I went fishing yesterday, not because it was a particularly good day to go fishing, but because I got a chair and some nifty attachments for Christmas and it was driving me nuts not having been able to play with them. I’d checked the BBC weather forecast the night before and it actually looked quite promising, relatively mild, sunny intervals and just a little intermittent cloud.

Of course I was going out to do the wrong kind of fishing, I knew that when I arrived at the tackle shop on Sunday morning. The car park was full of very business like 4x4 vehicles and the shop was full of olive green and camouflage clad blokes examining enormous lures and obviously planning a serious campaign of pike fishing.

I waved my maggot box hopefully at one of the two ladies behind the counter and she took it doubtfully, warning that all they had was a few whites left over from last week. She gave me a box full of maggots for free, mixed whites and bronzies and watched me toddle back to my car with a pitying shake of her head.

Of course I’d like to go after the mighty Esox myself, but as every recent issue of a popular angling weekly reminds me, pike fishing isn’t for amateurs. It should not be entered into rashly, unadvisedly or to satisfy man’s piscatorial lusts. Beginners should never attempt to catch one unless accompanied by a set of enormous forceps, a pair of long handled pliers, and a grizzled veteran piker. Besides the same publication had advised me to ‘Get on the grub’, because the humble maggot was ‘setting lakes on fire’ the length and breadth of the country. Was it too much to hope that I might get the lake to smoulder a little armed as I was with a box full of freebie maggots?

The short answer was yes. When I arrived there were two other hardy fellows already set up at the side of the lake, bright orange floats bobbing amongst miniature ice floes. I noted that they had also got on the grub, so perhaps I was in with a chance of a fish after all.

“Any luck?” I enquired, “Nothing, not so much as a knock all morning,” was the somewhat disappointing reply. Maggots it seemed were not exactly ‘taking the lake apart’ that Sunday morning.

Only slightly disconcerted I set up my own gear and started fishing. Two and a half hours later I’d not had so much as a knock either. When my fellow anglers announced that they’d had enough and were going home for Sunday lunch, warm in the bosom of their respective families, I was more than a little inclined to follow suit, but that would mean blanking! I wasn’t happy about that; my determination to stay just a little bit longer was reinforced shortly afterwards, when my float bobbed. That’s all it did mind you, just one little bob, then it settled back to its former state and sat there mocking me.

It’s amazing, but that little bob, that one tiny indication that there was life under the surface of that murky brown pool was enough to dash any thoughts of sloping off home early, there was at least one fish there and I wasn’t leaving until I’d caught one.

And catch one I did, eventually. Justification and validation in one small silver package, five and a half hours and six quid well spent. Small doesn’t really cover it though, minute might be more appropriate, had I actually been seeking the mighty Esox, I’d probably have discarded it as too small even for live bait!