Pleasure Piking on Forgotten StillwatersI have decided to do this article on piking because since I changed my approach I have had more success this season than any other to date.
Now, I will be the first to admit I am no expert in the art that is pike fishing and till this year I had only a basic understanding of methods and rigs but since my new approach, I seem to have gained experience that makes me think like a pike.
Like many novice pike anglers thought it was just about sticking two trebles into a deadbait, casting it out with a pike float attached and sit and wait for a pike to snaffle it up: piece of cake! So that is what I did for the last two seasons and, don’t get me wrong, I had a few fish but using heavy rods and lines you never really get that buzz of the fight. So something had to change.
I thought about that famous quote from George Bernard Shaw: “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”.
So I have bought myself an 8ft Shimano Beastmaster 5g-20g (£ 45) spooled my Stradic up with 10lb Calcutta braid and got myself a Wychwood lure bag and a Fox Predator landing net; this set-up is perfect for the roving lure fisherman.
Now it is a bit on the light side if you are thinking of targeting monster pike on big waters but for small stillwaters and rivers it suits me fine. The advantage is that, if the pike are having an off day, I am just as happy to use this lighter set-up catching perch or maybe chub.
The other decision I made was to go back to those old stillwaters; you know, the ones you used to fish as a kid and for one reason or another no one bothers with any more, after all pike thrive on neglect. So my advice to you all is simple: get back on your old stomping grounds and see what it throws up, the more overgrown the better.
I decided to go back to such a waterI trudged across three fields to find a lovely lake with only one angler fishing in his favourite spot, one he has probably fished for years. He seemed surprised to see me and after exchanging pleasantries I was off to the other end of the lake. So, armed with only a few spinners and my most trusted lures, which happen to be jointed Rapalas, plus some new additions in the form of rubber shads and fish imitations from the Calcutta range.
I started fishing with an Ondex spinner at first light just to see if a perch would show up as I really would like to catch a specimen perch this year. But no luck, so I decide to put on a white-bodied shad with a green tail, and second cast I feel a fish striking at the lure. This set up is so sensitive it is very exciting as you feel everything through the rod. I inspected the shad and there were bite marks in the tail. Good start, I thought, as I cast to the same spot and used the same slow retrieve. Bang! And the the lure was nailed and I was into a small jack that was lightly hooked.
I had a few more casts and decided to move on, still with faith in my chosen lure. I finally made my way through the brambles and found a suitable spot that looked pikey. It had loads of ambush points in the reeds and I couldn’t help thinking that there had to be a big one in there somewhere. I was retrieving my second cast in the new spot when tap, tap and away again; another Jack but a bit bigger that time, that one had a scar on its flank, maybe inflicted by a bigger pike.
Working my way around the lake I had a couple more Jack’s/ They kept nailing the shad so I saw no reason to change the lure. it had been a great morning so I decided to have a sit down and take in the scenery. I watched the kingfisher sat in the willow checking the margins for fry. I always feel there a good omen if you see a kingfisher. Well, they seem to be for me anyway.
I moved round to the big willow that overhangs the water. The local who was fishing there was packing up as his swim had gone dead. His swim looked pikey and I thought there must have been something there waiting for unsuspecting fish cruising past, so I cast my lure and worked it slowly through the swim, twitching the lure tantalisingly and searching the nooks and crannies. After about five casts – thump! and it felt like a lump.
This is no Jack, this is a Jill, and she was having none of it. Surging for the safety of the roots I managed to bring her out, the rod bent right to the butt and doing a great job. After a good thrilling battle she was in the net, a nice double with a right set of teeth and a split fin at the back making her easy to recognise if caught again. She was a lovely looking fish, so I took a quick photo and swiftly returned her back to the water. Result.
So there you have it. I hope that it inspires one or two of you into giving it a go, especially if, like me, you are fed up with the deadbait, pressured water approach.
Try something new, go to neglected and forgotten stillwaters with light tackle and have some fun.