How To Catch Pike



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Pike Factfile

  • The Latin name for pike is esox lucius
  • Up until relatively recently, the pike was considered something of a delicacy in this country. Many cultures still eat pike but critics complain it has a muddy taste.
  • Be extremely careful when unhooking pike. Not only do they possess hundreds of very sharp teeth, their gill rakers are highly abrasive and will remove skin easily.
  • The British pike record stands at 46lb 13oz and was caught by Roy Lewis from Llandegfedd Reservoir in Wales in 1992.

PikeWhere do I find them?
Pike are found throughout Great Britain. Apart from on heavily managed fisheries, pike will survive wherever there is fish for them to prey on.

Recognising what they look like
The pike is a near-perfect killing machine and the ultimate freshwater predator.

With its green and yellow polka dot markings, it is perfectly camouflaged and able to lurk in the underwater shadows waiting to strike. Couple that with a long, lean body capable of covering short distances at great speed and a head full of tiny razor-sharp teeth, and you have a creature perfectly suited to eating other fish.

Pike are also blessed with very good eyesight and a good sense of smell – something that is vital if the water is coloured.

Of the two sexes, female pike grow much larger than males and ‘jacks’ will gather around the females at spawning time in order to try and fertilise the eggs.

Spawning time normally takes in spring when the water temperature reaches 48F (9C).

Pike are widely regarded as a winter species, primarily because they are prepared to feed in all but the coldest weather.

Which venues do they live in?
Pike can be found in almost all venues where there is enough food for them to eat. Ponds, lakes and gravel pits all hold them, as do canals, drains and rivers, too.

Knowing where to start fishing for pike can be difficult because they like to move around. But the normal features you would look for if perch were the target – bridges, underwater structures, holes in weed beds, overhanging trees and drop offs – are all worth investigating. Basically anywhere that provides an ambush point is a good place to start.

What is on the menu for pike?
As a predatory species, pike eat a diet predominantly consisting of fish. They don’t seem to favour any particular type and prefer to make life easy for themselves by targeting those that are wounded or distressed.

They are greedy, too. Even small pike have been known to take on sizeable prey, with some even perishing as a result of biting off more than they can chew – literally!

Fish are the mainstay of their diet, but they are sometimes supplemented by the likes of water rodents and ducklings. Pike are essentially opportunist feeders, so whatever comes easily will be consumed.

What’s the best way to target them?
The traditional – and most consistently successful – way of catching pike is with fish, either alive or dead.

Popular coarse baits are roach, rudd and skimmer bream, although sea fish like mackerel, herring and lamprey are very successful.

Should you choose to livebait, ensure the fishery allows the practice. Also make sure you only use fish caught from the venue you are fishing – transferring live fish from one place to another is illegal.

Fish baits are then presented on a leger or float rig but whatever you choose, ensure your tackle is up to the job. And remember, a wire trace is absolutely essential. 

Aside from using fish as bait, another highly effective way of catching pike is with a lure. They are an instinctive species that can be triggered into feeding mode with a carefully worked spinner, plug or jig.

Whatever method you use for catching pike, be very careful when you have them on the bank. They might be the apex predator in your water, but they are extremely vulnerable when removed from their home. An unhooking mat and forceps are crucial pieces of kit. It is ALWAYS best to go pike fishing with someone with experience before going alone.

Also, be sure to check out the Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain FIRST - - where you will find in-depth advice about tackle, rigs, methods and, most importantly, pike care and conservation.

Go and target pike now!
So what tackle do you need to catch pike? As powerful creatures that can grow in excess of 40lb, your gear needs to be strong enough to do the job.

In terms of a rod, opt for something like this PowerCaster Pike Rod which has plenty of backbone.

A reel with a big line capacity is essential and it needs to be built to be able to deal with the rigours of casting heavy rigs and baits at distance. This one is a good option.

Mainline needs to be tough and abrasion resistant so go for at least 15lb test and a wire trace, as mentioned, is essential and these can be bought with hooks already attached, like these.

If you prefer to lure fish for pike, specialist kit is a required. A shorter rod, say 9ft, is ideal but you can buy ‘all-rounders’ – rods that are multi-functional and can be fished at 9ft or 12ft, such as this Powercast. These enable you to do both disciplines without the need to purchase multiple rods.

If you are lure fishing, there is no need for such a big reel. Choose something that will balance the shorter rod – like this compact and reliable model.

Wychwood Pike PlugsWhen it comes to lures, the choice is huge. There are no hard and fast rules and part of the fun is experimenting with different shapes and patterns. Try plugs or spinners or even jigs.

If you are tempted to have a go at lure fishing for pike but don’t want to spend too much on kit, combination deals, like this one are inexpensive, yet contain everything you need.

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