This time of year after the Pike have recovered from the exertions of procreation they rest a while and then they go on a feeding frenzy to replenish the reserves spent during the often violent spawning process.
If you get the timing right by watching the weather, water temperatures etc on your chosen waters you can predict when these frenzied feeding windows can open.
Lures are particularly effective at this time of year and are my favourite way to catch pike but i never leave home without covering all bases, so i will always have a cool bag with some deadbaits too just in case.
So yesterday's trip nearly didn't happen; initially it was going to be a 3 day adventure(2 days fishing) camping overnight by the lake with a piker i respect alot; Eric Edwards. Sadly Eric had to cancel due to car problems but i was determined to go at least for a day. Tuesday i packed everything meticulously; check and re-check. I am methodical to the point of OCD in preparation; Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail is my angling ethos. I set off at daft o'clock in the middle of the night and arrived in the dark and soon had the boat in the water. A nearly full moon gave me sufficient light to work without a head torch but everything at this stage is well honed and is automatic. Sunrise was 5am but at 4am i ventured out onto the lake in moonlight. I wanted to be on my chosen mark as the sun came up. I knew there would be a buzzer hatch and the roach would feed and ring the dinner bell for the water wolves and i wanted to be part of it and i was.
I had 10 fish early doors on trolled herring jacks and lures and took a 1st well earned coffee break. After that first feeding frenzy things quietened down a bit. I hunted the pike as they hunted their prey. I scanned the water on the fish finder(always scanning the surface for activity also) for the shoals of roach and inevitably the pike. The roach in this lake are constantly being harried and pursued by esox. Shoals get driven off and broken up and then they reform in to large balls and this cat and mouse cycle continues throughout the day.
Midday the wind as forecast got up and some of the gusts reached 25mph so moving stealthily around on the MinnKota became more difficult, so i switched tactics to moving up-wind and putting out my drogue; a very useful tool in a piker's armoury, people should use more often.
I cast for hours in front of the drift and added a number of fish over the next few hours. At this point i finally decided upon a rest and anchored up and put lamprey and smelt deadbaits out and enjoyed some much needed food and coffee and shamefully quite a few chain smoked cigerettes. The pike weren't interested in these offerings on the bottom; they were looking up for the roach; focused and so was i.
By late afternoon my tally had reached 18. I had txt my fishing buddies Neil and Gulper; Gulper said "25 and get yourself off home", Neil said i wasn't allowed to leave the lake unless i caught 30.
Then the window opened again; The wind dropped and there was a hatch of some ugly nuisance of a fly that i kept inadvertantly eating and were getting in my eyes. The roach obviously loved them and the cycle of feeding began in earnest again. Finding pike like this is easy and they were clearly on the feed again as they crashed into the shoals of silvers all over the lake.
I had learned during the morning feeding session they wanted the bait mid-water but they liked the baits retrieved really slow. Too fast and i got hits but no hook ups. I had found regular Bulldawgs and even Replicants were too heavy to fish slowly high in the water so i switched to shallow Bulldawgs and in my last hour and a half i landed 13 fish; all of them totally engulfed.
Final tally was 31 and i was exhausted. I could have carried on catching for a couple more hours because as i motored back to the launch i could still see the pike crashing on the surface but i was spent and very content.
I spend every winter in pursuit of large pike, sometimes on very difficult waters and i am prepared to blank on many trips to eventually land a lump. Yesterday my best fish only topped 13lb but what a fun day i had; The most pike i have caught in a single day. Below are just a selection of the day's pics.........
|1st of 31 at 1st light|
|Boat on the water in the dark|
|Leeches; alot of fish were crawling with them. Shows a period of inactivity|
|Nice pike rash on poor control of the self timer|
|gill raker rash stings a bit|
|Glorious sunrise afloat in the dark|