Tough Little Critters....
Since specifically going out to target pike as a species with dead baits there have been a number of things that have astounded me about this species, not least the fact they will actually pick up a tail of dead fish off the bottom, but it has been the sheer amount of resilience and ability to survive against all odds that has shocked me the most. I think i remember reading somewhere that the pike is one of the very few species who's fossils are found from many years ago that have not evolved or changed from then till now as they are so efficient at what they do....surviving.
I have lost count over the years catching pike both dead baiting and on the river just how many pike i have caught that are blind in one eye but still are there feeding well and looking, apart form the eye, healthy. Take this pike below i caught on the river dee, pug mouth and blind in one eye yet fat as a barrel and feeding well.
You of course see pike both young and old that bear the scars of a sinister liaison with a bigger pike at one time or another and i used to think to myself just how much these scars inhibit the pikes ability to feed as some can be quite bad. Well this week during a social piking session you will read about below Ste caught a pike that bared some horrific scarring which could have only been caused by a outboard motor and the pike not moving out of its way.
The scars looked like they where healed up but it just goes to show what a battering these pike can take during their lives and still be efficient at surviving and finding food. amazing creatures when you think about it.
Pondip Blogs Go live.......
Over the past few months i have settled into a rhythm of writing my blog and also writing a piece for the Pondip blog on their coarse boxes and a few on tips and hints for fishing. I am really enjoying this little project away form my main blog and the freedom it gives for me to go into detail on how i do my fishing, methods and little hints and tips i have picked up along the way. Some of the tips are probably not as refined or the tips you will see in the weekly mags but they are tips i wish i had known when first starting out, for example i wish i had known about asking the shop to elastic ate my first pole.
links to the two blogs are below:
Octobers Pondip box Review: http://blog.pondiptacklebox.com/2014/boxes/pole-fishing-box/
Tips on Pole fishing: http://blog.pondiptacklebox.com/2014/tips-and-tricks/pole-fishing-tips/
If you are interested in Pondip Tackle Boxes and what they offer as a company check out their page and don't forget to make the most of the discount code off the first box great little idea and a item i always look forward to dropping on my welcome mat.
Update on Piking Challenge.....
So we are just over a month into the pike challenge for 4 anglers to catch 400 pike, 30 doubles and a 20lb pike, and we are really pressing along nicely indeed. We are all getting out on the bank regular and catching pike on most trips, although i had a blip with 3 blanks on the bounce. The scores on the doors before the sessions below where 54 pike caught in total, with 5 doubles and one 20lb pike. We are a 1/6th of the way into the challenge and are just below where we need to be but if the journey to this point is anything to go on its going to be great fun trying to get as close as we can to the total.
In terms of the whole challenge it is going to be a case of seeing what the weather does, if it stays warm like it is now then i can see us putting together a good run of pike as they keep chasing lures and moving baits but if we get a sudden drop in temp and the snow and ice arrives things might get a little tougher and keeping the sheer number of pike we need coming in might see us falling behind. But as i have said its all about the fun of chasing such a high goal with your mates.
On to this weeks Fishing....
Saturday 1st November: Throwing a Wobbler....What have i been missing!.......
A email landing in my inbox the week before this session asking if i was interested in reviewing a pike rod on my blog so for Saturdays session i thought i would pack my little spinning rod into my holdall and have a bit of fun and in the process try and learn a new method. Having watched Garry, an excellent lure fisherman, for the past few months casting his favourite lures and catching some nice pike i had again been spoilt by having such a experienced teacher and although we had never really sat down and talked about lure fishing he had shown me a few times about the art of wobbling with dead baits.
I don't know if lure fishing will ever be for me, i am far too clumsy and unorganised to keep a load of lures from becoming a web of tangled hooks, but sink and drawing or wobbling is something that has always interested me but i guess confidence in not getting snagged and again a pike taking a dead fish clouded my mind.
In the week leading up to this session one of the pikers in our group, Ste, had been asked to do a article for the anglers mail and it involved twitching "kinky" dead baits. Like with Garry i had been on a few sessions with Ste and again like i had seen from Garry casting his lures, you could tell from the way Ste cast them with accuracy and how he worked them through the water he was good at it. Its a bit like watching a good river man running a stick through, they make it look so easy and effortless and that only comes with practise.
I am always gratefully to have two fantastic pike anglers to call mates, my pike fishing has come on so much this past year, and hopefully as the work dies down in all our jobs i can begin to repay them back with a few trips to the river and maybe even Garry's first pike from the Dee, till then i will just have to agree to stop dancing and singing on sessions and keep the pot noodles rolling in.
Back to the session and i arrived on the bank armed with one dead bait rod and my small lure rod that i have had since a kid and cost me a whole £6.00. This rod is as strong as an ox and was the only rod i took piking for many years on the Dee fishing lives for the pike and can boast pike to 13lb, not bad for a small rod, bends at the butt but gets em in. I cast the dead bait rod out on a roach dead bait and then began to wobble a roach dead bait back though the swim.
In my eyes the bait looked a mess as it swayed from side to side coming through the water and it took me a few casts to get the confidence to let the bait twist and turn then let it go slack so the bait falls as if it where a dying fish. I had cast in countless times and i could see the bait coming in and i thought if i can see it the pike can and then from now where BOOOM! a pike shot out from no where and absolutely nailed the fish. Calm came across me as i resisted the urge to strike and let the fish take the bait as it it was a dead bait run and then gave it a countdown and struck. Thankfully the fish stayed on unlike my bait that flew off in the fight and i was over the moon to have landed my first wobbled dead bait pike.
The pike released i set about recasting my dead bait rod which had remained strangely silent and to be honest would so all the session. My next take came from utilising a cunning little trick for picking up a bite. Basically it works on the principle that after casting around in an area you might not have had many takes but you may well have had a pike follow the bait right in and you not have seen it so after a few casts i let the bait sink the the bottom right under my feet and what you then do it let the bail arm off and watch the line to detect the bite. It may seem like a hard method but in practise there is no missing the bite as the braid starts to tremble and move away and this method caught me the best fish of the day in this 7lb 14oz pike.
After fishing away for a few hours taking a break here and there from the wobbling with no results i decided in a change of bait for the wobbling and i think it was either the third or fourth cast on the retrieve i felt a solid bang. You have to remember at this point in my wobbling i had seen a pike take close in and had one under my feet so i had no idea what a pike take felt like out in the water, in reality there was no missing it. I gave the fish line and struck praying i was not setting my hooks deeper into a snag. Thankfully my strike was met with the feeling of a fish rather than a sunken branch, only a jack but i did not care it was great learning a new method and even better catching on it.
Tuesday 4th November: Social Piking Session
With work levels low and the half term school holidays over and done with i jumped at the chance for a days leave from work and with a solid session behind me wobbling with dead baits on the Saturday the past three blanks where nothing but a distant memory, i felt i was cooking on gas again and it felt good. I was casting out with expectation of catching rather than expecting a blank which is always great.
My plan for the day was exactly the same as Saturday fishing a dead bait rod and use my lure rod to wobble a smelt. The four of us where all in attendance all evenly spread along the bank and unlike the mere we where a lot closer and could all gather and have a chat. My dead bait rod had not been in more than around half an hour when my oil loaded mackerel jack attracted some interest from a pike. The float bobbed a few times before it sailed off at some speed and the float submerged and i struck into a fish that i new was a better fish as it made hard runs taking line from the reel as it did so. Tilting the rod down and loosening off the drag to reduce the chance of a hook pull saw the tables swing in my favour and Ryan slid the net under a nice pike that surely had to go into double figures.
The pike swung the scales round to 11lb 4oz and we had another double to add to the list and my third of the season. Ryan was next to see his float sail away but his strike was met with an unsteady fight that saw the pike come off. It did not take long though for his mackerel "tail" to attract the pikes attention back to this scrumptious sushi banquet and this time he made no mistake and landed his first pike of the day in this sublimely marked pike.
During the next hours till noon we all tried in vain to lure the interest of a pike on our dead baits and wobbling and it was not until a move to a completely new area by Ste saw more pike coming as he landed 3 pike in as many casts including the pike with the horrific boat scars. It showed me big time how close you can be to pike and be so far away as with all that smell in the water you would have thought these pike would have smelt out our multitude of baits loaded with oil and moved onto them.
Ste had to get off to do a job at 1pm so it was decision time for the three remaining piking pirates did we stay put and move to the area ste had caught three fish or move to another location where we thought our chances where greater. We arrived to find the venue gin clear and not very appetising and i knew there and then from my river fishing that it was going to be a few hours till we had any action as darkness closed in.
Around 3pm i moved my bait from beside a overhanging willow into the middle and within seconds the float was moving off along the top. I gave the bite as long as i dared as i knew this could be my one and only chance. I struck and knew instantly i had a bad hook hold by the amount of head shaking it was doing and i could feel them all suggesting the hooks where loosely hooked in the pike jaw. A swift turn by the pike and it all went slack for a second as the fish parted with the hooks......but then all of a sudden the fish was on but it felt a lot bigger indeed and it wasn't until the fish came to the top we realised the fish was foul hooked in the tail. The fish must have spat the hooks and then the hooks must have hooked the fish again as it has flapped its tail to move away, lucky indeed.
This luck instantly ran out as when being netted the hooks caught on the outside of the net, disaster and i guess it was a fitting end to the fight for the pike to then have the last laugh and come off the hooks to freedom. That is the way it goes with pike fishing the margins between success and fail are so small.
The last hour loomed large and it was going into dark while preparing to recast my dead bait rod i heard a shout from Garry up the bank lure fishing to get the net. Before i could get the net the fish had come off but speaking to garry he said he had just witnessed the biggest pike he had ever seen take his lure, i asked if he thought it was new Pb potential and he said yeah for sure, his Pb is over 14lb so we was talking a decent fish.
Garry continued to cast his lure around the area while i had a cheeky cast over the far side both to no avail. The dark was setting in fast so we decided to call it a day and began walking back along the bank to Ryan to pack in. I then did something i have done hundreds of times before and dropped my smelt in the edge and began walking back to the car. One step, two, three BANG i was pulled backwards and halted in my steps as something grabbed onto the bait, no swearing on the blog but my words rhymed with hook me, I've got a take i said. By the time i walked back along the bank the float was gone out of sight.
I stuck and instantly the rod hooped over and this fish was not messing about as it pulled line from the reel, i could not stop it. Garry said give it some line and take your time its a nice fish i have just seen it and then it came up to the top, jesus it was nice fish all right! Garry took his chance a slid the landing net under the pike and we raced no danced along the bank to get the fish unhooked and on the unhooking mat. Garry instantly said he thought it was a 20 and i could not argue with him it was a deep fish. We nervously placed her in the weigh sling and ryan read out the scores, not a 20 but at 17.8lb i was not complaining, a very very very lucky capture.
The fish capped off a memorable first month of the season for me and i month i could only have dreamt about, well lets be honest here it was a month i have never dreamt about because i never thought it possible. I have had my fair share of luck along the way, not least with this 17lb8oz fish but as months go i had caught 22 pike with a 11.4lb, 15lb, 17.8lb and a 21lb 4oz fish accounting for my doubles within that. A month i doubt i will ever repeat in my life and one i am fully aware does not come along too often.
After these sessions it left us on 68 pike with Ste and Garry both finding time to also get out in the bank between my wobbling session and the social one.
Till next time