Pike on the River Test
Alex – Carl and I haven’t struggled with our pike fishing this year. We have been catching plenty, just nothing large. As winter came to a close we really felt the need to put in a few more sessions to target a big pike. A couple of days were spent on our local river, only managing one twitchy bite on a mackerel deadbait, and a number of blank sessions followed elsewhere. We really needed somewhere we could be hopeful of a bite from a big pike. This was when we remembered an offer from a river keeper called Nick on the River Test who invited us to the venue for a day’s pike fishing. We got in touch with him, sorted out a day and the session quickly crept up on us. This was a very special opportunity. The day before, Carl and I had sat in our shed, rigging up our rods, tying a load of spare traces and then got an early night so we could get to the Test just before first light. Normally when we go on a fishing session we take our video cameras along and try to film a video for our YouTube channel, but on very special occasions like this where it is vital that we make the most of every minute on the bank, we couldn’t waste any time filming. Arriving at the river at 6am, it was just light enough to see our way along the river bank. It was a beautiful stretch with grassy banks, clear
water and hopefully some big pike swimming around. Heaven! Carl and I opted to start by trying two different tactics – twitched deadbait and float fished deadbait. Twitching a deadbait is effectively lure fishing where it’s a simple case of casting out the bait and letting it sink a little before twitching it back slowly to the bank. Float fishing is a more operation and if the pike aren’t in the mood for chasing a bait, then float fishing can be the perfect tactic to use. We decided it would be a good idea to walk the length of the stretch and try to cover as much water as possible. All was quiet until I reached some slightly deeper, slacker water. I was slowly reeling in the deadbait when I felt a tap. I opened the bail-arm and line was being quickly pulled out. I waited another five seconds so the pike would hopefully have the bait right inside its mouth. When I set the hooks I was greeted by a heavy weight slowly swimming up the river. My legs were shaking and my heart racing. I was extremely excited at the same time as being really scared! I didn’t want to lose it so I shouted to Carl, who had the net. He came running over and, as he arrived, the pike, which looked like a monster, rose up in the water and I guided it over the net cord! It certainly wasn’t a monster for the River Test but at 15lb it was my second biggest pike. What a buzz that fish gave me! After getting some action on a twitched deadbait, Carl chose to do the same and stay mobile, constantly casting out, covering loads of water. It soon paid off after he made a short cast to where a small stream joined the main river and the pike that was sat down there swooped out and snatched the bait. This fish gave a good account of itself but we got it safely in our net. It was just into double figures, another pike which was larger than most of the fish we had caught this session so far. There was no more action until around midday, when we both managed a couple of smaller pike from the same bit of slack water just down from a weir. Both of them had extremely dark, vivid colours that the pike on our local lakes where the water is murky, don’t have. Even though they were small, they were very special fish! The fishing then went quiet again, but just before dark I went on one last walk of the stretch with a lure rod. Luckily I bagged one final pike, this one being the smallest of the day at around 4lb. It was an odd day, where the size of fish decreased throughout the session, normally it’s the other way round. We were both super happy to have finally caught a couple of better sized pike. Until next autumn I don’t think we will be doing much pike fishing, but there’s a chance we might do the odd session fly fishing for them on some of the large reservoirs such as Rutland and Chew this spring and summer.
Alex’s 15lb River Test pike was his second biggest ever
Alex twitched his deadbait to tempt this River Test specimen
Both Carl and Alex roved and fished plenty of Test swims