Times have changed
In the old days, and I’m talking pre-1950s, a big pike invariably ended up in a glass case, or it was presented at the door of the needy, though I dread to think what the needy had done to have to eat a three-day-old dead pike!
These days you would get lynched if you killed a big pike, and because of this, we are getting repeat captures of them. It used to be thought that trout water pike were very frail and did not survive capture. With the improvement in handling (perhaps the biggest step forward was the heavily padded unhooking mat), it is clear that it was poor handling that was causing low survival. We now have seen a number of big trout water pike that have survived several captures. Unfortunately, this somewhat skews a top 10 of UK pike, and the Wykeham fish appears four times in that list. The fact that I cannot catch it is something I’m not going to talk about!
I’d like to make one other point. Fish scientists suggest that pike at around 47 lb are more or less at the limit of their natural maximum size. This does not take into account that a 40-pounder could be carrying as much as 7 lb of spawn and have a 7 lb salmon down its throat. Like any other fish species, spawn and the state of the stomach can make a big difference, with 50 lb-plus pike having been caught from several continental venues.
So let’s look at those top ten UK rod and line-caught pike…