I never could work out what that meant. Maybe ‘If you love someone, perhaps loosen the ropes a little and make sure they have fresh water’ could work. Then it struck me that I love pike and I set them free, but if I hadn’t caught them in the first place…
Life is confusing isn’t it?
Like when John Lennon sang, "Imagine there’s no countries…" I thought to myself ‘where would we all go on holiday then?’
Enough of all this digression. I had been wasting the summer smoking, drinking, fornicating and catching carp and thought I really ought to get a purpose to my existence when I came to a decision. It was coming up for October and I thought it appropriate that I should start smoking, drinking, fornicating and catching pike.
A week earlier I had a look around an old water that I had caught hundreds of pre-pubescent carp and remembered how many had teeth marks in them. With a definite lack of ‘Great Whites’ in the east Kent region I thought it maybe worth a look for my green scaled adversary.
It was a cold Saturday that I thought about my options. It was either the nightclub or the lake. I was stiffer than a varnished eel and hadn’t had any action for a month so the answer was obvious - but as the editor here has a problem with my sex life (jealousy is an ugly trait!) I thought it best to tell you about the following weekend instead. (I’m sure Natalie and her gymnastic troupe warrants a mention but I’ll bow to his better judgement!)
The first view of the lake had me in a quandary, it was warm enough for the carp still, but did I want to catch another dozen ‘singles’ when a huge green back may be on offer?
I couldn’t help myself. The lure of the hard fighting golden scales on a float rod and four-pound mainline was just far to tempting to resist. After my initial enthusiasm to get a bend in the rod had been satisfied a few times over, I opted for a two-pronged attack. An offering of bread flake sat aside a small tench live bait; delicious, the slime just lets them slide down. The number one live bait bar none - except possibly a carp but no matter what the end result may be I’ve never been able to bring myself to impale a carp on treble hooks. They’re just too beautiful.
During daylight hours I’ve found pike feed on a lateral line sensation mode and will home in on most things sending out alarm signals through tiny vibrations whilst struggling in distress; your average live bait fits this bill perfectly. Especially a tench fished under depth as they’re forever trying for that elusive bottom weed and refusing to give up and die.
During the night I feel pike tend to mooch around 'sight' feeding thus giving dead baits the edge. I tend to opt for silver baits for this reason, small bream, smelt and sprats being amongst my favourites. (I was once asked if a mackerel would look odd if it had its fins cut off. Trust me, mackerel look odd in any freshwater environment regardless!)
Despite a lot of activity on the bread and none whatsoever on the tench, as darkness fell I set up two rods with smelt dead baits; it was pike or bust.
Piking usually happens in winter so an increased awareness of the cold must be catered for. Clothing has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and although expensive, the right thermal clothing, sleeping bags and wet weather gear are essential. Polar bears and penguins are designed by nature to sleep in artic conditions, human beings are not and if you’re cold and uncomfortable you will not be able to fish to your full potential. If you’re too cold and too uncomfortable you could die, so whatever the cost it may be a small price to pay.
Another advantage to dead bait night fishing is you can sleep with no annoying beeps from the bite alarms, if dead baits ‘beep’ you know it means something has an interest.
Dead baits can be ‘hair-rigged’; the use of little hooks fished slightly up the line if required could give you an edge. Personally I’ve never found it helps nor hinders one way or another, pike are an aggressive predator that requires no ‘kid gloves’. A wire trace of two feet minimum and a mainline of fifteen pounds at the very least are essential and these don't distract from the catch rate in the slightest. It was a misconception in the sixties that pike could not be caught at night but it was a myth that has been disproved time and time again, like the carp they’re there for the taking 24/7.
The night became blustery as more and more signs of feeding carp became apparent. I carried on regardless; single figured carp take second place to a good nights sleep or a big pike.
I like to keep deadbait rigs simple, usually a paternoster with the emphasis on keeping everything as free running as possible. Often the weight of the bait is sufficient for casting but I still use a small lead for bite indication in the event of drop-back bites.
There is a word ‘mokita’ which comes from the Kiriwina language of New Guinea, meaning "the truth which no-one speaks." It refers to the tacit agreements amongst us to avoid openly referring to certain shared secrets, like your grandmothers little drink problem or Uncle Ted’s covert homosexuality.
As I was alone on the lake that night I could tell you about a couple of huge specimens that graced my net and no one would be any the wiser. It would make the end to this piece more interesting maybe but I won’t do it because the truth is I blanked: not a sausage, a big fat zero. It happens to all of us; even the writers. My point of telling you about a quiet Saturday night is the importance of being truthful. Blank sessions happen, analyse why and learn from them. Don’t make your catching all your fish alone and when your camera was broke, a wall of ‘mokita’ that surrounds you.
Incidentally the theories I described have worked on numerous other occasions and will work again, my analysis of the session was that as it was still warm with a lot of small carp activity the small head of pike were still pre-occupied with the ‘livelies’. Live and learn.