Top 10 Tips for successful river Pike Fishing

River caught Pike

25lb plus wild river pike – Captor: Leighton Ryan

Catching a prime specimen Pike from a river can look like a daunting prospect at first glance…  However they are a relatively easy fish to catch, once you know how! Read on for my top 10 tips on how to land yourself one of these magnificent wild predators before the coarse fishing river season ends in the next few weeks.

1. Travel light and keep your fishing tackle to a minimum. Be prepared to walk long distances – the biggest specimens won’t be in the car park swim! Waterproof breathable fishing clothing and waders are essential, and also a quiver system or fishing rucksack to carry your fishing gear effectively. Don’t bother taking a chair or a day shelter,  just use the bank to sit on.

2. Move swims every 20 minutes – if you don’t have a run within that time then there are either no fish there, or if they are they are simply not feeding in that area. The more water you can cover the greater your chances will be.

3. Tread carefully and quietly when approaching a swim – the pike are very often under your feet in the margins, and can spook easily. Many large pike have been caught just an arms length out from the bank.

4. Use fresh bait from the fishmonger’s counter – e.g herring, sprats or sardines. They smell much better and emit more oil.  Another benefit is the low cost. They are soft for casting purposes, but you won’t be casting them out far – Use sea fishing bait elastic to keep your deadbait on the hooks.

5. When roving there is a lot of physical activity, so breathable waders are a real benefit.  They stop moisture build up which in turn keeps you warm and dry. Breathable chest waders also help if you need to scramble down into the water to net a fish or retrieve your rig from that inevitable snag up !

6. Experiment with added oils and attractants – one of my favourite ploys is to add a cod liver-oil pill (the clear jelly-type ones sold by health food shops) on to the bend of one of the trebles. It leaves a tasty little slick for the pike to home in on.

7. Don’t be put off by colour in the water, or if the river is in partial flood. These conditions often push fish into slack marginal areas and actually make them easier to find.
A full bank bursting spate with trees drifting past on the other hand is a no go!

8. Set your float over depth by about a foot, and use a very long bank stick to keep your mainline up off the surface. This helps reduce drag from the current, and stops debris from building up on your line and giving false bites.

9. Once your float starts to bob under, or  starts moving steadily across the surface set the hooks! Only little jacks tend to fall off from striking too soon…. Big pike are pretty wised up and often drop the bait when they feel resistance. It also makes unhooking a much easier task.

10. Keep your best spots secret! Pike are vulnerable to heavy fishing pressure, so once you land your dream pike and get a picture keep the exact location to yourself and close fishing buddies only, or you might find your future sport declines.

River pike float fishing

Waiting for the float to disappear

Predator Season Bonanza

The 2010 Predator season is now well upon us and myself and fellow TFG team members have been enjoying some fantastic sport. The highlights have been some magnificent Pike to 28 lb, specimen Zander and some mega sized Perch from some of the UK’s most famous large trout stillwaters. I am now going to give you an insight into some of my favourite tackle items for predator fishing.

Ceri with 22lb Pike

Ceri with 22lb Pike

For Zander and Perch I use a 6 foot cutting edge spin & Jig rod rated for 5 –15 grams coupled with a TFG classic match feeder reel filled with 14lb grunt braid. This is a really nice light outfit ideal for both jigging and casting, it’s a pleasure to use and very sensitive. This rod has landed me Pike in excess of 26lb, though the cutting edge heavy spin and jerk bait rods are the ones designed for the big stuff. These can throw out heavy jerkbaits and are ideal for trolling lures such as super shadraps, one of my all time favourites. On the subject of lures we recently tested out some of the new Savagear soft plastic lures and Fisheagle jig heads to great success on Rutland water, landing 120 Zander in two days fishing as well as some bonus Pike and large brown trout, all of them on the cutting edge rods.

Tim with 28lb Pike

Tim with 28lb Pike

When Pike angling with deadbaits my first choice of reel is the TF Gear Frontrunner 12000 Reel. I have been hammering these reels for 18 months now and they have been a true workhorse and have never let me down.  They have great cranking power for retrieving large baits with ease, a smooth very reliable drag that can be fine tuned to function as a quick turn bait runner and they cast huge distances with ease. I fill them with 15 lb redmist line, which gives me great abrasion resistance and a visual contrast, which helps when watching for pickups and drop backs. On a recent Chew session we had three twenties plus numerous hard fighting doubles in the high teens all landed on these great reels.

Ceri with Perch

Ceri with Perch

My Top 10 Predator Extras:

TFG Head torch
Ideal for fishing into dark evenings and getting your boat organised on the way back to the moorings.

McLean’s Salmon weigh net
This has swallowed many twenties for us now it’s just the right shape and size for giant fish with a handy build in weigh scales for a quick reading if you want to return a fish quickly.

Airflo para drogue
Essential for fishing lures or jigs on the drift

Wavehopper life jacket

Wavehopper electric engine
Allows you to troll and approach shallow water areas without spooking the fish.

Airflo boat seat cushion
Perfect for the predator angler who can only access trout waters on a limited basis and needs something light to carry down to the boat. It’s very comfortable and firm allowing you to sit high up on the thwart.

Dr slick Cuda 8 ½ inch pliers
A high quality item for getting the hooks out of toothy jaws, they also have a handy built in cutter and sheath.

TFG primal drop in cool bags
Great for keeping deadbaits frozen all day long, available in several sizes.

Fishing buddy 1101 fish finder
Needed for finding the depth and underwater drop offs and features, find these and you find the fish!

TFG force 8 Heavy duty carryall
Swallows up a huge amount of kit and keeps it bone dry.

Something to Chew on

Today I paid a visit to a famous Trout water, Chew valley lake in Somerset, which at the moment is open for Pike fishing from the bank. This was an opportunity for me to test out several new sample rods from our up and coming TFG ‘Cutting Edge’ predator range of fishing rods which we have been developing over the past few months.

I arrived at the lake at dawn and set up a pair of 3.25 test sample dead bait fishing rods teamed up with TFG force 8 and Power bigpits on hardwear screw in bank sticks. On Chew It is often necessary to use a bait boat due the shallow nature of the reservoir. I placed a mackerel at around eighty yards and a smelt at hundred yards with a patriot boat and settled down awaiting a run.
All was quiet until ten’ o’clock when a flurry of activity commenced. I landed several Jacks within the space of on hour and had several dropped pickups. Each run got the adrenalin flowing as on Chew you just never know what could pick up the bait next.


The action seriously slowed down around noon so I rigged up one of the test lightweight lure fishing rods with 14lb grunt braid and a small rubber shad as I had spotted several large Perch crashing through the swim after some fry. I threw out the shad and bumped it back along the bottom bringing it right into the edge, a big stripy swooped in from nowhere and sucked up the lure into a mouth like a bucket. After a short but belligerent tussle a 4lb Perch was hoisted ashore. This was followed later by a 3lb 1/4. Several fish that followed the lure were bigger again – perhaps 5lb plus !

Through the afternoon things were slow on the Pike front, It was not till the last knockings that things picked up – I had a serious run which I struck into a solid resistance, unfortunately the fish turned and moved towards me at speed and then came off about twenty yards out. I thought this was game over as it was now practically dark when the Xsense alarm on the other rod bleeped into life with a real screamer. Lifting into the fish I felt an immense power, and far out in the gloom something angry boiled under the surface. Surely this must be on of those big o’l girls at last! After a terrific fight I reached out with the net into the dark and pulled it to the bank. To my amazement what was in it was yet another predator, a hefty brown trout of 11lb 1/2


I was made up with this capture and even though no big Pike had been seen I had achieved a predator grand slam and had a given the samples a good run in. The new fishing rods performed beyond all expectations and will be certainly forming the core of the new range which will continue to be developed this winter by the TFG team.

A First Catfish Session

After missing a week’s fishing fulfilling a promise to the wife to re-decorate the hall, stairs and landing, I was certainly in need of two days fishing! This season, I have made myself a promise to catch a catfish to beat my current best of 22lb 12oz and headed for Cemex water Jones Pit on Wednesday morning for a 48 hour session. It was my first visit to the water and I was given some tremendous help by bailiffs Ed and Chris on the water. On their advice, I settled in a swim called “Dead Man’s Hole”, so called because an angler shot himself there a few years ago!

It was all close range work, with interesting small islands to left and right at roughly 10 O’clock and 2 O’clock respectively. A cast of barely 30 yards would be needed for those, while to my right, wooded margins coincided with a nice lily bed only feet from the bank. Ed informed me that a bait fished right alongside those lilies was a reliable tactic for the cats. Eventually, I settled on one rod to that margin, one to the fringe of the right hand island, and the third about a 40 yard cast midway between the two islands.

Because of the closeness of the swims, loose feeding was easy enough, and I prepared the margin swim with 1kg of 18mm Halibut pellets plus another 1kg of fish meal boilies. To this was added a bag of Fox Blood Red groundbait, which is specially formulated for attracting predators with its heavy fish oil content.

The middle of my carp rods was baited just with halibut pellets via catapult, and I went in initially with 3kg. I wanted a bed of bait that would stop a marauding cat in its tracks, and as they go to near 70lb in the water, 3kg would not be overdoing it.

The left hand rod was just a boilie attack, and I fired out the best part of 3kg of 18mm boilies.

The left and right fishing rods were both baited with 18mm boilies, wrapped in fish meal paste to make offerings of around 30mm, and then dunked in a thick, gooey gunk of anchovy flavoured dip. The middle rod was baited with a 30mm Catmaster Tackle Mega Chunk halibut pellet. These are specially formulated for large cats and feature a tough exterior but soft interior. Unlike many pellets, these can be left out for several days if need be without dissolving.

There is not that much to say about the fishing. Both nights I was plagued with line bites from the lakes large bream population, but never had a proper run in the dark hours. The only real run I had occurred just after dawn on Thursday when a I struck into a very big fish after getting a real screamer on the open water rod. Unfortunately, and a rare occurrence for me, the hook pulled after about three minutes and I practised a few well rehearsed swear words to myself!

The lost fish could have been a big carp, of course, but, as the hook point was turned over when I examined it, I rather fancy a catfish hooked in the hard, Velcro like pad on its top jaw.

Ah well, there’s always next time!