The annual Christmas Pike trip is something I look forward to very much indeed. It's always memorable for many reasons and this year was even closer to Christmas which added to the enjoyment of this festive period.
The day, as you can imagine, is not just about the fish. The company is as splendid as ever. We enjoy a natter, freshly made tea, pork pie and mustard and later mince pies with cognac. This year we were also blessed with suitably chilly weather coupled with a slight north easterly which cut across the Hampshire Avon water-meadows.
The pike obliged. This one was a tad under 15lbs and the fight was full of drama and close shaves. One low double was caught twice and in the afternoon I switched my attention to chub. Trundling a lump of chopped ham and pork to try and tempt something was the order of the day until last knockings at dusk. Two fine chavender graced the net, but only just. The second and biggest of my pair was duly grabbed by a pike in clear water just at the net. It frightened the life out of me let alone the poor chub - I hung on to both fish for about five minutes until the 20lb pike decided to let go.
The startled chub recuperated in my net for a while before I let him go to hopefully dodge being a pikes dinner. The moorhen and water rail which were shyly going about their business looked slightly more nervous than usual.
A lovely festive fishing day, Francis Francis would have been proud - raise a glass of cognac to Christmas and Christmas Pike everywhere!