The pike is one of the UK’s most notorious and often misunderstood fish, there are tales of Pike attacking all sorts of animals, sheep, dogs and even humans!! This is of course a load of bollocks! 🙂
The Pike has become one of my favourite species, I am still new to Pike fishing but the feeling of catching one of these beautiful creatures is in my opinion unbeatable. Carp anglers will disagree I’m sure…
There are various ways to catch pike but they are all grouped into 3 main categories:
- Live Baiting
- Dead Baiting
- Lure Fishing
Each of these categories is a huge subject in itself so I will write a post about each at a later date.
This is possibly the most controversial Pike fishing technique, as the name suggests it involves using “live” bait in order to catch the fish. By fishing with a live prey fish on the hook there is generally no better way of achieving the “natural” behaviour with your hook bait. Live bait can be any species of “minnow” or small fish, usually fish caught at the venue you wish to fish are the best, however you have to spend the time catching your bait before you can start Pike fishing.
There is a belief that live baiting is a cruel method as it gives the bait fish no chance of escape or survival, some people think it cruel because of the pain inflicted on the bait fish by the hook (and the Pikes teeth…).
A lot of venues prohibit live baiting because of the risk of spreading disease, if your bait fish were caught elsewhere and stored in a bucket then transported to the venue you wish to fish there is no way of telling if those fish were carrying a disease. This could destroy fish populations in fishing venues. Venues may also restock their waters regularly, only for a keen “Piker” to come along and catch the small fry which were stocked and feed them to a hungry Pike. I can see why these venues don’t like live bait because of these two reasons.
The Angling Trust in the UK believe that live baiting is a traditional and legitimate Pike fishing technique and as such haven’t banned it in the UK. However they do also say that it should be the venue or the anglers personal preference whether to use live fish as bait or not.
Because of the controversy which surrounds it this method is banned by a lot of venues, and as such isn’t the most common method of catching Pike.
This Pike fishing method is much more accepted by the general public and anglers alike, dead baiting as the name suggests involves the use of a dead bait fish on the hook. These bait fish can be of any species, both fresh water and marine. Common fish species to use are sprat, sardine, herring, eel, and mackerel, All of which are marine fish as you have probably already guessed. There are specialist bait companies who also supply fresh water fish such as roach, dace, chub etc… But this in itself has been described as controversial because these fish were reared only to be used as bait fish, killed once they reach the perfect size (yes these fish are sold in different sizes).
The best place to buy dead bait fish would be the supermarket fish counter or local fishmonger (do they still exist?) they have a wide range if fish available and pretty cheap prices, you could even wait till late in the day just before closing time and ask them if they are willing to sell them cheap instead of throwing them in the bin.
Dead baiting is the most common pike fishing technique, and often the cheapest too and is effective all year round.
This is usually the first pike fishing method people try out when starting Pike Fishing, as it is fairly simple. In the most basic form you are using an artificial lure attached to your mainline. Lures come in many different shapes and sizes, some can be expensive, upwards of £15 per lure, if like me you snag a lot then this can become very expensive indeed.
Lure fishing usually requires specialist spinning rods, reels and line, short springy spinning rods and braided fishing line are more or less a requirement of lure fishing. Braided line gives greater control over the lure as there is zero stretch in braid, mono lines tend to stretch slightly which can effect the behavior and control of the lures.
Types of lure
Artificial lures come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but are generally grouped into one of the following 8 categories:
- Soft plastics
This is a highly active Pike fishing technique, I’ve found it keeps you busy and in my opinion is much better than the sit and wait tactics often used with dead baiting. I have also been teaching my 8 year old son how to fish, and fishing lures is much better for him as he is always “doing something”, for those of you with kids you would agree that to keep them interested in fishing is very difficult, especially if they aren’t catching regularly.
I Iike lure fishing because it enables you to “wander” and try out many different swims, it helps you find the fish, you can usually get away with just taking your lightweight spinning rod and a bag of lures, no need for rod rests, seat boxes etc…
Pros and Cons
There are various advantages to lure fishing for Pike.
- Less messy than traditional bait
- More active
- Fish less likely to swallow the lure, making it safer for the fish
- Water coverage is excellent
- Easy to change the lure and experiment
- Can be expensive
- Lures can easily snag under water
- Are shite in weedy conditions
- Not always very effective in cold weather
Essential equipment for Piking
As with all types of angling there are essential items of tackle which you need for Pike fishing. Obviously a strong rod and decent reel, these two items will vary depending whether you are live, dead baiting or lure fishing. But other essential items all pike anglers must consider are:
- Forceps, short and long variety
- Wire leader / trace
- Wire cutters (for cutting through treble hooks and wire trace material)
- Braid blades
- Strong swivels
- Snap link swivels
- Unhooking mat
- Pike glove
- Plasters (accidents happen right)
- Weighing scales and sling
- Large landing net
I have bought a lot of my Pike gear from Dragon Carp Direct, great prices!
Mick Brown, Master!
I have been searching for Pike Fishing videos on Youtube, I have found this one which I think is perfect for this post by Mick Brown, a true master of piking.