Tag: pike

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



What i’ve learned from the fishing greats

Throughout my fishing life I have been lucky enough to learn from and fish with some of what i think, many people will agree, are the fishing greats. You will undoubtedly have your own list but i thought i would write a series of blogs on those that have influenced my fishing the most. In this article i talk about Fred Buller and Fred J Taylor.

What I learned from Fred Buller

Fred is perhaps best known for his 1971 text book Pike and his 1979 compilation of big pike stories The Domesday Book of Pike. I got to know him when I was writing my own book The Great Anglers in 1989 and, believe me, Fred was great in every sense of the word.

He was our greatest angling researcher and scholar. He had worked in fisheries for years and knew fish intimately. he was great angler too, catching pretty well every UK species on the list. He was generous with his knowledge and his time. He was great company, witty, insightful and possessing a great wine cellar. He came into my life at just the right time after I had just left teaching..he taught me to believe in myself but to try to be modest and always listen to others. he taught me to put the fish first and to worry about baits , flies and approaches secondly. Above all, he showed me that true fishermen are part of a brotherhood and that above all, we should strive to be kind, to help and to understand.


What I learned from Fred J Taylor

You could never call FJT an unsung hero but he was to a degree outshone by his relationship with Richard Walker-a fact he personally resented. Fred was not one of our great 20th century writers but he never set out to be. He wanted to get across the new ways of fishing that he and his “joyous gang” we pioneering. The “Taylor Brothers” were at the heart of most of what was happening from the Fifties onwards and you always read Fred with huge interest.

What did I personally take away from his books and articles? Obviously, FJT and deadbaiting are synonymous. It is hard to believe now we never thought a pike would ever pick up a DEAD fish!! Today, 80% of my pike come on deads and each and every time I give up a silent prayer to Old Fred.

Without doubt, the biggest lesson FJT taught me is the potency of pre baiting for tench. The Taylor Brothers did this big time and it worked in the 60s just as it does now. In fact , all things being equal, as Fred once said to me in person, the more you put in, the more tench you get out.

I don’t want these pieces to become mindless hagiography. I met Fred several times in the 80s when we were writing for one of the artworks that were in vogue at the time. Unlike virtually all of his contemporaries, Fred was always fairly cold towards me. He would talk but I always felt unwillingly and with more than a dash of arrogance.Of course, I could have been seen as one of the young pretenders but I always found it a little hurtful, especially as he had long been in my pantheon of heroes.

So what do i conclude from this? Well the two Fred’s definitely shared a passion for angling and each in their own way were innovators, who thought deeply about fish behaviour, and that is something i have tried to carry through in my fishing approach. 

Who are your fishing heroes?

John Bailey