By Andrew Kennedy
2005 arrived, and with it my first serious piking sessions of the
season. The deadbait rods came out to accompany my lure rods as
I prepared for what shall hopefully be a very successful Autumn
and Winter's pike fishing.
Sometimes pike can seem like one of the easiest fish to catch, but
very often they can seem almost impossible to catch. Just when you
think you've got the species worked out, they turn things on their
head and leave you scratching yours. If you haven't pike fished
before, but would like to have a go, then please first go with an
experienced pike angler, the main reason for this is pike welfare.
Everything from the timing of your strike to the unhooking of pike
must be done correctly because an angler can pose a serious risk
to the pike's life if they do not know what they're doing.
I can tell you that already this autumn I've had some success with
my piking, but to find out exactly how I've fared, you shall have
to read on!
Due to the inconsistency of the weather, I have fished a variety
of venues with my regular fishing partner, Matt. The first trip
out saw me trying out a new one-treble wobbling rig which I'd invented
(more on that in a future article). Within a couple of casts I'd
hooked my first pike on the rig, wobbling a roach deadbait. Unfortunately,
the hook snagged on the rim of my landing net and the fish shook
free of the hook, inches from the bank. Not to worry though, I'd
not been fishing long and I'd already proven the effectiveness of
my new rig. Because of its design, the rig enabled me to recast
my mangled bait and soon I had follows from another two pike and
a big perch. As I was about to have another cast for the perch,
my alarm sounded on the static deadbait rod and I struck into a
fish of around 5 pounds. My first pike on a deadbait since February
was on the bank and I was more than pleased.
first pike on a deadbait for the 2005/06 season
this fish, I decided to change my setup around. I used a lures instead
of a wobbled deadbait, and instead of my legered static dead, I
cast out my wobbling rig freelined, with only two swan shot pinched
on the trace for weight. About half an hour after casting this out,
my drop-off indicator moved and I connected with what was obviously
a much bigger fish. After a couple of powerful runs, the fish came
up to the surface and I saw it's awesome length! I also saw that
my one treble hook was lodged right in the corner of the mouth -
or "in the scissors", so I gently teased the fish towards
my landing net and hoped it wouldn't make another dash for freedom.
My luck and my nerves held and I stared down at a stunning double-figure
pike. The fish went 14lb 9oz, and was my second-largest pike of
the season so far (beaten only by my spinner-caught 15 pounder).
stunningly marked, very long 14lb 9oz Pike
couple more smaller fish followed this one, after I moved swims
hoping for further action. I went home that night a happy man.
The next session came around and Matt and I decided to give some
drains a try. After a ridiculously early start, we got to our first-choice
swims to find them completely devoid of any sizeable pike. I managed
to coax a small pike into taking a bare single hook! I jigged a
barbless size 4 single hook (on a wire trace) in front of a fish
I'd seen in the marginal weeds. It was purely out of intrigue that
I attempted this! Just as the pike started to move towards the hook,
another one came out of nowhere and snatched the bare hook! Much
to our amusement! I hooked it cleanly in the middle of the top jaw
and the fish was released quickly. We decided to move on, but Matt
had a couple of worms in his bag, in case any large perch were feeling
hungry. After a few small perch, a good fish was hooked and I landed
yet another 2lb perch for him! The photo came out well, so here
just can't stop catching 2lb Perch. Even on Pike sessions!
We stopped off at another small drain and both had some action on
lures. I had a double-figure fish take a swipe at my lure, inches
from the bank! It missed and slowly sank away into the murk. We
moved once more and set up the deadbait rods again. We shared a
further 5 small pike and each lost a fish too. I even had a pike
attack the orange top of my float as I was reeling in! Despite me
trying to catch it with my goldfish-coloured lure, I didn't see
the fish again. The largest fish of the day fell to my paternostered
smelt. I was using a home-made pike float and the fish was around
8lbs. In a future article I shall describe in detail how to make
several types of successful pike floats yourself.
On a day where we were hounded by
small fish, this 8lb Pike was the biggest
The next session saw me land two fish of around 6 pounds within
the first hour of arriving on the bank in the middle of a downpour.
One fish took a legered roach deadbait, the other took a float-paternostered
sardine. Once again, I used a float I made myself. I'm currently
readying 15 new floats, which I shall be using for the remainder
of the season. Matt also landed a small pike on a deadbait during
the morning. I'd been trying lures for a good while, with no action
whatsoever. Then I clipped on a new lure I'd just purchased, called
the Micro Rooter, made by Fox. It's a small jerkbait which is light
enough to be fished on medium spinning tackle. The body of the lure
has no action, but the rubber tail wiggles enticingly in the water.
The one I have is yellow and green, and was completely different
to the natural-coloured lures I'd previously been using. Almost
instantly I had two different pike attack and miss the lure. Then
a few casts later I hooked and landed a pike of around 5lbs. Unfortunately,
the paint had cracked on my lure by this point, which was most disappointing,
although I landed a further two pike on this lure, followed by a
pike and a 1lb perch on my favourite spinner - the Mepps Aglia Long
Matt, meanwhile, had a couple of dropped runs, where the pike had
picked up the bait, moved off a little way with the bait in its
mouth, then dropped the bait without the hooks penetrating. This
was beginning to frustrate Matt, but his luck was about to change.
After a tearing run, Matt struck into a fish which headed straight
under an overhanging tree. The fish stayed deep, fighting more like
a barbel than a pike - using it's weight to lead Matt a merry dance!
After a few minutes the fish was beaten and I slid the net under
a large fish. At 15lb 14oz, it was a new personal best for Matt.
We were both, unsurprisingly, elated.
a beauty! Matt displays his new personal best Pike
To follow up a trip which yields a personal best is always a tough
prospect, so we decided to try yet another venue - our 4th in as
many sessions. I had my own personal goal for this session. I had
constructed two lures and I hoped to land a fish on either of them.
If I did, then I would consider the day, and my many hours making
them, a success. Here is a photograph of my first two DIY lure designs,
but will they work?
first two attempts at home-made lures
out my deadbait rod, I couldn't resist having a few casts with my
new lures. I hadn't even tested if they swam yet! Luckily, with
a few minor adjustments, I managed to get both lures working reasonably
well. After a few casts with the silver monstrosity, I felt a familiar
bang as a pike inhaled the lure. The fish wasn't huge, but I was
battling it in disbelief that it had actually taken a fancy for
one of my own creations.! So, all the proof I needed that my lure
worked was right in front of me. What a feeling it is to catch a
fish on something you've made yourself!
seems I got the menu right with one of my lures!
Around an hour later, on my legered deadbait rod, the line was pulled
from the clip on the drop-off indicator, signalling a take from
a pike. A little line was pulled from the baitrunner and I stuck
into a heavy fish. I hadn't had a fight from a pike quite so powerful
in a long time. At least 3 strong runs were made by the fish as
it tried to head towards the dying lilies in the margins. As I eased
the fish toward the net, I could see that it had a good girth. I
began to get excited when I lifted it from the water and realised
it was at least fifteen pounds. I quickly unhooked the fish and
rested it in my landing net in the margins, to get its breath back
before I weighed it. To my delight, the fish weighed in at 16lb
1oz, which made it my first pike over the 16lb mark in 5 years 9
months! I have caught plenty of doubles, but for the past few seasons
15lb has seemed to be my limit. This season is already shaping up
to be extremely successful for me - both in numbers and size of
pike caught. Here is that 'sixteen'.
largest pike for over 5 years - 16lb 1oz
As I was battling this fish, Matt landed a smaller one of around
5lbs. The fish had another angler's trace down it's throat, with
the hooks obstructing its digestive tract. This illustrates perfectly
how vulnerable pike are to inexperienced anglers. It is impossible
for a pike to swallow if it's throat is tied together with discarded
hooks. This fish was lucky, as we managed to remove the trace completely
- giving the pike the chance to fight another day.
I had a couple more on lures (though sadly, manufactured ones, not
my own) and a small fish on a paternostered deadbait. Matt's swim
went dead, so he moved further down the bank. After a couple of
hours where neither of us had any action, Matt spotted a swirl in
the water, close to a shoal of roach. He decided to investigate
by dropping a bait right in that spot. Twenty minutes later, I got
a message on the walkie-talkie that he was into a really good fish.
I wound in my rods and headed down to his swim with my camera and
scales. The fish was recovering in the net after a dogged battle,
when I arrived. The pike was probably no longer than my 16lb fish,
but the girth was unbelievable. Although both of us suspected the
fish might make twenty pounds, neither of us dared say it! the fateful
weighing process ensued, resulting in a final weight of 18lb 6oz.
This fish completely eclipsed the personal best Matt had set only
a week earlier! Beating his old best by the best part of three pounds,
this was a special fish for us both to witness - Matt especially.
PB! Just a week after
breaking his pike record, Matt did it
again with this chunky 18 pounder!
I shall keep you updated on all my winter exploits, continuing what
has so far been a season to remember for me. Besides pike, look
out for the DIY tackle tutorials and my future session chasing winter
chub in the quest for my first over 6lb.
As always, you can email me with any questions or comments. Thank
you to all of the people who've emailed me so far. By the sound
of it you're getting some admirable results too!