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Short session pike

Most of my pike fishing these days is in the form of short sessions of maybe three or four hours each. It's consistent with the old adage that it's better to spend an hour in a place where there are feeding fish than to spend a day in one without. Kind of obvious, I know, but worth repeating, nonetheless. Of course, it takes a lot of groundwork to establish where the pike will be at a certain time of year, and at what time of day they'll feed; but once this is established it's possible to capitalise on the time you have available. This won't work for all waters, in fact on many you'll just have to sit and wait; hour after hour, day after day. If you've got the time, that's great; unfortunately time is a commodity in short supply, for most.A small Somerset Drain

There are a couple of waters I fish where I can almost guarantee pike, although not all monsters, there are still a few doubles and the slim possibility of a twenty. I use several approaches: first is to fish to some kind of feature likely to draw in bait fish. Any kind of structure is likely to work like this, a pumping station or lock cutting would be typical. Also, the areas anglers are chucking in bait for small stuff, typically near access points. These areas will usually hold resident fish, and are always a good place to start. If I'm fishing for a morning, I'll maybe visit two of these such places, spending a few hours in each. The next approach is to set up an ambush. Pike will patrol a length of water , so put a bait in their path, and you should catch. This is easier on the small drains I sometimes fish; you can put one bait to the far bank, one to the near and one to the middle. Any pike swimming along should stumble on one of them. The last method is leap-frogging the rods along a stretch of water. You chuck the baits out in the same pattern as the last method, then wait for, say, fifteen minutes and then move one of the rods along the bank. You keep repeating this, gradually moving along the water way, covering plenty of ground. This is most effectively done with livebaits, as I think they're more likely to draw fish from out of cover quickly. I get the feeling that doing this with deadbaits, you may miss some patrolling pike due to the limited pulling power of the bait, and moving it as the pike swims through. With the livebaits, if say you move the inside rod as a pike comes through on that line, then he's still likely to sense the bait fished on the middle line. Of course, that does depend on the type of water you're fishing. Unfortunately, on most waters you fish these days you'll not be allowed to use livebaits. A typical short session pike

If you want to be mobile, then you need to travel light. I carry three rods, ready tackled up, in a quiver also containing a landing net and rod rests; a small seat; a cool bag for baits; a small tackle bag; unhooking mat and. . . well, that's it! I don't bother with a brolly unless it's really looking like it'll piss down, something I often come to regret. Like this, you can quickly move around from place to place, and be fishing minutes after you pull up in the car. The tackle bag doesn't carry much, just a few bits of end tackle like floats, wire etc; forceps for unhooking and a camera.

While writing this, I best mention a few things about pike welfare.Firstly, hitting the run: no need to wait, pick up the rod, establish that the pike has still got hold of the bait, then wind down to it. Even a 6lber will have no problems getting a half mackerel well into it's mouth in this time. Semi-barbless hooks are essential, in my opinion -- the ones with just the barb on the bait holding point. As for the unhooking gear, an unhooking mat, forceps and some wire cutters are needed. Pike should be weighed in a sling, or the net and should never be carried so that they could be dropped -- keep them low to the ground for photographing. If you do deep-hook one, if some gentle pulling doesn't bring the hooks into view then cut the trace as close to the hooks as possible. The stomach acids should take care of the hooks.

January 2005