Friday, 30 September 2011

We're off to Kettering for the PAC Convention

Not long to go now - just 24 hours, if you're coming to Kettering for the PAC Convention tomorrow.

A night of arm-ache, sweaty lifts and the odd expletive for the happy band of PAC roadies, who are heading up today to help traders get set up and check the beer's OK.

It's looking good, with the best part of 30 trade stands, ranging from big names to independent rod and lure makers - click here for latest list.

We'll be posting the odd update to let you know how things are going. Or you can follow us on Twitter - if you've not already joined, just set up an account, which takes all of 30 seconds at, then follow @pikelines for all the latest from the event. Tweet us with the hashtag #pac.

Follow us on the day for info on when speakers are starting, when the bar's open etc.

Directions to the venue via a map here. If you're using a SatNav or mobile phone app, it's in Thurston Drive, Kettering - postcode NN15 6PB.

Doors open 9am, first speaker Dave Horton and the junior workshops both kick off at 10am. Click here for the day's programme in full.

Remember, the event's for all pike anglers - you don't have tio be a PAC member to attend.

Advance thanks, by the way, to all the helpers who've volunteered their time to help us set up or give a hand with all the countless tasks that need doing on the day.

Thanks to all the traders for continuing to support us, despite the economic gloom. And most of all thanks to everyone who's coming along to the event, whether you're a regular or a first-timer.

We hope you have a great day - and go away fired up for the start of another season's pike fishing, wherever it takes you and whatever ends up in your landing net.

We'll be announcing the venue for next year's Convention towards the end of the afternoon.

And in case you missed it. click here for a few tips on how to get the most from the day.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

New look Pike Anglers Club website

Webmaster Mike Skipper's been beavering away down in deepest Sussex re-designing our website to freshen up the look and add some new content.

There are new issues of Pikelines to download, new articles and tips on pike fishing. Big hat tip to Skip.

Click here to see it.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Subscribe to the Pike Anglers Club by e-mail

Got a BlackBerry, an iPhone or an Android..? If you pick up your e-mails on a handset rather than a PC or laptop, you can get info straight from the horse's mouth, straight into your inbox.

All you have to do is sign up to subscribe by e-mail - and make sure you click on the link in the confirmation message, which will probably end up in your spam or junk mail folder.

Once your account's confirmed, you'll get an e-mail every time we update our blog, formatted to look just peachy on your mobile.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

How to get the best from the PAC Convention

If you haven't been to a Pike Anglers Club Convention before, you're in for a treat. It's the biggest and best event of its kind on the UK predator fishing scene, which is why so many see it as the best way to kick off their season.

But PAC Conventions can be a bit daunting to newcomers, because there's so much going on. So here's a quick guide to how to get the most from the event - which is open to all, you don't have to be a PAC member to come along to pike fishing's showcase event..

Get there early's good advice. The venue's in Thurston Drive, Kettering NN15 6PB. Key the postcode into your SatNav or mobile app for directions. Click here for a map from the venue's website - it's 15 minutes' walk from Kettering station for those travelling to the event by rail.

There's usually a queue before the doors open at 9am for a good reason - seasoned bargain hunters know the second-hand lure and tackle stalls do a roaring trade right from the off, so the first through the doors get the pick of what's on offer.

Bring your own kit to sell, if you've got any reels, rods, luggage, lures or other odds and ends you no longer use. Especially popular are Baitrunners (particularly the US-style), ABU multipliers (particularly left-hand wind 6000 and 5000 models), electric outboards, Delkims and any hard to find lures.

Mint, boxed lures command best prices. But time honoured favourites like Burts, Replicants, Shad Raps in unusual colour schemes and Landa Pikkos that have seen some use will also sell.

To save time, download and print off seller's form and stickers from the info library section of our website here, to give to stall helpers on the day.

If you're buying, examine any reels or rods carefully before you part with your hard-earned. Check the gears are smooth and the handles aren't bent on fixed spools and multipliers. Bail arms should snap shut with a turn of the handle, while the spool should re-engage first turn on a multiplier.

Give the spool a spin on multis, to check it rotates freely in free-spool (casting) mode. If it doesn't, it could mean a bent spindle - sometimes caused by pointing the rod at a snag and pulling for a break using strong braid.

Check the eyes and reel seat on rods before you buy, along with the spigots or overlap joints for excess wear.

It's worth bringing a backpack or bag to carry any small purchases you make - stick a plastic lunchbox or two in to carry lures safely.

Haggle - some sellers are willing to do a deal. Remember whether you're buying or selling that a percentage goes to support the work of the PAC.

Check out the programme and plan your day so you don't miss the speaker you've come all this way to see. Click here for line-up and times.

One reason the venue's been so popular is the food's reasonably-priced - it's a chips with everything hot buffet, so lunch shouldn;t break the bank. But queues do build up around lunchtime.

Several authors will have stalls selling their new books or current works. They're more than happy to sign them. You can bring books from your collection for people to sign as well.

It's free admission for accompanied juniors, and admission to this year's programme of junior teach-ins is also free. Any youngsters joining on the day at the reduced price of £7.50 get a 'goody bag' with kit worth more than twice that thanks to Pikepro/Baitbox, who are generously sponsoring this.

Please consider joining the PAC if you're not already a member. Anyone who signs up on the day gets a £5 discount, to reflect different admission prices for members (£10) and non-members (£15).

There wouldn't be a Convention without the traders who continue to support the club. We've got a good line-up again this year, ranging from one or two big names to independent rod and lure makers. Click here for full list.

One of the great things about the Convention - in this age of the internet - is it gives you the chance to try before you buy, and handle tackle items before you hand over your hard-earned. Almost all of our traders are pike anglers, who actually use the stuff they sell, so don't be afraid to ask questions.

While some may be able to accept payment by card, others will only be able to accept cash for payments - so make sure you bring enough folding stuff, as there's no cashpoint at the venue.

Please try to have the right money to hand on the door, as it helps keep the queue moving and get everyone into the venue in time to have a quick nose round the stalls before the talks begin.

Remember we're all volunteers and a lot of people are giving up their time to help us run the event, by staffing stalls, helping out on the door and doing all the other 101 things that need doing on the day. It's been virtually a full-time job at times for Convention organiser Colin Goodge.

The PAC Committee, speakers, traders and our army of helpers hope you'll have an enjoyable day and go away inspired to start your season. 

We'd like to thank the incredibly accommodating staff at Kettering Conference Centre for putting up with us on our third convention at this superb venue.

We aim to move the event around every three years, so we'll be off to a different part of the UK next year. We'll be revealing the venue for Piking 2012 towards the end of the day. Work on organising the next Convention will start almost as soon as this one ends.

+++Follow @pikelines on Twitter for all the latest in the run-up to the event and on the day. Tweet us using the hashtag #pac.

Just a week to go...

Friday, 23 September 2011

POLL: How good's the pike fishing going to be this winter..?

There's a drought on in the Fens. The rivers are clear as gin elsewhere.

And to cap it all, they reckon we're heading for another freeze-up, with one forecaster predicting snow as early as the end of October for parts of the North and Scotland.

So the question everyone's asking is will this winter be any better than the last one on the pike fishing front..?

Can things get any worse than last winter, when many waters were frozen solid for weeks on end - or do you think things can only get better, results-wise.

Add your vote to our poll over on the right. And let us know how you think the winter will pan out.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

PAC Convention programme in full

Here's the full order of battle for the Pike Anglers Club Convention at Kettering Conference Centre on Saturday, October 1:

9am - Doors Open, Annual Members' Meeting

9.45am - Welcome Address from PAC President Tim Kelly

10am - Guest Speaker Dave Horton (main theatre...), Junior teach-ins get under way in Eric's Room.

11.05am - PAC Award Presentations, draw for Menteith events and competition winners (main theatre...)

11.30am - Coffee Break

11.45am Guest Speaker Micky Jones (main theatre...), Junior teach-ins continue in Eric's Room.

12.50pm Lunch is served

1.50pm Auction and Mega Raffle

14.45pn Guest Speaker Stephen Harper (main theatre...), final junior teach-in in Eric's Room.

15.50pm Coffee Break

16.15pm Neville Fickling's Pike Panel

17.15pm Closing Speech and thanks from Convention Organiser.

15.30 Close.

If you're using a SatNav or mobile phone app to find the venue, it's in Thurston Drive, Kettering - postcode NN15 6PB. Click here for a google map you can use to get directions.

British Pike Squad team selection 2011

Mark Groom, with one of the fish that helped earn him a place in the British Pike Squad

They throw wobblers every year, when they do battle with their old rivals, the Irish. But before the gloves come off and the deadbaits and the banter fly in earnest, there's the small matter of deciding who's going to represent their country in a unique pike fishing show-down, when the two nations meet in Ireland in October 2012.

Welcome to the world of the British Pike Squad - a die-hard band who have perfected a uniquely mobile way of targeting predators. Two weeks ago, they held a a two-day Team Selection Final, as hopefuls slug it out in deepest Lincolnshire.

With 30 miles of drains to choose from, how can you show your skill in locating pike and your watercraft when it comes to catching them..? That was the question facing the band of hopefuls scanning the Sibsey Trader, near Boston, and the West Fen drain on day one. Squad PR man Peter Timmis takes up the story.

The Sibsey Trader was clear with plenty of weed and lily’s to hide the elusive pike, the West Fen was by far a much bigger water and far deeper, writes Peter. Below the sluice the water was clear with lots of weed cover but above the sluice the water looked much deeper and far more coloured with not so much weed.

An early start saw us all move off at 10.00am; we would then fish until 16.00, plenty of time to find where the pike were. Mark Groom (Northamptonshire) and Paul Higginson (Cumbria) went up the Sibsey Trader to areas that are rarely fished.

Jon Harcourt (Worcestershire), Rob Cook (Worcestershire), Peter Timmis (Stoke on Trent), Stuart Parker and Louise Hunns (Wisbech), and Jakub Potrykus (Cheltenham) stayed around the Golf club area, had they some knowledge that they were not sharing?

Up the main West Fen, some-one was landing a fish, looked decent from afar, Derek Lowe (Cumbria) had one fairly quickly and things were looking good.

Glenn Neave (Norwich), Roy Rushbrook (Norwich), Andy Waller (Worcestershire), Adam Holmes (St Neots) and Wayne Leese (Oxfordshire) were busy around the sluice gates, Wayne latched into a fish of around 5lb – 6lb only to see it roll and shed the hooks, fuur baits quickly hit the water around where he had lost it, but this fish was not stupid and was not to be caught.

Glenn Neave and Paul Danby (Derbyshire) had found an area of pike that seemed to be queuing up to be caught, one after another in such a short stretch of water, lady luck was smiling.

Meanwhile Adam Holmes and Andy Waller decided that they would see if it was possible to walk the 30 miles, how they expected to catch any pike only god knows, truth be told they only did to Boston and back and then up another 3 mile up the trader and another 3 mile to a tiny drain that ran off the Trader.

First cast and Andy Waller was into a small jack of 2lb, Adam Holmes very soon after was also into a fish only to strike into nothing. Andy’s 4th cast was into another fish, this drain was full of tiny Pike 7oz upwards and up but to his surprise latched into a fish just under 5lb, this drain looked good, bank side evidence showed someone had been here earlier but did they go all the way down?

Gary Edwards (Derbyshire), John Currie (Norwich), Steve Roberts (Norwich), Pete Watson (Cumbria) and Ian Johnson (Cumbria) all seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth but such was the extent of the water we were fishing it was hard to try and keep track of everyone.

News was filtering back that Mike Brookshaw (Cumbria) and Mike Fretwell (Cumbria) was catching on the Trader, Louise and Stuart had walked up to the first bridge and crossed over to fish the other side, Louise had 2 fish to 10lb with over 2 hours left, Stuart was adamant he had only two small jacks (complete fabrication of the truth of course). The end of the first day came too soon.

Day two saw proceedings adjourn to the South Forty Foot drain, a big water which looked very daunting.
Static dead baits could be the order of the day but this is not what we do, its sink and draw or the odd lure.

We had three miles down the drain and approximately the same upstream, Adam Holmes had googled the maps and found a small fen running off the main drain, a long way up and risky but could be worth it.

Andy Waller and Adam Holmes went on their hike and walked for nearly an hour before they found the small fen, Adam fished the outlet and almost instantly struck into a fish of about 6lb only for it to spit the hooks, Andy meanwhile had 3 takes on the small fen and had a small jack of 2lb 6oz.

The water downstream was the local course match water and a number of the competitors headed that way, several anglers or more thought, “course fish = pike” only time would tell.

Paul Higginson was way up stream looking for some of the big fish that would see him into the team, they would surely be in this water, a fish of 38lb was known to have been caught right at the end of the match water.

Peter Timmis, Steve Roberts, Mark Groom and John Currie soon caught Andy Waller and Adam Holmes up, Andy was rooted to a corner of the small drain which met up with two smaller ones, it turned out he had lost a 9lb fish in that swim.

Adam was soon into fish, not big at 7oz but they all count. News was that only two pike had been caught on the main drain, without doubt this was going to be a crueller, or so we thought.

But Paul Danby, Louise Hunns and Gary Edwards were picking up a decent stamp of fish on the main drain.

Jakub Potrykus had a small jack of 2lb and followed up with a pike of 3oz and 1 of 1oz, a record surely and this would also turn out to be very important at the end of the match.

Peter Timmis (pictured right) tagged along with Paul Danby, Louise Hunns and Gary Edwards, a smart move as he hooked into a pike which would, if landed, cement his place in next year’s team, giving the fish time to turn the bait he struck into the fish only for it to hit the surface and spit the bait, what else could go wrong, so close yet so far. He cast out again and the fish hit the bait like an express train, no need to give this one any time he thought, it’s well and truly hooked, a short fight ensured and the fish was safely netted, weighed and returned.

Mark Groom was doing his best to pinch first place from Paul Danby but for all of his efforts could only manage 5 small pike, 3 under a pound.

Steve Roberts, who was still on the small fen wobbled a smelt under a footbridge and was rewarded with a jack of 2lb; this would certainly guarantee his place in next year’s team.

Paul Higginsion, still on the main drain, had found a few fish which had bumped up his weight, but would it be enough?

Stuart Parker was in panic mode, Paul, Gary, Louise were all catching fish on both sides of him and slowly but surely he was dropping down the list, was this to be another year he missed out?

As the match finished at 4pm, news came in that those that had walked had all caught reasonable fish (Adam Holmes and Andy Waller excluded). No one knew who had done what, all was soon revealed and this turned out to be one of the closest selection finals for many years.

Total fish caught day 1 = 116

Total fish caught day 2 = 35

The overall results and the team to face the Irish in Ireland next year are as follows:

1st Paul Danby (Derbyshire) 54lbs 3oz;

2nd Mark Groom (Northamptonshire) 34lbs 6oz;

3rd Gary Edwards (Derbyshire) 30lbs 3oz

4th Louise Hunns (Wisbech) 25lbs 8oz

5th Steve Roberts (Norwich) 21lbs 5oz

6th Glenn Neave (Norwich) 21lbs 4oz

7th Peter Timmis (Stoke on Trent) 20lbs 10oz

8th Stuart Parker (Wisbech) 19lbs 2oz

9th Mike Fretwell (Cumbria) 18lbs 15oz

10th Jakub Potrykus (Cheltenham) 18lbs 4oz

1st Reserve John Currie (Norwich) 18lbs 1oz

2nd Reserve Andy Waller (Worcestershire) 15lbs 3oz.

"Many thanks to Boston Angling Association for allowing us to use their water and in particular to Barry Mallet without whose help this close competition would not have been so rewarding for all," added Peter.
"Thank you to everyone that turned up, its just a shame that day two did not fish as well as day 1 and thanks to all the BPS committee for all their hard work in staging this event - roll on next year and this years International in Peterborough when we will be winning GOLD."

For more on the British Pike Squad, click here for their website. And click here for a piece on their unique method of fishing for pike.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

PAC regional meetings diary

Hat tip Andy Webster, who runs the Pike Angler website. He's put together a list covering stacks of regional meetings going on up and down the country, as the season gets under way.

They're in Pikelines and many regions have their own blogs, but this is probably the first time anyone's sat down and crashed out a complete list. Click here to see it.

The rest of his website's well worth a look as well, espcially if  you're from the East Yorkshire area.

PAC Convention traders latest

You might think we'd struggle to attract the usual number of traders what with all the recession doom and gloom.

But the latest word from organiser Colin Goodge is we've got nearly 30 large and small attending this year's show at Kettering, on October 1.

That means there'll be a hall full of tackle to browse and stock up on all those essential bits and pieces for the season ahead - along with stacks of books and other pike-related stuff.

Fox are bringing along a large tank, so you can try out their lures and see their action before you buy. And we're not sure if they're trying to tell us something about the kind of weather we can expect this winter, but we've also got an ice fishing guide coming over from Canada.

So far, the list looks a bit like this...

Fox International, Vale Royal Angling, the Tackle Shop (Gainsborough), Zoota Lures, Franglais Fishing, Dave Garner (lures), Dave Lumb Specialist Tackle, Baitbox, Pikepro, Eddie Turner, Coch-y-Bonddhu (books), Derrick Amies (book), Karen Sarkar (art), Zandervan, Chico's Lures, the Pike Shop, Dave Smith Ultralures, Esox on Ice, Bob Buteaux, Fenland Pike (book), Graham Booth (book), Mick Brown (book), David Miller Art and Catfish Pro.

Don't forget we'll also have the second-hand tackle and lure stalls - if you've got a few jerkbaits too many or a couple of old rods you no longer use, why not bring 'em along to flog.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Start your winter at the PAC Convention

Mick Brown - who'll be helping out with junior coaching at the convention

There's no better way to kick off your winter campaign than the Pike Anglers Club's convention.

That's the message from Britain's top predator club, as it gets set for this year's bash at Kettering on Saturday, October 1.

"It's going to be a great day out for pike anglers of all ages, with something for both seasoned hands and beginners," said organiser Colin Goodge.

"We've got some top speakers, all the latest kit and everything you need to get your winter off to a good start."

New attractions include a programme of free junior teach-ins the PAC hopes will inspire the pike anglers of the future.

Top names like Mick Brown, Gord Burton, Eric Edwards and Denis Moules will be showing the youngsters everything from how to tie a trace, to how to make their own lures.

There's plenty for the grown-ups too - including speakers Dave Horton, Micky Jones and Stephen Harper for starters, in the 500-seat theatre at Kettering Conference Centre.

There'll also be stalls with all the latest tackle - including for the first time a tank where you can check out the actions of the latest lures from Fox. Bargain hunters will be making a beeline for the secondhand tackle and lure stalls.

Mick Brown will also be launching his new book Mick Brown, Professional Pike Angler.

There's free admission for accompanied juniors - and a free "goody bag" of tackle essentials for those joining the club on the day, at the reduced price of £7.50.

Supporters Pikemaster and Pikepro will be donating a pair of forceps, float, lure trace, twin treble trace and other rig bits worth £20 for every junior who signs up on the day.

The Convention is being held at Kettering Conference Centre on Saturday, October 1.

Parking's free. Doors open 9am. Admission is £10 adult members, £15 non-members. For more information see the PAC website,/ or follow @pikelines on Twitter.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Rod licence fee frozen for three years

Rod licence fees are set to be frozen at their present levels for thre next three years, it emerged today.

But while the charge for an adult licence will remain at £27 until 2014, predator anglers who routinely use three or more rods will still have to buy two.

Full story here.