Good, Bad and Ugly!

I think it’s fair to that every angler if you are at the sport long enough goes through good and bad periods in their fishing. Sometimes you can go through a “honey” period and seemingly you can do nothing wrong. Other times are – different – and it can be that everyone else is catching but you can’t buy a bite. These times are very frustrating, and I have gone through a few of them, then all of a sudden you start catching again and all the pressure is off. (The pressure is self-imposed of course – some anglers are just happy to go out).
Then there are other times when no one is catching – ugly years – the waters just turned off, or worse, multiple waters turn off. This is quite a rare occurrence but simply sometimes you get bad years for some reason, and you need to accept this or move over to other species fishing.

This year has been strange one on the pike front. Two of my banker waters have simply stopped responding to anything, which is not quite true. It’s more like the fish have moved to somewhere else, or are holding up in spots I don’t usually visit. Why do I think this? Well, I have been out with the sounder and simply not seen any pike anywhere, and if they are not there you won’t catch them.
I know some people will say they still might be there but tight to the bottom, or up in the upper layers or something, but on these waters, you see the fish before you catch them, it’s that cut and dried. Do I think that the pike have all died? No, as I have seen times like this before, when the water is seemingly devoid of pike one year and you’re pulling out 30’s the next. It’s just a bit of the puzzle that I’m not sure I fully understand at the moment.


On another water there were pike seemingly everywhere, scattered around various features. Big pike too. Again, on this water, if you can see them, you will usually catch them at some point, but this year it was different. Every fish seemingly ignored anything that was cast at it. Now fish can wise up to lures, but usually there are ways of fishing lures, or size of lures, that can get you a take when they are like this. This year however it was different, and it was very difficult to move any fish.
When they are like this is usually because of two reasons a) they are absolutely full, b) they are about to move to a different area.

Fishing for full fish is nothing new – it’s what most of us have to do on trout water fisheries. Yes, you can try and target feeding fish around bait shoals etc. But in my experience the bigger fish (the ones you want to catch) don’t feed like this, and spend most of their time laying up away from these areas.
You also get fish movement on these waters, and it can be quite noticeable, especially if there are a lot of boats fishing. You can observe one boat catch a fish, then the next further down, then the one after that, and so forth. I have observed it on multiple fisheries, but it’s quite obvious at Chew that has a lot of fishing pressure.
If you don’t have a lot of fishing pressure, how do you know the fish are moving or about to move? Well, the first sign is that that they are sitting on the bottom not doing anything. It is as if they are sitting there waiting for some environmental trigger, water temperature, pressure drop, moon phase? You could add any of these factors, then all of a sudden, they have gone en masse to a different area, where they will usually feed again, and on the way to this area.

Before they move you may see some pike rolling, or bubbles coming up, this is usually caused by fish coming to the surface to gulp air to fill their gas bladders. It is a noticeably different type of rolling to feeding pike smashing on the surface.
Now the problem with fish about to move, is, in my experience, that they are almost impossible to catch. It’s as if they just turn off and sit there and it’s very difficult to get them do anything else. But if you are on fish like this as they move, then you can have a real bumper day.


I had a few good twenties early on, but what was interesting is that they were all absolutely full, so much so they were pooing in the sladle, and, unfortunately, when holding them for photographs! Nearly all my fish came by grinding lures along the bottom really slowly, which again is an indication of the fish being really full. Fishing like this is horrible and time consuming, but it does work. I also had a couple on near static lures fished on the drift. This again indicated that they didn’t want to move very much, certainly they were fished much slower than any cast lure can be.
Other anglers were reporting numerous follows, which is again an indication of the fish being full, they have the instinct to follow, but not the need to instigate the take.
Alas, I think this year so far has fallen into the “Ugly” category. Not that I haven’t caught any pike, it has just been really tough going so far. When it’s like this early season I find it usually picks up after Christmas anyway, so there is still plenty of time.