A large wake rippled after each slow strip. The fly settled into the mud. Calf deep. The pike approached, fins flared. Fanning. A twitch and it almost took, darting forward. Bobbing under the rod tip, I moved the baitfish pattern left and then right. Paused. Dragged it in circles, dipped and jigged. The 80 cm shadow mirrored every movement. It left. Unimpressed.
 
The Netherlands is full of pike. In cities, drains, canals, lakes and rivers. A Christmas visit to the Netherlands provided the perfect opportunity to work off some of the food by exploring some small canals and drains.
The waters were shallow. Most no more than a metre deep. And cold. It was odd casting to a submerged weed edge only to have the fly clack onto ice. Magically suspended.
The Netherlands has a great fishing App, Visplanner. It is essentially Google maps with waterways showing as open to fish (in blue) or managed by a club (in red). On the water you can double check with your GPS location. You still need the general fishing licence, purchasable online. Clubs all seem to have online licences making access quick and easy.  
 
The first session was how I had pictured it. A criss-cross of interconnected canals. Bicycle track alongside. Picturesque bridges. The fishing was fun, but frustrating. Plenty of excitement as every so often a fish would follow or swirl near the fly. Six or seven good follows, and only one short nip.
The second session was similar, but slowing things down turned follows into takes. A near neutral buoyancy, six inch baitfish pattern retrieved in a very slow figure of eight. With pauses. It felt too slow. But sure enough, Bump. Bump. On. A pike of around 60 cm churned up the knee deep water. Another landed shortly thereafter. And several more short bumps and takes.
Fingers cold and ready for some more festive food, I headed back.  I cannot wait to try the fishing here in Spring.