Pike fishing in 2019

Pike fishing in winter is one of the most exciting and often rewarding parts of the fishing year. A complete change in approach,fishing tackle,rigs and techniques. But for the average fisherman it also brings it’s challenges. Most obviously unhooking and fish care. In this blog i discuss the changes that we might start to see and even encourage in 2019.

My Piking in 2018

It has been an interesting end to the piking year of 2018 in several ways, for me at least. I love fishing in Norwich city centre, along the very urban Wensum. There is a downside though. Whilst my quarry might be perch, pike often come along and frequently unhooking them is a sad , long and painful process.

Not because of me I hasten to add but because so often , the fish come out with any number of traces left in them.The record for 2018 was SEVEN in a single fish. No wonder that 6 pounder should have weighed double that-if it could have swallowed its food properly.

By contrast i am lucky enough to have access to some wonderful pits which hold specimen pike and of course the Broads. These are relatively scarcely  fished and the rewards can sometimes be spectacular with fish up to the 30lb mark. I have talked about some of the newer approaches and techniques i and my gang have used to improve our Pike fishing but perhaps it’s time to go back to the basics?

JG with a cracking mid 20lb fish

Pike fishing in 2019

Thinking about Pike In 2019 , perhaps there are options opening up? Pike awareness and unhooking lessons are a vital start to any piking career. Should an unhooking course be made mandatory by the EA?
Perhaps we should think carefully about smaller trebles, or better still, doubles or even single hooks?

Pike rigs

Whilst Pike fishing last year ,I and my fishing friends have been experimenting with single Circle hooks and hair rigged deadbaits. Ratters one of our group had picked this idea up from watching  Youtube  videos discussing the why’s and wherefores and in particular one by Tony Porter. In essence it adapts carp fishing tactics hair rigging the deadbait off the back of the hook shank. We have had some success with this but it does require some adaptation of your striking technique and of setting the hook. A strike will almost always pull the hook out of the Pikes mouth, but a strong and deliberate winding down until you feel the weight of the fish, will 9 times out of 10 result in a fish hooked right in the scissors.

Circle hook hair rigged deadbait

Pike care benefits

The benefits of this are obvious; ease of unhooking,significantly reduced likelihood of deep hooking and potentially a decrease in wary Pike dropping the bait if it feels the trebles. On the tough lakes I fish this can be the difference between blanking and catching.

James Buckley with dad and a 21lber

There are of course circumstances where an experienced angler can use trebles effectively when pike fishing , with minimal distress to the fish. But single hooks are potentially a way forward.We should of course hook baits tail first, sit on our rods and strike at the first sign of interest but is there still more we could do?

Dave Lambert with a highly effective small lure

The new generation of Pike fishermen

Over the past 2/3 years, I have become ever more impressed by Robbie Northman and his lure fishing mates. They have more fun than fish focused oldies like me. They catch more pike as a general rule and those pike are rarely if ever deeply hooked.

Robbie Northman with a 30 caught on a small livebait and single hook

And there is more. Over the holidays, I fished with pike fly masters David Lambert and Matt Harris. They out fished us bait boys three days out of three and the only blood shed was their own on one occasion. Their days were full of action and inventiveness and their pike went back without a hint of damage.

We got rid of pike gags and pike gaffs in the 1960s. We stopped killing pike in the 1970s. Perhaps as we approach the 2020s we can complete the job of treating pike with  the humanity they deserve?

John Bailey