Friday, 18 October 2013


After an uneventful and very wet morning session on Wednesday I decided to get out again on Thursday to get my pike fix.

On arrival I could see that the lake had risen about 3" from the previous days rain and although the water clarity was perfect the fishing was very slow.. in fact, it was positively inert with not so much as a follow for several hours. I had my excuse ready and blamed it on the cold rain from the day before; the temperature had dropped dramatically on Wednesday and was only 6°C at 5am.

Whatever the reason the pike just weren't interested in feeding. I knew they were there and hoped that the warm sunshine and mild westerly wind might bring them on the feed later in the day after the water had warmed. As it turned out that didn't really happen so there's only one thing to do when the pike aren't feeding and that's to play on their instincts and annoy them into snapping at a lure.

I loosely call it the shock method when trying to explain it to anyone as you're trying to shock the pike into snapping at the lure, not to eat but to maim, kill or chase it away. The tactic is simple.. get a softbait down deep where the pike are lying and jerk it without retrieving too fast. Another way to do it is to jerk the lure off the bottom a couple of feet and then let it drop back onto the deck on a tight line, the same as when jigging for zander. A lure worked like this seems to grab their attention and they hit it out of pure aggression. It's a risky tactic amongst rocks and tackle losses are unavoidable but you've got to get it in their face so you just have to live with a few lost lures and leaders. As the pike are not trying to eat the lure, takes are usually one quick thump as they snap at them as they get too close and annoys them. I think they must try and spit it out as fast as they take it, rather than hold onto it, because takes can be hard to hit and you have to strike fast to set the hooks. Hookholds can also be a bit poor with the method due to them not trying to eat it.

Anyway, I started with the shock tactic and not long after I felt a hard thump at the bottom of the shelf as I jerked it upwards. I struck quickly and a decent fish started shaking it's head and twisting. It seems as though the pike are in as much shock as you when they feel the hookset. They often don't seem to know what's happened and initially behave differently to a fish hooked on normal retrieve tactics. The braid was doing a merry dance zipping around in all directions on the surface before I could get any real control but I got it up quickly enough where the pike started fighting normally. A couple of minutes passed before it came to hand and I easily slipped one hookpoint out from its tentative hold at the edge of its mouth. It was in perfect condition... I didn't weigh her but she was about 15lb..

The afternoon passed by and I managed a couple more jacks to the shock method and missed a mid double that took me by surprise as I lifted the lure out of the water. I just saw an open mouth appear, grab the lure and make a big splash as I tried to set the hooks, followed by the fish turning sideways and disappearing! A bit later I had another hit and a healthily fat scraper double came to hand.

Even with the fish completely off the feed I managed to winkle out 4 fish by the end of the day so if you find yourself in the same situation give the shock method a go.. you might just save a blank.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

As with a lot of waters that open at the start of October, the fishing starts very well and tails off after a month or so. Lack of angling pressure means the fish are off guard and are willing to feed on whatever is thrown there way.

After last weeks successful session I decided on a return trip before the weather turned more wintery so went back yesterday. On arrival we were surprised to find no-one else pike fishing which gave us more water to play with but after a slow start it was obvious that the fish had been fished for hard over the last week. A couple of lost pike floats and rigs, one with a perch livebait still attached, were pulled out of the water and put in my bag for disposal.

About an hour in I made my way to a corner and straight away a small tap on my lure had me wondering if it was a bit of weed or a snag, but I hit it anyway. It was a fish however and a decent one. After a short fight I chinned her out and unhooked her. She was long and thin and not in the greatest of condition so I took a quick photo and released her straight away. I had to hold her in the water for 10 minutes or so while she recovered but eventually she kicked out and swam off.  I didn't weigh her but she was about 16lb or so..

The day continued with a few more fish but nothing over 9lb or so, and a follow from a big fish, and eventually I found myself in the same corner as earlier. A short under-arm pitch of the lure saw it land 20ft out where I let it sink for a few seconds before starting the retrieve. About half way back the lure got viciously hit; it was one of those takes that happens so fast and hard that I don't remember striking. I must have done though as a good fish was powering off in all directions. After a strong fight she came to hand where I chinned her out. She wasn't as long as the earlier fish but she had been feeding very well and was in perfect condition. As she had a full belly I decided to weigh her and wasn't far out with my guess when she went 15.10lb..

The fishing slowed down after that with my Dad landing just the two. He lost a big fish though which is always a sickener! In the afternoon Steve joined us for a few hours but it was hard going by then. He missed a few fish and I managed two more small ones but that was it for the day. We fished on until dark but the forecast was right and the wind turned around to a cold easterly and never saw another fish. Still, not a bad day for me, landing 7 pike in total with two mid doubles.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Trout Reservoir Opening Day

I've been looking forward to this day for a while now and with the trout reservoir opening up for pike fishing a friend of mine, Steve Bates, and I had booked a boat for the opening day. The fish in this reservoir respond well to bait so the plan was to fish with bait and throw a few lures around throughout the day.

The first look at the water revealed that there was a big blue/green algae bloom and that the water levels were down a couple of feet. Fish were rising all over though so perhaps it wasn't too bad.

We motored off to a favourite spot and dropped the anchor. We both put a couple of rods out with bait on, mine with a big sardine and a whole mackerel, and Steve's with a turbo smelt and a whole herring.

It wasn't long before my sardine float twitched and moved slowly off. A quick wind down and a small fish was hooked and brought to the boat. It was only about 4lb but it was a start. Bait back out and 15 minutes later my mackerel float went, but it was a very slow, twitchy take. I wound down and leant heavily into the fish but, although I felt the fish for a split second, I failed to hook up. The mackerel came back chewed up and sporting several big slashes. I quickly sent it back out to the same spot. About 15 minutes later the same float started twitching then stopped, it twitched again and I wound down and hit it. This time a fish was hooked but it felt small. All of a sudden the fish hit the surface with a splash over 20ft of water and after a quick fight it neared the boat. This was no pike but a 4-5lb rainbow trout with a huge head and mouth. It was in beautiful condition with full fins and I was happy to see it swim off strongly.

At this point it looked like we were in for a good day but even though we moved around fishing several different areas and methods no more fish were caught. I had a couple of trout follow lures and Steve had a jack follow his lure but that was it!

On arrival back at the jetty we were told that no-one else had had any interest at all from the pike, and some had even given up early and gone home! Not a great start to the fishing on here but with colder weather planned for the end of this week perhaps the algae will die off and bring the fish on the feed.

Traditional Piking Season Start

The 1st of October heralds the start of the piking season for many anglers, mainly due to the perception that pike are a cold water species. This is true to an extent but like all cold blooded animals, when their surroundings are warmer it increases their metabolism and they become more active, and hence need more food to sustain them.

Fishing for pike with bait in the warmer months is a dangerous business as they swallow their food quickly so deep hooking is much more likely. Deep hooking, playing pike in low oxygenated water, and playing them for extended periods which leads to lactic acid build up in the muscles, are the main cause of fatalities in pike during the warmer months.

I pike fish throughout the year but during the summer I limit my fishing to well oxygenated rivers, large lakes and reservoirs, and only fish with lures on suitably heavy tackle. Heavy tackle is needed to ensure the pike are landed quickly and they should always be allowed to recover in the margins before release.

Anyway, the 1st of October means just one thing to me.. the opening up of venues; those that do not allow pike fishing throughout the year.

This year I decided to take my Dad to a reservoir that I  usually fish on this date but the lack of rain this year, and the venue being partly drained to allow work to the banks, meant that the water levels were a good 5ft below normal. On arrival at first light it was obvious that the majority of the reservoir would be too shallow to present a real chance of any fish so we were limited to fishing one bank which formed the dam. There were two bait anglers already fishing when we arrived but a quick chat revealed they hadn't caught any pike as yet. We arrived at the first spot and second cast I had a fish about 6lb or so. The action carried on with fish being landed regularly and by lunchtime we had caught about 10 pike between the two of us. The bait anglers had had a few fish but not in the numbers we were catching. As we were limited in available water the pike had had enough of us chucking lures at them so the afternoon went by with just the odd fish being caught. The bait anglers had a good spell in the afternoon and at the end of the day they ended up with about 8-10 pike between them. As the light started fading the pike started hitting the lures again and when we packed up we had had a total of 16 pike, 8 fish each. Although the biggest fish was only about 11-12lb, the average size was about 6 or 7lb and it was good sport. A nice start to the traditional season.