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...
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.