Fishing for pike
Among anglers, the pike is considered an attractive challenge. The aggressive predator reaches a height of up to 1.50 m and a stately weight of over 20 kg. In addition, it is strong and, unlike other predatory fish such as the zander, does not give up so quickly. A drill with a large specimen can therefore take a few minutes.
To outwit a pike it is not only important to know the right lure. It is also important to know the equipment, local conditions and the right fishing method. In this article you will therefore learn what is important when fishing for pike. We give you an overview of all the important details. You will find more detailed information on specific topics in the individual articles.
The pike prefers special areas where it hunts its prey. These are also relevant for anglers. This is because the predatory fish eats fish and smaller crabs. On the other hand, it also likes to eat its own conspecifics. The cannibalistic vein makes the popular food fish a loner. The natural habitat of the pike therefore plays an important role for anglers. Those who can determine the fish’s hunting grounds increase the chances of success in fishing.
The pike likes to use the cover for its prey. Other fish do not immediately suspect that they are a potential prey. Pike can therefore be found near the banks of water. Water lilies, reed edges, overhanging branches or flotsam increase the probability of finding the predator. Calm water currents or moorings for boats are also part of the esox’s habitat. Since it acts quickly and efficiently, it can basically be found wherever its prey is. Very large specimens can often be found in open water.
Equipment when fishing for pike
The right equipment is essential for success. Often anglers spend expensive money on fishing rods and equipment. But what is really worth it and what should you look for when buying? This section tells you what you should look out for in your equipment and which features are essential.
A full-grown pike weighs quite a lot. Small pike are also good fighters. Depending on how you fish, the choice of rod is very different.
A normal spinning rod for spinners, rubber fish or plugs should have between 2.40 and 2.80 m. Furthermore, too soft rods are not so good for setting the hook through the hard, bony pike mouth when biting. A medium hard rod is therefore usually the best choice.
For vertical fishing from a boat you need a much shorter rod, 1.80 – 2.00 m is appropriate here. Take care not to use a too soft rod here too.
For fishing with swimbaits or jerkbaits you don’t need a too long rod either, 2.00 – 2.40 m is sufficient for most purposes.
However, always make sure that the rod has sufficient casting weight. Pike lures in particular are often considerably heavier than lures for zander and perch, so the blank has to be able to withstand more.
The fishing line must be strong enough to hold pike if you want to catch strong fish. A braided line is actually always the best choice here. The hook can be set so cleanly and there is no line stretch. The lure can also be guided better this way.
Due to the many small, very sharp and pointed teeth, a steel leader must always be used in waters where pike are expected. This will easily withstand the sharp teeth of the pike, so that even the most capital fish will not slip through your fingers at the last moment. In addition to steel, titanium can also be used, and pike-safe monofilament lines are also available.
However, as pike do not make any distinctions from my experience and will take a well-managed lure either way, you should play it safe here and go for steel.
Depending on the type of fishing, either a stationary reel or a multi reel can be used. Of course this also depends a bit on how good you can cast with a multi reel. Beginners often find this difficult.
Basically it can be said that a multi-reel is always the better choice for vertical pike fishing. Even when casting with big lures the multi-reel can score points because it just doesn’t cut into your fingers as much and the reel will slow the lure down on its own in flight.
In most cases a 3000 reel is a good choice for fishing for pike both from boat and from land.
The landing net needs to be large enough for the pike. It must also be stable accordingly if it is a larger specimen. In addition, the landing net should always be rubberized if possible. This protects the pike as well as you. Especially if the pike tries to free itself again while landing, the net can quickly get into the sharp teeth. The result is that the fish will get caught in the net. A release from the net can then quickly end with bloody fingers. This does not happen so rarely if the fish shakes itself again strongly.
Different baits are used for pike fishing. The method and the water in which you try your luck decide which ones you use.
The rubber fish is popular with anglers. You can find it in many variations in the shops. Pike reach a respectable size. That’s why they choose the richest possible prey fish. It is therefore worth using larger baits. The ideal rubber fish offer a minimum length of 12-15 cm for pike fishing. If you are fishing for very large pike, lures with 20-25 cm are not uncommon.
Blinker / Spinner
Blinker & Spinner are among the lures that have been used for pike fishing for ages. This makes them practically a tradition in fishing. The speciality of these lures is their easy use. They lure the pike with pressure waves and light reflections.
Especially for beginners they are therefore ideal lures, as they only need to be cranked in. You can vary the speed, but in most cases very slow turns are enough to attract attention in the water.
You can find plugs in many different designs. They are made of plastic or wood. In the trade there are variants that are suitable for several target fish, because, for example, when trolling for pike, a zander can sometimes bite. You can buy them as floating, sinking or swimming variants. In addition, the running depth is very important, depending on the depth the fish are at at that time of the year.
Plugs are mainly roundish models. So-called floaters are suitable for the spring. In spring, pike are very active to catch smaller fish at the surface. Crankbaits are better in autumn. They are bulbous in shape, which suggests that predatory fish have fat prey in front of them.
Unlike plugs, twitchbaits are slimmer. They are also available floating, hovering or sinking. To guide them correctly, twitch the lure with the rod tip down or to the side. This way the lure breaks out unpredictably to the sides and perfectly simulates a fleeing fish.
Swimbaits are lures made of hard plastic. Some are made of flexible rubber mixtures. The Swimbaits are realistically shaped. Their movements remind of real fish. This is especially attractive when fishing for pike.
In contrast, jerkbaits are named after the English verb “to jerk”, which means “to beat”. Here you have a lure made of plastic or wood in front of you, where the guidance is important.
The lures are characterized by a kind of “zigzag run” in the water. You strike the tip of the rod down and into the line. By doing this the lure moves through the water in a zig-zag pattern. Some models also use rattles to provoke the pike with the sounds.
The chosen fishing method often determines the success of the fishing. The following techniques are especially popular for fishing for pike:
Jigging can be difficult for beginners. With this technique the lure hops over the bottom. You can do this by lifting the tip of the rod suddenly. The rhythm is important. Your attention is also required because most pike bite at the exact moment when the lure sinks to the bottom. The line plays an important role in this.
Experienced anglers take care to keep the fishing line taut. This allows you to feel the bite of the fish in your wrist. Especially in shallow waters (e.g. from the bank) the angle is important. The angle between the line and the water surface is more than 30 degrees. Otherwise jigging does not work very well because the line is too flat on the surface of the water.
The lazy technique is another way to make the rubber lure bounce over the bottom of the water. It is similar to jigging in that it is a more convenient and simplified variation of the method. Although the aim is to make the bait bounce, lazy fishing does not require the rod tip to be raised suddenly. Rather, the fishing reel and its crank turns take over this task. Thus the technique is relaxing and easy to learn. Bites are easier to spot, as the line never slackens, but remains taut at all times.
Fishing with a plugs
When fishing for pike with a plugs, the water largely influences the choice of model. Shallow waters allow the use of floating plugs. Sinking plugs are best used in deeper lakes. The floating variant imitates an injured fish and therefore allows fishing in different water depths.
Pose mounting with bait fish
You can use the bait fish with sail poses or trolling poses. It is essential that the fish does not drift to the surface. Otherwise it would appear next to the pose instead of under it due to the buoyancy of the swim bladder. To prevent this, anglers prick the swim bladder on the dead bait fish.
Vertical fishing from boat
Vertical fishing is often done by chance. With this technique your rod, line and lure are vertical. The method is relatively relaxed. However, it is difficult to say how successful this technique is with a pike. Here only your own experience will help.
However, there is a risk when fishing vertically from a boat for esox: as soon as the fish has taken the bait, it can happen that it swims under the barge. The manoeuvre puts a lot of strain on the fishing line as it rubs along the hull of the boat. It can therefore happen that it rubs on itself and breaks.
The pike can generally be fished in every season. However, there are differences. Here you will learn what to look out for when fishing for pike in spring, summer, autumn and winter.
In spring pike are in a feeding frenzy. In the spring months the spawning season begins and the food supply increases again. The fish are therefore extremely active and bite well. But beware: Observe the legal closed seasons for pike to protect the stocks and avoid penalties!
The warmth of the summer months influences the water and the behaviour of the fish. High water temperatures and low currents reduce the amount of oxygen in the water. As a result, pike tend to be lazy in the middle of summer when hunting. They move less in the heat and practically snap at anything that comes in front of their mouth. It is therefore more worthwhile for anglers to fish during the twilight hours. Early morning and evening are ideal periods for catching pike. Temperatures are lower at these times of the day, which means that the Esox is more likely to go hunting.
Autumn is the optimal season for pike fishing. Between the warmth of summer and the frosty cold of winter, the temperatures above and below the water are fresher. This increases the oxygen in the water, which makes the pike more active again. This is especially true for the deeper waters. Pike activity is strongly dependent on the current. But the water temperature is also relevant. In autumn, the fish prevents the food shortage of winter. The autumn foliage on the waters and near the banks also provides additional cover for the pike. In Indian summer, the larger baits are particularly worthwhile. In this way it looks to the pike as if “fat prey” is swimming within its reach. The result is that the pike tends to bite.
During the cold months, falling temperatures also influence the pike and its hunting behaviour. It is best to slow down the bait during the cold season. The pike is rather leisurely in winter. It uses its reserves better than usual because of the cold. A slower lead will tempt it to attack. Additionally the fish is more active in the early morning.
Biting times – daytime vs. night
The pike is basically a day-active animal. This means that it rests at night and hardly hunts for prey. The daylight hours help the esox to see other fish in the water. This also applies to the lures of the angler. Therefore, fishing for pike during the day is most promising.
Fishing is a sport that is increasingly concerned with sustainability and animal welfare. That is why there are legal regulations for pike anglers. These rules serve to protect the stocks of essox. In Germany, the closed seasons and minimum sizes for pike vary according to the federal states.
For most federal states the closed seasons are from the beginning of January or February to the end of April. This is the time of the year in which the pike reproduce. In Bremen and Hamburg, the closed seasons are extended to the end of May. This is mainly due to their immediate proximity to river mouths and waterways. During this period anglers are not allowed to fish for pike in the respective region.
At the same time, rules apply in Germany for the minimum size of pike. In order to conserve the stock, the minimum size of the fish must be observed, depending on the federal state. According to these rules, the pike needs a body length of at least 45 or 50 cm to be allowed to be taken. Bremen is again an exception to the minimum size: Here the minimum body length is 60 cm.
Pike fishing differs depending on the waters. The fish is found mainly in rivers, canals and lakes. However, the hotspots are by no means identical. Here you can find out where the chances of success when fishing for esox are the highest. Where does the pike prefer to be?
In rivers the pike prefers calmer waters. Strong currents are not attractive for it, as it is a sedentary fish. It stalks its prey and acts quickly and offensively from cover. This is why you can find these fish in rivers, especially in estuaries and tributaries. Bridges are also interesting hotspots for the pike. The animals like to stay around bridge piers, as they hunt here in the current shadow.
Bridges also play an important role for anglers along the canals. In the canal, as in rivers, pike mainly seek out places with low currents. In inland waterways, the conditions for fishing for pike are similar to those in rivers: The fish prefer places where there is a particularly good chance of catching prey. As the predatory fish prefer calmer waters, they can be found under bridges. At the same time they seek out inlets and wait for their catch in the deeper channel bed.
As an angler you can recognize a channel inlet by a cloudy water. Two different sources of flow (channel plus inlet) combine there, which changes the appearance of the water. The channel bed appears darker than the rest of the channel water. These channels are washed out areas left behind by the current.
Pike hunt for smaller fish in lakes. For anglers of predatory fish, these waters are particularly exciting when water lily fields spread out on them. Driftwood or reed edges are also good hiding places for pike. At the same time, moorings for boats offer favourable opportunities for the essox. As there are more prey fish in these areas, the pike also hangs around nearby.