Simon Ashton recently returned from a guided trip in Holland after catching the fish of his dreams.
Here’s what the top specialist angler had to say:
The previous days of the trip had started off well. I had managed seven perch to just under 4lb, with a few good zander thrown in, fishing shads in depths of up to 6m.
On the last day, we decided to navigate to a new area we heard had produced a couple of big fish earlier in the week.
Fishing over a large structure I bumped a fish second cast, but kept on casting, knowing the next one could produce one of the really big pike that were rumored to live here. As the minutes and seconds ticked by, I was beginning to think my chance had passed for another year.
I swapped tactics and worked a heavier shad down the deep slopes. On the second cast, I felt a tiny pluck and, suddenly, the rod buckled over! At first, the unseen predator didn’t move apart from a slight head shake, so I wasn’t even sure what I had hooked until Willem shouted, “It’s a big ‘un!” At that point, I didn’t realise I was attached to a 4ft long pike that was about to give me the best scrap I’ve ever had!
Inch by inch I pulled her closer to the boat without a single run or dive. Then, out of the blue, she popped up and revealed herself, just within netting distance. My friend ‘Shoey’ did his best to scoop her up, but the fish was having none of it. A flick of the tail and down she went again, back to the bottom of the riverbed and under the boat. At this point, I could feel the braid rubbing against the hull as I tried my best to gain control.
At one point during the fight I was only holding onto the butt of the 7ft spinning rod with one hand, as the fish totally flattened the rod and pulled the whole rod including my hand under the water as I hung over the side on the boat. The clutch screamed under the pressure as the fish shot past the outboard, narrowly missing the prop. All I could do was hang on and pray everything would hold. Every time I gained a few metres she would go on another run. The deck at this point was pure carnage, with rods and tackle everywhere!
Another few minutes passed and, with our guide on guard with the net, this time I had the pike within arms reach. It was now or never. One scoop with the net and she was mine at last!
The sheer size and magnitude of this fish had just set in, as we gazed in amazement in the afternoon sun. It was an absolute monster that left me an emotional wreck. On the scales, they eventually settled on just over 37lb. Smashing my previous personal best by over 10lb!
On the way back to the marina we stopped off at one last perch hotspot and was rewarded yet again with two new perch PBs in the space of 20-minutes. A 4lb 12oz and a 4lb 9oz signaled the end of the finest day’s fishing I’ve ever experienced.
I’d just like to say a massive thank you to my guide, Willem Stolk, who runs River 7 Guiding services.