It is now that time of the year again when my freezer is full of dead baits, and my enthusiasm is high. Without a doubt, I have an obsession with pike fishing and they are my main target species each winter.
My approach to catching pike has changed over the years and I feel I have become a more competent dead bait angler. Previous winters a few years ago I was obsessed with catching numbers of pike and always used what I felt was the most productive method on the day.
Maybe it's an age thing, but I'm happy to wait longer for a bite in the hope that it's something bigger. Fishing static dead baits for me seems to be more selective in targeting the bigger pike.
Most of my dead bait fishing is ledgering. It is a very simple yet productive way of targeting pike. The rig is simple but very strong and reliable. You can view this rig in the video below.
Tackle-wise, I use a 12 foot 3.25lb rod, the fox warrior dead bait rods are perfectly paired up with a big pit reel loaded with 58lb Daiwa J braid. If fishery rules don’t allow braided mainline then a strong mono such as Daiwa sensor in 18lb is fine. I can’t stress enough how important strong tackle is when pike fishing.
Another very important factor is bite indication. The minute a pike picks up your bait you need efficient bite indication to avoid deep hooking.
The fishing reel drop of arms with an open bail arm offers perfect bite indication and a resistance-free presentation. View this fishing technique in the video below.
Most dead bait companies blast freeze and vacuum pack their baits to ensure good quality. Otherwise, freshly sourced dead baits from a fishmonger such as sardines and herring take some beating. Buying a vacuum packer yourself is a massive edge to keep your baits fresh.
2) Braided Mainline
Not only is braided mainline super strong, but it also offers a much better bite indication. Personally, I would go no lower than 50lb breaking strain.
3) Venue Choice
This may sound very obvious, but you can’t catch a big pike from a lake that doesn’t contain one. Pike aren’t always the hardest fish to catch but they are the hardest to find. Do your homework, sometimes finding a venue off the beaten track away from the crowds is best.
This involves some extra effort but can be worth it. Save any used dead baits or odd sections such as herring heads and make the effort to trickle some chopped baits in in-between fishing sessions.
Pike will often hold up in certain areas each winter. This is normally where the baitfish are. In my experience, the deeper parts of the lake are the most productive once the really cold weather kicks in.
Although there are now several high-tech gadgets such as deeper fish finders, one of the most efficient ways of locating baitfish is the watch the grebes working the lake.
Want another great pike fishing tip?
One other great tip would be don’t ignore the margins. What does nearly every pike angler do at the end of a day's fishing...? They remove their baits and chuck them in the margins when packing up. Fishing a bait close in on dusk has accounted for several nice pike for me.
New Pike Fishing Anglers
One last point is if you are new to pike fishing: it is a great idea to fish with an experienced pike angler until you find your confidence in handling and unhooking them.
Having the correct tools and equipment is very important. View the video below for more help on handling pike.