Rain and Pike Behaviour

Pike in the rain

It seems like Autumn this year has been a wash out. In fact, in the south of the country it has rained every single day in October, at some point at least. Has this affected the fishing? Obviously! With most of the local rivers in full flood condition for the best part of a month it’s been tricky. I did manage to get in a quick session just as one flood dropped off, and I expected plenty of zander, but alas I blanked! Which shows how much I know! I did manage one from the bank of a smaller river, but that was on baits, so didn’t count!

So, with everywhere flooded I have been doing a lot more on stillwaters lately, and have had quite a good season up to now anyway. The coming winter is predicted to be a cold one which will push the pike deep, and that can make for some interesting fishing on the right waters.


I will stick my neck out here and say I don’t think pike like rain! Which does seem a bit of a silly thing to say, and obviously, as a fish, they can’t get wet! But it’s more the “effects” of rain I don’t think they like.

Prolonged rain will obviously add more water to a lake or river, often cooling it, (but sometimes it can raise the temperature) it may change the water chemistry a bit, or lead to flood conditions. So, you can see why the fish don’t like it very much, but they don’t really have a choice but to live with it. The exception to this are Zander, as they love a bit of fresh water – as long as its warmer then the river temperature, though they are often easier to catch when it drops off a bit.


But it’s not prolonged day after day rain that I am really talking about, it is the short intense showers. Going back through my records I haven’t caught that many good fish in the rain! Now there will always be exceptions to a rule, but generally I think from this I can conclude that pike fishing in the rain isn’t that productive. Yes, I’ve caught a couple of good fish in the pouring rain, but this the exception, and has always been on big deep waters.

Boat rain pic_01

So why don’t they like the rain? Personally, I think it’s the noise it creates and it overpowers their sensory system to a certain extent. Pike have a well-developed neuromast system which is a series of cells along their body and head – meaning they can detect vibrations in the water. With the rain pounding down it must have an impact on how effective this neuromast system is. Certainly, pike also hunt by smell or olfaction, and sight. But they are most effective when using all three senses together. So, it is a possibility that if they don’t need to feed and conditions are against them that they just go into the strange comatose mode that you see pike in from time to time, and they wait for conditions to change.

Strange Pike behaviour

From experience when using the sonar, when you see pike laying tight on the bottom they aren’t really feeding, and it can be almost impossible to tempt them with lures. Sometimes pike are so close to the bottom they are hard to see in the first place – unless you know what you are looking for. Now because they aren’t feeding doesn’t mean they aren’t catchable. Or rather they may become catchable at some point. The simplest way is to lob a dead bait at them and wait, at some point they will move, and maybe they will pick a bait up as they do so, so you just have to sit it out.

Pike off the bottom

However, when it is raining, pike that show on the sonar like in this “not really feeding mood” move up in the water column a couple of feet, and hang there. I know this sounds strange and it is. Usually if I were to see a pike on the side imager that was in this position I would regard it as being immensely catchable and would stop to fish for it, as pike that present like this on the screen are often out hunting / active fish, and thus will be tempted, or at least react, when a lure is passed over them.

Several times now I have found fish like this, in the strange comatose state they go in when not feeding, the key as I have said before is to be plotted up over them and present baits. However, on this occasion when I was plotted like this, it started pouring down, and that noise on the surface layers was like a drum. I was looking at the sonar and every one of those pike, that had first caused me to stop and fish, raised off the bottom by about 2 feet, it was very strange – stranger still was that there were some fish that I hadn’t seen that joined them, these fish must have been very close to the bottom not to have been picked up initially.


It was like the rain had confused them, or gave them stimulus to move, they were certainly more active than before, but still not moving around very much, just hanging there in the water. As they had moved up off the bottom a bit, I thought I would change my baits and put some pop-ups on, fished straight from the lead – so approximately 2ft off the bottom. Thinking this would be right in the pike’s eyeline and so would be taken, but No, I moved them around, twitched them and nothing.

However, when the rain stopped, and the water became quiet, “Bang”, they were on and I had several good fish in a short space of time, with both rods going at once at one point, which gave me a good excuse to test the new Pike Pro floating retainer sling out!

Pike Pro sling

I quickly put the first one in there while unhooking and photographing the second. Quickly realising the fish had gone from dormant to active I swapped the bait rods for my lure rod and had a few more on deeply fished jerkbaits before it all went dead and looking at the finder they all sunk back down tight on the bottom again. I have said it before and I will say it again, pike can be strange, and we really still don’t know much about their feeding behaviour.