The last fishing day of the year was traditionally spend with friends on the so called last pike-fishing trip.
This time we picked one of our local streams on the border with Germany as our venue.
The task at hand was simple, try to catch a pike and conclude the day with dinner at the restaurant
of the local watermill.
The mill was quite old, built in 1610 and still used for power generating.
In the good old days they used to hang people on a nearby hill on a main trading road that went
from the Netherlands to Germany as a warning to evil doers, yep the good old days.

At first my friends did not want to purchase the license for the German part of the stream as the
mill pool was crowded with local anglers.
I on the other hand always liked mill pools and was eager to get the license, my take on the 
situation was "there might be other anglers but can they fish :-)"
So in the end we did get the licenses and started fishing the mill pool.

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There was a steady flow of water pushing through the stream, as with most local streams higher than
usual after the steady downpours this month.
I had also seen this stream having clearer water than on this day but the visibility was good enough to catch fish.
At the outflow of the flow I noticed the shallowness of this section.
I was rather surprised I felt some what I call "ground movement" which indicated that a predatory fish 
was present, I just could not connect for a second time.

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The watermill, anno 1610.

The lack off success soon drove my friends to greener pastures and one by one they were heading
off into the forest to fish the Dutch side of the stream.
With the pool now vacated except for a few local anglers I tried my luck in the front section of the 
pool and was soon rewarded with a little pike - mission completed.

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Pike.

I moved up even further in the pool on a tricky part of a sandbar as I did not know if the accumulated
flotsam there would carry my weight.
The sand did not give away and now I had a shot at the deeper water under the weir.
After a while I noticed that my fly was stalked by a pike but it failed to strike so I had to pester the fish
to provoke it and in the end it did attack the fly, pike nr. 2 of the day.

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Pike.

Off course this pike action had not gone unnoticed and before I knew it I had two anglers next to me
tossing lures and a dead bait.
It did not bother me as I knew before that the place was a zoo even in winter time because of the 
adjacent restaurant.
Before leaving the crowds and entering the forest to fish the Dutch part of the stream I headed back to
the outflow of the stream where I had my first fish contact of the day.
I know concentrated more on the slack water and surprise a little pike was calling that spot home.
Pike nr. 3 was a fact and although small a fish was a fish.

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Pike

Off course it was nice to catch the pike but honestly I am not a particular fan of pike-fishing.
The mill pool had a reputation as a prime perch spot but as everybody who lived there fished the
pool these fish where extremely difficult to catch with artificial lures, they had seen it all.
I entered into the woods on the Dutch part of the stream that had undergone some major renovation
several years back.
The stream had been straightened in the thirties and was looking more like a canal than a stream.
There had been tampered with the stream even hundreds of years earlier as they rerouted the water
to a different river systems than original to make it shippable for small boats.
The renovation work consisted out of digging up old meanders and removing steep weirs by cascading
rocky sections.
The stream now had very steep banks and loads of structure, all in all a more natural look.
In one of these pools I had another fish contact and this time it was a healthy looking river perch
of a pretty decent size.
The long net came in handy and so I landed fish nr. 4 of the day.

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Perch.

I fished the remainder of the stretch with no success and as I spotted footsteps in the sand deposited
by the recent floods I knew I was not the first time to fish those spots.
For pike fishing though that made no different as we often jokingly said you had to first wake the pike up
before they struck which was often the case on outings with more people.
My friends told me that even on this day 4 guys fished the same spot and nr. 5 eventually caught the
the resident pike out of a particular pool.

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Rebuild section of the stream with the nature preserve.

The stream on the Dutch side was a tad narrower than on the German side and with the increased amount
of water I had the feeling that I fished not deep enough.
I could have changed to a sinking line or a weighted polyleader but I figured the murky water prevented
me to see any snags on the streams bottom which I figured where plenty.
As I had never seen the stream above the mill pool I opted to send the remainder of the daylight hours
to scout out a new part of water.
The section above the mill was wide and flat and I missed signs of fish and could not see any features
that I wanted to fish so I only made a few exploratory casts.
On the plus side I spotted a blue kingfisher shooting past me, a very pretty bird which I yet have to
photograph as they are too darn fast for me to take a decent picture.
Sometimes Kingfishers can be observed fishing or nesting but even then it is difficult to photograph them
without any mega zoom camera.
I walked quite a distance along the stream but could not find any interesting to fish in the current conditions.
What I did found interesting was some movement in the nearby cornfield and what I thought was a stray
dog turned out to be a roe deer.
After closer inspection I noticed there where at least five of them moving about.
I was off wind but I could swear they smelled my socks as they got up and stared at me.
Eventually they moved off so I could only take some pictures at maximal digital zoom resulting in
grainy pictures.

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Roe deer

As the sun slowly went down I headed back to the mill pool.
In the meantime my radio went dead so I could not track were my friends had gone off too but
I suspected they where still searching their way through the now dark forest.
It was a bright idea to make a reservation for a table in the restaurant as the place was pretty 
packed.

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Generator driven by the mills wheel.

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Dark wheat beer, Weizen Dunkel.
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Pork chops, the Jägerschnitzel variant.
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As it was the last trip of the year, dessert ... called Wintermagic - Winterzauber, fried almond, walnut
and ice cream.