A new season dawns folks - the pike fishing season. Here Angler's Mail features editor Richard Howard, who's banked heavyweight 'crocs' to over 30 lb offers some top tips to get your pike fishing off on the right foot.
THINKING about having a crack for pike? They’re great looking predators, especially from clear waters, proper ‘tigers’ with all that camouflage. And being ‘sprint predators’ they can really pull your string.
If you’re new to the pike fishing game, and fancy giving them a go, here’s a few tips and tricks to get you off on the right foot, this autumn and winter.
Make sure you have some good unhooking gear. Long forceps, long nosed pliers – useful for twisting out bigger hooks, and some cutters if you have to snip a hook out. Plus a garden glove or two as well as a decent unhooking mat. Providing you wind down early to set the hooks, they should be pretty easy to get to, to twist out.
2. Find the food fish
If you’re fishing a water that you know contains a decent head of pike, they’ll follow the food fish so fish where you see food fish topping, match anglers bagging, grebes and cormorants diving, and the pike shouldn’t be far away.
3. Target features where the pike can lie in ambush
If you haven’t seen any activity, try and think like a pike, where would you lie in ambush to grab a passing roach or skimmer? Target areas of cover, on lakes and rivers, – overhanging trees, the edge of a marginal drop-off, gullies, deep margins. Pike can literally be lying under your feet, so it’s often a good idea to stay back from the waters edge and target this water first.
4. Bait choice
It’s not a bad idea to try and match your hookbait to the size of the food fish, so sardines or smelt if the food fish the pike are most likely to be eating are 4-6 in roach. It goes without saying that 4-6 in. roach will be good baits too.
5. Sink and draw to find ‘em
Sink and draw fishing can be a great way to find fish. So a smelt or dead roach mounted ‘head up’ on a tandem size 8 treble, 30 lb wire trace, direct to 15 lb mono or 30 lb braid. Cast out and twitch it back alongside the features you like the look of, including marginal drop-offs. You may want to carefully squeeze 3 or 4 swan shot onto the wire trace just below the swivel, for some extra casting weight. Work the bait so that it rises, falls and flutters like an injured fish. And if you feel a pike hit, open the bale arm on the reel, gently tension the line in your fingers to feel for the fish, watching where the line enters the water, and as soon as the line starts to move away wind down tight to the fish and bend into it. Which leads me nicely onto the next tip.
6. Wind down hard
A lot of carpers who have a crack for pike for the first time, don’t realise that you have to actually set the hooks yourself in a pike’s mouth – and it’s literally full of teeth. The opposite to a self-hooking/pricking carp set-up. So when you receive a take, and you can see line being taken or you float moving, don’t leave it. Wind down tight to the fish, with the rod pointing towards it and as you feel the tension increase through the reel handle, sweep the rod to the side or up, to increase the tension further. The pike will try and eject the bait, release it’s grip on it and hopefully your hooks will find a hold. Make sure you keep a tight line after that to ensure the pike stays on. Allowing your rod to absorb the runs and headshakes.
Don’t forget to check out next Tuesday’s Angler’s Mail feature pages to see a cracking 35 lb–plus croc! As well as where to get all the latest pike gear – online fishing tackle superstore Glasgow Angling Centre.