Back to do business with the pike
With the conditions – and more crucially the water temperature – taking a turn for the worse, it was to pike that I looked this week to provide me with some action. Although I haven’t specifically targeted them this year, I have still caught a few on the perch and zander sessions I have done. I was actually looking forward to the week ahead as once I got the first few busy days out the way, I had time for a couple of sessions, the first of which saw me on the local canal. I am sure we have all been on a fishing trip and made a mental note to return to target another species. That’s what I did earlier in the year on a particular section when after perch. The pike I connected with made me promise myself I’d be back.
This time instead of the delicate (relatively speaking) perch gear I was well stepped-up in the tackle department with 2.5lb test curve rods and 15lb main line. No pike would stand a chance like some of them did that gave me the runaround on the lighter tackle. That’s if I hooked one that is! I didn’t even get the increased heartbeats that a tremor or tremble on the float gives, never mind a full blown run. But I enjoyed my morning at the water’s edge all the same. I think that there is something incredibly exciting about staring at a pike float in the water. If you’ve ever fished for them in that way, you will know exactly what I mean. But on this occasion the roach deadbaits didn’t tempt a single pike.
The local canal in November
Not to be deterred though, I was back a day later, again fishing at first light. There are venues where the density of pike is greater, of that I am in no doubt at all, but challenge is an important part of angling. And I really wanted to catch a fish by design from this swim! As you will see from the video that accompanies this article, there were lots of leaves on the surface of the canal. They can be a major problem at this time of the year but it’s usually the tree-lined swims that are the productive ones, so the option of heading to a clear-water one isn’t always viable. But it was fishable and that’s all that matters. Although the leaves were dense, there were still patches where a bait could be cast quite comfortably
Bait this time around was again a small roach in the three to four ounce bracket. One of the good things about predator fishing in general is that you can turn up at the water’s edge, set your tackle up and be fishing in minutes without the baiting preparation that other types of fishing involve. And very often you can get a fish immediately. And although I didn’t have one that quick, it wasn’t long before the float towards the far bank started to tremble. If there’s one thing more exciting than watching a pike float, it’s watching one that starts to come alive. And I managed to capture it on the video clip as well.
Caught by design!
Knowing when to strike is important. You don’t want to snatch the bait before the pike has had time to take it into its mouth properly; on the other hand you don’t want to wait until it has started to digest it either. Advice about pouring yourself a drink from your flask and then waiting until you’ve finished it before striking is quite frankly rubbish! The best thing to do if you are a beginner is to hit the fish sooner rather later. Alternatively if you have a fishing friend who is an experienced predator angler tap in to their advice and take it on board. They will also advise you about bolt cutters, long handled forceps and other specific items you will need if you decide to go for pike.
Anyway I managed to net the fish and as I lifted it from the water I saw that the hooks had come out. That was close eh! But then I noticed that it was trailing line from the corner of its mouth. This line of about 2-3lb breaking strain was connected to a wire trace and then a single hook. Piecing everything together it looked very much like someone was fishing for perch (hence the line and the single hook) but just in case they caught a pike they used a wire trace. However 20-30lb wire trace on main line that light is a recipe for disaster should a pike be hooked. If the chance of connecting with a pike is very slim then it’s better to have a bite-off on a mono hook length rather than leaving a fish trailing line and wire. And if there is a good chance of catching a pike then use lobworm. But if a wire trace is used at any time then the main line strength must reflect that.
White dead nettle in bloom
That pike proved to be the only one of the session and therefore the week, and so for that I was very thankful. It was also very pleasing to have caught a pike by design from the section. As for the fish itself it went back in a much better condition than when it was caught! Whilst I try to avoid repetition as much as possible when writing, I make no apologies whatsoever for the constant regurgitation of welfare and handling issues when dealing with pike. They are such a beautiful fish, yet at the same time so badly misunderstood by so many who fish for them. They don’t eat babies, dogs or swans and if you put your finger in the water you won’t end up limbless. It seems that old wives tales and pike go hand-in-hand, yet what is most unbelievable is that many believe them!
On the nature front this week I noticed several white dead-nettles still in bloom. They do go on well into autumn anyway but the fact that we haven’t had our first frost yet has seen them continue to flower well. A couple of groups of fieldfares passed overhead, the largest being about thirty birds and a solitary raven in flight at tree top level was probably the top sighting of the week. One of the great things about being a naturalist is that even when the fishing is slow there’s something of interest to keep you going. And with each season being unique there’s always something to look forward to, whether it be the first cuckoo, smooth newt or lesser celandine of the year!
(click icon above for this week’s video)
(Originally posted November 2009)