How to catch pike in winter by Andy Lush

How can you catch Stillwater pike in the winter when the water is at its coldest and often coloured?

Before I go into detail on suggested locations and presentations let me first cover a few basic principles that might be overlooked by those starting their pike fishing having previous fished for carp.
Resistance is the enemy when it comes to fishing for predators the rigs we use are not self hooking, unlike carp methods the pike can and will drop your bait if they detect too much resistance.

When setting up unless river fishing I would not use the baitrunner mechanism on your reel opt to fish with an open bail arm use a drop off indicator to stop line falling off the spool and use free running leger rigs, if using deadbaits you can use your carp alarms for backup indication but I would suggest a float leger approach as the main bite indicator.

While talking basics many of you will be using a ‘buzz bar’ set up to hold your rods if so you must cast your baits directly in front of your rods casting anywhere else will create too much friction at the rod tip and cause the pike to drop your bait. I prefer to use single bank sticks for this reason and point each rod at the bait this eliminates the resistance and allows me to search all of the water in front of me.
Lastly when you do get a run pick up your rod and wind in the any slack line with the rod held with the tip at 11 o’clock until you feel the tip load up and you feel the weight of the fish now set the hooks with a firm controlled lift its important only to strike when you feel the weight of the fish remember that you have to break the hooks free of the bait to transfer them into the pike unlike carp fishing the hooks are not exposed and the fish can drop the bait if you get any of the above wrong.

Right we’re ready to start, pick smelly deadbaits such as Herring, Mackerel, Smelt or Lamprey deprived of vision due to the coloured water pike will use their acute sense of smell to locate food hence the choice of baits you can boost the attraction of your baits by injecting them with ‘winterised’ pike oils.

With the water being so cold there is a real risk of pike picking up your bait and swallowing it on the spot with this in mind I strongly recommend you use a float this provides excellent bite indication. The easiest approach is to use the un-weighted ‘Loc and Slide’ dead bait pencil float this float locks itself at the correct depth every cast, so no need for stop knots.

The bait should be hooked tail first so the bottom treble is closest its head the ideal position to hook any pike as it swallows it, once a run is detected and line is being taken constantly do not wait make an instant strike as already described this will set the hooks into the pike jaws any delay could result in deep hooking and a prolonged un-hooking procedure.

The addition of foam to your dead bait converts bottom baits into pop-ups this has the advantage of enabling you to inch your bait back a few feet at a time every 10-15 minutes and then left static without picking up any debris, by working the bait back towards you in this manner means that any pike between your maximum casting range and the bank will have the opportunity of finding and taking your bait. After each cast has been fished out I always put a fresh bait on as the old one will have lost most of its smell and appeal now chop it up into small pieces and catapult them around the swim this will add extra attraction without giving the pike a free meal.

By fishing two rods and twitching them both alternately means you can search the entire swim, this coupled with different species of baits and casting in slightly different directions remembering to reposition your rod rests each time and you have a very effective pike catching system.

Location, undoubtedly the most important facture for success choose areas where shallow water drops off into deeper water preferably where bait fish are usually found if in doubt fish an area that the wind has been blowing into for several days.

Andy Lush