For me, lure fishing and winter go hand-in-hand. By December 2018 I’d been fishing quite hard for a few months for big Perch fishing around the Lea Valley. My target for three years had been to catch a 4lb+ Perch on a lure. In early December, I finally achieved this, and so I almost immediately switched focus to another challenge, big Pike on lures.
I had a go for a decent Pike the previous year, but unfortunately, it didn’t end in success. To be fair, most of my time was spent chasing big Perch, and so it wasn’t really a surprise that the Pike target took a back seat. This time around I was going to give it a really good go and bag a decent fish. Previously, I’ve had them to just over 20lb on lures, but really wanted something bigger, certainly 25lb+.
So, I stocked up with a few new lures and headed out the door with a new challenge in mind, excited at the prospect of landing a big croc! The aim was to travel light, with a selection of lures and cover lots of water. There were a few big pits that I had in mind and was very much looking forward to exploring as much of them as possible.
The new challenge and the change of scenery were very welcome. The pits were huge, but I didn’t let this concern me. The bigger, the better. For me, that kind of adds to the mystery and adventure.
Something I invested in was rubber nets. I had one for my Perch fishing and had now purchased a larger version for my Pike fishing. I think these nets are fantastic. Hooks don’t get snagged up in them, and they don’t absorb water, so don’t become heavy and messy when you’re moving around lure fishing.
Generally, I using quite big lures. Probably because I’d been using small lures for Perch and I wanted to feel like I was now targeting something bigger. The Savage Gear 4D Line-Through Perch picked up a few fish and had fantastic movement in the water.
Results were steady but not exceptional. There were quite a few follows from fish that weren’t converting. I thought back to the number of Pike I was picking up while Perch fishing. They had almost become a nuisance back then, so I decided to experiment by dropping my lure size.
A lure that has caught me a lot of Pike is the Fox Rage Spikey Shad in Lemon Tiger. It’s just an incredible fish catching lure. The spikes are supposed to displace more water. I’m not sure if that’s really the case, but it certainly has picked up lots of fish for me!
As we moved into February, the temperature really started to fall. The lakes had started to freeze quite regularly, but if they were ice-free, then I was there, trying to catch my big Pike on lures.
A few times, I had no choice but to move onto the rivers. It felt like this reduced my chances of a big Pike, but the lakes were frozen around the edges and fishing them was impossible. I moved around the River Stort picking up fish and was enjoying my fishing but didn’t feel I was fishing for monsters. Next year I may have to consider this. If I’m only going to target a big Pike in January and February, then consider that the lakes might be unfishable during some of this time.
By now, I had decided to fish for bites. It was freezing cold, and I needed to keep my motivation high. I was fishing with lures that I knew would bring me lots of fish on the rivers while I was waiting for lakes to defrost. The Crazy Fish Nimble was catching me quite a few fish. Creature baits are not the obvious choice when lure fishing for Pike but I did find that Pike seem to love the large 5″ Nimbles.
Eventually, the ice started to melt on the big pits. It was time to head back there a get back on the hunt. There were still large areas of floating ice, but there were now gaps around the edges, and landing fish was now possible. At last, I could get the campaign for big Pike on lures back on track.
Again, I was moving from swim to swim with my trusty old Shimano lure rod coupled with a Daiwa Ninja loaded with braid. I don’t spend fortunes on fishing gear as I think it’s easy to get carried away so always buy what I feel is good value. I cannot recommend these reels enough and have a smaller version on one of my Perch outfits too. They really are super smooth and a great reel for reasonable money.
It was the end of February, and I was back on the big pit, but something was distracting me. In the back of my head, I knew the river would be closing on 15th March, just a few weeks away. Once it’s closed, I wouldn’t be able to fish it for three months until June. I decided to do only a few more sessions on the pits before fishing the river for the last week or so of the river season. On reflection, I wished I had stayed on the Pike hunt, but the idea of letting the river close without a couple more sessions became too much.
It was on one of these final sessions on the big pit that I finally connected with a bigger Pike. I’d only fished this particular pit a few times. It’s a vast pit that gets very little attention from anglers. Never did I see anyone else there fishing and had the whole place to myself. There were rumours of big Pike but wasn’t sure how true these were.
I had cast a Nimble lure out on a reasonably heavy jig head and retrieved the lure slowly, occasionally pausing, allowing it to rest on the bottom. The water was cold and generally speaking, the more chilled the water, the slower I retrieve. It was after one of these pauses that the lure was hit by what felt like a big fish. It took line straight away signalling that it was indeed something quite decent. What followed was one of the best fights I’ve ever had from a Pike. Thank god I landed it; otherwise, I think I would have thought that I’d lost my monster! On the bank, it wasn’t quite as large as I’d dreamt while playing it but it was the first form this pit and the best I’d managed during this little campaign.
Of course, this did make me think. What else did this water hold? This was my first Pike from the water, and maybe this could signal that it contains a better stamp of large Pike? A couple more short sessions were had on this pit but didn’t pick up another fish. The river was calling, and the close season was approaching very quickly. It felt like it was time to draw a line under this campaign until next year and try for one last big Perch from the river before it closed.
And so once again I had not caught my monster Pike. A campaign doesn’t always end in success, but I was not gutted. It’s important to enjoy the journey and not just the destination. I learnt a lot which I will apply to my Pike fishing next year. Thanks for reading my article about big Pike on lures, enjoy your fishing and be lucky!