End of season pike fishing trip on the Avon

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    After being office bound all week and looking forward to the break in the weather this weekend it was going to be my last opportunity to get out on my local river before the annual river fishing season came to an end. Due to meet Nick and Byron at Saltford weir on the river Avon near bath at 0630 it appeared we were eager with anticipation all arriving on the bank early. Kitted up and ready to launch at 0600, it was a frosty morning with clear skies and a light breeze. We had timed it well with the sun breaking the horizon as we launched our first kayak. With no heavy rainfall for over a week the river was running at a slow steady pace, allowing us to make good progress upstream and reach Saltford Weir before the sun had fully risen. Widened to allow for its lock gates and boat mooring Saltford Weir is twice the width of the main river channel allowing sufficient room for all three kayaks to be anchored without impeding each-others casting range.

    With conditions perfect and expectations high the first cast of our lures were made. With impeccable timing as soon as the first lure hit the water the sky clouded over and the first drop of rain fell. Undeterred we fished on as the rain grew heavier and the winds began to pick up. During the first hour Byron hooked into a small fish in the slack water close to the lock gates, which was lost after a short fight.

    Fishing the main channel in front of the weir the closest Nick and I got to a hit was when a large tree trunk came over the weir and struck the back of our kayaks. Luckily the Channel Kayaks Bass and Pro kayaks we were using were able to take the weight of the trunk until I was able to untangle it from our anchor ropes, if I had been using my old glass fiber kayak I think I’d have been swimming for the bank, time for a move.

    Moving away from the weir towards the narrowing river channel, the flow increased noticeably, assisted by the run off from the heavy down pour we were experiencing. Drifting downstream we used small 0.75kg grappling anchors on a short rope to trip the bottom and slow our drift. Using weed free rubber lures Byron had the advantage over the rest of us and it wasn’t long before he was into another small pike which was quickly unhooked and released at the side of the kayak.

    It wasn’t long before we had drifted back to our launch point the rain was pouring and a bitterly cold wind howling. At this point a sensible angler would call it a day. As Byron and Nick paddled to the side and abandoned their kayaks on the bank to take shelter in the car I anchored close to the bank opposite our launch point. Having fished from kayaks for the past six years and never blanked I was determined to have one last cast. During the next sixty minutes I had many last casts, cold and shivering my Gul winter wetsuit was no match for the cold winds, I was starting to think that it was a poor decision to leave my Gul touring dry cag at home. A highly technical windproof cag it may be but it wasn’t going to keep me warm 20 miles away hanging in my garage. Maybe the thought of fishing on was another poor decision?

    After a very long difficult hour the cloud finally broke and the sun began to shine through. A quick dry of my face and hair with the towel from my dry bag and I was feeling a little better. With the lads now stood on the side of the bank signalling for me to come in (I had promised them lunch in a nearby pub) it really was time for my last few casts. With the water now a little coloured I changed from Yo Zuri minnow to a good old fashioned Shakespeare big S in a perch pattern fitted with smaller size twelve barbless trebles to reduce weed pickup. First cast resulted in a plastic bag which was placed in the rear of the kayak to be disposed of later. Second cast was a long cast down-stream and slow retrieve using the current to push the big S down. Within moments of starting my retrieve I felt something hit my lure and immediately drop it. Gutted that I had missed my only take, I put it down to the smaller trebles and so increased my retrieve rate intent on packing up. Within metres of reaching the kayak I had another hit and this time I was in. Using the current to its advantage the fish stayed low and made two good runs down stream. After a good fight the fish finally came to the surface and slipped into the net. It was no trout reservoir monster but at 9lb.10oz it was a good healthy river pike. After a quick picture for the camera it was released back into the water to go spawn the next generation.

    All packed up and cleaned down it was off to the Riverside pub in Saltford for lunch and an opportunity to plan our next few trips. As one season comes to an end another will always be starting with many trout waters opening their doors earlier this month and for those looking to venture out to sea, black bream move into inshore waters as the weather warms around the end of April which signals the start of many summer species returning to our coastlines. There are opportunities to fish from your kayak throughout the year as long as you plan wisely. Follow our blog throughout the summer as we target black bream with Andy Smith from total sea fishing magazine, as well as fly fishing for trout and even carp fishing from a kayak.

    Tight lines and sorry for the late post – I had to leave for a family holiday the day after this trip.


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