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Although you can fish for pike all through the year, many clubs and venues have a bait season (as opposed to lures) that runs traditionally from October 1. This is primarily because pike are much more active during the warmer months and while a small dead bait may be picked up and will give the angler plenty of time to strike properly in December, in June it’s a different proposition. It will swallow it before you know what’s going on. And contrary to popular opinion in some quarters that pike are hardy, in reality they are pretty fragile and sensitive creatures really. Particularly if they have a wire trace with two trebles stuck down their throat.
The species has always been the subject of abuse through bad angling practices, and you would like to think that is not the case so much these days with the internet. But sadly that’s not true. In spite of stacks of information out there on pike fishing, and in particular handling practices, you still encounter anglers that live in mediaeval times as far as pike are concerned. I’ve come across people myself who just throw out a dead bait without any bite indication and then go for a chat with their mate in the next peg.
Or fish extremely slack lines so the first they know they have a fish is when the bait is deep in the stomach. I could go on, but I won’t. There will be plenty of pike welfare drum banging from me over the next few months. If you are thinking of targeting the species then at the very least do your homework and get the right gear. Pike don’t fit into the ‘I fancy having a go for them’ category.
Anyway that’s my preaching for this article done, now to the fishing. The first session you can see on the video, and if you have gone that route already then you will know that I blanked. In pike fishing more than most species, blanks are part of the experience. It was a new (for pike anyway) place for me though and I had absolutely no idea of what to expect. It’s also a huge venue (photo 1) and one that will almost certainly throw up some good fish for me over the next few months I’m sure.
On one rod I fished a small roach and on the other a sardine. I had no action at all and by the time I got back to the car the highlight was a gull roost of about 4,000 birds. They were mostly black headed and lesser black-backed with a few herring and great black-backed in with them. There may well have been a few surprises, but I would have needed my Kowa scope to have done a proper job at the distance they were at.
My second pike session was again on the stillwater although on a different bank. I again went for the float-fished deadbait option, and with a lot of water in front of me I cast to a number of different positions during my six hour session. I didn’t get a single indication at all from even a remotely interested fish. However I had evidence that an eel had found the sardine (photo 2) as it came back reminiscent of what happens when you fish a deadbait after dark on the lower Severn before the first frost of the season. The gull roost was again out in force and I also saw a small tortoiseshell butterfly and a chiffchaff. I also had a flock of lapwings c40 that spent the best part of half an hour circling the venue.
My next session was not a case of ‘third time lucky’ as I again blanked, although on a different stillwater this time. Things were improving though as I did get a pick-up. The float started to move, but stopped dead, and that was the end of the excitement. I did have the pleasure of setting a treble hook home though. In my finger. I really thought I would have to go to the hospital on that one, but after performing minor surgery on myself I avoided the A&E at nearby Russell’s Hall. I took a photo of it on my BlackBerry and emailed it to my facebook page. It’s a good job I wasn’t after sympathy though judging by the jokes at my expense. It’s a cruel world out there you know!
For my fourth and final session I headed for the River Severn, the middle reaches to be exact. I was up early and fishing just into first light. I fished a stretch, and indeed peg, where I have caught pike before. Just off the main flow it meant I could comfortably present a deadbait using a float as indicator. There’s something special about watching the tremble, tremor and then dip of a pike float. And I didn’t have long to wait as before I had time to cast the second rod out, I had some serious interest.
Striking into the fish it was just a great feeling to be playing my first of the season. But of course I wanted to do more than just tangle with it. I wanted to net it. And I did exactly that. That’s the fish in photos 3 and 4 above. I love the shots where the fish is right up to the camera, it’s not only a change from the traditional side-on you normally get, but in the case of pike it brings out their best features. I love pike and they make for a lovely photograph.
I was only there for four hours and I had a fish within minutes of arrival and one right at the very end. This was on the other rod but still a sardine bait so no difference really. That’s the fish in photo 5 and it was slightly bigger than the first. I really was happy to get off the mark after three blanks. But as always, whether I catch or blank, I tell it as it is. Like any other honest angler I struggle sometimes, but thankfully I always seem to come through in the end. It’s very often about dedication, perseverance and not giving up. I’m glad I didn’t quit chasing pike after three fruitless sessions, because it came together in the end.
Finally, I’ve done a revamp on my Angling Journal home page www.anglingdiary.com. The main difference is that the ten photographs on the left hand side of the home page are now all linked to the ten most recent articles. I’m using WordPress more and more as it has so many other features. From 2012 I intend to publish the articles exclusively there, but linked from my Angling Journal of course, so that won’t change in many ways as it doesn’t matter where you read the article really. Plus I intend to extend the articles word-wise and by including extra photographs and developing the videos by including a few extra items such as more tips. There are share buttons on both YouTube and WordPress and all I ask is if you like what you see then hit the buttons. Thanks.