Well the stats are in for the year, time to find out how far I walked with my lazy hobby this year. Turns out I walked 2,272 miles - slightly further than last year. That’s the same as 87 marathons, and if you combine both years it’s the same as walking the length of The Nile!
A couple of afternoons chasing pike on the Wye, no fish but the water is fining down - hopefully I’ll get another trip in before the end of the year. But now it was time for something completely different.
Me and Steve headed to Bushyleaze, our first trip there in search of trout on the fly, and it didn’t take long to find feeding fish - both bagging two rainbows on our 4 fish tickets before breakfast.
We could have filled our tickets in no time, but we left the feeding trout and went exploring the rest of the lake. We spooked a few jacks before I bagged a couple of beautiful perch in the clear water.
Back to the trout, we wanted two more each - typically it was more difficult to find fish now. But we both bagged another rainbow each before dark. Six trout and 2 perch - a cracking day's fluff chucking!
Not big fish, but I love catching pike. So back to the ponds for another quick lure chucking mission and I landed pike number 59 and pike number sixty! Oh, and checking The Wye, it’s rising like mad. Crap!
Don’t let the bright sunshine in the photos fool you - it’s bloody cold out there! I escaped for a quick afternoon pike fishing session on the ponds. The first pond was frozen all the way over but the next was ice-free, time to chuck a lure about...
An hour or so later with only one follow to show for my effort I cast a sprat out while I had cup of tea. The float sat for 5 minutes before hammering under resulting in a winter jack to warm me up. I hoped they had come on the feed and swapped back to lure fishing...
In the next 40 minutes I had two more pike, lost two and had a number of follows and missed takes, but then as suddenly as they had switched on they switched off. Very small feeding window - but the sun was getting low in the sky - time to retreat back to warmth!
And hello to Matt who I randomly bumped into outside Streatham Tesco on Thursday (who occasionally reads this) - quick chat about all things pike. I can’t remember where you said you were going piking yesterday, but we talked of twenties - hope you bagged one!
Another quick mission to the river hoping to add a few more barbel before it gets really cold. Short story short; I added three more - total now 71 - that’s 29 more to go and just over 3 months (99 days) left of the season - just keeping the 100 barbel option open...
I haven’t really caught the barbel bug this season, having hardly fished for them compared to the previous eight years. But I fancied that barbel pull and headed off to a drizzly, blustery river.
Just under three hours on the clock, and the river was high and dirty - most barbel anglers like these conditions - but I prefer to be able to spot my target - time to lob some luncheon meat in the little slacks.
I needn’t have worried, they were on the feed in the dirty water, hitting a barbel in the second swim. In a race against time I landed six barbel in the short session - that barbel pull I’ve missed - great fun!
The problem with only the occasional trip is locating the nomadic barbel shoals - so I shot down to the river again for a couple of hours the following afternoon - adding three more. Season total is now 68!
Time has been against me this month but seven more pike have been added - season total now stands at 54! I’m hoping to get amongst some Wye pike next month, just hoping the traditional Christmas floods give it a miss this year - and the big girls want to play!
There is no getting away from it; autumn is turning into winter - it’s getting colder out there! I hit the local river for the afternoon, time for another wander with the stick ‘n’ pin and half a loaf of bread.
As well as gudgeon and chub I was really after a pound plus roach in it’s beautiful autumn colours - in daylight - a bit of an ask as we’re starting to lose light just after 3pm at this time of year.
Loads of roach but none over the magic pound mark, I did start to hit a bigger stamp of fish as it got darker - but I thought I’d put these little beauties on here - what stunning looking fish!
I had about three quarters of a pint of maggots left over from grayling fishing - slowly turning into casters in the fridge. So I thought I'd pop down and chuck them in the river - and put a hook in a few! Waste not, want not - plus the stick and pin was already packed...
And I found a good shoal of roach, banking 40-50 fish, mostly between 4-12oz but I did land one about 1½lb - which escaped the landing net while I sorted out the scales and camera - so I stayed far longer than intended until I bumped into this 1lb 2½oz beauty!
To my mind there is nothing more exciting than watching your pike float sail away - racing to the rod, winding down and striking - could be 2lb, could be 20lb. Only my second pike on the float so far this season - really got the heart racing, I want some more!
I rarely do full days fishing these days, preferring to fish early mornings in the summer and afternoons in the winter, but an eagerly anticipated trip to The Hook is a different matter - I set aside a full day. An early start, arriving on the island for sunrise.
And it looked perfect; low, slow and clear. It wasn’t too warm or too cold and armed with a variety of bait, I mentioned to Richard my prediction “ten to fifteen pike between us“. Kiss of death! Deadbaits, livebaits and lures went untouched - we didn’t even spot a pike.
My last real successful campaign on the island was back in the winter of 2011/12, since then it has been diminishing returns. The stories of the 5 minute livebait and getting through the jacks and doubles to find a really big pike are over 30 years old now.
More recent stories have been of poaching, and current stories are of nothing. The pegs are overgrown and the island has been abandoned except for a few dog walkers and the odd optimistic angler - but pike thrive on neglect - perhaps I’ll find a forgotten monster...
A computer glitch at the EA resulted in my weir permit arriving a month late, but it landed on the doormat on the weekend and I was itching to get on the river. With very little time, made shorter trying to catch elusive livebait, it was zander time by the first casts.
But I was really hoping for a pike. Two runs, a little perch and the pike above. The pike had seen better days - long, thin and missing an eye - but a really big broad head - would have loved to have caught her in her prime! But a Barney, weighing exactly 10lb - great stuff!
On the ponds waiting for first light - time to find the morning pike feeding spell, and I made my first cast at 7.30am. Exciting stuff, but the excitement wore off as the lures were repeatedly ignored...
First take was over two hours later, I lost a pike about 8lb on a Mepps. Next take was at midday but again it spat a plug this time - I was out of time and hadn’t found the morning pike time...
You can’t draw any conclusions from one trip, there might have been any number of factors (including a frost the night before). More research required - so more pike fishing to be done - love it!
I’m very impressed with the thru line pike - so I've bought his big brother... The first was 8" long and weighs 2⅓oz - that was a big lure - until I met his brother, 12" long and weighs 7oz!
It’s designed for trawling but I wondered if could I cast it? I tested casting in a field - didn’t want to crack off a £10 lure to go fishing on its own! I think with a shock leader the answer is yes.
It’s exactly the same size and shape as the mini-jacks the cannibals are feeding on, bit dark in colour but they seem to lighten as they get fished/chomped - had to resist a chuck without a shock leader...
I’ve had five pike on junior now, looking forward to trying to get one on senior. SG do have an 18” version (4D range that don’t look as good in the water) but I’d probably need a beach caster and a run-up!
You can catch pike anytime of the day or night, but they definitely have distinct feeding spells when your swim suddenly comes to life, I’ve noticed it pike fishing full days on The Wye with my brother and while out on the boat with James.
Nothing for hours then 3 or 4 pike in quick succession - have they suddenly moved in or were they there all the time? I have a theory they switch on about 3 hours before sunset and actively hunt for about 2 hours, completing their hunt an hour before dark.
Getting a few pike on the scorecard recently, and photographing every one for my 50 Pike Challenge I’m going back over the time stamp on my camera and seeing how accurate my theory is. I mostly just fish in the afternoon, so not a full picture but it’s a start.
Obviously there are lots of other factors; conditions, venues, time of year etc. But it would be great to work out even a rough Pike Time, where you stand the best chance of getting a run. So I need to collect more stats... A great excuse for more pike fishing!
Edit: I've added the first 40 pike above - time before sunset. So now I’m going to do some dawn raids to see if the graph is the same in the morning! Probably proving what any fisherman with a couple of seasons under their belt knows - dawn & dusk are best times to fish!
My fascination with pike began long before I ever caught one, as a five or six year old I’d regularly quiz my Dad about them; how many teeth have they got? how long do they live?
I remember him telling me they are cannibals - pike eat pike - for some reason I found this new fact even more fascinating - I had to meet this fish! BTW: 300+ teeth, lifespan of 8-12 years.
After stumbling on a pike nursery a week or so ago, the thought of catching a cannibal hasn’t been far from my mind. I’m not prepared to use a jack for bait - but I’m all about lure fishing at the moment.
I tried my giant pike pattern plug, it fishes great at a depth of 5-6 foot - but here it’s only 1-3 foot deep and I had to fish it too fast. I had a look around and settled on a Savage Gear 3D pike.
It’s worth shopping around, got it online for six quid - bargain! I was worried it was designed to catch anglers rather than fish - until I saw it in action - a thing of beauty in the water!
Right on the limit of my light lure rod I gave it a test. I fished it slow, watching the line for signs of a take - I needn’t have worried - 4 takes and the pike hit it like a train, all taking line off the drag on the hit!
I have never had takes like it, but I need to scale up the gear - unable to set the hook on two takes! But I did get a couple of cannibals on the scorecard - love it - tell the 5 year old me!!
So going to scale the gear up; much heavier rod, multiplier, 20-30lb line. And I’m looking at pike pattern lures all over You Tube, I’d like to roll this out across all the (less snaggy) pike waters I fish...