Pike can be discovered in most water bodies provided it is well oxygenated and is not too acidic, being discovered in freshwater lakes with lots of plant life, rivers (including brackish water in tidal rivers) and canals throughout the UK. They are found throughout northern Europe and the USA.
Whilst Pike are thought to actively grow for in between 10 – 15 years, of a possible 25 years, the maximum age is challenging to accurately understand, due to the fact that as they approach maximum size their growth decreases and ultimately stops. They have actually constantly been the source of ‘fishy’ tales, folklore and rumour, with the optimum weight attained having actually long been the topic of great argument and speculation.
Whilst the existing British record in presently 46lb 13oz, a 47lb + fish was captured in Scotland but was later struck from the record lists, although fish to over 50lb are captured in continental Europe, with the largest authenticated being among 58lb 6oz from Grarup Lake in Denmark. It is thought that due to more settled winter climate condition, the Pike are able to preserve winter feeding: the unforeseeable British weather condition does not allow this to happen.
The Pike is the best predator, with no requirement for evolutionary modification, with fossils offering clear proof of it remaining in its present type for over 60 million years.
Both their Latin name and the name for the little males, Esox lucius and Jacks respectively, supplies interesting insight into human views of this species of fish, with Jack being a name for the Devil!
Pike are plainly predatory, both in nature and look. They are extremely well camouflaged, with a green back with green flanks overpaid with yellow to cream stripes when young that break up to form pale cream areas along its flanks, that cause a white stomach: its fins being orange in colour.
The lengthened and streamlined body of Pike have both their big anal fin and single dorsal fins set well down its body, close to the powerful tail fin to create explosive speed. The Pike is an extremely evolved ambush predator, included to which it also possesses the capability to alter its body colour after a period of time to suit an altering environment.
The Pike have a variety of sensory sources to assist its reliable hunting skills with its big eyes sited supplying binocular vision, it has a groove originating from the front of it’s eyes running along the snout which acts like a rifle sight, helping pin point precision when striking at it’s victim. Contributed to which, it has situated along its snout and the lower jaw, sensory pores that belong to the lateral line: these pick up scent and vibration from its water environment mottled fish being discovered in weedy environments and yellower fish living in brackish waters. Older fish tend to turn brown and in some cases grey as they age.
Pike spawn early in the year in between February and late April, this being dependant upon water temperature levels reaching 6– 12 degrees C, so may begin as early as February in a mild winter season or end as late as Might following a cold Spring. Generating normally takes place in fairly shallow water, with single women often going back to preferred generating sites, accompanied by 2-4 smaller sized males, called ‘Jacks’.
As a result of the Pike spawning around 4-weeks before other fish, the juvenile Pike have a head start and are able to rapidly eat smaller fry of other fish species later in the year. This permits hungry generated out Pike to feed upon both fish and other types such as frogs, which are pre-occupied with spawning themselves. This in turns enables the Pike to gain back peak condition and fitness through easy meals being freely offered.
A truly well conditioned female Pike are able to produce up to 30,000 eggs/kg of bodyweight, with a struggling fish producing only 15,000/ kg. Whilst a young sexually mature 3lb Pike in extremely great condition is able to lay 45,000 eggs, a 20lb fish up to 270,000 eggs, a 30lb fish some 400,000 eggs and it is possible that a big well conditioned 40lb woman could produce almost 680,000+ eggs.
Relying on water temperature level, the eggs can take between 5-26 days to hatch, after which the 10mm long larval young adhering to marine plants and surviving on their yolk sac for up to 12-days. Throughout this short time their body lengthens and their mouth and gills develop, they begin to feed upon plankton before the fins fully form.
The chance of survival from a hatching egg to an adult Pike is very low at just 0.1%, their initial success rate is quite high with a hatch rate of approximately 50%. Nevertheless, considerable predation from other fish seeking peak conditioning themselves prior to spawning, waterfowl and water beetles such as Diving Beetles, Water Scorpions and damsel and dragon fly larvae reducing their opportunities significantly, and that’s before the Pike start to devour each other.
At just 5cm, Pike will start victimizing other fish larvae/ fry and tadpoles, with cannibalism being very typical, they rapidly discover to hide in weed beds from both their own brother or sisters and other predatory fish.
If they endure, and its clearly a huge ‘if’, the juvenile Pike grow rapidly and can reach 2lb in 3-years with males sexually growing at just 2-years old and women at 4-years old.
Pike of 2-years old will feed practically specifically on fish, although clearly this is dependant upon the accessibility of prey fish and competition within their habitat. Pike can eat victim over half it’s length and will frequently turn cannibal. Despite common belief, Pike do not need to feed often, as they only require to take in around 1.2– 1.5 times their body weight a year to survive, nevertheless Pike consuming 2.5 to 3 times their body weight a year will clearly have enhanced growth rates and are likely to by much healthier specimen.
The striped pattern of the more youthful Pike only remains for the first few years as this later separate to leave the mottled pattern of the adult fish, although sometimes the stripes remain and can result in very impressive looking, but quite unusual specimens.
Male fish rarely grow in excess of 10lb in weight, it is the females that turn into the specimen fish of 20lb +, and it is these fish that are so highly demanded by specimen Pike anglers. It s frequently the little Jack Pike that non-Pike anglers first encounter by mishap whilst fishing for Roach, Bream Rudd and Dace.
As soon as adult, the only enemies that they have are larger Pike and the parasitic Lamprey, that can connect themselves whilst they lay waiting in ambush, and minimize the strength of the fish whilst staying connected to its host.
Pike are probably the coarse anglers’ most sought-after predatory fish and although Pike look aggressive, they are a fragile fish when being targeted by anglers, and as a result there are special byelaws prepared to safeguard the Pike– See the Pike specific Byelaws under 4. s. in the handbook.
ONLY Farnham Angling Society members that have actually participated in a Pike Teach In and have an appropriate stamp in their handbook may fish for Pike on Society waters. Visitors might fish for them, providing that they themselves have attended an FAS Pike Teach-In.
When dealing with up for any Pike fishing on FAS waters, you must fish with a minimum of quality 15lb mainline and it is recommended that a 60cm nylon covered wire trace of at least 25lb breaking pressure be used, bearing in mind that all hooks, whether treble or single, need to be semi-barbless or barbless.
Utilize more powerful than normal 2.5 -3 pound test curve rods combined with fixed spindle reels, unless 3.5 TC rods are needed to cast big deadbaits at long range: remember to utilize shock leaders to prevent breaking off when casting and leaving a bait with treble hooks that will be come a death trap for any Pike unfortunate enough to swallow it.
Fishing for small or Jack Pike with light fishing poles can be great enjoyable, but you can never ever make certain when a larger fish will strike, so be prepared!
Making use of float fished livebaits (should be caught on the fishery that you are fishing at), can be very amazing and will often discover smaller sized Pike going to take the bait. By suspending a small livebait between 10cm– 20cm in length, (Roach and Dace are perfect, Perch, Gudgeon and Rudd are OKAY, however skimmer Bream are often weak and do not cover much of an area), underneath a pike float the bait will naturally send out distress signals that will attract your own desired prey. A speeding up of the float followed by it disappearing out of sight or an immediate disappearance of the float should be struck quickly to prevent deep hooking.
Using dead freshwater (caught fresh on the fishery being fished or transported to the fishery when frozen) such as lamprey which are high leakage however long-term baits, or sea baits can be extremely productive with the latter offering an outstanding source of natural oils from mackerel, sardines, herring and sprats. Either legered or float fished, they can typically produce the bigger female fish which are more likely to scavenge. They can also be cast out and gradually obtained, hooked to produce a ‘wobble’ that Pike discover tough to resist as it passes them or if they see them in clearer water.
Medium to big spinners, surface area drifting and diving plugs or jelly lures such as shads will all produce takes, particularly if cast towards snags and likely burrows or feeding fish that are striking at victim fish triggering them to spread in all instructions.