle of the channel by design rather than accident. 

A couple of unexpected narrow boats had me doing the hokey-cokey with the rod, but shortly after I'd repositioned it for the second time the float in mid-river again developed a life of its own and headed off for Kegworth, resulting in another Soar snapper. Blanked in the next swim despite my utter conviction that the lamprey on the marginal rod would go sailing off, so swapped it for another smelt when I made my final move of the morning. After a biteless hour it appeared that it had gone completely dead, when the downstream float finally disappeared. This one put up a bit more of a fight and didn't give up once it was on the bank. Hooked fairly and squarely by the bottom hook on the experimental rig it needed a bit more attention with the long-nosed pliers. However, in the process it decided to do a death roll, shredding my knuckles in the process! Long and lean in the net it looked worth a weigh, but failed to scrape into double figures. 

Time up I made my way back to the van - again it was nice to catch a few, but quality had eluded me once more. Jury's out on fancy rigs as well - I'll probably just stick the hooks in the bait like everybody else next time and strike harder! What next? Decisions, decisions!


  1. If you ain't bleeding you ain't piking.

  2. Interesting ideas on the rig - and some nice pike, they can’t all be monsters!