takes to a kayak as he goes on a big pike ad­ven­ture

When you fish from a kayak for the first time you’re never sure who’s in con­trol – you or your sup­posed quarry...

Angling Times (UK) - - NEWS -

DENSE reed beds spread­ing well out from the mar­gins of the pit of­fered per­fect cover to any ma­raud­ing pike.

The preda­tors had grown fat and broad in the beam, and had rarely been fished for. With so few points of ac­cess from the bank, only a tiny part of the pit could be cov­ered – that is un­til my pal Steve Row­ley and I ar­rived, in­tent on go­ing afloat...

My com­pan­ion’s love of kayak fish­ing started more than a year ago, since when he had tried to con­vince me to try it, tempt­ing me with sto­ries of big fish and ter­rific sport.

I didn’t rel­ish the thought of get­ting wet and a bad back in one sit­ting! Steve tried his best to put me right, and even­tu­ally the prom­ise of some great pike ac­tion changed my mind.

That amused my in­struc­tor no end as we un­loaded the two Chan­nel kayaks from his roof rack. The first sur­prise was how light they were… a dod­dle for the two of us to carry to the wa­ter’s edge, and no doubt one strong

an­gler could man­age it by him­self. With both ’yaks in the mar­gins we filled the con­soles with lures, for­ceps and all the other bits and pieces that needed to be close to hand. The bet­ter or­gan­ised you are, the more en­joy­able and ef­fec­tive your day will be.

Lure fish­ing, a highly mo­bile tac­tic, seemed the best op­tion and Steve and I kit­ted up with iden­ti­cal out­fits – a 10ft Esox Pike rod and Se­ries 7 reel loaded with 60lb Esox braid. That might sound heavy, but with such low-di­am­e­ter ma­te­rial there’s no point tak­ing risks. A wire trace with a snap link for quick lure changes com­pleted the set-up, and last on board was an an­chor. With min­i­mal fuss the kayaks were ready – but was I?

My last ac­tion on dry land was to don a life jacket. Steve then in­vited me to take a seat, and af­ter a mo­men­tary wob­ble I was sur­prised how com­fort­able the kayak was – good back sup­port and, im­por­tantly, very sta­ble.

Steve told me that it was nigh on im­pos­si­ble to flip the kayak over. I then took five min­utes to fa­mil­iarise my­self with pad­dling and steer­ing the craft, which again was re­mark­ably straight­for­ward.

Mist clung to the sur­face, with the gen­tlest of winds blow­ing across the pit, and only faint rip­ples. Our kayaks did lit­tle to dis­turb the tran­quil­lity, nor were the wa­ter­fowl sus­pi­cious. If the pike felt the same way we had ev­ery chance of fool­ing them.

Look­ing down, I could clearly see the mar­ginal shelf drop­ping quickly away where the reeds ended. Here, where the stems broke up, any pike’s striped cam­ou­flage would serve it well as it launched an at­tack.

Ten yards out we would work sys­tem­at­i­cally around the pit’s perime­ter, cast­ing to cover ev­ery inch of the slope. Much of this would be vir­gin wa­ter.

Our first se­lec­tions were hard­bod­ied Esox Zag­tail plugs in a nat­u­ral perch pat­tern, bet­ter than gaudier colours in the clear wa­ter. From my low po­si­tion I found cast­ing ac­cu­rately was a lit­tle tricky to be­gin with but soon, af­ter a bit of prac­tice, I got my eye in and be­gan to land the lure con­sis­tently close to cover.

There was no need to an­chor – we sim­ply fished and then moved on, cov­er­ing a large area of wa­ter un­til we hit a hotspot.

Steve was first off the mark. His dart­ing plug dived er­rat­i­cally off the shelf and in its wake a preda­tor fol­lowed, slam­ming the lure so hard it smashed the plas­tic body and jolted the rod in his hands.

A cas­cade of wa­ter alerted me to Steve’s suc­cess as the fish went ballistic, jump­ing high out of the wa­ter – a fan­tas­tic bat­tle at close quar­ters with a dou­ble-fig­ure pike.

My Zag­tail was next to be sav­aged in a sim­i­lar way and the pike

towed the kayak in its wake as it veered away from me, test­ing the clutch for any weak­ness.

This was great fun, and the fight was all the bet­ter for be­ing on a kayak that the pike and I took turns to steer! Never once did I feel in dan­ger or out of con­trol.

With the em­pha­sis very much on fun, the next lure choice had us both chuck­ling, but it proved to be an in­spired one. The soft cray­fish im­i­ta­tion could be bounced along the bot­tom and as its red claws flapped so the pike, all well into dou­ble fig­ures, chomped down on it. Oc­ca­sion­ally we would pad­dle to the mar­gins for a pic­ture – this wasn’t an is­sue, as the cam­era was stored in a wa­ter­proof com­part­ment, but save for those odd few min­utes I spent all morn­ing afloat with­out a sin­gle com­plaint from my back.

Soon ev­ery­thing be­came sec­ond na­ture. Each time a pike charged the lure, of­ten so close it soaked me, I could only nod in agree­ment as Steve said ‘I told you so’.

As our trip came to an end I asked him when we could go again – I was another con­vert to the fish­ing fun that is kayak fish­ing.

“The pike towed the kayak in its wake”

PIke fish­ing from a kayak is such great fun!

PIke went wild for this soft plas­tic cray­fish.

Dis­tur­bance from a kayak is min­i­mal.

MARTIN BOWLER: ANGLING AD­VEN­TURES

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