Gravel Pit Piking and the First trip of the season to the Fen Drains.

17 Feb 17

Big Pit Piking

December has been a very busy fishing month for me with many hours spent on the bank piking and a couple of social sessions for the carp thrown in for good measure. I finished up carping at the beginning of November and did a couple of day sessions for pike on the local pits at St.Ives Lakes Fishery just to get in the swing of things but didn’t really get my teeth into the piking until the start of December. I managed to acquire a winter pike ticket for some very large gravel pits nearby that would make a perfect place to fish when the Fenland drains were out of sorts and probably held some decent pike as well which is a bonus.

Sunset on the Big Pit December 2016

First trip down to one of these pits which is well in excess of 100 acres was a pretty miserable wet and windy day but i managed to find a sheltered bay which looked perfect for a first recce session. Arriving at first light I soon had 3 legered baits out, one on a bluey, one on a smelt and one on a nice plump roach. Just as I sat down to relax and put the kettle on the Bluey was away with a lovely looking low double. The action was on and off like that all day with 6 fish landed and 3 coming off with the fish all been between 5lb and 11lb. Nothing massive but encouraging enough to plan another trip the next week!

Typical stamp of the Pike in the Big Pit


The next couple of weeks were fairly productive with at least 3 or 4 runs per day fishing dawn until dusk and most bites coming to the blueys which over the last couple of seasons have become a really reliable bait for me. Still nothing really decent landed though with the biggest around mid-doubles but it was still lovely to be out 2 days a week in very peaceful surroundings to say the least. I tried a few different areas of the lake but the more sessions I did the less productive the fishing seemed to become and the last session I fished on the big pit before I was going on the St.Ives tackle winter social at Fenland fisheries Willow, I managed to blank with my dad for the whole day despite it looking like we should have had a bite or two! Never mind, I now had to get my carp head on for our winter social but would return to the big pit piking on Boxing Day with the old man.

Lovely hard fighting double

Social on Fenland Fisheries Willow

We had nine of us booked on Fenland Fisheries Willow for 24 hours on the 18th December  so we could have a winter social for some of our team members and I’d looked forward to this for a while hoping that someone could winkle a couple out. The weather wasn’t too bad for us, pretty mild for December really and dry which is always a bonus. Meeting at the car park we drew for swims with number 1 getting first choice and so on. To everyone’s amusement I managed to get number 1 and my bro number 2, everyone else assuming it was a fix of course!! We had a walk round to decide where we were all going to go, having a laugh and general piss taking as we went. Nothing much was going on until we all got on the tree bank and a nice fish showed between pegs 3 and 4. My choice was made easily, peg 4 it was and naturally my bro went next door in peg 3!

Willow, Fenland Fisheries December 2016

Small white pop ups with tiny pva pags of maggots were soon winging there way out there in the general area of where I had seen the fish show and a few spods of crushed casters and maggots over the top for good measure. By 4 o clock the light was fading and other than a couple of liners the lake went pretty dead, probably in some part due to all the sudden pressure of 9 of us rabble leading about and getting sorted! The main thing on our minds was to get some food sorted so nine kebabs were duely ordered from Earith Tandoori and bloody good they were too, extra chips and chilli sauce of course as well, washed down with about 10 cups of tea. Happy days.

Simple maggot tactics on Willow failed to work!

Well the kebabs were definitely the highlight of the session as nothing much happened at all for our 24 hour stay other than a few more shows in the middle area of the lake and Giles losing one in the corner of Peg 6. Everyone still had plenty of fun and laughs, just a shame the fish weren’t playing ball! Not been easily beaten I even returned on the Wednesday with our Saturday boy Matt for another 24 hour session but a similar end result with fish showing over me all to no avail. Never mind, back to the piking!

Boxing Day Piking

Traditionally our family has always gone fishing for the day on Boxing Day, so with Dad accompanying me this time, we headed off to the big pit, back to that sheltered corner I started at on my first trip down. With 2 rods each, we were soon settling down for a first cup of tea when dads float fished smelt zipped off from the margins with a pretty 8lber on the end. A great start to the day and it sure beat the boredom of all the Christmas madness. Despite the wind been bitterly cold the action was pretty good on my legered dead baits with 5 decent pike falling to them, some really nicely marked ones but sadly no monsters with a low double been the best. Although I’d enjoyed the fishing and tranquillity of the big pit, the size of fish had been a little disappointing and the urge to have a bash on the Fen Drains again was becoming too much to resist, and the chance of a real croc. I would definitely be heading to the drains for the next trip.

Boxing Day Double

First Trip of the Year to the Fen Drains

The first trip to the drains couldn’t have been much colder really with a lot of them frozen over as I arrived with a friend Brett at first light. Brett had never caught a pike or been piking before so we headed to a known Roach holding area that they have matches on in the hope that at least a few small ones would be about. Most of this small drain was frozen over except an area down stream of an inlet which was keeping just enough flow on it to prevent it freezing over. A few roach were topping in the half light and even the tell-tale swirls of jacks chasing them around could be made out which was very encouraging!

Bretts first Pike on a bitterly cold December morning

Brett took the opportunity to have a go with his new lure set up , casting out a Savage Gear line through Roach while i set up some float fished dead bait set ups. I hadn’t even got a dead bait on and Brett was into a small jack straight away. A short fight and his first pike in the bag, happy days. Time to get my float fished Bluey out there and just as I plopped it in on the far bank against some Norfolk reeds Brett had another one on the lure rod, slightly bigger this time. Just as we took a quick snap I turned round to see my float zipping up the drain and disappearing. A decent fight and a lovely mid double soon slipped into the net, she was in great condition and made a great pic with the heavy frost in the background. It was a mad 15 minute feeding spell and showed the importance of been there at first light as by 8 o clock it was all over! 

Mid double and first bite from the drains


The sun was well and truly up and bright by mid-morning which really slowed the fishing up although I did tempt another nice scraper double on a dead Roach at mid-day and a small jack from the margins. The main feeding spell was very short at first light and despite staying until dusk nothing else occurred. It was going to be another very cold night and as we packed up the braid was all freezing in the rod rings and the drain was beginning to freeze up in front of our very eyes! We’d both caught fish in less than favourable conditions so left feeling pretty happy. I did manage another day trip out before the end of the year on another local gravel pit but other than one dropped run, the day ended with a blank. Another trip to another section of drain in the New Year would definitely be in order and January turned out to be a pretty eventful month on the fishing front but I’ll save that for the next blog time.

Mid day nibble on a small Roach dead bait

Tight lines and be lucky