The adrenaline rush that comes with hooking into a ferocious pike, and the sight of a finely tuned, big-toothed predator in your landing net is what keeps anglers coming back to pike fishing every winter.
Here in the UK, the pike fishing season runs from October through to March. Some anglers will pike fish in the summer months, but generally it is accepted that if the water is over 21 degrees, you should not be targeting pike.
Pike are a species that are very sensitive to water temperature changes, but as a trophy fish they are fished for all year round. In collaboration with the Environment Agency, Angling Trust, Pike Anglers Club, and the Broads Angling Services Group, Angling Direct have installed a 'Live Broads Water Temperature' graph in our Wroxham store. The aim of which is to educate all anglers to the current water temperature and what sort of species they should be targeting and the tackle they need to fish for alternatives.
Rods and Reels
Whether you hook into a small jack pike, or a 40lb croc, pike are powerful fish and require a strong, powerful rod to combat.
The type of rod you opt for also depends on what style of pike fishing you are looking to do – lure or bait fishing?
If it lure fishing that takes your fancy, you will need to get your hands on a spinning rod between 6ft-10ft, you will notice these rods are rated on the rods casting weight, which will be listed in grams. A casting weight of 15-40g is ideal for a beginner as it will be comfortable casting a small, medium or large lure – it offers you flexibility.
There are two types of reels associated with piking, fixed spool reels and multiplier reels. Fixed spool reels are the traditional go-to for most fishing disciplines, whereas multiplier reels are more complex, but are lighter, cast further, have better drag systems, and do not suffer from line twist like the fixed spool alternative.
If you’re looking to dead bait, you will probably be able to use your existing carp setup, any carp rod with a test curve over 2.50lb will suffice. When piking the test curve corresponds to how big a dead bait you can cast out and how far you can cast it.
If you’re looking at a short chuck with a 4in lamprey section then a 2.5lb test curve will be plenty, however, if you want to use a bigger bait and fish at range, you will need to get your hands on a rod with a test curve over 3.00lb.
In terms of dead bait reels, a fixed spool reel with a large line capacity is ideal and will have you covered in a plethora of situations.
You have two options - mono or braid - many anglers will opt for braid as it is thinner in diameter, taking up less spool space and allowing you a greater casting range. Braid is also more responsive than mono, as it has no stretch properties you will be able to feel every indication at the business end of your rig and also guide your lure through the water more efficiently.
A trace wire is of paramount importance when it comes to pike fishing, as it prevents the pike biting through your line in order to free itself, leaving a lure lodged in its mouth. A supple, 10in long, 30lb breaking strain trace with a swivel at one end and a snap link at the other will be perfect for the job.
Large 42in specimen nets, that you would use in carp fishing, will comfortably net a pike and are at least a good size for pike, however, a wily pike will figure out that it can soon bite through one of these nets – trebles can sometimes accidentally tear you net as well. To save yourself the bother, it is worth investing in a rubberised landing net, not only are they more robust than its mesh equivalent, but also usually feature a stronger and shorter net handle, making netting the pike easier on a solo trip.
One look at a pikes mouth and you will think twice about removing the hook with your hands, a pair of long-nosed forceps (12in) are much better suited for the job.
Once in a while you will land a pike that is hooked awkwardly, in this situation it is usually easier to cut the wire trace, allowing you to move everything above your trace wire out of the way and just focus on removing the treble and short trace that is left.
As aforementioned, your choices are lure or dead bait. Lure fishing is by far more mobile and allows you to fish multiple swims and walk great lengths of the bank in a single session, if you’re an angler that prefers to be pro-active as opposed to waiting for the fish to come to you, lure fishing is probably your best bet.
Dead baiting tends to be more of a sitting behind alarms session, the heavier tackle you use when dead baiting means you are less mobile, so you will need to ensure you are in a productive swim from the off, if you are just on a short session. you also need some means of keeping your bait relatively fresh.
Another option is not so much a style of fishing, but if you have access to a boat, sessions out on a boat in a large expanse of water can be hugely productive.