Locality. Pikes quite comfortably survive an unfavourable oxygen regimen in water bodies. Thanks to endurance, this fish is found in all kinds of rivers, lakes, water-storage reservoirs and ponds. Pikes can’t survive only in small ponds which are frozen to the bottom in winter. The predatory fish takes up certain water areas in lakes and rivers. If a pike leaves its territory, the other one occupies it. The fish can live both in deep places of water bodies, in riverbeds, and in shallow waters, in water grass, near snags and river banks.
Search for pikes’ havens. Pikes prefer to ambush. Therefore, water vegetation, submerged bushes, snags, any bottom irregularities, drops of depths, edges, river sections where pure water borders on water vegetation, water holes in reeds or sedges will be very promising. Fallen trees, inclined bushes, bridges, poles are also good pikes’ havens. We should consider the fact that the pike attacks its prey which is staying or swimming by in an upper layer of water.
Pikes are predators. More than once you could see a small pike hold a fish which it failed to swallow. The older the pike is, the bigger fish it attacks. However, when there is a shortage of forage fishes, it can eat frogs, worms, crawfishes, cockleshells, leeches, and practice cannibalism. Ruffs and a perches can also be pikes’ delicacy. Even vegetable baits sometimes excite the pike’s appetite.
Tackles for catching pikes
In my opinion, spinning rods, a floating zherlitsa, live bait fishing rods, and a winter zherlitsa are the most effective pike-fishing tackles.
Today the spinning rod is the most popular fishing tackle for pikes. We can catch this predatory fish both while walking along a river bank and while boating down the current. I also like to catch pikes using this tackle. It consists of a spinning rod equipped with special rings, a fixed-spool reel or a multiplying reel, a fishing line, a metal snood and an artificial bait – a spoon, a spinner, a wobbler, a silicone fish or a silicone worm.
A floating disc or a floating zherlitsa is a very interesting and quite effective tackle. It represents a disk (25 or 30 mm thick) made of plastic foam or cork and painted white on one side and ruby or orange on the other. There is a grooved rim around which a fishing line (10 or 15 meters long) passes, a hole in the centre and two notches located against each other on the disk.
A live bait fishing rod is not so popular tackle as the previous ones. But it was this tackle that I started to catch predatory fishes with. The live bait fishing rod consists of a fast action fishing rod equipped with a fixed-spool reel, a strong fishing line, a sinker, a big float made of plastic foam or cork, a metal snood and a hook (a double or treble fish hook).
A winter zherlitsa is a practical pike catching tackle. But we can use it only in winter when the ice is thick and strong. A winter zherlitsa consists of a round wooden post (a small-sized pole), a reel with a fishing rig which is fixed to the post by means of a corbel. On top of the wooden post, we fasten a spring with a small red flag by means of a screw. The tackle itself represents 10 or 15 meters of a strong fishing line (0.3 mm thick), a sinker, a thin and flexible metal snood, and a double or treble fish hook.
Baits for catching pikes
In general, fishers catch pikes using both natural and artificial fishes as bait. In spring, small-sized species attack worms, caddis flies and leeches. Big-sized ones attack bait fishes, frogs and lampreys. In winter we often use crucians, gudgeons, roaches and perches as bait. In summer –bleaks, daces, perches, roaches and gudgeons. The starving fish does not disdain swallowing a dead fish. In open-water seasons, we can also use such artificial baits as spinners and spoon lures, wobblers, foam rubber and silicon baits. In winter – ice-jiggers and vertical spoon baits.
Spinning rod. When we try to catch a pike using a spinning rod, the catching technique is quite simple. It consists in casting artificial bait well over a supposed ambush of the fish followed by pulling it up with different speeds towards the water body shore. When it bites, we strike the pike and start making it go out.
Floating disc or floating zherlitsa. Sitting in the boat, we put a pin with a sawcut on one end and a ball-shaped stopper on the other one into the hole. Then we pass the fishing line through the first notch, after that – through the pin’s sawcut and through the second notch. The fishing line with an olive-shaped sinker, a metal snood and a hook on its end are put into the water. On the hook we have a bait fish.
Now we only have to put our floating zherlitsa on the water (with a ruby or orange disk’s side upwards), move aside and wait for a pike’s attack. We mostly put our zherlitsas in place where the stream is slow or totally absent. The distance between neighboring zherlitsas should be 10 to 12 metres. We also control that the bait fish rises 30 or 40 cm above the bottom.
While catching a baitfish, the pike squeezes it and pulls it aside. As a result, the floating disk makes a turnover and shows its white side. The disk is well seen from a distance. Keeping quiet we move back to the tackle and wait till the pike fully swallows the baitfish and pulls aside once more. Now it’s high time to grab the disk by hand and make a strike.
Live bait fishing rod. Having found a proper place, we cast the fishing line with the bait fish on the hook into water (8 or 10 meters away from the bank of the water body). The bait fish is 25 to 35 cm above the bottom. When the pike bites, your float goes under the water, then comes to the surface again and swims aside like a torpedo. We strike and take the pike out similarly to spinning.
A winter zherlitsa. First of all, we make holes in the ice with an ice bore. The distance between holes is 4 to 6 meters. Then we measure the depth in each hole with a depth-measuring device. After that, we wind off the required quantity of the fishing line, bait a fry on the hook, sink the fishing line together with the bait fish into the hole. The bait fish is 30 to 40 cm above the bottom.
We stick the post into a pile of ice crumb or snow near the hole, wind the spring with a small flag behind the reel, disguise the hole with snow. We do the same with the rest of the holes in case of several winter zherlitsas. Snapping at the bait fish, the pike unwinds the fishing line with a jerk. As a result, the spring with a small flag straightens out indicating the pike’s bite.
However, after its first attack, the pike usually abates a little without swallowing the bait fish in full. Shortly afterwards, the predatory fish swallows the bait fish and pulls aside. The reel starts to spin very quickly. We make a harsh and strong strike and start to make it go out very carefully. It is necessary to let the fishing line go when the pike starts pulling hard. We gradually tire it out, carefully drag it to the hole and take it out with a small gaff.
To sum it up, I’d like to tell you that it is not necessary to take my article as a certain dogma. In any case, a fisherman should use his mind and consider specific fishing conditions. If you want to catch a pike, you will have to take into account such important things as the season, weather conditions, water body nature, possible pikes’ havens and seasonal delicacies of this predatory fish. This being done, all that is left to do is to choose the right tackle, the right bait and the right catching technique. The success is guaranteed.
So, let’s call it a day. And I wish all pike hunters new trophies, unforgettable impressions and, of course, good luck!
Sincerely yours, your fishing adviser