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Time For Predators - Justin Grapes

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Time For Predators - Justin Grapes

This time of year is always regarded as the start of the predator season, but it’s a little different because the weather has been so mild. With temperatures as high as 25C at the end of October, I would imagine the pike and perch have been a little confused! However, after speaking to a good friend about the pike fishing on the broads, I started to hatch a plan and set myself a couple of targets. I’ve got to be honest and say that the pike fishing has been negative on the broads for many years, with so much talk of predation, salt surges and algae related fish deaths. All this has put me off, but this autumn and winter I am going to give it a go and see what turns up.

Over the last few years I have got into targeting chub early and became hooked, going through the whole winter solely after this species, but I’m going to try and limit the chub fishing until the weed has died off totally and concentrate on pike. As for the perch fishing, I don’t touch on that much in my blogs, as I only get to do it for a short 20 minutes a day, and to be honest, it’s difficult to learn very much on such short sessions. But over the last few months things have been coming together and I’ve caught some cracking perch to over 3lbs, so I can’t complain. I’ve got a jig and a drop shot rod set up in the van most of the time and use either one depending on the weather conditions on the day. If it’s bright and the water is clear, I will drop shot and fish next to the boats or where the shade is, having a go with the jig rod if it is overcast. But as the water temperature drops, it will be mostly the drop shot rod that comes out, as the perch become less active.

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The technique of drop shotting can be a little more involved than people think. I’ve found, after watching experts on YouTube, and then taking everything on board - watching how the lure works in the water - that various lures act differently. Imparting a different action definitely helps catch more fish. I’m no expert at lure fishing and I’ve always thought I was missing a trick, but it’s like most other techniques in the fishing world. It’s all about trying different approaches and when the catch rate goes up you know you must be doing something right!

With there being so much info on drop shotting and jig fishing on the internet it’s never been a better time to go out and give it a go. I really enjoy it. On the fishing front there has been a couple of days where sport has been good on the jigging outfit, catching fish to 3lb 4oz, and other days it’s only pike that like to play ball. On most occasions there is always something to catch and I get my fix.

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The pike fishing on the broads started with a couple of evening sessions after work, when there was still a little daylight left, the perfect time to kick things off. But with the weather still being so mild it didn’t feel right. I gave it a go anyway.

Digging my pike gear out, I noticed that I needed a few new traces, so I spent an evening making up half a dozen. My rig and trace set up is pretty basic, so after checking the braided line and terminal bits on my already made up rods, I packed the bait into a cool box and loaded the van with everything I thought I would need - ready for an after-work session. The bait was going to be either mackerel or lamprey to start, with one or two oils and flavours to try as enhancers.

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The first session started just as it was getting dark and two baits were put out with whole mackerel covered in Bio Edge Smelt Wand. I was fishing with good friend Darryn again and after only a short time he had a few bleeps on his alarm. As he went over to check his rod, my left-hand alarm bleeped and the line came out of the indicator, starting to slowly move off. I called Darryn over and struck into a hard fighting fish. After a short but mad tussle my first proper pike of the season was in the net and at just under 13lb it was not a bad start. After a couple of quick pictures, I put her back and then as I was putting another trace on, Darryn’s rod was away and after a similar hard but frantic fight another pike was in the net. This one looked a bit bigger and weighed 17lb.12oz. This was turning into a cracking start! Nothing happened after that short feeding spell, so plans were put in place for the next session.

Next time out we were joined by another good friend, Shaun, for a social evening. This time it was only one take for me and a nice low double again at 13lb13oz, which saved a blank.

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My next evening session I tried a different spot and as soon as it got dark the otters came out to play and to see what I was up to. At this point I was contemplating going home, but after a few minutes the otters moved on and with the silver fish still surfacing, I decided to stick at it for a bit longer. Within an hour I had a take. The action came on a whole mackerel, again covered in Smelt Wand and on picking up the rod I could feel that the pike was sitting there turning the bait. As soon as it started to move off, I struck into what felt like a half tidy fish. After a few minutes she was in the net and it looked like another mid-double. After unhooking her, she went 15lb 2oz on the scales. This pike had a big head but a skinny frame and looked like it needed a few pies, but was very welcome. Nothing happened after that so another session was planned for the coming Sunday evening.

On arrival at the first spot there was a lot of bait fish moving about so hopes were high for some action, but after 5 hours of motionless indicators I called it a night, with my tail between my legs.

Meanwhile, with the lunchtime perching, things had slowed up a lot. With the temperature dropping to normal October levels, it took a few days for the fish to play ball again. The bigger perch seemed to have moved off temporarily, but after another few days the bait fish moved in and there were a few bigger perch about again, along with the odd jack pike around 4-5lb - great fun on light gear.

My plans for the coming weeks are to continue with the evening pike fishing and the lunch time perch fishing, although my mind is starting to get focused on the coming chub season.

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