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.