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.