Updated: Sep 12, 2021
Understanding the Species
A Pike is a cold-blooded, freshwater fish. It can grow to very large sizes. Many anglers describe the pike as crocodile-like. It is a keen predator with a set of razor-sharp teeth. Within the winter their metabolism slows down and they become less active, for the angler this means they eat less. Pike fishing can be a real challenge when you add in poor weather conditions such as freezing temperatures and large floods.
Pike will spawn in February through to May. A summer of feeding regaining their strength and condition make the Pike strong, fit and healthy for the winter. The Pike is the largest native UK predator and has been hunting and living in our waters for more than 50,000 years. They have an assortment of senses to detect and alert when they are in the presence of prey. Pike will mainly consume other small baitfish but sometimes they have even been known to target their own species.
Specific features in the water will increase the chances of catching a pike. Look for drop-offs which are noted holding points for the predators as they can hold in the deeper water, waiting for prey fish to move in or out of the shallows before they strike. Also, similar to almost any other type of fishing, check any kind of structure as these tend to hold pike. Pike will sit within camouflaged areas, so anywhere that is obviously sheltered or darker is a good spot to try. Where there is moored boats are also worth giving a try, especially those that are lived in over winter, as just a small increase in temperature in the water under the boat will bring in the little fish, and the pike will follow them.
How Does a Pike Hunt?
Pike are known to be ambush predators. They will sit relatively motionless in the water, as if holding their breath, with a fixed gaze on their target. The Pike will accelerate in a split second, grasping, holding onto and swallowing their prey whole.
There are three main ways to target pike. Each method will be more suitable for different conditions and locations.
● The first method is called dead baiting. It is a static approach that works the best in winter when the water’s cooler and the metabolism of a pike is slower, so they’re less likely to chase a moving bait.
● The second method is lure fishing. This is the most common pike fishing method. It is a much more active approach, which is more suitable for warmer months and into autumn when a pike will chase a moving bait. It’s also better at finding the fish when they are more spread out, as it’s a tactic that covers large areas of water.
● Finally, the least common method for pike is live baiting. This is when an angler will
target smaller baitfish such as roach. Once they have caught enough they will take a baitfish and rig it up alive. This means the fish will swim around within the water until it has been targeted by a predator.
Chumming is a great method to help increase the chances of catching a pike. The method is relatively simple. Taking a combination of mackerel oil, fish chunks and bread, turning it into a paste and spreading it within an area you intend to fish will attract smaller baitfish and pike within that baited area. The trick is to ensure that the bait/chum is not large enough for the pike to consume. This means the pike will become frustrated and excited and is much more likely to feed. It is recommended to rebait an area every 40 minutes. A simpler way of doing this is using a chum bag. A chum bag is a bag of chum hung over the edge of the water. The oils will slowly leak out of the bag into the water. This will attract fish.
Pike Fishing Gear
When fishing for pike you will need traces. Traces are large pieces of metal wire. These
will be directly attached to your line. The purpose of them is to stop a pike from biting through the thinner line, using their sharp teeth.
To live or dead bait you will require a double treble hook rig made with metal wire. These treble hooks will be placed on either side of the fishes body before casting it into the water.
You will need a basic bait rod setup. It is extremely recommended to purchase a heavy rod that can take a larger weight due to the immense size pike can grow to. 20lbs braided line is required.
A landing mat is non-essential but is a nice accessory to have. The reason for this is to
help prevent damage to the fish.
An essential to carry at all times is large metal needle nose pliers that are curved. Pike pliers are
different to ordinary fishing pliers. The reason for this is that it is harder to remove treble hooks,
especially from a mouth filled with dangerous teeth.
Pike fishing can be an exhilarating challenge. The sheer power and velocity of these fish will be a great sport for any angler. Although, pike angling can be dangerous if not done correctly. Ensuring that proper care is taken around these predators is essential. Understanding how pike feed is essential in learning how to catch them. Knowing their location and where they would lie can prove difficult but with plenty of practice, it can be done. Bringing simple equipment with you and packing light to target pike can prove effective when fishing small rivers and excluded areas.
by Daniel ONeill