4 Anglers, 400 Pike 30 Doubles and 1 20lb pike in one Season...
It has been great these past few months to have built up a good friendship with 3 other anglers all passionate about their pike fishing and as such we decided to set up a challenge for the coming season for a bit of fun and the challenge is 400 pike caputred between us between 01st October 2014 and the 15th March 2015 with a target of 30 of them being into double figures and one 20lb pike. It is purely for a bit of fun and the target is quite a challenge as i think it was worked out at 16 pike between us a week!
It is a challenge that is certainly going to challenge us all and if i get anywhere near a 100 pike myself i will be over the moon indeed. As with all pike fishing keeping the location of captures close to your chest is paramount in these times where our rivers are being raped for the table so as such not all the other anglers captures will have pictures but i am hoping to document the challenge as it goes along and hopefully share the highs and the lows as we do it and its safe to say we have made a steady start in the first week.
So i hope you will enjoy this journey into the unkown and remember in the world of dead baiting for pike i only have a total of around 2-3 months experience. So excited though and the comradery that goes with it is already first class.
Grabbing Any Window Of Opportunity...
With ther challenge in mind i have thught long and hard about my tactics for this and a big part of me having any meaningfull contribution to this list is the ability to take advantage of any windows to wet a line and that means being organised. I was recently looking around Go Outdoors and came accross a tackle box that looked to be perfect for my needs as i was looking to seperate my pike gear from my coarse fishing box so at the drop of a hat i can grab rod, landing net, tackle box and a few dead baits and be on the bank and this little box from Go outdoors is perfect.
The box comes with many compartments and also gives you customisation with the ability to place your own spacers so it can accomodate any size tackle. I have put the rig board to one side for carping next year and it was pleasing that all my unhooking tools like forceps etc fit nicely into the top box. The other smaller box that come with this are perfect for all the little items like hooks, crimps, weights, ledgers and other termincal tackle. The fact the box shuts snug on the main box and the little boxes means that no matter how much you move it around the items stay in there little compartments, which is great for poly pop up balls.
In short i have been really impressed with this purchase and i am already seeing the benifits of being so organised to get out on the bank. The only down side is i have to now take this box with me when i want to target pike on my coarse sessions.
Out Of Control????
On my journey too and from work I regularly cross a local canal and as the time for pike fishing has drawn close i have seen a increase in anglers on the bank, great i thought....at first. It wasnt until i went shopping later that week that i wandered up the canal to see if anything was doing and i noticed a few anglers pike fishing on the canal with lures but something was missing and it was landing net. I must admit alarm bells for me start ringing when i see people fishing without a landing net as it either means two things, one, they are inexperienced and are not aware they could hook a big fish and need to get it out of the canal or two, they are fishing for the table and have no intention of worrying about fish safety as the fish is going in a carrier bag for the table any how.
This latter fear was confirmed this week as i was told a story of a person witnessing a big bream being scaled on the canal bank! i have fished the canal all my life and i can asure you it is one palce i would not eat anything from given the "things" i have seen floating in the canal and also you add to that the fact these pike are quite partial to eating young duckings you would imagine the local rat population is also on their menu which opens us the possibility of weils desease. Although that might be a good way for a lesson to be learnt!
This raping of our fish stocks for the table is now evident on all the water si now fish and i am not saying them taking the odd bream is destroying our fishing but when you mess with the pike population you are going to have an effect on the ecosystem and the quality of the fish in that water after all pike ensure a healthy fish population by picking off the weak and sick which then dont go on to breed and pass it on.
With that lets get into some fishing......
Sunday Morning "The Excitement Gets Too Much......"
After the drab fishing the day before on the Dane saved by a special capture featured on in the previous blog (link: ), i was ready to get out and make a mends so with two rods set up for float fishing and a hand full of dead baits i set off into the dark not really knowing where i was heading. Good luck is always welcome in this game and on my way i tried to increase my chances by wishing an angler waiting for a lift on the corner of my street "tight lines", surely this would put me in good stead.
I finally settled on a location and even after a lengthy drive it was still pitch black when i unloaded the car but in knew with a good few minutes walk ahead of me and by the time i had rigged up i would probably be casting out just on first light and prime time for a hungry pike to be looking for their breakfast, i just hoped they fancied my half frozen mackerel.
Walking along the stretch it looked good and from last year i knew it was more what lied underneath the water than what was on top that made this stretch stand out from the rest as along it lay a number of submerged trees and snags. It is an area that holds a number of jacks this time of year but also has the potential to produce some fish into double figures.
For the first few hours i leap frogged the stretch and did not have so much as a tap and i must admit with the sun well up in the sky and the temperatures rising i knew my chances where dwindling all the time as the pike retreated into their day haunts. I was in contact with Garry and Ste who where full of "encouragement" and i must admit i reached the end of the stretch and began to think about calling it a day and with a few bits needed for future sessions using the time to pick up some extra terminal tackle i needed.
I decided to work my way back along the beat spending 15-20 minutes in each lie with a view to calling it a day when i reached the other end. The first spot produced nothing and then whilst walking to the next i spotted a dark lie that just screamed home for a pike and demanded instant investigation with my pike float. Over went a bait and with the float cocking just off bottom i set about placing my second rod just a bit further along.
A god 5 or 10 minutes passed with no action till out of the corner of my eye i spotted the float i had placed in the dark whole slowly start to twitch and move away. The float moving along the top is normally a sure sign of a small jack and with this place holding a few i reeled in to set the hooks expecting little resistance so you can imagine my shock as when i struck all hell brok loose as the rod hooped over and there was one almighty swirl as the fish angrily came up to the top trying to spit the hooks. I managed to move the fish into the middle where it hugged the bottom and began making long hard runs left and right.
In the excitement i had not brought the other rod in and this fish time and time again ran underneath the other line and had i not been using Power Pro braid that floats i would have been in some serious trouble. The fish fought like a demon as it made run after run along the bottom and it was not until its head surfaced i got a chance to net the fish and seeing it was a double i took it with no hesitation.
The fish in the net i took a quick snap above and then set about getting the unhooking matt and unhooking tools ready and i guess in this moment i learnt a huge lesson in dealing with pike on the bank and that is being prepared ready for the fish as in an instant the fish tail walked clear of the net and i quickly grabbed the rod. I was in an awful place now as i knew i had a decent fish and i knew this fish,now full of fight, had a decent chance of getting away as with pike fishing one shake of the head and it can be game over. The fish fought and fought and fought and it was another epic battle to get the fish in again and this time there was no messing it was straight out of the water and onto the waiting unhooking matt.
The hooks removed it was time for a picture and since a recent update to my iphone i can now take timed pictures so i was really pleased with this picture as my first self take ever! She went 12lb and i was over the moon to have caught her and look forward to crossing paths with her again next February when she could be a new PB.
The pike released to go back to sulk along the edge i had a good look over the pictures and cheekily sent a few via the inter webs. The pike had made a right mess of my trace though so while i set about getting this rod back in action i cast the other rod back into position.
In reality getting this rod back up and running took a matter of seconds but i will go into that in a future update when i go over my set up for pike fishing. Nothing else came from that swim and it is little surprise with that nice girl lurking about looking to pick off any smaller jacks so it was time for a move further along. Almost as soon as i cast the bait out and it had settled the float was away again in the new spot and striking into this fish i was met with a more familiar fight from a jack pike weighing 6lb 7oz.
Two pike landed and i was looking at the session with a completley different outlook and full of energy i plundered two more swims but alas no more pike where forthcoming and i wandered off for an afternoon of adventure with the family.
October 01st First Day Of The Challenge.....
Wednesday the first of October had long been put aside for a social piking trip with Garry and Ryan but as with all things in life things change and going into September it turned out that Garry was going to be unable to make the opening day so a session was quickly pencilled in for Friday 3rd October. There was never any chance i was going to cancel my leave for the 01st as i planned to be on the bank at the crack of day looking to find my first pike of the season and get it on the board.
With a session booked for the Friday pike fishing i decided to try and have some fun on the Wednesday and with my Lymm Anglers card in hand i planned a day on the canal with a sleeper rod out for a hungry pike. Setting up in the dark i was ready to cast in on first light and was confident with plenty of fish topping. A hour in and the float remained motionless and i was perplexed as to why the action was so slow, this was until the sun came up and i relaised the canal was crystal clear to the point i could see my keep net to its base and also could see my ground bait quite clearly on the bottom on the far side, i knew i was wasting my time so it was all the gear lumped back in the car and back home to unload the pole gear and load up with all pike to go and hopefully find myself an esox or two.
I arrived at a stretch to a text message than my little girl was feeling unwell but to stay out fishing and she would call if i was needed so i chose a spot close to the car in an area i have never fished before. It was 11am by this point and the day was not going as i had planned. I would not say this challenge has ever weighed heavy on my shoulders but it was there in the back of my mind that if we are going to get close then a good start was imperative. Things i thought went from bad to worse as on my first cast i hooked into the only reed stem in the swim but a swift yank released it from its stubborn sittue and it was whilst reeling in i noticed splashes behind the stem and as it came closer i noticed it was a pike attacking the reeds as i brought them across, only a jack but with active fish in the area i upped my confidence in this new area.
Knowing the fish where quite clearly not up for a stationary bait in this area i chose to devote one rod to a big bait on the deck for that big girl looking for an easy meal and the other i fished shallow twitching back a bait and leaving it a few seconds under my feet in case any fish had followed it in. It didnt take many casts before the shimmering silver flanks of a sprat proved irrestable to a small jack pike and my god it was a small pike. Probably one of the smallest pike i have ever caught but still very welcome indeed and i guess as we progress through this challenge we will say the words "they all count" many times. The first fish of the challenge in the net and we were off the mark! a quick look down this pikes mouth shows how prepared they are even at such a young age.
A quick move along the bank and while twitching the bait back my phone went off and while speaking to the missus i left the float in the edge fluttering away. I normally am a bit of a walker while im on the phone and this time i was very lucky i wasnt as stood right in front of the rod i noticed the float slide away, 1, 2, 3 strike and i was into another fish, "i'll ring you back FISH ON". Under the rod tip it put up a great fight and with the weather it was full of life with plenty of head shaking and i must admit i was relieved to have got the fish in. At just under 5lb it was still a jack but certainly an improvement on the first.
Pike are certainly not a fish you can just chuck jack in and they will be fine like you could do with say a roach or dace. Pike at this time if year are still quite active as these last few fish showed and with low oxygen content you must take time to rest them proper in the net. for example this picture below is the pike when i put her back and then after a few minutes she is upright and nearly ready to go.
The golden rule with resting any fish is it takes as long as it takes and you will know when they are ready, for example this fish was trying to jump clear of the net before i let him go and its always great to see them go back strong flick of their tail.
The next few hours where quite quiet as i worked the stretch and it was whilst twitching a bait across i saw my big bait rod slowly start to move away. This rod going always fills me with excitement as the fish has taken a static bait off the bottom and normally means a better fish or at least get me thinking that way. The rod reeled in i gently felt the line to confirm a fish on the end before striking to set the hooks again the fish went mad as its easy lunch fought back and although the lacked the power of trhe bigger fish it put up an almighty fight for a pike weighing only just over 6lb, fish number three and they were getting bigger.
It took till late on for any more action and what a shock it was as right under my feet a pike shot out and actually attacked my pike float! It shook me up i can tell you as it was one almighty crash. I quickly recast out and twitched the bait around the area and it didn't take long for this hungry predator to seize the chance of a free fish meal, maybe he didn't like the plastic first time. Weighing just over 4lb 8oz i was not surprised to see it be another jack as you don't really get the better fish doing this, again though another off the list.
That was it for the session and i left an happy angler having made a soid start with 4 fish on the bank and i was ono my way. I text the other guys to let them know that inrodes had been made and the challenge is well and truly one. I had a sesison planned on the Friday with three of us but could we add more?? well find out in next weeks blog......
till then its tight lines