Red Letter Day

Andy with his 16.4

Andy with his 16.4

Now I’m not a big believer in moon phases when fishing for landlocked fish but as I went to bed on Friday night looking at a big full moon on a clear night with plummeting temperatures, I thought this is either going to kill tomorrow’s fishing or we’re going to have a bonanza.

I’ve been keeping a diary since 1985 and I can honestly say I have never caught more fish or bigger fish around a particular lunar cycle than I have at any other time of the month or year.  What I do know is that if you’re not on the bank fishing, you’re not going to catch any fish, full moon or not.

Up until Friday it had been a relatively mild week but the wind direction had changed to a cold northerly.  I met Andy on the bank at 6:30am with a stiff breeze already whipping up the water.  I have to say at this point my expectations weren’t very high.  My previous 2 visits had only yielded one Pike but with spawning well and truly over I was hoping the Pike were going to be looking to regain some bulk by going on the feed.

We headed down to the shallows, more in the hope of getting out of the freezing cold wind than anything else and came across a nice little sheltered bay.  The water level had dropped the best part of two feet since my last visit leaving three feet of water to fish in.  As we slowly manoeuvered into the bay a fish crashed out of the water among the snags.  A feeding fish so early in the morning lifted our spirits.  We lowered the anchor in the shallow water and fished towards the sunken willows.  After a matter of a few casts Andy was into a jack on a yellow deceiver.  Well what other fly could it be?   Other’s followed until he had landed 5 fish all on the yellow deceiver.  By this time I was starting to wonder what we were doing differently.  We were both casting in roughly the same areas but I was having no luck whatsoever.  The only difference I could think was the fact that I was fishing a deceiver with a deer hair head to keep the fly just under the surface, whereas Andy was using a standard deceiver fished a bit deeper.  Having said that, we are only talking a matter of 6 inches difference in 3 feet of water.

A coffee break was needed so I could just get my head around what was going off and why I wasn’t catching.  We decided to get on the bank, have a brew and stretch our legs.  While on land we decided to have a few casts from the bank.  I wandered one way while Andy wandered the other.  Despite fishing spots that looked like Pike heaven I still couldn’t induce a take.  I headed back to the boat to find Andy had caught another two fish on his yellow deceiver bringing his total to seven fish. It was still only 9:30 in the morning and the man was on fire catching fish left, right and centre.  I decided to have a few casts around the boat before finally, a fish took my green & yellow angel hair baitfish pattern.  It was only a small fish around 5lb but it was a welcome relief to finally get one in the net.  A couple of casts later and I was into a slightly bigger fish before Andy managed to get another.  All this was in the space of a few minutes.  With 10 fish caught this could turn out to be a real “red letter day”.  I then hooked into a fish that was much larger right at the end of a long cast.  After a couple of tail slaps on the surface the fish was gone.  Gutted, I suggested we got back into the boat and continued to fish around the bay.  I then had two more small fish in the next 4 casts.  Things were on the up for me as I had now taken four fish in a short 20 minute burst however I was getting frustrated at the size of the fish we were catching.  I really wanted us to get a few “lumps” so I

Myself with an 18.8

Myself with an 18.8

decided to put on something big and flashy to see if I could attract a big girl rather than a testosterone filled jack.  Maybe something with a lot of flash was needed to bring their aggression out?  I tied on a black sparkler in a 6/0  and what happened next was nothing short of incredible.  My next six fish were all doubles weighing in at 12.10, 18.8, 15.8, 18.8, 15.0 and 13.4 taken on a combination of two flies.  The black sparkler and a red and black Raccoon zonker fly that I have been experimenting with.  It was the most unbelievable spell of fishing I have ever experienced.  During that time Andy managed to bank another two fish including one of 16.4 and I also lost another two good fish that were upper doubles.  Every time I cast my fly into the water I was expecting it to be hit by a large fish.  It was as if all the smaller jacks had run off to hide in case they became fodder for the big females.  The takes were nothing short of explosive and the fishing reminded me very much of fishing for Tarpon among the mangroves.

We ended the day with 20 fish between us.  It’s very difficult to put into words something like the spell of fishing we had experienced.  I have been to places where I have caught more fish in a day and bigger fish too, but I can honestly say I have never had 6 doubles in a row that were in such fantastic condition.

Now the questions is, was the fishing so good due to the moon phase, or were they in a post-spawning feeding frenzy?