A warm welcome to this special update to the blog, I hope I find you well and your nets wet. This being my first full season pike fishing I thought it would be fun to document and recap on the season as a whole. The captures a long the way and the learning curve that is part of fishing and learning a new branch of our sport.Pike Fishing To Start of Season…
So as you can imagine being a dace and chub angler for many years fishing rivers I have had many run ins with the apex predator of the waters, the pike. Many a time happily fishing away and catching well the swim would die and eventually I would hit a fish and all would go solid as the pike claimed its meal. It was becoming a regular occurrence with the sessions so I started to put together a pike rod and fishing for these pike and had some great success with my biggest pike going 13lb 8oz.
This continued for a few years and it was not until the really bad floods of the winter of 2014 where all the rivers where completely flooded and unfishable I decided to delve into the world of dead baiting for pike. From January 1st till the end of the season I fished for pike on dead baits and had some great experiences learning the trade with Garry and did manage to beat my PB with a fish of over 14lb on a social session, this was the highlight of the season for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.Hopes, Aspirations And a Group Challenge For The New Season..
My first full Season pike fishing was looming large with only a month or so till October I was already thinking about the hunt for pike. It is very easy to set personal goals like a new personal best or your first 20 but this really does put added pressure on you, my own personal goals for the season where to have fun and improve my hooking rate and try to reduce the number of lost fish by learning to tie my own rigs.
I also was part of a group of four good mates who decided for fun to do a bit of a pike challenge. The challenge was to catch 400 pike in total with 30 being of double figures and one 20lb pike between us. A tall order but it was something to go at and I set myself a challenge of getting as close to my quota of 100 pike as possible.So with that let’s see how the season unfolded…
Pre October 1st..Most of this season has been spent on the banks of the River Dane searching out new spots where the silver fish hold. This being a small river our liaisons with Pike had been sparse to this point with only one session being interrupted by pike activity. I would say pike started to get into my mind in August when a session on the Dane saw me menaced by two pike who where veraciously on the feed. A fish that survived a mauling but was fatally wounded was put out to catch this pike and it didn’t take long before this lovely pike of 12lb was on the bank.
This lit a fire for pike for me and from this capture my pike head was on.
It Starts….The 28th September marked my first dedicated trip out for pike and armed with my new homemade wire traces, fox lead set up and plenty of enthusiasm I visited a old haunt from last season. It turned out to be a profitable trip with a jack and my first double of the season hitting the bank in this 12lb pike. The capture was backed up with a small jack and two more on an evening trip later that week.
October “A month to Remember”
The 1st of October and it was the start of three days off work for me and I had one thing on my mind, Pike. The challenge for us officially started on this day so all captures before this did not count. I hit the bank and at this stage I had no expectations and was actually worried about catching 10 pike in the whole season never mind 100. The first session was just what I needed as I caught a tiny jack early on and went on to put 5 pike on the bank and this session really gave me the confidence I needed and something to build on. The best fish of the day a pike of around 7lb.
From this session I spent the next few days picking up the odd fish here and there which saw me adding 4 more fish to my total leaving me on 9 fish as I headed out on a cold crisp Sunday morning. This session was the first one where I felt a nip in the air as the overnight temperature plummeted to just above freezing. A smelt fished off the bottom was soon snaffled and striking I expected the resistance of the jacks I had caught thus far on this adventure. What I got was a solid defiant stand and fight power of a nice pike that was giving no quarter and put up an almighty fight. In the net I knew it was the best fish of the season so far and on the scales I was buzzing when the scales settled on exactly 15lb and a new PB!!
I landed two more pike on this morning session one being an upper single and as with so many sessions this season the action all came in a short period of activity. This session marked the start of a week where I would have an opportunity to get out again midweek due to a Strike day in work. The venue I was heading to does have the potential for huge pike but its is all or nothing, if they are on feed then its cracking fishing but it can be really moody, but this session under my belt I was going full of confidence and with 10 pike under my belt.
The Session of the Season..There have been many session during this season and so many happy memories on the bank with my mates but this session, like it does with all anglers, will live in my memory forever and that session is the one where I caught my first 20lb pike. I arrived at the bank and within a few minutes had lost my first pike due to a hook pull and I hope and prayed it was not the start of things to come. The other lads, both in work, where on the phone pumping up the pressure to not blank and the banter was first class. 10.21Am on the 15th October 2014 my left hand float fished into a deeper depression in the bottom bobbed once, than again and then erratically moved along the top, I instantly thought jack pike. The float then moved slowly right before submerging out of sight. I gave it the countdown before striking into the fish, with a hard strike to set the hooks the float did not rise up out of the water and I thought I had snagged on the bottom……then the bottom moved and the realisation across my body of the size of fish I was connected to hit me. Garry had told me to but a deeper bigger net last season and I had done so but this fish looked like it would not fit into it.
The fish eventually came up in the water and with my arm already aching I saw my prize and she turned and powered away. The moment I had wanted to happen was right there as I always wanted to know what it felt like when you first see that big pike come up and there it was, the fear now was not losing it. She eventually came up again and I took my chance. In the net lay a monster.
It took me a while to come to my senses, I couldn’t even look at the fish or even think about taking her out of the water, I was numb and in a daze at what was in my net. Unhooked and on the scales she went 21lb 3oz!! and thankfully in such a special moment two people appeared who gladly took some pictures for me.
Resting in the net till she recovered the moment came to part ways and with it an air of reflection came over me and I spent the next 20 minutes just sat there in pure reflection of the moment. The rest of the session went by in a blur and I did catch two more pike before leaving, a session I will never ever forget. This session is covered in the following blog update in even more detail:Lost my way…
After this fish I thought I would be more relaxed about my fishing for pike and would be less pressure on session but what happened was a complete lack of thrust and energy as the realisation of a dream had been realised, my reason for going to experience what a pike like that looks and feels like had been lived and I went on a series of blanks after this which where down a lot to a lack of motivation and interest and it wasn’t until towards the end of the month I landed my final pike of October with a pike of 9.5lb.
November….Socials and Learning To Wobble
Ending October with 16 pike I think it was under my belt two of which where new Personal Bests and one being my first twenty its hard to think how a first month of the season pike fishing could have gone any better given the venues I was fishing. November brought the first social sessions of the season for us and this along with a good chat with Ste about how I was feeling since my first twenty capture got me back into it and he was right after a period of time the fire was there to get back out and I was a lot more confident in my piking and decisions. The big fish and catching fish on my own proved what I was doing was right and this saw me hitting the bank not just hoping to catch but expecting.Right at the end of October I was contacted by a tackle shop with the view of them sending over some pike lure rods for me to use and blog about, it was something I had never ever done and lure fishing wasn’t up my street but I had watched Ste wobbling smelts and roach. Both Garry and Ste have had huge impacts on my pike fishing as you will read in the updates but wobbling a dead bait was certainly a part of piking Ste excels at and being the good man he is he was more than willing to give me a few pointers before I hit the bank.
My first wobbling session and I had been casting without a touch for a good 30 minutes when right under my feet a saw a pike swirl and nail my roach, all the lessons about flipping the bail arm went out of my head but just before striking a light bulb moment happened and I let the fish take the bait before striking and my reward a 9.5lb pike, my first of three that day on the wobble.
The 4th of November marked the first social where we would all be out together on the bank. I had a quick early bite that saw me crossing paths with an old friend from last season. She was a fish that held my still water personal best at the time when I caught her in January and now she had lost that winter weight as was fattening up for winter. Good to see an old friend little did I know at the time how many times she would revisit me.
Ste and Ryan all picked up fish in the morning and it was not until we moved locations and right on dark as we where walking along the bank to pack in that I got a take out of the blue. Pulling a bait behind me all went solid as the take from the pike stopped me in my steps, I gave the pike a countdown in the twilight and struck hard into a solid fish, luckily Garry was close to get the fish in the net nice and early and before us lay a beautiful 17lb pike. Two doubles in a day I was one happy angler.
After this session wobbling really took over a lot of my piking and accounted for most of my fish on the bank. I still went out with my dead bait rod but I now also carried an old boat rod I had owned since a kid and cost me £6.00. Time and time again this rod would be the one that would pick me up a fish on a session. Only jacks like the one below but it was keeping the numbers ticking over towards 100 pike for the season.
To this point I was heading out fishing for pike hoping for one chance of a fish and if I did I thought I was doing well and time on the bank would be relative to number of pike caught. It was not until a social session with Ste where I had my eyes well and truly opened, BIG TIME. We met up and headed of to a completely new venue for me and with only the morning available for us both I hoped for one pike as normal. We both cast in and within minutes Stes dead bait was away and a pike was on the bank, then I lost one and landed on moments later then Ste caught another. I ended the session with two pike and ste with at least that number but it was the sheer amount of pike activity in one area and how frantic a pike session can be that shocked me, it was pike fishing like I had never imagined it could be!
I left Ste and stopped off on another venue on the way home where I added two more pike to the list including another visit from the pike from the social. I ended the month rather aptly catching this pike again and a splattering of single caught on both wobbling and dead bait tactics.
November in summary was a month full of learning for me it was a month that changed my whole season and gave me confidence to get out there and practice all I had been taught and also a month that saw some special fish captures.
December – A life Changing month
December arrived and with it my first pike on the 2nd of December and in keeping with my fishing at the time it came on a wobbled smelt left to lie in the edge, this was a tactic that was picking me up fish after fish and one I was really getting to grips with.This month also marked the month where our little boy would arrive so there was plenty going on away from fishing to sort out. Fishing time was at a premium although I always had a day booked off on my birthday foe a days fishing. It was a terrible day conditions wise with Ste where we both got battered by rain wind and hail and it was only one fish on the wobble as reward, a tough day but one that made the next months so hard earned.
After this I grabbed a few hours here and there wherever I could to wet a line for pike and it was proving productive as a morning here and a morning there was producing one or two fish a trip. Not enough for me to kit our target but it was keeping fish coming and I was happy I was doing that. This year after all was a learning curve for me and fish on the bank was showing I was doing the right thing.
During this month i spent a lot of time on the bank alone learning my trade and making my own mistakes but all the time learning. I would have the odd set back but also morale boosting successes. During this period i baited up an area and visited it regular and witnessed first hand how devastating this can be for keeping feeding pike in the area you want and also attracting new blood into the area. Some pike i would recognize from past trips but others where new fish and proved this method worked. Another string in my bow for future years and of course along the way you see the nature changing all around.
The birth of our little boy saw fishing take a back seat until our planned social on Christmas eve where I was happy to register on pike on the bank. The last session of the year saw me out on the 28th December for a quick few hours and it was rather apt that I ended the year with two fish and one of which was the pike I had run into a number of times. This was the last time I caught her in the season, a fact I was happy about to be honest, we parted ways and I hope to see her next season even if it is to just know she is about.
January – Learning all The time..January came around and time had literally flown by it was only yesterday I was holding that 20lb pike yet that was a good two and a half months ago. Being off work on paternity and annual leave meant I was grabbing any time I could that was free to get out. Not being in work also meant I had gaps in the week to get out as well so I could really pick and chose my time to get out. I loved the freedom this brought me and took full advantage of it,
I was putting in a lot of time of sessions on the bank but only a few hours at a time from first light or the last few hours of the day. What this meant was I was learning all the time about pike fishing, when to strike and most of all I was learning an area I had targeted. I picked an area and after each session I would pre bait it with a few bits of fish for my next session, it worked a treat as each session I was getting runs almost instantly. A tactic I had been told about but I was learning to do it myself and it was working and will set me in good stead and give me confidence in this tactic for next season’s campaigns.This month saw me spending time on my own baited area and having more free time I was also arranging to meet up with Ste more often on socials. The socials where sessions I really looked forward too as sat waiting for a bite we would have many conversations about all manner of fishing and also I loved listening to Stes stories about his fishing adventures. The first double of the season came for me on one of these socials and it was one of my favourite fish of the season as the run was so memorable and from a spot we gave no chance of a run.
During this month my type of fishing was opitamised by the following capture as a two hour window in the morning before the house woke up was jumped at and a roach dead bait presented in the edge was gladly taken by this nice pike below. Around a hour on the bank in fishing time and a fish on the bank was pretty much how all my fishing was at this point.
To this point the weather had been really up and down with warm days followed by one or two freezing cold days and then the temps would rise again which meant no settle weather at all. This all changed towards the end of January, well the last day in face as on the 31st Jan me and Ste headed out in search of a pike ion the snow and we both thankfully got our wish.
A lovely way to end the month of January.
February..The Month of Pike…
My mind after this session was full of one species, pike and it came as no surprise that we found ourselves back on the hunt for these fish a week later. I woke on the morning of the session telling myself not to get carried away and there is a good chance it will not be like the previous session, I was wrong. Again the pike showed and the action was ferocious, we travelled a bit further on this session to put the numbers together but still ended the session on 9 pike between us. At this point I was on around 70 pike for the season I think and ste was in the 80’s and that target of 100 pike was now starting to creep in our minds as a possibility.
Sharing the bank with Ste was a great laugh and you know what after piking in the snow and hail on my birthday and hunting pike in the wind and snow on other sessions there was an air that we had earned this run of good fishing.
The end of them month saw us out again for one last go sat the pike and again the fishing was good although we were certainly having to work harder for the bites as the fish became more localised. I ended the month with a two jacks that took my total to 75 pike, I had experienced a months fishing I will never ever forget it was fantastic and have such fond memories of this months fishing that will last a lifetime.
March – Gutted its coming to an end..
Going into March on 75 pike I was hoping to build on the previous months sessions and try to get as close to the 100 as possible before the end of march. Early on in march I began speaking to Go Outdoors about me appearing at one of their store openings at the end of that month so I knew time towards the end of March would be hard to come by so I was not hanging around.The sessions again socials with Ste had a real sense of purpose as we tried to add to Garrys catches to hit the 30 double figure pike for the challenge. Work commitments had severely hit Garry’s campaign this year but March saw him getting out regular and connecting with some nice fish like the one below.
Ste was also hitting some of his big fish waters and his efforts getting up at the crack of dawn where rewarded with this 17lb barrel of a pike!
The doubles where feeding up for sure and on our first session on the 7th of March we hit the bank. The pike were there but boy where we working hard for them. Ste had two early on and the dreaded curse of the 9.5lb pike hit home as both Ste and myself caught a 9.5lb pike a piece. Ste ended the session on 3 pike and I on last knockings connected with a nice pike that went 10.5lb on the scales and rounded the session off nicely.
My next session of the month was a solo affair where I grabbed a chance of 3 hours on the bank. Arriving in the dark I knew I had to work quick to be in with a chance. This was time for me to put all I had learned to the test and see how I fared. I quickly had a line in the water and did not hang around, I knew the key was to find the fish so 15-20 minutes of no activity saw me moving. My instincts proved right as on the third location the float slid away moments after casting in. Leaving the run to develop I struck and was into a fish that fought like a demon keeping deep and I was made up to get this girl in the net and at 11lb made the trip a worthwhile one. I added another pike before leaving with a pike of 8lb but it was a session that showed me how I had come on as a pike angler in the season.
The 15th or March and with a stonking chub session the previous day to end the river season I hit the bank on a social with Ste the next day. Little did we know at the time this would be our last session of the season as work and other commitments took over. The session was a really slow affair and the temperatures where notably higher and to be honest the whole session had the feel of the end about it. Deep down I think I knew this was my last session out for pike and after starting the year heading into the unknown as to whether pike fishing was for me and if I could catch pike I was finishing it gutted it had come to an end. The final session Ste picked up two early fish to the customary 9.5lb just short of the one double we needed to hit the target. To this point all the fish on the sessions where spread evenly e.g 9 fish 5 for one 4 for the other and so on but this session it was Stes rod that was seeing all the action. A dropped run for me only served to tease me further, I had caught a lot of pike, more than I could have dreamed about in the past month but I needed one more!
Just before it was time to cal it a day my dead bait rod slid away and I struck into a pike that was solid from the outset it had more fight than the ones previous and when is saw the cover of a moored boat it went right underneath it!! Rod under the water I prayed the hooks did n ot find the wood of the bottom of the boat and I made up then Ste scooped her up, a double for sure and no finer way to end the season for myself.
That was it for all of us piking and with regards the target WE finished on:
1 20lb Pike
The season was one of the best things I have done in angling I shared the bank with people I regard as good mates and we caught some nice fish and shared some fantastic memories. Personally I fell in love with a branch of the sport and I can not imagine a winter where I wont be pike fishing now. I thoroughly enjoyed everything about it and I would like to personally thank Garry, Ste and Ryan for all their help, tips, advice and banter that made this season one to remember.
Till next year tight lines