I ended November on a real high with the capture of my monster Perch, so I decided to switch my attention to Pike sooner than I had originally planned.
With Christmas getting ever closer and two very excited kids at home getting time on the bank through December was never going to be easy, but I knew I would be able to squeeze a few short sessions in and at least make a start on catching my target fish of over 20lb’s.
The Northern Pike really is predatory perfection hence the fact that fossil records show that the Pike as we know it Esox Lucius has remained unchanged for at least 62million years. Unlike the perch which shoal up and actively hunt smaller fish, using there spiked dorsal fin to make quick directional changes mid hunt, the pike is an ambush hunter.
Its mottled colouration gives it perfect camouflage as it lays in wait on the lake or river bed waiting for prey fish to venture to close, at which point it uses its huge paddle tail to power itself through the water with lightning speed. The pikes jaw flares open as it strikes doubling in size and making it near impossible for its target to get out of the way of its mouth, filled with hundreds of razor sharp teeth. The Pikes whole skeleton is made up of hundreds of small soft bones giving it extra flexibility. It truly has the perfect design for an ambush predator.
It is worth noting at this point that those small soft bones make the Pike extremely fragile when out of the water so extra care should be taken when handling them. This is a fact lost on some people who see their fearsome jaws and assume they are hardy fish.
Some people even fear Pike, I grew up with stories of them being dangerous to people and being told not to go into lakes and rivers that have Pike in. I also remember finding dead Pike on river banks killed by anglers who believed they killed anything that swam near them and eradicated the stock of all the other coarse fish. Some fishing clubs actually made the removal of any Pike caught one of the club rules. None of these fears are based on fact, just lack of knowledge, which thankfully seems to be a thing of the past in the UK and the angling community now embrace the Pike.
Getting down to business
I decided to fish my first session on the river Thames in the same general area as I had been Perch fishing. My first cast resulted in my target species, only a small one around 6lb but it was a real cracker with an almost chocolate colouration. This turned out to be the only fish of this short session but was a good start. The following few sessions were hard fishing but I managed a few more Pike on the lures. My biggest so far being over 14lb which as you can see in the pictures really was the perfect example of the Pikes mottled camouflage.
For my next session I decided to take my lure fishing gear to the river mole and it’s tributaries for a bit of exploring. It turned out to be a bit of a mistake as with the extra rainwater in the river it was high and murky, far from ideal for lure fishing. All I managed to do was snag up on unseen obstacles and lose my best lures. I did however find some cracking spots for bait fishing that just look perfect and I vowed to return with some dead baits soon.
The following day myself and Lac Du Villefond manager Mark Lambert (back in the UK on a short holiday) headed to the Thames. My confidence was low as I had not had chance to replace my favoured lure patterns but was willing to give it ago. Nothing seemed interested in taking any of the lures I had with me and time passed quickly without any action, until a cast along a floating platform resulted in a fish hammering my lure, and my spinning rod doubling over.
The fish fought real hard as they always do on the light set up and I soon had a really long but extremely skinny fish in the net. I thought it might do double figures but didn’t quite make it; it was still a very welcome fish to get me back on course. The rest of the session remained fishless until Mark got a bite last knockings. A beastly proportioned fish of 16lb 8oz a new P.B for him which he was extremely happy about and the fish looked awesome in the pictures.
Unfortunately this was the last session I managed to get in December firstly due to family commitments but even with those out the way the extreme rain had meant fishing the rivers was not an option for the rest of the month. The Mole has burst its banks in full flood and the river Thames is not far behind. So it looks like my quest for a giant Pike will have to continue into January.