A GHILLIES TALE


 

 WINTER PIKE ON THE FLY

' Early winter's chill takes a grip as icy winds blow hard across a barren landscape....creatures of the land retreat into secret lairs and those that swim seek refuge in the innermost depths of our waterways.Life is subdued..verging on static..there is little if any noticeable activity but life goes on beneath the icy confines.Only slower than usual. '

SEPTEMBER TO MID JANUARY

As summer's warmth melts into winter's cold-pike populations venture forth from summer residencies seeking warmer water lyes offering cover and security.Dropping temperatures have reduced the pike's metabolism and lethargy floods the fish's body.Unwilling to chase baitfish or fry our pike are content to lye up until an offering of food literally passes in front of them.Experiencing their lowest metabolic rate,changes of habit are a natural progression...Low energy levels brought about by low metabolism require less food to sustain and periods of in-activity ensue.

MID JANUARY TO MARCH /EARLY SPRING

Mid January is a turning point in the pike world,

Hen fish swarm into shallow water bays and slack backwaters anywhere from ankle – knee depth preferably with a bed of sand and some weed cover.Followed closely by the males to enact spawning rituals.Late spring,spawning is well over and resident pike return to their summer haunts some ten -fifteen feet deep.

TO TEMPT A WINTER PIKE

[Baits and methods]

Winter paints a black picture for the pike angler but it is still possible to tempt quality pike through these dark days.As with all disciplines of angling presentation is the key to success.

In the case of winter pike I pay particular attention to tackle,the way the lure/fly is presented and the way the chosen lure/fly is fished with accuracy.It is essential that the points below are taken into account..Fish the lure/fly as SLOWLY as possibleChoose a lure/fly with lots of mobility

Fish shallow margins-more pike will be found here rather than in the depths where you would normally expect to find them.

WORK the lure/fly.

Accuracy.

  • Taking each point in turn :

1.Slow retrieve-as slow as is practicable,fast moving baits ripped through the water will simply be ignored.

2.Choose lure/flies with long flowing wings /tails that offer mobility.

3.Winter pike tend to move from their deeper summer residencies into shallower water.

4.Ensure movement,mobility and flexibility with your presented lure/fly by working the rod tip,thus relaying enticing movements        down the line and into the lure/fly.

Fish standard 'sink and draw' straight retrieve slow as possible,gently sweep the rod from side toside between casts-'zig zagging' the lure/fly.Experiment there are no hard and fast rules.

5.Baits have to be taken to the fish and literally offered 'on a plate' this often requires the bait to be 'dropped on their noses' due    to their reluctance to give chase.

Very often rivers will out perform lakes and stillwaters as varying water levels keep the pike more active.

SURFACE LURES/FLIES

I personally love fishing surface lures-my favourite the 'The Mouse' and 'Rat' series of surface lures are in opinion second to none..winter or summer.Dressed with buoyant deer hair the lure sits proud of the water.is easy to control and very easy to manipulate.

Tip- In winter fish with an intermediate or sink tip line over shallow water..allow the line to drag the mouse/rat under the surface as you begin to pull on the line the floating lure will duck under the surface and pop back up to the surface on the retrieve.This is a fantastic action that most predatory fish species just cannot resist !Takes are usually hard and sudden !

BEST TIMES

Cold water winter pike tend to become responsive between the periods of 8.00am up until 11.00am there is generally a lull for a couple of hours until 1.00pm -3.00pm when there is a second chance of hitting a fish or two.When the air temperature is greater than the water temperature even by only a few degrees fishing will be at it's best.First light /early morning and dusk are normally the best times to fish surface lures of any description as at these times pike are are normally at their peak of activity.As darkness falls pike fall back into the shadows and lye static until the following morning.


 

 ' GOLD AGAINST THE GREEN '

Frustrating to say the least Autumn's golden glow heralds many subtle changes within the confines of loch and river.The magical summer swims seemingly devoid of quality pike and prey alike.A time of Nature's natural contradictions in a manner of speaking ! Watercraft,observation and a knowledge of not only quarry species but prey too comes into play.From mid September into the depths of October's chill finding quality fish can prove challenging.

There are several important factors that must be taken into account

In this day and age the seasons are not clean cut and distinct as they were in the days of my youth.The transitional period as Spring melts into Summer,Summer into Autumn and Autumn into winter is barely noticeable today.Climatic change that comes with the metamorphosis of seasonal change is drastically affecting the natural habit and habitat of many native fish species.With many species migrating to pastures new well in advance of their descendants in days long past.

' FEAST OR FAMINE '

With the prospect of winter's icy chill just around the corner pike are feeding avidly gorging on whatever prey fish are in their locale in order to build up and conserve energy levels that will sustain them through the long winter months.Prey fish species such as perch and roach that have been independently widespread as a ' broken shoal 'covering large areas of water now come together as tight concentrated shoals rather than ' independent feeders ' and can again prove difficult to locate.Autumn days darken quickly and time is of the essence

Reeds that are still green and healthy are prime locations for small perch or silver fish and minnows.Not only does the healthy vegetation provide cover but shows the water to be well oxygenated too.Other aquatic weed is dying off which in turn de-oxygenates water levels and avoided by quarry and prey too.Large reed beds often hold concentrations of hunter and the hunted for this reason alone.Water from several inches to six feet deep will hold Autumn fish under these circumstances and the marginal water adjacent to the reed beds should fished carefully and methodicallyDrop a waggler or stick float baited with a single maggot or small worm on the edge of the reeds or into clear spaces between the vegetation .This is initially an exploratory tactic simply to find the smaller fish species such as Fry,Minnows or small 2 -3 inch Silver Fish.If within 20 minutes no bait fish are forthcoming move on searching the margins until bait and fish connect.

WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT ?

The food chain is actively at work … Minnows / small silver fish / and fry ..Preyed upon by perch which in turn are preyed upon by pike.The hunters and hunted are rarely far behind each other ! As mentioned earlier the prey fish are congregated in much tighter shoals roaming the marginal water in search of small bait fish.Followed by pike that are drawn from their favoured lyes to prey upon the nomadic prey fish shoals.Those lying up in the reed beds undisturbed will often remain there until such times as the vegetation dies away or a sudden drop in water / air temperature occurs ...which ever comes first.Other than areas of reeds tributaries and river mouths are choice locations to find prey fish ,again they too must feast to sustain energy levels throughout the winter months.Each species taking full advantage of all and any available food sources.

Overlooked by many anglers are narrow reaches or straits between an island and mainland through which winds are channelled thus inducing a wind originated current .Bait fish are pushed into these reaches.Wind breaks or lanes evident in these narrow waters hold prey fish and ambushed by pike lying up in back eddies.deep holes / structures,gravel / sand bars and rocky points dropping into deep water.

With nightly temperatures dropping fast degeneration of weed can be fast and sudden pushing pike even deeper into those areas at depth where vegetation is active.

WATER LEVELS AND TEMPERATURES

Pre winter storms and heavy rain result in spate waters spilling into the loch / river system from the high tops-water which may not only be coloured but cold !Inevitably continued downpours raise water levels and drop water temperatures if even only a subtle difference in temperature or water height all fish react accordingly.Dropping slightly deeper rather than remaining sub-surface.Seeking shallower water as the water settles.Lethargy with the ensuing cold water begins to creep in and reactions to artificial baits slows down .

However large artificial deep diving plugs and spoons 5 – 7 inches in length fished just off bottom and slow produces the goods .along with the usual array of dead baits on offer.Assuming bait fish have been found and the bait is fishing in the same locality.

It is these climatic variances that greatly effect pike from year to year .One Autumn may still produce quality fish in numbers whilst the temperatures are moderate and fish species happy to remain in ' broken shoals 'While the following year in adverse weather temperatures or weather conditions fishing is poorIt is essential for pike to follow the concentrated shoals of bait fish in order to gain the necessary quality of feed that Autumn in general offers.In an ideal temperate Autumn pike will literally be feeding hard everywhere !Moving into shallower waters as the water temperature cools.However it must be borne in mind that the water will take longer to warm up and takes / runs can be expected later in the day rather earlier in the mornings as of a few weeks previous.

Most fish species will congregate at river / burn mouths and any other water spillages when running in spate to take full advantage of any and all food items washed down with the flood water.Naturally there is always the exception to the rule with summer lyes turning up the odd quality fish or two but the anglers chances of continued success are increased ten fold by finding and fishing in the presence of bait / prey fish.Again it does not necessarily follow that a swim that fishes well today will fish as well the following day.


 

 SINGLE OR DOUBLE

Much has been discussed as to the merits of individually styled rigs,most pike anglers choosing standard Snap Tackle adapted with their own slight personal variations to satisfy their style of fishing.Some controversy has in the past arisen over the merits of treble or single hook rigs....There are several distinct advantages for using either set up.It seems that in some private fisheries the use of Treble Hooks has been banned and single hook rigs only are permitted in favour of fish welfare.In my early days I always fished a single hook rig and to be honest lost no more fish using this method than standard snap tackle.

SINGLE HOOK RIG

Single hook rigs are simply as the name suggests one hook of the desired size [Relevant to bait size ] attached to a wire trace 12 – 18 '' long.This rig is particularly suited to fishing...

  • Fish Chunks... nicked through the back.
  • Fish Heads... nicked through the jaws.
  • Fish Strip... nicked once through the thicker muscle.
  • Small Tail sections … hook pushed through the flesh of the tail.

To secure the hook slip a bait flag over the barb or better still a small section of rubber band this is much more secure.

DOUBLE HOOK RIG

The double hook rig is basically a snap tackle using single rather than treble hooks,fishing medium sized baits.

  • Sardines...hooked 'Head and Tail'
  • Smelt..hooked 'Head and Tail'
  • Eel Section...hooked 'Head and Tail'
  • Lamprey Section...hooked 'Head and Tail'
  • Small Trout...hooked 'Head and Tail'
  • Small Silverfish...hooked 'Head and Tail'

All the above mentioned baits hooked 'Head and Tail' in the case of fish deadbaits one hook nicked through the lower jaw until it protrudes through the fish's 'nose'..The second hook being secured in the flank under the dorsal or tail end,both hooks secured with deadbait flags or pieces of rubber band.

SINGLE HOOK HAIR RIG

Useful for fishing alternative chunks of bait ' Kebab ' style rigs are becoming increasingly popular and are effect in their delivery.Again fishing ..

  • Fish Chunks... nicked through the back.
  • Fish Heads... nicked through the jaws.
  • Fish Strip... nicked once through the thicker muscle.
  • Small Tail sections … hook pushed through the flesh of the tail.
  • Simply thread the 'Hair ' through the chosen bait secure with three or four boillie stops leaving the single hook at the head of the rig fully exposed.
  • Circle hooks in a size range from 8's 6's and 4's are excellent their hooking qualities are second to none.Standard hooks will however suffice.


The rigs described are IMMEDIATE STRIKE !


Small baits fished in conjunction with a 1 ounce Arsley bomb fished as a running ledger,or under a small slim float,or set up as a float ledger not only allow the angler to strike immediately the pike picks the bait up but also greatly minimises the risks of potential deep hooking.


 

 MORE ON … POP UPS

I greatly believe in keeping rigs simple keeping the ' ironmongery ' to the bare minimum.Not only does it enhance presentation but there is less that can go wrong when a pike takes the bait.Over the years I have witnessed the pop up in all in it's variations,most times complete with 28 mm pop up ball one if not the largest in the range.I much prefer to suspend my baits with buoyant pop ups that suit the size and weight of the bait.Yes the fluorescent orange / red colours act as a visual attractor too,however the principal reasoning for using buoyancy is purely to suspend the bait.This practice in itself brings fish to the bait and is also an excellent visual attractor.All baits static or suspended will be found it merely takes time.

A pike is considered to have excellent forward and side vision up to 50 feet,in clear water baits in suspension are readily identified.Pike rarely under natural circumstances take prey fish below their sight line, I am reffering to predator chasing / stalking live prey fish not baits as fished by anglers..All predators take carrion fresh or otherwise depending on species in order to maintain energy levels.

Regarding the poly balls as a foreign object pike will at times try to eject them by pushing them out through a gill cover as all fish do with unwanted items / objects that are not edible as well as ' blowing ' them out of their mouths [ if unobstructed by bait ! ]

There are of course several ways to rig a pop up and we all have our favourite methods.

The two methods I use when using buoyancy are as follows

1...Rig the bait to sit horizontal [ as in the days of live baiting ] one barb inserted just below the dorsal fin the other in the      pectoral region.A little adjustment may be required to get it just right but well worth the effort.

2...Vertical buoyancy Taking a length of stout nylon about 5 / 6 inches in length dependant on the average size of baits        used on any particular day attach this via a grinner / stop knot to the wire trace above the top treble.At the tag end        tie in a swivel link / straight link .

     Inserting forceps into the body cavity push all the way through the flesh of the tail section.

     Exiting at the base of the tail.

     Grasp the link with the forceps and pull back through the body cavity.

     Attach a pop up ball of the appropriate buoyancy to the link and secure snap tackle in the usual manner.


Ready To Go …!



 '' A PIKE ATE MY CHUM ! ''


Mention chum to most anglers and their immediate thoughts turn to shark fishing,throwing buckets of blood,fish heads and offal overboard attracting sharks to swim in close and take their hook baits.There are many varied means of 'chumming up ' pre- baiting,ground baiting and loose feeding.All these methods can be classed as using chum,all are teasing attractants that fish cannot resist.

Chum has many names and disguises 'rubby dubby ',chervy,burley and ground bait to mention a few – what is it ? Simply a revolting mix of pungent fish blood,offal and other 'aromatic' ingredients.Used as an attractant to draw and tease fish into swims and to hook baits,and works well on both salt and freshwater species.

The ingredients used in a chum mix are dependant upon the target species,blood and offal for predators,dry mixes of ground bait powders and swim feeders filled with lively maggots for coarse fishes such as roach,bream and barbel.

HISTORY

Historically man has devised many potions,lotions and other methods to attract fish simply to put food on the table and for sport too.Native American Indians suspended carcasses of dead animals from trees overhanging the river bank to attract flies which laid their eggs on the rotting meat.On hatching many of the maggots dropped into the water below and into the mouths of hungry trout.Congregations of trout and small baitfish and those that predated on them filled the pools.Once the carcass was stripped to the bone maggots were hooked up and the pool fished out.

In the year of 1861 James Chetam published a book entitled ' The Angler's Vade Mecum' in which he describes a chum mix for predatory fish species,pike in particular,which took the form of a thick grease to be applied to the line or 'common twine' as it was known made from twists of horse hair and copper wire.This type of line being perfect for the grease to adhere to.

For the chum he used …

1 ounce of human fat,apparently available from Victorian surgeries in the City of London !

1 ounce of feline fat – from a cat.

3 drams of powdered mummy – a natural mix of pitch and asphalt peculiar to 12th Century Egyptian

mummies.

1 dram of cummin seed -a potent spice.

6 drops each of anise oil and spike-distilled aniseed oil and maggots

4 grains of camphor – a natural plant compound that gives moth balls their distinctive odour.

2 grains of civet – exotic wildcat glands and other body parts dried and ground into a powder. 1.

The unwary pike having been drawn to the rigged up dead or live bait attracted by the delicious smell of the applied grease.

Chetam also recommended human bones ground to a powder for sprinkling over the moss in which worms were kept to freshen and strengthen them up.

TODAY'S WORLD

In today's world chumming is an integral part of modern fishing coarse,carp,and match anglers in particular bait up their swims constantly not only drawing fish into their water from further downstream but holding fish there too.

As anglers in search of predatory species we too can employ chumming methods in the form of loose feeding,pre-baiting,ground baiting and other simple methods that work away in the background as we fish on.Pike and catfish are prime target species.

PIKE

Pike are top of the food chain without the threat of predation other than from the cannibalistic tendencies of others during their juvenile years.Masters of the ' Silent Stalk ' and 'Ambush' pike live on a diet of other fishes such as roach,dace, rudd,perch and other silverfish.With the occasional,ducklings,water voles,shrews,rats and mice.Fresh carrion is sought after too,pike are basically lazy by design this part of their nature allows for the successful use of deadbaits and therefore pre-baiting action.

PRE-BAITING

For those who have the time pre–baiting a swim for several days prior to fishing is ideal and often brings in big fish from far afield to feast on the free offerings laid down.Serious specimen hunters often pre-bait for extensive periods over several areas.

Daybreak and into first light is an ideal period to pre-bait a chosen swim as the pike's metabolism kicks in with the dawn and the first meal of the day.Afternoons are best fished out as normal pre-baiting at this time may see fish feeding later in the day after the angler has stowed his gear and made his way home !

Late evening with the light melting into dusk has been known to induce pike into a nocturnal feeding regime contrary to their natural instincts.

Successful pre-baiting early morning with no more than a dozen chunks of oily mackerel or herring is just enough incentive to hold fish in the swim without the risk of overfeeding.It is important to use fresh or freshly thawed bait so it sinks directly to the bottom.In it's frozen state it will simply float and drift out of the swim. 

Frozen chunks of fish gut and blood can be used as pre-bait only if a small pebble has been introduced into the mix prior to freezing in order to sink it.

The angler has the choice to decide how long to pre-bait a particular swim before fishing,in general the longer it is left undisturbed before wetting a line the better.Several pre – baited areas fished in rotation will allow the angler a weeks fishing at a different swim every day.

Choice of bait is a simple,mackerel or herring,which ever the swim has been baited with.Best results are achieved by offering the same food source as a hook bait fished over the baited area.The beauty of this method is not only the advantages presented to the angler by drawing fish into the swim but also allows for the use of small baits and even single hook rigs.Over the pre-baiting period pike now resident in the swim have become accustomed to feeding on the small chunks of bait and will take a single hook rig with confidence baited with a chunk of mackerel,as opposed to a full or halved bait.

OILS

Pike are attracted by 'scent' or more correctly 'taste' favouring oily sea fish over more conventional freshwater species the flesh of which are quite bland and 'dry' in comparison.

Naturalised indigenous species particular to individual waterways are of course resident pike's staple food source,hunted down and eaten daily.

Presented with a deadbait of mackerel or herring and a trail of emulsified oil and body juices married into a cocktail of flavour,no pike can resist investigating.Oils are worked through ground baits and other chum mixes for this reason.With a choice of pilchard,mackerel,herring,lamprey,sandeel,smelt and sardine oils to chose from personal choice and what works where is down to personal choice.Lamprey has the edge over all the other oils,there is a great liking for lamprey section as dead baits they repeatedly out fish other static baits.Oozing blood and oil gently for much longer.Injecting dead baits with a quantity of oil that slowly oozes from the carcass is the recognised method of enhancing otherwise bland baits or simply boosting natural flavour.

Before freezing any dead baits brush a little oil over the fish first then bag them up or wrap in cling film the freezing process draws some of the oil into the flesh which starts to fish immediately the bait has settled in the water and begins to thaw.

'Blueys' a far removed cousin of the gar fish are probably the oiliest sea fish available,favourite bait of many anglers the bluey has a soft flesh and a little bait elastic is required at times to secure the bait for casting.

Their oil content is greater than that of their counterparts and baits ooze body oil for that much longer than traditional offerings.A good fish to use as pre-bait. 

GROUNDBAIT

There are no hard and fast rules when mixing groundbaits for pike however the principle is two fold firstly it brings other coarse fish into the baited area such as roach.Secondly the pike will be following on not far behind.

In today's market there are various pre-mixes available such as Dynamite's High Leakage pike groundbait which is simply left to defrost overnight and is then ready for use straight from the 1kg bag.This mix as the title suggests is designed to ' leak ' oil and other attractants into the water in the immediate vicinity of the hook bait.

Two choices are available.

' Pike Strike Natural ' a natural coloured mix or ' Blood Red ' best used in clear or cold water acting as a visual attractant as well as an aromatic groundbait.No water is required to moisten the bait which is easily formed into small balls to be distributed by a catapult or slightly larger to be hand thrown.Small chunks of fish can be added if desired.

Quantities of groundbait can be made at home...

Basic coarse fish mixes and particle baits laced with hemp,crushed hemp is better to attract roach mixed with a little water and a quantity of fish oil into a dough like consistency will serve the purpose well. A loose ' sloppy ' mix can be tightened up with a quantity of breadcrumbs.Introduce small chunks of fish into the mix.To be honest the more ' aromatic ' the better those past their sell by date are ideal or in fact any other oily fish.Always ensure that the grounbait contains a percentage of the fish that you intend to use as a hook bait.Other to that anything goes !

Drawing the likes of roach into the swim to feed on the crumbling balls of groundbait brings the pike to the hook bait.Predator and prey are rarely distant from each other.This method of baiting is best in stillwaters and slow moving rivers any strong water forces will simply break the balls of groundbait down too quickly and wash the bait out of the swim.Certainly worth the effort and time in preparation whether pre-baiting over several days or groundbaiting ' on the day ' this method should improve the chances of a run or two.

There are several schools of thought on whether or not oils are in fact particularly effective,however the baits described appeal to the pike's natural sense of ' taste or smell ' which is highly developed to sense blood and other body fluids within the water layers from some considerable distance.Such is their nature and biological make up and it is these traits that make the pike the predator head of the freshwater food chain.


 

 RIVER PIKING

Most of you who have followed my piking posts will have come to realise by now that I am a great believer in locating the prey fish and applying method accordingly.

The huge difference between stillwater and river piking lies in presentation and a degree of accuracy with regard to presenting the bait to the pike in as natural a fashion as possible.Running ledger is fine for static baits if pike are known to be in the locality.However my preffered method would be float fishing

A lot more thought has to be put into river fishing as opposed to stillwater.With currents to contend with whether they be a strong flow,gentle or indeed slack water.Like most fish species pike conserve as much energy as possible by lying low unless hunting for food.Again as I have mentioned many times before the successful angler will be armed with a degree of knowledge regarding watercraft and the habits of prey species.Gained purely by experience or from observation and advice passed on by others.

For instance trout grayling and sea trout are found in many of our rivers with a sprinkling of course fish.In effect trout,grayling and course species that river pike feed on will in general terms be found ' Hanging tight ' to the edge of the current.Often feeding at different depths with regard to species.

WHERE TO FIND PIKE

Pike will lye up in slack water pockets to conserve energy but rarely take up residence if there are no prey fish in the immediate locality.When hunting for food they move into the flow to prey upon bait fish that habituate the edges of the current,trout,grayling and most other course species.that may be present.Trout for instance are territorial and rarely move many yards from their resident lyes so it follows that a swim with a good head of trout would undoubtedly hold a good pike or two.Coarse fish tend to roam in shoals searching the edges of the currents for sub surface food items drifting downstream and so on and so forth.

METHOD

STANDARD

Standard suspended deadbait fished under the float will produce the goods when fishing the slacks however ensure that the bait is fishing the ' crease ' where the edge of the current meets the slack.For it is here that the pike will be ready to ambush any unwary prey passing by on it's way upstream not directly in the slack water as it does not appeal to most other fish species.

  • Using a sliding float fish at various depths from six inches off the bottom to sub surface.

    Search all likely areas of slack ,walk the river bank placing a bait in likely looking pockets of slack water

TROTTING

  • This involves using a float that has little resistance to the current such as a slim pencil float

    The bait is to be presented in a natural manner displaying the natural characteristics of a small fish fighting the current.Do not allow the float to run off in the current the idea is to trot the bait in a controlled manner down the edge of the current as slowly as possible.

    This is manageable by doubling the weight that you would normally use to hold bottom for example ¼ ounce now becomes ½ ounce placed directly above the wire trace.A drilled barrel weight is perfect

    In tandem with a low resistant float the rig is now under the anglers full control fishing slowly and methodically through the swim.

    Every few yards deliberately hold the float back in the current literally stopping the floats travel.The bait will rise in the water from the lowermost depth it is fishing and ' flutter ' back down into the depths.This portrays the action of a fish dropping downstream.The longer the float is stationary the higher the bait will rise.The beauty of this method is that the bait will search out all water levels and depths as it trots through the swim.It is important not to allow slack line to create excessive drag or the float and bait will not present properly.Hold the rod high and retrieve slack line as necessary without the travel of the float.

    IMPORTANT.....PRESENTATION

In order to present the bait with most natural River Characteristics it must be fished tail down.One barb of the treble hooked through both the bait fish's lips the other half way down it's flank and for a little security may be bound on with a little bait elastic.The pike will see it's prey as an ideal target whilst it appears to dropping downstream.Fish at least a foot overdepth.

ALTERNATIVE METHOD

Still employing the use of a pencil float Mount the bait Head Down this time time fishing only a few inches overdepth.The method is the same as described above trot the float through the swim slowly and methodically.When the float is held back the bait now literally stands on it's head just off or touching bottom.The pike now sees an ideal victim fully distracted bottom feeding.

SUNK FLOAT

Originally developed for fishing live baits the sunken paternoster float is effective when used in conjunction with a well presented deadbait.Best fished in the crease between the current and slack water.and fished with a length of rotten bottom this much forgotten method is ideal for fishing over stone or weed banks.In order to create the illusion of ' life ' into the deadbait it must be presented with care to simulate it's live counterpart and sit correctly in the water.

  • Hook the upper treble just below the dorsal fin and the lower treble just above the pectoral fin a little bit of fine tuning may be required but the deadbait will sit horizontally This is ideal.

    When being fished the bait will swing gently in the current simulating a small fish holding it's own against the current and could not be presented in a natural way by any other method of hooking.

STRET PEGGING

Another form of trotting highly effective for inducing takes.

Again use a pencil float but unlike the other methods described above fish several feet overdepth with only the minimum lead to just hold bottom and no more,with the bait mounted Tail down.The beauty of this method is that when the float is held back the bait not only rises from the bottom but drops a few feet dowstream at the same time.The bait can be twitched as it starts to drift adding further distressed movement to the baitfish.Bear in mind that pike like to stalk their prey for several minutes before going in for the kill.With this method the sudden rise and drift of the bait is often enough.to induce a positive confidence take.

  • IMPORTANT ..STRIKING

River fish tend to take the bait and momentarily lay on the bottom to start the swallowing process before running....

IF THE FLOAT STOPS SUDDENLY ..STRIKE TO AVOID DEEP HOOKING.

LIKEWISE AS WITH STANDARD FLOAT FISHING STRIKE WHEN THE FLOAT SLIDES UNDER THE SURFACE AND IS RUNNING AWAY FROM YOU .



 

FEEDING PATTERNS

January

Probably rather dormant due to cold weather, fish will pick off the odd dead fish or live fish that passes by.  Not actively seeking out food.

February

Depends on the weather, can still be very cold, so as per January.   But some years spring comes early.  Pike will be bunching up to spawn.   Frogs will also be active, and make a very easy meal.  Pike will also drive shoals of roach/bream into corners, to pick off.

March

Pike will be actively feeding on shoal fish and frogs, very good month for fishing.  Fish will be heavy due to spawn.

April

Pike should have spawned and their attention will have switched to piling on weight.  Weather will be mild and in the 12-15 degrees C band.  Pike will be actively seeking out food and will eat anything edible, alive, dead or artificial.

May

Rather similar to April, but activity will wain on particularly hot days.   Best to limit fishing to dawn 'til mid morning.  Coarse fish will be thinking about spawning and will be bunching up in spawning areas, in the shallows.  Pike will be close by the shoal fish, feeding heavily.  They also have a liking for chicks, these can form a major part of a diet, especially around weedbeds and lillypads.

June

Similar to May, hotter weather will limit pike activity to dawn and dusk.   Night fishing is worth trying but I have only had limited results on this.   Pike will be following shoal fish around, work out where these fish are.   Still eating chicks too.

July

Feeding seems to reduce, or at least fishing results drop.  Shoal fish disperse due to finishing spawning, and plentiful food supply all over the lake.   Pike mainly caught at dawn and dusk.   They will also have an eye on voles and water rats.

August

Rather similar to July, a bit tricky to find the fish.  Dawn and dusk, and the fish often hold up in ambush places, like weed beds and along bars.   Any fish species will be taken.

September

If this is a hot month then rather similar to the previous two months, but late September will trigger the pike to start feeding up to get them through the winter.   This can be a very productive month fishing dawn 'til midday, pike will be actively seeking food, and will be patrolling bars and drop offs.  Fish features.

October

Again, a good month for piking, the weather is still mild and the pike are feeding hard.  Shoal fish will still be dispersed and the pike will be hunting them down.  Pike will often latch onto a shoal and follow it around.  Learn the patrol routes of bream etc, and fish these places.  Talk to other coarse anglers, fish the good roach and bream swims.

November

Big shoals of coarse fish will form, making fishing for them a bit difficult.  Pike will be following them around, or laying in ambush along their patrol routes.  Fish features like bars and drop offs.  The easiest fish to find may be other pike, so they may start to turn their attention to their own kind.

December

Usually still quite a mild month, again the shoal fish are bunched up.  Pike will either take it easy picking off the odd easy or passing meal or wander around after shoals if they track them down. 



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