Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Wednesday, 12th December, 2007

view from UptonlimestoneI'VE DONE very little drawing this month; these are sketches made at Upton in the railway cutting through magnesian limestone that I described last month (Tracks through Time).

I've been putting a great deal of effort into a proposal for a project which sadly got turned down so I haven't been out much but one Saturday morning this month Barbara and I managed a walk around Newmillerdam.

As we came out of the woodland at the top end of the lake we walked by an angler who had just caught a fish - a large one to judge by the splash it made. His friend came to help him with the landing net; it was a pike.

One angler carefully disengaged the hook from the pike's mouth, while the other held the fish steady. I stepped in and supported the net, which had got caught up with the line.

caveThe fish weighed 16 lbs, twice the weight of a new-born baby. This grey, still and slightly misty morning was evidently a good one for fishing as the two anglers had arrived only 10 minutes earlier, in fact the second angler hadn't even had a chance to cast his line.

It sounds like a fisherman's tale but the angler told me that this was the second fish that he'd caught in that small space of time and, as in all angler's tales, the one we didn't see was even bigger: 17 lbs.

pikeWe watched as the pike was gently released. It gave a powerful wriggle and cruised off into the depths, reminding me of a miniature alligator. It had small but very sharp looking teeth so I'm glad it wasn't me who was having to deal with that fish-hook!

It's surprising that so many coot and moorhen chicks survive at Newmillerdam when you consider that these large pike must be continually cruising around below the surface.