How to capitalise and make sure you catch '˜monster' pike
As the traditional pike season comes to a close, this is the key time to catch pike at their biggest weight.
Male pike (jacks) rarely grow to over 10lb in weight.
All big pike are therefore females and at this time of the year they’ll be feeding heavily to improve their condition in readiness for spawning, which will take place at any time between March and April, depending on the water temperature.
They may already be swelling with spawn, which will further add to their body mass.
A specimen pike at its normal weight of say 20lb may well be caught now at 25lb or above.
They will also be in top fighting condition, making this the perfect time for catching ‘monster pike’.
To catch big pike you first need to know where they are or at least where they might be.
If you’re a dedicated pike angler, you’ll have spent a lot of time on the bank during the winter months, when most ‘sensible’ anglers will have stayed indoors.
Now is the time for you to reap your rewards. Not all of your sessions will have been fruitful and some venues will have failed you miserably.
However, if you’ve got this far, you will have learnt something about the various venues you’ve tried.
At the very least you should have gained a basic understanding of the waters you’ve fished…
EVALUATING A POTENTIAL WATER
Presence of pike – Of course just about all waters contain pike but not all will have the balanced ecology needed to produce big pike.
Nature has a way of balancing out predator and prey ratios so mature waters are usually a safe bet but sometimes things change. Over predation by such as cormorants will have a devastating effect on prey fish populations, which in turn reduces the pikes food supply.
At the very least it would have to work harder to find food so burns off more energy rather than storing it.
For a pike to get big it needs either a plentiful supply of food or an easy food source.
Reservoir pike grow particularly big because the fish stocks are controlled unnaturally by constant stocking.
More natural waters are susceptible to over-predation and flooding.
CONDITION OF FISH
You can learn a lot by the condition of the pike you’ve caught too.
Pike can be identified quite easily by their markings, particularly around the tail and anal fins.
SIZE OF FISH
Another good indicator is the average size of the fish caught.
If a water is full of jacks, it’s highly unlikely to hold a good head of big pike.
Big pike will not tolerate smaller pike and will actively hunt out jacks.
In some waters 70% of the pike’s diet is other pike.
In a natural water, very few pike will live to maturity.
Years ago fishery owners were not so scientifically minded and thought that the pike were eating all the fish and the answer was to net them all out.
This simply resulted in a water being full on jacks because there was nothing there to reduce their numbers.
Pike can’t be eradicated because they can stock naturally with spawn being transferred on ducks feet and the only predator a pike has is ‘bigger pike’!
It’s not rocket science; a few bigger pike will keep the rest in check.
Hence, find a water with some big pike and very few jacks and you have stumbled upon a water with the potential to produce a ‘monster pike’.
You should have gained an idea of the basic underwater landscape (topography) including position of features, contours, depths and depth changes.
The females will start to head to the shallows for spawning.
Therefore, knowing where these areas are and likely routes the pike will follow is the key to getting a bait in the right place.
BEST BAITS AND METHODS
You shouldn’t really become too fixated on using one particular bait or method, though some waters certainly react better to some baits than others. Knowing this in advance may save you some time but at the very least it will boost your confidence.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
With the information you’ve gained, you should now be able to apply this to your waters and use it to narrow down your search.