Pike Fishing Tips For Beginners
I remember the thrill and excitement when I first started pike fishing. The thought of catching a prehistoric looking beast of a fish gave me that motivation to get out of bed on that cold winters morning.
In the following article, I am going to run you through the best pike fishing tips for beginners. You could even land yourself a monster over the magical number of 40lbs which until you witness in person is very hard to imagine and understand how incredible a pike of this size actually looks.
Before I started pike fishing I was an experienced coarse and carp angler which many of you may also have taken part in, whatever your experience we are going to assume you are a total novice to pike fishing. I am so glad I did get to experience pike fishing and I guarantee you will be just as thrilled and excited as I was.
Before we get started I want to point out a few important points. Pike are in fact a very delicate fish, don't let their aggressive appearance fool you, they must be handled with care at all times.
The traditional pike fishing season is between October and March, you can still fish for pike throughout the year but many anglers disagree about fishing for pike in the summer. For now, as you are a beginner pike angler, let's focus on this traditional pike season which I believe is a sensible approach.
Now those points are out of the way, let's get started.
Location, location, location - the key to pike fishing
Pike are predators and you need to go to them and not try and bring them into your swim. Coming from a carp fishing background I would regularly put out a series of spod mix in an attempt to bring fish to me. This will not work for pike due to their predatory nature. The pike will be where their prey is located and you must go to them, it is as simple as that.
You will not catch any pike if you are in the wrong spot.
Pike feed on small silver fish and so if you can locate the likes of roach and bream, the pike will not be too far away.
More specifically the pike will be waiting for the likes of roach and rudd to move around the lake in order to launch an attack. Silverfish, like roach and rudd, will often move into areas of water where the temperature is more constant, for example moving from shallow into deeper water. Based on this your best bet is to find features in the lake or river such as ledges, bars and weedy areas.
During the autumn the pike will be nestled amongst the weed which is perfect camouflage ready to attack. During the winter the pike will be in the much deeper water, around say 10 to 15 feet and so you will need to adjust your tactics accordingly based on the time of the year and the conditions.
When fishing on rivers look for alcoves and inlays where the pike will be sitting and waiting for passing prey. I have caught a number of decent size pike by placing a dead bait a few yards down the river from when I am fishing in one of these hotspots. More often than not you will find pike in these areas an in actual fact any sort of feature you can find is worth sticking a bait on.
If you are still struggling to locate the pike, have a look at the surface of the water and try to spot any signs of bream or roach. If you can find these silver fish jumping and rolling you will be close to the pike. Also, keep an eye out for birds that feed on small fish, they are effectively hunting for the same food as the pike and again if you can find signs of this the pike will be present nearby.
Pre-baiting for pike for that extra edge
If you can invest the time, pre-baiting is a simple and highly effective method to get the pike into an area you plan on fishing and also getting a taste for the type of bait you are planning on attracting the pike with. Head down to your fishing spot a couple of time before you actually go fishing and place a few deadbeats in some interesting spots, ideally you will have found some useful features where you think the pike could be held up.
If you put together all of these location tips I have given you, you will increase your chances of fishing where the pike are located and will give yourself the best possible chances of landing a fish or two.
The best bait for pike fishing
There are a number of different baits to use when fishing for pike.
- Dead baits
- Live baits
I started with dead baits and on the day trying to catch live baits with a simple floater rod and reel that I could attach to my rig. I would always check the rules of the venue you are fishing that they allow for this and if you are in any doubt, avoid catching live baits to use for pike fishing.
You should also familiarise yourself with the rules from the Environment Agency website which is all geared around fish safety and protecting the rivers and lakes we fish - https://www.gov.uk/freshwater-rod-fishing-rules/tackle-you-can-use
Dead baits such as frozen mackerel and herring work very well in the winter with mackerel being my choice of best bait for pike fishing. These baits have great attractors that the pike go crazy for, such as their high oil content and smell.
Fish, in general, are more lethargic due to the water temperatures and the pike are far less likely to want to exert their energy to chase a lure during the colder months. I have caught many pike in the coldest of conditions and have quite often gone out when it is snowing and have more often than not landed several decent size pike.
You can pick up frozen pike bait from your local tackle shop or online. I would always suggest you support your local tackle shop if you can as their knowledge of all things fishing related in invaluable. If you do any questions, the guys down your local tackle shop are more than willing to help out.
Fishing using lures for pike is great fun as you are always working and doing something. This approach is far more suited for the warmer months where the pike has plenty of energy and will hunt and attack a lure. During these warmer periods the pike's prey is moving around the lake much more and so the pike could be in a number of different locations. Using lures you are able to cover a wide expanse of the water and this is exactly what you want when the pike are moving often.
Live baits are very similar to a dead bait in that the bait is in a fixed position but has that extra attraction of movement and distress that the pike is naturally drawn to. Catching live baits and attaching them to a rig is not for everyone but is a great method that can grab you a bite or two if dead baits and lures are not working on that particular day.
I will say this again, please always check where you are fishing allows for live baits to be caught and taken from the water.
Pike fishing tackle you must carry
The most important piece of pike fishing tackle you must have is a wire-trace of at least 28lbs breaking strain. If you use any other kind of line the pike’s razor-sharp teeth with cut through this instantly.
Line types such as monofilament, fluorocarbon or braid are not going to work for the end tackle. You can and should still use these types for your mainline. I usually have at least 15 lbs mainline which is the minimum I would fish with for pike.
As for hooks, you will need to use trebles. Trebles, as the name suggests, have three hook points which allow you to hook on a dead bait and still have a couple of hook points to grab onto the pike's mouth. I suggest you use semi barbless where only one of the three hook points is barbed.
I would use this barbed hook point for the deadbeat and the remaining two for the pike. It can be tricky to unhook a treble from a pikes mouth and this approach will make things easier.
There are a couple of simple pike rigs that I use that I do think are the best pike fishing rigs.
The first is a basic floater setup. This consists of a float fixed into position using a bead, this position will depend on the depth you are fishing at. You will then attach the wire-trace and bait to the end of the mainline. Cast the rig into the water and see how the float sits and adjust the position on the line until the float sits just upright in the water.
This works well if you are fishing with live baits as this rig allows for some movement which is one of the main reasons to use live baits, giving that extra attraction to lure a pike.
The other rig you can use is a free-running ledger. This simple pike rig is similar to the float setup just without the float. The rig and bait will sit on the bottom complete with a free-running weight. There is no float to indicate a bite so you need to feel for resistance to detect if a pike has taken the bait. This is a very effective pike rig.
If you are a carp angler you will be able to use your carp fishing rod, reel and mainline for pike fishing. All you need to do is swap over your carp rig for the more beefed up pike rig. These carp setups will allow you to cast and land pike in the majority of scenarios. You do not need to purchase dedicated pike tackle if you have carp fishing equipment.
If you do not have carp fishing equipment I would suggest a rod of around 3lbs test curve which will give you enough power in the rod to cast and land pike.
For a reel, I would look at a free spools type of reel from Shimano who make excellent high-quality products. I would suggest a spool size of 6000 - 10000 the larger size allowing for more line to be fed onto the reel.
If you are planning on doing some carp fishing in the summer months I would suggest you buy some equipment that can cover both types of fishing. My recommendations would be as follows.
How to strike when fishing for pike
As soon as you see any signs of a bite you need to be ready to strike. Wind in any slack line and hit it hard. I really do mean this, strike hard to ensure you get a decent hook hold in the pike's mouth which is very strong and tough.
Some pike anglers like to wait and let the pike swallow the bait which I am totally against, this can be dangerous for the fish and make removing the rig very difficult. I have seen first hand this happen and the angler spent far too long removing the rig. I would try to avoid this and as I said previously strike as soon as you see any signs of a bite and strike hard.
Unhooking the delicate pike
Pike look incredibly vicious but need to be treated in a safe and delicate manner. They are in fact very fragile fish that must be handled with care at all times. Ideally, you will have the fish back in the water ASAP. You will need a good size padded unhooking mat, a pair of 8-inch forceps and a pair of cutters in case you are faced with difficulty when removing the treble hooks.
When you land a pike you need to place the fish on the unhooking mat, grab the fish under the gill plate and gently open the fishes mouth, with your other hand use the forceps to remove the treble hooks using a simple twist and pull motion.
Pike have very sharp teeth and so you must always be alert when handling the fish and remember to keep your fingers well clear.
If you can go pike fishing with an experienced angler they can guide you through this process which I think is very important to ensure you are doing this correctly. It can be notoriously difficult to remove the hooks from a pikes mouth.
When returning the pike to the water ensure the fish has enough energy to swim away with confidence. If this is not the case, hold the pike in the water and allow oxygen to enter the gills which will revive the pike ready to be safely returned and to fight another day.
Where to go pike fishing
Check out this great list put together by the Angling Times of Pike Fishing Near Me - https://www.anglingtimes.co.uk/fishing-lakes-near-me/fishing-near-me-best-pike-fishing-lakes