Friday, 22 April 2011

My best pike. 21lb. Late July 2010

Here's the story of the biggest pike I ever caught.   Probably my best angling achievement because it was proper skill and a fitting pay off for thinking angling.

I won't reveal the exact location of this capture because.
A: Its not good form to give away locations in case lots of people rush there and ruin the fishing and..
B: I wasn't actually supposed to be fishing there as the fishing rights had moved to another club other than the one I'd bought the ticket for.
Its a large weir pool on a major southern river where I had previously done pretty well lure fishing for pike and perch without ever catching a big one of either species.  At the tail end of the pool is a shallow area with lots of weed.  I'd caught a few pike from around the weed and had long suspected that there had to be pike lying up in the weed feeling nice and secure and popping out to ambush prey fish.  I'd never had any weedless lures to test out that theory.
In July I went with a pal to the CLA Game Fair and did the usual bit of clay shooting and browsing around the stalls without being tempted by any fishing tackle.  One stall there was selling exotic lures intended for bass fishing (sea bass and the American kind). They were demonstrating an American classic rubber bass lure called the Slug-go.  This resembles a sandeel made of rubber and is good for sea bass having an unbelievable erratic action.  I asked the bloke if it would work on a wire trace for pike and he told me that some guys had had some big pike in Scotland using the 'bubblegum' pink one.  A plan was forming in my mind so I bought a bag of 5 7.5" pink slug-gos and the 'texposer' American worm hooks to go with them.
Back at home I fixed up the lightest wire trace attached directly to the worm hook and rigged up the slug-go with the hook point lying along the flat back of the lure and therefore 'weedless'.

Last day of July was a Saturday and I awoke far too early.   I got that fishy feeling and decided on the spur of the moment to head down to the weirpool arriving at about 07:30. I didn't pack a camera or even my phone.

Not a soul was around as I parked up and walked the 1/2 mile to the weedy weirpool.  Straight on with the slug-go on my light (10-40g) spin rod with 30lb power pro braid and the home made trace.
A cast onto the top of the weed allowed me to pull the slug-go across the top and let it fall into holes in the weed where vigorous twitches of the rod brought it to life.  The weedless setup worked perfectly.  Second cast the bait was grabbed by an unseen predator which felt a good size.  After a second though the bait pinged back out of the beast's mouth.  The slug had wrapped itself over the hook point and the pike had not been hooked.  Excited. I re-rigged the slug-go and cast back into the very same hole in the weed, hoping the pike was feeling as frustrated as me and would have another bash.
2 or 3 twitches and the pike hit the slug-go hard again.  This time I bore the advice in mind and did not strike straight away but just let the pressure put a big bend in the rod before a strike, hopefully pulling the single hook into the corner of the mouth. 
This time it was on and was clearly the biggest fish of any kind I had ever hooked.  I don't know how long the fight lasted but it was intense.  A big river pike is a strong fish and in late July's warm water it was at its most active.  I was nearly pulled in a few times and the pike put in a fantastic fight powering off on unstoppable runs, tearing line from the hard set drag and testing the little Leeda spin rod to its limits.
Eventually the pressure told and the pike buried itself, exhausted, into the thick weed.  With 30lb braid on I was able to drag the pike and the weed to the waiting net.
I was in pieces having had the most exciting few minutes of my angling life and knowing, having seen the fish, that I had a very big pike indeed and a definite PB.  After letting her recover (definitely a her as males do not grow this big) I lifted it from the water.  The pike was hooked right in the corner of the mouth and I removed the hook without even needing to open the huge mouth and brave the teeth.  It was a beautiful fat fish and I quickly set up the scales and weighed it in the net.  It was 21lb after the weight of the net was subtracted.  I cursed myself for forgetting my camera and phone and kept the fish recovering in the landing net for about 10mins as I waited for a dog-walker to happen by and record this great fish.
Nobody came  so I made sure the pike was strong enough to swim unaided and let her go back to the river.
By 8:15 I was home making breakfast and still shaking from the glory.  I phoned my dad and told him about it too.
It is a shame that no photos exist to support this story but If you don't believe it you can £uck 0ff!


Maurizio Rossini with a pike even bigger than mine.