The date was Sunday February 22nd, 2009. The forecast was good and I intended to be up and on the road by six in the morning. I opened my eyes at, er, 7am!
Not a good start but I arrived at Boddington at 8am and to my surprise, on checking the notice board, there were no matches booked for the 22nd.
This was only my fifth visit to Boddington, but I have come to expect at least one match. With the lack of other anglers as well, I reckon that I had about 200 yards of bank to choose from.
My first choice was be easy, but as it turned out, this would not be the right one on the day.
Peg 38 had been very lucky for me in the past. On New Year’s Eve I had a personal best pike of 16lb there. I decided to set up next door on peg 36 and spent the next four and half hours without even a line bite.
Reluctantly, I decided to move. Not my usual tactics, but there was only one angler fishing on the dam wall and he was on peg No1. I decided somewhere in the middle would do nicely.
My right hand rod was boated out about 90 yards with a popped-up trout. With the left rod I decided to cover as much water as possible, so I set up a float rig and spent the next two hours or so drifting on the light breeze at depths from three feet to a maximum of seven. I covered water from the wall out to 30 feet. Still no knocks. It was starting to look like another blank.
I had decided the day before that I would stay till dusk. At three thirty I made the decision that I would put the left hand bait back on the bottom. It was soon ready to cast out, the seven-inch herring deadbait had been under my float for a couple of hours, and it still looked okay. But where to place it?
To be totally honest the bait boat seemed like too much trouble for the last hour or two, so a medium cast just 45 to 50 feet out and slightly to the left of the rod pod as made.
The right hand rod was also reeled in. I checked the trout and recast, slightly to the right of the pod at around 60 feet.
Last cast of the day. Now just sit back and wait for the sun to dip close to the horizon.
By this time most of the anglers that had drifted in during the day were giving it best and going home. One of these was a young guy that I hadn’t met before, but within the next 45 minutes I would need his help to check the weight of the pike and assist in the return. At five past four I was passing the time of day with a chap and his wife when I had two blips on the left hand alarm… this got my attention.
|Steve Davis with his magnificent 40lb pike taken from the dam wall at Boddington
Reservoir on a herring cast only 50ft from the bank.
Within fifteen to twenty seconds the bobbin started to lift – not at any great speed. Just the opposite in fact – it was so slow.
I passed comment to the couple I was speaking to that it was about to drop back down, signalling a dropped take.
How wrong I was. Instead of stopping and dropping back, the bobbin dropped off. Here we go….
The fish seemed to be moving away in slow motion. I remember thinking: ‘That’s just about far enough mate!’
I picked up the rod wound down to take up the slack line and lifted into the fish. To my surprise, when the line tightened and I made contact, the rod seemed to stop abruptly.
My first thought was that I had hooked the bottom. After taking up some more of the line, I applied a fair amount of pressure, and this time I felt a small amount of movement at the end of the line. I was suddenly very focused.
I began to think my New Year’s Eve 16-pounder was about to be up-graded. I was hoping it would go 18 lb, or dare I hope, 20 lb? But let’s not get ahead of myself here – I still have to land it!
The fish, whatever the size, did not want to come off the bottom. I don’t think I have ever put my rod and line under this much pressure. I reckon it was the best part of five minutes before I made any headway.
There was no run as such; it just did not want to come to the surface. The first sign that I was making headway on it were two or three very large swirls in the water. It still had its head down and it was coming up tail-first.
By now I was a little concerned. I had never had a pike fight this way. Numbers started jumping through my head that ranged from twenty to thirty pounds, until its head came up about six feet from the net, at which point my heart rate must have doubled.
Her head was at least the size of a very big dog!! My language got a little interesting at this point, and I had to apologise to the very nice couple who by this point were stood with their mouths wide open. As I drew this monster over the net her nose reached the spreader block and about a third of her length wasn’t even in yet!
But with a bit of ‘net wrangling’ she was in!
I stood looking down into the net thinking: ‘God! This could go thirty!’ I had never seen anything like it!
Now I switched into unhooking mode, lifting her clear of the water, up the steps and on to the unhooking mat. It was at this point she decided this was not where she wanted to be and proceeded to give me a damn good tail slap!
Quickly covering her head, she soon calmed down. Unhooking was straightforward too – one single hook in the bottom of the mouth, forceps straight in and the bait was out.
I now covered her head whilst I sorted out the way sling. The sling I had bought for big carp was just not big enough! She was 47” long and about 18” longer than the sling; talk about make it up as you go along!
I would have to weigh her in the unhooking mat, which luckily has handles, taking care she didn’t slide out, because even when I wrapped the matt around her she was sticking out both sides.
I recovered her head so as not to spook her, taking the weight and lifting steadily.
I could not believe my eyes when the scale went passed 30 and just kept going…. 45lb 10 oz! I zeroed the scales and lifted again: “Sh*t!! It was right the first time!”
The couple luckily were still with me and the chap kindly offered to take the photos, after which I shouted to the young piker, mentioned earlier, who checked the weight and deducted the total weight of the mat including the cloth which came to exactly five pounds making her 40lb 1oz. Wow!
He then held on to the pike’s tail while we walked back down the steps and lowered her back in to the reservoir.
She took four or five minutes before she let us know she was ready to go and she left at about the same speed that she came up off the bottom – real slow, but strong as an ox.
My young helper for the weigh check and the return was Stuart Wilson. Many thanks for his assistance and for being a witness.
After the pike had been returned we were both in a bit of a daze.
I remember saying to him: ‘Did that really just happen?’
We checked the camera. Yep. It definitely did.
I think I was in shock for 24 hours and I don’t think the buzz will ever go away.
Also thanks to Rob Drake for all his tips and encouragement over the last six years. This bloke is a top rod, just what anyone new to pike fishing needs. In fact without Rob’s guidance I would not be fishing for pike. Cheers mate!
It’s weird though. Although I’ve caught a 40-pounder, which I know is every pike angler’s dream, I feel I’ve missed too much in between. So my next target is a twenty.
Rod: Ron Thompson Pike, 2.5lb test curve
Reel: Okuma Undertaker
Line: Nash 15lb Bullet XT
Trace: Drennan 28lb Soft Strand
Hooks: Fox Carbon Size 6 Semi Barbed
Bait: Seven-inch herring deadbait