GET HOOKED: More musings on the pursuit of big pike
I HAD planned to write about grayling this week; the lady of the stream, with her incongruous dorsal and bullet speed, is our only wild game fish at this time of year, and I’m excited at the prospect of fishing for her in the coming weeks.
However, last week’s piece on pike prompted a couple of emails, and a face-to-face enquiry in The Bakers Arms. The gist of each was the same: where can you catch them and how do you do it? So, I’ll delay my musings on thymallus thymallus and share a few pikey tips.
Cotswold anglers are surrounded by pike. The Thames around Lechlade and the Avon below Malmesbury both hold specimen fish – I’ve caught my share from each – and though I haven’t yet fished it as much as I would have liked, there are closer beats on Old Father on the South Cerney ticket that beg to be investigated.
For those inclined towards still water, the choice broadens. The Ashton Keynes and South Cerney clubs have numerous waters that have produced big pike, while Pike Lake No.6 behind the Four Pillars Hotel has, as you might suspect, a good head of them, too. I believe that Lechlade Trout Farm also has a pike lake.
On the rivers, the key is to be mobile; fish a herring or smelt in likely spots – snags, overhanging branches, fallen trees and the like – for 15 minutes at a time. If you find one with a pike at home, the bite will often be instant. Ensure your bait sits off the bottom, though. Both rivers hold crayfish.
I should point out that if the river is carrying any colour, the only tip I can give you is to go home. I’ve wasted too many days trying to disprove that old maxim, without success.
On the lakes, two or three rods allow you to cover more water. Look out for features such as marginal drop-offs, as the fish can be surprisingly close in. In recent years, I’ve fished the little-used ‘kebab rig’ with single hooks. It is quite brilliant, especially when the water has been heavily-fished. It’s better for the pike, too.
My new friend in the Bakers bought me a pint for the information above. For a double malt, I’d have told him about the secret lake as well. But I’ll keep that one to myself for now.
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