Pike Baits

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Clint Walker’s Autumn Blog

This week has been tough. I’ve endured three sessions for a very measly return… I’m blaming the rain, after all it can’t be me can it? In truth, my local venues have suffered, the recent deluge has put a couple of feet of extra water on most of them, and indeed, some are barely accessible due to flooding, but I’ve had to scratch the itch, so I’ve been out in search of pike again…

My first visit of the week was to Cheshire venue Astbury Mere on the Stoke-on-Trent Angling Society card. It’s a favourite of mine and contains pike in excess of 25lb, reputedly bigger, but until I’ve weighed one, I’m loathe to subscribe to hearsay but see no reason why it shouldn’t. I returned to ‘Double Reeds’, a roomy peg offering both open water and cover, and dropped two baits in within twenty yards of the bank. Despite regular changes of bait and position, I couldn’t get a bite, so after a fruitless few hours, gave up and went home. The day wasn’t completely wasted as I spent some of it taking some rather fetching product images for my brand supporters, but sadly couldn’t add a catch shot to the portfolio! 

The third session was also a tough one. A smaller water was targeted, a pool of perhaps an acre which I know contains some hefty predators, and once again, two baits were despatched into the depths to try and tempt a toothy adversary. I sat all day watching motionless indicators, drinking copious amounts of tea trying various permutations to no avail. The pike just weren’t interested, so I started to pack away my gear as dusk fell. Obviously, at that point, the line pulled away from the clip and I watched braid unravel off the spool as a pike moved away towards the centre of the lake. I lifted the rod skyward, felt a good solid thump at the other end, and commenced battle with a decent fish… for about thirty seconds, then it was gone… The hooks hadn’t found purchase, so another day passed without success…

I’ve missed out the second session so I could finish with a fish. I had a few hours spare before an appointment with five grandchildren (do you see why I fish now?) so snatched up a lure rod and set forth to explore an estate lake where I’ve only ever fished with deadbaits previously. With over three hundred yards of bank to wander, I set out at the top end of the lake, flinging various bits of rubber about without success. It’s a shallow lake so retrieves have to be fairly swift to prevent the lure catching the lake bed, but a couple of hundred casts saw absolutely no interest! Once I’d reached the far end of the water, I switched over to a floating surface lure as I’ve lost plenty of roach to marauding predators as they have been recovered and I hoped it would provoke a strike by a waiting snapper. A couple of hundred more casts saw only one tentative follow, and the pike stopped when it saw me and bolted away from me; not a good result… 

I moved on to explore another water, one I knew to be flooded, but I was hopeful that I would be able to make the bank somewhere on the perimeter. I parked up, and from the car park, I could see that it was even worse than I feared with flood water sitting across the surrounding fields, so I left the rod in the van and walked down to look at the situation. Despite the mire, there were two anglers on the bank, and a carp had been caught. The water was up at least two feet, but surprisingly clear and with rod close to hand, I couldn’t resist and after exchanging pleasantries, I retrieved the rod and my other tackle and stomped back down to the water’s edge…

I’d selected a bright white/gold shad and threaded it onto a suitable jig head to give casting weight to hit the marginal shelf of the central island. I worked a fan shaped attack on the first peg, varying the depth, speed and type of retrieve, but still couldn’t buy a bite. The lure became stuck on a snag, and after finally freeing the hook by ‘twanging’ the braid, my rubber shad had been shredded and needed replacing. A green/red ‘perchy’ lure was substituted, and I moved around the lake to the next few pegs in turn. An hour in, still nothing and in truth I was getting very frustrated and vowed to have just five more casts before going to my rendezvous with the kids. With just two casts left, the clouds overhead parted and the sun shone down into the depths so I could just about make out the bottom of the lake as the water cleared. I saw my lure move from shadow to light, and as I made it skip up off the bottom, I was astonished to watch a reasonable pike slide into view immediately behind it! It stopped directly astern of my lure, half in shadow, half in light, and I could make out every mottled shade as it weighed up my offering. Pike move extremely fast during an attack and after a brief millisecond of consideration, the gills flared, the gaping maw opened and my ‘perchy’ victim was sucked into the cavernous chops as the teeth bit down! The pike turned instantly in an explosion of spray as my hook found purchase and the fish tried to dislodge it at point blank range! 

Playing a pike on braid at close range can be unforgiving, but luckily the hook held and after a minute or two of scrapping, the pike lay on the mat. Was it a big fish? Not really, probably just in double figures although in immaculate condition, and a very pleasing fish on fairly light tackle. Swiftly unhooked, I lofted my prize for the usual ‘grip ‘n grin’ picture before resting it in the net in the margins to recover fully from where it eventually sulked away back into the shadows… I never tire of releasing pike, watching camouflaged backs slide back into the depths and getting soaked by impudent flicks of the tail as they disappear from whence they came… they really are an awesome apex predator, I just wish I could catch more of them! Maybe next week I’ll have more to report, because I’ll be back on the bank hoping for a bit better luck; see you there! 


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Published by: Paul Garner on 9th December 2019

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