WELCOME TO this week’s Big Fish Blog, coming to you here every Thursday. This time it’s by the Pike Anglers Club.
We take predator fishing seriously at the Mail, so are delighted our pals at the PAC are on board. This instalment comes from PAC general secretary Alan Dudhill.
We hope you enjoy the blog, and share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the icons above, or by the “old skool” method of telling fellow anglers! Feel free also to comment by using the special space at the bottom on this page.
PIKE AND PROPER PIKERS DO A LOT FOR OUR SPORT
FIRSTLY, many thanks for the kind words of support we’ve received from Anglers’ Mail readers. Good to see anglers from other disciplines praising our members for the charity, educational and conservation work they do.
We’re very proud of what we do for all angling. Pike anglers can sometimes be seen as outsiders and ‘stunt pullers’. This blog gives us the opportunity to dismiss this myth and demonstrate that the majority of pikers are very responsible and make a vital contribution to the sport.
On this theme I thought I’d cover a little bit about my thoughts on the future of angling and why it’s important that ALL anglers work together in cooperation to secure the future of our sport. I’ll finish off with a few words about how pike can be used to naturally control predator populations and why commercial fisheries are now starting to re-stock pike.
Together, anglers have a much louder voice…
Whether you fish for carp, silver fish or predators, we’re all part of the bigger picture and MUST set our differences aside in challenging those who threaten our ‘shared’ sport. A sport, which is under increasing threat.
We hear about direct threats such as killer shrimp and prymnesium and over-predation by otters and cormorants, to name but a few. However, it is my opinion that the policies and decisions of Government agencies and wildlife organisations are a much greater threat to our sport and indeed are responsible for many of the threats we talk about.
Their policies or failure to act, put constant pressure on our sport and on occasion their naivety leaves us completely bewildered. Quite worrying when you consider these are the very organisations whom we entrust to protect our sport and the wider environment.
After the event, we rightfully have our say and raise appropriate objections, but the horse has already bolted. Does it not therefore make more sense for us to work with these organisations so we can have our say from the start?
We will not get everything our own way but at least our views would be heard and you never know, we may even have some influence on future policies. Fighting battles at local level has its place but addressing these issues at the highest level and at inception, would surely have give a more positive and longer-lasting resolve.
Angling is by far the biggest ‘participation’ sport in the UK, but we have millions of anglers in millions of different clubs. Imagine the clout we would have If we could find a way to work together.
The Angling Trust is the best chance we have ever had in bringing anglers together to fight a common cause. I’ve dealt with many of their officials and have the greatest confidence in their ability to represent us at national level in securing the future of our sport. I’d urge ALL anglers to join the Trust and give them the backing they need to enable them to continue to address the many issues & threats on our behalf.
Why fisheries are re-stocking big pike…
Conserving pike stocks has a positive influence on all fish stocks. The basic principals are simple. The pike’s main predator, is pike. The pike’s diet can be as much as 80% pike.
Remove the bigger pike and the smaller pike are free to run amuck unchecked until some reach a size where they can start to eat other pike and re-dress the balance. This can take several years.
Netting & electro-fishing only serves to remove bigger pike, leaving the fingerlings & small jacks behind, again resulting in a water full of rapidly growing small pike. This suits no one, not even pike anglers.
This is why fisheries have to go to the expense of re-netting every few years. Nature has been controlling pike populations free of charge for millions of years.
Another point to consider is that pike, as well as eating each other, eat other predators such as perch. Perch and other smaller predators actually eat far more fish that a pike, as they’re eating lots of smaller ones, as opposed to the odd larger one.
The absence of pike results in an explosion of perch, as is evident at many commercials where larger pike have been removed. Some perch will also reach massive proportions and become the water’s number one predator. This is only a temporary situation as the smaller pike grow or are pike are re-introduced.
It is only when we interfere with nature’s delicate balance that we have problems. The simple solution is to leave nature to it and make steps to protect the bigger pike so they can get on and do their job.
Lets also remember that most fish will die from old age or disease. Why then are our fisheries not disease ridden and awash with dead fish? Quite simply, the pike and other natural predators are eating them. Dead or dying fish make for the easy meals all predators prefer. The pike is no different, hence why large dead-baits are so successful for big pike.
You can see here why the pike may be attracted to the actions of a matchman’s roach, as its wound in slowly, kicking and struggling. This would also explain why a livebait stands out like a sore thumb amongst a shoal of hundreds of other prey fish.
Of course, some may think that pike will eat all the fish in the water. Clearly, if this were the case, it would not have survived for millions of years and our natural waterways would all be devoid of fish. Far from it! It’s not a coincidence that the best pike waters hold the biggest and healthiest fish stocks.
To distinguish the pike from other predators like the cormorant; pike are cold-blooded and need to process very little food to sustain life. The average pike will eat around three times its body weight per year. A large pike may only eat a single 2 lb bream and will then lay-up for weeks to digest it. A cormorant, as a warm-blooded predator, needs to eat this every single day merely to survive. Not difficult to imagine the devastation caused by a whole flock.
The feeding habits of large pike are very different to that of jacks, quite simply because it’s eating the odd larger meal as opposed to lots of smaller ones. This would also explain why it’s rare for large pike (over say 15 lb) to pester the match man. A small pike may snatch several small roach from a hook before it’s full. This gives the impression that the water is full of pike, which brings about the unnecessary calls for culling.
Pike cannot be completely eradicated from any water. You could dig a hole in the middle of a field and within a few years it will have self-stocked with at least three species of fish, eels, perch and pike. The eel can of course travel across land but pike and perch spawn together and this spawn can be carried on bird’s feet, transferring it from the swallow, weedy spawning areas to the next water source the bird may visit.
Many modern fisheries have started to re-introduce large pike as a successful means of keeping pike numbers down to a minimum. This is the pike’s natural balance. This not only prevents large populations of small pike and the expense of netting, but also provides these fisheries with a source of income during the winter months. Pike anglers will pay handsomely to fish waters, which hold large pike.
It is one thing to set-up a well balanced fishery but quite another to maintain it. Clearly the ecological stability rests on the welfare of the big pike. This is why the PAC is constantly striving to educate anglers to the importance of using pike-friendly rigs and safe methods of landing, unhooking, handling and quick return.The pike may appear to be a tough predator but is the first to go belly-up if miss-handled or kept out of the water for more than a few minutes.
Waters also need to be policed correctly to protect the big pike from being removed illegally, through poaching and long-lines. Once the predator/prey balance has been restored to a water, this balance has to be protected from non-natural influences. This is the only time that nature will need a helping hand.
- I hope all anglers found something of interest in our blog, feel free to contact me directly regarding any of the above firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our new website to see what we’re up to in your area: www.pacgb.co.uk You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.
THE NEXT BIG FISH BLOG WILL APPEAR ON THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 6. A NEW BLOG APPEARS HERE EVERY DAY!
MONDAY: Carp crews on rotation – Korda, Fox, Nash and ACE.
TUESDAY: Steve Collett, Mail contributor and ultimate all-rounder.
WEDNESDAY: Angler’s Mail HQ – yes, us!
THURSDAY: Specialists from Pike Anglers Club, Korum and Pallatrax, on rotation.
FRIDAY: Carl & Alex, Angler’s Mail juniors and video diary makers.
SATURDAY: The Angling Trust – guys at the governing body.
SUNDAY: Colin Mitchell, veteran coarse angler and top journalist