Getting the new season underway (pike article and videos, entry 482)

Most of my pike fishing is deadbaiting and so it’s this time of the year I turn my attention towards a fish that I haven’t engaged with for a few months. Some clubs have the rule of no deadbait fishing before October 1 and whilst others don’t I do tend to start around this time.

Pike are more likely to swallow a deadbait in the summer than the winter as they are often more active as they build up energy pursuing fry after spawning. Hence the rules. Although ironically it will be the more experienced angler, who wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, who usually follows the rules. And you still see people deadbaiting with slack lines!

 Warm water also means lower oxygen levels and the need to protect pike. As per my previous comment about slack lines, generally speaking, the reality is you will get more abuse from the casual fair-weather fisherman than the dedicated guy who is out in the depths of winter.

Looking very pikey


 My pike fishing season began a few days before the October 1 traditional date as the stretch of river I fished has no restrictions. I had an afternoon free and I fancied opening my account. I didn’t, in fact my sardine bait remained untouched.

 But it was just great to be out. Plus it was the debut session for a rod I’ve had for a few months. It’s a Rock Tackle prototype predator rod and it’s my job to put it through its paces and give feedback. Well one thing’s for sure I will definitely give it maximum exposure on the bank. And literally, as you can see from the photograph below. As I was roving I just put the rod on the ground.

The prototype rod on the bank


 I covered a number of swims and one of the keys to that sort of fishing is organisation. You need to be well organised and that extends to knowing where everything is. As you can see from my predator tackle box it’s tidy and items are readily accessible.

Tackle box looking neat and tidy


 The next time my rods got an outing it was a few days later in October. I tackled a lake where I’ve caught a lot of fish over the years. The biggest was 16lb although in recent seasons the pike I’ve had have been much smaller, with even a scraper double something to shout about.

 But it’s a very pleasant venue and I enjoy the odd session on there, even if I don’t catch monsters. There are boxes we all like to tick for our fishing, and even though I’m a specimen angler, enjoyment is up there on my list. And as my float sailed away, even though it was just a small fish, I was really happy to get my season underway.

The first fish of the new season


 The fish was tempted by a sardine and you can see the set-up in the photograph below. I use thin craft elastic to keep the wire tight to the tail. I like the presentation and with soft baits such as sardines it helps to keep them on when casting.

 I make my own pike traces and have never had one let me down yet. But if you are a novice predator angler, along with lots of other considerations, it is advisable to buy ready-made traces to begin with. If you read my predator articles I do bang the welfare drum a lot. But in an encouraging way not to be judgemental. We’ve all had to learn – including me. And the learning curve never comes to an end.

Sardine ready to go


 With the first fish on the bank, the second, that took a fancy to a roach, wasn’t far behind. These were both early morning fish, traditional pike-feeding times on many venues. Most species have general times that we call feeding spells. Nevertheless don’t be hemmed in by conventional wisdom.

Returning pike number two


 My third piece of action was instant and was over in a second or two. No bobbing, trembling or quivering, the float just shot straight under and then appeared again a moment later. And that was that. The retrieve revealed a well-mangled sardine.

A quick dip and a mangled bait


My next two dips of the float saw me only momentarily connected with fish. If there is one piece of advice I would give on when to strike it is err on the side of caution. It’s one principle I practice myself and the odd lost fish is preferable to deep-hooked ones.

 I couldn’t stay till dark as I needed to get back home for a Wolves game. I’d got my article heading all sorted, along the lines of exchanging three points (a treble hook) for three of another kind (Wolves win). Unfortunately Crystal Palace spoilt all that.

 Nature-wise I captured an oak bush-cricket on camera. This will be one of the benefits of taking my camcorder along with me on all my sessions. It gives me the opportunity to grab a lot more footage along the way. And as a keen naturalist that will include more than just fishing.

Back on the lake


I really want to focus on rivers during this pike season, however with the Severn still well up and coloured I decided to finish the week off with a return visit to the lake. Unless I’m really keen on doing some piking and the rivers are out of sorts I can’t see myself spending too much time on there this winter. But I suppose I must add, you never know!

Caught on the prototype rod


 I’d been there less than 2 hours and one of the floats started to shake, rattle and roll. The result, a few minutes later, was the fish in the photograph above. And as you can see in the caption, it was landed on the rod I’m working on with Rock Tackle.

Ok, it’s not a big fish but so far the rod is responding with top marks. The bait was only flicked out a length or so, so I haven’t tested its casting potential yet. But if you’re like me, a good 90% of my pike are taken no more than 2 lengths out anyway. But I will put it through its distance paces in due course.

I thought I’d hooked a perch


My second pike came mid-afternoon and it was so small I did wonder if I had a perch on until I saw it. But they all count. And for all pike anglers there will be times over the next few months when even a small fish will be welcome. And on that note, my third and final fish was even smaller! So no monsters to launch my pike season but ultimately you can only catch what’s in the venue.

And finally, in with this week’s videos is Sarah Collins sharing briefly about the work of Get Hooked On Fishing. It is an angling-related charity that does a brilliant job. Check out the website for more information. (article published October 6 2012) 

My Angling Journal website – updated every week since July 2003 HERE

This week’s videos:

Sarah Collins on Get Hooked On Fishing  HERE

My first pike of the season   HERE

Oak bush-cricket   HERE


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