The two dropped runs have bugged me, especially after catching on the third run following a change of tactic to a popped up bait. So the plan this time was to further tweak the rigs making them with longer traces so the bait would definitely sit above the weed and try to be even more mobile than before.
The journey down was easier this time as the closed roads had magically reopened and I arrived at the reservoir at 10am on the nose to find it completely covered in thick fog!
Luckily I knew where to start having made a note of the wall markers from the previous session so I barrowed my gear round and set about getting the gear sorted. Two baits went out, one short and the other long and I sat back to watch the fog burn off.
Over the next couple of hours I moved four times with each move being twenty or so metres down the bank. It's amazing how much difference the distance can make to the amount of weed you're fishing over but with the baits popped up I wasn't overly concerned as I felt like they'd be presented and fishing.
One thing to mention with popping up the baits is that I've found that sardines tend to be buoyant while they're still frozen. I'm guessing this is due to air trapped in the swim bladder? So the trick is when you first cast the bait out it will be suspended in the water and as it defrosts it gently drops onto the weed (carp anglers achieve the same effect using pva foam nuggets). It does mean you need to put a fresh bait on with each cast but with sardines being so soft and the casts at Cheddar being long it's not too much of an issue. Plus any old baits end up in the spod bucket!
By now the sun had burnt off all the mist and it was a glorious day with virtually no wind. Terrible conditions for pike fishing but great for sunbathing! To be honest I wasn't too hopeful of a daytime bite and when a dog walker stopped to ask about the camera I was quite happy to sit in the sun and chat - as it turns out, for quite a while...
...so it was a real surprise when at pretty much 1.30pm on the nose the left hand rod suddenly burst into life! Having worked out last time that I was fishing in some really deep water (I was counting anything from 14 to 18 seconds before a 'donk' was registering on the rod) I had a suspicion that my 'strikes' were a little weak so I after registering that there was movement on the braid I absolutely banged the rod skywards making it almost bend double - and fish on!
I did wonder if it was a big ball of weed on the braid as it really felt like I was dragging in a dead weight but as a long dark shape moved into the shallows it became apparent this was a nice big fat pike. A bit of a tussle in the shallows and it was in the net, happy days! After such a good fight the pike was puffed out and was very docile on the unhooking mat, a bit of a godsend as the banks at Cheddar are concrete steps meaning you have to either unhook the fish in the net (always tricky with a 42" net and two sets of trebles...) or transfer the fish up above the wall.
This fish felt bigger than last weeks and although I didn't weigh it (the priority being to get the fish back in the water asap) I'd give it around 16lb or so which is a bit of a result! Resting the fish in the margin, it kept up it's docile appearance but gave me a massive shock by suddenly shooting off into the depths! Seeing it move in the clear water close to the bank was quite something...
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, despite the spot on looking conditions moving into dusk. Maybe I wasn't on the fish, maybe they just weren't hungry, who knows? As the sun slowly fell behind the horizon I made one more final move and cast but it wasn't to be so I packed down slightly disappointed not to have got another chance but incredibly chuffed with the fish I'd caught.
So that's it, last piking session in the UK for a while now! I'm glad that I found the time to do a couple of sessions at Cheddar Reservoir, it was amazing not to have blanked on such a sizable tough water and the promise that there maybe bigger fish to be had will definitely see me heading back this way sometime in the distant future...