Tactics for Pike Fishing
When Pike fishing it is essential to use a wire trace to prevent certain bite-offs. Certainly If you intend to fish only occasionally for these toothy predators, ready-made traces are available from tackle shops. However, they are expensive and it is better to make your own if you plan to go Pike fishing regularly.
Trotted dead-bait or live-bait
The pike likes to lurk close and right under the bank and a live or deadbait trotted just off the rod top is one of the best ways to explore this area. Work the bait downsream, holding the float back at and particularly juicy looking spots – such as alongside dying weed beds, submerged tree roots and rafts – so the bait swings enticingly up in the water. At the end of the trot, instead of madly reeling in, work the bait back to your position, winding in a few turns at a time making the bait rise then allowing it to fall back a few feet. Very often it is on the return journey that the pike strikes. If bites are not forthcoming, try decreasing or increasing the depth at which the bait is fished before moving to a new trotting line.
Paternostered dead-bait or live-bait
For this, the rig is essentially the same as for float trotting, but a paternoster lead-link, of a lighter breaking strain line, is tied to the swivel. This stationary approach is suited to fishing close to snags such as weed beds and submerged trees. It is important to use a large enough float to prevent the current dragging it under. The depth the bait is fished is determined by the length of the paternosted tail. Properly set up, even an inert dead-bait such as a silvery herring can be made to wobble and flutter in the current. The rig can be moved downstream by raising the rod tip and allowing the current to trip the paternoster along the river bed.
The float-legered dead-bait or live-bait
We can see that the basic float rig is a very versatile set-up. If a leger bead is incorporated just above the trace swivel it is a simple matter to switch from a trotted or paternosted rig to a legered bait simple by adding a weight to the leger bead via a clip link.
Sink and draw dead-bait
The sink and draw or wobbled dead-bait is one of, if not the, most effective methods with which to catch river pike, yet it is often ignored even by seasoned pike anglers. The bait is effectively free- lined and can be allowed to drift with the current, trip along the river bed and rest for a few moments, or even minutes, on the bottom. It can be twitched erratically, suggesting the throes of a dying fish, or wobbled past a potential pike lair. Sink and draw baits allow one to cover so much more water in the course of a day’s fishing and are an excellent way of locating pike in a new stretch of river. The best baits for sink and draw are the silvery herring, dead roach and dace. Adding a couple of swan shot to the trace sinks coarse fish (they tend to float) and helps to impart an up-and-down movement to the bait on the retrieve. Provided the bait is not too large for the hook rig, instant striking will result in as many successfully hooked pike as the out-dated and potentially dangerous practice of allowing the fish to run and turn the bait first. In fact there is no need to strike, as such, simply wind down hard and bend into the fish. River pike fight like demons and will test almost every ounce of the 12—151b main line. Rods to cope with these heavy lines and baits must have a test curve of 2-2 3/4lb. A longer rod of 12 or even 13 ft allows more control when trotting and paternostering. It may be necessary to invest in a larger capacity reel to handle the heavier lines in use.
Unhooking pike is easy provided the right kit is carried and a simple procedure is followed. Make sure your tackle bag contains: a pair, and a spare, of forceps at least 8in long, a tough gardening glove (it should ft the left hand if right-handed) and a carp sack or unhooking mat to lie the pike on. Lie the pike on the unhooking mat and kneel astride or alongside the fish, its head forward. With the gloved left hand slip two fingers along the bottom of the gill cover and into the V-shaped slot beneath the jaw. Firmly lift the pike’s head, the jaws will drop open and give you a good view of the mouth interior. Use the forceps to remove the near-most treble and then, keeping the trace taut to prevent the first hook catching hold again, remove the second treble. Semi-barbless hooks and prompt striking are the best ways to ensure trouble-free hooking. If, however, the hooks are out of sight down the pike’s throat all is certainly not lost. Pull firmly on the trace until the first treble becomes visible, remove it then pull firmly until the second is sighted and remove that. With care the forceps can access through the gill slits. It is advisable to have a helper to hold the trace taut while you concentrate on the unhooking. Never be frightened to ask for assistance from more experienced anglers; they will be only too pleased to help. Good luck with your Pike fishing adventures 🙂