Pike Live Baiting

Live baiting for pike has always caused much controversy between fishery owners/coarse/ match anglers and the pike fishermen themselves, I am afraid it is a subject that nobody can really agree on, whether it is being slagged off for the amounts, or for the sizes of baits being used, the transportation of baits between venues, or just the general nature of the practice in itself. With a few careful questions to yourself, I can’t see any problem with this practice that is, as long as you can keep to the rules that the fishery or owner provides.

Unfortunately, live baits a few years ago, were sometimes acquired from different venues other than those that the pike angler was actually fishing .This made for the cross contamination of baits from different venues, and the possibility of disease far too much to chance for fishery owners.

Getting back to what I mentioned in my article on location, obviously getting to know a lot more about a couple of waters give me a greater knowledge of bait fish location. Taking into mind the seasonal and current weather conditions, normally allows me to catch baits fresh, this is not always the case on some waters, but I do believe that if you can find the bait fish, then your quarry will not be too far away, In fact it’s a very good starting place for the day!

A whip about 5 meters long is a good addition to your holdall, and it will take up no room at all. Along with a couple of small float rigs on winders, and a plummet very often finds out just where you need to be. You will be quite surprised at what you catch and should be able to adjust your pike rigs to suit. Plumbing up with a whip gives you a very good idea of the area you are fishing very quickly, and quietly, with practice.

Once you have caught your baits you must remember to have a good sized tub complete with a lid and reliable aerator to keep your baits in prime condition for the duration of the day, drill a hole in lid for air hose. A small net is always an added bonus to save wet sleeves in the bucket when you are chasing baits, warmer too.

Live Baits can be at times an extremely productive means to catching fish, but I will add that the majority of fish that I have caught on live baits tend to be of a smaller run, than those caught on the same day from the same swims on dead baits. But none the less it is a very exciting way of fishing watching that bait swimming ever closer to that spot you fancied earlier, is an art in its self, gently plying a little pressure here and there and using the wind and tide/drift to your advantage it is possible for some pike anglers to control a live bait to swim where they want it to. I still need some practice with this technique, but I have seen it done, so I know what can actually be achieved.

Free Roving Rigs.

No doubt the most widely used method of live baiting, float fished baits can cover large areas of water quite quickly, but it can also with practice, seek out features very thoroughly indeed, and working at different depths throughout the area will soon, produce the goods.

Live baits will swim against resistance, so by using the bow in the line caused by the wind and allowing that resistance to be felt by the live bait you can encourage your bait to swim more or less, where you like. The use of braided line is highly recommended and makes the method easier to learn. A rod with a soft action so as not to harm the baits, about 2.5lbs test curve, would ideally suit this method. The hook positions when using this method in a stillwater would be, the top treble hook just forward of the dorsal fin, and the bottom hook mounted in the flank of the bait, just behind the pectoral fin. Where as to use this method on a river, the hooking positions change, with the bottom hook positioned just above, or below the pelvic fins, and the top hook located in the top lip of the bait. A very similar set up as for trolling live baits on a deep still water or a river.

Float /Ledgered Live baits.

There is only so much you can with a roving bait to locate the pike, especially where the problem of heavy weed, snags or gravel bars exist, such that it would make roving baits quite inappropriate, the rig to go for here is a ledgered live bait, and depending on the depth of water there are many options to choose from. The purpose of this method is to tether a live bait in a certain position that is more likely to be frequented by the pike. Obvious uses for this method would be Undercut banks on lakes and rivers, beside rafts of reed, on top, and down the side of gravel bars and weed beds. All this might sound straight forward enough but the key to this type of fishing is watercraft, knowing where these areas exist are all part of learning your water, plotting out in summer the locations of weed beds that will disappear in the winter, plumbing the depths of the swims/areas you are going to fish, and there layouts with drop offs, snags, gravel bars etc, will no doubt give you that extra knowledge where to place your baits when the time comes. All of these different methods will be covered in the rig section, over the coming weeks.