My First 20lb Pike.......
I will start this update by covering what tactics i have been using for 99% of my pike fishing to this point and it really is simplicity itself. I fish mainly with two rods fished with a float set up which has quite a short list of components and like with my chub fishing rigs everything has to earn its place in the set up by adding something. My float pike rig set up consists of the following elements from top to bottom:
- Fox Braid Float Stop
- Rubber Bead
- 20g Pike Float
- 18g Stubby Fox Sinker
- Fox Quick change link
- 30lb Carbo flex Wire tied with two size 6 or 4 hooks with Large rubber cover(tied myself)
That is my set up i take everywhere with me on my pike trips tot his point. The Weight is purposely less than the float to allow me to not only fish a bait lying on the bottom but also allow me some extra weight so the float can suspend a decent dead bait off the bottom without sinking the float. The quick change link means i can leave the rods set up and simply attach my desired pike trace on the bank and i am away fishing and the large rubber on the trace means i can pull it up over the quick swivel and quick change link to eliminate the chances of the hooks on the trace tangling on the eyes on the cast.
This is a rig i can take to any location i fish although in the weeks since this session i have been experimenting with ledgering dead baits for pike which is even simpler but involves a lot more technique and practise to learn when to strike as you have no visible float to act as a indicator of when to strike so i am very much still learning this method with the help of Garry and Ste. Well that my set up for pike and in the short time i have been pike fishing dead beats its accounted for all sized pike from tiny jacks to the fish in the this update.
On to the session...
The 15th of October and thanks to this Governments offer of another below inflation 1% pay rise i found myself left being again asked by the union to take industrial action. I am not going to lie here i could not give to rats about the pay rise and if i was offered the choice not to be paid if i did not go into work for the day i would be a very poor man as i would be on the bank more than in work. It may well be wrong of me but i always take these strike days off and just go fishing, wrong? maybe but id rather be striking a pike rod than striking on a damp picket line any day of the week and with that the night before my rods where in the hall of my house waiting for first light the next day.
I awoke the next morning and had a solid idea of where i wanted to go fishing but with the car loaded i suddenly found myself questioning my choice of destination and leaning towards a more local destination. The place i had intended to fish i had little experience on and in reality had only done one session previous and that was with Garry surely the right thing to do was to fish somewhere i had fished a number of times or maybe the place i had broke my PB a few days earlier, yes, that's the place to go surely a full day would yield a number of fish.
The car loaded i set off and i really do not know why but for some reason i found myself on the motorway to the destination i had planned to go, half way there in fact before i realised. Too late to turn back if i wanted to be casting out at first light i continued on my way to the venue. Arriving and unloading the car in the dark a thick fog covered the valley and i was not confident at all, in fact i felt like i was wasting my time, weird considering i had broke my PB at the weekend.
Set up in a peg i fancied on our social trip a few weeks earlier i presented one bait in the deep water and another in the margin. The depths at the location go from 7ft in the margin to around 12ft in the middle and in this particular swim i had found a drop in depth to around 13-14ft and a perfect ambush point. The bait, a roach was loaded with oil and presented near the drop off while the next rod was fished in the margin on a sardine again loaded with oil.
6.55am and i had both rods out just as the world around me woke and the early morning mist rolled eerily around me, i had the location to myself and normally i would have been just leaving the house for my morning commute to work. To be honest not a lot happened and i spent the next hour and half chewing the fat on the Internet with the rest of the group and it wasn't till 8.30am i had my first run and it was the rod down the middle that slowly moved off and slid away, a strong strike and i was into my first fish that i got all the way in for the small jack to come off with a violent head shake right in the edge.
The normal banter was received as i reported back i had lost one and it was met with the sympathy you would expect from a group of piking piscators or should i say p'sstakers. I have said it before and i will no doubt say it again many times before this season is out, i go for one one chance as my target and go from there but i must admit when the next hour passed without event i began to think i had blown my chance and i thought about a move.
9.55am on the 15th October 2014 will be a moment that will live with my till my dying day as out of the corner of my eye i saw my right hand float twitch and cock vertical and begin to slowly bounce along the top, here we go i thought a jack for sure as i grabbed my rod. The line snagged on a bramble i violently pulled the line free and hoped the aggressive pull in the line did not alert the pike. Thankfully it did not and the float was still bouncing along the top before it slowly sunk into the deeper water and out of sight. Reeling down and striking expecting to feel the jagged fight of a jack pike i was instantly shocked as when i struck the rod stayed bent as i struck into a solid weight that was no jack pike.
At this point i thought i was playing a double so with the challenge in mind i was hoping to get it in but as the fight went on and the fish still stayed deep i began to think it might be something special. The fish was solid on the bottom making hard runs for what seemed an age but eventually it did come up through the water columns and as it did i got a glimpse of what i was connected too, Jesus Christ! it was massive and as it turned i knew i was connected to a PB. I remember my arm at this point was aching and i could feel the adrenalin pumping through my veins as i played the fish.
At this stage i was praying to anyone that was out there for it not to come off as it made a long run and line was peeling off the reel as she made for the bottom, "please don't come off" "please don't come off" i dared to whisper as the fish came up and a massive head broke the surface. I knew it was big when the 30 inch net that my dad thinks i take out for catching butterflies looked like the fish wont fit into it. In a stroke of luck the fish went head first into the net first time and i must admit there was no messing about with the fish getting out of the net as i lifted it straight out onto the unhooking matt. On the net i knew it was a PB and thought i had a 17-18lb fish on my hands but it was not until i began to get into position to unhook the fish i saw the width and depth of the pike and i began to think a bit bigger.
Looking for the hooks my heart sank as i could not see the wire, last thing i needed was a deep hooked pike, not one this size. Then i realised there was no line in the hooks mouth and the hooks had fell out in the net, lucky or what. The first thing i did was move the rod and set about weighing the fish. The scales bounced round to past 20lb with ease and at first i was shaking so much they where going round to 28-29lb but they settled on 22lb 12oz. I later weighed the net and it went 1.5lb so left me with a new personal best of 21lb 4oz fish.
I always pack my carp weigh sling so at this point i placed the fish in the sling and left her to rest a little in the margins while i took a moment to set up my phone to take some self shots, compose myself and also message the guys on facebook messenger. I must admit at this point i was in a daze, numb at what lay at my feet and i did sit down and take a minute, i had too. The camera set i set about taking a few shots and while i did i was over the moon when two guys turned up over my shoulder and i was over happy when they agreed to do me a few pictures.
The guys took the pics congratulated me and moved off to set up in another swim for silvers. I quickly took the moment to take a quick video and even now looking back i cant believe it as i prepare it for publishing.
The time had come to release her back to her watery home and a moment i will never ever forget about this capture was the 5-10 minutes i had alone with this beauty of a fish while she rested in the margin in my landing net. One of the huge parts of my pike fishing over the years has been wondering just what a big pike looks like, i have seen many 20lb pike but only as they have swirled and taken a dace on the river dee but here at my feet i had one of those fish in the flesh and i guess this video sums up the feelings while she rested.
The fish kicking hard in the next it was time to let her go and away she went straight down to sulk on the bottom. i think at this point i rang everyone i could think off to tell them but i started off with the most important person, my dad, a man who i had learnt to fish with and also a person i have shared so many of my ambitions with on a Friday night and who suffers my constant fishing talk. Azza, Garry and Ste where all called and i must say from a pike point of view a special thank you to Garry for all his help and support with tactics and pointers, introducing me to new spots and sharing information and techniques that took me from blanking with dead baits on a lake we both happened to fish to the capture of this fish, thank you mucka and too ste again for the help, tips and the advice on what camo to pick for my next seasons piking, joking aside there is a lot to be said for the comradely that comes with the group we have with the pike fishing and believe me it certainly helps having pikers there when you see the run of blanks i go on after this fish.
In all honesty i sat there for around 20 minutes with no rod in the water as i just literally sat there and took in what had just happened, it may have even been longer and i did make a video to capture the moment but that will stay private as it holds special value to myself and i believe you do have to hold some things back.
I did eventually cast both rods back in but to say i was fishing was an joke as i day dreamed and relived the moments that had passed and constantly looked over my photos, i could have just packed in there and then.
It took a while for the next bite to come but when it did my heart was pounding, a lot of people say when that float goes you just dint know, i had subscribed to that theory but never really struck expecting anything but a jack. Things where different now though having seen the monsters that lurk in our waters. The time to strike come and although not in the league of the monster previous i was made up with this fish and another one was added to the challenge list.
The final bite of the day took a long time coming and it was right on last knockings and with the light fading i began to think here we go could be a special end to a special day. Striking i honestly thought the fish had spat the bait till it broke the surface. How mad that two fish from the same swim could be so different in size, one 20lb one possibly 20 ounces. All part of the learning curve of pike fishing.
Not long after i did the photo i called it a day and headed off home. Loading the car i did take a moment to think to myself that i wont be loading the car up too many times after such a fishing session and with that the music was put on loud and off i went on my way.
Till next time,
a very special tight lines