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How To Catch Pike

The pike (Esox Lucius) is the best known member of the Esocidae family of freshwater fish. This breed of fish is widely distributed throughout the whole of the northern hemisphere and can be found in Canada, northern USA, northern Europe and northern Russia. This species of fish has a distinctive body profile and is easy to identify. It has a sleek body with a dorsal fin towards the rear of its back, close to the tail fin and anal fin. Its elongated jaws contain an impressive array of teeth. The fish is greenish grey in colour with distinctive lighter coloured markings, which can be oval spots, stellate (irregular) spots or longitudinal bars. These markings act as very effective camouflage for the fish. The distribution of these markings is unique to each individual (like a fingerprint), which allows specimens to be tracked over time.


This type of fish can grow very large. The UK record is 46 lb 13 oz (21.28 kg) for a fish caught in 1992. Larger specimens of up to 77 lb (35 kg) which are around 6 feet (1.83 m) long have been caught in continental Europe. Male fish rarely exceed 8 lb (3.6 kg) in weight so all the large specimens are female.

How And Where To Catch Pike

These fish are found in lakes, ponds, canals and slow moving rivers. They are solitary hunters with good eyesight which often lurk amongst reeds waiting for prey.

Breeding Habits

This variety of fish spawns during March and April on weeds in shallow water on the edges of lakes and rivers, when the water temperature is less than 8c. A mature healthy female can lay up to 150,000 eggs in a season. The sticky eggs become attached to aquatic weeds and the fry hatch after 12 to 15 days. By the end of their first year the fish should have reached 6 inches (15 cm) in length. The fish reach maturity in 2 to 3 years.


These fish are impressive predators. Fish (including small members of their own species) make up most of their diet, but they will also eat small water birds such as ducklings or moorhens, frogs, newts and invertebrates. When the fish catches its prey it will usually attack it from below and then turn it in order to swallow it head first.Small fish are the usual bait used for this kind of fishing. Some fisherman use small freshwater fish as live-bait but this is generally disapproved of by most anglers. Part or whole freshwater fish, or saltwater fish such as sardines, sprats or mackerel are commonly used as dead-bait.


As an alternative to bait, these fish can be caught using a variety of lures. Anglers have their own personal preferences with bulldawgs, flippers, shads, spoons and spinnerbaits all having their adherents.


Because of the weights of the fish involved, carp fishing rods are very suitable for this kind of fishing. Rods between 10 feet (305 cm) and 13 feet (396 cm) long are normally appropriate. However, when fishing in areas with overhanging trees and bushes, shorter rods are more practical, whereas when fishing in larger, open waters, longer rods are more likely to be used.

Although carbon fibre is the most common material used in the construction of these types of rod, Kevlar is making inroads at the top end of the market. The weight of the rod chosen will depend on the size of fish that you're expecting to catch. A rod with a 2? to 3lb test curve and a 15 lb breaking strain line should normally be adequate.


Two alternative rigs are commonly used by anglers to catch this kind of fish.

Ledgering Rig

A ledgering rig is a conceptually simple rig that is made up a baited hook linked to a lead weight or a swivel at a short distance from the hook. The fatal flaw with this type of rig is that there is quite a high risk that the lead weight will drop off, as soon as the fish starts to investigate the bait.

Paternoster Rig

Most anglers are enthusiastic about the paternoster rig for this kind of fishing. When fishing for this species, a short line that is attached to the main line about 3 feet (90 cm) from the hook and a lead 'bomb' attached to it. This rig gives the fisherman the option of moving the baited hook around in the water in order to increase the chance of the fish making a strike.


Because of the number and size of teeth involved, unhooking one of these fish after it has been caught is not a task for the faint hearted. A number of tools to facilitate unhooking are recommended for inclusion in the angler's bag. These tools include a deep throat disgorger, forceps, wire cutters, long nosed pliers, gauntlets and a mat on which to carry out the delicate operation. Although the teeth could cause a major gash to the angler, in reality the fish is quite fragile and could suffer serious damage if the hook is not removed correctly. Beginners are recommended to watch an experienced fisherman unhook one of these fish before attempting to do it themselves.

Pike Angling Club Of Great Britian

The PAC was founded on 1977. Its main aim has been to support and encourage this type of fishing and to counter the old fashioned views of those anglers who consider that this kind of fish is simply a menace that should be eliminated because of the damage it causes to stocks of other varieties of fish. The PAC continues to promote conservation of this species of fish by encouraging anglers to use safe practices.

Books And Websites On How To Catch Pike

The PAC publishes a quarterly magazine for members and has a website ( that offers a wide range of resources. These online items include news, information about regional members' meetings, back numbers of magazines, articles about fishing methods, tactics, natural history and topics of general interest. If you're interested in this type of fishing, becoming a member of the PAC is too good an opportunity to miss.




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