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STEVE Rowley’s ‘piking in the edge’ feature in this weeks Mail really struck a chord with me.

I’ve had some of my biggest fish – including a couple of 30 lb-plus pike, out of the edge. The first quite early on in my piking career – over 20 years ago.


A nice 30 lb-plus pike out of the edge from Ardingly Reservoir in the early days.

It certainly isn’t a tactic, as Steve says, that’s restricted to small waters either, where you could argue the fish are ‘never very far from the edge anyway’.

Back in the late 80s, Ardingly Reservoir in West Sussex was a pike mecca – a former trout water, spanning around 190 acres. It produced a good few 30s when it first opened but as the seasons went by their numbers dwindled, as is so often the case. Pike really do thrive on neglect – not pressure.

A few seasons on, it was still being fished regularly for the very odd 30 and some decent back up 20s, and baits were often discarded at the end of the day. And the pike had tuned into these extra meals of mackerel, smelt, sardine etc that were coming up for grabs. Just as Steve says they do.

I lived nearby and had seen all the ‘big boys’ suddenly arriving on my doorstep fishing four matching pike rods set-ups complete with ‘back biters’ etc, spread out across several yards of bank. And it had been all been a bit daunting.

But I’d got a bit of big pike kit together and had become quite keen. I had also been tipped off that a few fish were coming into the edge at night!.

I had bumped into the odd decent fish to mid 20s, and we had chuckled at the fact that that if you cast out in daylight, you would wind you bait all the way in to almost your rod rests, before letting it settle, to keep this little ‘edge’ to yourself!

One particular Saturday I’d been up at a wedding all day in London and got back to West Sussex just before midnight, it was pretty mild so I announced to the girlfriend that I was off out piking – like you do on a winters night!

I grabbed some gear, drove the five miles north and was soon quietly pushing my ‘sticks in and lowering a couple of swan shot legered smelt a few feet away.

Bobbins were carefully balanced against the weight of the bait, as we knew the pike didn’t always swim off with a deadbait. Some just munched it on the spot, and I wanted to know as soon as a bait had been picked up. The line was lightly clipped into homemade line clips and the bale arm on the reels opened.

Just before dawn I had a take, and as I wound down what was clearly a big fish was soon bow waving along the shallow margin.

It wasn’t long before she rolled over the draw chord and it was one of the big girls, much bigger than I expected. In fact she bottomed my 30 lb scales out, and another anglers 32 lb Avons!

After winding the scales back, we settled for 31 lb 8 oz, I just wanted to get her back figuring she was an old fish.

A few weeks later a mate landed the same fish from the other end of the reservoir and weighed her at 34 lb on ‘bigger’ scales.

I learnt a valuable lesson during that period about nicking fish out of the edge and have full confidence in the method today, but you do need to be quiet, especially getting to the rod to hit the take as the fish may only be feet away.


I had this 32-pounder first cast from a margin spot I’d dropped some oily sardine chunks into.

I’ve since nicked another low-30 out of the edge on a local lake that I had an invite to fish.

I was lucky enough to get two days every other season to fish on there, and on this trip I’d popped some oily sardine chunks in under a bankside tree that I fancied, a couple of days earlier, to try and draw a big pike in.

Returning early in the morning, I swung a float legered sardine out, just on the edge of the cover, rested the rod on the deck, tightened up to the Polaris float and clicked the reel into free spool. The bait was hair-rigged to a size 1 single hook.

I set about tackling up a livebait rod and before I knew it, the float had slid away and the Baitrunner spool was ‘ticking’.

I pulled off a foot or two of line as I double-checked everything before winding down and then went for it.

I remember the 2.5 lb Tri-Cast simply buckling over as what was clearly a big fish tried to kick away. First cast and I had nailed one of the big ones.

On the scales she went 32 lb 6 oz! To cap the session off I added a 24-pounder later the same day from the lake next door.

Fishing in the edge IS a great method on the right water, just remember that stealth is key!


The new issue of Angler's Mail magazine is in shops from Tuesday, December 10. Be sure to get your copy!

The new issue of Angler’s Mail magazine is in shops from Tuesday, December 10. Be sure to get your copy!





X-FILES ACTRESS GILLIAN ANDERSON. I could stop there, but it’s even better that she’s supporting the third Fishlove campaign. See her on page 3 of this weeks issue with just a conger eel to cover her modesty.

VENUES OF THE YEAR. Don’t miss the Angler’s Mail Best Venues 2013 special feature. It’s a 13-pager.

THE CRABTREE CAMPAIGN. I really hope the new initiatives on page 8 and 9, bring more newcomers into the sport.




LEAVES. Every time I wound in at the weekend I had leaves over my rig. They’re on the bottom, midwater and on the surface!



Great winter carp tips by Yateley Angling Centre.