Pike fishing in the Lea Valley

This article is about a couple of months spent pike fishing in the Lea Valley. As time goes on I’m becoming more and more fond of lure fishing. It kind of suits my lifestyle very well. My time is very limit but if there’s a window I’ll grab it with both hands. I’ve been known to go fishing for 45minutes. A limited amount of kit and zero bait preparation makes lure fishing an ideal option for me.

Most of my pike and perch fishing is done between October and February. The sessions are short and I’m constantly on the move – which is great because it’s cold and moving around certainly keeps you warm. I am generally using an ever growing collection of rubber lures. These include shads, worms, creatures, ribbon tails, pin tails the list goes on! Playing around with these is all part of the fun!

pike fishing the lea valleyAbove: A range of rubber lures for both perch and pike.

For pike I generally use slightly larger hooks maybe. The hook in the picture below is maybe slightly smaller than I would tend to use. I’ve recently decided to drop the lure down in size too mainly because I do not think a big pike would turn away from a 4″ shad. I don’t think big lures means big pike. The main reason I do this is because there is a chance of picking up a few bonus large perch this way!

spikey shads lea valley pikeAbove: An example hooking arrangement. Weedless rig using a 10g ball weight.

My pike fishing in the Lea Valley has mainly been in marinas and big pits. The pits are massive too – like 70acres and more. This obviously presents quite a challenge but it’s great because they’re not fished heavily and therefore there’s an element of mystery there regarding stock. It feels like they could throw up a surprise!

pike fishing in essexAbove: A decent pike that took a lure on a fast retrieve.

I think the main thing to do when lure fishing is to switch things up. This is to see what’s gonna work on the day. Use lures of different sizes and colours, retrieving fast and slow, fish deep but then also shallow. I tend to target the deeper water the colder it gets. I also tend to slow down my retrieve and consider that the water is probably going to be quite clear. Fish, however, do not always follow ‘the rules’ and so I generally try and cover loads of ground and switch things up.

One thing to consider is the weight of your jig head. Marry this up to the depth of the water, how deep you want to fish and how fast you want to retrieve. For example, you can’t fish slowly in mid water with a very heavy jig head, it will just hit the bottom. Take all this into account.

pike fishing in the lea valleyAbove: A right tatty old creature from a spot in the Lea Valley.

I often carry a couple of rods, not always but most of the time. You never know when a perch opportunity might arise! My perch rod is made by Sonik and it’s 1g-7g weight so much more sensitive than my spinning rod used for pike. This is usually when I’m fishing the river as opposed to when I’m on the big pits.

river lea lee perchAbove: The river contains some monster perch – you can’t ignore those!

Generally I pick up single figured fish but I very much hope to catch up with that biggun one day! I’ve had a lot of decent pike off my boat in Cambridge but I’d now really like one from the Lea Valley. It’s nice to catch local 🙂

pike fishing river leaAbove: I’ve been known to catch about half a dozen of these in an hour! That Lea Valley lunker is out there somewhere with my name on it!

Recently I have been having a lot of success on very bright lures. It feels kinda strange using something so alien but the fish seem to love them. I first noticed this when catching a lot of pike in Cambridge. I switched things around a lot over a couple of years and the bright yellow / green lures just seemed to bank more fish for me. Goodness knows what they think they are but they seem to annoy them into grabbing them. Generally speaking tough I will still switch things up. I have had days where the darker, more natural lures will work better.

lure caught pike hertfordshireAbove: Bright lures do seem to do the business for me!

The other things I’ve recently been playing around with are ‘Spikeys’. These are produced by a range of manufacturers but I’ve been using the ones by Fox Rage. The idea is that they produce more of a vibration and air movement in the water. I’ve been fishing with them in 3.5″ and had some decent pike and perch on these. I have them in the bright colour below (Lemon Tiger) but also in the more nature brown (Salt and Pepper) and simply switch them up on the day.

fox rage spikey shadAbove: 3.5″ Spikey Shad by Fox Rage.

I’ve had some sessions that have been really successful towards the end of the season. Early March last year I had a session where I banked 7 pike in 1 hour on a very large pit. None were massive but that’s great action and the pike were very active at this time of year.

Big pike tumbling bayAbove: A hint of spring is in the air and the pike are going crazy!

The pike is a fantastic fish. They’re almost prehistoric looking and the colouration and markings on them are amazing. Although they look pretty fierce they are actually quite delicate. I like to get them unhooked and back in the water as quickly as possible. Also, you need to be confident when handling pike. If you are new to pike fishing then I think initially it’s important to go with someone that’s got some experience. The last thing you want is to catch a pike and not be able to adequately deal with the task of efficiently unhooking it and getting it back where it belongs.

Above: A decent video about how to unhook pike. Don’t go alone if you’ve never pike fished before!

Tumbling bay lake pikeAbove: Check out the markings of this one 🙂

I keep getting distracted by my perch fishing but have managed to string a few pike sessions together. I tend to stack the odds in my favour by choosing exactly when to go. I like to try and target overcast days. If it’s bright and sunny I simply won’t bother – I’ll get on with something else. I’ll also tend to fish dusk however this does tend to be one species where the usual dawn and dusk rule doesn’t apply. I’ve had loads of pike though the middle of the day. The only reason I target dusk for pike is because I’m usually working through the day.

Pike fishing hertfordshireAbove: A short, plump pike from Tumbling Bay lake.

My recent focus has been trying to catch a lure caught 20 from the Lea Valley. These have become more rare in recent years and so it’s not an easy task. I’ve done maybe just 3 sessions on one particular pit that I think presents me with the best chance of this happening. Again, it’s a very large lake and only on the third session have I managed to catch one – not a 20 pounder but enough to keep me going!

pike fishing langridge lakeAbove: Not a massive fish but happy to catch up with this one after a couple of blank sessions in the back bay of a very large pit.

I generally choose to fish for perch over pike but I still think they’re an amazing fish. I will continue my pike fishing in the Lea Valley and hope to complete my mission to catch a 20 on a lure and will keep you posted 😉

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