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.