My fishing generally revolves around specific targets and/ or an adventure ensuring that my fishing missions offer me a unique challenge, inspiration and motivation (something that is always needed that little bit more in lockdown and the cold winter we have had).

With the various constraints and limitations imposed on us I used this to my benefit and narrowed my focus down. The plan was to try and catch a 20lb Pike from a local river.

Optimum Conditions for maximum chances

My river of choice is open access and suffers from large fluctuations of water due to its large catchment area, furthermore the water clarity is heavily affected. My initial recce trips started in November to try and suss potential areas out for Pike. I crucially made the effort to visit the river even when I knew it could be flooded and in sub optimum conditions. By visiting the river in different states allowed me to correlate the different river levels with that being shown on the EA and Government Flood warning websites and graphs. I could then be at home and know exactly the river level would be and when it would be in optimum condition. I cannot stress this point enough, get to know your river and the different water levels and when you need to be down with the rods. The best conditions were the first 3 days after a spate after a falling river and conversely a rising river or high river was hard work.

Tactics

My early sessions were an eye opener, the weather was mild and the Pike were super active, sometimes smashing into the float on the retrieve and mainly taking baits that had just been cast or moved. I also messed around with different baits and fished in mega low and clear conditions through to higher chocolate coloured water. After a few sessions I summed up that that simple baits were better such as large mackerel and herring fished under a 20g Snapper Float fished with Snapper traces, running lead style with a 4oz lead to anchor everything down.

I fished with a 50lb braid line that I’m testing that is super sensitive and as strong as rope this allowed me to fish both close in but also to the far bank when required. A couple of additions that seemed to work well: Tail sections were better than whole fish, tweaking the bait every 10 minutes in clearer water would often provoke a take and using cable ties on the tail root of the fish would help the baits last longer and be more resistant if multiple casts were required. I would often move swims and use the line clip to good effect to fish under any overhanging cover when required

The result

My early sessions resulted in one or two pike per session, however once I had put the pieces together I was averaging 5 pike to the bank a trip, often just a short morning or an evening session. Luckily fish losses were minimal due to the powerful Snapper Cult Rods and the 50lb braid I used. So far I have managed to bank nearly 40 Pike and recently managed to bag my self the twenty pounder I was after! By watching the weather and river levels keenly I am capitalizing on the optimum conditions and bringing a smile to my face and giving me another rush of adrenaline as that float bobs underfollowed by an explosive battle!
Target achieved 20lb plus river pike.