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How To Fish For Pike

Freshwater tips, tricks and questions

How To Fish For Pike

Postby darbleys » Sun Sep 07, 2008 3:01 pm

The Pike, handle with care

As a predator species, pike have large mouths and plenty of sharp teeth - if it's your first ever pike to catch, frankly it looks quite dangerous. Nevertheless, Pike should always be handled with lots of care and attention. By treating with care you can avoid damage to yourself and also to the pike. Pike, believe it or not are one of the more fragile freshwater species found in our waters despite it's tough looks and size, many times when a Pike has not been treated correctly a corpse has been found on the shore a couple of days after it has been released back into the water. A thoughtful angler will always be well prepared when out fishing for this wonderful and hard fighting fish and will never venture out without the proper equipment.

Preparing yourself

The moment you hook a pike is not the time to start wondering about how you are going to deal with it once you have landed it. You must always be prepared first. There are simple preparations that common sense should dictate, like sinking a large net in the water in front of you for starters, and not any old net, a proper net will be one of fine meshed knotless design. Another thing to prepare is where you tend to unhook this fine fish, choose a well grassed area on the bank just behind where you are fishing and preferably place a carp mat there to lay the fish down on.

The importance of a good clear working space becomes very obvious when you are in a boat, or fishing on a very hard bank such as the wall of a concrete reservoir. Hard surfaces can cause very severe abrasions, scale loss or worst of all concussion. A struggling pike trashing about on the ground may hit it's head hard enough to cause serious damage, which will have concequences to it's survival.


The next step to being well prepared is to lay out all your other pike handling gear next to the work area, good equipment to have will consist of the same or similar to the following list:

A heavy duty Industrial rubber glove
A set of long artery forceps
A scales and weighting sling

Optional equipment to have, especially if you intend to take pictures of your prized catch is a Pike tube or sack that can be staked to the ground beside the water. It's always a good idea to give the fish time to recover in this before you take pictures so that it will be less stressed and look better in your picture.

Once Netted

So you've netted your fish and everything went to plan, what now? You should first unclip the wire trace from the link swivel attached to your bait, (if you've used one that is) so that the rod and line is no longer attached to the fish. This means that you can walk to your work surface with both hands supporting the Pike which should still be in the net.. The proper way to carry your net is to hold the rim above the pike so that there is no heavy strain on the handle, which will break if you have a good specimen, but that's just common sence also.

Once at the work surface, you will have to uhook the pike, this is the tricky bit as you will have to get it's mouth open to get at the hook, so how do you do this? One major rule is to never put your hand or fingers into the fish's mouth, these fish hold no animosity towards the angler, but they do have a lot of very sharp teeth and should the fish shut it's mouth, cuts and blood are the main result.

So what you should do at this tme, put the glove on your hand and insert your forefinger under the pikes chin at the place where both gill covers meet, then by lifting the pikes head it's mouth will open. Now you can gain access to the hooks, useing the forceps grip the hooks as close to the bend as possible and turn it back out of the fish's mouth. Always remember. the more gently you hold a pike, the less it will struggle. Barbless treble hooks are best because the unhooking is easiest when there is no barb holding the hook in. One tip to remember while unhooking, make sure that the first treble you extract is clear so as not to re-hook itself while you are working on the second hook.

Weighing and photographing

Once yoou have unhooked the Pike, transfer the fish to the weighting sling. After weighing you can - if you wish - have your photograph taken with your catch. Holding a large Pike can present problems to the inexperienced angler but it is not difficult. Use one hand to support the fish underneath the head and the other to support it just in front of the anal fin. Don't stand up while taking pictures, if you were to drop the pike from a height the fish can be badly damaged, so kneel down at all times.

If the Pike struggles, hold it firmly to your chest, if it gets too active, lower it back to the work surface for a moment. Should you wish to retain the fish for a short while, slip it into a pike tube and stake the tube out in sheltered water deep enough to cover it.

Releasing your catch

Pike can be caught and returned many times providing anglers are not clumsy on the bank, don't keep a fish out of the water longer than you need to, the weighing sling is a good tool to use to carry the fish back to the water to realease it, and handling them is always much easire if there are two of you, particularly when it comes to dealing with wire traces and taking photographs. The whole process of keeping the fish on the bank should last no more than 3 to 5 mins, even less when it's a small fish.

If you are in doubth about your ability to fish for Pike, why not go with an experienced angler for your first few outings, or better still, join your local Pike Anglers Club where you will benefit from some expert advice

Don't be afraid to fish for these predators, just use your common sence and be well equipped to handle even the largest fish, and ALWAYS - ALWAYS HANDLE YOUR PIKE WITH CARE.

If you are fishing in Ireland for Pike, please take a moment to view the bye-laws governing this species in Ireland by clicking

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Re: How To Fish For Pike

Postby darbleys » Fri Sep 12, 2008 7:58 pm

Drift Float Fishing for Big Water Pike

There's no doubt that if you can get your bait out to features beyond normal casting range, you'll catch more Pike. A drift float is the perfect tool to help you do just that

In an unfished water, Pike feed without inhibition whenever they are hungry and whenever there is food. however, as with many other kinds of fish, they soon learn to avoid feeding in areas where they have been caught frequently. On many large hard-fished waters, such as reservoirs and big gravel pits, the Pike learn to stay out of normal casting range. They come into the margins only rarely, usually at dawn and dusk, spending the rest of the time at distant drop-offs, islands and other Pike holding features.

Big Pits Drifter

So, if you can get your bait out past the furthest cast, preferably near some feature, you are going to waste less of your fishing time and put more fish on the bank. Drifting the bait lets you fish in the middle of the big waters, where the big Pike feed without fear. You can use any standard pike gear for this style of fishing. However, a rod with a test curve of about 2 1/2 - 3lb and a fast taper to set the hook at long range can make life easier. A long rod also helps here. The reel must have the capacity to hold at least 200m of 12lb line - for long drifting. There are two main techniques which involve drifting your baits - the first uses a drift float and the second, a balloon. Each has it's advantages and you should learn to use both, so you can cope with a variety of venues and conditions.

Blowing in the wind

Drift floats are blown along by the wind, dragging a bait behind them. They have a small sail or vane to catch the wind. This is attached to an ordinary floating body. They come in many forms, the best of which have a round buoyant body, with a stem or mas for the vane. The vane msut be curved in shape or the float tends to spin as it's blown along.

A Drift float

This is designed to tow the bait out with the wind, suspending it at a chosen depth. The vane is usually painted in a high visible colour, giving good bite indication over great distances. The body is a polyball or something similar. Some makes of floats come with a variety of sizes of body, so it's easy to change the buoyancy to suit the conditions and size of bait you are using. The line is attached top and bottom which helps prevent the line from sinking. A sunk line can hinder or even stop your drift. The top eye of the float should come adrift during the strike, leaving the float attached at the bottom end only. That way the vane doesn't get in the way of the strike, if it did, setting the hook at long range would be even more difficult.

To start a drift, you only need to cast to where the wind begins to ruffle the water. The wind then carries the float with it. Make sure to pay out line in as straight a line as possible, even a big bow in the line will cause drag. As it drifts, the bait works pretty much like a trolled bait. The live or deadbait is dragged along, past pike on the lookout for an easy meal. The bait is prevented from swimming along the surface by a 1/2oz drilled bullet on the trace. When your float has drifted as far as you want it to go, or it has reached the feature you want to fish, just close the bail arm. You can then float fish as you would normally do, but at a much longer range! If bites do not follow, work the bait back slowley, takes can even come during the retrieve. Next cast, try to get your float to drift along a different line and eventually you will find Pike.

Go Ballooning!

Ballons are best for getting bait and rig out to a productive area. They are most useful when you don't need the bait to fish on the way out. Once it's in the area you choose, the baloon is released, leaving the rig to fish as it would normally. Attach the balloon to your ledger weight with a paper clip. As it floats, drifting with the wind, the balloon drags the bait out to the desired fishing area. The bait is towed out very close to the surface, and the whole arrangement generally travels faster than a drift float rig. This means that while you can get takes on the way out, the bait isn't really fishing until it reaches your chosen spot. For this reason, ballooning is best when you want to fish a specific area beyond casting range, whereas fishing a drift float is ideal for searching large areas of water.

Ballooning really scores: over drift fishing when you need to be versatile with your rigs. You can tow anything, from a float paternoster to a simple freeline rig, behind a balloon. With a drift float you are restricted to float fishing. Unfortunately, you can't cast with a balloon set-up, you can only drop it in at the edge of the water, or it'll fall off! a gentle breezemay struggle to push the balloon along against the drag of the line so close to the bank. When this happens, tie another balloon to the first for extra dragging power. When the wind is strong and gusting, you might find that the balloon keeps coming out of the paperclip. Partly filling the balloon with water slows it down and stops it blowing away on it's own. You must also make sure that the line is peeling freely from your reel. If it's catching anywhere, this can impede the drift causing the balloon to come free. Once your bait is in the right area, close the bail arm and wait until the line tightens up. This gets rid of the bow that usually forms in the line. Wind-down, and when the balloon starts back towards you, release it with a firm sweeping strike. This pulls the balloon out of the paperclip, leaving the rig in place. Put the rod in the rests and attach a bobbin or drop-off bite indicator. You're now fishing much as you would if you had cast normally, but much further out.

These methods may seem complicated at first but once you've tried them, you'll see how easy they are. You'll also notice that you're catching more big fish on large waters than the other anglers who all fish within casting distance.

When you have finished ballooning for the day, remember that you must round up your balloons. Go to the far bank and collect the balloons you have released. On a very windy day, you might have to do this during your fishing, to stop them blowing away. Littering a venue can only help get the fishing banned. If you can't be bothered to tidy up, or the water is to vast for you to find your ballons, then please don't use them.

For Information on The Pike & Coarse Fish Laws Governing Fishing In Ireland, Please Click
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