My top tactics for lakes of all shapes and sizes
Pinpointing pike Big waters by boat
LAKES come in all shapes and sizes. They can range from a one-acre hole in the ground (one I know of produced a 31 lb pike) to the big ones such as Lake Windermere, in Cumbria, and the Lake of Menteith, in Scotland. Though all lakes are different, certain key factors come into play on all of them.
These days, access is probably the most important factor: if pike fishing is very restricted on a lake, then the fishing is likely to be better than somewhere that is, in effect, a free-for-all.
Lakes with imposed pike close seasons generally make for better fishing, because even the humble pike can learn not to take lures or baits as readily as they might do. All-yearround pressure can make pike fishing very hard. Watercraft, as always, plays its part. Pike in most lakes respond to the seasons, and in the colder months, when prey fish concentrate in deeper areas, pike will always follow them.
Though not always right in the middle of their prey, pike will usually be nearby. A dam wall of a lake can be a dead cert in the depth of winter, but big concentrations of small fish can make pike picky. Sometimes the only way that you can catch fish is with a livebait, which is a bit of a nuisance, because catching bait takes up valuable pike fishing time!
As spring approaches, you can get an amazing transition. On one lake that I fished in the 1970s, the bigger pike were found off the dam in winter, but as soon as mid-February arrived, they moved to the shallow end of the lake, turfing all the jacks out to the dam end! It helps to understand things like this, because you won’t catch pike if they are at the opposite end of the lake. The really big lakes, such as Menteith and Windermere, are best fished from a boat. Unfortunately, hire boats are often rather cramped and small, and on some waters they
■ Searching the shallows: pre-spawn pike will start to move to shallow areas in mid-February to March.