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Phil Spinks- March 2019

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Phil Spinks- March 2019

My pike rods have been put away now until next winter as it’s now the end of the traditional fishing season. Last time I wrote about my fishing I mentioned some success I’d had around Christmas time catching three pike over 20lb, the third 20lber being my 49th ever 20lb pike.

I’ve had a few more days piking since then and I don’t mind admitting it’s been a struggle at times but I will mention more about that later.

While sitting behind motionless drop off alarms recently I was feeling fairly sorry for myself but then as I thought back about my fishing in the last year it hasn’t been bad at all.


Last spring like most springs I started off with some gravel pit roach fishing, I had been well any truly spoilt the previous spring time with some mega catches of big roach, although it was definitely more challenging I managed a few nice roach including two more over the magic 3lb.


The carp rods came out later that spring and I wasn’t at all disappointed numbers of 20lb carp saw my net, several 30lbers up to 39lb 2oz and two 40lb+ commons  came my way.


Once the rivers opened up in June I was on a mission for big rudd, I drove and walked miles last summer exploring different fenland drains and rivers I believe I caught 26 rudd over 2lb up to 2lb 15oz and then finally I caught my first ever 3lber at 3lb 2oz. To say I was pleased would have been a massive understatement!

Normally I spend a fair bit of time targeting big perch in the autumn, I had a couple of trips catching several nice perch just shy of 3lb but was side tracked by zander.

It was nice to return to the fens and catch a few zeds including fish to 11lb 4oz. A difficult day on Grafham water didn’t end too bad with a 10lber coming my way.


This winter was all about pike fishing. Winter pike fishing is something I really look forward to each year. There’s something special about watching either a pike float slide away on a cold winters day or the drop off alarm clipping out.

A trip down to Chew valley lake in Bristol was slow to say the least, I managed one bite in two days and caught the fattest small pike I’ve ever seen if only she was twice as long.

My 50th ever pike over 20lber was looking like it may have to wait until next winter. I had one more days pike fishing planned on a large lake near to home.

I decided to take both lure and dead bait rods. The plan was to let the dead baits have a good soak while I chucked lures around to past the time. A couple a small jack pike grabbed the lures, but the drop off alarms stayed silent.

Around mid morning what looked like it had to be number 50 inhaled my line through roach about a rod length from the bank! I watched I all happen in crystal clear water, it looked awesome as it flared its gills and grabbed the lure!

I called to my mate Dan who was fishing about 50 yards up the bank telling him it looked every bit 20lb. After the recent mild spell it looked like the pike had spawned early this year, and it was a close call so I asked Dan to read the scales. Close but no cigar at 19lb 14oz, I was more than pleased especially as I watched it take the lure.

Every couple of hours Dan and I would move swims to keep cover more water. A few more small pike hit our lures. I finally received my first bite on a dead bait and another long lean big headed pike of 17lb was caught. No sooner had I put the rod back on the same spot it was away again with an estimated 12-13lber.


Dan’s dead bait rod was away next and unbelievably it was the 19lb 14oz pike from earlier. The pike had traveled several hundreds of yards from where I had caught it. And fully respect goes to Dan for unhooking it quickly without putting the fish through any unnecessary stress and getting it straight back. The honest truth is it probably weighed 20lb on the second capture as it had Dan’s whole herring in its mouth.

I think karma played a part that day and my drop off fell one more time that afternoon. And at 23lb 6oz I caught my 50th ever 20lb pike.

It was again a spawned out pike that would have easily weighed 25lb+ a few weeks earlier but I was over the moon. I felt I had achieved my target for the winter and felt happier about putting the pike rods away until next winter.

Now that the itch had been scratched regarding 20lb pike I had a little bit of time to try and catch a chub or two before the river season ended.

The pike obsession had taken over and my chub gear had become fairly redundant until now. One of the attractions of chub fishing for me is that if you only have a few hours fishing it’s quite often long enough for a few bites.


I was pleasantly surprised to catch several chub from both the river Waveney and the Wensum. In fact one evening I have 7 chub from one swim. I won’t start ranting about otters but they have definitely had a huge impact of the chub stocks on our upper rivers and some stretches seem devoid of chub. But as I mention it is nice to still catch a few chub.

I didn’t at all expect to end my river season as well as I have. It was my final roll of the dice so to speak on the chub fishing. A fairly laid back approach by my standards. Those who fish with me will know I normally like an early start.

But I decided to drive over to the Wensum on my day off after I’d dropped Alfie off at school. The previous day it had rained heavy and the river was rising nicely. The down side was it was gusting 40mph winds that made watching a quiver tip fairly difficult. I doubt I made my first cast much before 10am. After fishing 4-5 different swims i hadn’t as yet bothered any chub. Although seeing and gentle bites would have been fairly impossible as the quiver tip was blowing all over the place!

I finally settled in a slightly more shelter swim and soon missed my first bite. At least I knew I had a chub in the area now so I sat tight in that swim. Although the river was rising it was still fairly clear water. I have always preferred bread flake in slightly clearer water, and cheese paste when it had some colour or after dark.

When I struck into my first proper bite the fish felt big straight away. Hugging the river bed swimming up river, it then decided it liked the look of some bushes on the far margins. I could see the chub mid river at this point as it pulled back hard trying to reach the snags. It looked huge, but having not caught many big chub this winter I thought I may have been over estimating how big it was.

It’s moments like this when you pray all your knots are perfect and that every part of your set up is 100%. When the chub rolled in my net I knew it was something special. I rested the chub safely in the net while I prepared the weighing gear and camera. At 7lb 2oz it was a new pb chub for me and what a fish it was. A perfect example of a huge Norfolk chub.

I carried on fishing that morning not caring if I saw another chub until next season, the weather took a turn for the worst and I left the river at around 2.30pm soaked through but caught another 3 chub including fish of 5lb 4oz and 5lb 10oz. Never have 5lbers looked so small!

The perfect end to the river season for me. I’m now anxiously watching the weather forecast in the Netherlands as I have a trip to Holland planned later this week after monster perch. I’ve been looking forward to this trip for some time and I hope I can share some good news when I return.

Tight lines

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