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River pike

Stuart Ireland

Active Member
Hi all just after some advice iv pike fished still waters for a few years but am pretty new to river piking! What would be considered good conditions is my main question! Iv had some good success latley but am struggling to get through to the better fish im sure are their is their any way to target the better fish? Thanks stu
 

Dave Taylor

Senior Member
Hi Stuart.
Your question is a bit difficult to answer in a paragraph or two, and it can depend on the type of river you're fishing. By that I mean big, small fast or slow, drain, dyke or if it has a separate flood channel etc.
I prefer high pressure but have caught at other times. Reasonable water clarity is best even when dead baiting, as river pike often hole up tight under the bank in turbid conditions just gathering lice.
The key is a mobile approach, unless you know of a good area and are willing to sit it out waiting for that quick winter feeding spell.
When the weed has died back I personally prefer to rove with one rod and float ledger a dead bait sometimes covering a couple of miles on some venues.
After a while you get to know the hotspots and where the bigger fish move to when river conditions change and preferred spawning areas.
If the big fish get hit to hard they often move. If my first fish from a swim is a jack, I often move as well !
I'd best stop now as I'm sure yer eyes are starting to glaze over:D
 

Gavin Hoe-Richardson

Senior Member
High pressure for me too. I prefer near bank slacks when the river is carrying a bit of water as this is where the prey fish are likely to be too. When conditions are lower then I aim for areas where the prey fish are known to shoal up over winter, marinas, bridges, sidestreams etc.
 

Graham Hunt

Senior Member
Hi all just after some advice iv pike fished still waters for a few years but am pretty new to river piking! What would be considered good conditions is my main question! Iv had some good success latley but am struggling to get through to the better fish im sure are their is their any way to target the better fish? Thanks stu
Fining down after a flood for me, still a bit of colour left.
 

Steve Lewis

Senior Member
Stuart

As Dave says, numerous factors rather than just weather, and adopting a roving approach is indeed essential.

I will say that in my experience the only weather that really seems to put them off is very strong wind - I don't think I've EVER caught a pike from anywhere with any tactic when a gale has been blowing - but no doubt others' mileage has varied.

Given your location and other forum posts, I'm assuming we're talking the Bristol Avon? Whilst there are plenty of pike in there, and all the way through, much like the drains on the Somerset levels "better" fish are very few and far between - a low 20 from the BA (and the levels) is a rare and exceptional fish, whilst in many other parts of the country it wouldn't be too far off the average. And fish of 25-30lb are almost unheard of - I think I'm right in saying that the current BA record of 33lb, caught in the 90s, is the only 30+ fish that has come out (or at least reported) of there for the best part of 20 years. So I would also say, just so you're not disappointed, that lowering your expecations may also be a requirement.

There have long been discussions in pike fishing circles for decades as to why the pike around here don't seem to grow to the same size as many other similar river and drain systems around the country, but no one has come up with a definitive answer. Most of us have just shrugged our shoulders and accepted it whilst we wait to win the Chew Valley Lake ticket lottery...
 

George Maltby

Senior Member
Hi All,

I have booked a day on the Courtfield stretch of the Wye for the 30th with a friend of mine from Kernow, and am hoping for a nice pike, providing the rivers not washed out anyway. Quick question for the locals, what dead baits do you find the best? Fresh or salt? Or would you say I should sacrifice an hour or two and try and bag some lives? All advice welcome. Thanks in advance.
 

Graham Elliott

Senior Member
Most clubs/waters do not allow livebait apart from bleak/ minnows.

So check this. If you can catch any decent other fish and allowed the livebait will outfish deads.
Bear in mind the rocky bottom etc.

I use mackerel for deadbait. Cut across at an angle to expose the guts.

Bear in mind the tough skin so just nick it. Use snap tackle and hit fish immediately. Some of the larger pike will just hold and engulf and you may deep hook. Ideally use large trebles 4 or 6 due to tough bait and need to portrude well.

Look for slacks even small ones.
Most of my pike come no more than 1 to 1 and half rod lengths out.

Give it no more than 10 mins before recasting after one or two small lifts of the bait.
Make a big as splash as you can as the bait goes in.
I never give a swim more than 20 mins before moving. But revisit again.

Good Luck
 

George Maltby

Senior Member
Graham that's great info thanks. It is a Wye and Usk beat so I will check the rules on their website. I get bored if I don't have a bite in a swim much after 30 mins so this sounds perfect!
 

Graham Elliott

Senior Member
George
You can use livebait on W and Usk but of course only that caught from the river.

In reality it'll be dace or chublet more likely.
 

George Maltby

Senior Member
Well, I had my session up on the wye and finished with this lovely fish which was a PB for me at 15 3/4lbs, unfortunately I lost a slightly bigger fish at the net as a loose treble got caught in the mesh as she was sliding over the rim, but I cant complain with the day generally. Unfortunately my friend who had come up from Cornwall blanked, and managed to get a treble in his finger unhooking my fish! a swift yank with the forceps sorted the problem, but he was definitely harder to unhook than the pike!

Thanks must go to Graham for the low down on the tactics, indeed the fish came a yard from the bank after just twitching the bait, having been stationary for 10 mins. The lost fish came on a wobbled sprat, nearly took it off the surface as I was standing chatting to a mate, with it just dapping on the surface, so just dropped it down and gave it a few little twitches and sure enough he grabbed it.

I do have a serious question, and that is the issue of 'ghost fishing'. I do not do a lot of piking (in fact I think this is one of the very few sessions I have ever had specifically targeting them), so am unsure if there are any nifty tricks out their to help. The Wye is big and snaggy, two exposed trebles in a sprat or joey only add to this problem, I was fishing under my rod tip and still lost two rigs, my Cornish friend lost 4 or 5, that is a lot of baited rigs sitting in the water that could potentially be swallowed by a pike. Indeed the fish in the photo below had a wire trace protruding from its gullet which I could not remove, however he was still feeding and was in fine condition so I suspect he will survive. Is this something you worry about?

IMG_1914.JPG
 

Graham Elliott

Senior Member
George. Pleased you at least managed one.

Only advice I can offer you is to ensure your bait doesn't drag along the bottom and to lift sharply when you do.
That's good advice on the Wye whaterever you fish for.

Never had a pike on the river yet that had hooks in it.

Luckily I know the clearish areas on the stretches I fish so never had to revert to suspended baits or paternoster rigs.
 

Mark Mole

Senior Member
Well, I had my session up on the wye and finished with this lovely fish which was a PB for me at 15 3/4lbs, unfortunately I lost a slightly bigger fish at the net as a loose treble got caught in the mesh as she was sliding over the rim, but I cant complain with the day generally. Unfortunately my friend who had come up from Cornwall blanked, and managed to get a treble in his finger unhooking my fish! a swift yank with the forceps sorted the problem, but he was definitely harder to unhook than the pike!

Thanks must go to Graham for the low down on the tactics, indeed the fish came a yard from the bank after just twitching the bait, having been stationary for 10 mins. The lost fish came on a wobbled sprat, nearly took it off the surface as I was standing chatting to a mate, with it just dapping on the surface, so just dropped it down and gave it a few little twitches and sure enough he grabbed it.

I do have a serious question, and that is the issue of 'ghost fishing'. I do not do a lot of piking (in fact I think this is one of the very few sessions I have ever had specifically targeting them), so am unsure if there are any nifty tricks out their to help. The Wye is big and snaggy, two exposed trebles in a sprat or joey only add to this problem, I was fishing under my rod tip and still lost two rigs, my Cornish friend lost 4 or 5, that is a lot of baited rigs sitting in the water that could potentially be swallowed by a pike. Indeed the fish in the photo below had a wire trace protruding from its gullet which I could not remove, however he was still feeding and was in fine condition so I suspect he will survive. Is this something you worry about?

View attachment 6783
Hi George
My advice with the snagging up would be to use lighter gauge trebles,so they open out when you pull for a break. Provided you use strong braid or mono mainline this should nearly always happen. I personally don't use trebles these days,using partridge VB double hooks instead. Lighter Zander rigs have caught me more pike than Zander,big ones too. They've never once let me down even though being quite light in the wire.
 

George Maltby

Senior Member
Thanks all, will give the lighter gauge hooks a bash next time I am up that way, may even have to brake out the 10 weight!

Funnily enough after posting earlier I ducked out of the office early and went for an hour’s wobbling on a local stretch of the Dorset Stour and ended up bagging another PB right on last light at 19lbs 4oz! Gave me such a fright as I had about given up! Left my phone in my work jacket pocket back in the car though unfortunately so no photos...I always forget something so am just grateful it wasn’t the net!
 
Last edited:
Hi George
My advice with the snagging up would be to use lighter gauge trebles,so they open out when you pull for a break. Provided you use strong braid or mono mainline this should nearly always happen. I personally don't use trebles these days,using partridge VB double hooks instead. Lighter Zander rigs have caught me more pike than Zander,big ones too. They've never once let me down even though being quite light in the wire.
Goes without saying George, if you do get snagged up be very careful when trying to pull clear. There could be an awful lot of hook points heading in your direction!
 

Paul Richardson

Senior Member
Do people find that popping up deadbaits a foot or so up off the bottom work ?
I nearly always pop baits up but have been really struggling lately on my local river. I fished a lamprey section hard on the bottom at the weekend and picked up a small fish. So I guess it's always worth experimenting. To my mind a popped up or paternoster deadbait should be more attractive to a river pike due to flow imparting some movement.
 
Well, I had my session up on the wye and finished with this lovely fish which was a PB for me at 15 3/4lbs, unfortunately I lost a slightly bigger fish at the net as a loose treble got caught in the mesh as she was sliding over the rim, but I cant complain with the day generally. Unfortunately my friend who had come up from Cornwall blanked, and managed to get a treble in his finger unhooking my fish! a swift yank with the forceps sorted the problem, but he was definitely harder to unhook than the pike!

Thanks must go to Graham for the low down on the tactics, indeed the fish came a yard from the bank after just twitching the bait, having been stationary for 10 mins. The lost fish came on a wobbled sprat, nearly took it off the surface as I was standing chatting to a mate, with it just dapping on the surface, so just dropped it down and gave it a few little twitches and sure enough he grabbed it.

I do have a serious question, and that is the issue of 'ghost fishing'. I do not do a lot of piking (in fact I think this is one of the very few sessions I have ever had specifically targeting them), so am unsure if there are any nifty tricks out their to help. The Wye is big and snaggy, two exposed trebles in a sprat or joey only add to this problem, I was fishing under my rod tip and still lost two rigs, my Cornish friend lost 4 or 5, that is a lot of baited rigs sitting in the water that could potentially be swallowed by a pike. Indeed the fish in the photo below had a wire trace protruding from its gullet which I could not remove, however he was still feeding and was in fine condition so I suspect he will survive. Is this something you worry about?

View attachment 6783
George nice pike. As Mark has said, a lighter gauge treble is good to use on the Wye. It being a spate river, it shifts snags that will catch baited rigs. The lighter gauge trebles will straighten under extreme pressure saving your whole rig. The gut hooking that you noticed is generally easily sorted by using long nosed forceps, and going in via the gill rakers, whilst the pike is upside down supported astride between your legs. Be careful of the gill rakers, as most pike anglers hands are cut by these than from the more obvious teeth. Whilst far from ideal, pike can at times, survive ingesting baited rigs.
 
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