Local angling expert Alan Dudhill gives advice and tips out on pike fishing.
You may be lucky enough to simply turn up to a water, throw in any old bait and catch the biggest pike with your first cast.
However, that’s highly unlikely.
Big pike are rare creatures and may only actively feed once a week or even much less.
The chances of dropping a bait in front of its nose is therefore unlikely, particularly on a large water. If only!
There is however a way to get consistent results…
After a life-time of pike fishing and studying various water types, pike behaviour and biology, I’ve devised a basic formula, which can be applied to most waters.
It’s all about understanding what makes the pike tick, it’s behaviour, movements and feeding habits.
Put all this together and you’ll certainly narrow down the search for big pike.
This on its own isn’t enough to guarantee catching big pike on a regular basis but it will give you the confidence to know that you’re doing everything you possibly can to increase your chances.
If you’re prepared to put the hours in and apply my formula, you will certainly catch more pike and have a much greater chance of catching the big ones!
Ecology: The natural ecology of a water has got to be good enough to support a healthy stock of prey fish, which goes hand-in-hand with a healthy stock of big pike.
There has to be a consistent supply of quality prey fish.
Roach, rudd, bream and perch are prolific breeders so if these are present, they will be there in large numbers.
So long as the water hasn’t suffered over-predation by such as cormorants in the last few years, it should have a balanced eco system and a relatively large natural supply of prey fish.
Topography: To catch pike you have to be able to locate them directly or at least have an idea of their patrol routes.
By understanding and plotting the topography (under water landscape) you can soon build a picture of the pike’s environment.
Find likely lairs, be mobile and target these and you’ve a good chance of catching big pike.
Biology: The pike has been around for millions of years; much longer than humans in fact but has changed very little in this time.
Why? Because it didn’t need to!
Its design (biology) lends itself to being the ultimate underwater predator.
There is no doubt that the pike is the master of its own environment and has intimate knowledge of every aspect of the water from features to position of prey fish.
It has developed its own survival strategy, specific to that water.
By understanding a little about how predators work and the pike’s biology, particularly its senses, will give you a distinct advantage when it comes to attracting them into your swim and of course getting them to take your bait.
The pike’s senses give it a distinct advantage over its prey and it’s these senses that we can exploit to our own advantage.
Hearing: Pike detect vibration via their lateral line to hear what’s going on around them.
I have no doubt that this sense is far more acute than we give them credit for.
The pike is probably more interested in listening out for something different, perhaps a flurry of movement such as when these shoals are feeding.
Surely a fish with its head down and preoccupied with feeding, makes a much easier target to sneak up on.
Of course predators will much prefer an easy/vulnerable meal so it will also be listening out for ‘different’ sounds and rhythms such as a deceased or dying fish.
Though disabled prey would probably not be too difficult for a pike to spot or isolate from the main shoal.
Smell: The pike has two large nostrils and, although I doubt it is capable of detecting minute scents in the water in the same way we know sharks do, I have no doubt that it can sniff out dead and decaying fish tucked away in dense weed.
Sight: The pike has large eyes and binocular vision, typical of a predator.
This clearly gives the pike an edge over its prey, particularly in lower light levels.
This may explain why pike are often caught at dawn or dusk and over-cast days are so productive.
Putting it all together: Of course there are many different variables to pike fishing and if it was that easy, we’d all be catching 30s on every outing.
The truth is pike fishing can be as easy or complicated as you want to make it.
However, most aspects of pike fishing are covered by these three elements so think Ecology, Topography and Biology.
Do your homework and apply this formula to your fishing and your chances of success will greatly improve.
• If you have stories, results or pictures of your bankside exploits, email Alan at email@example.com.