Expert Tips for Tackling Pike Fishing Season with Confidence

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Expert Tips for Tackling Pike Fishing Season with Confidence

As the frosty fingers of winter start to beckon, anglers all across the UK begin gearing up for one of the most exhilarating fishing seasons: Pike fishing

In this article, a seasoned angler with years of experience tackling this apex predator, Matt Peplow shares invaluable insights to ensure your next trip is both productive and safe.

Pike Fishing: Timing it Right

The pike fish is top of the UK freshwater food chain. Although it Is an apex predator and expert hunter it is not recommended to fish for these creatures during the warmer months. Pike fight hard and when the weather is warmer and the oxygen levels in the water are lower they can often die during or not long after being released.   

What time is best for pike fishing?

The best time to fish for pike is October to March. This is when the pike are on their A-game and almost constantly on the hunt.

Selecting the Perfect Swim

Pike are master of camouflage and any shelter they can find makes the perfect ambush point. Look for deep holes, weed beds and overhanging trees.  On canals and fishing rivers, fish near moored boats and bridges. 

New Pike Fishing TackleNew Pike Fishing Tackle

What is the best method for pike fishing?

My usual approach for pike fishing a still water would be a suspended dead bait underneath a large float. 

Float fishing for pike: The depth is controlled by a small rubber stop which you can slide up and down the line to your desired position. This is followed by a small bead to protect the float, a running sinker, and another bead to protect the knot below holding your wired trace. 

This can either be fished on the bottom or you can hook your dead bait underneath the backbone and suspend it in midwater to create the illusion of a swimming injured fish. 

On rivers, I use the same set up with the weight on the bottom holding the bait in place, although a lot of tips have been caught trotting a deadbait downstream.  

Lead Fishing with Deadbaits: Deadbaits can also be fished using a lead although I would recommend a running lead and fish with your bail arm off and with your line in a clip as when a pike takes your bait any resistance could cause the fish to drop it. Pike do not like resistance! 

Best Tackle for Pike Fishing

  • Braided Mainline: A must for predator fishing due to their hard-fighting nature.
  • Treble Hooks: You would be using two sets of these with a strong braided line. 

By using braid and treble hooks it means if you happen to get snagged up you can pull the hooks straight and release them rather than leave them behind where they could cause fish and other wildlife serious damage.

Pike Fishing Tackle Essentials

What is the best bait for pike in the UK?  

The fresher the bait the better. Live bait will always be the front runner for me but dead baits will also get a bite just about anywhere. 

I’ve seen substantial success with dead baits like Roach, Smelt, and Mackerel. Eels and Lamprey, given their oily nature and durable skin, you can cast further without the worry of the bait flying off. 

Flavoured liquids can also give you a massive advantage. Tuna oil or stinky fish oil injected into your bait can sometimes make them too good to be ignored.   

Pike Fishing Baits

Handling Pike with Care

Watch out for those teeth! Upon landing a pike, utmost care is essential. Always use an unhooking mat and long forceps. 

Pike teeth are coated in an anticoagulant and if you get nipped you will bleed for hours. You need to keep your hands as far from those teeth as you can. 

There is a small pocket just on the side of the pike gill plate where you can slide your hand in to hold the fish safely. If you have never done this before it’s a good idea to have someone with you with experience the first few times you go.  

Once you have the fish unhooked make sure you give it a few minutes in the net to recover before releasing it. hold it by the tail and wait until you can it flex to swim.  

Handling a pike can be tricky but once you have caught and gilled a few you will get used to it. 

A Pike Session with Matt Peplow

Recalling a memorable day, Matt shares fast-paced action and the adrenaline of landing a pike after a lengthy lockdown.

My first rod was positioned in the entrance to the loch where the water was nearly still. The float sat beautifully, with the medium-sized roach lying on the bottom oozing all kinds of juices and smells into the water hopefully enough to get the attention of a passing pike. 

My second rod I lobbed into open water in the middle of the swim. I had hooked a large section of mackerel tail, removed the head and sliced down the body to create a flapper bait for ultimate attraction. 


Once this starts moving gently in the flow and breaking down a little the strong smells and natural oils will be irresistible. This float still lay flat but with the gentle pull of the river it swayed a little, but the weight of the bait and sinker was enough to keep it in place. 

I set this rod down on the rest just in time to see my other float bobbing away in the corner of my eye. The bait had only been in the water a couple of minutes and had already been picked up. I waited a few seconds for the line to tighten to ensure the fish had a good grip on the bait and set the hooks. 

It didn’t feel massive, but it was fantastic to feel and bend in the rod after those long months stuck indoors during lockdown. The speckled carnivore treated me to some lively tail walks and danced all the way to the bank. Then, once safely in the net he promptly spat out the hooks relieving me of the trouble of having to go anywhere near the sharp teeth to unhook him. 

We couldn’t believe how quickly I was off the mark. One fish in the net within the first ten minutes really takes the pressure off even if it was only a small jack. 

Bite number two came on my other float rod out in the current. The float dipped twice and then disappeared. As soon as I connected with this fish, I knew it was a better size. 

No acrobatics this time and not a lot of movement at all. I was starting to think I was reeling in a tree branch. Thankfully then it surfaced, and I am pleased to say it was a beautiful pike weighing in at just over 13lb.

Remember, using a braided mainline is key. Don’t leave sharp hooks behind if you get snagged up. The bait's aroma can be a game-changer. Don't skip on safety tools like forceps and unhooking mats. Be strategic in picking your fishing spot. And lastly, handle with care; those teeth are not a joke!

Ready to embark on your pike fishing adventure? With Matt Peplow's expert tips, you're now equipped to tackle the pike fishing season with renewed confidence.

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